Rabey Recommends - March 2013


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FIGHT: Because it features two fighters that impress me, though for fairly different reasons. On the one side you have Jordan Mein, arguably the most under-rated prospect in the 170lb division, and is primed to finally have the breakout year he has been threatening. On the other side is Dan Miller, a guy who has had to deal with more pain outside the cage than he has inside. It's a very tasty bout between two guys who know how to put on a scrap.

Despite being only 23 years of age, Jordan Mein (26-8) is about to compete in the thirty fifth fight of his career. That's a crazy statistic, but it's the type of thing we as MMA fans should be getting used to as fighters discover the sport at a younger age then they used to. Mein actually started competing at the tender age of 17, and actually lost his first bout to fellow youngster Rory MacDonald. Four of Mein's eight losses came very early in his career, before he even reached the age of 20. Since making the step up in competition, Mein has notched notable wins over Joe Riggs, Marius Zaromskis and Evangelista Santos. His only loss in his last nine fights was a razor thing split decision against Tyron Woodley. I can see Mein being a serious player in the 170lb division, with experience AND youth on his side.

31 year old Dan Miller (14-6) will never be a world champion, he'll never even challenge for a title. Hell, i'll go as far as to say he will never be a top ten fighter in any division. This may seem like a harsh opening, but that was not my intention. Becuase the fact is that Dan Miller is one of the toughest people in the sport. Aside from going the distance with the likes of Chael Sonnen, Rousimar Palhares, Michael Bisping, Demain Maia and Nate Marquardt, Miller had to do all this whilst dealing with not only the passing of his daughter (in 2009), but the severe condition of his young son Daniel, who has suffered life threatening kidney problems. Miller, being the brave guy that he is, continued fighting through those tough times, and with his son doing alot better, he now seems to be in a place where fighting could become more of a focus for him. Impossible not to respect the mental toughness needed to come through all of that.

WINNER - I have to go with Jordam Mein in this one. Miller is a crazy tough opponent for anyone and has never been finished in his 20 fight career, but something tells me that will change come UFC 158. Mein is young, hungry, has knockout power and a good grappling game. I think we could see a TKO finish within two rounds.


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FIGHT: Anyone who has seen one of the few fights Michael Page (3-0) has competed in will know all too well why this kid is getting so much hype. He may have only competed in three MMA bouts, but the striking skill he has shown and the killer instinct displayed (3 first round finishes) has earned him the nickname "The English Anderson Silva". That may be alot to live up to, but a look at his performances so far and it's an understandable comparison. 25 year old Page may not be as polished as the legendary Brazilian, but the cocky and effective style of his striking, throwing all kindsa shit from all kindsa angles, has the MMA world excited for his move over to Bellator.

Of course, it's important to remember that whilst Page has wowed the fans, he has done so against, no disrespect to his opponents, fairly poor opposition so far. Whilst Bellator often uses plenty of local fighters on the undercard, they do have a better quality of fighter for Page to compete against. The London Shootfighters standout competes in the 170lb welterweight divison, which is ruled over by Ben Askren, and houses the likes of Ben Saunders, Paul Daley and Douglas Lima. Don't expect Page to be matched up with that level yet, but expect him to add to his already impressive highlight reel.


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FIGHT: Because, in my opinion, this should be the fight that determines the next contender for the UFC heavyweight title. Both men are on impressive win streaks (Struve winning four straight, Hunt winning three), both men have a kind of cult following amongst fans, both men are always in entertaining scraps, and last but not least, there is no other heavyweight crying out for a title shot right now. With all the title shots being gifted to fighters so far in 2013, it would be nice to see a title shot go to a fighter who actually deserves it.

38 year old Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (8-7) has one of the strangest MMA careers in recent times. After an impressive kickboxing career, Hunt jumped straight into the deep end of MMA over in PRIDE FC, facing the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Mirko CroCop (in their prime no less) in his third and fourth bouts. Split decision victories over both those men put Hunt on the map as a heavyweight contender, but that all went away fairly quickly as Hunt went on a poor losing streak between 2006-2010. In defense of the giant from New Zealand, that losing streak was against a murderers row of talent (Barnett, Fedor, Overeem, Mousasi, Manhoef). After a UFC debut loss to Sean McCorkle, Hunt got his act together to earn three solid wins, the best being a TKO over Cheick Kongo and the worst being a sloppy decision over Ben Rothwell. Hunt has been out of action since February of 2012, and needs a big victory to show that at 38 years of age, he still has what it takes to compete with the best.

