Friday, June 25, 2010

NBA Draft Winners and Losers

By: Laz Jackson

Uggghhh... I need coffee, I can't feel my left arm, there's marker all over my right arm, one of my eyelids feels heavier than the other, and I don't remember a thing. It MUST have been an awesome night. The good picks, the bad picks, the awesome trades, the "scratch-your-head" trades (Babbitt and Ryan Gomes for.... Martell Webster? Huh?). It's starting to come back to me... so let's review:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Nightcap: Cuz it feels so right

Just when you thought you couldn't get enough vuvu in your life

- I have been trying to deflect from acknowledging any sort of rumor that involves Chris Paul getting traded from the New Orleans Hornets. This is one of the biggest mistakes any franchise in any sport could make. I know, I know they are only rumors but the fact that it has even been brought in within the Hornets inner circle is enough for me to roll my eyes. There is no way Paul is going anywhere, and if New Orleans could afford it, I am sure they would lock him up to a blockbuster deal. Even though the NBA has had a renaissance of new superstars step into the limelight in recent years, dealing Paul would not only be ridding the team of the best point guard in the league, but would be ripping the heart and soul out of the franchise.  Backup point guard Darren Collison played very well last season while filling in for Paul while he was injured, but there is just no way the Hornets could ever get equal value for a player like Paul. There is just no two ways about it. New Orleans needs Chris Paul around for a long time.

- Bobby Valentine and his porn 'stache disguises are apparently on the verge of returning to baseball.  The Florida Marlins are prepared to make him the next manager of the team. 

- The NBA draft happened tonight. Laz Jackson wrote up a great live blog of the event that can be found here. The Sacramento Kings have got to love snagging DeMarcus Cousins with the 5th pick. He could be Rookie of the Year in 2011. I don't really want to hear about maturity issues just yet. He is 19 years old, of course there are maturity issues. He possesses all of the physical attributes that could make him a beast for the Kings for years to come. Only time will tell.

- Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth stepped his game up and told his team he will be present once mandatory camps open up here very shortly. The fact that his presence was even in question is both sickening and disheartening.  A year ago Haynesworth signed a contract for 7-years and $100 million with an NFL-record $41 million in guaranteed money. A humongous contract for a defensive tackle who himself has had trouble playing at a high level on a consistent basis. Now, the Washington Redskins will be changing the scheme of their defense this season-moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and thus putting more pressure on Haynesworth to shoulder much of the defensive load while fighting off constant double and triple teams. This didnt sit well with the big fella and there were reports that he would not attend camp. On top of that, the new Mike Shanahan regime in D.C is already looking to deal Haynesworth and his massive contract. My two-cents? SHUT THE F**K UP AND PLAY. YOU JUST GOT $41 MILLLLLLLLL. 4-3? 3-4? 1-6? WHO CARES. Whatever happened to athletes actually being...well, athletes.

- I was watching Any Given Sunday over at a friends house today and a few things came to mind since I hadn't seen it in years. I do like the movie. I think it was one of the first movies to really dive into many of the things that go on behind the locker room doors. Of course it was highly exaggerated as only Hollywood knows how to do, but for the most part it does a good job. However, this film has some of the worst cuts of unnecessary male dong scenes ever. What genius thought that putting so much visible locker room dong in a movie marketed to MEN would be a good idea. I dunno, I just didn't remember there being so many times I had to look away before...maybe I am just used to the made for TV version. It's just too awkward...and no ladies, it is NOT the same as seeing female nudity in films. Not even close.

- Bill Clinton still knows how to get down. Tippin a few back with Team USA after their World Cup victory is something we should all be able to embrace.  Let's just hope there were no cigars around...or blue dresses...or interns....

-Whatever we want. Whenever we want it. The Nightcap.


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Lakers Held It Down. The Rest Is Now History.

