via Filipe Dana, AP
I know, I know, there's nothing original about writing a report card about a UFC event, particularly since Mania will likely do a post-mortem on all 10 matches that took place. And the fact I'm writing it is probably more a testament to my MMA addiction than any genuine contribution to the community at large. But you know what? I'm doing it anyway.
I'll be the first to admit that I dirtied the sheets badly on this card, for despite my meticulous analysis and prognosticating I was wrong on three of the nine fights (Silva versus Prater doesn't count, but we'll discuss that later). But that's ok, because Jesse Holland was completely and utterly wrong about Mendes pulling a George Safe Pierre for five rounds and dethroning the third best pound-for-pound fighter in the world of his Featherweight title.
Having said that, I knew most of the fights would end quickly thanks to my research. Whether by design or fate, this card featured a slew of fighters who have rarely been to decision. Most of them were veritable anti-GSPs, finishers in mind and in body. Only three of the 10 matches went to the judges scorecards, and of those three, one was highly debatable with Alcantara almost getting the sub against Omigawa at the buzzer of round one.
But I digress. Let's delve in, shall we:
Antonio Carvalho B-
I don't think you can fault Antonio for not winning his UFC debut. He came out and won the first round with some takedowns, and held his own in the standup. Unfortunately for him he met a better striker and for reasons unknown was unable to get Arantes to the ground. I'd certainly like to see more of him in the Featherweight division, and I think another test should prove his mettle.
I can't really give Filipe a much higher grade than Antonio. Yes, he won, but only the third round was truly convincing as he battered him with ground and pound. Filipe has a good, aggressive style that should serve him well. Although he was taken down in the first, he seemed to possess good defence off his back and scrambles that would prevent him from becoming the victim of lay and pray. His lunges are both exciting and dangerous, not least for himself, since he leaves his chin open to counterattacks. More needs to be seen of this lad.
Ricardo Funch D-
What's to said about Ricardo? Unfortunately, not much. After going 0-3 in the UFC I'd be genuinely surprised to see him back, particularly after getting knocked (technical) out in 82 seconds of fighting by a guy who's known primarily known for his submissions. Ricardo eventually crumpled against the fence and waited for the ref to mercifully end this one-sided beatdown.
Mike Pyle A-
Why not an A? Well, although it's difficult to criticize someone who defeated another man in under a minute-thirty, it's also hard to compliment a man of Pyle's stature who just destroyed a relative unknown. I mean, Mike Pyle fought Quinton frikkin Rampage Jackson in 1997. He ended the streak of undefeated prospect John Hathaway, who had just defeated Diego Sanchez. Joe Silva practically threw this Ricardo kid in with a shark on his first fight.
Michihiro Omigawa C-
Another decision, another defeat. I don't know what's more pathetic: that Japanese fighters not named Yushin Okami can't win in the UFC or that Omigawa has to spend all 15 minutes in the cage before he gets the "L". Although he proved once again that he has granite for a chin, it didn't matter. He was battered in the first and almost subbed, thoroughly thrashed in second, and despite capitalizing on Yuri Alcantara's fatigue in the third, was reversed into full mount to end the fight. I foresee a pink slip for this kid.
Yuri Alcantara B+
I don't think I'm being harsh here when I say that Yuri almost embarrassed himself. After dominating Omigawa for two rounds, his poor cardio lowered his overall mark when he almost gassed out in the third. Fortunately, Omigawa's pillow punches did little more than wake up the Brazilian at the end of the fight. He also probably subbed Omigawa in the first round, but who knows? Anyway, Yuri's an interesting prospect and a dynamic fighter, although he's only really fought two people we even know. One of those people is the very talented Ricardo Lamas, who recently made so much quick work of WEC veteran Cub Swanson. I guess what I'm saying is, let's give Yuri a real test now.
Too harsh? Not really. Considering the hype behind this "undefeated" prospect, I was expecting something more along the lines of the way Anderson Silva entered the UFC. Instead, what we got was something along the lines of the debut of Rolles Gracie. Ok, that's unfair, since he didn't have time to gas. More like John-Olav Einemo. At any rate, Oliveira gets an "F" for a frikkin poor performance. He was tentative, slow, got taken down by the slowest double since Randy Couture on James Toney, and then subbed. Effortlessly.
Is he back? I don't know. He subbed a scrub, it would appear. His next fight will really tell. I mean, perhaps it was naive of some of us to think a former Heavyweight Championship contender was going to get defeated by Junior dos Santos' buddy, but we did. Kudos to Gabriel for having no cardio issues, no ring rust, and no problem dispatching this overhyped "boxer". The real test will come in his next fight when the UFC will no doubt pair him with someone more to his calibre.
Sam Stout B-
Dude, so close. I had you winning, to be honest. But the judges didn't want to disappoint the hometown crowd, and I guess I can't blame them. I mean, you really didn't wow anybody. You let yourself get taken down in the first, and then you hit more air in the second round than a pre-little league T-ball player. I thought you were ready to emerge into the top 10 and lay claim to Canada's presence in the lightweight division. Instead you go to the back of the bus again like your cornerman and 7-seconder Mark Hominick. Oh well.
