The Death of Georgetown Basketball

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VCU, Butler, and Memphis have been more successful in the tournament than Georgetown. These programs do not have history and rich tradition Georgetown does. These programs do not have the luxury of bringing in decorated recruits just on school name. These programs also do not spend money the way Georgetown does for it’s basketball team,and they have had more postseason success than the Hoyas. Georgetown has the 27th highest basketball revenue in the nation(10,0714,618). Why people spend money to watch a team play above average in conference play, then get romped in the tournament, I could not tell you.

They also have the audacity to make you donate $500 to their program for premium seating, Big East tournament ticket priority and NCAA tournament priority. I called their ticket office to see available NCAA and Big East tournament ticket packages for students. The guy on the phone told me, “Sorry man, there are no tickets available to students unless you donated $500 to the basketball program or buy of ticket master”. This is a team that has not won a Big East championship since 2007. This is a team that also hasn’t seen the final four since 2007. This is a program that has the nerve to set up their ticketing options for donators only.

Let’s compare some VCU, Butler, and Memphis’ tournament results since 2008 with Georgetown’s.

  • Butler is 12-5 in the tournament since 2008 and two national championship appearances.
  • Memphis is 8-5 in the tournament since 2008 and has a national championship appearance.
  • VCU is 7-4 since 2008 and one final four appearance.
  • Georgetown is 2-5 since 2008 and zero final four appearances.

2-5? That’s a 28% winning percentage. Way below average. A pathetic resume for a program with so much “history”.

Georgetown brings in three and four star recruits consistently every year. Why can’t John Thompson get the best out of his recruits every year? Because he sucks. His Princeton offense sucks. Jalen you know nothing about basketball, the Princeton offense is great for a team with this much talent. Florida Gulf Coast was able to disrupt and beat your Princeton offense. The Princeton offense is for teams who suck and need a way to stay in games against the Goliaths in college basketball. Mr. Thompson, you were not able motivate your team at halftime to pull out this win. You were not able to take away FGCU’s strengths with your superior players at every position. Finally Mr. Thompson, you also couldn’t draw up plays for your superstar Otto Porter to get into the paint for easy. Instead of doing any of what I stated above, you let your team shoot 27 threes –missing 20 of them. Plus allowing 54 points in the second half. John Thompson you suck.

The Hoyas are the first team to be eliminated in four straight NCAA tournaments by a team seeded at least five spots lower(per ESPN stats and info). But hey we had Ewing and AI! Your almost like your dad who screwed up the 1988 Olympic team.

Here are some excerpts of from Peter Keating’s “Why Georgetown is worst ‘Giant’ Ever”

“In 2008, the Hoyas, a No. 2 seed, led the country by allowing opponents an effective field goal percentage of just 42 percent. And they were up by 17 points in their second-round game against No. 10 seed Davidson — until they started turning the ball over and allowed a sophomore named Stephen Curry to score 25 of his 30 points in the second half. Georgetown lost, 74-70 — and comparing the actual outcome to the projected result based on the teams’ statistical strengths, Georgetown underperformed expectations by 18.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s pretty bad, but nowhere near as awful as what was coming.”

“In 2010, Georgetown was a No. 3 seed but trailed No. 14 seed Ohio all the way in their first-round matchup, allowing a blizzard of jump shots, including 13 3-pointers. In losing 97-83, Georgetown not only suffered the biggest margin ever in a 14-3 upset, but the Hoyas underperformed their expected outcome by 38.1 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-worst game ever by a Giant.”

“In 2011, VCU, a No. 11 seed, steamrolled Georgetown, a 6-seed, on the Rams’ way to the Final Four. The Hoyas shot 5-for-26 on 3-point attempts while giving up a dozen 3s, and committed 17 turnovers. Georgetown fell 39.5 points per 100 possessions short of expectations, the third-worst performance ever by a Giant.”

“In 2012, Georgetown, a No. 3 seed, seemed to exorcise its demons when it threw daggers into our spreadsheets and vanquished Belmont in the Round of 64. But then they lost to North Carolina State, a No. 11 seed.”

“With this 78-68 loss, Georgetown again performed far worse than expected: 32.4 points per 100 possessions under water, which ranks as the No. 10 all-time horror show by a Giant. (For purposes of comparison, New Mexico played 23.4 points worse than expected in losing to Harvard. The worst loss ever by a Giant was Purdue’s 94-76 destruction at the hands of VCU in 2011, clocking in at -44.2.) And since 2007, the Hoyas have played 92.2 points per 100 possessions than they should have in the NCAA tournament, over nine games. Uh, congratulations?”

Nice piece from Peter Keating.

This is the death of the Georgetown. Today should be the day John Thompson is fired.

2013 NCAA Tournament Preview

final-four-logo-2013-ncaa-tournament-atlanta

Guide for this NCAA Tournament:

It’s that time again to make your brackets, skip work or classes, and listen to Dick Vitale rave about diaper dandies and some guy being a sensation. Everyone thinks they have the perfect bracket but deep down we all know that isn’t true. It’s time for upsets, storylines and the word that defines this tournament and March, madness. Jalen and I are here to help ease making those picks by putting up our own predictions and thoughts on the tourney. Good luck to all and may your teacher/boss not call you out for not coming or paying attention to your work.

Let’s start in the Midwest-

JD’s summary of region: 4 teams from the Midwest region could very well end up in the final four. For whatever reason the committee decided to give the “Overall” number one seed, Louisville, to be stuck with what seems to be the toughest bracket. Duke has only lost one game with Ryan Kelly and that came in the ACC tournament yet received the lowest two seed. Next you can never count out a Tom Izzo team in March and he has this year’s 3 seeded Michigan State in a great position again to make a run. Watch out for big man Adrien Payne inside and freshman Gary Harris to help push this team towards the final four. Next, is the most efficient team in the nation that many people don’t know about, St. Louis. I almost want to pick this team to beat my choice due to what they are playing for the passing of their head coach, (Coach Rick Majerus) and the fact they DO NOT turn the ball over. They play smart and Brad Stevens even called this team a final four team and I was close to picking them but, I choose:

Louisville- Louisville_Cardinals103

No one wants to play the team that won the Big East tourney in any year of the NCAA tournament and this year is no different. Louisville caught fire in the Big East Tourney and they looked unstoppable. The deepest team in the Midwest region and possibly the tournament will look to tire out teams with their up-tempo play and full court pressure. They are led in the back court with their senior leader Peyton Siva and their go to sporadic scorer Russ Smith. In the front court you have Gorgui Dieng inside who may not impress you on the offensive end but is their defensive enforcer. After that on the wings you will find Luke Hancock, Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear. All of these guys score around 10 points per game and all could go for 20 in any game. Also keep in mind they just had Montrezl Harrell just scored 20 points on Syracuse this weekend in the Big East final and he averaged 5 points this year. This is an example of how deep this team is.

J.D.’s Dark horse of the region: cincyy

Many people would say Oregon as a 12 seed since they deserved a higher seed however I just don’t agree with it. Their road to win the PAC 12 championship was very easy. They are just 5-3 in their last eight games I see them as overrated.  My choice is going to be Cincinnati. They could easily lose their first game to Creighton but they could also make it to the elite eight and I wouldn’t be shocked.  They may be the most inconsistent team in the tourney but they have the talent to go far. In the beginning of the year, it looked as if Cincinnati was unbeatable and wouldn’t lose but once Big East play started and they lost they seemed to be the forgotten team of the conference. Look for Sean Kilpatrick and Chasmere Wright to try and regain that beginning of the year swagger. These are two guys that can take over games. If they get past Creighton look for them to press Duke and try to force Duke point guards into bad situations.

Jalen’s Dark horse of the region: ok st

Drawing the 5th seed in the toughest region, Oklahoma State are being dubbed as a team to get upset in the first weekend. I do not see it. The emergence of guards Marcus Smart and Markel Brown have given the Cowboys the best backcourt they’ve had in years. The Pokes are also led by bruising wing LeBryan Nash. Oklahoma State is more talented and versatile than any team they will have to play in this region and I expect them to make a deep run. They do not shoot the deep ball well(31%) but a team with NBA talent is a team that can give teams trouble.

J.D’s Player to watch out for: doug mcdermott

The person that plays Cincinnati in the first round. Doug McDermott. As he goes, they go it’s as simple as that. The games that McDermott has struggled in (mostly due to being doubled teamed) they have lost. McDermott should get the National player of the year award because he is that good. He shoots 50 percent from three as a 6’8” big man and shooting 57 percent from the field. He averages 8 boards a game and is an 86 percent free throw shooter. Those stats are mind blowing especially when their next leading scorer is at 9.6 points per game and their center average a board less a game. McDermott is the type of player that could absolutely kill people’s brackets.

Jalen’s player to watch out for: Drew Charles, Marcus Smart

My player to look out for also plays for the team that might make noise in the the region. Marcus Smart put great all around numbers this season(15.5pts, 5.7rebs, 4.2rebs). Smart uses his great strength to get to free throw line seven times a game, making opposing coaches use their reserve backcourt players. He can use all of his 6 foot 4 225 pound body(that’s bigger than Falcons wideout Julio Jones) to bully smaller defenders off the dribble.  An imposing defender because of his (again)size and a willing passer , Smart is the complete package. The Big 12 player of the year can make defenders personal lay up line dummies with his second to none athleticism. Expect Smart to play big.

Jalen’s possible Round of 64 upset: nm st

New Mexico State(13) over Saint Louis(4): The Aggies have the biggest size advantage in the Midwest bracket. 7 foot 5 355 pound Sim Bhullar was the WAC freshman of year and Bandja Sy are both great rebounders and decent finishers around the basket. Streaking into the tournament winning ten of the last twelve, if the Aggies establish their frontcourt early, it can beat the Atlantic 10 champs.

Next up the West Region- 

J.D’s Summary of the West: Ohio State and Wisconsin are the teams coming into this that were the most tested throughout the season playing a rough Big 10 schedule. They will be a tough out for any team trying to get past them. The one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs deserved the one seed and have the most talented team in this region. However I don’t think they have “it” when it comes to being a final four team and will eventually fall before reaching the big stage. They play too inconsistent for me to have confidence in them as a one seed. They are deep but they don’t have that one player who can take over a game and I always look for that in a team who make sit to the final four.

