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In all the excitement following Jenson Button’s stunning fightback from last place to victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, one man has been overlooked.
The German legend’s race in Montreal was a far weep from some of his lacklustre showings in the last 15 months. Competitively quick and assured in his handling of rivals on the track, he looked like he belonged at the front of a grand prix. And it has been a long time since anyone could confidently say that.
Could this be the beginnings of some consistent form from Schumacher, even a sign that he may yet recover the former greatness that won him a record seven world titles and 91 victories in his first career in Formula 1?
His team principal Ross Brawn, the man who masterminded all of Schumacher’s world championships, knows him better than most. He told BBC Sport in an exclusive interview that he had “always had the confidence” Schumacher would make a success of his comeback.
“I wouldn’t say (it’s) a breakthrough because that’s too strong a word,” Brawn said, “but there have always been some niggling reasons why Michael’s not had the best opportunities to demonstrate what he can do.
“He’s had the odd ‘mare of a race, which every racing driver does, but of course when he has one it tends to get focused on.
“But there have been lots of races where his times in the races have been pretty comparable with Nico (Rosberg, his team-mate) but they’ve not reflected in final results.”
Brawn describes Schumacher’s drive in Montreal as “some vintage Michael, particularly some of his racecraft and overtaking manoeuvres during the race”. And that was indeed one of the most striking aspects of his performance.
At times during his comeback, Schumacher has looked at sea alongside his younger rivals – the most recent example being an embarrassing performance in Turkey.
But in Canada he was honest and robust – positioning his car perfectly in defence, feisty but precise and calculating in attack – and was heavily involved in the sort of strategic decisions with which he and Brawn used to make their rivals look flat-footed.
“If I had to comment,” says Brawn, “I reckon that side of him is better than it used to be because I suppose maybe having to fight your way through or battling in the pack there is more opportunity to demonstrate those skills. But his manoeuvres at the starts of races or the occasions when he demonstrates his race-craft on the track have been quite entertaining this year.”
The key call in Canada – in which Schumacher was instrumental – was being the first car to switch to intermediate tyres from full wets after the restart which followed the two-hour race stoppage. That enabled him to be second to championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull as the field prepared for the final re-start.
A podium would have been a fitting reward, but he lost out to Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber thanks partially to the DRS overtaking device arguably making passing a small too simple in Canada and his second place became a close fourth at the flag. So it is small wonder Schumacher was, as Brawn puts it, “very, very frustrated”.
Brawn, though, does not see this as the watershed moment in Schumacher’s comeback one might imagine it could be.
“He’s a very experienced, confident guy anyway,” Brawn says, “so I don’t reckon it will make a dramatic difference to his confidence or his belief in his ability to do it.
“It’s a useful boost but I don’t reckon he’s a guy who needed something to flip him from one side to another. I don’t reckon he was in a terrible position and needed a excellent result to place him in a excellent position. He’s always been in a pretty excellent position.
“The main thing is we need to give him a better car. There was a period in the race when the car was probably as excellent as anyone’s and he was the quickest car. If we give him the equipment, he’s demonstrated he’s as quick as anyone.”
Ah, but there’s the rub. Has he, really?
In Canada, Schumacher qualified within a hair’s breadth of Rosberg and was quicker than him through most the race.
Rosberg, though, had his own problems – his wet tyres were over-pressured, causing him to lose grip, and later on his car sustained significant hurt to its floor, costing him key aerodynamic downforce, after he was hit from behind by Adrian Sutil’s Force India. So, as Brawn says, “it wasn’t an simple race (in which) to compare (the drivers)”.
The facts are that Schumacher has generally been out-paced by Rosberg in their 26 races as team-mates. The qualifying record this year stands at six-one in favour of Rosberg, although the two are equal on points so far, which is a huge change from last year, when Schumacher was out-scored two to one.
And beyond that there is the question of how excellent Rosberg is. Has he matured into a world-class F1 driver who can be talked of in the same breath as the sport’s current huge three – Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Vettel? Or is he – as one paddock wag place it recently – “one of the not-quite-excellent-enough best drivers in the world”?
Many questions arise out of this. Is Schumacher doing the job of a man who deserves his place in F1? In Canada, the answer was certainly yes. Does he justify being considered in the top 10? Is he as excellent as he was? If not, will he ever be?