Even when they trailed 3-2, the series was always within arms length for the Lake Show

By: David Washington

Two very evenly matched teams played a closely contested game last night and managed to create a sports atmosphere that rivaled even a Superbowl. The Lakers-Caltics rivalry was back in full force. The intensity of a Game 7 was relevant throughout, but the mood that was created seemed to peak late in the fourth quarter. The Lakers had been trailing the Celtics for the majority of the game, when Los Angeles began surging back. Slowly but surely, the familiar chants of “MVP” began to ring throughout the Staples Center as Kobe Bryant began to do what he does best, take control of the game. Sure, his shooting night was extremely poor, but a true champion never stops trying to find a way to contribute. His 15 free throw attempts helped to force four Celtics players into foul trouble. His 15 rebounds put him only second to Pau Gasol for the game. And his defense, though immeasurable by any numerical stat, was stifling. Managing to dominate a game without having a hot shooting hand? Sounds like a champ to me.

         With the win, Kobe’s name will once again be thrown around by fans, players, and analysts alike as they try to decide who the greatest basketball players of all time are. Sure, four championship rings was nothing to scoff at. Hell, few players can even claim to have been to the NBA finals, never mind win four rings. But, because Kobe was wearing the Purple and Gold of the Los Angeles Lakers, just four is never good enough. What Kobe needed as a stamp on his Hall of Fame Laker career was something that all the Lakers greats had, a win over the Boston Celtics. A daunting task, considering the fact that the Celtics feature three surefire hall of famers in Allen, Garnett, and Pierce as well as one of great young point guards in the NBA in Rajon Rondo. With the recent injury troubles of Lakers Center Andrew Bynum, the quest to beat the Celtics got even harder. But Bryant managed to pull through and win it all in one of the most memorable Finals of recent history. Does this make him the greatest Laker, or even (dare I say it) the greatest player of all time? I say not yet. But there’s a key word there, “yet”. I’m sure that by the end of his career, Kobe will have firmly secured his name as, at the very least, equal to names like “Magic” and “Kareem”. Will Mr. Bryant be able to surpass Jordan? That’s still uncertain, but even the consideration of being on par with MJ is an accomplishment that few people though any man would be able to achieve.

      There’s a multitude of other stories that have emerged from this NBA finals other than Kobe’s assertion as one of the most dominant players of NBA history. First of all, will Phil Jackson retire, firmly secured as the greatest pro basketball coach of all time? Will Doc Rivers take a break from coaching so that he can spend time with his family? What about the Big Three? are they officially “too old” and “finished”? How about Ron Artest finally getting that hard fought piece of jewelry into his much deserving hands. “Queensbridge’s Finest” has long been considered one of the best defensive players in the game, but his somewhat illogical and irrational behavior (see “The Malice at the Palace”) has often kept GMs away from him as the key ingredient on their potentially championship winning team. However, in a bold offseason move, the Lakers acquired Artest through free agency and marketed “Tru Warrior” as the missing ingredient for a repeat. Finally, the talented but unpredictable Artest was getting his chance on a championship caliber team. And now that he had been given the opportunity, Ron-Ron wasn’t about to let it pass him up. He cemented his legacy with an excellent NBA finals performance that could’ve won MVP on a team that didn’t sport a future legend (I’m speaking of Kobe of course). His defense was on point and, though he took a few errant shots here and there, his shooting was often clutch when the Lakers needed him to step up his game the most. Almost as important was Artest’s emotional control, as he was able to contain himself and refrain from picking up an abundance of technical’s during the series. And with that Ron Artest cemented his legacy on the game. Other than the aforementioned Bryant and Jackson, and perhaps Pau Gasol, there is no one that deserves more credit for this championship than Artest.

      Kobe Bryant’s resume as a Lakers legend and one of the greatest to play the game strengthened. Ron Artest finally got his much deserved championship ring. And the sport of basketball gets to put on a premiere series that not only excited avid basketball fans, but was able to draw in many others that don’t frequently watch as well. This will surely make the 2010 NBA finals a series to remember. In closing, I’d like to point out that there are few cities that know how to celebrate a championship like LA (which is probably a good thing because we can only afford to divert so much police attention to stop championship induced riots). Almost as entertaining to watch as the game itself, LA fans celebrations often result in the destruction of thousands of dollars of property damage. But if there was one championship to celebrate like a madman, this would be the one. Hard fought Game 7 wins over your most hated rivals only come every once in a while. So party on Lakers fans, party on. You deserve it. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why This Game 7 Will Be More Than Just A Game

Its hard for many of us to look back to the days when Bird and Magic saved the NBA, which is why this chapter of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry should mean more to us as current fans of the league.

