Foley's Friday Mailbag: July 13, 2012
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
email@example.com, Twitter: @trfoley
InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
Q: Did you see that Iowa does not have the Midlands on its schedule?
-- Mark B.
Foley: Compelling. Who knows what is going through the mind of Hawkeye head wrestling coach Tom Brands? I suspect dropping Midlands had something to do with the Big Ten schedule this season, but other factors might have also contributed. Midlands has been down over the past several years, no thanks in part to the Southern Scuffle. Also, Evanston is cold, it's a long season, and who are the Hawkeyes going to see (that they NEED to see), that they don't already see? Maybe Oklahoma? Maybe a California kid or two? They could ultimately be going the route of Oklahoma State and having their kids rest over the holidays. I know it sounds defective to the spirit of Hawkeye Nation to NOT have a fully depressed gas pedal, but adaptation is the key to survival, and if Brands thinks skipping
Midlands will get his minions to perform better come March, then he'll do it.
It's kinda sad, though. I'm a Midlands homer and would love to see them there for the big 50th tournament.
Q: In a battle of ex-college matmen, Chris Weidman (Hofstra) dominated Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) at the UFC on Fuel TV 4 on Wednesday night. Two-part question. What did you make of Weidman's performance against Munoz? How long until every UFC champion is an ex-college wrestler?
-- Mike C.
Foley: The majority of the UFC's champions have been former wrestlers and as recently as ten months ago the majority still were (Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez). But recent losses and an emergent Brazilian contingency has made the struggle for singular dominance more difficult.
What makes the Brazilians so successful is that they've recently been touting more than just a submission game. UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo, middleweight champ Anderson Silva, and heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos have shown brilliance in striking their opponents with hands, feet and elbows. And where they don't currently hold belts, they are making headway.
Renan Barao fights for the interim title against former UC Davis wrestler Urijah Faber in two weeks. Should the Brazilian win, he'll face Dominick Cruz sometime next year to unite the bantamweight title. (Cruz recently tore his ACL.) UFC newcomer and light heavyweight Glover Texiera is fighting Rampage Jackson in his home country of Brazil. Texiera was originally scheduled to fight fellow Brazilian Shogun Rua, but the former UFC light heavyweight champion REFUSED to sign the contract saying he'd rather be cut than fight the terrifying Texiera. Should Teixiera pan out he'll present a real challenge to current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (or a newly-minted Dan Henderson). Erick Silva is the most talented new fighter in the promotion and could compete for a welterweight title in the next 12-18 months. The Brazilians only have one flyweight on the UFC roster, but given some financial incentives, don't be surprised if they produce a contingency of spry little fighters.
Chris Weidman, who wrestled at Hofstra, improved to 9-0 (Photo/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)As for Chris Weidman, I think that given the chance to fight for the middleweight title he'd be my personal favorite to beat Anderson Silva. He's less experienced and might not posses the same acumen on his feet as the current champion, but in wrestling, conditioning and jiu-jitsu the 28-year-old Weidman has the upper hand.
That Weidman has better wrestling than Silva isn't surprising. Sonnen exposed the Brazilian as often being slow to sprawl. Assuming he takes down the champ, Weidman becomes a threat to submit. Believe it or not, Weidman is downright nasty at jiu-jitsu and where Sonnen couldn't avoid a triangle or attempt his own submission, Weidman has extensive international experience finding the finish. Weidman's movement inside the guard and his INCREDIBLE guard passing skills will mean less time with his hands tied up by the prone Silva. His hands will have to go somewhere, and I suspect they'll end up in Silva's jaw.
Should Weidman Submit the Spider, Cain KO JDS and Johny best GSP the only weight left in order to complete your dream would be featherweight where Chad Mendes would have to knock off Jose Aldo.
Q: Over the years wrestling has truly evolved, especially in terms of technique. What are your thoughts on the rise of popularity with moves like the super duck? Can the fancy nature moves like it hurt the next generation, especially on the senior level & against Russian/foreign defense?
Foley: Is the super duck popular with the kids these days? I need to start drilling.
Techniques evolve rapidly and what worked in 1999 is not necessarily going to work today. Fortunately our young wrestlers have coaches to guide them towards the techniques that are beyond fads. But what you're getting at is something quite different: The perception that wrestlers are valuing FLASH over SUBSTANCE.
Flashy play corrupted basketball in the later 90s and early aughties that ended with massive international embarrassments for Team USA. The theory was that SportsCenter highlighted dunks which motivated attention-hungry players to drive the hoop instead of pass, and subsequently fewer players also wanted to play good defense. (Who would want to be the guy forever immortalized on a poster with Lebron James' crotch in their face mid-dunk?) USA Basketball realized that they would keep losing to Puerto Rico and Greece unless they found a way to wrangle in their petulant media-hungry stars. They hired Coach K to teach the how to pass and play defense and otherwise ignore for a few weeks the impulse to be on Top Plays. Their problem has been solved, at least temporarily.