J.D.’s Winner: New-Mexico-logo-2009

New Mexico– First off people may be shocked that they were a three seed but I think the Lobos deserved at least a two seed. They were second in RPI and are a very well rounded team. They have a very good scoring point guard in Kendall Williams who can also dish it. Next up they have a 3 point threat in Tony Snell who absolutely destroyed Mountain West Tourney and took over games late. Lastly they got the big man Alex Kirk inside who may not be the most athletic player in a game but, he has great footwork and hands for a big man. There big test will come against Arizona who I think is very deep and talented. If Arizona beats Belmont they have a style of play that may bother New Mexico.

J.D’s Dark Horse of the region: arizona

Arizona: They could easily lose their first game like Cincy or make a run at the elite 8. This is a team that started the season off hot going 14-0 and beating teams like Miami (Although they didn’t have Reggie Johnson),Florida and San Diego State. They only have one bad loss which was at USC and the rest of them were quality losses. They have a very solid starting 5 and two guards (Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons) who can take over games. They also have senior leadership from starting power forward Solomon Hill. The one thing they struggle with is passing the ball around and this could be their downfall. If they get past Belmont which should be one of the better first round games they are a good matchup for New Mexico. They are a deep and talented team that, if they play smart, can play with anyone.

Jalen’s Dark horse of the region: nd

Notre Dame. Guard play in my opinion is the key to winning games in the tournament. Jack Cooley is the best player on the team but Grant and Atkins are just as important because they control the tempo for the 24th most efficient offense in the nation. This is the classic Notre Dame with their slow half court offense and ball movement. As long as Notre Dame keep a slow pace and total possessions low they can beat more talented teams in the region.

J.D’s Player to watch out forNCAA Basketball: Mountain West Tournament-UNLV vs New Mexico

Tony Snell. As I stated before he took over the Mountain West tournament and really shined as a go to player. He ran off of so many screens to get open and never seemed to tire. He shoots very well from three and is not a selfish player He wasn’t even the team’s leading scorer this year. He shoots well from the field and doesn’t take dumb shots. It’ll be a fun matchup against Arizona if it comes to it. Side note my favorite player to watch in the tourney Marshall Henderson is in this bracket as well. He just does not have any care for opposing teams and will go at it with opposing fans. He is too much fun to watch and if you want a good laugh along with watching a good basketball player this is your guy. He goes 110 percent all game.

Jalen’s Player to watch out for: deshaun thomas

DeShaun Thomas. The 6 foot 7 225 pound junior has a complete offensive game and leads the Big Ten in scoring(19.5pts). Thomas disrupts wing defenders with his post offense and unlimited range. The Buckeyes rely on Thomas to do their heavy lifting offensively so he must overcome his shooting struggles over the past four weeks. Thomas should be a fun player to watch this March.

Jalen’s Round of 64 possible upset: belmont  bruins

 Belmont(11) over Arizona(6). Arizona is limping into the tournament after starting 20-2 and finishing 25-7. Belmont is an elite shooting team. Belmont scores 77.1 points on 49% shooting. Ian Clark was the OVC player of the year and will have to shoot a flawless game for the Bruins. If Belmont lives up to their three point stats from this regular season, the they have a chance at an upset.

South Region-

J.D’s summary of the South region: Has all the big names out there. UCLA, UNC, Kansas, Florida, Georgetown, Villanova and Michigan all are in the South region. Although some of these names aren’t as good as they have been recently, you can never underestimate these teams. Kansas has a potential number 1 overall pick in Ben Mclemore, Otto Potter is a potential top 5 pick, Shabazz Muhammad is also a top 5 pick, Jamaal Franklin is a potential top 20 pick from San Diego State, and Michigan is the most talented team in the region. This region just seems like the most exciting region by far and I cannot wait to watch these games. I can see many teams in this bracket winning it and look for some upsets along the way.

J.D’s Winner: kansas

Kansas: They have the best big man in the region along with the best 2 guard possibly in college basketball. Jeff Withey is the smartest big man in college basketball. He erases opponent shots and never fouls of games. He is good for 14 a game along with around 10 boards a game. Then to Ben Mclemore, he is one of the most exciting players in college basketball. He has a pure stroke from three that he can knock down from anywhere and then the next play he will go up and dunk on someone. He also has some flair to his game (Ex: His dance in the locker room and taunting the Iowa State bench). It does help when your coach is Bill Self, one the best coaches in college basketball.

J.D’s Dark Horse of the region: unc

I’ll get called a homer for doing this but I’m picking my team UNCUNC as of late has been clicking lately and is 8-2 in their last ten games. Their two losses came to Miami and Duke. If you want to go a little farther back their next two losses were Miami and Duke also with 3 more wins in between that. Marcus Paige is really getting accustomed to the college game and has two of the best shooters in the nation, Reggie Bullock and PJ Hariston. This team reminds me a lot of the Missouri team from last year with their new lineup (yes, I know Missouri lost in the first round last year but they were better than that). I expect them to beat Nova and give Kansas their best with possibly upsetting them. If Bullock and Hariston get hot this could cause a problem for Kansas because UNC has a frontcourt that can slow down Withey and Co.

Jalen’s Dark Horse of the region: ucla

The easy pick is VCU because of their relentless ball pressure and defense, but I’m going with UCLA. The loss of Jordan Adams puts the Bruins at a severe disadvantage and it is easy to pick them for an early exit. UCLA has the talent to play with anyone because of their gifted freshman Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad. Senior guard Larry Drew is fourth in the nation in assists and has came a long way after transferring from North Carolina. If UCLA matches their talent with high energy on both sides of the floor, they can pull off wins.

J.D’s Player to watch out for: michigan

Trey Burke: He is arguably the best point guard in NCAA and this is both in the sense of scoring and managing the game. He plays on a very exciting Michigan team with major talent around him. Trey reminds some people of Chris Paul with the way he plays, but I’m not going to go that far. He is their go to player at the end of games and he usually comes up big for them. I was really thinking of choosing Jamaal Franklin here but Burke’s ability to carry Michigan is too much. He can score from anywhere on the court and get anyone open at any time. He is one player that as he goes his team goes.

Jalen’s Player to watch out for: shabazz

Shabazz Muhammad. The most coveted recruit in recent years, Muhammad averaged 17.8pts and 5.3rebs in probably his only season as a Bruin. Muhammad is the cog of this young team with his ability slash and finish at the rim. He overcame a lot of adversity this season after being reinstated and being nitpicked to death by the college basketball media. UCLA is 12-1 when Shabazz scores twenty or more points so he must play at the top of his game. If this is going to be his last few games with UCLA, I see Shabazz putting on a show for NBA scouts.

Jalen’s possible Round of 64 upset:  sd state

South Dakota State over Michigan. The Jackrabbits are led by Nate Wolters(22.2pts,5.6reb,5.8ast). Wolters has a complete offensive game. He is a terrific ball handler(2.53 TO/Assist ratio) and can score off the dribble. Wolters will have to out shoot NBA talents Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Glenn Robinson III to win this game. If Wolters can score over 30 and keep turnovers low, my mom’s home state team has a chance at an upset.

East Region-

J.D’s summary of the East Region:

The East is mainly dominated by two teams and that being Miami and Indiana. I don’t see any other team other than these two making it to the final four. Indiana is the favorite in this bracket and the more common choice here. They have possible player of the year candidates Tyler Zeller and Victor Oladipo. That’s almost unheard of to have two people up for the award. They were the preseason favorites and played up to expectations this year. Also some fun players in this bracket are Allan Crabbe from California, Anthony Bennett from UNLV, Mike Muscala from Bucknell, Brandon Paul from Illinois, and Spencer Dinwiddie from Colorado. All of these guys can put their teams on their back and go for 30 in a game.

J.D’s Winner: miami-hurricanes-logo2

Miami: If this team is playing their best, there is absolutely no one in the tournament that can beat them. They are flexible with lineups, with strong play from both their big man and backcourt. Many fans have grown to know Shane Larkin through his phenomenal play this year but I think their x factor is Kenny Kadji. The 6’11” power forward can put the ball on the floor, post people up or knock down a big three if the team needs it. He is their mister do it all and I expect him to come up big when Miami needs him to. Also look for Durand Scott to hit down some big threes to help bring this Miami team to the final four.

J.D’s Dark horse of this region:  cal

California: now as I said this region will be won by either the 1 seed or two so this is the fact I believe Cal has a very good shot at making the sweet 16. UNLV has not been playing their best basketball of late and could easily lose to Cal. Allan Crabbe is a big time player and even after his coach shoves him he still scores at will. If they beat UNLV they will most likely play Syracuse. Although Syracuse has a more talented team I believe the 2-3 zone will be a negative against Cal. Crabbe, Solomon Jones and Combs can shoot and pick apart the zone.

Jalen’s Dark horse of the region: nc state

NC State. The Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16 last season as an eleventh seed and now looking to prove themselves as the East bracket’s eighth seed. NC State has big time talent with athletic forward C.J. Leslie and sixth man guard Rodney Purvis. Richard Howell isn’t a great athlete but is a good rebounder and has moves that work well near the basket. Their five starters average over 12 points per game and can attack from anywhere on offense. They could give Indiana trouble in the second round.

J.D’s Player to watch: Rotnei-Clarke1

Rotnei Clarke: The Butler guard may not be the best player even in his first round matchup (Mike Muscala may be a first round pick next year) but is he fun to watch. He has no conscious from three and if he misses a shot it doesn’t have any effect on his game. Clarke can make this Butler team a very scary team in the tourney if his shot is on and don’t ever count Brad Stevens ever out from an NCAA game. Rotnei Clarke reminds me so much of Patrick Sparks so much.

Jalen’s Player to watch: Illinois Iowa Basketball

Brandon Paul averaged 16.4pts 4.4rebs and 2.8asts in his final season at Illinois. Paul is big game player. This past week he nailed a game winner against Minnesota and earlier in the season scored 35 points in a win at Gonzaga. He is a freak combo guard  who can get the basket well. Brandon Paul will have to bring his elite scoring ability for Illinois to advance to the Sweet 16.

