Well, another UFC event is in the books and we learned a number of valuable lessons. First, fanboyism is alive and well, but really shouldn't be. The #rallyformarkhunt team just got the proverbial curb stomp last night in a mismatch that I think we all expected.
Next, the refs really don't to have any criteria whatsoever for stopping a fight. A dude getting decapitated is allowed to go on (and somehow get the judges' nod, more on that later) but another guy getting to his knees is quickly called out. It's almost as though it depends whether the ref is in a good position to stop it or whether he's off somewhere fantasizing about how he shouldn't have smoked so much hash in high school.
And last, MMA judging is so fucking broken that it makes the Skagit River Bridge look like the Golden Gate. It's so fucking busted that it makes Moore, Oklahoma look like a cover shot for Home and Garden magazine. It's so absolutely clusterfucked that it makes you want to help OJ Simpson find the real killer.
Card's report card: None of the fights were a candidate for Fight of the Year, but this was pretty solid. Two heavyweight fights, some great undercard fights. I'd have to be an idiot to give it anything less than an A.
My predictions: 8 for 12. I'm almost certain everybody got fucked on the Rick Story fight. Otherwise, a relatively predictable event.
Fight of the Night: Mark Hunt versus Junior dos Santos
Knockout of the Night: Junior dos Santos
Submission of the Night: Glover Teixeira
Biggest Upset: George Roop
Worst judge's decision: Rick Story versus Mike Pyle. Worst decision I've ever seen.
Most boring fight: Stephen Thompson versus Nah-Shon Burrell
Beatdown of the night: Jeremy Stephens versus Estevan Payan
[DISCLAIMER NOTE - All UFC images in this post were sourced from Facebook.com/UFC and are the intellectual property of Zuffa LLC]
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Featherweight : Jeremy Stephens (B+) versus Estevan Payan (D)
Prediction: Stephens via KO1
Result: Stephens via decision
The Red Cross should have standing by for this one because Stephens spilled enough of Payan's blood on the mat to donate to a small village in Kenya. Stephens demonstrated that he should have dropped to this weight class years ago with a dominant win over Strikeforce fighter Estevan Payan, who gamely braved three rounds of a bloodbath.
Stephens' right hand was money all night, and he used his wrestling to supplement it. At last, a well-rounded fighter who doesn't just fall in love with his hands. This was fully a beatdown and only Payan's toughness kept it from being stopped.
Having said that, it was clear early on that Payan went into a defensive when he got cut. Some guys get hyped up when they get cut, like Carlos Condit. And some guys wilt and try to survive, like Estevan Payan. He was never able to mount much offense after Stephens put a second mouth on his forehead.
Winner: It's great that Jeremy Stephens didn't pull a Joe Stevenson and lose after dropping to featherweight, but he did fight a relative nobody and newcomer to the UFC. He should be tested against a mainstay like Rani Yahya.
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This win for Roop cannot be overhyped. Knocking off the former WEC bantamweight champion is a huge feat, even if he hasn't fought in almost two years. George Roop is one of those fighters who, like Matt Brown, has a horrible MMA record and is expected to lose in every fight, yet finds ways to win against all those expectations. Gee, and all he had to do was fight midgets to make it happen.
Roop used a ridiculous size and reach advantage to smash Bowles for most of the first round. It looked like it was going to be a blowout until Bowles caught Roop and seemed to knock him out. Roop was completely lost for a second until Bowles jumped on him and woke him up trying to choke the life out of him. When that didn't work he secured a mount and rained down punishment on him until the horn sounded.
The second round was exactly like the first, except this time it was Bowles getting caught. Instead of pouncing on him, Roop used his reach advantage to punish Bowles, who lunged forward to grab a leg before turtling up. Herb Dean gave Bowles about one second of warning and then jumped in prematurely, as he is wont to do these days. Fight over.
Winner: Roop has a two fight win streak and that's a big mistake if you want to get into the shark tank with the top 135ers. I'm sure Bryan Caraway would be more than happy to welcome him.
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Welterweight : Stephen Thompson (F) versus Nah-Shon Burrell (F)
Prediction: Burrell via decision
Result: Thompson via decision
I'm not sure who was the shittier fight in this one: Burrell, who waded through kicks and punches so he could uselessly clinch and fail to get a takedown, or Thompson, who used fancy kicks that had all the power of a bitch slap.
Burrell didn't seem to have any strategy in this one except step forward, block head kicks, and land an overhand right. It was as painful to watch as Thompson's equally awful gameplan of running backward so he could kick at range with his useless, awful kicks. Any wrestler of any calibre whatsoever would have a field day with Thompson's defense.
As for his grappling, he might just be the worst to ever enter the octagon. As Joe Rogan pointed out, when he got Burrell in the mount after what can only be described as the single worst takedown attempt I've ever seen, Burrell merely turned over and stood up with Thompson on his back. From mount to standing up was about two seconds.