Despite being only 24 years of age, Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (25-5) is already both an MMA and UFC veteran, as well as one of the most consistently entertaining heavyweights in the sport. The 7ft Dutchman has only ever heard from the judges once in his eight year, 30 fight career, and has five UFC 'of the night' awards from his twelve bouts with the promotion. Some fans, including me, are not yet convinced that Struve has what it takes to break that glass ceiling and cement his status as a true world class heavyweight. But with so much experience at such a young age, not to mention the physical attributes he possesses (7ft tall and 84.5inch reach), it seems to be just a matter of time before he can make it all come together and become a truely terrifying prospect for any heavyweight.

WINNER - This is not an easy fight to call. Struve is more athletic, has the better gas tank, as well as a noticeable edge on the ground. Hunt has that granite chin, and a nice line in devastaing kickboxing to keep opponents on their toes. I think if Struve tries to strike with him, then that Skyscraper will crumble down. Hunt has too much power and too good a chin. That being said, i don't think Struve is stupid. I think he takes it to the ground and scores a submission in round two.


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FIGHT: I'll keep this one simple, the reason you need to watch this fight can be summed up by a quick glance at the recent fight history of Diego Sanchez....

Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger - FOTN
Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann - FOTN
Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago - FOTN
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida - FOTN
Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson - FOTN.

That's right, the reason to watch this bout is due to the inability of Diego Sanchez to take part in a boring fight. And with his opponent Takanori Gomi being no stranger to great scraps either, this one has 'War' written all over it.

This marks the return to the 155lb lightweight division of 31 year old Diego Sanchez (23-5), and that is an exciting prospect when you take a look at the possible bouts available to the man formerly known as Nightmare. Sanchez flirted with the lightweights before, scoring exciting victories over Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson to earn a title shot. Unfortunately, that's when Sanchez ran into a prime BJ Penn, and all he had to show after 23 minutes was a dirty scar and a spot on the highlight reel of "The Prodigy". His return to welterweight saw him go 2-2, but he never looked to be in as tip top shape as he did during his lightweight run. Sanchez has competed just once in 2011 and 2012, and this is bad news for all MMA fans. He is a dying breed of fighter, a guy who doesn't shy away from getting punched to give a punch, and we need to try and enjoy as many of these epic bouts as he can give us.

34 year old Takanori Gomi (34-8) was once a very very dangerous man. Considered at one point to be the best lightweight fighter in the world, the Japanese star did a lot of damage during his run with PRIDE FC. Like Sanchez, Gomi also came unstuck against the legendary BJ Penn, being choked out by the Hawaiian back in late 2003 (again, like Sanchez, the first time he had been finished in his career). Since signing with the UFC in 2010, Gomi has gone a respectable 3-3, but has rarely shown flashes of the killer we loved back in the early noughties. All three of Gomi's UFC losses have come via submission, whilst two of his victories have come via (T)KO. In theory, Sanchez should provide Gomi with the style of fight he needs, preferring to stand and trade instead of grappling.

WINNER - Sanchez's schedule has been very light for the last few years, so ring rust could play a factor. Gomi has fogught more regularly, but hasn't been blowing anyone away. I expect this to be pretty fast and furious, and wouldn't be shocked if it's over and done with inside one round. Gomi's chin isn't what it used to be, whilst Sanchez has ridiculous levels of composure on the rare occasion he does get dropped. I expect a Sanchez victory via TKO, no later than the second round.

As always, i like to call in a couple of experts to throw in their own two cents on March's bouts. First off is Mr Steve Wickett, the guru of English MMA, and he gives us his tastiest looking fight from these fair shores.


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS BOUT: This is a five round title fight between two of the best featherweights in the South-West. Gilbert is fighting on his home show against Plymouth's Jamie Reynolds. Gilbert is ranked 25th in the YOUR MMA rankings at present and is looking to rise up the ranking over 2013. Reynolds made a statement against the tough Jamie Pritchard at Staydown VII last November, Reynolds took the fight via a lop sided unanimous decision after battering his opponent for a majority of the bout. Quite simply this is one you really should make the effort to see live.

Sam Gilbert is a fighter I've been raving about for the last 18 months. Having watched his progress closely he's turning into a top fighter. Having not performed to his usual standards last October on his Cage Warriors debut, he challenged Josh Ramage for the Knuckle Up Featherweight Title in December. After a tight first round Gilbert pulled out a stunning armbar submission early in the second to capture the title. His previous bout at Staydown last May saw him dominate the previously unbeaten Bruno Marques to secure his shot at the gold.

Jamie Reynolds is a young man with a bright future. Having strung seven consecutive wins together he came off second best against Josh O'Shea last Sunday in the SWFC Featherweight Title Fight in a razor thin decision. This kid has serious talent and under the guidance of Danny MacMillan he seems destined for the top 30 in the next 24 months. A stunning win over the tough Jamie Pritchard paved the way to this title shot, once again Reynolds will be stepping into the hometown favourites backyard in his quest for gold.