Why this Game 7 will be more than just a game:


·      -There is no Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. No Bob Cousy or Elgin Baylor. No Bill Russell or Jerry West. What we are witnessing now is a Lakers-Celtics rivalry that is fit for our generation.   The game has changed as much as the players.  In twenty years it will be this and the 2008 (and any future) series that we will reminisce on.

·      -A 5th ring for Kobe will only further enhance his resume for not just the greatest player in the NBA today, but for the Greatest of All Time. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and ____________ <--(insert name here) enthusiasts need not apply. Its something to think about.

·      -A Celtics victory will give the franchise its 18th championship, most in the NBA. The Lakers? Just behind them. A win for the Lake Show will push their total to 16, just one behind the C’s.

·      -The collection of nicknames that are being repped in this series is one for the history books. Try to keep pace now: The Black Mamba, The Candy Man, Ron-Ron or Queensbridge or Tru Warrior, The Big Ticket, The Machine, Jesus Shuttlesworth, The Truth or Beetlejuice, and Big Baby amongst others. Only if we could get the commentators to call games like this. “Shuttlesworth misses the three, Tru Warrior with the board. Mamba pushes the ball up court, passes the ball back to Ron-Ron who spots up and SINKS THE THREE!…SAY QUEENSBRIDGE!!”
·     - Rumors have been running rampant about the futures of both coaches.  Just yesterday Phil Jackson came out and said that he did not know if he had another run in him after this season.  If he departs (which I doubt he will) it will be goodbye to the greatest basketball coach of the modern era. Say what you will. Even if he does leave, I think he comes back to coach for another team somewhere down the line.  Doc Rivers has been heard mentioning that he also doesn’t know what life beyond this season holds. Rivers is only 48 years old and has said that he would like to spend more time with his family in Orlando. He obviously could revisit coaching a few years down the road.

·     - The strength of vindication:  No matter what happens to the Celtics tonight, you have to tip your cap. Coming into this seasons playoff run, the Cavaliers and Magic seemed to be the best bets to make the finals out of the East. Many had written the team off as old and inconsistent. Well, with the help of some sneaky motivational techniques…they find themselves one win away from a title.

·      -Throughout the Lakers Game 6 blowout victory it seemed as though Ron Artest and Kobe could have played 5-on-2.  During much of the first half, these two played defense that obviously stifled the Celtics.  Everywhere you watched it was one of the two making hustle play after hustle play.  Now we all know what Kobe brings to the table.  But if Mr. Ron-Ron can step up one more time it could be a long night for Boston fans. Hate him or love him…Ron Artest IS the X-Factor in this game. The Lakers don’t need six-3 pointers from him, just six made shots at a decent percentage.  Remember, Artest is still trying to prove that the Lakers swap from Trevor Ariza was the right move to make. Well, Ariza has his ring….will Queensbridge’s finest get his?

·      -Not to stray too far away from Game 6…it will be interesting to see how the Lakers will come out. Game 6 was impressive, no doubt….but that was just about as bad as it gets for Boston and as good as it gets for L.A. Let’s not forget. In 2008 when the Celtics came out in Game 6 and threw down the hammer on the Lake Show and the rest as they say is history.  I think the Lakers will take this game home, but if they don’t watch their back- the wiley Celtics could just as easily put them on their backs one more time.  Momentum may be one of the most over-used and over-rated terms in sports. That being said, I wouldn’t want to see any of it wasted on a Game 6 that was over before half time.

·      -Which team will be able to overcome the lack of a big man? Boston center Kendrick Perkins is out after hurting his knee in Game 6 and Lakers center Andrew Bynum’s injured knee has been much chronicled.  Boston will have to adjust some of its in-game strategy, but lets be honest….we are talking about Kendrick Perkins. A big body who can snag rebounds, but its not Shaq in his prime.  The Lakers may be less equipped with a hampered Bynum, but they are much more prepared since Bynum has been going through this injury for most of the postseason.
      -  There have only been four NBA Finals Game 7's in the past thirty-years. The Celtics are a perfect 8-0 in Finals Game 7's dating back to 1957. Four of those wins have come against the Lakers. 

