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UFC Monterrey: 'Magny vs. Gastelum,' The Report Card

You know those times when your friends text you to come out and drink some beers but you're basically already elbow deep in Netflix and chill eat the fridge? And you think to yourself, nah, I don't want to put pants on tonight. I'm going to sit here and wallow in my own filth and hope for the best.

After you wake up in a pool of pillow drool in the morning, you log onto Facebook the next day and see what a great time those bastard friends of yours had and feel like a total putz. And with every click through the Facebook images your rage grows and grows, and builds and builds inside, until you slam the laptop shut in a fit of self-loathing and envy.

You know that feeling? You know what I'm talking about, right?

Of course you do. Which is why that feeling was so familiar while watching UFC Fight Night 78 last night (Sat., Nov. 21, 2015) in Monterrey, Mexico.

Because while you were staying home watching the most amateurish, dull mixed martial arts (MMA) show the UFC has hosted in many a moon, the rest of the free world was out getting shit-faced and having fun.

Yes, folks, UFC Monterrey was el terrible, a marathon six-plus hours of watered down entertainment masquerading as fighting. If I had to describe last night's viewing in one word it would be "sucked." And if I were allowed to add a second word, I would be heavily tempted to volunteer the word "balls."

Of the 13 fights on the card, nine required the breathtakingly incompetent opinions of the cageside judges, including a nearly unprecedented streak of eight decisions in a row to close out this travesty of a card. There have probably been cards with more decisions but it would hardly matter. Garbage by any other name would smell as pungent.

There are six fights to analyze on the main card, so let's get started, shall we? Who got top marks and who failed so miserably they deserve expulsion from the school of hard knocks? Let's delve into the report card below:

Is it weird that I was both deeply impressed and disappointed in the work of Kelvin Gastelum last night? I mean, at the same time? Isn't that contradictory? Well, I suppose so, but I can't help but admit both statements are true. Gastelum was pretty much dominated for the better part of 15 minutes to start the fight, looking slower and weaker than his opponent, Neil Magny, who took the fight on just over two weeks notice.

But I was also really surprised and quite pleased with how Gastelum responded to adversity. A beefy middleweight with a history of weight cutting problems and cardio issues had been battered for three rounds and it seemed only logical that he was going to fade and get finished in the latter rounds. Such was not the case. Gastelum dug deep and not only outworked Magny, he fairly earned a draw on my scorecards.

Watch Magny vs. Gastelum highlights here

Before we get into the scorecards, let's make one thing perfectly clear. It doesn't matter what the judges decided. The judges are degenerate reprobates with the sort of reliability you'd expect from a Soviet-made commuter vehicle. We don't and we shouldn't give any fucks what they say or think. Having said that, it's pretty clear what the score was:

If he wasn't already busy being lightweight champion of the goddamn world he could easily fill in for the hyper hypos handing out scorecards. But honestly at this point a manatee pushing random floating balls around a pool would be equal to the task of what amounts to UFC judging these days.

As for Neil Magny, the man looked incredible for a fighter on short notice. Although he was nearly stopped in the fourth round and did lose the fifth as well, his late fade does not erase what would have been a clear drubbing in a normal three round fight. He showed superior striking, movement and wrestling early on, which is shocking considering how strong Gastelum is known to be.

If Magny can ever get a full camp under his belt he may very well be worthy of the top 10 ranking he so clearly desires.

Nobody has ever doubted the heart of Diego Sanchez. If you could take his will and combine it with Uriah Hall's power, blend it with Georges St-Pierre's wrestling, and sprinkle in Dominick Cruz's intellect, you might just create a superhuman capable of curing cancer. Ok, maybe not, but the point stands. I can't think of any fighter able to consistently compete against the world's most elite fighters without possessing any of the skills required to be there in the first place.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing Diego. Dude was my frigging avatar on Mania for two years. I love everything about his warrior spirit and his unfailing belief in himself. But he simply doesn't have the tools in the box to get the job done. He amounts to a mixed martial artist who uses no martial arts when he fights.

