When thinking about the MMA Mafia, a serious question comes to mind; what do Lenard Garcia, Luiz Cane, Cristiano Marcello, Zhang Tiequan and Steve Cantwell all have in common?”
The clearest and most obvious answer is that all five of these men are former UFC fighters who have all come off of losing skids.
The current results show Garcia as 0-5, Cane as 1-4 with his next fight set to be against a fighter who is currently 2-2, Marcello with a record of 1-2 but one could argue it should really be 0-3 as he had a hometown advantage when he fought in Brazil. Tiequan is 1-4 in his last 5 and lastly Steve Cantwell is 0-5 with an overall record of 7-6.
So, with this information in mind, what does it all mean? It’s more than just the fact that they are on losing streaks. There is nothing unordinary about being on a losing streak, as even the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time, and I do not mean Randy Couture, but Fedor Emelianenko suffered a major losing streak. The fact of the matter is that lots of fighters go on skids. It is part of the game we’re in.
Now you might find yourself asking, what is the big deal? Well, allow me to dive a little deeper into this subject and tell you why this idea popped up on my radar and why I think that YOU, whether you’re a casual observer or more serious should pay attention and pick up on stuff like this.
My intention is that whoever is reading this doesn’t just get behind me on the subject but more so understands the idea of “betting against” a fighter.
From what you have read so far, we can establish that all these guys suffered losing streaks at least once in their careers. While this is an important factor towards what I am arguing for, we need to move on and focus on each situation individually.
The easiest fighter to create a case for is Leonard Garcia so I will start with him first. It is important to note that I decided to stay away from Cody Fight because I find Cody to be weak to the body while Garcia throws bombs. However, it was a legitimate coin toss for because when it comes down to it, I don’t have a lot of faith in either fighter.
I encourage you to take a look at Garcia’s record and by looking at it; you could seriously argue that he is 0-12 in his last 12 fights. A lot of people think he lost the fight against the Korean Zombie and we cannot forget the first fight with Nam Phan because it is highly doubtful he actually won that fight. The Max Halladay fight was close but to call it a robbery is completely untrue.
With all that being said, if he were to fight again in the UFC, I ask who you all think would be the best opponent to put him up against that would solidify a victory for him. I ask you to stop reading for 15 seconds and think about, who in the UFC’s featherweight division do you think he could beat if he fought the exact same way he did when he suffered those losses?
In my opinion, not only did he lose to one of the weakest featherweights in the division but to make matters worse, he also got tooled, humiliated and then given his pink slip by the said featherweight. I guarantee you, with no doubt whatsoever that someone was paying extra close attention to this matter and it led to them making a lot of money. Think about it. Cody was a MAJOR underdog and there wasn’t a single moment in the 15 minutes that looked good for Garcia, it could even be said that it was a terrible fight altogether.
Next to be discussed is Luiz Cane. I confidently assure you that I made some money by betting against him when he fought against Chris Camozzi. The reason I didn’t give him much of a chance in this fight is because he looked terrible in the Little Nog fight, as he was stopped in the first. He looked horrible against Cyrille Diabte and he looked completely out of place against Stanislav Nedkov. The sad truth is that he was the only Brazilian to lose on the UFC 134 event. I feel like that was a “showcase” card that they brought to Brazil, and he dropped the ball. That being said, I was not confident that he would do anything against anyone other than a UFC newcomer, and BEHOLD he was legitimately out hustled for three rounds, while not a complete blowout like the rest of his losses. It is also important to note that Chris Camozzi’s wins mostly come from decisions, not stoppages. I paid attention and I got paid.
I was very excited to hear about Cristiano Marcello because he was a former Pride fighter who actually found his way into The Ultimate Fighter house. For lack of a nicer term, he looked terrible in every single fight I saw. He has one of the lowest fighter IQ’s that I am aware of but, he is a legitimate high level black belt, and he’s choosing to stand there and bang with Justin Lawrence, who knocked him out so for that he deserves respect.. After that incident, he decided to stand and bang with Sam Sicilia, who again knocked him out. Then, he fought Reza Madadi in a fight where it was pretty obvious that both of these guys were BJJ guys throwing bombs at each other. Reza Madadi was home towned, and if the fight took place anywhere else he (Marcello) would have lost in a unanimous decision. It is as simple as that.
So, going into his fight with Kazuki Tokudome in Japan he had shown me that he was flat out not capable of hanging out amongst UFC guys. I’m actually hard pressed to think of a fighter that has looked as bad as him in his last fights. I was convinced that Tokudome wins this fight 10 times out of 10, he’s been making noise in Pancrase for a minute now, so this to me was a fight where I felt comfortable “betting against a fighter” with little hesitation.
Zhang Tiequan, second last guy on this list. Before I get started I want to say that Pablo Garza is his biggest win and no one can take that away from him. This is a case where a guy is a killer on the local MMA scene, a destroyer of worlds but when facing world class talent, falls short. I’ll never say that a fighter “got lucky” with a submission win, but I will say that if Garza got a rematch with Tiequan, I’d be betting the house on Garza. Let’s quickly go over Zhang’s last 4 fights quickly. FIRST, Jason Reinhardt basically dove into a Guillotine Choke less than a minute into the fight. His next fight he tried that same Guillotine Choke over and over, and over, and over against Darren Elkins, showing both his confidence in that move, but more importantly, low fighter IQ. Elkins once he got out of the first choke that I remember being really tight, went on to win a one sided decision. After that, he got his head removed by Issei Tamura then went on to lose to a then 6-0 up and comer Jon Tuck. He looked like he didn’t belong vs both of these low level UFC guys. Are you guys picking up on a pattern here? What did he do other than show us he was able to finish fights with a choke? I said this before but I paid attention to this, and I was certain he was going to lose vs Jon Tuck.
Steve Cantwell brings up the rear in this article. Going 1-5 in his UFC run I find it almost moot to include him on this list but to be fair I did make money betting against him twice, once vs Cyrille Diabate and again against Riki Fukuda. It seemed in almost every fight that I saw that he was simply outclassed, he had no answer to Diabate’s stand up, he couldn’t do anything against Fukuda’s grappling. No disrespect to the guy but he didn’t belong in the UFC. Before both of these fights he did actually drop a decision against fellow list maker Luiz Cane, then lost to now middleweight Brain Stann. Losing to Brain is nothing to be ashamed about however it’s just noteworthy.
Wow, I’m not used to writing this much in one sitting! However I wrote all of this basically because I think Paulo Thaigo is the next guy going on this list. He’s looked horrible in his loses, and both of his noteworthy wins came against Mike Swick, who in my opinion is one of the most overrated fighters in UFC history, and he caught Josh Kos, which is legit, but I doubt Kos would let him recreate history if given the chance.