UFC 171 went down last night and after all is said and done it wasn't entirely satisfying, was it? I mean, the post-GSP era is pretty much the same as the GSP era, Carlos Condit fell to a freakish injury, Hector Lombard took a giant dump of a performance on Jake Shields, and Myles Jury managed to make a Diego Sanchez fight as boring as a chick match.
There were no spectacular finishes, three split decisions, and a shitload of point fighting, meaning UFC 171 gets a "B" on the report cards. It's a little disappointing, because I think people were pretty excited for a Zuffa card for the first time in a while. After all these watered down, TUF China, Fight Pass, filler cards that make MMA Playground seasons about four weeks long, everybody wanted to see some good old slobberknockers. The only knockers we really got a good look at were the ones holding up round signs.
Speaking of which, it's getting a little tiresome when the TV follows Brittney Palmer's ass to her chair, then all three bimbos look at the camera in unison and blow us a kiss. For fuck sakes, can you try something different for once? Just once? I mean, it's bad enough the UFC doesn't change up its stable, but can you try and actually do something unique, like wink or hold a fist to the camera or playfully slap your heiney? Jesus.
Anyway, without further ado, the way I saw UFC 171:
The way Daniel Pineda fought last night you'd never guess he was in front of his hometown fans fighting some pasty-skinned Scotsman who literally wore a dress to the cage. He was slow, lethargic, and seemed to enjoy being on his back more than Crusty Mack.
Whiteford fought a decent, if boring, gameplan by backing Pineda up with kicks, clinching on the cage and getting double underhooks, and then dragging the fight south. For a guy well regarded in the submission game, Pineda didn't seem to understand the concept or importance of not having both arms uselessly floating above his head in the clinch.
Pineda did manage to land a few submissions that looked like they had a chance of finishing, but he either didn't have the technique or the strength to complete them. I'm going with the latter. Pineda looked off, either because he's not talented enough to fight in the big leagues, or he cuts too much weight for 145.
Winner: When matchmaking you generally want to pick a fighter who's also recently fought, is somewhere around the same level on the ladder, and had a similar performance. I think Zubaira Zukhugov fits the bill. He won a decision a month ago in his UFC debut in Brazil. Although Whiteford has two fights under his belt in the UFC, one was a loss, so he's essentially starting from the bottom of the ladder, too.
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If you picked Robert "Bubba" McDaniel to defeat the young undefeated stud in last night's matchup, take your right hand, lean back, and strike yourself as hard across the face as you are able. If you have a shoulder injury and can't accomplish this feat then tell your wife she looks fat in that dress.
Either way, you deserve all that and more for believing that one of the worst fighters to come out of the Ultimate Fighter reality TV series would have a chance against the kid we saw in the cage last night. And that's also kind of the problem, isn't it? We know scrubs like McDaniel because of the show, but we don't always get a look at the undefeated newcomers who get dumped into fight cards out of nowhere by the Zuffa shitpickers.
At any rate, Bubba had next to nothing for Strickland, who fought aggressively for a takedown, and once he got it did not let go until Bubba was looking for an out. When he rolled to his back, Jon's training partner gave up his neck like a new fish dropping the soap, and Strickland obliged with the rear naked finish. Bubba tapped out so quickly that even Bob Sapp was taking notes.
Winner: Strickland looked fucking amazing. Although I know Clint Hester has officially had more fights in the UFC, I like the idea of matching him up with another TUF scrub from the same season. Hester would test the kid's chin much more than Bubba did (which was not at all) while being forced to prove his TDD is legit.
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I know I'm supposed to be impressed with Scoggins' performance, but frankly I wasn't too excited. Other than bouncing around like a hyper hypo, Scoggins' did little to attempt to finish the fight, and often stopped after a flurry on Campuzano as though he knew he won the exchange and wanted to leave that impression in the judge's eyes.
I was hoping Scoggins was a new breed of fighter who want to get exciting finishes, but he's more like the new breed of fighter who thinks winning is more important than any other factor. Don't get me wrong, Campuzano had nothing whatsoever for Scoggins, who is on a level so far beyond the former WEC fighter that it was sort of like watching GSP take on Dan Hardy.
But much like that famous title fight, Scoggins couldn't capitalize when he had the chance. He mixed in his takedowns with great karate strikes, but there was no decapitating blow. When Campuzano was hurt from some ground and pound, Scoggins stopped. When he was lighting him up on the feet, he'd double leg him where Campuzano could recover.
The point to all this criticism is that when you've got a highly touted prospect like Justin Scoggins, he'd better be running through washed up scrubs like Campuzano in a few minutes. The fact he didn't tells me that his next fight could go a lot like the last hype train who ran over Campuzano.
