Friday, May 18, 2012

What is this Sport...Basketball?: The Ignant NBA Fan

Just like the Georgetown days, huh Roy? (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
The allure of NBA basketball escapes me. I feel that the idea of the NBA as a major sports entity is one more conjured up by ABC and ESPN who have millions upon millions of dollars invested in it because it provides a lot of live sports for them to fill up their airwaves. I don't know any die hard NBA fans or anyone that would invite me over to watch the Sixers play the Bucks in January. It's a sport as lost upon me as NASCAR is in that I see the popularity, I hear the ratings, but I have no personal evidence to back up that if the NBA disappeared tomorrow anyone would care.

It's a sport that has built up some of the most marketable figures of our lifetime. Michael Jordan is the most famous athlete on the planet even years after he's retired and taken ownership of the worst NBA team ever assembled (seriously, when the team's own site is "hoping things work out at the draft" you know things are embarrassing). Kobe Bryant is a mega star in the biggest media market. LeBron James was a multi-millionaire before he even laced up his custom Nike's for his first NBA game. So there is an impression that the players leave, but unlike the game itself, I'll pass.

The reason these individuals are so easily marketed is that they appeal to a wide demographic (white, suburban, urban, country, Jewish, Asian, et al.) as virtually everyone plays basketball around the world in any economic environment, the players are in tank tops and shorts so they are easily recognizable, and their immense athleticism and ability to run, jump, and dunk is the perfect action to...ahem...jam into a 30 second commercial spot for shoes that can make you run, jump, and dunk better.

When I watch an NBA game (for the 3 minutes I can stand it, or for the last 2 minutes because that's all that matters) I don't see ballin' Baryshnikovs (reference: his ballet dancing, not his guest spot on Sex and The City) so agile and fleet a foot that all you can do is watch in awe. A sport that has spawned a million internet sites and 700 page books that was poetic about the sport like it's baseball. I see a sport that has all the makings of a team game, but is very much an individualized sport.

Now, I just so happened to read that 700 page book because I love sports and it was written by one of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons. So perhaps my title of Ignorant NBA Fan is a little misleading. I'm perhaps not ignorant as the word is defined, but maybe more ignant as the girls in grade school used to use it; "stupid" or "lame" or "rude" about my approach to the NBA.

The thing is, I don't dislike basketball. I enjoy some pick up hoops when everyone is as bad as I am. And I wildly enjoy college basketball. Going back to my ignance about the NBA, it's not that I'm just writing the sport off, but I have a rather clear explanation as to why I don't enjoy the NBA nearly as much as college. The reason is that while there is no doubt the skill level in the NBA is far superior, what makes interesting basketball is the teamwork involved.

In the NBA, my interpretation of the sport over the past 20 years is that you get one to two superstars and  a solid supporting cast and you win the championship. You don't have at least one superstar, you don't have a chance. The reason is that in this world where everyone in the NBA is crazy athletic and gifted, individuals can take over the game. Individuals can make things happen by themselves so long as the team can hustle on defense and make an occasional shot then you'd be in it.

College doesn't work that way. Not everyone is as talented. Less than 10% of the people on the floor at any given time in any given D-1 game will not be an NBA player. Individuals can alter a game, but they cannot take over a game. In college, teamwork is needed to set up shots, win the battles on defense, and have a continued success in the regular season and through the NCAA tournament.

The comparison between the two styles of basketball is important because basketball as a sport is more fun and exciting when it is a team sport. When Kobe has the ball and everyone clears out for him, hey that's fun in the dwindling seconds of a half, but when that is the offense, it's dull.

What has emerged through the first couple of rounds of these 2012 NBA Playoffs is that team sport has reemerged from the shackles of super teams and pure athletic greatness. As much as marketing firms, shoe companies, and the NBA want to highlight individuals, its the teams that are making an impact. These NBA playoffs have been won by teams that are more college and a collective than pro and apart a part.

Two teams in particular are the San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers.

The Spurs are in the midst of demolishing the Los Angeles Clippers after sweeping the Utah Jazz on a march to another championship that no one wants to see them in. In a strike shortened season it takes a great coach like Gregg Popovich to have the assertiveness to bench the likes of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan in order to see the long-term vision for how this season would play out.