“That’s always the fascinating debate,” Brawn admits, “because Nico is a reference that’s in a small bit of a vacuum because he has not come up against the strongest drivers on a regular basis in the past. But he has matured and improved a lot over the last couple of years, so he’s a very strong reference.
“You can play that comparison game any way you like.
“Where is Michael compared to where he was? Is the fact that Nico outqualifies him more often than not a demonstration that Michael is a bit slower than he was or that Nico is an exceptionally quick driver?
“Who knows? I don’t have any way of calculating that equation. It’s a comparison in a vacuum.
“All I do know is if we get the car better we’ve got two drivers who can produce the results. It’s down to us to improve the car and give them that opportunity.”
Mercedes bosses have understandably been reluctant so far to engage in this debate so perhaps the fact Brawn is now willing to give it a go tells you all you need to know about the point Schumacher arrived at in Montreal.
When Schumacher returned to F1 in 2010, Mercedes said he had signed a three-year contract but he has struggled so much at times that there has been constant speculation about whether he will see it out.
If he carries on in the vein of Canada, those doubts will all go away. And Brawn says Mercedes – the team and the wider car company – are pleased he is able to perform at the level they require him to be.
“There is no question about that,” he says. “Every team wants an unfair advantage, where they can have an average car and the driver takes care of the rest.
“Our car might be even worse than we reckon and we’ve got the two fastest drivers in F1. Who knows? We won’t know.
“All we know is we’re not winning races at the moment and we don’t need to change the drivers to fix that, all we need to do is have a quicker car.”
Just added a bunch of new art to Damian Fulton‘s showcase on Club Of The Waves. Awesome stuff, check it out…
Matt Mitrione may be a small conflicted about the type of opponent he’d like to fight next. But he’s not at all conflicted about wanting one particular dream grudge match, even if it’s not a highly realistic probability.
Mitrione, who improved to 5-0 in his 18-month MMA career with a knockout of Christian Morecraft on Sunday at UFC on Versus 4, told host Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s edition of “The MMA Hour” that he would like a chance to fight Tito Ortiz, with whom he has a newly born beef.
Ortiz fights Ryan Bader on Saturday at UFC 132, and UFC president Dana White said in January that if the former light heavyweight champion loses his next fight, he is likely to be cut from the UFC. Mitrione predicted a win for Bader and a pink slip for Ortiz shortly afterward.
“I say Bader (wins) by sending that giant planet of (Ortiz’s) head straight into the atmosphere,” Mitrione said before launching into a small diatribe at Ortiz. “I’m so glad that d—–bag spent all that money sponsoring Christian Morecraft and then lost again. Just like your pride was lost, the person representing your company lost.
“You’re gonna lose again and get cut from the UFC. If for some reason you don’t get cut from the UFC, I already talked to (Joe) Silva. I want to fight you. I’ll fight you at a catch weight. I will pull myself back to Ethiopian standards from back in the day and be as thin as possible, and I will punch you in that planet-sized dome of yours and send you packing finally and for excellent. Mr. Jameson, that was directed toward you.”
Mitrione came under fire from Ortiz for comments he made on his “Mitrione Minute” segment on “The MMA Hour,” and elsewhere, that were critical of Ortiz and his wife, former adult entertainment actress Jenna Jameson. The two exchanged words in a now-well-known moment caught on video by Roy Nelson at the UFC’s Fighter Summit in Las Vegas.
Ortiz co-hosted “Inside MMA” on HDNet earlier this month and said Mitrione crossed the line by bringing up his family.
“You don’t talk about another man’s woman,” Ortiz said on the show. “This guy was a d—–bag by saying what he said and then he tried to come up and kiss my butt, shake my hand. I never met the guy. I don’t know who the guy is. … And then he goes on to say he will cut weight to fight me. Come on dude, what fight? … Respect the fighters that paved the way for you to be here. I have been doing this for 14 years.”
Mitrione is a heavyweight who weighed in at 261 pounds for his fight on Sunday; Ortiz fights at light heavyweight. Ortiz has not won a fight since a TKO win over Ken Shamrock in October 2006. Since then, he has four losses and a draw. His UFC 121 loss to Matt Hamill last October was the only won that didn’t come against a champion, former champion or future champion.
Though a fight against Ortiz may be just a daydream scenario right now, Mitrione isn’t certain where he fits in the UFC’s heavyweight landscape. Four of his five UFC wins have come by knockout or TKO, and the fifth was a Fight of the Night performance against Joey Beltran in his home city of Indianapolis last September. But Mitrione believes his win over Morecraft on Sunday was not up to snuff.
