First off, thanks to Wooly Shambler for the Friday Fornication tribute. It was put to "good use."
UFC 158 is in the books and the world's most boring champion still has his belt. Oh well, at least we were treated to some top notch MMA last night with some great finishes and unexpected performances. Although GSP failed to deliver, an unexpected bangfest between Patrick Cote and Bobby Voelker would have been fight of the night on any other card except this one.
I'm going to do a fairly long writeup on the Diaz versus GSP fiasco at the bottom, so if you want Nick Diaz locked up in prison for tax evasion and you believe a 500-foot golden statue of GSP should be built in Montreal, then you best skip that one.
My predictions: 6 for 12. I'm not disappointed though. Some of that was judging, some of it was unexpected performances by the fighters.
Card's report card: A+. One of the best I can think of in UFC history.
Fight of the night: Carlos Condit and Johnny Hendricks. (honourable mention to Cote vs Voelker)
Knockout of the night: Jake Ellenberger
Submission of the night: None
Biggest upset: None
Most boring fight: Chris Camozzi versus Nick Ring
Beatdown of the night: Nobody
[DISCLAIMER NOTE - All UFC images in this post were sourced from Facebook.com/UFC and are the intellectual property of Zuffa LLC/Josh Hedges.]
I don't care how good George Roop looks at 135, I just feel the need to get that kid on an IV drip and nurse him back to health. This fight was sort of interesting because even though I can't find the striking statistics, the judges clearly gave it to Roop despite being on his back.
When I was scoring the fight mentally I figured they traded rounds and then Roop won the third. But I was pleasantly surprised the judges gave Roop the decision even though he was taken down and held there. That's because Roop made Duran lay and pray intentions a living hell with constant action from the bottom, elbows, and punches.
Duran didn't get dominated in the fight, but he never took advantage of his positions to land any ground and pound, fish around for submission attempts, or do anything to finish the fight. Roop, on the other hand, was like Mike Myers on Saturday Night Live, a hyper hypo bouncing off the end of a rope like a yoyo and flailing gangly limbs about like he was Treebeard against an Orc.
Winner: Roop is kind of like the Matt Brown of the lighter weight classes. He wins one, loses one, wins one, loses two. He has no consistency whatsoever. But if he can fight like he did last night he might be able to string together a bunch of wins, just like Brown. It's not like he doesn't have some potential. That wild looping head kick took out the Korean Zombie. I'd like to see him fight Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Cacares.
* * *
Bantamweight : TJ Dillashaw (A) versus Issei Tamura (C-)
Prediction: Dillashaw via decision
Result: Dillashaw via KO2
I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: TJ Dillashaw is a good fighter. Frankly, I thought it was an early stoppage when he fought John Dodson. But having seen how well Dodson did against Demetrious Johnson, Dillashaw may have had his hands full trying to win that fight anyway.
Still, Dillashaw has a really bright future ahead of him. He absolutely dominated Walel Watson. He choked out Vaughn Lee. He smashed Tamura. And he's still only 27 and seems to get better every time out. That's probably got something to do with training at Team Alpha Male with the kind of wrestling you get from Urijah Faber and the standup you get from Duane Ludwig.
I don't have a whole lot to say about Tamura. He got beaten up, but it's not like there was much he could have done differently. He was just outclassed by a more talented fighter.
Winner: Canadian fighter Mitch Gagnon also holds a win over Walel Watson and I think he's somewhere around the same middle of the pack as Dillashaw.
* * *
I'm not sure why the UFC brass shit all over Rick Story after Demian Maia squashed his skull and put him on the Facebook undercard. I think he's still one of the heaviest hitters in the division, and he proved that Saturday against the not-so-Mighty Quinn.
This was over pretty quick. For a while it looked like Mulhern was going to be OK with his game plan of counterpunching. Unfortunately for him he's not Carlos Condit and he doesn't have his chin either. After a few spirited exchanges, Story waded in and buried his knuckles into Quinn's cornea. Blinded and panicked, Quinn stumbled backwards, fell down, and got finished.
Story was on a bit of a slide after losing to Martin Kampmann, Charlie Brenneman, and Demian Maia, but let's not forget the list of fighters he's taken out in the past: Johnny Hendricks' only defeat, Thiago Alves, and Jake Ellenberger. And at 28 years old he's not exactly pushing the Randy Couture envelope.
* * *
Although this was a pretty nice little Taekwondo fight, it should have been clear early and often to Cruickshank that he was too slow for Makdessi. The first round was fairly even, but Makdessi began landed more often in the second round. That's when Daron should have been trying to get it to the ground. He didn't.
In the third round, Makdessi outclassed the TUF fighter badly, landing at will, and putting together combinations. It was pretty nice to watch. I would have liked to see Makdessi fight like he did in the last two minutes for the entire fight. What does it take to get these modern MMA fighters to go with full intensity? I guess they don't want to finish.
I don't think Cruickshank was terrible, but once it was clear he was getting lit up I was hoping he'd come up with a gameplan. Shoot for a double, pull guard, anything but what he did. Which was continue to get punched in the face.
