Its Already AUGUST! – UFC meets French Soccer?

6 08 2010

Haha NO this isn’t about Zidane letting Marco have it.   We’re about to start our “PREVIEW THE SOCCER LEAGUES” (since the top four European Soccer Leagues kick off this month) and the French Ligue I just happens to kickoff on Saturday August 7th.  That is also the date for UFC 117 with Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen as the headliner.  So I thought lets mix them together and have a little fun…

Ok I know I know – I said this isn’t about Zidane.  BUT COME ON – Look at how bad-ass that looks – crying Marco.  Sorry I have no sympathy for the Italian, I think I’m one of the few on the planet that says Zidane was right.  You don’t call out a guys MOTHER and HIS SISTER – geez, especially not the greatest player of the last few decades!!!  Then again Marco did win the World Cup so I’m guessing he’s alright with how things turned out.  And let me also shout out to the now TATTED UP Marco – saw him at the INTER MILAN vs FC Dallas game last night (don’t worry I’ll have a piece on it in the next few days).

LETS GET TO THE FUN – I’ll start with UFC 117.

We all know how crazy OAKLAND gets!!!  Lets start with the pre-fight fights (huh?) that are on Spike or might be shown if the “televised” fights are too short.  Here are the fights that most interest lil ol’ me.

Ben Saunders vs. Dennis Hallman – Not that I really know anything about “Superman” Hallman, but he is in for a WORLD of hurt.  Ben went the distance with Jon Fitch (fighting later in the evening), he beat up wily vet Marcus Davis (NO SMALL FEAT!!) and he lost a damn slug-a-thon with Mike Swick.  Ben is a BEAST.  Give me Ben in an early 2nd round KO.

Stefan Struve vs. Christian Morecraft – Christian is a no-name, but he is 6’8 and won’t make the 6’11 Stefan look to menacing.  Now Struve got beat by Roy Nelson and Junior Dos Santos (who fight each other later in the evening), but the kid is no joke.  He outlasted a game Paul Buentello (one of the most respected vets in the big man’s game).  Stefan’s long arms and legs make him a submission ace, just ask Chase Gormley (that was a sick triangle). Give me Struve in a third round submission victory – rear naked choke.

Dustin Hazelett vs. Rick Story – Dustin got ROCKED by Paul Daley (yeah that stupid brit kid who can’t handle losing).  Dustin is a superb ground fighter and he will have is hands full with Rick.  Story hasn’t been with the UFC that long but he was IMPRESSIVE against a kid I really like,  Nick Osipczak.  Nick (a fellow brit and sparring partner of Daley) beat the shit out of Matt Riddle (another quality fighter) and Nick got beat easily by Story.  This one will come down to whether Dustin can get Rick to the ground.  OTHERWISE expect KO of the Night.  Yeah I’m going with Rick on this one – 3rd rd KO!!

TV TIME FOLKS.  UFC 117 official televised fights:

Junior dos Santos (No. 7 HW) vs. Roy Nelson

“Big Country” Nelson has already beaten a Brendan Schaub who shares Junior Dos Santos build and height.  The 6’4 Junior Dos Santos is a freaking nightmare to be in the ring with.  He looks like a killer and has destroyed the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga, CRO COP, and Fabricio Werdum.  Dos Santos has all the tools to be a real contender, BUT Roy has been bucking the odds his whole damn career.  The guy has fought EVERYONE and seems to have the brains to figure out most of his opponents.  This one should have most folks picking Dos Santos, but honestly its hard not to respect Roy and his longevity in the sport.  Give me Roy in one more victory that PISSES off Dana White – 3rd round KO.  This one is the pick as the SHOCKER of the group.

Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida – aka the “I thought these guys were retired” fight.

Ok that’s not fair to Ricardo, but seriously is Hughes still looking for the glory days?  Matt’s on a two-fight winning streak though Gadi!  Well yeah Renzo Gracie is even older then Matt and the Serra fight was HORRIBLE!!  Ricardo on the other hand has beaten LEGIT fighters in today’s game.  He commanded the fight against Matt Brown and then submitted him.  He battled it out with the UNDERRATED Kendall Grove.  And that loss to Patrick Cote was so borderline.  I think Almeida has a real shot to notice a hall-of-famer on his belt.  Ricardo wins this in a 3rd round TKO.

Clay Guida vs. Rafael dos Anjos –  Rafael is pretty unknown though a real wily vet with great ground skills.  Clay has gotten beat up in his big fights against Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian (especially Kenny Flo’ ass-whooping).  BUT Clay is still one of the best fighters and by far the heart he has is UNDENIABLE.  Lets not forget that he’s beaten Nate Diaz and Mac Danzig.  He also had a hell of fight against Tyson Griffin (who also beat Rafael).  And Clay of course lost one of the greatest fights EVER against Roger Huerta at the TUF 6 finale show.  That fight was incredible and hell the Diego fight was just a notice below the Huerta fight.  Clay Guida is NOT done give me “The Carpenter” with a Unanimous Decision.