Winner: It's amazing that the Flyweight division is so shallow that a kid can get two wins and be scratching the top 10. Well, let it be. Give him Louis Gaudinot and let's see how real he is.
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Fatfuckweight [156.5]: Francisco Trevino (A-) versus Renee Forte (D)
Prediction: Trevino UD
Result: Trevino UD
Dat loose belly skin. N'yo God! Anyway, it's impressive a guy who was 250 pounds of Mexican burrito a few years ago could lose almost 100 to take on an established UFC fighter like Renee Forte and win. I originally picked Forte to take this one, but after seeing how terrible he looked at the weigh-ins and the fact he refused to cut an extra half pound of water said that this is a fighter near death.
Forte is a former 185-pounder who cut to 170 and then 155 after not being skilled enough to compete in the larger weight classes. Although he looked good against skeletal Terry Etim, he's never really showed that he's got what it takes to compete consistently at a high level. Which is a shame, since I like Forte. But 155 seems to be a cut he can't make comfortably.
Trevino weathered the first round storm, staying calm when Forte took his back, and put it on the Brazilian in the second and third rounds. If Forte had just a little more energy he may have been able to capitalize on the numerous opportunities Trevino was giving him. But you could tell that Forte had about all of the energy of Houston Alexander by the third round and could barely stand up, let alone hold anyone down.
Winner: I don't know why guys compete at 155 pounds. It's so deep that you might as well get fatter or get skinnier because cracking the top 50 is hard enough. Trevino won his fight, but Forte isn't really in that top 50 category. I say give him another TUF scrub like Joe Proctor. See how he handles that one before moving on up.
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I never expected Dominican KO artist Alex Garcia to need takedowns in order to survive a battering from a wrestler. But truth is stranger than fiction. Garcia mixed up takedowns with clinches against the cage as he and Spencer went balls to the wall in a bangfest that was fight of the night.
Spencer caught Garcia early in the fight, only to get lit up on the counters and the two went back and forth like Sodom and Gomorrah for three sweat-spraying rounds. Although Spencer is 2-2 in the UFC, his chin cannot be doubted. He took some of the most ridiculous jaw-shattering shots from Garcia and shot straight back with his own.
I think Firas Zahabi was a little worried at times that this wouldn't reach the judges, so he told Garcia to play it safe during the first minute of the third and final round. Garcia obliged, and it went to the judges, almost costing him the fight. But in the end Zahabi was happy and that's all that really counts.
Winner: There's no logic whatsoever to this but since Hector Lombard was shite in his fight, losing any chance of fighting for the title, I would love to see these two bang. Matchups like that always get my nips perky. Realistically, he's more likely to fight somebody closer to a Sergio Moraes. Stylistically that would be interesting. Moraes has a world class ground game, but could he get a guy like Garcia there?
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Featherweight : Dennis Bermudez (A) versus Jimy Hettes (F)
Prediction: Bermudez via UD
Result: Bermudez via KO3
What happens when you match a one-trick pony against a stallion? You get what happened last night between Bermudez and Hettes. Jimy tried to get inside to clinch with Bermudez by flailing his arms awkwardly and hoping for the best. But experienced veteran Bermudez was having none of it, tossing Hettes around like a ragdoll and hurting him as he did so.
At no point in this fight did it ever seem like Bermudez was in the slightest danger of being hurt. Hettes, meanwhile, spit out his mouthpiece in the second round thanks to a body shot, and barely survived to the third. By the final stanza he was flopping to his back in a desperate bid to keep his insides from upchucking every time Bermudez touched him.
I think this fight proved that you can't compete in the modern UFC by relying on your opponent having one weakness. Because if your lone strength is nullified you are well and truly fucked. See McKenzie, Cody.
Winner: I think Bermudez has been treated with kid gloves long enough. He needs a real test, and I'm not talking about a Diego Brandao rematch. Jeremy Stephens would be the kind of fighter who would really challenge his aggressive style.
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There were a lot of people whinging about Kelvin winning this fight, but I'm not sure why. Kelvin battered Story for 90% of the fight, dominating him pretty much everywhere except for a knockdown and a back take he did nothing with.
Gastelum demonstrated his superiority on the feet early, jabbing Story into respecting him and opening up cuts o his face. Story was a blood soaked mess by the time he landed an extremely late knockdown in the second round. Did Story win the second? Well, if a knockdown nullifies 4:50 of fighting, then I guess so. It didn't look like Kelvin was remotely close to being finished by it.