It's not terribly surprising to see the Spurs in this position as they are the top seed in the West and they have a lot of veteran guys with playoff experience. Of course, they are also doing their Spurs thing. Getting what they need out of their proven vets and roll players, but also turning late round picks and castoffs into integral rotation guys. Thiago Splitter (1-Top 5 best name in basketball), Gary Neal (1), Kawhi Leonard (R), DeJuan Blair (2) and Danny Green (2) have a grand total of 6 completed season under their belt. Or less than one half of a Duncan (14). Yet they all played key minutes and fit perfectly into what the Spurs want to do.

The are able to be a veteran team, but still have the athleticism and energy to keep up with the gunners. Now, that's not their game, but what they have mastered is ball movement. The ball will be flying all over the court, with relatively little running by players without the ball. It's all positional. What you see a younger, less experienced, and less coached team like the Clippers do is run all over the place trying to stop the ball, when all they are doing is playing right into the Spurs strategy.

In the East, the Pacers have gained more notoriety, especially after last night. They hold a 2-1 lead over the Heat and appear to be yet another out of nowhere hurdle in the path of LeBron James' first championship.

The Pacers quietly won the third seed and came on late after acquiring Leandro Barbosa. The team defense was always in play this season, and like most younger teams the Pacers were able to take advantage of the strike shortened schedule more than most.

Where they have been able to come out as more than just a grind it out defense is through Barbosa and George Hill (former Spur!) being more productive on the offensive end. While the team has their defensive anchors in the front court, the offense really moves through the gang of talented guards they have. None of which are over powering, but they are all able to function together.

With hardly anyone that could be considered a superstar, although maybe Roy Hibbert is on his way, the Pacers certainly don't have the chops the Spurs do, but they are able be a sum greater than their individual parts. Based on why I used to think about the NBA, where a LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were all you needed to win, this very concept of team is winning out.

There's still more basketball to play. The Spurs will most likely have to deal with one of those crazy athletic teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round and should the Pacers upend the Heat, they'll take on the East version of the Spurs in the Celtics. It's a tough road, but it's good to see teams that play hard and play together still have a shot in today's NBA.

I'll be watching...a little.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Looking for a Fight: UFC on Fuel 3

Looking for a Fight focuses on one particular fight during certain UFC events. 

"Zobified" Chan Sung Jung applying the rare twister submission to punching bag Leonard Garcia.

UFC on Fuel has finally gone a bridge too far. It was bad enough I had to miss the Brian Stann fight and Alex Gustaffson dominate in Sweden last time around, but now I have to miss Donald Cerrone and the Korean Zombie? Preposterous. I guess when you have every cable channel plus the sports package on Xfinity, that's still not enough.

In fairness to Cerrone, I was not a fan of his in his WEC days. Perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of the WEC was their lack of ability (which I'm sure was driven by lack of funds and airtime) to build up the personality of their fighters. Anything you would learn about Urijah Faber or Anthony Pettis or Cub Swanson or Jose Aldo (I'm going to go ahead and refuse to acknowledge Jamie Varner in that group) at the time you had to figure out on your own. On fight night there would be the standard fight montage leading up to it, but again, this was only showing the in-ring abilities. Good for catching up the causal fan as to why one should care, but poor from dissuading the avid fan of one's preconceived notions.

The UFC does a great job of making their fighters marketable by showing their personalities, not just let their ring personas speak for themselves (something Rashad Evans should be thrilled about). While in WEC all I could think about Cerrone was, you're a cowboy, you wear a hat, we get it. But with UFC allowing Cerrone's personality to show you realize he's a daredevil crazy guy that is a big time thrill seeker. He's always out to fight the guy put in front of him, and I can get behind that. While things like a UFC title and winning are important to him, he admits he'd rather just fight so he can buy some jet skis. Even going so far as to say his lifestyle doesn't lend itself to longevity. Thinking you're immortal is one thing, but recognizing your mortality and not caring is another.

Aside from his weird ranch he owns with Leonard Garcia, everything I learned about the guy I liked. Along with his improved Muay Thai striking game at Greg Jackson's camp he's turned into not a favorite of mine, but a guy I always want to watch.What I look for out of a Cerrone fight is aggression and a need to finish things by KO or submission. Those bonus fight checks Dana White dishes out are pretty nifty.