RESPECT!!

Jon Fitch vs Thiago Alves – Fight of the Night?

These two warriors have fought before with Fitch owning the young Brazilian.  Alves learned a major lesson that night (DUCK!) – but all he did after that fight was BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF PEOPLE.  Matt Hughes – CHECK,  Chris Lytle – CHECK,  Karo Parisyan and then a close call against Josh Koscheck.  O don’t worry Fitch has a hell of a resume 22-3 and in the UFC he’s 12-1).  Both men are vying for the chance at a title shot after Josh Koscheck meets the Champ GSP.  By the way GSP beat both guys – BUT Jon Fitch’s fight might have been the guttiest fight I’ve ever seen.  Fitch SURVIVED 5 BRUTAL rounds from possibly the BEST looking GSP ever.  GSP attempted EVERYTHING in his arsenal and still couldn’t put away the Indiana boy.  This one is not going to be pretty and minus someone catching the other with a wild punch, I fully expect Fight of the Night for this one.  Give me Fitch’s wrestling to be the difference as he takes home a split decision (majority).  Get ready this is the real fight to watch on Saturday.

Drum Roll…THE MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING!!!

Anderson Silva vs  Chael Sonnen – Can Chael back up all that he’s said?

I have enjoyed Chael’s cocky yet funny comments about EVERYONE around Anderson Silva.  Chael is a legit guy as well – maybe the best skilled fighter to match-up with Silva since Hendo.  The one HUGE WEAKNESS that Chael has is the same one that Silva took advantage of against Hendo – submission defense.  Silva is a black-belt in JJ and he caught Hendo in a submission.  Chael will have to make sure he is careful IF he is even able to take down the champ.  Silva though has looked so bored in the ring he might overlook Chael.  Silva has played patty-cake with some weaker guys like Leites, Cote, and Irvin.  Also the way Forest “gave up” wasn’t helpful, though it did give Anderson this image of a complete bad ass.  Chael, on the other hand, has battled three legit guys.  First was his brawl with the game Dan Miller.  Then the second was a nice victory over Yushin Okami (the last man to beat Anderson – though it was on a DQ).  And then Chael’s destruction of Nate Marquardt was utterly amazing.  I mean we all thought Nate would get his rematch with the Spider, instead Chael Sonnen was thrust into the big time.  Chael deserves to be in this main event and will give Anderson his toughest fight, maybe ever.  I fully intend in seeing Chael clock Anderson a few times n even get the Spider to the ground (gasp).  But just like Hendo Anderson is still a long limbed m’fer on his back.  He’ll figure a way to get the inexperienced Sonnen with some type of submission.  Give me a late 3rd submission by Anderson (rear naked choke – like Hendo).

Hope you enjoyed the UFC portion – I look forward to tomorrow night’s fights.

Now onto the other part of this equation – FRENCH LIGUE 1 soccer.

For the other soccer league previews (English, Spanish, Italian and German) we’ll have a much more in depth view.  Here I’m just going to run down my predictions for the final standings for the 2010-11 season and I’ll give a brief paragraph of commentary for each team.  LETS KICK IT OFF ALREADY.

20.   AC Arles Avignon – the TINY team from the south (Now the nearest neighborhood to champs Marseille) will have a hard time gaining much ground.  They have splashed the transfer market with 11 signings total, but with the biggest name being Hameur Bouazza, an Algerian youngster (25 yrs old) who played for Watford in England.  Don’t see any David’s beating the Goliath’s in this squad.

19.  Stade Brestois – along with Avignon and Caen this promoted squad will just have to little to honestly make an impact in the tough French top level.  Brestois does have the advantage of having a little more quality then Avignon, but they just are took lacking in depth.

18.  FC Sochaux-Montbéliard – It really hard to not pull for our American boy Charlie Davies, but honestly this team just looks bad.  And besides relegation should give Charlie a reason to come back home to play in the MLS.  Sochaux are horrible goal scorers in a high-scoring league that means failure.

17. SM Caen – Caen is a tough team to gauge because they have never been consistent.  I think they’ll do enough to knock down Sochaux – who Caen should beat home and away this term.  Caen is a team of relatively no-name guys who fight hard for a likable and fiery coach – Franck Dumas.

16.  RC Lens – They are a hard-working team that really just doesn’t have the full talent level to compete.  Its hard as hell to beat them at home and so they should gain enough points to stay up.

15.  AS Nancy Lorraine – I really like their style, but the fact that they haven’t bought anyone major in back-to-back season is not good.  Nancy will not attract you with there style, its slow and paced.  I honestly think teams become frustrated playing Nancy and end up making mistakes.  That style just can’t lead to anything better then mid-table.