People are overlooking something important in their criticism of this fight. Kelvin is still very young and inexperienced, but showed huge improvement in this fight in defeating a guy who has hovered near the top of the welterweight division for years. The fact Story knocked him down and still lost isn't really surprising. Mike Pyle did the same thing. Story has power. We know this.
Winner: I think the reason Gastelum didn't do better than he did is the fact he had a bad weight cut. If he can get that under control he should be even more dangerous in the cage. Speaking of Mike Pyle, I'd be interested to see the men who both won controversial decisions over Story to fight.
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Why should fighters let go of a guillotine when the other fighter is already in side control? Jason von Flue demonstrated why in 2006. Unfortunately for gangly Russian fuck La Femme Nikita, that happened six years before he started competing in MMA.
Oh well, live and learn I guess. If he can recover from the embarrassment of being choked out a minute and a half into his much-anticipated 205 pound debut. I say much-anticipated because you'd think a guy who can knock out heavyweights in 25 seconds will stand an even better chance at 205. But in keeping with the bed-shitting tradition of other heavyweights who dropped down and sucked like Brandon Vera, Nikita might want to go back to where guys are slow and one-dimensional.
Meanwhile, OSP has come a long way since being some Strikeforce challengers scrub. A rare submission win gives him his fourth straight win and 12th of the last 13 since opening 3-4 as an MMA fighter. Given his size, athleticism, and experience, I think OSP really has a chance to make it into the top 10 at 205.
Winner: I like Ilir Latifi. You've probably guessed that I like seeing guys who have mutual opponents go up against each other because it offers a benchmark of ability. Gegard Mousasi owns decision wins over both, and one way to see who deserves to move up the standings is to face them against one another.
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Welterweight : Hector Lombard (F) versus Jake Shields (F)
Prediction: Lombard KO1
Result: Lombard UD
Although Hector Lombard dominated Jake Shields with powerful punches and worldclass Judo it's impossible to give him any other grade but abject shit-stained failure. He was competing last night not only to prove he belongs in the elite at 170, but impress Zuffa enough to leapfrog him over other candidates to a title shot. Not going to fucking happen.
After he battered Shields for the first round, Lombard went back into Timmy Boetsch-Yushin Okami braindead fighting mode, and shadowboxed Jake Shields for the rest of the fight for a dull, one-sided decision. When it was clear that Jimy Hettes had nothing for Dennis Bermudez, the latter fighter began to put it on the one-trick pony, earning the finish and a legitimate request for better competition. Lombard did nothing of the sort.
After admitting he played it safe last fight, Lombard GSPed again this fight. He did enough to win the rounds, landing takedowns he did zero with, even in side control, refusing to lift his freakish head above Jake's chest to GnP and risk getting caught in a submission. The fact Lombard took his foot off the gas pedal when he was so utterly superior to anything Shields had to offer was nothing short of disgraceful.
As for Shields, I think he may be done. At his age another setback means he can only play spoiler to other fighters now, holding them down and winning more dull decisions. Zuffa would be wise to cut loose that contract.
Winner: Again, it would be fun to see Alex Garcia bang with him. It's not like he deserves a step up. But I'm guessing if Rory MacDonald gets the nod against Hendricks, we'll likely see Lombard take on Woodley for a contender's eliminator.
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Lightweight : Myles Jury (B-) versus Diego Sanchez (F)
Prediction: Sanchez KO2
Result: Jury UD
It's a sad day in MMA when a guy who runs backwards and avoids any danger whatsoever is praised for his smart game-planning. Look, Jury may have won on the scorecards but he gets a zero from the fans. Nobody wants to watch a fighter disengage for 15 minutes and literally run from conflict. We saw that between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz already, and that abortion will take decades to put out of my mind.
It's true, Diego Sanchez is a warrior and an animal, but his style is from a bygone era. He can't bully guys onto their backs anymore and he doesn't have the striking technique to win a standup affair. Myles Jury played it safe by running backwards and countering. It's the perfect anti-Sanchez strategy, since you know Diego is always going to bite down on his mouthpiece and wade forward.
It's bad enough Jury fought a dull, evasive fight against a legend, but his speech after the fight was even worse. When Nate Diaz defeated Takanori Gomi in short order he pulled the legend back to his feet and said he was a big fan and gave him props. Jury could have done the same thing by praising Sanchez for pioneering MMA and giving him a chance to be on PPV in front of millions of people. Because quite fucking frankly, nobody is going to pay money to watch Myles Jury run from a fight. They're paying to see the Nightmare lose his shit.