He is must see fighting because he's exciting and, well, it's hard to avoid him. From December 16, 2010 the last WEC event to Tuesday night he has fought 7 times. He was 5-1 in 2011, losing his last fight in an odd performance where Cerrone was sluggish and out boxed by Nate Diaz. Some say injuries were involved, others that the continuous training and fighting just wore him down. Whatever the reason, Cerrone wasn't the same guy he was the previous 5 fights.

Assuming he gets back to his swashbuckling, bike flipping, and base jumping ways in the ring, he'll have a tough guy to bounce those strikes off of in Jeremy Stephens. Lil' Heathen stepped in to fight Cerrone after Yves Edwards had to pull out due to an injury. Stephens is no stranger to exciting fights. While only one of his previous four fights have ended in a finish (a 3rd Rd KO of Marcus Davis at UFC 125) he is constantly pressuring fighters and has a solid chin so he's not afraid to bang inside the Octagon.

While Cerrone was literally fast-tracking himself to a title shot before losing to Diaz, Stephens had a #1 contender contender match with poor Anthony Pettis. Pettis who was the actual WEC lightweight title holder when the company folded, and through a maze of injuries and rematches and draws finds himself injured and on the shelf until September with at least one more guy ahead of him in the pecking order should current LW champ Benson Henderson (whom Pettis beat and who also beat Cerrone twice) and former LW champ Frankie Edgar settle their business this Summer. Please, please no more lightweight rematches for a while.

Stephens lost a split-decision to Showtime and clearly has ideas of using Cerrone to get back up the LW ladder sooner rather than later.


I'd really look for Cerrone and Stephens to set a high speed pace for the duration of the fight. While Cerrone has a stand-up advantage, there's no reason for Stephens to feel incredibly comfortable taking him to the mat either. Cerrone is quick on the ground with subs and also possesses violent up-kicks. Cerrone can definitely take Stephens out of his comfort zone and control how the fight goes down. My prediction is that this fight ends on the mat and Cerrone bails on a sub for a ground n' pound TKO in round 3.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fantasy Funkhouser: Closing the Door but the Light is Still On

David Robertson is re-assured by people making way more money than him. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Here's the entire article in one sentence: David Robertson is the Yankees' closer for the rest of the season.

There you go. You can stop reading now and move on to other better and more interesting fantasy articles. You're welcome.

For those that want more than a passing reassurance that you didn't blow your FAAB budget on a guy whose biggest contribution rest of season will be a couple of royalty checks to Lynyrd Skynyrd let's continue. Normally, if a relief pitcher hasn't let up a run since last August would probably get more slack as a potential closer, but this isn't a normal year for closers.

The phrase "Don't Pay for Saves" has become more and more popular over the years. This is in regards to not investing heavily in the closer "position" (because let's remember closer isn't a position as much as it is a description) where the year to year turnover has become increasingly volatile and difficult to predict. There are advocates and detractors of the strategy, and as with most things there are positives and negatives. However, this year paying for saves certainly hasn't worked out.

If you look at ESPN's closer depth chart, 5 weeks into the season there are 14 closers looking for handshakes that weren't in that position at the end of Spring Training. This is due to injuries and general ineffectiveness of the closers this year. Yahoo! Sports current o-rank of the Top 25 RP's currently has 7 closers on the DL (this has been updated since the beginning of the year, so injured closers like Wilson, Soria, and Madson are buried in the 1,100s). The highest actual ranked closer in the Top 25 o-rank is Craig Kimbrel (o-rank: 57; actual: 105).

Rodney's hat. (AP)
It hasn't been pretty, and it has sent fantasy owners scrambling.

So when the indestructible Mariano Rivera, the safest of safe picks, was injured last week it was the official horn sounding of closers hitting the fan this year. Clearly, all bets were off, and friendships would be lost, if not already, in poaching Mo's rather obviously replacement, Robertson, off waivers.

Of course, it can't be that simple. In a year where the best closers in baseball are Fernando Rodney (perhaps no one since Frosty the Snowman has gotten more from a hat than Rodney) and Jim Johnson it's never that simple.

Robertson, took over the closers role with everyone watching and in his first save opportunity managed to get out of a bases loaded jam he put himself into to record the save, and the next night blew his first save by getting into more trouble, only to give up a sac fly and then a 3-run bomb to a suddenly gimpy Matt Joyce. Ring the alarm you say? Go grab Rafael Soriano? Nay.