Winner: Trying to pick an opponent in the most stacked division in the UFC is like trying to catch a raindrop on the head of a pin. I don't know, how about Danny Castillo?
* * *
Look, I knew full well that Miller had his hands full in this fight. What I was hoping for is what almost happened early, when Miller snatched an arm and almost finished him. But Mein showed incredible fight IQ and escaped the position, got back to his feet, and then battered the former middleweight like Jake LaMotta versus his wife.
I was pretty disappointed with Dan Miller. I know you have to set up the shot with strikes, but it was clear he had nothing for Mein on the feet and I was hoping he'd try to get it to the ground again. Instead, he got hit so hard that the replay showed his jaw meeting his throat.
This was really Mein's coming out party, and if he can handle a guy like Miller that easily, he's got to be considered one of the top prospects at 170.
Winner: If I really wanted to test Mein, I'd give him Dong Hyun Kim. Not only would it test Mein's takedown defense even more than the Miller fight, it might teach the cocky Korean some manners. If not, there are several bangfests to be had, including the aforementioned Robbie Lawler.
* * *
When the fight was stopped I thought Yves Lavigne had pulled an Yves Lavigne. But the replay showed that when Elkins first connected with Carvalho, his eyes went off into space like Paulo Filho, and I'm pretty sure he was wondering why the world was spinning around so fast. Elkins closed the distance and dropped him. Good stoppage.
To say that was unexpected would be putting it mildly. I thought Elkins was going to ride Carvalho like GSP on a number one contender, but getting a stoppage against a guy with Carvalho's standup skills just shows how much he's improving. Now 5-0 after dropping down from Lightweight, he's got to be knocking on the top 10 door.
Winner: I think a fight with Nik Lentz is really intriguing. Both guys have similar grinding styles and have had a lot of success since dropping from 155.
* * *
Welterweight : Patrick Cote (A+) versus Bobby Voelker (A+)
Prediction: Voelker via decision
Result: Cote via decision
When Patrick Cote was announced for this card at 170 pounds, I heaved a great sigh. Until last night I was under the impression Cote is one of the least talented, most overrated, useless fighters on the UFC roster. I'm happy to be wrong.
This fight would be a candidate for fight of the year if not for the Condit versus Hendricks fight. I think I probably enjoyed this fight even more. Cote looked absolutely incredible at 170. He was smooth, technical, fast, and landed some ridiculously hard power punches.
Personally, I scored the first round for Cote, the second to Voelker by a hair, and the third to Voelker. But I don't mind the decision going to Cote. And what the actual fuck is Voelker's chin made of? He took the most brutal punches over and over again and barely looked perturbed.
Winner: Although Patrick Cote has a big name in the UFC for his years of fighting, he's really not a top-ranked guy. I like the idea of building him up slowly at 170, with a Court McGee or a Kyle Noke, both of who also dropped from 185.
* * *
What a fucking knob Mike Ricci is. First off, let's not get all excited about a purple belt. Am I supposed to be impressed with that? Second, who carries in a samurai sword to an MMA fight? Don't be a douche, Mike.
This fight was pretty much what I expected. Awkward and amateur striking with poor takedown attempts, and no real action of excitement. It was a TUF fight on a pay-per-view. Nobody will care or remember because the co-main event was incredible, but when it comes time to booking fighters again I don't think Ricci will be on a paid card.
I like Colin Fletcher. He's weird, eccentric, and genuinely seems to love MMA. But he can't back it up with skills. When you're a "freakshow" like Nick Diaz, you better have the goods to back up the look or attitude.
Winner: I don't care, so long as he's the first fight on the card.
* * *
Middleweight : Chris Camozzi (F) versus Nick Ring (F)
Prediction: Ring via decision
Result: Camozzi via split decision
This was a shitshow of a fight. Chris Camozzi looked like he was trying to carry concrete bricks on his hands and feet. I'm surprised Ring got hit even once by this lumbering, shambling zombie. But Nick Ring didn't exactly help his cause by fading in the third and getting lit up.
Ring came out looking like King Mo, hands at his sides, trying to throw punches from his hips like he thinks he's Anderson Silva. He looked ridiculous and stupid, but he did outland Camozzi by a ratio of about 2:1 in the first two rounds. It was pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse that Camozzi needed a finish in the third.
The third round could have gone either way and frankly I gave it to Camozzi as Ring began fading really badly in the last two minutes. But to score two rounds for Camozzi is pretty hard to understand. Not that I really care much. Nick Ring has had his own share of robberies.
Winner: Nobody. Nobody was a winner in this fight.
* * *
Welterweight : Jake Ellenberger (A) versus Nate Marquardt (F)
Prediction: Ellenberger via KO1
Result: Ellenberger via KO1
A lot of people wrote Ellenberger off after he lost to Martin Kampmann. Which was about as braindead as voting for Sarah Palin. Jake Ellenberger is still one of the premier power punchers in the division, with a left hand almost as nasty as Johnny Hendricks.