Jalen’s possible Round of 64 upset: allen crabbe

California(12) over UNLV(5). Having two players scoring over 15 points this season gives you a great chance at a tourney run. Having the PAC 12 player of the year Allen Crabbe for your tournament team gives you an even better chance. Guard play in my opinion dominates the tournament. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs must put up big numbers to beat UNLV. The Bears have to neutralize to NBA lottery pick Anthony Bennett if they want to have a chance also.

UFC 158 Main Card Breakdown

UFC 158

MikeRicci_HeadshotColinFletcher_Headshot

Colin Fletcher vs. Mike Ricci

The main card kicks off with two young lightweights coming off losses in there last bouts. This fight could very well be a “loser leaves town bout” in which the loser gets cut by the UFC. The UFC has setup this fight so it’s the classic matchup of striker vs grappler and could very well produce fireworks.

 

Striking: Mike Ricci is a gifted striker with more than half of his wins coming by way of knockout. He uses his strong wrestling base to avoid takedowns and pick apart his opponent on the feet. Colin Fletcher has yet to have a knockout in his career and often uses striking only to setup his takedowns.  When it comes to the striking department it is clear who has the advantage.

Advantage: Mike Ricci

 

Wrestling: This category is extremely tough to call. The two fighters both have good wrestling but use it for different reasons. Fletcher often looks for takedowns early and tries to work his world-class jiu-jitsu game where Ricci use it to avoid takedowns or setup his top-notch ground and pound. Whoever wins the wrestling battle could very well win this fight.

 Advantage: Push

 

Grappling/submissions:  Colin Fletcher is an absolute stud on the ground. 7 of his 8 career wins have come by submission and always depends on his jiu-jtsu to get his hand raised. Mike Ricci is no where close to the level of Fletcher when it comes to submissions and could very well be his downfall in this fight. Another clear advantage in this category.

 Advantage: Colin Fletcher

 

Conclusion: This fight could on paper have all the ingredients to be an exciting bout that kicks off the main event. With their jobs on the line these guy will be doing everything in their power to stand in the octagon victorious. Colin Fletchers ground game will be too good in the end and it will be the reason he is still a UFC employee Saturday night.

Prediction: Colin Fletcher by darce choke 3:14 in the second round

 

NickRing_Headshot ChrisCamozzi_Headshot

Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi 

This bout puts together two middle tier middleweights looking to advance up the ladder. Camozzi has put together a solid three fight-winning streak and could be looking at a high profile opponent with a win. Nick Ring has quietly put together a 3 and 1 record in the UFC and could be looking at a new contract if he comes out on top.  Both fighters have momentum coming into the bout and can show viewers they are main card worthy with an impressive performance.

 

Striking: Nick Ring is a Muay Tai specialist and holds a black belt in his craft. Ring is known to dominate the center of the ring and pick apart his opponent with knees, punches, and will also try to land strikes in the clinch. Chris Camozzio is a gifted striker who throughout his career can hold his own with anyone on his feet. He is known for his granite chin and has never been knocked out in his career. However, Nick Ring is a much more experienced striker and will likely get the better of the exchanges on the feet.

Advantage: Nick Ring

 

Wrestling: Even though Nick Ring does not come from a wrestling background he has managed to secure five takedowns in his UFC career. Camozzi has struggled in his UFC career in the takedown department and currently does not have a takedown to his name. If Nick Ring starts to get beat up on his feet he will likely look for a takedown especially because Camozzi has only been able to defend 57 percent of the takedown thrown his way.

Advantage: Nick Ring

 

Grappling/Submissions: Chris Camozzi has had great success in his career finishing fights with submissions. Nick Ring has also shown to be well versed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has six submission wins to his name. Both fighters will be looking for submissions if the fight goes to the ground. However Camozzi has shown a more all around jiu-jitsu game with two submission wins off of his back.

Advantage: Chris Camozzi

 

Conclusion: Both fighters game plan will be to outpoint each other on their feat. It is very unlikely that a takedown will occur in this bout due to both fighters wanting to get the better of the in tight exchanges. In the end I see Nick Ring being able to successfully control the center of the Octagon and get the win.

Prediction: Nick Ring by decision (29-28,29-28, 30-27)

 

JakeEllenberger_Headshot151 NateMarquardt_Headshot

 

Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt

Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt is the first high profile fight of the night and is guaranteed to have fireworks. After a brief stint in Strikeforce, Nate Marquardt will be rejoining the UFC but this time he will have dropped to welterweight. Jake Ellenberger is an absolute stud and has moved his way into the title picture by winning 6 of his last 7 fights. This bout is not to disappoint.

 

Striking: Jake Ellenberger has had great success when he has chosen to stand and bang. Four of his six wins have come by knockout including a 53 second knockout of former number 1 contender Jake Shields. Nate Marquardt also posses knockout power and has 4 knockout wins in the UFC as a middleweight. However, Jake Ellenberger is too dynamic and athletic on his feet to get beat in this category.

Advantage: Jake Ellenberger

 

Wrestling: Ellenberger has a phenomenal wrestling background due to being a Division 2 national champ in college. He rarely has to rely on his wrestling simply because his striking is that good. Nate Marquardt has been successful in the past securing takedowns but has been shown to being susceptible to takedowns especially when he faced Chael Sonnen. Ellenberger holds a clear advantage in this category.

Advantage: Jake Ellenberger

 

Grappling/Submissions: Jake Ellenberger in the past has shown the ability to force an opponent into submission and has 5 victories to his name. Nate Marquardt has a huge amount of experience when it comes to submissions and is a second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. With almost half of his wins by submission, it is clear that Marquardt’s best chance of winning this fight is to force Ellenberger to tap out.

Advantage: Nate Marquardt

 

Conclusion: To quote the great Chael Sonnen “This fight is going to be a on sided pounding and I’m swinging the hammer”. Ellenberger is too fast and too strong to lose to a man who is over the hill such as Nate Marquardt. This is going to be a brutal knockout where you hope the guy receiving the punishment does not get hurt too bad.

Prediction: Jake Ellenberger by first round knockout at 1:46

 

JohnyHendricks_Headshot CarlosCondit_Headshot143

Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit

Everyone watching this fight will be shocked if this fight goes to the judges’ scorecards. This bout puts together arguably the top two dynamic strikers in the welterweight division. The winner of this fight is likely to get the winner of the main event. You will defiantly not want to blink during this fight because both men are capable of finishing a fight in seconds.

 

Striking: Whoever wins this category will likely be victorious Saturday night. Johny Hendricks has finished two of his last 3 fights in the first minute with his brutal left hook. Carlos Condit has one of the most complete and diverse striking games in the UFC. He has been able to finish fights with punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. Due to experience and wide repertoire of strikes Condit has a slight advantage here.

Advantage: Carlos Condit

 

Wrestling: It is pretty clear-cut who has the advantage here. Johny Hendricks was a 4 time All-American and National Champion at Oklahoma State. Like Jake Ellenberger, his striking is so good that he rarely has to depend on his wrestling chops. Carlos Condit has been susceptible to being taken down and it showed in his title fight vs Georges St. Pierre. If Hendricks is losing the exchanges on his feet he will likely take the fight to the ground.

Advantage: Johny Hendricks

 

Grappling/Submissions: Carlos Condit has shown the abilty to finish fights by submission not only when he’s on top, but also on his back. His phenomenal dexterity allows him to trap opponents in his guard and look for submissions when his back is on the canvas. If Condit can get Hendricks on the ground it could be trouble for the All-American wrestler.

Advantage: Carlos Condit

 

Conclusion: Carlos Condit is the favorite in this fight and many people believe he will win this fight but I think Hendricks is the second best welterweight in the world. His left hand just might be the most dangerous weapon in MMA right now. At the end of the night expect Hendricks to have another highlight reel knockout.

 Prediction: Johny Hendricks by first round knockout at 2:14

 

GeorgesStPierre_Headshot2012 NickDiaz_Headshot

 

Georges St.Pierre vs. Nick Diaz for the Welterweight title

Many MMA fans have been salivating over this matchup for years. Nick Diaz has called out St. Pierre on numerous occasions and has finally received his wish. Due to Diaz’s disrespect St. Pierre told Dana White he wanted to put Diaz in his place as soon as possible even though he was not the number 1 contender. This fight will not disappoint and will likely be a fight of the year candidate.

 

Striking: George St. Pierre has proven he can out strike anyone the UFC has put in front of him. His perfectly executed jab and technically sound striking game are the main reason he feels completely comfortable striking with anyone. Nick Diaz throughout his career has been a dynamic striker and has finished numerous opponents on his feet. What’s unique about Diaz’s striking is not the power he puts behind his punches but the volume of strikes he lands in a small period of time, which breaks down his opponents. This category is a toss up.

Advantage: Push

 

Wrestling: Georges St. Pierre has the best wrestling MMA has ever seen. Period. He has the most takedowns in UFC history and his takedown defense statistics are just as impressive. No one that has stepped in the Octagon with St-Pierre has been able to stop his takedowns. Nick Diaz will not be looking to take this fight to the ground. He almost never looks for takedowns because he is so dependent on his striking game. St.Pierre holds a huge advantage in this category.

Advantage: St. Pierre

 

Grappling/Submissions: Nick Diaz has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under the tutelage of the legend Cesar Gracie. Diaz has been known to be extremely dangerous with submissions off of his back and will likely look to secure a submission when St. Pierre takes him down. St. Pierre does possess a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu  but has not submitted an opponent in over 5 years. It is extremely unlikely St. Pierre will lock in a submission especially on a grappler of Diaz’s caliber. Due to being more of a threat, Diaz holds the advantage.

Advantage: Nick Diaz

 

Conclusion. Georges St.Pierre is one of the top two greatest fighters that has ever stepped in the Octagon. He is head and shoulders better than any Welterweight the UFC can throw at him. Even though Diaz is a game opponent he will not put St. Pierre in any danger. Expect St. Pierre to take Diaz down at ease and cruise to a decision victory.