·      -Mamba and the depth of the Lakers versus the Big Three. Should be one for the ages. Just remember, this rivalry is writing history all over again. Everyone in my generation is about to experience a Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals Game 7 for the very first time.  Lets sit back and enjoy what should be a terrific game.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

USC Has A Long Ways to Go Before they Become Relevant Again

The state of USC football is certainly up in the air after a harsh NCAA ruling

By: David Washington

It was obvious that there was going to be some NCAA violations with the recruitment and handling of former USC running back Reggie Bush. The college football community was certain that there would be some sort sanctions against the Pac 10 powerhouse. But, rather than merely giving the Trojans a sharp reprimand or a slap on the wrist, the NCAA threw the book at the storied program and banned them from postseason play for 2 years AND took away 30 scholarships (10 per year for the next three years). That’s like expecting to be grounded for a week and instead being sent to military school. So was the NCAA too harsh, or did the punishment fit the crime? And how will this affect the future of Trojan and Pac 10 football?

The term “student athlete” has been a joke for many years at schools with major athletic programs. These athletes are often recruited using illegal methods. Bribery is not an uncommon tool, andspecial treatment is commonplace simply because of their physical ability. To make matters even worse, many of the star athletes have failed to complete their roles as a student, and they are still given unfair advantages. Though USC has the two highest profile faux “student athletes” in recent memory with both the OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush scandals, there are quite a few others that have occurred in recent years.

Alabama was recently caught in a textbook scandal and was forced to vacate three years worth of victories. Florida State’s whole athletic department was put under a microscope when it was found that athletes in 10 different sports were caught cheating in an online music history class. Oklahoma was recently sanctioned for “failing to monitor” their players employment and allowing players to receive money from an outside source simply because of their status on the football team.

Though all these violations were punished, none were as severe as the one that USC had handed down. Perhaps this is because the Trojans have so often been suspected of violating NCAA rules or because USC and Reggie Bush denied all allegations of wrongful activity. Another logical, though unfair, reason for the harsh sanctions is that the NCAA simply hopes to make an example out of USC. By showing other institutions how much it will cost them if they continue to break rules then they will be punished in a manner that will affect their program for years to come. Not exactly the fairest scenario for USC. However, if that’s what it takes to put the honorable term “student” back into the “student athlete,” than so be it.

Needless to say, the biggest question still remains: “How will the sanctions affect USC football?” Only time will tell, but it is easy to speculate anything from a two year break from the national title picture to an eternal irrelevance. Realistically, the outcome will most certainly reside somewhere in the middle. If you look back to the most recent event that compares to the Trojans current plight is that of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2002 and 2003. After being accused of 11 violations, the Crimson Tide were banned from postseason play in college football for three years. Though this didn’t destroy the program, it certainly damaged them and caused them to go 43-33 (a downright embarrassing record for a college football powerhouse) between 2002 and 2007. The team went on to win the National Championship just this past season.

USC fans should expect the fate of their program to go something similar to that of Alabama, but on a slightly larger scale due to contributing factors that are out of USC’s control. With the Pac 10’s almost assured expansion to the Pac 16 (along with the rise of schools like Cal, UCLA, Oregon, and Oregon State), USC’s recruiting would’ve already suffered without the sanctions. Now, with 2 years of bowl free football in the Coliseum, many top tier recruits will avoid the Trojans like the plague and instead aim for one of the other big name schools in the conference (which will soon include Texas, Oklahoma, and other Big 12 Powerhouses). The Trojans should expect more than 5 years to pass before they even challenge for a BCS title and the damned-before-it-began Lane Kiffin era of USC football will be ugly to watch and short lived.

So I’m sorry Trojan fans but, because of more reasons than simply the sanctions. USC football will never be the same. Never again will the cardinal and gold of the Trojans dominate college football as it did back in the days of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Never again will dozens new four and five star recruits charge into the Coliseum and marvel at the arena that they will be allowed to showcase their skills.