Robertson has lethal stuff. He struck out 100 batters in 66.2 innings last year and as of a week ago he was easily the most reliable arm in the bullpen not named Mariano Rivera. So now he's a person thrust into the biggest stage a closer can enter. He's not replacing Javy Guerra or the completely imploded Carlos Marmol. David Robertson must step on to the same mound and live up to the same expectations as the greatest closer that ever lived, while playing for the most famous baseball team ever. It would be foolish of us not to expect some butterflies or extra adrenaline for Robertson going out there for the first...and second time.

He used to be in a position where he would had to kill someone to be a big story in a New York City newspaper. Now, he gives up a 1-0 lead and he's a headline. There has to be an adjustment period, and the question surrounding Robertson is if he's tough enough to do it.

There have been instances in the past, Matt Thornton last year comes to mind, where just being in that "position" is too much burden to carry. Remember, though, Robertson was whispered to be the eventual replacement for Mo even before this year. He knows this time was coming, maybe he just didn't expect it so soon.

Robertson did manage to blow three saves last year, and while I find that stat for a reliever to be rather nebulous it is worth noting. Also there have been mentions that Robertson tends to get himself into trouble, which I find curious as he had a 1.08 ERA/1.13 WHIP last year and a 0.00 ERA/0.70 WHIP before last night, but if New Yorkers are saying it there must be some truth.

Ultimately, the best thing Robertson has going for him is that he's good, Joe Girardi picked him to close, and he has Mariano Rivera to lean on and get pointers from. Mo plans on being around the team when he's not rehabbing, and if he hasn't already, there's a great chance he'll speak to Robertson and get him in the right mindset to succeed.

Robertson and Soriano are not available for tonight's game after working back-to-back outings, but for the next save op it should be Robertson heading to the mound.

The Funk-man says: "Can you believe Kenley Jansen wasn't the closer from the get go?"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Slobblog: Alla Spina - Dining with the Stars

Lots of good beers on tap at Vetri's new gastropub Alla Spina.

Although Slobfest has been around for a relatively short amount of time, it has managed to become an event steeped in tradition. The tenants of Slobfest are more or less guidelines to work by. Like most things there are exceptions to the rule, and for Slobfest in April, an exception took place. The first Friday night Slobfest.

Oysters capped off an extensive app sampling.
Normally, us Slobs like to avoid compromising any weekend plans and dodging the typical hustle and bustle that comes along with a Friday night in Philly. Reservations are tougher to come by, squeezing all 8 of us in a restaurant can be a pain. Just normal stuff like that. But when you do go out to a place like Marc Vetri's newest establishment Alla Spina on a busy night, sometimes you come across sites you may not see on a Thursday. In this instance we Slobs were not nearly as disruptive as we normally were. We shared tales of women, drinking, and embarrassing stories drowned out by the probably not as loathsome but much more dull stories of other, lesser people around us. We were able to stare and make inappropriate comments about a lovely lady out to dinner with her parents sitting right next to us. Even trying to place a wager for one Slob to just go over and introduce himself to the girl's father under the guise of "mistaking the father for his professor at Wharton." We thought it may have worked out well.

Also, we were able to share tales of stealing scratch-offs and selling liquor at marked up prices to fellow underage students back in our youth. Pretty much the standard behavior we always exhibit. I'm not sure if our ability to camouflage our deviant ways was a relief or kind of disappointing.

As we rubbed shoulders with families on dinner, dates between couples, and in our most famous person sighting to date, owner and uber-famous chef Marc Vetri was working the line and chitchatting with fellow restauranteur and buddy Stephen Starr.

Vetri is probably the most well respected chef in Philly. Jose Garces has a bit more fame from his TV appearances, but it's Vetri that has his self-named restaurant Vetri, which is one of the best restaurants not just in Philly but in the entire US. It's prix fixe only menu is pricey, but for anyone willing to shell out the dollars, it's presumably well worth it, as I don't know a single person that has been there.  He's created a string of successful restaurants off of that and this is the first establishment of his to host Slobfest.

Pork Shoulder
Starr, of course, is no stranger to Slobfest. You can hardly turn your head in Philly without seeing one of his restaurants. His El Vez hosted one of the best Slobfests ever. There were several shout outs, literally, to Starr from the Slobfest table, but alas he didn't send over a bottle of the finest wine on the menu. He's gotten enough pub from Slobblog, so let's move on.