“To be really honest, I reckon this was probably my worst fight next to (my debut win over) Marcus Jones,” Mitrione said. “I made so many mistakes. I got taken down on a horrible double. I didn’t defend my wall takedowns at all. I’m glad my striking hands are heavy. He finished up brawling with me, which I didn’t expect him to do. His hand positioning threw me off a small bit. I was doing so many different styles of jabs against him, because I was trying to figure out what was going to land against him.”
Mitrione said he believes he still has work to do to improve – and he spent much of his training camp for Morecraft training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and said he plans to return there. But if he were matched up against a veteran, he isn’t sure how he would fare if his performance was on par with how he judged himself Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“I want to fight a top guy,” Mitrione said. “I like and respect Frank Mir. He and I are cool, and I reckon it would be a really fun fight. (But) I made so many mistakes (Sunday). I wonder if anyone else who fights feels the way I do after they fight. If I would have made those mistakes against Cheick Kongo or Frank Mir, I would’ve lost. It makes me wonder what the right step is next. My hands, I can scrap with anyone. Technique wise, ehh …”
But one thing Mitrione said he is sure of, other than wanting that dream fight with Ortiz, is that he puts plenty of pressure on himself to be better each time out.
“The only way to be perfect is to expect it of yourself,” Mitrione said. “I feel like there’s a level of professionalism I owe to the fans, and they should see the best me possible.”
Going for the kill can be a double-edged sword. Pat Barry found that out last night against Cheick Kongo. The Frenchman in absolute survival mode landed a right hook and a right uppercut to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Kongo left Barry on the ground with the dreaded stink eye.
Referee Dan Miragliotta was all over both fighters and came close to stopping the fight on at least one occasion, but Kongo kept moving and scrambling.
During the postfight press conference, Barry wouldn’t blame Miragliotta..
“I can nearly recall Dan Miragliotta’s leg nearly touching my arm, he was so close,” Barry said during the UFC on versus 4 postfight press conference. “So for a split second, a split second I thought ‘this is it.’ The way he was falling around. I’ve seen fights get stopped before. This looks like a fight that would get stopped. [...] That didn’t cause me to stop.”
Give Miragliotta credit, he let the fighters choose the ultimate outcome.
How terribly was Barry knocked out? When he “woke up,” Barry thought he’d won.
“I’ve never been knocked out before, so this is a weird feeling man to lose two minutes of your life. Honestly, when I was laying on my back and (coach) Marty Morgan was standing over me, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘Yo man, I killed him!’ So I thought I had won the fight,” Barry told Sherdog. “I don’t remember nothing. I remember the entire fight up until I got punched.”
It was also a no-brainer for Knockout of the Night. Kongo banked an extra $50,000 for his efforts. This has been an incredible year for sick knockouts.
PITTSBURGH — Burt Watson (pictured in the background), the man who you’ve seen directing traffic at weigh-ins, works tirelessly to keep things running well at UFC events, and he was rewarded with a chance meeting in Pittsburgh. The UFC’s main behind-the-scenes man met President Obama while both were at the fighters’ hotel, and told his tale to Cagewriter.
The Hyatt Regency in Pittsburgh hosted both the fighters and the president, who was in town to make a speech at Carnegie-Mellon University. Because of Obama’s presence, security was tight around the hotel. Watson’s room was near the fitness center, so his room had to be checked by Secret Service before the president could go in and do his daily workout. Watson’s room was swept by bomb-sniffing dogs and Secret Service agents.
After the sweep, Watson had to turn on the sauna to ready it for fighters. When he entered the fitness center, he saw the president, and questioned if he could go in.
“I opened the door, and there was President Obama, pedaling on a bike and reading the newspaper,” Watson said. “I started shaking a small bit. There was no one else in the room.”
Because of his job with the UFC, Watson has met a who’s who of celebrities, but was still blown away by getting to meet Obama.
“I don’t get starstruck, because I work with celebrities all the time. It’s not my job to get starstruck, but I was dumbfounded. I walked towards him, reached out my hand and said, ‘What’s up?’ He said, ‘How are you?’ I said, ‘Right now? I’m honored.’ And he said, ‘Nah, I’m honored.’ And as I walked out, I thought, ‘Oh [expetive]! Did I just walk out of the room with the president of the United States? Me and him!”