WINNER: The size and experience of Gilbert could be the key in this fight. If Sam can get his game going then he'll be a tough nut to crack with a partisan crowd behind him. With that being said Reynolds in one tough son of a gun and if he gets on top on the floor he's hard to shift. This really is a mouth-watering bout, and predicting a winner is too tricky. Just enjoy the bout.

Last but least, since we embrace all contact sports, our expert on the sweet science, Jasyn "JZ" Zangari, drops a bout for us to look forward too.


WHY YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FIGHT: Before I begin with this month's boxing selection for Rabey Recommends, I would like to give a big thank you to Devon Alexander and his injury which forced his match with Kell Brook to be postponed for a second time. Seriously thought, best of luck on the recovery and hopefully we see this match sooner than later.

Now, for this month's selection. March will give us several great matchups, all of which could have easily earned my pick for must see match. Fights such as Bradley Jr./Provodnikov (March 16), Cloud/Hopkins (March 9) and Golovkin/Ishida (March 30) all have a claim to be called the must see matchup. But one fight of the month steals the show for me, Brandon Rio vs. Mike Alvarado.

These 2 men first met last July, with Rios winning via 7th round TKO, and anytime you put Brandon Rios in a ring with someone willing to engage, rematch or not, it is a fight you have to see. Some added intrigue is that Rios and Alvarado will challenge for the interim WBO light welterweight (140 pounds), with the winner possibly securing a matchup with one of the 3 current WBO champions, which include Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson.

brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) has been long on the average boxing fans radar. The man nicknamed "Bam Bam" has certainly live up this that moniker during his 9 year career, as his impressive almost 72% KO to round ratio shows. Rios broke onto the scene in 2004 against Raul Montes, earning a 3rd round TKO victory, and over his next 25 fights, his pattern of domination continued. Winning a total of 17 of those 25 matches via knockout, Rios was matched up against Anthony Peterson on HBO's "After Dark" boxing card in 2010. The fight, which served as a WBA lightweight title eliminator, was Rios true introduction to the masses, even if the match ended in a way that left a lot feeling let down (repeated low blows from Peterson forced the bout to be stopped in the 7th via DQ). Rios then stepped up and faced Omri Lowther on the undercard of Margarito/Pacquiao in 2010,and once again the lightweight knockout king delivered, this time in the 5th round to set up a WBA lightweight title match with Miguel Acosta in 2011. Rios left that evening in Las Vegas the new champion, and defended his crown once more, against Urbano Antillón, before weight issues caused the champion problems. Prior to his title defense against UK fighter John Murray, Rios was unable to make the lightweight limit of 130 pounds and was stripped of his title. Despite beating Murray and being able to compete for the now vacant WBA title, Rios once again missed weight prior to a matchup with Richard Abril. Even in victory, Rios was unable to earn back his belt.

Mike Alvarado (33-1-0, 23 KOs) can simply be defined with one word in boxing circles: warrior. Becoming a professional in 2004, Alvarado followed a similar path to Rios, defeating lesser names to work towards his goal of being world champion. Fighting mainly in smaller shows, Alavardo finally got his chance to shine in 2011, being showcased on the undercard of Pacquiao/Marquez 3. Alvarado was able to defeat Breidis Prescott. Despite being down on all 3 scorecards, Alvarado was able to score the amazing 10th round TKO with only 1:07 remaining in the fight. Alvarado's next fight would see him defeat top light welterweight fighter Mauricio Herrera via UD. Prior to his first matchup with Rios, Alvarado earned a place on the "Gatti List", which consists of the Top 10 most entertaining fighters in the sport. Now if you havnt yet seen the first matchup between these 2 men, which was voted 2012 Sports Illustrated Fight of the Year, I highly recommend you look for it and soak in every minute of brilliance of the fight, which was won by Rios on the 7th round.

WINNER: Wow, talk about a pick 'em fight if there ever was one. With both men sporting nearly identical professional records, and impressive amateur pedigrees, to clearly pick a winner here is very hard. But I will say Rios is the slight favorite for 2 reasons. 1 is his obvious win over Alvarado already. Regardless of how good a fight it was, Rios was able to dig deep and pull out the win, which leads to point number 2. 2. Rios is the superior technical fighter. Even with his ability and willingness to turn any fight into a brawl, he has the ability to control that brawl with superior technical skill, mixed with all out violence.
Any man that can simply out work you and out "skill you" in a brawl setting has some serious skills, and this is why I have to take Rios for the win, this time via unanimous decision.

Michael Page image courtesy of Little Red Creative: www.Littleredcreative.co.uk

Published by Lee Rabey - Thu, 28 Feb 2013 20:51

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