When you look at the gastropub menu at Alla Spina it's easy to look it over and feel like it's not enough. I think that stems from the simplicity in which the menu describes it's dishes. Most of the dishes are rather well known comfort foods, but the taste and the execution of these dishes are far greater than mom can make. The involitini, which is basically the best mozzarella stick you've ever had is just an example of the kind of hidden delights that are shadowed by the simple menu.

Everything that we had exhibited oohs and ahs from the Slobs, and in spite of some small samplings - which damned Tinto - the heartier food kept everyone filled up even though at times there was not enough to go around.

Hey now, you're an all-star.
Overall there were a lot of apps ordered, as exhibited in the tab below. The main entree for us was the pork shoulder. This was roasted to a crispy perfection, as if Vetri himself put it together. Much like the suckling pig, the layers of flavor really made this dish a simple, but flavorful finish to all the food we ordered.

If there was an all-star selection of the menu, it was without a doubt the fried chicken. There has been a bit of a fried chicken renaissance in Philly with many new restaurants popping up touting the readily available dish. While it's nothing exotic or fancy, great fried chicken is just great fried chicken. And the fried chicken at Alla Spina is great stuff. Initially, it was just an app order that not everyone got to enjoy. After the Slobs that did have it raved about it so much, we had no choice but to order a second go round so everyone could enjoy the greasy, honey-fried goodness. I'm no fried chicken expert, but this was certainly some of the best I'd ever had. Very flavorful and crispy on the outside, while the chicken was still juicy and flavorful on the inside. This was also one of the dishes we did see Starr biting into after Vetri dropped it at his table. Wins all around!

No Slobfest would be complete without dessert. The menu options are not great. I mean how there is no pie at this place, I have no idea. Some Slobs just picked at will for their sweet fix, but where the menu was slacking, the dessert special really made some Slobs swoon. The special was a bacon ice cream soft serve with chocolate covered bacon. One Slob already loves bacon enough that this was a done deal, and for other Slobs it was just too slobby to pass on. I would post a picture of it, but out of fear of Slobs reading this trying to devour their computer at the sight of this over the top dessert, I would have had to censor the pictures like this was Nine Inch Nails "Closer" video. Ok, after making that reference, I literally could not find the edited version of the video. So, whatever.

Overall, Alla Spina was a great time. The bar scene was jumping and the food was well worth a return visit if you were so inclined. A little star power doesn't hurt the ambiance either.

-Slobs Out

That's a long list.

Drunkenly counting money.
 Alla Spina
1410 Mt. Vernon St.
Philadelphia, PA

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crying over Mariano

I'm sure there will be no shortages of fond reflective pieces all over the interwebs today about Mariano Rivera. He's just too good. At his craft, at his job, at his age, as a person. The first ballot Hall of Famer is the all-time saves leader, a playoff warrior, and so consistent performing a duty that routinely chews up and spits out it's participant. When you sit back and look at the gravity of the injury: his season is done. Then expand wider to his career, his influence in the clubhouse and the field it's almost too much to take in.

As a Phillies fan, I'm wondering why I feel sad for Mo. Sure he's a good guy and an excellent ballplayer, but that hasn't elicited a feeling that is best described as "bummer" in me before. Especially from a non-Phillie.

When events like this happen, people want to feel involved. They want to participate to reflect and share their feelings as if it's entirely unique and personal. When Whitney Houston died, it's not uncommon for people to express their feelings over Facebook or Twitter. iTunes record sales for Houston shoot up thousands of percents because why? Did all of these Houston fans not own the Bodyguard soundtrack? No, they weren't really fans in the first place, but they wanted that experience of being included and participating in the magic that was her music. Something that many of those iTunes purchasers took for granted while she was alive, only to show up late to the party once they realized her talents are now finite.

The benefit of knowing and acknowledging the above paragraph is that you don't succumb to such empty and soulless trysts of a nostalgia you never had but then, suddenly, wanted.

So that has very little to do with my emotional output for Mariano. I think most of the bummer feel comes from just the circumstances of seeing one of the all time greats of baseball history go down in a heap. Appearing mortal. Abruptly (potentially) ending his illustrious career not on his terms, but on the terms of a freakish accident.