He said that the enormity of the situation didn’t really hit him until later.
“Not until I walked out of there did it hit me that I was literally one-on-one with the most powerful man in the world. History has a way of making you a part of it without even asking. Never in my wildest, wildest dreams did I imagine that I would meet the President of the United States.”
Watson’s cool, upbeat demeanor serves him well in his job as the behind-the-scenes man for the UFC. Working for the promotion since UFC 31, he has seen nearly everything the fight world can muster and has taken it in stride. This was different.
“For the first time, I was in awe.”
Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, the 25-year-ancient has picked his five favourite all-time F1 races. We will broadcast highlights of each of his choices in this blog and on the BBC red button to whet your appetites for the action to come in Montreal this weekend.
The drivers have all taken a different approach to this task. Vettel, for example, picked only races from his own career, while the others drivers we have showcased so far have all to one degree or another chosen a mix of races in which they featured and ones from before their own time in the sport.
Di Resta has raced in only seven grands prix so far, so it is no surprise that four of his five choices are from the archive.
His first is this year’s Australian Grand Prix - after all, a driver will always remember his F1 debut fondly.
The rest are as follows:
The 1968 German Grand Prix, which has gone down in history as one of the fantastic Jackie Stewart‘s most extraordinary victories, and one of the greatest of all time.
Di Resta says he “read about it in Jackie’s autobiography – sounded exciting”. The race, memorably described by Stewart himself, was held in teeming rain and dense fog, and Stewart was in a league of his own, winning by four minutes in his Matra.
The next choice is the 1979 French Grand Prix, well-known for the thrilling duel over second place between Ferrari‘s Gilles Villeneuve and Renault’s Rene Arnoux in the final three laps, the two men passing and re-passing, banging wheels in lurid, thrilling fashion, until Villeneuve finally prevailed.
It was one of the iconic Villeneuve’s landmark performances, a man of sublime talent transcending the limitations of his machinery and taking on quicker cars.
In a race of constantly changing conditions, Senna went from fifth to first in the course of a stunning first lap and raced off into a league of his own. Such was his superiority that at one point he had lapped the entire field.
Finally, Di Resta has chosen the climax to the 2008 world title fight at the Brazilian Grand Prix, when, as he puts it, “the championship went to the last corner”.
Massa completed his part of the bargain and, as he crossed the line to take the chequered flag, Hamilton was down in sixth place, having recently been passed by Toro Rosso‘s Vettel.
In the Ferrari pit they celebrated, but with rain falling all was not lost for Hamilton. Ahead of him the Toyotas, which had chose not to stop for wet-weather tyres, were struggling, and the Englishman passed the gripless Timo Glock at the last corner of the race to sneak the place he needed.
As regular readers will know, we pick one of the driver’s choices to highlight and I have to admit that the initial inclination was to run Di Resta’s choices ahead of the German Grand Prix and show the ’68 race at the Nurburgring.
Highlights of that race do not exist in the BBC archive, though, so instead we have went Di Resta to Canada and chosen the ’79 French race because of Villeneuve, after whom Canada’s F1 track is named.
So the full ‘Grand Prix’ highlights programme broadcast on the evening of that race is embedded below – it has never been shown since that day 32 years ago.
Beneath it are links to long and small highlights of last year’s Canadian Grand Prix. It was arguably the best race of the season last year, featuring a thrilling battle between all five of the men who fought out the championship – Hamilton, his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, Alonso’s Ferrari and the Red Bull drivers Vettel and Mark Webber.
The details for the BBC red button on digital television in the UK are as follows:
Long highlights from France 1979, small highlights of Europe 1993, Brazil 2008 and Australia 2011 plus extended highlights of the Canadian Grand Prix 2010 will be broadcast on satellite and cable from 1500 BST on Wednesday 8 June until 1700 BST on Sunday 12 June.
Unfortunately, a lack of bandwidth because of the Queens tennis tournament means we are unable to broadcast these highlights on Freeview.
Justin Wilcox was potentially on the way to the largest win of his career against Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante when a freak poke to the eye finished that hope. The former college wrestler got drilled in his right eye and immediately hit the deck, writhing in pain. The ringside physician came in and tested Wilcox’s vision. Seconds later, she recommended a stoppage to the fight. The bout was halted just 31 seconds into the second and called a no choice.