But Jury did nothing of the sort. He said the fight was easy, talked about how great he is, and acted like his runaway gameplan was at all something the fans wanted to see. It wasn't. Look, I'm not saying he had to stand there and get knocked out by Sanchez. But there's a difference between evasive fighting and literally circling the cage until the other fighter gives up and stops chasing to make your move.
Winner: I heard a lot of people talk about a Michael Johnson rematch last night. I like Nate Diaz though. And I think it's an easy fight to sell. It wouldn't take much more than a reporter to plant the seed in Nate's mind by asking the question and you know Nate was not impressed by that shit performance last night. Nate Diaz brings a kind of pressure that's like Diego, but without the reckless style. He's extremely dangerous to take down and won't get picked apart by strikes (Donald Cerrone learned that the hard way). It's a real test of whether Jury is legit, or just a potshotting little puke who ran away from a fight to get a rep.
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Welterweight : Tyron Woodley (A) versus Carlos Condit (B-)
Prediction: Woodley UD
Result: Woodley KO2 (injury)
I'm the first one to say that this wasn't a legitimate win. I was one of the first to compare it to Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman II as well. But unlike the pukes who support TheFluke (tm) I will not say that Condit was destined to lose anyway. A lot of so-called fans say that because Silva lost the first and appears to have been losing the second round that he was sure to get knocked out anyway. Those "fans" like to forget the Robbie Lawler versus Melvin Manhoef fight or the Timmy Boetsch versus Yushin Okami fight or the... Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen fight.
An MMA fight is like any other fucking fight. Anything can happen. Anything. Even blown ACLs. But that doesn't mean Tyron Woodley had this thing in the bag anyway. Yes, he won the first round and was winning the second, but I don't think this puts him in title contention. He didn't defeat Condit so much as moved past him by default.
Having said all that, fans didn't give Woodley enough credit going into this fight. They looked at his time in Strikeforce instead of the UFC. They said Condit was going to KO Woodley early and often. It didn't happen. Tyron mixed in takedowns with heavy punches to touch up Condit and keep him guessing. He even mixed up leg kicks, which eventually won him the fight (by fluke). It's time to give Woodley his due. As for Condit, I hope he heals up fast because I think he can defeat any fighter in the UFC on any given night. But he does need to work on that TDD.
Winner: It's hard to make a claim he deserves Hendricks after this fight since it was a win by default. A two-fight win streak isn't very convincing either. I said Hector Lombard earlier, but there's another possibility that's floating around out there. Nick Diaz wants to fight again. The question is whether this 209 drama queen would accept a fight against a guy who will very likely want to take it to the ground.
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Welterweight Championship : Johny Hendricks (B-) versus Robbie Lawler (A)
Prediction: Hendricks UD
Result: Hendricks UD
There's so much to write about this title fight and not much of it looks good for Johny Hendricks. Where was the guy who would charge in like a bull from halfway across the cage to KO Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch? Where was the guy who had movement and speed and huge left hooks? Where was Johny Hendricks last night?
I think maybe he cut that Hendricks out when he was cutting weight, thinking about the last time he lost a fight. Hendricks wanted this win so badly that he changed everything about his style that makes him a fun fighter to watch and became the thing everybody hates the most. A GSP-style gameplanner.
As for Robbie Lawler, the veteran looked huge, powerful, and indomitable. He stood in front of the most powerful striker at 170 (other than himself) for five rounds and smiled demonically as he took the best Hendricks had to offer. In the third round he had Hendricks in all sorts of trouble. But for whatever reason unknown to mankind and the fans who have watched him since he face-planted to Nick Diaz 10 years ago, he didn't go in for the kill.
"Ruthless" had the comeback well at hand, but somehow gave it away in the end. Hendricks recovered from an early set of combinations in the 5th to put Lawler on the ropes. And just when it seemed like we might see a 5th round finish, Johny reached into his inner GSP, broke the momentum, and double legged Lawler to the mat. It was classic "Safe Pierre" and ensured yet another fucking welterweight title match would go the distance.
Although Hendricks got the nod, what's interesting is that his opponents gets all the kudos. It's interesting because it's the same way fans felt last fight when GSP got the win but everybody was impressed with Johny. I seriously hope Robbie Lawler goes back to the drawing board and thinks a little more about what strategies he needs to employ against elite fighters other than relying on a steel chin and a shit-eating grin.
Winner: Rory MacDonald makes the most sense to me for a multitude of reasons. His only losses came against Carlos Condit via controversial stoppage, and a split decision loss to Lawler which really could have just as easily gone to Rory. Don't hate the Canadians. There's nobody else. And besides, we're just killing time until Brandon Thatch returns to the octagon. Nobody is going to stop that guy.