UFC: Nick Diaz and Josh Koscheck on Superbowl collision course
With the meeting of Georges St Pierre and Carlos Condit hovering on the horizon two other top tier welterweights are spoiling for a fight and its one that UK fans will clamour for. Josh Koscheck versus Nick Diaz is looking likely for the first quarter of 2013 as Cesar Gracie has openly touted the prospect to Brazilian outlet Tatame in recent days. Gracie is of course the latter’s mentor and adviser and will have the ear of both his star pupil and UFC matchmakers as one of next year’s big fights tentatively begins to take shape. Gracie was quoted as saying:
“I like the option of him fighting Koscheck, a guy who is very popular here in the United States… So I think that Nick probably will face Josh Koscheck in his return to the octagon”
Koscheck in turn took to his twitter account and effusively declared to his over 152,000 followers that
“Super Bowl weekend! … I am DOWN. Don’t be scared homie!”
Just because two camps believe a match-up to be a good idea doesn’t always mean it will come to fruition. UFC brass can have other ideas about what is best for a particular fighter, or indeed division. In this instance though it appears that Gracie’s views will match those of Joe Silva & Co. for several reasons. Both men are coming off losses and both need a big name scalp to retain momentum in the welterweight title race. Neither the TUF 1 alum nor Stockton’s finest can afford to lose two on the bounce. Given Diaz’ recent enforced hiatus from the sport it is increasingly likely that he will be ushered into battle against a top five opponent prior to possibly challenging for the 170lb strap. Whilst Koscheck provides a suitable challenge to the returning former Strikeforce champ his explosive wrestling may ultimately deny Diaz a date with the winner of UFC 154’s main event. More on this one as it develops.
McKay, Cooke and Isaksson impress at Cage Contender XV
As I filled in my Saturday night with some live fights recently I was given a timely reminder of just how good some regional promotions are. In Belfast’s King’s Hall I watched the Cage Contender promotion proffer their latest fight card and it didn’t disappoint. Conor Cooke scored the biggest win of his fledgling career with an eye catching head-kick knockout of former TUF3 star Ross “The Gladiator” Pointon. In an edge of the seat battle, the likeable Pointon had no answer to Cooke’s stand-up flurries as the main event capped off a rousing night of fights. Gunnar Nelson was in attendance with his coach John Kavanagh of SBG Ireland as they cornered Arnie Isaksson in his impressive win over the tough as nails Wayne Murrie. Isaksson looks like a solid work in progress and showed bags of potential in a gut check win. Finish of the night for me however came for Co Antrim middleweight Ronan McKay in his win over the highly touted Richard Gorey. McKay displayed superior grappling throughout prior to locking in a textbook triangle midway through the second round.
MMA pioneer Jeff Blatnick gone but not forgotten
Names such as Scott Ferrozzo, Pat Smith, Kimo Leopoldo and the irrepelacable David “Tank” Abbott amongst others grabbed the headlines in the early days of no-holds-barred (NHB). What the then “would be” sport needed was an ambassador, one preferably emanating from outside the cage and one who engendered respect and reason. Middle America and the rest of the world would learn to love what later came to be known as Mixed Martial Arts… it just didn’t know it yet. The unenviable task would of reasoning with law makers and opinion formers fell to a man no longer with us, a man who epitomised the virtues needed to succeed at the elite level of any competitive sport… enter one Jeff Blatnick. Blatnick astutely suggested the term Mixed Martial Arts for a still embryonic often vilified “sport”. His words were accepted where others’ were scorned, his views courted where others were disparaged but then again this was Jeff Blatnick. Blatnick beat cancer as a young man and proceeded to seize Olympic gold in Greco-Roman wrestling less than two years later. Blatnick’s 1984 triumph against all the odds would become a beacon to many sufferers of the disease, both inside and outside the sporting world. Blatnick simply made a huge difference to the growth of the UFC in its formative years. He worked tirelessly to get the sport regulated and in essence get a fair hearing from those who both feared and reviled it, of which there were many. Blatnick will always have a special place in the hearts of MMA fans of a certain age. Jeff Blatnick we salute you.
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