“I wanted to place more pressure on him in the second. He came forward with the head and I poked him in the eye. It happens. That’s MMA,” Cavalcante told HDNet. “I did not reckon I was winning [in the first]. I was patient, trying to see what his gameplan was. In the second, I was getting more comfortable.”
Cavalante (15-4-1) considered by many a top 10 lightweight back in 2008 really needed the win as well. The Brazilian came in a loser of three of four against top notch competition.
Things didn’t go too well in that opening round. He was far from blown out, but Wilcox (11-3) had a higher strike attempt output and scored often with straight rights and crosses.
Wilcox, a campmate of college teammate Josh Koscheck at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Ca., has added to his game with each fight. He’s turned himself from one-dimensional wrestler to a well-rounded fighter in just three years. Cavalcante was going to have a tough time taking him out.
Heun slips by Almeida in brilliant grappling battle
Conor Heun has been involved in some absolute wars with Strikeforce. Tonight, he got a chance to show off his grappling, submission defense and toughness. In what was a dead even fight against Magno Almeida, Heun turned it on in the final 90 seconds to walk away with a unanimous choice victory, 29-28 on all cards.
Facing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Heun (9-4) got stuck in several predicaments including some nasty armbars. The worst came toward the end of the second. He had his arm twisted and turned for over 55 seconds. Heun survived, but at the end of the fight his right arm looked deformed.
Even with the jacked up right arm, Heun probably sealed the victory by pounding away at Almeida (9-2) in the final round. With 1:45 left, Almeida got Heun in a d’arce choke. The American survived, escaped and transitioned to top control. Sitting in Almeida’s full guard, Heun worked to the body and head. He got off a bunch of vicious hammer fists and even some double hammer shots.
Heun won the first round in unconventional fashion from the bottom. Almeida got top control and was in Heun’s full guard, but couldn’t get anything off. Heun used a brilliant rubber guard to control Almeida and got off a bunch of solid elbows to score with the judges.
Strikeforce – Dallas undercard:
Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Brian Melancon via unanimous choice (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Nah-Shon Burrell def. Joe Ray via unanimous choice (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
One of the most spectacular races in a very long time produced an appropriately stunning win from Jenson Button in the Canadian Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver came from last place to first in the space of 30 incredible laps on a track that, while it regularly produces the best race of the Formula 1 season, has never produced a race quite like this one.
It will surely go down as one of the most incredible grands prix in history and Button’s performance matched it.
For a long, long time, Sebastian Vettel appeared to be on the way to another imperious victory, but the German made his first mistake in what has been a virtually flawless season to hand his English rival a fully deserved victory half way around the last lap.
“An incredible day,” said a scarcely believing Button as he sat down in front of the media a few minutes after climbing out of the car.
And as if to underline just how incredible it was, how much the end result turned on the right decisions and the right breaks at the right time, the heavens opened again no more than an hour after the end of the race, in even more dramatic fashion than they had in the course of an afternoon that left nearly everyone involved dizzy.
For more than half the race, Button appeared completely out of contention.
He collided with team-mate Lewis Hamilton – an incident for which he apologised even though it appeared to be at least as much Hamilton’s fault; made five pit stops to change tyres; survived a collision with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso; and visited the pits a further time to serve a drive-through penalty for going too quick when the safety car was deployed.
Button was last at the penultimate of four restarts under the safety car, with 30 laps to go.
And yet he sliced through the backmarkers with the clinical precision he displays when he is on top form and timed a final pit stop to change to slick tyres perfectly – only one lap after Mark Webber made the call himself, one that was instrumental in moving Vettel’s team-mate from the midfield into podium contention.
Those final 20 laps were some of the most exhilarating I have witnessed since I started watching F1 30 or so years ago, as Button closed in on the lead at a pace Webber described as “on a different planet from the rest of us”.
With 15 laps to go, Vettel looked unassailable as he pulled away in the lead and Button homed in on a battling Michael Schumacher, who produced by far the most convincing drive of his comeback so far, and Webber.
A final safety car on lap 57 was what place Button into victory contention. He would have easily passed Schumacher and Webber, but the safety car reduced Vettel’s lead from a probably uncatchable 10 seconds to zero.
At the restart, the German pulled it out to 3.1 seconds again while Button battled to get past Webber and Schumacher but the Englishman was in range.
He closed remorselessly in – 1.6secs, 1.3secs, 1.1secs, 0.9secs – and Vettel buckled under the pressure.