You’ve had a good run, but It’s over. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Scene in East Lansing

Tom Izzo Meets with MSU Basketball Players: Friday, June 11

By Nick Kowalski
News trucks associated with Fox 2, Channel 4, and Channel 7 were ready to pounce - to be the first to speak with the coveted MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo as he emerged from the Breslin Center, the site of an impromptu meeting between school officials and players.
Since I knew a story could break at any moment, I camped out in the Breslin Center parking lot for about an hour. My goal was to be there if and when something news-worthy were to leak from the mouth of a key staff member or the horse himself. Dressed in a suit and tie, I figured my attire would help me blend in, if need be. Afterall, I am an independent news/blog writer.
Pen and paper in hand, I approached the entrance of the home of the Spartans' basketball team. I had heard that a 'vigil' was held on Izzo's behalf on Thursday; after noticing an array of flowers, burnt-out candles, and homemade signs reading "Just Say... NO to Cleveland" and "Please Stay, Izzo," I am convinced that a legitimate service was in fact held by concerned students and alumni for the feared-to-be-departing, god-like college basketball icon.
Upon arrival, I asked Fox 2 News sports reporter Jennifer "Hammer" Hammond, who was on-site awaiting news from the closed-door meeting, if the news conference had yet happened or if it were scheduled. "No word of a news conference. There's a player meeting right now inside. Did you know about that?" said Hammond, treating me like a fellow news reporter (and rightfully so!). I also chatted with Hammond's cameraman, who told me that there was "no news conference." Channel 4 sportscaster Katrina Handcock, along with a news reporter with Channel 7, rounded out the Detroit media trio.
A few minutes went by, and then a couple of players left the building, heading toward the parking lot. The two players appeared to be laughing with one another - not the mood typical of a somber gathering of coaches and players. Above all else, this stood out to me, potentially signaling that Izzo would remain in East Lansing. One of the players was sophomore center Derrick Nix, who walked out with another player that I did not recognize. From a distance, I heard Hammond say something to Nix, followed by a brief reply. As Nix was climbing into the passenger seat of what appeared to be a Hummer H2, I asked him what took place in the meeting. In response to a pressing inquiry, Nix told me that "nothing" was said regarding Izzo's future with the team. Nix said that the players "got [their] Big Ten rings," as the team earned a share of the conference title this past season, during the meeting - and that was that. 
I spent some more time just outside of the Breslin, with the handful of Detroit network news reporters, cameramen, and personnel, hoping that Izzo or a representative from the school would issue a bombshell statement for better or worse. At one point, two MSU Police cars entered the parking lot, which led me to believe that something important was about to occur - but no dice. By the time 4:35 had rolled around, nothing new had happened, aside from a couple of gentleman who were dropped off and immediately entered the building, only expressing to the media that they "[could] not talk today." The vehicle that the two men arrived in took off with a player who left the Breslin - a two-for-one swap. I departed the vicinity shortly thereafter.
It has since been announced that Izzo will hold a news conference tomorrow, presumably to address his future at MSU and with the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Nightcap

Apparently, the Lakers are synonymous with Team USA

By: Laz Jackson

United States of America vs. England.
Six letters, you Tory, tea-and-crumpet-loving, bad teeth-having, Doctor-Who-watching soccer hooligans... 
U-S-A. U-S-A.

The Pac-16 Closer, Nebraska to join Big Ten (Ironically, now the Big 12)
We’ll have an answer on our Pac-16 SuperConference possibilities by next week. Promise. But whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen. And as for Nebraska, welcome to the Big Twelve Ten. We needed you to hold a league championship game to make more money, and in return, you get to swim on a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck. Win-Win.

Big Baby “Beasts” Boston Back (Say it Five Times Fast)
With the Lakers’ Game counter-punch, every analyst and journalist KNEW that if the Celtics were going to win Game 4, it would have to be on the offense of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Fortunately for Boston, coach Doc Rivers didn’t know that. In sticking with his (suddenly) productive and high-energy bench players, Rivers gave the Celtics (and the Boston Crowd) a shot in the arm and tightened this series at two games apiece. Between the bench, Andrew Bynum’s knee, and the rest the starters got (which is important with their veterans), the momentum in the series has swung back to Boston. Of course, momentum doesn’t seem to mean much in this series.

Tom Izzo Must LOVE the Clash
Because he’s been singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” for the last week straight, and it’s been driving me crazy. I’m a Spartan, Spartan born, Spartan bred, and I can guarantee that sales of aspirin and antacid are through the roof in East Lansing right now. He’s the face of the university. He’s from around here. If he stays, he has an All-American backcourt to win another championship with. If he goes, he may (emphasis on MAY) get to coach LeBron and the Pips. I freaking LOVE you, Tom. Don’t do this to me. To us. News conference scheduled for today.