Prediction: Georges St. Pierre by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)

 

 

 

 

 

3/16 & 3/17 PL Fixtures

SATURDAY

 

Everton vs. Man City

This match has the potential to be one of the most interesting of the weekend. Although Manchester City will be the favorite coming in, it’s still a match that has the potential to swing either way. Currently, I would say Man City are clearly the club in better form, after easily beating Barnsley in the FA cup 5-0, while Everton lost their match up against Wigan 3-0. Unfortunately for Everton, goalkeeper Tim Howard also fractured two of his ribs recently and will miss this match (as well as US qualifiers for the World Cup, most likely, but that is another problem entirely). My prediction is that Man City will end up winning, but if players like Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini have anything to say about it then it will be a hard fought match at least.

Final Prediction: Everton 1 – 3 Manchester City

 

Aston Villa vs. QPR

Maybe not a Battle of the Titans, but one that should be interesting, if for no other reason than it holds a lot of weight in the futures of these clubs. With the relegation battle as close as it is, and with five or six teams that could realistically end in the bottom three, every point counts, especially when it is against another team at the bottom. QPR (20th) currently sit four points behind Villa (16th) but this match-up could close that gap to just one point, and with similar strengths in the rest of their matchups (although I think QPR does have a slightly easier finish), this is a huge match for both clubs. In this one, I’m taking QPR, if for no other reason that Villa showed me nothing against Reading, even if they got the win, whereas QPR is coming off a nice win at Sunderland. So, in the end, I think QPR comes out with three points, and makes the relegation battle even more interesting.

Final Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 2 QPR

 

Southampton vs. Liverpool

These are two clubs who are currently in very different form. Southampton has won only two games in the New Year (although, to be fair, one was against Man City). Liverpool, on the other hand, will be on a high from their stunning victory against Tottenham (3-2 thanks to a cool Stevie G PK).  The choice seems pretty clear to me. In their last three EPL fixtures, Liverpool has scored 12 goals while allowing only two. I also just can’t see Southampton having a solution that can keep Luis Suarez quiet for the whole game, especially with the form he’s been in. I’ll take Liverpool to win this game, in a match that if they play like they have been, Liverpool should take easily.

Final Prediction: Southampton 1 – 3 Liverpool

 

Stoke vs West Brom

Now this game is tough for one reason specifically – Stoke is home. And one thing that they have proved pretty consistently is that they are a tough team to beat at The Britannia.  I do not like the style of soccer Stoke plays. It is very defensive, very rough, and in my opinion, usually very boring. But they do seem to find a way to stay in most games with hard nose defending and playing strong, and I think that’s what is going to happen here. If West Brom can use Lukaku and his size to counter the strength of the Stoke defense, they may be able to pull this one out. For me, though, this game ends in a draw, and more than likely than not it will be a very low scoring one at that.

Final Prediction: Stoke City 0 – 0 West Brom

 

Swansea vs. Arsenal

This is a very interesting matchup, and one that should hopefully be entertaining. These two teams play in a very similar style – possession and pass heavy soccer. Their season series has also been entertaining; Swansea took their EPL matchup at the Emirates 2-0, and then Arsenal beat them in the FA cup 1-0 later in the season. In the end, I think this comes down more to which Arsenal team shows up. Will it be the team that dominated Newcastle in December, or who were in defensive shambles against Tottenham last week? With a midweek fixture against Bayern Munich (already down 3-0 on aggregate after the first leg) it will be interesting to see how the Gunners respond not only to their most recent losses, but also to the fact that their star player, Jack Wilshere, may be out due to injury. I’m biased here, but I’m going with my team and say Arsenal pulls themselves together and take the game, and hopefully get themselves back on track.

Final Prediction: Swansea 1 – 2 Arsenal

 

Manchester United vs. Reading

There isn’t really much to say about this one, Man U are at the top of the league and look poised to take home the trophy, while Reading are in the relegation battle. Although their last match was pretty epic (Manchester United taking away a 4-3 win after the game was tied 3-3 at half), in the end, I just can’t see Reading putting up a fight like that again. I’m more curious to see who Sir Alex Ferguson decides to start against a clearly inferior club, especially after their FA cup draw against Chelsea. With another match not far on the horizon, and with so many star options, particularly upfront, it won’t matter. Manchester United and Old Trafford will take this easily.

Final Prediction: Manchester United 4 – 1 Reading

 

SUNDAY

 

Sunderland vs. Norwich

One again, not exactly a clash of heavy weights here. Sunderland have not won a Premier League game in almost two months (January 19th, away at Wigan), and Norwich city have not been impressive either, scoring only two goals since January 30th. I’m not really sure which way to lean on this one, but I’m going to go with Sunderland, expecting them to hopefully step up to the plate and try and right their sinking ship. Norwich took the first matchup 2-1 and I think Sunderland may do the same this time.

Final Prediction: Sunderland 2 – 1 Norwich

 

Tottenham vs. Fulham

After their late loss to Liverpool, expect Tottenham to come out right from the beginning with guns blazing. Fulham are a mid-table team, while Tottenham are fighting to secure a Champions League position for next year. Unfortunately for Fulham, two of their better players from last season’s campaign are now members of the Spurs squad (Dembele and Dempsey). The only way that I can see Fulham taking points here is if they find a way to stop Gareth Bale, who is without a doubt the hottest player in the league right now (16 EPL goals and running the show for the Spurs). Don’t be surprised that they give him an inch, he will stretch it into a mile. However, I really can’t see Fulham stopping the Bale-train, or the Spurs in general. Tottenham won the first leg of this fixture away 0 – 3 in December and I expect more of the same here.

Final Prediction: Tottenham 2 – 0 Fulham

 

Chelsea vs. West Ham

I really don’t have too much analysis on this one. On paper, Chelsea is clearly far superior in practically every aspect. However, we all know that sports are never played on paper. If you remember correctly, West Ham shocked everyone with their 3 – 1 win over Chelsea back in December. Unfortunately for West Ham, I don’t expect this game to play out the same way. We’ve seen Chelsea have good games, and we’ve seen them fail to reach their potential, but in the end they’re just the better side and I don’t expect them to fall to West Ham twice this campaign.

Final Prediction: Chelsea 4 – 1 West Ham

 

Wigan vs. Newcastle

This has been a surprisingly disappointing season for Newcastle, after their strong campaign last year. Wigan on the other hand, seem to be in more or less the same position they were in last year – battling to avoid relegation. Newcastle has some real talent on their team, but just don’t seem to be able to play together on a consistent basis. Losing Demba Ba in the January transfer to Chelsea probably didn’t help their case either. Although I think Newcastle is the better team, I wouldn’t be shocked if Wigan pulled this one out either, because they somehow always seem to find a way to survive at the end of the season. So, for me, I’m going to go right in the middle.

Final Prediction: Wigan 2 – 2 Newcastle

Soccer: Your Guide to Fanhood

It seems that every day, soccer is becoming more and more of a “hipster” sport.  In recent times alone, LeBron James purchased a share of the European giants Liverpool, Amar’e Stoudemire was rocking a Man United hat in post-game interviews, and Steve Nash has tweeted his allegiance as a diehard Tottenham fan for some time now.  With every day that passes, Soccer is picking up more and more American fans, and rightfully so.  Soccer is so much more than a sport; it has stopped civil wars, and has unified countless people.  This article is solely about the English Premiere League (EPL), however.  By far the most popular league in the world, and the league that any young footballer wants to play in when growing up.  The sole purpose of this article is to guide you, the fan, to be able to pick an EPL team to follow.  I will try to do this in the most unbiased way possible, as I already am a diehard fan of one of these clubs.  If you check my twitter, you will find out very quickly who my favorite club is.

To me, I always compare picking an EPL team to the stock market.  You want to pick a team who’s not considered a top club, but has potential to climb the table.  With no connection to teams that are thousands of miles away, I understand the frustration with choosing a club to root for.  I will break down teams into 3 categories.  One being the “Undesirables”, which will be the teams that I would stay away from.  The 2nd category will be “Midtable” which will be clubs you can root for knowing they will always be a consistent club, but never with title dreams.  And finally the “Giants” which are the clubs that have most of the U.S support.  Clubs that will not only compete highly in the league, but also across Europe.

 

UNDESIRABLES

The title of these clubs is a bit harsh.  Everyone loves the underdog story, and a bunch of these clubs play very attractive and inspirational football.  The reason I would not pledge my allegiance to these clubs is solely on the fact you never know when they will get booted out of the Premiership (which can happen, 3 teams a year get relegated to a lower division).  I would absolutely suggest that you pick one of these teams as your “2nd club” which is mostly frowned upon because you only can have 1 club.  But everyone has that one smaller club they enjoy watching and hope they do well.

 

Wigan Athletic – Let me first off start by saying I absolutely love Wigan’s manager, Roberto Martinez.  If I could play for one Manager in the prem, he would be it.  Smart tactician, gets the most out of his players, and never plays scared against bigger opponents.  He kept a weak Wigan side up and avoided relegation in a tough EPL season last year.  But he alone is not enough to warrant your fan hood to this club.  Wigan will break your heart and not give you many highs, and more than likely, will be out of the premiership more often than not.

Main Rival: Aldershot Town (lower division team)

Best Player: Aurona Kone

 

Reading – Much like Wigan, I don’t see them staying up for very long.  They were promoted last year, and I see them going straight back down this year.  Don’t particularly play attractive soccer, so I would stay away from this club unless you want to be streaming Championship side games on your laptop in the near future.

Main Rival: Bolton Wanderers (lower division team)

Best Player: Adam Le Fondre

 

Southampton – Again, there is a trend here with the undesirables; they don’t have the talent nor money to be anything but feeder clubs.  While I think that fans should root for teams that will have highs and lows, there is no need to put yourself through the torment of supporting one of these clubs if you don’t have too.  Southampton though, has always produced great young talent.  Gareth Bale was a Southampton man before he became an absolute monster at Spurs.  They could potentially be in the Premiership for a couple of years, but don’t see them challenging for too much more than that.

Main Rival: Portsmouth (lower division team)

Best Player: Rickie Lambert

 

MIDTABLE

Midtables clubs are clubs that are just that, midtable.  These clubs are teams that will more likely than not be in the prem year in and year out.  They will even upset larger clubs like Man U and Chelsea from time to time.  Rooting for one of these teams you will get satisfaction that you don’t root for one of the giant clubs who don’t know heartbreak, but you’ll also have to accept that winning a title probably won’t happen in your lifetime.