Wrestling is starting to become more media friendly, even if only within our own community and in random clips on SportsCenter. Highlights on video sites like Flo ABSOLUTELY perpetuate the type of flash-first mentality in wrestling that has been prevailing in basketball. This is almost certainly NOT a good thing. When I was looking for videos of T.J. Williams to post in this week's Top Ten piece, it was shocking how many of his matches were defined by simple sprawls and double leg re-shots. None of his offense would make today's OMG!! World of Twitter that emphasizes high-risk moves. (You can follow me @trfoley.) Ellis Coleman's Flying Squirrel almost broke the Internet, and because it was viewed so often it lead to imitations, including Shawn Bunch who lost a period when his attempt ended in a five-point move for his opponent Coleman Scott. I'm pretty sure he'd like to have that one back.
Flash is something to be done in moderation. I think a recalibration of techniques towards only super ducks, flying squirrels, spinning back fists, and cartwheel doubles would harm us internationally. But we have a stable of guys RIGHT NOW who are smarter than to gamble their Olympic gold on the hopes of landing a high-risk move. What is interesting about wrestling is that the younger generation won't reach the international level if all the do is attempt saltos and lateral drops. When it comes to technique and winning competitions, wrestling is inextricably Darwinistic, while other sports, like basketball, have long periods of technical flat lining.
Wrestling in pop-culture media break (I consider judo to be in the wrestling family.)
"You make a sex video with some guy and that's all your famous for ..." -- Ronda Rousey, person who would NEVER use sex appeal to get attention.
Q: Did you watch the Franklin Gomez-Besik Kudukhov match? Gomez looks like a beast. Coleman Scott-Franklin Gomez for the Olympic gold medal!
-- Andrew H.
Foley: Yes. Unreal.
Q: Considering the level of assumed "badassery" among fans/spectators at the NCAA DI tournament each year, isn't it something that almost no fights break out in the stands? I have my own thoughts about this, but am curious to hear yours. After watching the coverage of Russian Nationals on Flo, and seeing the melee that broke out after one of Saitiev's matches, I wondered why we don't see that more in the U.S.? Are the Russians ... rednecks?
-- Joe S.
Foley: Let us not lower ourselves to name calling, especially when those we malign are specifically outfitted with ass-whipping skills. (Dagestanis are also "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' crazy. And who do you never, ever fight? The crazy guy.)
The lack of fistfights in the stands is mostly a matter of coincidence, rather than overt classiness. The NCAA wrestling tournament is a mostly alcohol-free event populated primarily by parents, girlfriends, and alumni groups with an average age of "mid-life crisis." The rapscallions who attend the tournament and would gladly throw their paws in anger are either on the mat, at the bar drinking, or have slept through the session due to an unconquerable gut-twisting hangover. The NCAA also limits the interaction of fan groups they suspect might not blend well or have a long history of angst (i.e. Iowa/Penn State, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Princeton/Harvard)
The organizers of Russian Nationals put Satiev's face on a banner above the mat to promote his PROBABLE finals matchup with two-time world champion Denis Tsargush. Promotion is awesome, Beat the Streets did the same with Shawn Bunch before the Grapple in the Big Apple. But hen Satiev got throw for three in his semifinal matchup, yet inexplicably was given a point, the crowd saw that this wasn't promotional, that the fix was in. The crowd was hyper-regionalized, mildly intoxicated, and consequently expressed their displeasure.
Who could blame them? Russia is crooked and in countries where the government is constantly hosing you these outbursts by citizenry act as release valve for frustration. Its as true in Russia as it is in China, where last year the Georgetown men's basketball team got DEMOLISHED during a fight. All the Chinese players needed in order to turn a friendly game of roundball into full-scale mob was the slightest spark, then ... BOOM! GOES THE CHAIR TO THE FACE.
No booze + No intermingling + No corruption = Peace.
Q: PSU's recruiting class is not highly regarded. Just a function of so few scholarships this year or a problem in your opinion?
-- Michael K.
Foley: Probably just a little down on scholarships, but I also don't think Coach Cael is as committed to landing the ABSOLUTE top guy NO MATTER WHAT.
I think Coach Cael understands that the best recruits don't always make the best wrestlers. He wants guys that will buy into his system and won't cause trouble. At the end of the day he believes that plugging even a marginal wrestler into that system will be more than adequate as long as they pay attention, give their full effort, and enjoy their time on campus. Essentially he doesn't need finished products and might even prefer to make them himself.
Q: I would like to see UFC fighter Chael Sonnen go up to light heavyweight. Thoughts?
-- Tom N.
Foley: I would like to see him retire and become a full-time announcer. Incredible.
Q: 1989 118-pound NCAA champion Jack Cuvo (senior) vs. 2011 125-pound NCAA champion Anthony Robles (senior). Both went undefeated, but watching Cuvo in his videos back in the day, I couldn't see anybody touching him. Who wins and score?
-- Robbie P.
Foley: My instinct was that you were screwing with me. Since I was a kid I'd heard of the Jack Cuvo single leg and this seemed like a prompt that wanted me to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of Robles competing with one leg. I now see that it's just a great question.
Robles by a major decision (13-4) and here's why. If you've never wrestled Robles it is VERY difficult to understand his unique leverage and angles of attack. How about the second meeting, or maybe the third? Sure, you increase your chances significantly. However, by his senior season Robles had refined his technique so much that even guys he'd faced before had no answers in their rebuttal matches.
Jack Cuvo is a legend, but I'd put Robles up against any 125-pound wrestler in NCAA history and give him the nod a majority of the time, much less a 118 lber. Robles was just that dominant his senior season.