Friday, 12 May 2017

UFC 211 Picks and some thoughts on Man Utd

We are geared up for the best card of the year with UFC 211 stuffed full of meaningful fights. It has been three weeks since the last UFC event and absence has made the heart grow fonder at least here. The news has been a little slow but I do have two random things on my mind.

First of all, I've become irrationally convinced that Jose Mourinho is low key trying to ruin my life. That has nothing to do with MMA or Shenmue or anything but our Manchester United side has been absolutely dire by their standards in not just recent weeks but in fact recent years!

I heard people talking the other day, asking the question "If United don't win the Europa League, would this season be considered a failure?" Forget that, I say, even if they do win the Europa League the season is already a failure. Manchester City and Arsenal have grossly underachieved, Liverpool have been a barely above average side and somehow all those teams are ahead of us in the league.

To make matters worse Tottenham, who will for sure embarass us in the last ever game at old White Hart Lane, have stolen a march on us at a time where we would have otherwise hoped to pry away key players from their squad like Harry Kane and Eric Dier to augment our own. Failure to take the initiative in our own games has allowed our competitors to strengthen their position against us.

The game on Thursday against Celta Vigo, a razor thin 1-1 draw on the night was so typical of the inefficacy of the team this year. After stumbling out of the blocks and allowing Vigo to dictate play early in the match, United finally settled in and started to knock the ball around with confidence leading to our goal, a header from Marouane Fellaini. But after that, United sank further and further back showing less and less ambition.

Vigo's equalizer instigated full-scale panic because barely a soul in the side has a spine. Athletic lugnut Eric Bailly unwisely shoved his hands in some diving prick's face and got himself sent off. When play resumed, Rooney promptly ran the ball up to the corner flag in an attempt to waste time. Against Celta motherfucking Vigo. Are you fucking kidding me?

I'm not inspired by Mourinho. I'm still irrationally convinced he will win us the league out of nowhere next year but I don't think he'll last much longer beyond that. In the meantime, he will have driven away all our promising youngsters and homegrowns, in particular the beleagured Luke Shaw and no doubt leave us right back where he started from. He truly is a desciple of van Gaal in that respect. To Stockholm we trudge then.

In lighter news, Paige VanZant apparently caused quite the stir when she posted a suggestive video of herself showing off her Reebok undiepanties imploring her followers to buy a set for their sisters or girlfriends. In full disclosure, when I saw the video free of any context (not that there was much to begin with) I believe I exclaimed out loud, "She's gone completely batshit insane!" but as a born contrarion once the criticism started pouring in I started to feel a paternal or perhaps hot-girl-privilege inspired need to defend her. Not that I did that but I would note that yes she is a hot girl and yes that does mean she gets a pass. That's just how it is. I know Angela Hill is a critic but shehas made some odd videos herself in the past but they're not nearly as effective because she is not hot leading me to believe the hate is borne from either jealousy or angry, frustrated virgins. That's how I see it anyway.

Picks after the jump.

Friday, 7 April 2017

UFC 210 Picks and an NFL non story

For those who did not watch last Saturday, Paddy Pimblett was dethroned at Cage Warriors 82 by Nad Narimani. I scored it 49-46 for the challenger Narimani with only the second round for Pimblett. He was thoroughly dominated in all aspects of the fight yet this morning, local journalists like Jim Edwards are still trying to defend him, talking about how he will one day be the face of MMA in the UK.

For my part, I'll admit that Pimblett is very young and has room and time to improve. But if he wants to reach the lofty goals that he himself has boasted off, a UFC roster spot and a potential future showdown with Conor McGregor, he has a very long way to go. The unwavering belief that some pundits still have him in despite his last two performances is an example of how intractable some people can be once they've adopted public positions. As Colin Cowherd often speaks about, for them it's about being right rather getting it right.

This is particularly noticeable when discussing about Colin Kaepernick's continued unemployment in the NFL. He has never proven himself to be an adept starter outside of one season's worth of games when people did not yet have tape on him. He can't read defenses, has never been able to and when called on it, blustered and revealed his ignorance. According to Dan Graziano, his salary demands are high, in the $9-10m a year range and he wants a shot at being the starter. Yet somehow according to the blue Twitter checkmark brigade this is one of the great injustices currently facing us in the world.