Not bad. The whole takedown plan in the first seems to have worked, and I guess that cut in the second round impressed the judges. To be fair, Tavares played a very good and diverse game, keeping Stout guessing about takedowns and moving around very well, being evasive. At 17-4-1 this puts Thiago somewhere outside the top 10, but not too far outside. I mean, he did lose to Shane Roller recently, but aside from that he's on a pretty good little win streak. I think he needs one more test from a top 10 type gatekeeper, but just like Castillo and Volkmann have proven recently, takedowns are moving guys up the ladder in the lightweight division.
I honestly don't know what Terry was doing. I mean, after he couldn't get Barboza down in the first round, he basically stood in front of the most deadly striker in the lightweight division and let him tee off on him. That freedom of movement eventually led to what is likely the most spectacular knockout most people have seen in the past year. But what the hell was Terry doing when it happened? He was standing there, staring at Barboza, just like he was doing in the second round. It was literally amazing to see him so flummoxed at how easily Barboza shrugged off his takedowns, and the look of confusion on his face grew and grew by the minute, until the inevitable happened.
What else can you say? The guy beat Terry Etim up for a few rounds and then knocked him out in spectacular fashion. If this doesn't make the case for an immediate top 10 fight, I have no idea what does. He needs a really competitive fight and he needs it now. The question is, who in the world can stand with Barboza? I'm beginning to think you'd need a Gray Maynard to hold him down, if that's even possible, or a Nate Diaz to walk through his punches. The guy is literally a machine. There's no denying it at this point, regardless of the fact that his matches with both Ross Pearson and Anthony Njokuani were very close.
Did this look like a guy who subbed Carlos Condit in 2004? Uh, no. He got destroyed and quickly. Unfortunately, illegal shots to the back of his head resulted in a disqualification and he got the win. But I doubt Dana White is in a hurry to see this guy again. I'm not.
An "F"? Yeah, basically he messed up and went psycho and punched a guy a bunch of times in the back of the head and got disqualified. It doesn't mean he isn't an animal. It doesn't mean he won't move up the ladder in the welterweight division. It doesn't mean he won't destroy the next opponent he faces. And it was impressive the manner in which he savagely eradicated Carlo's 10 years of pro MMA experience in 29 seconds. But what he did was illegal, and whether it's one punch to the back of the head or 42, it amounts to the same thing. It could have been a great moment for him. Instead he started hammerfisting the back of Prater's noggin and got the "L". No matter, however, since Uncle Dana tweeted that it was the wrong decision, and I'm sure he's still the golden boy. No harm done.
Well, what're you gonna do? When Paul Harris wants your leg, he's basically taking it. I don't think it was a matter of if, but when. I thought it would be the third round. Turns out it was the first minute. I'm not going to be too critical of the guy. As Jesse Holland said earlier, who did Massenzio piss off to throw him to Paul Harris? Jesus.
Finish the guy? Check. Rip his leg off causing likely long-term damage and injury to his knee? Check. Do it in one minute? Check. Although Paul Harris has been inconsistent and, let's face it, a little weird from time to time, seemingly channeling Paulo Filho, the dude is an animal. I am literally dying to see how he would fare against a Chael Sonnen or a Damien Maia or a Michael Bisping. Hell, I'd like to see if Anderson Silva could keep his spindly little legs away from "Toquino". At this point, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say he's a top five contender for the Middleweight belt.
If they gave out lower marks than "F", Rumble would qualify. Maybe that should be an "S" for suspension or "X" for expulsion. Dana White is likely to can this overeater, and I don't blame him. Not only did he embarrass himself on the scales, he went out and got choked out in the first round of the co-main event. And sure, Dan Mirgliotta seems to have been told to do quick standups by somebody up above, but nobody told Johnson to go and get choked the eff out. Which he did. Ciao, Rumble. A few days ago you were the next big thing at Middleweight. Now you're BAMMA material.
Yeah, he deserves a poor mark. Vitor got taken down easily, looked kind of slow out there, and was lunging around like he thought he was a Brazilian Tank Abbott. It's fortunate that Rumble seemed to have all of the cardio of Junie Browning out there, or else I think he would have been in some serious trouble. Belfort got the job done, much to relief of everybody including Lorenzo Fertitta, but he didn't look great doing it.
Chad Mendes D-
You're going to what? You're going to win the Featherweight belt? You're better, faster, stronger? No, you aren't. And that self-truth became glaringly evident when at 4:59 of the first round you joined Terry Etim in sleepy time. The idea that a wrestler with limited offensive skills could waltz into Brazil and lay and pray his way to five rounds of victory over one of the best fighters in the world was absurd. After this shellacking, Mendes might want to spend less time on the mat and more time with a boxing coach.
Jose Aldo A+
Spectacular. There's a reason the man is 21-1. His knockout over Mendes was at once brutal and shocking. Out of nowhere, the speed with which he dispatched the number two ranked Featherweight in the world was ridiculous. It's one thing for Barboza to knock out Etim with a wheel kick, but with all due respect to England, Etim isn't a contender for anything other than worst game-planner. Aldo just did what few other fighters at that level could do. He made Mendes look absolutely out of his league. He demolished that kid. There's a few pound-for-pound fighters in the elite of the UFC. There's Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar and Anderson Silva. What Anderson Silva did to Vitor Belfort is what the elite of pound-for-pound best fighters do to number two ranked contenders. That's what Jose Aldo did to Chad Mendes tonight.
That's a wrap. One of the better cards in recent memory, despite the Johnson fiasco and the Erick Silva controversy. So, do you agree with the report card?