Posts Tagged ‘guard’

Déjà Vu: The Comparision Between Fedor vs. Werdum & St-Pierre vs. Serra

July 1st, 2010

It feels like déjà vu all over again.

This past weekend’s Strikeforce event saw a main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum, with the winner receiving a title shot at Alistair Overeem, who was sitting ringside for the bout.  Most MMA fans and analysts were expecting another win for the 230lb Russian, but this is MMA, and as the old saying goes, “expect the unexpected.”

Werdum not only shocked the San Jose crowd, but he shocked the MMA world when he upset the seemingly invincible Emelianenko via submission just 69 seconds in the opening round.

On the contrary, Werdum wasn’t dropped while exchanging with Fedor; he actually played possum and executed a smart strategy by forcing Emelianenko to get into his guard.  From there, Werdum locked on an arm triangle, transitioned to an arm bar and gave his opponent no choice but to tap.

It’s odd, but this bout draws a lot of comparisons to Georges St-Pierre’s first title defense vs. Matt Serra at UFC 69.

For starters, both Serra and Werdum came into their bouts as huge underdogs. In fact, Serra had more odds stacked against him, coming in with 6:1 chance of winning.

Also, both fighters were considered journeymen at the time in their respective careers, Werdum was 2-2 coming into his bout, while Serra was 3-3 going into his matchup. Not only were both St-Pierre and Emelianenko heavily favored to win their bouts, they were also riding their own winning streaks.

Another similarity is that while both fights ended in the first round, Serra and Werdum were able to find openings in their opponents and it allowed them to get the opportunity to finish them.

If you notice in the matchup between St-Pierre and Serra, Serra was willing to strike with the champion and pressed the action. The reason why Serra was pushing the pace was because he was much smaller than GSP, and it allowed him to get inside of St-Pierre and strike from a short range. To try and get inside St-Pierre’s range, Serra started to jab repeatedly at his opponent’s body.

Once Matt Serra finally got inside of St-Pierre’ range, he caught the champion square on the jaw and overwhelmed St-Pierre with a flurry of strikes and awarded Matt Serra the upset and the UFC Welterweight title.

In the matchup featuring Fedor and Werdum, it obviously ended much quicker.

The fight began with both men standing toe-to-toe and Fedor getting the better of the exchange. Although the Brazilian appeared to be rocked, Fedor actually didn’t connect and Werdum purposely fell back, forcing "The Last Emperor" to come into his guard.  As Emelianenko swung carelessly, Werdum raised both of his legs, causing his hips to elevate and catching the Russian’s left arm. Fedor fought hard to get out of the dangerous Brazilian’s guard, but Werdum still had Fedor’s left arm trapped. From there, Werdum tightened his grip, positioned himself, and sunk in the submission for the win.

These are two similar situations ending in two different outcomes. The two challengers, Fabricio Werdum and Matt Serra, both pulled off impossible outcomes while sticking to their strategies.

History shows us that in MMA no fighter is unbeatable. But it also teaches us that you live to fight another day, as St-Pierre came back to reclaim his title over Matt Serra in a dominating fashion.

It is likely, in a similar fashion, Fedor Emelianenko will do the same.


NBA Free Agency 2010: 10 Targets for the San Antonio Spurs

July 1st, 2010
Like it or not, this offseason will mark the start of a new era in the NBA. That means a changing of the guard. Out with the old, in with the new. For teams like the San Antonio Spurs, who have been among the NBA's best for so long, that is not a happy thought. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are not as young as they used to be. You could argue that they all hit their prime and are on the decline. The Spurs tried to gain athleticism with Richard Jefferson, but it did not pay off. Now, with the swingman likely re—signing, there is not much room for flexibility this offseason in San Antonio. But there is some. Roger Mason and Matt Bonner are both off the books after each made more than $3 million in 2010. The Spurs also lose Keith Bogans and Ian Mahinmi. So who could the Spurs possibly nab during free agency to put a spring in their veterans' steps? Here are 10 possibilities.

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NBA Free Agency: John Salmons Opts Out Of Contract With Milwaukee Bucks

June 30th, 2010

In a move that everyone expected, shooting guard John Salmons opted out of the final year of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, becoming an unrestricted free agent. Salmons will now be free to negotiate with any NBA team once the free agency period begins on Thursday.

Salmons declined the $5.8 million he was due with the Bucks for the 2010-11 season. 

Many feel Salmons is destined for the Atlanta Hawks since Joe Johnson is most likely to leave via free agency as well. Bucks GM John Hammond has been adamant all offseason that he would very much like to see Salmons return to Milwaukee next season.

Salmons averaged 19.9 points a game with the Bucks after he was acquired in February from the Chicago Bulls. In his 30 games with Milwaukee, they went 22-8 with him in the lineup.