14.  OGC Nice – Personally one of my favorite cities in all of FRANCE – mainly because I got lost one hot night in downtown Nice and survived to tell the story (which I won’t share right now).  The team itself is all about how well their top player does.   Striker Loîc Remy is there main cog and stud.  For Nice this is good and bad, mostly bad.  Remy is on EVERYONE’s list of big French names to make the move in the mid-year transfer window.  Nice will find it hard not to sell the star goal-scorer for a big bundle.  That move will cripple their lack-luster offense and keep them from jumping into the top ten.  Keep Remy one more full year and Nice will possibly have enough to make the top ten.  Good team to keep an eye on.

13. AS Saint-Etienne – One of the oldest and most winning teams in French soccer history had a HORRID 2009-10 season.  They did go out and add some much needed help defensively (hello Carlos Bocanegra).  The US captain should help a defense that was picked apart last term.  Etienne is to prideful of a team to allow another season of relegation talk happen.  Expect the green guys to rebound to mid-table.

12.  AS Monaco FC – I know this will shock many.  BUT what exactly has Monaco done to make you think they will be back on top – the answer is NOTHING.  They looked very beatable last year and I really think they’ll lose some close games this year.

11.  Montpellier Hérault SC – last year’s miracle team will have a hard time replicating a top ten finish.  Besides they let their best player, midfielder Alberto Costa, head back home to Spain (Valencia).  Without his intelligence and free-kicks Montpellier will have a tough time “shocking” anyone this year.  But they are still more talented then half the league.  They should have a long stay on the top flight – welcome little guys you’ve made it.

10.  Toulouse FC – The purple players have a super-star in their midst.  André-Pierre Gignac is as close to a one-man show as you can get.  The team does an amazing job of coming around Gignac and elevating their own games.  IF he goes down or is swayed by the riches of Spain/Italy then Toulouse may be in trouble.  Personally I don’t see it happening, he’s still young enough to stay home and enhance his full price in the next few seasons.

9.  FC Lorient – Their defense was torn apart during the transfer window, but that offense still is solid enough to win.  I can’t see them cracking above 9 and easily can see them falling out of the top ten.  Winger Kevin Gameiro is a real find as a goal-scorer and don’t be shocked to see him shine again this year.

8.  Valenciennes FC – Its really simple – there is ONE team nicknamed the “Barcelona of Northern France” and its Valenciennes.  They are pure excitement because they will pass the leaving hell out of anyone.  Its simple they will score goals and they’ll allow some, but more times then not they’ll score more.

7.  Paris Saint-Germain – They never seem to figure things out.  However, I have to say they went and got one of the best mids in the French ranks.  Matthiew Bodmer is seriously a wonderful addition and this team will finally use that wonderful fan base to win.  Anything better then 9th and Paris should PARTY it up.

6.  AJ Auxerre – Benoît Pedretti is a great leader and player.  I really think Auxerre have the talent and a bold enough coach to make a push for top 5, but depth has ALWAYS been the issue.  They don’t have that much after the starting 11.

5.  Girondins de Bordeaux – Wow did the Blues have a horrible end to last season.  And then they lose the man with the glasses (Laurent Blanc now France Head Coach) and their Midfield holding stud Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal big signing).  This team still has France’s best player in Yoann Gourcuff, but geez how will they compete with the top dogs since they were huge sellers in the market place?

4.  LOSC Lille Métropole – I’ve really loved this team since they came up to the top flight.  They don’t have the money or the history to attract big names and that is why most folks don’t like this team.  BUT they are just filled with young kids ready to step up.  Yohan Cabaye is a one of those youngsters who will showcase why Lille are FOR REAL!

3.  Olympique Lyonnais – Lyon is such a hard team to understand.  They have the quality to be one of the world’s BEST, but they also seem to never reach that level of play.  Don’t get me wrong they are winners, but they just seem to be so beatable.  They beat teams because of their rep rather then skill.  I think will see teams like Lille, Rennes, and Valenciennes still points (maybe even wins).  And just a few of these lost points opens the doors for the new darlings of French Soccer.

2.  Stade Rennais FC – Asamoah Gyan became a name because of his play at the World Cup (and that missed penalty that allowed Uruguay to move on!!).  He has a real chance to step into stardom at Rennes.  The only real concerns are an unproven defense.  Expect this team to beat up on the established giants (Lyon and Bordeaux).

1.  Olympique de Marseille – What they did in the second half of 09-10 was purely incredible.  They didn’t lose anyone and its just retarded to think that the Kings of the South will give up the title easily.  Marseille have the only complete team.  Didier Deschamps is one of the hottest coaches and he’s gotten the whole South of the country on his side.  No longer the French League of BLUES SOCCER, its now a shade lighter blue that will reign supreme.

Here are your champs.

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