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Archive for May, 2008

MMA Ready For Primetime?

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Kimbo, Gina

This weekend marks network TV’s first foray into the MMA craze sweeping the nation when CBS presents its Saturday Night Fights featuring the talent from the Elite XC stable of fighters. The headliners includes Internet sensation, Kimbo Slice and American Gladiator, Gina Carano, a favorite of ours around here.

But is this the right way to bring MMA to the masses? By relying on star-quality instead of talent? Dan Wentzel of Yahoo Sports doesn’t think so and he gives some very compelling reasons why:

The sport has taken off in a way few others have – fueled purely by fan interest. It stands in stark contrast to all the network airtime spent on sports propped up on political correctness or obligation. MMA long ago deserved network attention.

Individually, nothing is wrong with a shooting star such as Kimbo Slice fighting on Saturday’s EliteXC card on CBS.

Together, plenty is. In fact, practically everything is.

EliteXC is a desperate promotion that’s hemorrhaging money. It’s willing to sell anything, even a false portrait of its sport, to succeed.

Kimbo is a guy with unexpected and most likely fleeting earning potential; understandably he’s willing to cash in even if it means tomato-can opponents and an image so unfortunately stereotypical.

The gist of Wentzel’s article is instead of relying on recognizable names, they should follow the lead of the UFC and focus on the proven talent. Yes, Kimbo is becoming a household name because of his YouTube fights (and ESPN’s 60 Minutes knock-off) and Gina Carano is very well known around the sports blogosphere but are these two really the face of MMA?

I doubt Dana White would agree as long as he has the Anderson Silvas and Quinton “Rampage” Jacksons of the world under contract.

Nevertheless, the MMA is coming to your network television whether you are ready for it or not. Just be warned, instead of seeing the best of the best, you’ll be seeing the most recognizable faces — and in Gina’s case, one of the hottest. Although, it would be nice if she actually made her fighting weight. Giving up a portion of your fight purse because you can’t get down to the regulated weight can’t feel very good.

For your enjoyment, FanHouse has a great little guide for those of you new to the MMA craze. Before I go, is there anyway possible we can get a Kimbo Slice/Eric “Butterbean” Esch match-up before I die? It’s not like Butterbean is some kind of pushover, even though he’s as big as a house. Observe:

Intentional Eye Candy: Laisa Andrioli Makes Soccer Beautiful

Laisa Andrioli

By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures of Laisa Andrioli, a 20-year old soccer player for Brazil’s National Women’s team, going around the net. If not, you are in for a treat, especially when you consider her apparent allergies to articles of clothing. That’s right, Laisa made headlines and heads turn as she appeared in a men’s magazine wearing, well, not much at all… except maybe her Sunday suit.

You can see the pictures of Laisa here, but be warned, they are quite NSFW.

Really, I can’t think of anything else to add except for the fact that I could only find a couple of images to share with you because of her fondness of nudity. Although, the thought occurred to me that we could maybe get away with some pixelization if necessary. Alas, wiser heads prevailed so I’ll just leave you with these two images but I would suggest you checking out the rest of her pictorial.

It’s well worth the visit, as long as you won’t get into trouble. Congratulations on your IEC award, Laisa. Let’s hope there are more contributions from you or your teammates.

Laisa Andrioli

NBA Playoffs: Kobe Powers Lakers To The NBA Finals

LA Wins

Now maybe all this fuss about the Spurs being a boring basketball team can finally be silenced as the Lakers made many wishes come true last night by dispatching San Antonio — and ending the defense of their title, 100 – 92. Leading the way for the Lakers was that Kobe fellow who had 39 points including 17 in the final quarter.

Rounding out the Lakers attack was, of course, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who had 12 and 13 points, respectively. Gasol also had 19 rebounds, ten of which on the offensive end.

But this game was all Bryant. Playing like the MVP he is AND as a player dying to get back to the NBA Finals, Kobe showed why he’s considered the best player in the league today as he hit an assortment of twisting jump shots, driving layups and did pretty much anything he wanted to do when he had the ball. As indicated, the MVP finished with 39 points while only going to the free throw line five times. Unlike the Utah series, Bryant didn’t get fat at the free throw line against the Spurs, making his performance all the more impressive.

The Spurs, led by Tim Duncan’s 19, 15, and 10 triple-double, were once again done in by a poor game from Manu Ginobili and now they face the specter of “what now?” Do they make wholesale changes to the team in a effort to build a good supporting cast around Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili or do they keep what they have and try to make another title run in an odd numbered year (next season)?

Tim Duncan

Pounding the Rock has some ideas:

I feel bad for Tim, Manu and Tony. They were good enough this year to repeat as champions. They dragged a bunch of scrubs deep into the Western Conference playoffs, carrying 98% of the workload between the three of them. They deserved a better chance than the front office gave them.

As for next year, it’s obviously time to reload, and in a big way.

As for the Lakers; well, they’ll be resting and waiting on their next opponent. Will it be Detroit or Boston? If the conspiracy theories have any merit, expect to see the Boston Celtics. However, it would be foolish to count out the Pistons, a team that loves being a thorn in the side of league-wide plans.

NBA Playoffs: Close Out Special?

Kobe, Lamar Odom

Is tonight the night the Spurs championship defense comes to an end? With the Lakers holding a 3-1 edge in the series and the game taking place in LA, there’s a very real sense it’s time for the Larry O’Brien trophy to change hands. While NBA Playoff leads of this size are rarely overcome, there are number of Lakers who were apart of the team when they collapsed against Phoenix in 2006.