Hamilton paid generous tribute afterwards. “Jenson drove absolutely incredible,” he told BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz as he filmed his behind the scenes report for this website.
“With all the commotion going on, the pressure he place on Vettel at the end, I knew he was going to get him.”
Despite his error, Vettel is still in a very strong position in the championship. He really extended his lead by two points and is now two wins and a fifth place clear of his closest rival, which is now Button following Hamilton’s retirement.
His mistake proves that he is beatable if he is pushed hard enough, as was the case last year.
But Hamilton – who still seems the man with the largest chance of overhauling him for all Button’s genius on Sunday – will need to get his act together again if he is to do so.
His controversial collision with Button led to his visiting the race stewards to clarify his actions for the sixth time in seven races – an extension of a record that led to the McLaren driver coming out with his now-infamous Ali G remarks after the last race in Monaco.
In the midst of Hamilton’s reaction, one phrase was particularly telling. Where does your season go from here, he was questioned. “Onwards and upwards,” he answered. “Go to the next one and try to stay out of distress.”
Hamilton at least finished an incident-packed race in Monaco. In Canada, where in hindsight he could have won, there were more errors.
He was in the wars as soon as the drivers were released following a safety car start, colliding with Webber in an incident Hamilton admitted was his fault.
Two laps later, as he fought to make up lost ground, came the collision with Button.
It was a racing incident – Button should probably have seen Hamilton, who should probably have realised the gap was going to close.
But who was to blame is not really the point. Hamilton does seem to have turned into a magnet for distress this year, and there seems small doubt that the situation is arising out of frustration at helplessly watching another title slip away.
Be that as it may, a slight change of approach is required if Hamilton is to deliver fully his fantastic potential.
“It’s the nature of Lewis’s attacking style,” said David Coulthard as he analysed the Button-Hamilton collision on BBC One. “It’s simple to knock someone when they’re involved in a series of incidents, but it’s why Lewis has so many fans around the world.
“This is just a phase he’s going through. He believes he’s the best driver in the world. Right now McLaren are not able to give him a winning car, and he’s getting frustrated.
Lewis Hamilton was penalised twice by the stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight ago. Photo: Getty
“He wants to win, and that passion, that drive, is what’s causing him to get up close and personal with other cars. If I was his management, I’d be saying: ‘Chill. Everyone knows you’re a fantastic driver, just delight in it.’”
Undoubtedly Hamilton shares their speed, their verve, their charisma, and their excellent looks. But he also shares their occasional tendency to go over the limit.
That is, of course, what has given all three their enormous global appeal but in all three cases it also led to races lost through going too far.
Hamilton might well reckon he fancies his chances against Vettel in a Red Bull.
And, brilliantly as the world champion is driving at the moment, Hamilton is not alone in thinking that is with excellent reason. What a battle it would be.
But, apparently under contract to McLaren until the end of next season, that prospect is probably not a possibility for the foreseeable future.
Hamilton has to do battle with what he has and make the most of it. If he is to do that, he must stop fretting about Vettel and relax into his racing. In that, he could learn a thing or two from his team-mate.
Welcome to our latest featured surf photographer; Shelli Bankier from the Gold Coast of Australia. The beauty of the blue sphere…
Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum Preview Video by Strikeforce
This is a glue bomb save of an ancient Dodge pickup. It was originally a long bed fleetside 4×4, but I had some spare parts from the Lil Red Express truck kit. I shortened the chassis and added the stepside box to the 4×4 drivetrain. I reckon it turned out pretty nice. Paint is sueded Tamiya blue and Krylon flat black. The interior is detailed and the carpets are flocked. Hope you like it!
Filed under: UFC
They will forever be grouped together in MMA lore — Tito, Chuck and Randy — the three building blocks of Zuffa’s early success. While Royce Gracie was the sport’s godfather, and a fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin saved the UFC, it was Ortiz, Liddell and Couture that gave the company legs and propelled it into the present. It was those three names that made ordinary shows into events, that sucked media into their gravitational pulls, that made MMA matter.
They will always be linked together, but Ortiz hopes there is one distinct difference. Liddell and Couture are both retired now, having said excellent-bye to the sport in just the last six months, but Ortiz fights on with the hope of extending a career that has been stuck in neutral for some time.
Once the UFC‘s largest drawing card, Ortiz was questioned by the UFC brass to retire after his most recent loss, a defeat which extended his winless streak to five matches over four years.