Although Marquardt looked great defeating Tyron Woodley for the vacant Strikeforce title, I saw numerous errors in his standup game that might be deadly against a power puncher like Ellenberger. First, I noticed he backs against the cage instead of circling away. Second, I saw he's susceptible to the uppercut and combinations against the fence. In my mind that spelled one answer: first round knockout.
It's a shame for Nate the not-so-great because his win over Woodley looked like he was reborn. People were calling for a GSP title fight. Now, he's lost twice in a row and there's a question whether his chin is shot.
Winner: Clearly Johnny Hendricks is getting the next title shot. But Ellenberger can't be far behind. My fear is they're going to pit him against Demian Maia and the winner will face the winner of GSP Hendricks.
* * *
Welterweight : Johnny Hendricks (A+) versus Carlos Condit (A+)
Prediction: Condit via TKO2
Result: Hendricks via decision
What can you say about this fight? Every superlative imaginable. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was what I had hoped the Nick Diaz fight was going to be. Although I'm certain that Carlos Condit won the fight, I don't really mind. In a battle like this there are no losers.
Hendricks landed huge shots but Carlos ate them and returned fire. He punished Hendricks off his back, and landed some hard leather of his own. I think everybody was of the same mind, in that a five-round fight would have not only been manna from heaven, but probably Condit's to win.
Although Condit won the exchanges, MMA judging being what it is (Nick Diaz spoke to this in the press conference), the takedowns won the fight. So Hendricks will get his shot against Safe Pierre.
Winner: This is a really intriguing fight. I don't think GSP has ever been as vulnerable as he is now, and I can't see him surviving Hendricks' power left for all five rounds. I think his best hope is to wear Johnny down, which we saw happening in the third against Condit.
* * *
Welterweight Championship : Georges St-Pierre (C) versus Nick Diaz (C-)
Prediction: GSP via hold and grab
Result: GSP via hold and grab
Look, I know people aren't going to see eye to eye with me on this. Those who hate Diaz have made up their minds about him. Those who love him will probably agree. But here's the thing. I think Nick Diaz is a traditional, Gracie jiu-jitsu fighter. He doesn't play the game. Never has, and probably never will. Yeah, he's lost six of 13 fights in the UFC. All by decision.
Let's go back in time, shall we? The reason the UFC was started by the Gracie clan was to prove that BJJ could compete with the other martial art disciplines and even help a smaller fighter win. The original concept was no holds barred, no time limits. I believe that's the sort of fight league that a Nick Diaz would be champion in.
Georges St-Pierre is a grand master of the "game" that is the unified and modern rules of mixed martial arts. Wrestling and control wins. Rounds win points. Points add up to victory. That works for GSP, as dull and boring as it is. It doesn't work for Nick Diaz.
The reason MMA was converted into a "game" is simple. Television and even pay-per-view wouldn't be able to control a no time limits match in every fight. When Ken Shamrock lay in Royce Gracie's love nest for 36 minutes without any action whatsoever, something had to be done. Time controls were brought in, scoring awarded.
Did GSP beat Nick Diaz last night according to the "game" of MMA? Yeah. Did he beat him up in a fight? That's very debatable. The fact there's five rounds in a fight is merely one of the arbitrary rules implented in the game of MMA. But the fight was not over. Diaz wasn't defeated. If anything, GSP looked to be fading badly. His shots were being stuffed, he looked tired, his face was puffing up, and Diaz was just getting warmed up.
When Diaz attended the press conference, he said as much. The five rounds was a "wake up" and he was ready to fight. Say what you will about Nick Diaz, but the reason he hates the "game" of MMA is that he doesn't feel like he loses fights. He feels like he loses the game.
Diaz "lost" to Carlos Condit, but if you watched Johnny Hendricks battle it out with Condit last night, you know Diaz walked through the best Condit had to offer without so much as batting an eyelid. Diaz took some damage from GSP last night, but that's his game. He took the best punches GSP had to offer-punches that have dropped other fighters-and kept coming like nothing had happend.
He also landed some leather on GSP. After the first two rounds, Diaz began working his game a bit and landed some stiff jabs and body shots. Anyone who actually watched the fight will have to admit their surprise when Diaz began stuffing takedowns, muscling GSP against the fence, and working knees. I certainly was.
To be honest, I expected this to be Bendo versus Diaz II. It wasn't. Anybody who says it was is ridiculous. The news headlines read things like "dominant" and "masterful." Really, mainstream media? Dominant? What did Georges St-Pierre really do to Nick Diaz? He held him and controlled him. He landed some jabs and "superman punches." He won the game of MMA. But he didn't give a masterful performance, nor did he give Diaz any kind of beating.
The sad thing is that GSP was the same safe, boring fighter we've come to expect. He used his wrestling to control the fight, watched the clock constantly, and was aiming to win a decision. He had no intention of giving Diaz his much-promised "worst beating" or finishing him. None whatsoever.
At this point, I think GSP is vulnerable to a fighter who can stop his clutch and grab and land some heavy shots on the feet. It could be Johnny Hendricks, or it could be somebody else still coming up, like Rory MacDonald. But the reign of GSP is almost over. Last night was a certain account of that.