Friday, March 28, 2008

San Jose Showdown

Even though the Shamrock vs. Cung Le Strikeforce event has suffered some setbacks - Jake Shields injured, Nick Diaz preemptively banned because of his preference for marijuana "over Ritalin or anti-depressants" - I am still pretty stoked to watch the main fight tomorrow in San Jose.
It's an intriguing fight, pitting the two most notable fighters of the areas, two guys who have in common a following of both rabid fans and fervent haters. It's also an interesting fight, because both bring very clear strength to the ring, as well as huge question marks.

Frank Shamrock is an early days Fedor Emilianenko of sorts. He has a stellar career, and in his heyday, he was arguably the first ever complete fighter. The issue is, after a hiatus of nearly a decade, his come-back has not been exactly conclusive. Taken down at will by Renzo Gracie, winning gassed out against Baroni, winning a meaningless victory against a newbie in Cesar Gracie, his last outings have not provided any clear answer as to whether the Shamrock of today could be as dominant as he used to be.
By contrast, Cung Le has made a name for himself on the San Shou circuit, with an unquestionable striking game. The question is, how good is his ground game? While better prepared than most strikers transitioning to mma, because of the throws incorporated in San Shou, critics have pointed that his mma opponents so far have been handpicked to make him look good. Cung Le is known to be a hard worker, and has no doubt developed his ground, but no one has seen it really tested yet in action. Will that be sufficient to tackle an opponent known for his submissions?
On paper, I would tend to expect Shamrock to win, through experience, power, and his superior ground game; but what makes this fight tough to call is its unknowns - the extent of each of these guys' known weaknesses. Has Frank Shamrock passed his prime? Is Cung Le also able to win when taken to the ground? I can't wait to get the answer, and I expect a good fight, because so much is at stake in this fight, and both guys always come motivated. Regardless of the outcome, I also expect the boards to go into wild discussion mode afterwards, as whoever wins will likely receive no credit, but rather be criticized for defeating an opponent with known shortcomings...

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