 

QPR – I highly debated putting this team in the undesirables, but I just couldn’t do it.  You might look up the EPL table and call me crazy considering they are in dead last in the whole league, and you may be right.  But let me defend this selection before you get all up in arms.  QPR was able to stay up last year after a rough season, and lots of thrilling matches.  While QPR is struggling this year as well, they have so many things going for them that even if they do get relegated; I believe they will be right back up in no time.  For one, they have one of the best managers in England, in Harry Redknapp.  Redknapp was let go by Spurs last summer despite finishing 4th 2 seasons in a row (which is the goal for most clubs because it means Champions League qualification).  This was massively controversial because of the success he brought Spurs.  He then replaced Mark Hughes as QPR manager about midway through this season.  He alone would be enough for me to put confidence in this club.  But there’s more, unlike most smaller clubs, QPRs owners are willing to spend.  They want to compete and they will fork over any amount of money for players Redknapp wants.  This has been shown by signing Julio Cesar (one of the world’s top keepers), bringing in Loic Remy (not a superstar by any means, but a quality striker none the less), and even pursuing Dutch magician, Wesley Sneijder.  While they weren’t able to capture the stars signature, the fact they were even in the running is impressive.  So even with the great manager, and the owner’s willingness to spend, QPR has a great stadium in Loftus Road (one of my favorite pitches, also in London which is a big pro) and a flashy game changer player in Adel Taarabt.  Taarabt is one of those players you don’t hear a lot about because he is hit or miss with his games and plays for a smaller club, but YouTube his name and you’ll see the talent and flash he has right away.  For these reasons, I think QPR would be a great pick for any new fan.  This team has a lot of potential going forward, but they still can break your heart.

Main Rival:  Any London based team

Best Player: Adel Taarabt

 

Aston Villa – Oh has the mighty have fallen with this club.  A few years ago this team was fighting for a Champions League spot and had players like Stewart Downing, James Milner, and Ashley Young.  Now they have one of the youngest sides in the league.  While I wouldn’t recommend picking this club, I know a few Villa fans and they are as passionate as they come.  The future is unsure for them, they could just as easily be sent down this year as they could stay up.  But one pull that they have for an American fan is that they have 2 Americans in their squad.  One being keeper Brad Guzan, who consistently stands on his head and makes great save after great save.  He alone has numerously kept Villa in games with his heroics.  The other being Eric Lichaj.  Lichaj is an outside back who can’t seem to protect his spot in the lineup.  One week he will be the starting left back, the next he doesn’t even make the 18 for the game.  He is young however, just like the rest of the team.  If they can stay up, and buy some quality centerbacks in the summer window, this could be a team a fan could get behind and see some quality results in the years ahead.

Main Rival: Birmingham City (Lower division team)

Best Player: Christian Benteke

 

Sunderland – This is a midlevel team to a “T”.  This club is always right in the middle of the pack, has quality players, but just will never get over that hump and compete for trophies in Europe.  Sunderland is basically the club for players who could play for the likes of Man U and Man City, but would be players fighting for time to make the bench.  With players like Adam Johnson, Craig Gardner, and Seb Larsson on the squad, you will always see quality play from this side.  If you are a fan who doesn’t want to jump on a bandwagon of a team who people might question your fan hood, Sunderland may be a team for you.  They get fair results, never really in danger of being relegated, and play attractive attacking soccer most of the time.  They have underachieved so far this year though, I am a little surprised to see them sitting 15th in the league as of right now.  They have quality of a squad between 10-12 in the league.

Main Rival: Newcastle

Best Player: Stéphane Sessègnon

 

Norwich – Another club that I considered in the undesirables but just couldn’t do it.  Norwich is a small club that just seems to get results when they have no business in doing so.  While they don’t have any players that are going to blow you away when watching a game, they always seem to fight as a unit and grind out results.  And from time to time, they will play some beautiful soccer.  I would again not recommend this club for your allegiance because they could easily be sent down in the next few years, but there’s something about them that would give you a sense of pride in being a Norwich supporter.

Main Rival: Ipswich Town (Lower division team)

Best Player: Grant Holt

 

West Ham – Let me first start by saying this is a quality club to support.  Have great fans, solid history, and willingness to compete regardless of the opponent.  If someone asked you which club you supported and you responded “West Ham” you would have a lot of respect from the person who asked you that question.  They are nearly the perfect team to pick, because they are in the middle of the top teams and bottom teams.  They have players like Joe Cole, Diame, and Andy Carroll (on loan from Liverpool although) who all could play for bigger clubs.  If you picked this team, you could potentially see West Ham climb the table in the next few years and be a consistent top 8 team.

Main Rival: Any London based team

Best Player: Mohamed Diame

 

Stoke City – If you like scrappy and teams who play with heart, Stoke may be your pick.  Stoke is known as being the “anti-football”, and by that I mean they bunker down, counter attack, and grind results through great defense and frustrating opponents.  They are slowly becoming an Americanized squad with the recent signings of American internationals Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea.  American fans could get on board with them also because they play much like the USA international team played under Bob Bradley.  They know they don’t have the talent to just outplay you with precision passing and possession, so they do what they know. Defend like hell and punch you when you’re not expecting it.  As a fan of attractive soccer and passing, I’m not going to lie, when my team plays Stoke I get frustrated as hell.  But I see the appeal for new American fans.

Main Rival: West Brom

Best Player: Their Centerbacks (Huth and Shawcross)

 

Newcastle – If I wrote this article a year ago I probably would have them in the “giant” category.  Buy top quality players, have a great stadium, and were impressive a year ago.  But for some reason, this year has been very disappointing for the club.  I’m not entirely sure what has happened in the past year, but the results are not going the way that they should be for this club.  I often compare picking an EPL team to a stock market, in being that you want to pick a team whose stock is low, but could climb high in the near future. That you as a fan, were there in the lows and that makes you enjoy the highs that much more.  This team could be just that for you.  Currently, they sit 13th in the table.  I think they are in the 7-8 range in talent.  I expect next year that they will be more of the team we saw last year and it is not out of the question to see them maybe compete for Champions League if they can play to the level they are capable of.

Main Rival: Sunderland

Best Player: Hartem Ben Arfa

 

Fulham – This club already has a large number of American followers.  Up until recently, they were the team most Americans went to when making the move to England.  With the likes of Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, and Eddie Johnson playing for them in the past.  Most fans picked them because they were able to watch their beloved Americans play for the same club.  But recently, Fulham has parted ways with their American players and still competed fine without them.  Losing Dempsey to Spurs, and bringing in the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham is still built to compete and consistently finish midtable.  I should also add that this London based club has the coolest stadium in all of England.  Nothing like playing at Craven Cottage.

Main Rival: Any London based team

Best Player: Dimitar Berbatov

 

Swansea – Honestly if I could recommend to any new fan who to root for, Swansea would be the first or second team I would say.  A small club who was recently promoted, and has done nothing but succeed while in the top division.  Swansea plays an attractive brand of football with young players who will probably move on to bigger clubs shortly (ie Joe Allen and Gylfi Siggurdson).  Being a fan of this team you will see great soccer, development of young players who will be household names in a few years, and have the pride that comes with rooting for a small club.  The only thing is, you won’t be seeing them in Champions League anytime soon due to them having to sell their best players to finance their team.  But they do have some draw for players to come play for them.  As much as they sell, they had arguably the best signing of last summer bringing in Michu.  Who has been a delight to watch for any soccer fan.  Also, Swansea is the only club in the EPL that is from Wales, could be a pro or con for you as a fan depending on how you look at it.

Main Rival: Cardiff City (lower level, Welsh side)

Best Player: Michu

 

West Brom – Basically reread what I wrote for Swansea and apply it to West Brom.  I think of these 2 clubs in the same sense.  Smaller clubs who compete with anyone, but will have to be feeder clubs to stick around.  Anyone who supports West Brom or Swansea is a knowledgeable soccer fan and is ok with me.

Main Rival: Aston Villa

Best Player:  Lukaku (on loan, however)

 

Everton – One player, two names, Tim Howard.  Most American fans root for this team solely because it is the home of the USA shot stopper Timmy Howard.  But along with Mr. Howard, this club has a lot to offer new fans.  In my opinion they have the best Left back in the EPL in Leighton Baines, and maybe the hottest midfield commodity in Marouane Fellaini.  This is also the club Landon Donovan served 2 stints on loan at while away from the Galaxy.  Everton is known for having great fans, and is a very family oriented and loyal club.  Most players say playing at Goodison is a treat and Everton is a special place to play.  I would recommend this club to new fans due to the support and the loyalty factor.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that they are consistently in the top half of the league.

Main Rival: Liverpool

Best Player: Marouane Fellaini

 

GIANTS

These are the clubs that are competing for not only Champions League, but also the League Title.  This is where the clubs of most American fans are going to be.  These are the clubs who have big budgets and can buy the best players in the world.  You will have a lot of highs if you chose one of these teams.

 

Liverpool – From my experience, this club probably has the most American fans of any EPL team.  I think this is a culmination of a few reasons.  First, Anfield, Liverpool’s stadium, is one of a kind. In the past, most teams would just hope to come in and get a draw and leave. The fan support is as good as it gets, as they sing “You’ll never walk alone” before every game (YouTube it, it’s worth it).  They are one of England’s most prestigious clubs, as they have won 18 first division trophies.  Also, LeBron recently bought a portion of this club, and has attended a few of their games himself.  Over the past few years they declined slightly and are around the 6th position in the table.  They will always be a threat to compete though, and have one of my favorite players in Steven Gerrard.  Picking this team would result in you having a lot of other fans to converse with and you would be supporting one of the most prestigious clubs in the entire world.  The only downside, Luis Suarez.  Suarez is an infuriating talented player.  He is the Joakim Noah of the EPL, unless he’s on your team, you absolutely hate him.