The Brewers traded for Chris Douglas-Roberts last week as a back-up option should they be unable to bring Salmons back to Milwaukee. Douglas-Roberts is among those that hope Salmons will be back in Milwaukee as well.

"If we play with each other, I'm going to learn a lot from him and I'm going to pick his brain," Douglas-Roberts said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I've seen his progression. I remember the days he was in playing behind (Allen) Iverson (in Philadelphia)."

"I will ask him how he handled everything and how he continued to get better. He definitely displayed mental toughness."

Resigning Salmons would be a giant coup for Hammond. He could make more leaving Milwaukee, but with the additions the team has made, keeping Salmons would make them one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Also expected to leave is back-up point guard Luke Ridnour. Rumors now have the New York Knicks as the destination for Ridnour. He would fit well with the up-tempo style the Knicks like to play.

Although resigning both would be ideal for the Bucks and their fans, it's imperative that they keep either Salmons or Ridnour. Brandon Jennings, for all his great play last season, is still a 20-year-old point guard entering his second season, and Chris Douglas-Roberts has only seen a limited number of starts in his career. Losing backcourt depth will severely hinder the progress already gained this offseason.

The Bucks were the surprise team in the Eastern Conference last season but if Salmons and Ridnour both leave, they could very likely see a regression back to a sub-par team and miss out on the playoffs. 



To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here

NBA Free Agency: Philadelphia 76ers Have Evan Turner, Now What?

June 30th, 2010

Surprising no one, the Philadelphia 76ers used their No. 2 pick to scoop up Ohio State shooting guard Evan Turner.

In doing this, the 76ers pretty much cemented their back court for the next 10 or so years. Turner will be paired with rising 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday, who proved his skill last season for the team.

Together, Turner and Holiday are expected to enhance the 76ers back court, something the team is currently lacking.

Next up for the 76ers? Improving their front court, of course.

The 76ers' weaknesses are mostly rebounding and defense. The addition of Turner will help with both, but the fact is that they need to make some moves to improve their front court if they want a serious shot at the playoffs next season.

The first move they already made to improve was trading Samuel Dalembert.

Dalembert was only ever full of negativity, and it's been clear that he has wanted out of Philly for a while now. With the trade of Dalembert, the 76ers acquired Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni.

Hawes and Nocioni will both provide more front court depth. Hawes is a seven-foot center who brings versatility to the center position, and had an average of 6.1 rebounds last season. Nocioni offers his veteran experience and knowledge to the 76ers' game.

To make up for the trade of Dalembert, the 76ers should look at possible free agents Channing Frye and Udonis Haslem. Both power forwards, the two would provide further depth to the 76ers' front court.

The 76ers might also want to keep an eye on free agent Drew Gooden, whose strength comes in blocking shots.

No matter what the 76ers end up doing in the rest of the offseason, we know that in order to have a serious shot at reclaiming their top spot in the league they have some serious improvements to make. How they decide to accomplish this will be interesting indeed.

LeBron James Free Agency: Bulls Should Not Be Concerned About ‘Fit’

June 29th, 2010

Like all great players, LeBron James is a polarizing figure.

Some love him and some hate him. Some want him on the Bulls, some want him to stay far away from Chicago.

But to say James should not play in Chicago because the Bulls already have Luol Deng at small forward is beyond silly. It's stupid. Idiotic, even.

The typical argument I see out there is this: The Bulls have Derrick Rose, Deng, and Joakim Noah. Therefore, the Bulls should go after a shooting guard like Joe Johnson and a power forward like Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, or Carlos Boozer. That way they will have a complete starting five.

That suggests that despite the Bulls having a legitimate chance at landing James and Bosh, two of the top three free agents, they should instead focus on building around Deng.

See how foolish that sounds?

Look, in a traditional free agency period, it makes sense to go after a "need." The Clippers, for example, are really just a small forward away from having a complete starting five.

But this is an unprecedented time in the NBA. It's not free agency as usual.

Instead of having stars signed and building around them, teams are vying for star free agents.  Basically, it is the reverse of what is traditionally done.

Because of this, the Bulls need to forget about signing the players who best complement their current roster. Which, quite frankly, does not amount to much in their current position.

If the Bulls can sign LeBron, they should do it instantly. Sure, he and Deng play the same position. But Deng could probably be shipped somewhere (like the Clippers) or used in a sign-and-trade deal.

Then the Bulls could target a more natural shooting guard to space the court for Rose and LeBron. There are several shooting specialists available for cheap in this free agent class.

Is LeBron the perfect "fit" on the current Bulls roster? Absolutely not. But when you're the best player in the league, it really doesn't matter.

James is the centerpiece for whichever team lands him this offseason. You build around a guy like him.

You don't try to fit him into a spot.


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