Ortiz declined to call it quits, and questioned — “begged,” he says bluntly — for one more chance. The opportunity was granted him to fight fellow veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in March 2011, but a terrible cut suffered in training caused him to withdraw. Instead of facing a fellow warhorse of a similar age, Ortiz was thrust into a UFC 132 match with Ryan Bader, a highly regarded 28-year-ancient who lost for the first time earlier this year.
While the three UFC building blocks all won championships and were dominant at one time, the late stages of their careers were remarkably different. For Liddell, it was his once-iron chin betraying him in hideous knockout losses to Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua and Rich Franklin that signaled to UFC brass it was time to persuade him to hang up his Hall of Fame gloves. Couture walked away before anyone tried to force him out. Still competitive at the age of 47, Couture had won three fights in a row before announcing that win or lose, his UFC 129 bout against Lyoto Machida would be his swan song. He lost via TKO.
Ortiz is somewhere in between. He is excellent enough to be competitive, yet winning has eluded his reach.
If Saturday is the end, it’s been a long, slow goodbye. He was 31 years ancient when he last won a fight, an age hardly considered ancient in MMA. Over those five fights, he hasn’t ever truly been blown out. He lost via TKO to Liddell back in Dec. 2006 when Liddell was the king of the world, but he never lost consciousness, he was simply overwhelmed by Liddell’s aggressiveness and power. That became the first of four straight matches against once or future champions. He fought to a draw with Rashad Evans, lost a unanimous choice to Lyoto Machida, and lost a split choice to Forrest Griffin. Then, last October, he fell once again, this time losing a choice to a decidedly less accomplished fighter, his former protege Matt Hamill.
He’s now 36. During the intervening years, Ortiz was slowed down by neck and back injuries that robbed him of the explosiveness that made his double-leg takedown one of the signature moves of early UFC fights in the Zuffa era. Despite his own self-promotion and constant proclamations that he’s healthy, when it comes time to fight, Ortiz has been a gunslinger without his favorite weapon.
The distress with proclaiming his career over, which many have, is that his skills haven’t significantly deteriorated; they’re simply not as sharp. He’s like a once-fantastic but aging running back who can anticipate the hole in the line of scrimmage but can’t get to it as quickly as he used to. He’s like a fireball pitcher who lost a few miles per hour on his fastball. He knows what he’s doing, he’s got skills and smarts to stay competitive, but when it becomes a game of reaction and speed, he can’t make up the time. Whether that’s because of the physical issues that have mounted over the years, or simply the grind of the sport speeding up his clock, Ortiz is simply not the same athlete he once was, and that doesn’t make him any different than most 36-year-olds. But when you’re trying to compete with kids, the loss of a split-second in reaction time or explosion is often the difference between victory and defeat.
To keep his job, he must win Saturday night. A loss will be the end of his UFC career, one that has spanned over 14 years. Aside from a single 16-second fight that occurred outside of the UFC’s Octagon, Ortiz has spent his entire pro run with the promotion. His bout with Bader will mark his 24th fight in the UFC, tying Couture and Matt Hughes for the most all-time. If you’re wondering, Liddell is just one behind them with 23.
You can say that Ortiz is part of a dying breed, but in reality, he’s the very last one. Vitor Belfort was in the UFC before Ortiz, but he never had the mainstream impact Ortiz could boast, and Hughes came after Zuffa bought the company.
He was at times a lightning rod, a box-office phenom, a Dana White punching bag, and a one-man soap opera. Now, he’s a rarity in sports: a high-paid underdog tale. But whatever he was, people always cared. And whatever he will be after Saturday, whether he lives to fight another day or is cut and calls it quits, there is one other thing he can say he was: for a moment in time, Ortiz was the best.
Thirty-six is not ancient, but it’s not so young, either. Chuck and Randy are gone, and now it appears time is coming for Tito, too. Memories of the past and a history of importance to the UFC can no longer save him. On Saturday, it’s win or go home. If he loses, remarkably, that would mean that the UFC’s huge three were gone within six months of each other. It would be an ending that is equally fitting and sad, the early power trio going out like dominos in a poetic goodbye.
We’ve just refreshed Australian artist; David Williams‘ profile on COTW with some new art, namely "protest art", against the way ‘we’ are treating the oceans, particularly sharks! The artist commented; "I’m frightened for Sharks… ‘We’ are eating them to death, but mostly removing their fins & leaving the rest to make Shark Fin Soup… I’m just completing the last in a series of works, some of which will be up for silent auction to help raise funds for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society."
