Posted on: August 14, 2009 6:09 pm

Staying hot in the heat

It's been a while, but a lot has been going on in the dog days of summer in my life, even though sports news is generally slow.

  • In MMA circles, UFC 101 was a generally lackluster showing, even overshadowed by the events of WEC 42, featuring a spectacular knockout of Miguel Torres by new WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles, ending Torres' 17-fight win streak and reign as king of the division. I anticipate that similar to Urijah Faber, Torres is back in contention for the title within the next 12 months.

More surprising was the news coming out recently that UFC welterweight Tamdan "The Barn Cat" McCrory and middleweight contender Thales Leites were cut following loses in UFC 101.

Dana White wasn't the only one surprised when it was announced that Tamdan McCrory and Thales Leites were cut. I think a whole lot of MMA fans, including myself, were also taken aback.

McCrory, who is 3-3 in his UFC matches, has looked much improved over his last several fights, and lost a tough split decision at UFC 101. I would have likely been surprised even had it been a unanimous decision. I believe that McCrory still has the potential to be more than just a gatekeeper in either the welterweight, or the middleweight division that he anticipates on moving up to.

Leites, on the other hand, has looked sketchy in his last two fights which resulted in losses, including the much-discussed defeat to Anderson Silva. Still, he sports a 5-3 UFC record, and deserves at least another match or two in my eyes.

I doubt either of these two ever hold any gold in the UFC in their careers, but they're at least worthy of billing in the promotion, if not at least as better than average fighters.

  • Meanwhile, onto some prep basketball. Why are sports fans coming down on Jeremy Tyler so hard?

    The 6'11" forward Tyler, who would be a senior in high school this year, made the decision to skip his final year in lieu of playing for a top flight Israeli team for $140,000. Is it because in this time of economic downturn we're envious of him making more than double what most Americans do in a year, in a position that most probably don't even enjoy?

    I'm not going to pretend to make judgments about Tyler's coaches or level of competition, because frankly I don't know too much about them. But I have seen elite talents come through Detroit, i.e. guys like Malik Hairston, who were overqualified playing city ball for their respective teams. How many high school teams have 6'9" or 6'10" centers that are worthy of competing at a high level of competition outside of teams like Oak Hill and the sort that travel and play the most competitive schedules? Would Tyler really gain that much if he's as good as rankings and the statistics say he is?

    Tyler is travelling to a situation that, suffice to say will give him a heavy dose of diversity, is also going to present him with an opportunity for better coaching, better competition, and a different style of play. AND he'll be making about two times the average college student's tuition over the course of four years. What is the argument here again?

    We've yet to see how the Brandon Jennings experiment turns out. Financially, if Jennings saved all he had, he'd be set. From a professional baskeball success standpoint, I think teams are going to be sorry that they let the former Arizona signee slip all the way down to the 10th overall pick in this year's draft.

    Call Jeremy Tyler one of the first to make this type of leap, one far less risky than most people are making it out to be. But I highly doubt it will be the last.
  • Lastly, I have to say that things are looking very interesting for baseball fans in the midwest, particularly in my AL Central.
White Sox fans have to be enamored with the wheeling and dealing of GM Kenny Williams. First they nabbed Jake Peavy, who Williams had been trying to acquire for nearly a year, no less without parting with major prospects like Gordon Beckham in the process. Then, they became buyers in the biggest salary dump in baseball history when they took Alex Rios off of Toronto's hands, likely preparing for cutting ties with outfielder Jermaine Dye next season.

Division leaders in Detroit have to be worrying about this, but secretly are envious. How could they not be? True, Rios contract is over market value by several million per year, but wouldn't Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski have claimed him with the money that they're paying to Magglio Ordonez right now? In what area would that not be an upgrade, hands down? It's tough times here in Detroit, but I've been saying all along that Chicago is the front-runner with a more reliable bullpen, and a deeper lineup. Now that Jarrod Washburn has turned back into a pumpkin and Chicago has added pieces, they become a vehemontly better representative of the division in the playoffs.

As for my lovable losers in Kansas City, help seems to be (eventually) on the way. The club agreed to terms with third round pick Wil Meyers for a hefty $2 million, more than five times the recommended money. Myers was considered by some teams worthy of a pick in the first round. Fourth-rounder Chris Dwyer is reportedly close to signing, and the pitcher may be awarded the biggest bonus for a fourth round pick ever at around $1.5 million. Big spending, but when first round pick Aaron Crow signs, the Royals may be looking at one of their best drafts in recent history.
Posted on: June 19, 2009 6:54 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2009 9:52 am

UFC Picks: TUF 9: Team US vs. Team UK Finale

It's been a busy week with no real updates, a lot going on around here. I'm going to update this with picks at least tonight, with analysis hopefully coming tomorrow.

My current record through 2009 stands at 55-21, or 72.4%. That's as good as or better than CBSSports.com's MMA Experts. Nonetheless, some of them have some very good opinions and analysis, and as always, picking fights can be highly unpredictable at times. .

Update: Sorry for the late revision, but the results from my picks, finally, are here.