Main Rival: Everton

Best Player: Steven Gerrard

Exciting Player: Luis Suarez

 

Arsenal – Along with Liverpool, probably the most liked club in the United States.  Has always been known for its passing and beautiful play (under Wenger at least).  Is routinely a lock for Champions League and can outplay any club in the world on any day.  With Arsene Wenger at the helm, he has made Arsenal a club that a lot of players would love to play for.  Recently however, the players who made Arsenal so great for so many years (Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie) have left for bigger clubs and Wenger has replaced them with younger inexperienced players.  This does not sit well with Arsenal supporters.  With this happening, many think Wenger is on his way out, and that Arsenal is not at the level it used to be.  While I think there is some truth in that, Arsenals history is too big to overlook and their commitment to great football is something every fan can enjoy.  If you like attractive soccer and want to watch how games should be played, Arsenal would be a great team to root for.

Main Rival: Tottenham Hotspur

Best Player:  Jack Wilshere

Exciting player: Theo Walcott

 

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) – One of many London based teams who have jumped from a midlevel team to a Giant in the past few years.  After finishing 4th the past 2 years and on pace to do it again this year, this club is on the rise.  But much like my stock market comparison, rooting for this one would be doing it on the wrong side.  Spurs fans have had a ton of heartbreak in the past, and now they are finally celebrating great performances.  Picking this team now would be hard due to the fact you missed the entire heart ache from the past.  With that said, if you want a trendy pick, Spurs are the way to go because while they are on the rise, they still find a way to let you down.  With young manager Andre Villas Boas leading a confident bunch, Tottenham might be the most entertaining club to watch in the entire league.  Spurs don’t have many USA fans due to they weren’t that relevant in the past, but now seem to be building support from everywhere.  Once star man Gareth Bale is gone however, it’s anyone’s guess where this club will go.

Main Rival: Arsenal

Best Player: Gareth Bale

Exciting player: Aaron Lennon

 

Chelsea – This team will always compete and be near the top of the table and have been for a while now.  The pros of this club are they attract young talent and don’t just buy players for the sake of it (ie Man City).  Bringing in youngsters like Eden Hazard and Oscar this past transfer window will give fans young talent to watch for years to come.  Mixed with these young players, they also have the legend Frank Lampard still roaming the midfield (although he might be gone in the near future).  So this team is a good pick for those fans who like to see young talent develop and grow while also having the big names like Lampard, Fernando Torres, and John Terry (pains me to include him in this) on the pitch.  One downside is that their owner, Roman Abramovich, is kind of a wild card.  He’s fired 2 managers, soon to be 3, in the past 2 seasons.  They won the Champions League last year with Roberto di Mateo, and after a somewhat poor start to the season, they sacked him, much to the chagrin of the fans.  You won’t get much respect pledging your fan hood to this team, as even in England their fans are looked at as bandwagon fans.

Main Rival: Tottenham/Arsenal

Best Player: Juan Mata

Exciting Player: Eden Hazard

 

Man City – The spending giants of the EPL.  Man City of the past 4 years is an entirely different club than the one of the past 40 years.  And if you’re going by my stock market idea, Man City would be the worst stock market pick of them all.  The best way to paint a picture of this team would be comparing them to the New York Mets, and then the Mets winning the lottery and buying every big name player they could find.  Having the history and heart ache for ages, Man City would have been a good pick about 6 years ago.  But today, they have bought countless players under the rich owners and manager Roberto Mancini.  With the likes of Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez, Kun Aguero, and arguably the best young keeper in the world in Joe Hart, Man City is a top club in Europe.  If you want to watch a bunch of dysfunctional players play together and still win regardless of team chemistry, this is absolutely your team.  The circus around them is like the New York Jets.

Main Rival: Man United

Best Player: Yaya Touré

Exciting Player: Kun Agüero

 

Man United – Unless you’re a Yankee fan and absolutely love being hated by everyone, don’t pick this team.  Easily the most hated club in England, with the whiniest manager in Sir Alex Ferguson.  They always are a top club and probably will win the league this year, barring something crazy.  Picking this team, you’re in for lots of happiness and very little heartache.  Not what I look for in a club, but I’m sure some of you fans like being the hated and being the hunted.  If that’s what you enjoy, Man United may be the side for you.

Main Rival: Man City

Best Player: Robin Van Persie

Exciting Player: Wayne Rooney

 

So after analyzing all 20 teams, here is my very vague description of each team and what they have to offer.  Feel free to tweet me @Schaeffer817 if you have any questions, or want more information.  Alongside the EPL, watch some MLS games and tune into any International USA games if you really want to watch the beautiful game.

Tiger’s Chances at The Masters After Win at Doral

by Chris DiLorenzo

What are Tiger’s chances to wear the Green Jacket after his win at Doral?

Tiger Woods was simply unstoppable this past weekend at TPC Blue Monster at Doral and once again proved to everyone why he is the greatest of all time while winning his 17th World Golf Championship title. With that look in his eyes that we all have come to love, you knew Tiger was not going to lose sinking putt after putt. Woods’ swing has looked as good as it has all year, possibly even better than his win at foggy Torrey Pines earlier this year. I bet Steve Stricker wishes he can take back those putting tips he gave Tiger earlier this week prior to the World Golf Classic. Talk about back to his old form, Tiger now has his 5th win in his last 19 PGA Tour starts while converting 51 of 55 third-round leads/ co-leads to victories.

Tiger was driving the ball with extreme power this weekend, blasting his longest 327 yards with ease. It is quite remarkable to see these professional golfers drive the ball further than any weekend hacker can even imagine while making it look like a walk in the park. It is difficult to drive with such power and hit the fairways consistently which is what led to Tiger hitting the fairways only 53.6% yet we have seen Tiger accomplish both in his career.  What made him so successful at Doral was his ability to save the drives in the rough consistently landing his next shots on or very close to the green. Woods’ GIR percentage (69.4%) was enough for the victory however only 1.3% better than second place Steve Stricker which made each of his sinking putts even more important (Woods also finished with a sand save percentage of 100). And once Tiger was on the green, it was game over for everyone else on the leader boards including his new putt tipper Steve Stricker. It took Woods an average of 1.5 putts to make the galleries by the greens roar like no one else has been able to do. Tiger finished with 27 birdies this week, one short of his personal best on the PGA Tour, and he took the fewest putts (100) over 72 holes in any tour event.

As for his expected competition at Augusta, Tiger will not be stopped if he continues to play at this rate come time for the Masters. For the first time in over five years, Tiger has two wins prior to the Masters both of which were dominant. Everyone on the tour should be nervous to see Tiger in old form because there is no one in the history of golf better when Woods is playing at his best.

Putting guru Steve Stricker finished the weekend 17 under par earning him sole possession of second place. Stricker definitely is kicking himself for those simple yet deadly putting tips he gave Tiger. Stricker and Tiger both put up a sand save percentage of 100, two of the best in the tour at that. Stricker was behind Tiger in average putts by one tenth of a percent (1.6%) which is what Stricker is known for, being the best putter of all time. Expect Stricker to contend in the Masters but only if he can keep up his known excellence of putting. We all know how tricky those greens at Augusta can be.

Rory McIlroy started slow this weekend before making a surge and looking like the Rory of last year. MIlory finished tied 8th at Doral shooting an impressive -10. Rory hit the fairways 51.8% of the time, something he will need to improve if he wants a shot at the green jacket.  His GIR, which was better than Tiger at 70.8%, is something we all enjoy to see Rory do well to put him in contention.

The lefty specialist Phil Mickelson possibly looked his best all year in Miami finishing tied for third shooting14 under for the round. Mickelson looked most impressive in his greens in regulation at 73.6% beating both Rory and Tiger. Phil drove the fairways 57.1% of the time which is what will be necessary for him to contend at Augusta. The galleries love Phil so look for him to feed and build off his success this weekend to please the crowds at the Masters.

Graeme McDowell, the second best player from North Ireland behind Rory MIlroy, started Sunday in sole possession of second place putting him in a spot to give Tiger a run for his money being paired together on Sunday. Getting off to a hot start birdying the first two holes, McDowell went on to bogey 5, 11, and a double bogey on 18. Finishing tied third at -14 look for McDowell to be in same form at Augusta hitting the fairways 75% and a GIR 72.2%.

As for Bubba Watson, the last golfer to wear the green jacket, his time at the World Golf Classic was not what he was expecting. Watson finished his weekend 7 under par T18th which won’t cut it for another jacket. Watson hit the fairways only 48.2% of the time while consistently driving the ball over 300 yards with an average drive going 309.3. One of Bubba’s biggest weaknesses at Doral was his sand game only saving it 45.5% of the time from the beach. He will need to work on this to see his name atop the leader boards this season. Watson is a great golfer who is as creative as it gets however I don’t see him making a run for a repeat in Georgia with Tiger looking dominant.

What this means for Tiger is simple; build off these two early and dominant wins so far this season for a chance to wear the green jacket for a fifth time in his career. Expect Tiger to continue to work on his putting but I’m sure he won’t get any more tips from Mr.Stricker (Tiger can spend some of the $1.5 million he won Sunday on putting tips). Woods will need to improve on hitting the fairways more consistently for he will not always be so dominant with his ability to save his shots in the rough. If Tiger’s swing at the Masters resembles what his swing looked like this weekend then expect Tiger to attract large galleries with rowdy and excited spectators. With his look of determination and poised calmness Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of all time which he showed us all this weekend at Doral.

Has The NFL Peaked?

Currently there is no sport that even comes close to competing with the NFL. Hell, 31 of the top 32 most watched shows this past fall were NFL games, not to mention the most American day and one that should be a holiday, Super Bowl Sunday. The NFL is by far the most successful in terms of money too, they had revenue exceeding 9 BILLION dollars (Yes, Billion). The MLB is second to the NFL in revenue at 7.7 billion and they play more than 142 more games than any NFL team. There is a little tension with Commissioner Roger Goodell and the players but, he has improved the game and it obviously has not affected the business of football. As the NFL sits to most fans and probably most owners, the game is going nowhere but up and taking a quick look all readers are probably thinking the same right now. However I am here to inform you that 20 years from now we may have a completely different game, if one at all.