Winner: Wonderboy beat Dan "Hot Garbage" Stittgen to get into the UFC. Now he's contending for the Hot Garbage title himself. Give him whoever is the worst fighter at 170 and see who gets cut. Wonderboy can be the 170-pound gatekeeper for getting cut. Needless to say, Burrell should be gone after that one.
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What's the best way to reward a young, exciting fighter who enters the UFC 16-0 and promptly smashes the first three guys you put in front of him? For Zuffa, it's handing him Abel Trujillo, a dude who isn't 16-0 and hasn't beaten anybody of note other than a guy who got submitted by Cody fucking McKenzie.
Khabib absolutely took it to Trujillo with "Dagestan wrestling,"ragdolling the kid around the mat like he was fighting with a fucking child. And how did Trujillo respond to this complete domination? Between the second and third rounds he turned to his cornermen and with a look of defeat in his eyes said, "He's really strong on top."
No fucking shit. Khabib wrecked that rabbit. This was about as one-sided as a match gets without damage being done. That may be the lone downside to the performance. Khabib was so focused on ragdolling Trujillo he often seemed to forget the purpose of the fight was to finish it.
Winner: I don't imagine the UFC will be in a hurry to reward a guy who came in overweight and pushed his opponent in the weigh-ins. But honestly, the kid has faced zero hardship since entering the UFC. He needs a fight that will test him. The logical choice is Rafael dos Anjos, although I think that would be an easy one. Donald Cerrone seems to be the 155 title shot gatekeeper.
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Welterweight : Robert Whittaker (C-) versus Colton Smith (F)
Prediction: Smith via decision
Result: Whittaker via TKO3
Whatever the fuck Robert Whittaker was doing with his hands last night did not seem to make much sense. The sloppy standup "King Mo" style got him dropped in the first, and tagged by a guy whose standup is slightly better than Jimmy Quitter Quitlan.
Some people praised Whittaker's style, as though getting punched in the face was somehow better than the threat of a takedown that never once emerged, nor was even reasonably close to happening. Sure, it seemed to make sense for the first two minutes, until everybody with eyesight and sentience could see Smith wasn't going to get Whittaker down. Not then, not ever.
Whittaker did his best when he attacked Smith with his superior striking, pushing the wrestler back and making him stumble into the fence. He was at his worst (and looked it) when he stood there, doing nothing, staring at Smith circling around the outside, one arm hanging limply like it was broken, the other cocked like he thought he was Dan Henderson.
Just because a person succeeds using a flawed technique does not mean the technique was the reason for success.
Winner: Let's see him again Ryan Laflare, who beat his Australian TUF buddy, Ben Alloway.
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Some guys just have a horseshoe up their ass when it comes to judging. One such kid is Dennis Bermudez, who has won over the judges in fights he was losing in two consecutive matches by winning the third round. Bermudez, who lost the first two rounds to Matt Grice, was nevertheless given the nod by the judges in a slobberknocker fight of the night at UFC 157. Last night, he easily dropped the first two rounds to Max Holloway, but still walked away with the win after a dominate third round.
What's confusing is that the first two rounds weren't really even close, with Holloway outstriking and stuffing Bermudez each time. So, somehow, somewhere, two judges found a reason to hand one of the first two rounds to Bermudez. Which is just really messed up. Because if it was the single takedown, then that's going to make explaining the Story-Pyle fight even tougher.
The reason I'm not completely unhappy with the robbery is that personally I think the last round is the most important. Since a fight is linear, then it makes sense the third is the most important. In ice hockey, for instance, you could interchange any period and it wouldn't matter. The final score is the final score. But in fighting, the damage is cumulative as cardio fades and the stronger will is imposed on the weak. There's no question that Holloway was saved by time limits.
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Welterweight : Mike Pyle (B-) versus Rick Story (C)
Prediction: Story via decision
Result: Pyle via robbery
When the judges called out the name of Carlos Condit after running away from Nick Diaz for five rounds at UFC 143, I thought that was a new low in MMA judging and the worst decision I'd ever witnessed. Turns out I just had to wait a year.
Rick Story was absolutely and utterly robbed in this fight, with a decision that can only be described as absurd. If the first round of that fight was not a 10-8 round, then those scores simply don't exist. Story beat the absolute dog fuck out of Pyle for most of the first before landing what looked to be a brutal KO against the cage.
When Mazzagatti didn't jump in to save Pyle from brain damage, I was confused. I literally couldn't believe Pyle was still conscious, let alone fighting back. It was a clear 10-8. The second round was basically a resting round for Story, who may have punched himself out. He rode top control the whole time, while avoiding some slick submissions from Pyle. I gave it grudgingly to Story.
The third round really told the difference here, as Pyle turned it up a bit and Story faded. I thought Pyle's fight IQ was pretty poor still, since he kept trying to get the Muay Thai clinch instead of just knocking Story out, which didn't look like it would have been too difficult by the third. 10-9 Pyle and a final score of 29-27.