We have all seen players that hang around too longtarnish their legacy, put on jerseys that just don't look right, force comebacks, or are forced to retire because their bodies just can't take it anymore. Very few athletes are able to or capable of making the decision to leave on their terms -- at the right time. Mariano looked like he was going to be able to make that decision. He was healthy, coherent, still on top of his game, and before the season started he hinted at possibly thinking about retiring. He earned that right. He was prepared to leave the game with as much class and respect as he entered it with.

Should this be the end for Mariano Rivera, it's just not the way any baseball fan would want it scripted. His #42 jersey will be the last 42 worn in baseball for the rest of time. It'll be Exit Sandman, and well, that just plain sucks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

UFC on FOX 3: Looking for a Fight

Alan Belcher (R-Johnny Cash tattoo) looks to charge up the middleweight ranks.
The UFC's third card on FOX is by far the least compelling on paper compared to the first two cards. Encompassed in those two cards there was the heavyweight title on the line, and the second had three potential top contender matches. While Dana White tried to add some zest to this card proclaiming should Nate Diaz win, he'll get the next title shot of the winner of Ben Henderson/Frankie Edgar II. Diaz is a 2-1 underdog to Jim Miller, and while that's a bit much, it goes to show this offer is probably more to hype the card than anything (much to Anthony Pettis' content).

Why is this card so questionable? Good question. Not to say moving forward this is more of the level of card we should expect on free TV, but more so the UFC put on one of their bigger pay per views of the year a couple of weeks back when Jon Jones successfully defended his title against friend-villain-victim Rashad Evans. Or it can be said this is on a mildly celebrated holiday here in the states, Cinco de Mayo. Or of course Floyd Mayweather is fighting Miguel Cotto later in the evening as Cinco de Mayo becomes Seis de Mayo.

What the UFC does extremely well is put together fights from their extensive catalog of fighters that are intriguing to the more die hard fight fan. Sure both Miller/Diaz and Kos/Hendricks could be complete bores, but they are high energy fighters so the UFC will hedge their bets and their wallets that these guys will put on an exciting set of fights so Dana can rub it in all the reporters faces afterwards about how everyone was knocking this card.

Kos photoshops are awesome.
The first two fights offer guys with similar styles. Miller and Diaz will be best suited to keep thing standing since each has a different proficiency on the mat (wrestling and BJJ respectively) and Kos/Hendricks cancel each other out quite nicely with the scale teetering on Kos' experience against Hendricks power. One even has excessive hair on his head compared to hair on his face.

Thankfully for the o-zone neither requires hair spray.

The fight that has two dramatically differing styles is Alan Belcher v Rousimar Palhares. Which goes to show how interested I am in this fight since I took the time to spell out Rousimar Palhares. Although in fairness to me my first attempt was Rhousimar Palares.

Belcher is nicknamed The Talent for a reason. He picked it.

But he picked it because he has a lot of it. Belcher is one of those fighters that are able to do everything well and put it together in spectacular fashion in the ring. Outside of his last loss at UFC 100, a split decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama (pictured above) Belcher was gaining steam with finishes in his next three fights before a career threatening eye injury took away almost a year of his fight life. He's healthy and back and ready to bring out some of his highlight reel Muay Thai against Palhares.

Former Intercontinental Champ Jeff Jarrett.
Palhares is another case of promising talent. What makes Palhares intriguing is that at 5'8, basically a light heavyweight's height, he's a stocky 185 lbs. What he brings to the cage is not the fierce striking many of his fellow countrymen do, but rather an astute ability to grab onto his opponents leg and bend it into submission. In four of Palhares' last 6 fights he's finished by sub. And one of those non-sub finishes was after he peculiarly let go of a leg lock against banished former middle weight Nate Marquardt.

While I'm not sure exactly who taught Palhares such a devastating leg lock...I have my hunches.

With striking with an opponent a tough pill to swallow due to Palhares' stocky build and limited reach (he'll give up 4 inches to Belcher) it'll be interesting to see how one man tries to stay standing while the other grabs for limbs like an order of wings at Baggataway's.

This fight will be a high wire act going back and forth. Both guys will be out to prove their value in a fairly open division if Anderson Silva can dispose of Chael Sonnen over the Summer.

That's the fight I'll be tuning in for. The UFC successfully drags in another happy customer.

Um, pretty sure he's tapping, Rousimar.