Diego Sanchez Vs. Clay Guida
Winner: Diego Sanchez

DaMarques Johnson Vs. James Wilks
Winner: James Wilks

Chris Lytle Vs. Kevin Burns
Winner: Chris Lytle

Ross Pearson Vs. Andre Winner
Winner: Ross Pearson

Joe Stevenson Vs. Nate Diaz
Winner: Joe Stevenson

Melvin Guillard Vs. Gleison Tibau
Winner: Melvin Guillard

Brad Blackburn Vs. Edgar Garcia
Winner: Brad Blackburn

Mike Ciesnolevicz Vs. Tomasz Drwal
Winner: Tomasz Drwal

Nick Osipczak Vs. Frank Lester
Winner: Nick Osipczak

Jason Dent Vs. Cameron Dollar
Winner: Jason Dent

Since I started keeping track of UFC picks sometime in the fall of 2008, this has been the worst I've done yet. Not making any excuses, however, but some of the scoring on fights Saturday seemed questionable. I did not see all of the results of the undercard yet, unfortunately, but I plan on getting to that and seeing just how much that played a part. Going 4-for-10, my results for the year now stand at 59-27, or 68.6%.

Chris Lytle and Kevin Burns was a highlight of the show, but people are going to be talking about Sanchez/Guida as the barnburner until something else comes along. I wondered to some fellow friends watching the fights if Guida had steel chin implants seeing the shots that he tookin the first five minutes. Sanchez now moves along as the favorite to fight the B.J. Penn/Kenny Florian winner, and therefore the UFC Lightweight Champion, presumably sometime late in 2009.

I'll be back in about two weeks as far as UFC predictions are concerned for UFC 100, which sports a very solid PPV and undercard.
Posted on: May 29, 2009 5:28 am

Color Blind: Evans/Jackson is big story

Look for it in the headlines: nope. Try even the MMA section: Notta. There's no reason for this. Scratch that, no excuse .

With so much attention devoted to the joke that was Jose Canseco's MMA circus-bout this past Tuesday, you'd think that when some legitimate news comes out of the sport, major sports media outlets would jump on the opportunity. Nevertheless, when news broke Thursday via UFC President Dana White that "Sugar" Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson would be coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter followed by a long-anticipated fight between the two, the news is quieter than the eye of a hurricane in some places.

Now on the fighter's own merits, this is a newsworthy clash by itself. Evans is an elite wrestler out of Michigan State who was previously undefeated in the UFC until Sunday, when he dropped the UFC Light Heavyweight belt to karate ace Lyoto Machida. Evans won heavyweight division of The Ultimate Fighter 2 , and went on to defeat future UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Lidell, and also holds victories over two other Ultimate Fighter winners, Forrest Griffin and Michael Bisping.

Meanwhile, Jackson, a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion himself, is no stranger to success. He's won eight of his last nine fights, including victories over Liddell, former Pride Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson, and Wanderlei Silva, all top fighters in their divisions at some point in time. He's won Knockout of the Night or Fight of the Night honors in four of his last fight bouts as well, notorious for finishing fights in exciting fashion typically. Jackson is also known for famously powerbombing Ricardo Arona in 2004 during his stint with Pride, something you might see the Undertaker do at Wrestlemania.

On top of that, the two are tremendous personalities in what will make for one of the more exciting seasons of the show. When Jackson beat Keith Jardine earlier this year, one of Evans best friends, the jabber-jawing began. Evans has made gestures during and after his fights that have garnered him a reputation as being cocky, while Jackson is one of the most colorful personalities in the sport. His howl is almost notorious as now is his run in with the law. Last summer, Jackson was arrested and booked on suspicion of felony reckless driving, and felony hit and run, some of which he has not been sentenced for yet and could face jail time. Videos of the high speed chase that culminated in his arrest are floating around the Internet. These two don't lack personalities, and should deliver big time for entertainment.

All of this underlies one of the biggest storylines of all, a card which really hasn't been played yet in MMA history: race. When Tony Dungy became the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl, it was one of the biggest angles taken by the media even before, and then after the game. We're comparing apples to oranges here with the two events, but nevertheless, this is news. Two African American fighters near this caliber have gone toe-to-toe in such an anticipated bout in this sport, one of the driving reasons that White surely put this bout together. This isn't Kimbo Slice, folks. Not only are Jackson and Evans ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the world by Sherdog.com in the most recent light heavyweight rankings, they're in the Top 10 pound-for-pound . Translation: these guys are good.

While ESPN doesn't per say have extensive coverage of MMA, they are connected to Sherdog, the leader and most respected source for MMA news, and you could find the news there. They hold shows now after UFC cards featuring UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian and a panel of others, and normally you can find winners of big fights run across the ticker. Coverage is getting better.

Here at CBSSports, there is absolutely no sign of the news. Anywhere. To its credit, the site publishes one of the best event previews on the World Wide Web for UFC events and some good opinions. There's no excuse though when a message board is breaking news and hours later there's no trace of this.

The question of race is likely going to come up in an interview of these two fighters, but that won't even be the reason that blood boils between these two leading up to what will be a fight between the two around December. But here's the chance for everyone to pull the race card in a good way. These two are great fighters have and will make history, and someone has a responsibility to broadcast that. So if you haven't heard yet, now you have.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com