There's no possible way the judges could arrive at a 29-28 decision for Pyle unless a confluence of impossible events happened: 1. The first round was scored 10-9 Story. Which is fucking stupid. 2. The second round was given to Pyle. Which is cute, but implausible. 3. The judges were taking bribes from Vegas bookies.
Winner: How the fuck should I know who the winner of the worst robbery in MMA history should fight next? Ask Mike Bohn.
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Lightweight : KJ Noons (C) versus Donald Cerrone (B)
Prediction: Cerrone via decision
Result: Cerrone via decision
KJ Noons doesn't suck. He just doesn't have any tools to win in modern MMA. The guy is a decent kickboxer. That's about it. Cerrone lit him up all night long, as was expected, and rode to an easy decision. It was actually surprising how boring this fight was, given how it was being touted as the fight to watch.
Noons made a name for himself by fighting fellow one-dimensional fighter Nick Diaz at Elite XC and Strikeforce. But since then he's lost to a slew of fighters with a more diverse striking arsenal or well-rounded game: Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson, Ryan Couture, and now Donald Cerrone. He hasn't won a fight by stoppage since Strikeforce gave him the talentless Jorge Gurgel back in 2010.
Honestly, I'm not sure what the UFC should do with Noons. He's a ridiculously tough fighter, but has no future at 155 whatsoever. He's pretty fit already, but I think he could make 145. That's if he wants to. Otherwise, I don't see the point of him continuing to get beat up by mid-tier 155ers.
Winner: I like Jorge Masvidal. Cerrone has yo-yoed between winning and losing against the elite at 155. It would be better to put together a string of wins against guys vying for the top.
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Lightweight : TJ Grant (A+) versus Gray Maynard (F)
Prediction: Grant via decision
Result: Grant via TKO1
Boy did everybody sleep on Grant. Not only did he beat Gray Maynard, he put him down in just over two minutes. Not that I was completely shocked. I knew that Gray's chin has been overrated for a while, especially after getting knocked out by pillow fisted Frankie Edgar.
Maynard also has a history of falling in love with his hands instead of using his grappling. He demonstrated it against Clay Guida, almost losing a close decision to the guy. He showed it against Nate Diaz. He showed it against Edgar. When a guy becomes that one dimensional, there's not much else to worry about.
As for Grant, what more can be said about the guy? He dropped down from 170, focused on his striking and it has paid off big time. Benson Henderson is not going to be able to run around for five rounds against this guy without getting his chin tested in a serious way.
Winner: Benson Henderson. Book it.
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Light Heavyweight : Glover Teixeira (A) versus James Te-Huna (C-)
Prediction: Teixeira via SUB1
Result: Teixeira via SUB1
People were really disappointed these guys didn't stand and bang, but if you've been paying attention since Glover Teixeira entered the UFC, you weren't at all surprised. My prediction:
Two guys who hit as hard as this won't be standing for very long. Basically, the two are going to trade, Glover is going to throw Te-Huna on his back, lay some lethal ground and pound, and soak up an arm triangle choke.
Te-Huna was so worried about the knees that he never even saw the guillotine coming. He should have known better than to clinch with Teixeira for even an instant. The guy is vicious wherever the fight goes.
Winner: I don't see any point delaying the inevitable. Jon Jones is the only fight that makes sense. And I think Teixeira wins it. If he absolutely can't wait, I'd like to see him against Lyoto Machida. Although I don't know how it works with the Brazilians and fighting each other.
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Heavyweight : Junior dos Santos (A) versus Mark Hunt (C+)
Prediction: JDS via TKO2
Result: JDS via KO3
Mark Hunt actually did better than I expected, and I chalk this up to Junior showing him respect and distance. It was clear he wanted no part of Hunt's power and a miracle KO. It was also clear that a miracle KO was the only way Hunt was going to win. He was too short, too stubby, and too slow.
I think that if Mark Hunt really wanted to win he should have pushed himself more in the first round while Junior was circling and waiting. The more time that went on the more confident Junior got, until he finally realized that he was the better striker out there and began unloading in earnest.
Winner: I don't want to see the Velasquez trilogy so soon, especially with no other contenders on the horizon. What are they going to do, keep fighting each other for rematches? No, Junior can fight Daniel Cormier, and if Cain really needs somebody they can always feed him Josh Barnett. If Cormier wins, it'll force the guy to make a fucking decision.
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All those wolf tickets for a minute and 21 seconds. Sometimes when matches are made the fans grumble but they still want to see what happens. Other times it's just a complete waste of money. That was the case with Jon Jones versus Chael Sonnen. It was the case last night.
Antonio Silva got absolutely savaged in his first fight with Velasquez and people expected more of the same here. What they got was much less. Silva basically got dropped in the first real exchange they had, and finished easily. It wasn't even a question of what was going to happen.
Winner: The fact it was such a mismatch makes me comfortable saying we should postpone the Junior versus Cain III fight and feed some other guy to Velasquez. The fact Antonio Silva and Frank Mir have fought for the title makes me believe if worst comes to worst they can find some justification for a Josh Barnett or a Fabricio Werdum.