Those Lakers also had a 3-1 lead.

But these Lakers seem to be a different breed. First off, there’s the Pau Gasol factor. He wasn’t apart of the Lakers then and neither were any of the things he brings to the table. With Gasol, Kobe has a definitive number two guy, making Lamar Odom one of the most versatile and dangerous third options in the NBA.

Then, of course, there is the Kobe factor. When he’s not jumping cars and snakes, Bryant has been playing like the MVP he is and no one on the Spurs looks like they can even slow him down, let alone stop him.

And despite some grumbling rumors, we all know of Kobe’s ability to compartmentalize.

So what does this mean for the Spurs? More than likely, it probably means the end of their season and their reign as NBA Champs, their fourth since 1999. However, if Ginobili can rediscover his shooting stroke and the Spurs can get some help from their bench that extends past the services of just one player — Brent Barry in Game 4 — they may be able to prolong the series.

They’ve already proven Tim Duncan can’t really be matched by the Lakers so if the Spurs do get hot from outside, LA will definitely have to earn their advancement to the NBA Finals.

Game time is at 9/8 Central.

Oh yeah, does the fact that the Spurs have never repeated lessen their impact as a dynasty franchise?

Doug Collins Back To The Bulls

Doug Collins, Michael Jordan

Reports are coming out that the Chicago Bulls are filling their coaching void with a familiar face — Doug Collins. Naturally, thoughts return to his first stint with the Bulls when he had a young player named Michael something-or-another who went on to accomplish a milestone or two in the NBA. Obviously, this is no longer the case with the current version of Chicago’s team.

Perhaps Collins can reanimate the statue that sits out in front of the United Center…

The reaction to the Collins news seems to be one of confusion and a little bit of dismay, something Blog a Bull does a good job of demonstrating.

Well…fire away in the comments. I’m pretty numb in terms of an initial reaction. ‘Shock’, more than anything.

Who says you can never go home?

Here’s a nifty little retrospective of Collins’ finest moment in Chicago — the game where Jordan hit the shot over Craig Ehlo to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers and advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Bonus: a young Phil Jackson as an assistant coach sighting.

Who Knew Kickball Was This Much Fun?

KickballMy memories of kickball don’t go much past my elementary school days, although I’ve been in the occasional barbecue game. However, much to my chagrin there’s a very active adult league going and apparently, there isn’t much messing around when it comes to the players AND the crowd. Steady Burn has much, much more:

On Sunday in Tampa, two fights broke out amongst as many as 100 people during a women’s kickball league game – one right after the other had been calmed by police.

People at the scene told the police that the fight had nothing to do with the kickball game, and it started because of an argument over a video on YouTube.

This comes on the heels of the guy being arrested in Macy’s for carrying an actual rusty scabbard because his kickball league liked to dress a pirates for their games. Pirates playing kickball. Can you say “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story?”

I’m thinking someone should start a kickball league where the participants dress as ninjas so we can have pirates-versus-ninjas games.

That would just rule.

US Continues Futility Against England

Our friends across the pond are framing this particular — and typical — beatdown of US Soccer as redemption for John Terry, who, when we last saw him, was missing a penalty that had much more on the line than yesterday’s friendly between the US and England.

I’m not sure if that’s really accurate.

When England beats the United States in soccer/futbol/football/footie, it lets us know things are normal in the cosmos. On the other hand, if the US were to win — something they haven’t done since 1993 — it might be a sign of the coming apocalypse.

Fortunately for everyone, evacuation is not necessary as England did in fact do what was expected and beat the US, 2-0. Terry opened the scoring with a nifty little header from a David Beckham (who else) cross. The second goal came from some brilliant midfield passing that freed Steven Gerrad to tuck the ball away in the far left post.

Highlights are below:

I didn’t get to see the game, but from what I can tell, the US were outclassed by the English National Team — as per usual. As they say, some things never change: water is wet, time keeps on ticking and England absolutely owns the United States when it comes to the Beautiful Game.

By the way, where was Landon Donovan? I understand his groin was giving him problems. I guess he hurt it when he played 84 minutes against Kansas City four days ago…

NBA Playoffs: Protecting Home Turf

In what turned out to be a great game, the Boston Celtics held off the Detroit Pistons last night to the tune of 106-102 (who says they can’t score in the East?). Both teams overcame double-digit deficits — Boston in the first half, Day-Twah in the second — as the game came down to the closing moments before it was decided.

Thankfully, Game 5 was not marred by any call/non-call hijinks. No, instead it was decided by big shots, clutch free throws, and running out of timeouts a little early than expected. Had the Pistons not blown their last one trying to inbounds the ball underneath their own basket, they would have had a chance to advance the ball for a better look at a much-needed 3-point bucket.

Alas, Boston’s in-bounds defense deserves the credit for Detroit’s timeout management.

For Boston, the game was punctuated by big performances from KG, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins who had a double-double in the first half. Oh yeah, it was also punctuated by this particular play:

The YouTube listing says it’s on Jason Maxiell when, in fact, the dunk was delivered to the face of Theo Ratliff. Whatever the case, KG definitely got up and announced to all that were listening that the paint was indeed his.

Game 6 is in Detroit on Friday night.