"A source" claims that the salary demand is fake news. However, I would note that Kaepernick switched agents heading into free agency, leaving XAM Sports where he had followed a friend of his and signing with Select Sports Group. His previous contract with the 49ers had been noted as unusually team friendly, ie "I ain't gettin' paid enough" territory. His supporters claim that he is being blackballed because of his political stances.

I would not say "blackballed" but do I think that puts off GM's? Sure - but why shouldn't it? While he has the right to kneel for the national anthem, it does distract from team unity - we've mentioned before how many athletes and coaches are inherently conservative. It does put the spotlight and focus on self rather than team goals and a winning mentality. For me it's magnified by my lack of conviction in his sincerity - something borne out by his sudden and convenient abandonment of said kneeling policy.

I had a brief back and forth with Mina Kimes of ESPN on this topic and brought up Bill Romanowski's claim that Blaine Gabbert outworked Kaepernick in terms of film study prior to being named the starter which she rejected out of hand due to his supposed unreliability. Michael Crabtree had suggested something similar in regard to his willingness and ability to study tape but on-field or in the case of Paddy Pimblett, in-cage evidence is not enough when you have predetermined agendas to promote.

It's really nothing new when it comes to sports 'journalism'. The difference now is that the average fan has so much more access now that we should know better. Use your own eyes and mind when making your judgments. The truth will reveal itself to you as long as you are open to it. I guess that's what I'm trying to say.

Picks after the jump.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

UFC 209 Picks

I was thinking about ruminating on why MMA fans seem to be overwhelmingly conservative in nature but then big fight news came down this week as Georges St. Pierre's return became official as he challenges Michael Bisping for the Middleweight title at UFC 2??. Well, most likely UFC 213 during International Fight Week in July. Plenty of people are complaining but I don't hate it and am looking forward to the fight.

The chief grievance most people have is that this feels like a gimmick, money fight rather than one based in actual sporting intrigue given that GSP has not fought in three and a half years and has never competed at Middleweight. They have a point there but the inference that WME is interfering in matchmaking to pay off the vig and that this would never have happened under the reign of the Fertittas is risible. Anyone remember when Chael Sonnen got an undeserved shot at Jon Jones? Brock Lesnar had the name but not the credentials when he fought Randy Couture. Multiple fighters have been handed title shots coming off losses. While technically under the WME banner, there was also a rather large event at Madison Square Garden where a a very popular fighter got a shot at a belt with a grand total of zero wins in that division in the UFC that no one complained about that you just know old Zuffa would've been all about. So it's not unprecedented.

Moreover, I don't feel bad for Yoel Romero. Is he the clear number one contender? Sure, I guess. But he's also extremely lucky not to be in the midst of a two year USADA suspension. There was highly unethical conduct by his corner in the Tim Kennedy fight and also repeated fence grabbing against Jacare Souza which saved him from being underneath a BJJ warlock. So it's tough for me to muster a lot of sympathy. While there is also grumbling about a logjam being created at Middleweight - a logjam of two, by the way - it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Better than what you have at Women's Bantamweight which has no clear challengers after Valentina Shevchenko. There's a real complaint you could hurl the UFC's way which was also evident under the old management - would it kill them to book a few more women's fights?

Picks after the jump.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

UFC 208 picks

I'm not sure the UFC are taking this "Pay-per-view" business seriously. Compared to the FOX card two weeks ago, this event has no fights of divisional significance on it at all. That includes this completely bogus title fight headlining the card. With Cris Cyborg out of the picture for who knows how long, there is no point whatsoever in having a Women's Featherweight division - the depth just isn't there right now, as evidenced by having two bantamweight contest the belt.

If the UFC wanted to add another women's division, 125lbs should have been it. It bridges the gap between 115 and 135 for intermediate fighters and opens the possibility of a superfight grudge match between Future title challenger Valentina Shevchenko and strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Also, people won't like hearing this but it's true - the smaller girls are more marketable. Now they've backed themelves into a corner it'll be interesting to see what they do. Even though Dana White said Amanda Nunes would not be allowed to come up and challenge for a second belt, JI bet it ends up happening if she wins her next fight because what the hell else are they gonna do?

Picks after the jump