Tuesday, July 8, 2008

UFC 86- Libra keeps score

Hey Fight Fans,
UFC 86 proved to be yet another learning experience for "LibraporLibra". As an amateur journalist I wanted to try my hand at scoring fights. The reason for this was logistics. The UFC 86 card was held in Las Vegas, NV at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Not being able to attend in person, I resolved to give myself an opportunity to participate in the fights, so I chose to score them. The following is my breakdown of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship fight between (28-7-0) Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Forrest Griffin (16-4-0).

Having never scored a fight on paper, the learning curve was steep. I was aware that in order to score a fight many variables needed to be considered. I have been following MMA since UFC 1, and consider myself to be a "hardcore" fan, so aside from knowing what to look for in the fight, the person scoring must have a method of recording results. I don't know how the cards look at ringside, but I know that I have a chicken-scratch laden notepad next to me right now.

The environment in my apartment was much different than normal. Last Saturday night, there was no "couch warrior" screaming at the flat screen television, or trying to show his wife how counter a choke. No, there was a husband and wife sitting on the couch, the husband scribbling a custom made shorthand for MMA on a notepad, and his wife, very happy for the quieter "Fight Night" as we call them.

The concentration level needed to score a fight immediately removes you from being a spectator, you are now an unpaid laborer. I did not get the same type of joy out of this experiment as I did covering weigh-ins in San Jose for the Strikeforce card. I could not really enjoy watching the fights, instead, I was recording actions. I would have to wait until after the fight to reap the benefits of scoring this fight.

The first few fights quickly passed as my writing speed was catching up with the pace of the match-ups. The next thing I knew, it was time for the main event, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin. I was very interested in this matchup. I knew that Griffin is the definition of a "game" fighter. He had defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua with a spirited effort for a very high-profile victory, as Rua was considered the best rated 205 lb. fighter at that time. "Rampage" had just come off an almost a 10 month layoff. Jackson had two victories in 2007 over Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell and Dan Henderson. At the weigh-ins, I felt Jackson did not look as lean and hungry as he did with his two previous fights. Griffin was lean,ready, and confident.

Griffin entered the ring bouncing and ready to go. "Rampage" slowly made his way to the cage, looking very serious and dramatic.

Round 1.
Griffin is on his toes and ready to go. The fighters meet in the center of the ring begin exchanging. Griffin with leg kicks and Jackson with uppercuts. Griffin continues to pepper Jackson with jabs, a high kick, and more punches. Jackson rushes in to brawl with Griffin. More punches and kicks are exchanged until Jackson drops Griffin with an uppercut and works against the cage. Griffin scrambles his way back to his feet to throw more punches before the end of the round.
10-9 Jackson

Round 2
Griffin starts off with brutal leg kicks that hurt Jackson's leg, and then takes him down to the matt. Griffin stays on top position working elbows and peppering Jackson with punches to the body. Griffin attempts an Americana submission to no avail. He continues to work on the top, more elbows and punches throughout the round. Jackson did not make any submission or escape attempts from the bottom. Jackson stated after the fight that he used that as an opportunity to recover from the brutal leg kicks.
10-9 Griffin

Round 3
Jackson throws a combination of punches a few land. His leg seems to have recovered from the leg kicks.Griffin comes out with a high kick and a one-two combination. Jackson flurries and throws more combinations landing again. Griffin responds with a high kick attempt. Although I do not have Griffin scoring many points in this round, there must have been something I did not record, or an intangible that made me score this round for Griffin.
10-9 Griffin

Round 4
Jackson starts out by brawling Griffin down to the matt. Griffin pulls full guard and Jackson fails at a slam attempt. Griffin in bleeding from two cuts on his right eye. Griffin works his way back to his feet and the two exchange. Jackson was finding his target more often than Griffin.
10-9 Jackson

Round 5
Griffin comes out throwing combinations and a kick. The two exchange but nothing significant is landed. More punches are thrown from Griffin as the two are content to circle for most of the round. Jackson tried to mount offense during the last few rounds, but Griffin had excellent use of kicks, the jab, and staying light on his feet to stay away from Jackson.
10-9 Griffin

48-47 Griffin.

Judges Adalaide Byrd and Nelson Hamilton scored the bout 48-46 Griffin. Roy Silbert turned in a card of 49-46 for Griffin, you new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.*

I did enjoy scoring this fight myself, yet I feel the compromise of losing on the entertainment value of the show is too great. I did enjoy being able to debate my fellow fans over the next few days with my notes in hand, as this was the silver lining of not actually being able to watch the fights. Unless you must score your fights for school assignments or bragging rights with your buddies, stick to just being a "couch warrior", and enjoy watching the fights. Scoring a fight is not the same as following along with Joe Rogan and the Mike"Goldie" Goldberg.

When I watch the fights, I want to relax, and forget about my responsibilities. Regarding the UFC Silva-Irvin card on July 19th, I will find yet another angle to cover the fights for us fans. Even if I don't score all the bouts, I will argue with my buddies anyway.

"Life is a fight, train for it!"

Jonathan "LibraporLibra" Cardenas

*Judges scores and photos provided by UFC.com

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