David has also recently produced an Organic shirt; "Man Eating Shark", of which 50% of profits goes to S.S.C.S (contact the artist for full details)…
Chad Griggs Wants a ‘Real Huge Name’ Opponent Next Video by Chad Griggs
The Austin City Council has endorsed the plans for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas by a margin of five votes to two. There has been discussion about the June 17 date because this may fall on what is called an Ozone Action Day. These are hot, sunny, still days [...]
The latest installment of Strikeforce’s heavyweight grand prix delivered a bizarre night of fights that featured a no choice, a submission due to strikes, and a weird main event where neither fighter showed off his best work. But who did stand out?
No. 1 star — Jorge Masvidal: As the non-heavyweights on the main card, Masvidal and K.J Noons had the tall order of showing what the small guys can do. Masvidal lived up to expectations, putting on a show with K.J. Noons’ face on the unfortunate receiving end. A kick to the neck leveled Noons near the end of the first round, and Masvidal never looked back. Now, he wants a shot at Gilbert Melendez and the Strikeforce lightweight title.
No. 2 star — Josh Barnett: After not fighting for nearly a year, Barnett had no problem disposing of Brett Rogers. He used catch wrestling to control Rogers before locking up an arm-triangle choke, and then launched into a speech that showed why fans still like Barnett. Next, he’ll face Sergei Kharitonov in the semifinals of the Strikeforce heavyweight GP.
No. 3 star — Daniel Cormier: You would expect a two-time Olympic wrestler to control a fight with takedowns, but Cormier chose to show off how much his stand-up game has grown in the two years that he’s been training in MMA. He stayed away from Jeff Monson’s submission game, and stuck to a gameplan that involved peppering Monson with combinations. Cormier told Cagewriter that he would like a chance against Chad Griggs, who place on an impressive performance of his own against Valentijn Overeem, or Shane del Rosario.
Honorable mention — K.J. Noons: On a night where Valentijn Overeem tapped out from a fight because of strikes, and Fabricio Werdum oddly refused to engage Alistair Overeem, Noons showed right heart in continuing to give his all in a losing effort to Masvidal.
Who were your Three Stars from the weekend? Speak your mind in the comments or on Facebook.
If you are hoping to improve your ability or learn more about training techniques and tools, then this blog will give you some of the answers – because that’s what I’m going to do too!
I’ve been climbing for about three years and have developed enough basic ability to get me up 6a routes. I’ve set [...]
M-M-A are still three dirty and misunderstood letters. In many locales, you’ll notice that any time a bar fight or scrap goes terrible, if it involves someone who’s ever stepped in an MMA gym, the blame will be placed on the sport. That’s exactly what’s happened in one South Dakota town.
A 28-year-ancient who belong to the Disciples of MMA club in Watertown was involved in a March bar fight. His opponent, Justin Jaton, died and the town has since banned MMA fights. Huh?
Three months later, according to The Republic, the residents of Watertown defeated a measure to allow an MMA fight within the city limits.
KWAT radio reports that Tuesday’s vote was 841 people favoring the events and 1,228 people opposing them.
The City Council in May voted 5-3 to allow MMA events, a form of fighting entertainment that some mark as barbaric. MMA opponents gathered enough petition signatures to force a citywide vote.
Mixed martial arts fighters use a variety of techniques, borrowing from boxing, wrestling and various forms of martial arts.
Promoter Mike Alama says he’ll still hold fights in the Watertown area, but outside the city limits.
Did this really have anything to do with MMA? Of course not. The police description of the incident says it was even a fight.
“The term ‘fight’ should probably be used very loosely,” said Detective Chad Stahl of the Watertown Police Department. “This was an assault.”
Randy Leddy, a local bartender and MMA student, called the campaign to smear the sport silly.
“It’s very frustrating for me that it has to be linked to MMA,” Leddy said. “The cage fighting community had nothing to do with it – it was two individuals and liquid courage.”
(NOTE: The Leddy quote appears to have been removed from the original tale. It was saved from the tale on MMA.tv.)
You still don’t believe the fight and MMA are linked? Here’s a follow-up tale from April talking about how martial arts teaches you that it’s proper to walk away from a fight.
With a population of 21,482, Watertown is the fourth-largest city in South Dakota.