First let’s talk about the T.V. The NFL had over 200 million unique watchers of a football game, which represents 80 percent of all T.V. users and 69 percent of all possible viewers. That number is astonishing. However the question here is how many more people can the NFL get in America to watch these games. You don’t see these numbers for any other type of show or anything broadcasted so it will be hard finding more people to watch. Also, the NFL just signed new T.V. deals which kick in 2014 including the 2 billion dollars a year just for ESPN to show the Monday night games. This is where the first big problem arises. How much more money will companies be willing to dish out to gain the television rights deal to NFL games. It’s very hard to imagine a station giving 3 or 4 billion dollars next time around when the deal is up. The T.V. stations are barely breaking even as it is and will have to put a stop to the madness sooner or later. So the NFL will need to find another way to make money because they have maxed out with the T.V. deals.

Next, we have global expansion. For the other sports in America, the NBA and MLB, they are doing very well with expanding the game and making the sport global. However, the NFL is the one that struggles with expansion. For whatever reason, the NFL cannot get anything going in the foreign market. They have had a failed league in Europe and no country is really willing to try the sport. I personally think that it has to do with accessibility. If you look at the other sport that do well, soccer, basketball, and basketball all the person needs to do to play the game is gather his friends together and hope one of them has a ball. Football on the other hand, if a person wants to play and play the right way needs equipment and a much bigger group of people to play. My guess is that either it’s too tough to find 22 people to play or the equipment is too expensive. (Yes, you could play football with less people and no equipment but to have an organized league where kids can learn the rules requires a lot of money and places that do have money have established soccer as their “Big Sport” already).

Lastly, we have the danger of the game. I hate having to address this because I am a huge fan of the NFL and am an advocate of not making changes. However it is a bad sign when your Commissioner is saying that he fears one day someone will die on the field. Parents all over the country now are refusing to let their kids play the sport because of the new found danger of concussions (it’s not that new, it’s just now being criticized by the media). It also doesn’t help when little kids are tackling and getting hit like this. They are turning their kids to other sports such as the ones listed before to ensure their kids a safe childhood. This could very well be the last generation where football is the most dominant sport in the country that it runs right now. Because kids that grow up will watch the sports they played growing up and the NFL will slowly lose viewers.

As it stands the NFL is still in great shape. There was over a billion dollars spent in fantasy football last year (yes fantasy football). The league has very young, promising stars to look forward to and at least for the near future it will continue to dominate America. That being said the end of the NFL and football as we know it could come to an end when this generation has past. Fantasy football although short term created a new way to watch viewers and brought many more viewers to watch the NFL, but in the long run it could have sped up that area in possible revenue and saturated it already. Only time will tell if the NFL is now going to be on a slow decline, so we will have to wait and see.

Can the starting rotation carry the Mets in 2013?

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by Chris DiLorenzo

            The New York Mets projected starting 5 in 2013 is Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Shaun Marcum, and Matt Harvey. The most obvious missing piece is the knuckleballer who was traded above the border to the Blue Jays in the offseason. While the Mets aren’t expected to do much this year their most obvious strong point is their starting pitching. Johan is a pure competitor and expect him to start on Opening Day if he feels he can compete. If the saying in baseball is true, “You are only as good as your starting pitching”, then look for the Mets to make it interesting in the East.

Starting with the ace Johan Santana, who will be the biggest key in the rotation, his health means everything to his success. Johan got off to a hot start last season returning to his old form while etching himself in Mets fans memory forever when he threw the first no- hitter in franchise history on June 1st against the Cardinals. Manager Terry Collins was worried during and after the game with Johan’s pitch count and as it turned out he had every right to be. Johan simply wasn’t the same pitcher following the no hitter and was shut down in August. Johan’s numbers weren’t pretty last season finishing with a 6-9 record with an ERA of 4.85 in 117 innings pitched. It was sad to watch Johan collapse the way he did due to the problems with his back, especially after making history for the franchise. If Johan is healthy coming into the season there shouldn’t be any reason why he can’t pitch the way he was last season leading up to the no hitter. If the Mets want to contend, Johan is the backbone to their rotation.

The southpaw Jonathon Niese has great potential in him but has not seemed to take his game to the next level which we all desperately want to see. Niese has a nasty curveball that can buckle the hitter knees but he tends to leave it hanging over the plate too often which can be disastrous and led to him giving up 22 home runs last season. Niese finished last season with a 13-9 record which was an improvement from 2011 when he finished 11-11. His ERA was a 3.40 which is will need to be lower this year for Niese to take that step to the next level. Niese threw 190.1 innings last year in 34 starts which will also need to increase with Dickey’s departure (Dickey threw in 233.2 innings last season with 33 starts). Jon Niese recorded 155 strike outs which is an average of 1.2 strikeouts per inning which isn’t bad by any means. Expect Niese to finally make Met fans proud and take his game to the next level to be a feared lefty in orange and blue.

Dillon Gee was rushed to the emergency room in mid July when he felt numbness in his fingers which was later diagnosed as a blood clot in his pitching shoulder, a scary moment for Dillon who was pitching fairly well before the medical procedure to break up the clot. In 17 games last season Gee had a 6-7 record with a 4.10 ERA who seemed to come from nowhere (drafted in the 21st round in 2007) when he made his career debut in 2010. Gee appeared in 109.2 innings in his injury shortened season last year while giving up only 12 home runs. This is essential for the Mets this season to keep the ball in the park as much as possible with their lack to produce a lot of runs. Dillon Gee is still young at 26 with a lot left to prove to the Mets but expect him to live up to those expectations. Gee keeps the hitter guessing with a vast arsenal of pitches which is what makes him effective and why the Mets see a lot of potential in Gee.

The newly acquired Shaun Marcum knows he cannot fill R.A. Dickey’s shoes this season but believes he can succeed in New York. Marcum has been nursing an injury since last season on his throwing shoulder but wisely took the necessary time to return to the mound fully healthy this spring with the Mets. The 31 year old right hander had a good season last year in Milwaukee posting a 7-4 record with an ERA of 3.70 in 21 starts. Prior to the injury Marcum seemed to be cruising to another impressive season having gone 13-7 in 2011 with an ERA of 3.50 in 33 starts. Last season Shaun was striking batters out with fair ease having 109 strike outs in 124 innings pitched. If fully healthy coming out of Spring Training Shaun Marcum can be a tremendous asset to this rotation which the Mets will need to replace R.A. Dickey’s CY Young performance last season.

Matt Harvey, one of the top pitching prospects in the minors last season, made his major league debut last season and came out firing. Harvey, a towering presence on the mound at 6’4, did not look like a 23 year old on the mound. Matt Harvey was throwing hard and accurately while posting a 3-5 record in 10 games started (thank the Mets lack of offense for a couple of the losses in his record). Harvey’s 2.73 ERA is exactly what you want to see in this young righty while striking out 70 batters in 59.1 innings pitched; only allowing 5 home runs last season. Possibly even more impressive from Harvey last season was his WHIP which was 1.146. Harvey’s WHIP will aid John Buck, the projected starting catcher for the Mets in April, who only throws runners out 27% of the time. The sky is the limit for Matt Harvey who has all the necessary tools to break out sometime in the near future as an ace pitcher for the Mets. Look for Harvey to thrive this season, the first full season of his career, both on the mound and on the plate since he was one of the better hitters on the Mets line up last season.

What to expect from the New York Mets infield in 2013

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by Chris DiLorenzo

It seems as though the Mets have been going through the “rebuilding” phase since game 7 of the 2006 NLCS when Carlos Beltran struck out looking in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs. Or maybe the rebuilding phase started after the 2007 and 2008 seasons following two of the worst collapses in MLB history. Either way you want to look at it, it has been a long, stressful, and depressing six seasons since the Mets last tasted the playoffs. Could this year be the year we finally play baseball in November again? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However the 2013 Mets could be a surprising team if they can figure out how to play above .500 baseball past the midsummer classic.

Third base is never in question when someone mentions the boys from Queens with David Wright handling the hot corner. Since joining the big leagues David Wright has been as consistent as it gets defensively. Wright’s fielding percentage only dropping below .950 his first two seasons with the Mets (.942 and .948 respectively) with his overall career fielding percentage being .953. Expect David Wright’s fielding percentage in 2013 to be just as high, if not higher due to him playing competitive baseball before the season in the World Baseball Classic. When it comes to David’s bat he is as good a third basemen as there is in the National League. He has consistently put up great numbers for an average, with a .301 career batting average. Wright however has not hit 30 homeruns since the 08 season, which is a concern to many. I wouldn’t read too much into his home run numbers because David has taken on a different role as a hitter. His approach of less power with more consistent contact produced a career high OBP of .391 last season. One of the biggest weaknesses with his hitting has been the strike outs; his highest season was in 2010 when he whiffed 161 times. Last season Wright struck out 112 times which is a great improvement, most likely as a result of the change to his swing and approach at the plate. We should expect big things from David Wright this year, being the “Captain” of the team and the face of the franchise. It is clear David is involved with the front office operations when he attempted to recruit Michael Bourn to Queens before he decided on going to Cleveland. David Wright will be here for the long run so no need to worry Mets fans. He signed a contract extension through 2020 with his overall contract being worth $192 million.

Moving from third to short stop, Ruben Tejada is an exciting young and extremely talented player. He is no Jose Reyes but it is simply unfair to ask him to fill the shoes of Reyes at short. Tejada will never be the hitter Reyes was and more importantly he will never be the leadoff hitter that the Mets have been searching for since Reyes’ departure to Miami. Tejada showed a lot of promise and potential last year with the bat putting up a .289 batting average in 114 appearances at the plate. It seemed like Tejada was always working the pitcher while at the plate, going deep into the count and eventually either drawing a walk or getting the hit with an OBP of .333. His on base percentage needs to rise this season if Tejada wants to take the next step as a hitter since he doesn’t hit for power (Tejada hit 1 home run all of last season). When it comes to the field I believe Tejada can be just as effective as Reyes was and he proved that last season. Diving up the middle, turning double plays or going to his right, it was exciting watching him field the position. Tejada had a fielding percentage of .974 while committing only 12 errors. Look to see Ruben Tejada improve on his bat by putting the ball into play more while being as consistent as it gets at short stop.