Interleague Play this Week:
Yes, that’s right, stuff is happening in baseball-land, too! Interleague play gives us the opportunity to watch classic rivalries be renewed (White Sox-Cubs, Angels-Dodgers). Unfortunately, it also gives us some really, REALLY uninteresting series (Are YOU gonna watch Tigers-Pirates or Yankees-Astros? Yeah, didn’t think so). But the chance to watch Strasburg mow down a D.H.? THAT, I gotta see.

Please Do Not Blow the Vuvuzelas:

The Nightcap will not be a nightly installment. However, It will cover loose tidbits of whatever we want...whenever we want it. Until next time, I’m Lazarus Jackson, offering the Midwest Perspective.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The UFC looks to recapture the crowd with a couple of fan favorites

By: David Washington

As both a writer and a fan, I believe that all sporting events should serve at least one of two duties (and ideally both). The first is to crown a champion by any means necessary. This at least allows the fan to acknowledge who and what sets the standard for any given sport. This is a tangible goal that all organizations strive to achieve and it inspires fairness and good sportsmanship in sports.

However, there is another duty that in my opinion is a much more important obligation that all sporting entities must share. This responsibility is the true reason that these entities exist and without being able to draw buzz and excitement to the sport people lose interest extremely quickly. Providing an entertaining product to the public should be priority number one.

Seems like a no brainer, right?

Unfortunately, the UFC has been criticized of late for not truly entertaining the fans with their fights. Sure, all recent events have succeeded to find top contenders and new champions, but many of the fights that have occurred have ended not to the thunderous applause that the fighters deserve for their efforts, but rather to a chorus a boos. But this weekend, the UFC returns to its fan pleasing roots by giving the everyone a card that may lack any sort of title relevance, but in turn will bring the people back to their feet.

From the preliminary card all the way to the main event, UFC 115 is stacked with fighters that have a reputation of pleasing the fans with their exciting styles. With guys like Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig (who will be fighting Matt Wiman) and Tyson Griffin (who will compete against Evan Dunham) on the undercard, UFC booking agent Joe Silva has put the UFC’s best foot forward and has made sure that everyone knows from the beginning of the night that they will surely be entertained.

The main card features Carlos Condit, a welterweight who has ended the fight with a submission or knockout in all but one of his victories. Heavyweight Gilbert Yvel, is a man who is big even for his division and has always delivered exciting fights (including one where he was disqualified for knocking out the referee in a fit of anger). Though Yvel and Condit aren't yet household names to the casual fan, true connoisseurs of MMA know that any time either of them is involved in a fight it will be something exciting to watch.

The night will then progress with two matchups that could, on any other night, compete for fight of the night honors. The first is a fight between Swiss kick boxer Martin Kampmann and one-loss Brazilian Paul Thiago. Both fighters are near the top of the welterweight division and are almost certainly going to stand and bang until one of them ends up taking a nap on the canvas. The next is a heavyweight matchup between American Kick boxer Pat Barry and "The Croatian Sensation," Pride Fighting legend Mirko Cro Cop. Neither of these men have any interest in taking the fight to the ground, and they will surely put on a spectacular show of kickboxing that will please the MMA die hard and casual UFC fan alike.

The main event, a contest between UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell and one of the true warriors of the sport, Rich Franklin, is a fight that needed to happen, regardless of its irrelevance to the light heavyweight title picture. On any other night, either of the two aforementioned fights may stake claim to the best fight of the night. However, on Saturday these two household names will be sure to put in their two cents. Both Liddell and Franklin are fan favorites that love to put on a show. These two brawlers both have considerable abilities on the ground, but I'll be shocked if either of them go for a takedown in a fight that has the potential to be an instant classic. If you look at their most recent common opponent, Wanderlei Silva, you see that they both were able to defeat "The Axe Murderer" (though Franklins win was at a catch weight of 195) and both were able to produce UFC classics in the process. When Franklin and Liddel step into the octagon against each other on Saturday, they'll be looking for a repeat performance and I guarantee they deliver.

The UFC owes the fans a card like this. Sure, people may claim that its unimportance to the title picture makes it a waste of time and effort, but that’s not what this is all about. This card gets back to the roots. A lineup of pure entertainment for everyone to enjoy, and I promise these fighters will deliver.