While their ages may have been similar, the Octagon experience between middleweights Ed Herman and Clifford Starks was separated by a great chasm last night (February 4, 2012) in the opening bout of the UFC 143 main card.
The wrestler Starks surprised many analysts by showing up and not just holding his own, but actually getting the better of "Short Fuse" in the striking department for much of the first round in just his second UFC fight.
Unfortunately for him, now 12-fight UFC veteran Ed Herman capitalized on one of the Arizona State alumni's weaknesses, scoring a submission victory early in the second stanza to increase his winning streak to three.
So what turned things around for Herman? And what's next for both fighters?
Follow me after the jump for our Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks UFC 143 post-fight review and analysis:
Clifford Starks surprised pundits and fans by coming strong out of the gate and not just standing and trading with Herman, but actually landing some really nice shots. The Arizona Combat Sports fighter had a terrific straight right hand going, as it found a home repeatedly in the first frame, even wobbling Herman a bit at times.
In fact, the right hand caused some serious swelling on the entire left side of "Short Fuse's" face, and he was reportedly a mess at the post-fight press conference. Both men exchanged clinch attacks as well, but it was Starks who was the aggressor early.
Herman, with his face beginning to balloon, took the initiative in the second round. Having had 11 prior submission victories, the Trials MMA fighter caught Starks off guard. With his back against the fence, Herman snuck a leg behind Starks' leg and secured a beautiful trip takedown early just over one minute into the round. Starks appeared to be a fish out of the water once on his back and Herman didn't waste any time, quickly passing to mount within seconds and locking in both hooks when the wrestler gave up his back.
After Herman began hunting for the choke, it was only a matter of time before he found an opening to slide his forearm under Starks' jawline and forced the tap.
For Clifford Starks, he has nothing to be ashamed of. This was his second fight in the UFC and he was taking on one of the most experienced middleweights in the promotion. He should keep his head high because not only did he hold his own, he actually won the first round on my scorecard. His big weakness is his ability to remain composed once put on his back, but that's something he can work on and it's not likely he's going to find himself there often.
Hopefully the UFC gives him someone with less experience for him to continue to grow and develop his skills as he definitely showed promise here. I'd like to see him step in against someone along the lines of Nick Ring, Dongi Yang or fellow UFC 143 loser Michael Kuiper.
For Ed Herman, this was a strong showing, but he also has to have some causes for concern. His ground game was as good as ever, but his striking was a bit sloppy and his defense against the right hand was atrocious. He repeatedly kept his left hand low and Starks was able to come over the top. Maybe if he'd been hit with it a couple times, it would be acceptable, but he got blasted at least six or seven times. That's something he needs to work on because if he faces someone with big power who won't let him take the fight to the ground, that's a major liability.
After three straight wins, it's time for Herman to get another shot at some of the stronger fighters in the division. A bout against the winner of Court McGee vs. Constantinos Philippou would be interesting, as would the winner of Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami. It's unlikely, but depending if they want to continue to develop him at a slower pace, Chris Weidman would be an interesting match-up as well. Either way, the "Short Fuse" wave of momentum continues to surge.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was the final result what you expected with the massive experience gap? Were you impressed by Starks' striking early? Who would you pit Herman against next after three straight wins?
For complete UFC 143 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.