Daniel Murphy doesn’t look like a natural at second base, but boy did he turn it around last season with the glove. Appearing in 138 games last season at second base, Murphy had an identical fielding percentage as his neighbor middle infielder with a .974. Murphy struggled his first few seasons at second but worked hard in the off season to fix his mistakes and it showed tremendously. Murphy reacted quicker off the bat, moved easier to his left, and covered up the middle better than ever while committing only 15 errors. Murph was just below a .300 batting average last season, putting up a .291 in 571 AB after a hot start, joining David Wright at the top of the National League for batting averages. He seemed to see the ball better, only striking out 82 times, but lacked the ability to hit for power with only 6 home runs. If Murphy wants to make a name for himself in Flushing he needs to hit for more power, especially since the Mets desperately need some power this season. As for the fielding Murphy is headed in the right direction, although he may never look like he quite belongs.

Valley Fever was the biggest issue with the first basemen Ike Davis last season, and it deeply impacted him at the plate in the first half the year. Ike flat out couldn’t hit early on, and he actually flirted with a trip back down to the minors. Following the All Star break Ike Davis looked like a completely different player at the plate, finishing the season with 32 home runs and looking like the power hitter the Mets envisioned when they drafted him in 2008. Although his average was a mere .227, it was a break out second half of the season while the rest of the team fell apart. Playing first base defensively has never been an issue with Ike, who looks like he was born to play the position. Nothing gets past Ike who can stretch like a ballerina and scoop anything in the dirt (which had a big effect on David Wrights decrease in errors at third base.) Davis finished last season with a .994 fielding percentage in 148 games with only 8 errors. Ike Davis is going to have to battle with Valley Fever for the rest of his life, but if the second half of last season is any preview to Ike’s young career, the league better take notice. Look for Ike to have a higher batting average since he has handled the adversity Valley Fever brings, and can prepare for it this time around. Dare I say put up 45+ home runs in a full healthy season? I don’t think it is farfetched to say this due to the fact that he put up 30+ home runs last season after his record slow start.

Having sent Josh Thole to Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade it has been a mystery as to who will call the game behind the plate for the Mets. It is expected that John Buck will man the plate for the beginning of the season until they deem Travis D’arnaud ready for the big leagues. One of the top prospects in the MLB, the Mets acquired Travis D’arnaud in the R.A Dickey trade with the Blue Jays. John Buck has more pop than Thole with the bat (which is easy to do) having hit 12 home runs last season while appearing at the plate 343 times in Miami. His batting average however was atrocious, hitting only.192 which the Mets will not be able to live with. His OBP was .297, having drawn 49 walks. Don’t expect Buck to hit high in the batting order. What Buck does lack with the bat he makes up for behind the plate. Buck had a .991 fielding percentage last season with the Marlins, while only committing 7 errors in 105 games. Something that causes concern with Buck is his ability to throw runners out, only catching runners stealing 27% of the time. John Buck clearly is not the long term answer for the Mets at catcher, but is a solid interim solution until the debut of Travis D’arnaud sometime in the 2013 season.

Top 10 UFC Pound for Pound

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10. Renan Barao- Renan Barao might be the best fighter that no one besides hard-core fans know about. After losing his first pro fight he has gone on to win 28 consecutive fights including the Bantamweight interim title. Barao has one of the most diverse striking arsenals on the UFC roster to go along with outstanding takedown defense. His only weakness is he tends to fade in the later rounds and often settles for a decision victory. He is currently waiting for Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz to recover from a torn ACL.

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9. Demetrious Johnson- Demetrious Johnson made history last year by becoming the inaugural UFC champion at flyweight and has continued to impress since winning the title. He is by far the fastest and most agile fighter on the UFC roster. His hand speed allows him to land strikes in bunches and often gets his opponents off balance. Being only 5’3 gives him a low center of gravity, which helps him use his wrestling background to help secure takedowns. His only weakness is he lacks a decent jiu-jitsu game and has not been able to finish an opponent in the UFC. He is currently waiting to fight the winner of Ian McCall and Joseph Benavidez, both whom he has already defeated.

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8. Dominick Cruz- Dominick Cruz hands down has the best footwork in MMA. This along with having the longest reach of any bantamweight on the UFC roster allows him to move inside the pocket and deliver a wide variety of strikes and taking little to no punishment in the process. His improved wrestling has helped him defeat every opponent he has faced at his current weight class which lead to him becoming the Bantamweight champion of the world. Cruz’s only noticeable weakness is he has pillows for hands. Even though he lands a great quantity of strikes they do little to no damage. This has lead to him winning all his fights by decision. He is currently recovering form a torn ACL.

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7. Frankie Edgar- Frankie Edgar by far has the most heart of any fighter I have ever seen. Period. He won the lightweight championship by defeating the greatest lightweight of all time in B.J Penn and went along to retain the title twice to Gray Maynard after getting knockdown 3 times in both fights. No one can take the amount of punishment Frankie Edgar has received in the Octagon and still get up and fight. Frankie has come on hard times of late though by losing to Benson Henderson twice in razor thin decisions and by losing a close fight at featherweight to Jose Aldo. His main weakness is the main contributor to why he keeps losing close fights. He simply does not do as much damage when he strikes as opposed to when these bigger fighters hit him. Even with these recent loses it does not take away from his skill set. He prides himself on great technical boxing and his outstanding wrestling chops. He currently is waiting for a fight at featherweight to get him back in the title picture.

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6. Cain Velasquez- Cain Velasquez is an absolute monster. The amount of cardio Cain possesses is absolutely absurd. After getting caught in his first fight with Junior Dos Santos, Cain came back and got revenge in one of the most one sided fights the UFC has ever seen. For five rounds he absolutely brutalized Dos Santos to the point where he couldn’t walk and his face was almost unrecognizable. His wrestling and kickboxing are top notch which helps set up his world class ground and pound. He has destroyed every opponent in his way and looks to be short on competition. His only weaknesses are his chin is a tad suspect and his jiu-jitsu game is sub-par. Cain also is undersized and often weighs in 30 pounds lighter than the heavyweight max. Velasquez is scheduled to fight Antonio Silva which is going to be a brutal first round knockout.

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5. Benson Henderson- Benson Henderson has taken the MMA world by storm since joining the UFC. He is simply an athletic freak that is bigger stronger and faster than any other lightweight Mixed Martial Arts has ever seen. Besides two close fights to Frankie Edgar, Henderson has dominated every opponent he has faced leaving them bloody and putting them through hell every minute they were in the cage. His gymnastic like flexibility, wide variety of striking, top notch jiu-jitsu game. and amazing wrestling have made him one of the best fighter in the world. The only small negative about Benson Henderson is he has not finished any of his opponents since joining the UFC. He is currently scheduled to put his lightweight title on the line vs. Gilbert Melendez.

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4. Jose Aldo- Jose Aldo is easily one of the most talented fighters in the world and the scariest thing is he is only getting better. The only way to describe his leg kicks is to say they are absolutely brutal. The amount of torque he uses when he kicks have left multiple opponents unable to walk for days. His overall striking game is arguably the best in the world. He has finished opponents with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows since becoming a professional. The power he has is unheard of for a featherweight. This along with being the most physically imposing featherweight, have lead to him becoming the UFC inaugural featherweight champion and simply outclassing former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. Due to the huge weight cut he has to go through he will likely be moving to lightweight in a year or so. The only read flag that comes up with Jose Aldo is his cardio. But when you can finish fights in the first round like he can he rarely needs to use his full gas tank. He is will be defending his title against Anthony Pettis later in the year.

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3. Jon Jones- Jon Jones is quickly becoming the most marketable fighter the UFC has. He has completely demolished everyone the UFC has thrown his way. He has changed traditional striking by incorporating spinning elbows and unorthodox kicks into his arsenal. Jon Jones when it is all said and done may go down as the greatest Mixed Martial Artist to ever live. His striking and wrestling are world class to go along with his Jiu-Jitsu game that seems to improve every fight. Jones has showed the abilty to finish the fight anywhere whether its standing or if the fight goes to the ground. Due to his freakishly long each and his massive frame it is only a matter of time until he moves to heavyweight because being the light heavyweight champ literally seems too easy for him. The only small negatives about Jones are he lacks one punch knockout power and lack of competition. Almost all the fighters he has defended his title against were well passed their prime but they were the best that the UFC could offer Jones. He is scheduled to defend his title in April against Chael Sonnen.

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2. Georges St-Pierre- George St-Pierre like Benson Henderson, is simply the biggest strongest, fastest man in his weight class. The kind of dominance that St-Pierre has experienced while being the Welterweight champion is unbelievable. To put it in persepective, St. Pierre has only lost 1 out of the 35 rounds he has fought in since winning the belt. His wrestling is best in the world and he has some of the best technical striking the MMA world has ever seen. He holds black belts in Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the best trainer in the world Greg Jackson. I simply don’t see him losing in the next five years unless he fights the man that tops this list. The amazing thing about St-Pierre is he doesn’t have any weaknesses. The only thing that critics hound him for is his lack of finishing fights in recent years and has been pegged as a “safe fighter”. Some people consider dominance as finishing people but in reality isn’t it also dominating to completely pick apart an opponent and dominate him every second of a 25 minute fight? He is scheduled to fight Nick Diaz this month.

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1.Anderson Silva- Anderson is on anther level from every other fighter on the planet. Unless a loss to St-Pierre, he will go down as the greatest fighter to step in the Octagon by the time he retires. His timing and power on all of his strikes is second to none. He is the greatest striker MMA has ever seen by a long shot. The only man that came close to beating him was Chael Sonnen, but Silva over came adversity and finshed him in the 5th round. And if that wasn’t enough he came back and knocked out Sonnen in their rematch. The way he breaks down opponents and completely humiliates them in unbelievable to watch. His chin is the best in the world and has never even received a cut or bled in the Octagon. Whether you love him or hate him you will spend the 45 bucks to watch this guy whenever he steps in the Octagon. People do not understand how good this guy is. He is better at fighting than Jordan was at basketball. He is better at fighting then Wayne Gretsky was at Hockey. It is not a reach to say he is the most dominate athlete of all time. His numerous records such as most title defenses, most UFC wins, and his countless other records don’t even begin to describe what this guy has done for the sport. His only minor weakness is his wrestling but even that continues to improve. He is currently waiting for his next fight to be announced. All hail the king.