Watch Lamas vs. Sanchez highlights here

And again, that's not an insult either. He possesses skills, he just doesn't seem to want to use them. While Ricardo Lamas was throwing a diverse arsenal of outside leg kicks, inside leg kicks, head kicks, jabs, hooks, single legs, double legs, you had Diego Sanchez in his trademark flat-footed stance, biting down on his mouthpiece and waving in his opponent. Unbridled aggression may have worked in 2006 when the nuances of the sport were still being tried and tested, but it doesn't work today.

Sanchez says he's inspired by Conor McGregor but if the Irish loudmouth fought like Diego he'd lose every time. You don't see McGregor come out and stand flat-footed and wave in his opponents. No, he goes out, dances around, throws some spinning shit, and beats the piss out of whoever is stupid enough to be between him and Jose Aldo's belt.

As for Lamas, he fought a perfect fight to beat Sanchez. He stayed at range and used his speed advantage to leap in and out with strikes. He also used Sanchez's terrible stance to land devastating inside leg kicks that essentially crippled "The Dream" and took away any opportunity of retaliation. Essentially he rendered Sanchez a sitting duck and Lamas happily unloaded the buckshot.

I don't want to see Sanchez fight any more top ranked opponents. Let him continue to appear on cards, but give him the absolute scrubs of the division. Let Diego celebrate once or twice before he retires. But I really don't need to see him get schooled again by a contender. I watched that film in 2009, starring B.J. Penn, and I don't need to see yet another re-run.

When UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson was watching this fight cageside he must have been laughing to himself. After all, the participants in this title eliminator looked so utterly mediocre that I'm not sure either would survive the obligatory 25 minutes required of a flyweight title fight.

After what amounted to little more than a pillow fight out there, Henry Cejudo was handed a split decision victory and the opportunity to call out Johnson. When he didn't do so, he was asked point blank if he deserves a title shot. His answer: "I do believe I'm the next in line to get the shot. I mean, who else is next?"

If you believed you were the champion of the world in your weight class and somebody asked you if you wanted a chance to prove it, would you say "who else is next?" Or would you scream, "Demetrious you better go get your fucking shine box and shine that belt because I want it to look good around my waist!"

Ok, maybe a little too much Joe Pesci meets Conor McGregor-ish, but it would honestly be better than basically saying, "yeah, sure, I'll, like, fight Demetrious, if, you know, nobody else is, uh, wants to, you know, do it."

His answer was actually as dull as his fight though, so maybe it was appropriate. We keep hearing about how elite this Olympic wrestler is, but he chose to bounce around and land one punch at a time, clinch with Formiga and then trade knees. If he shows up to a title fight with that strategy he's going to meet Ronda Rousey's post-fight doctor.

As for Formiga, he did the best job he could with the tools he had. A Jiu-Jitsu guy with relatively mediocre striking, Formiga knew he'd have no chance getting the fight into his world on the ground, so he was forced to more or less stand and trade with Cejudo. Given the chance he was given coming into the fight, I'd say a split decision was a good outcome.

Honestly? Neither fighter belong anywhere near a UFC fight card. They're both terrible. They fought a terrible fight, demonstrated terrible fighting skills, and showed nothing worth seeing again. If anything, they demonstrated only that The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show should be dragged behind a barn in Fargo and fed into a fucking woodchipper once and for all.

It might be one thing if TUF were a development league where the show involved people in their late teens or very early twenties. But Enrique Martin is pushing 30 and Erick Montano has already put 30 candles on his birthday cake. These guys are going nowhere in the UFC. Ever. Not now, not in the future. Never. So why are we wasting our time watching this trash in 2015?

It was one thing in 2005 when there were talented fighters who hadn't yet stepped inside the Octagon and could be developed using world class trainers and coaches. The talent they mined from the first season of TUF was extraordinary, with nearly each fighter becoming a legacy of the company's history and lore. Case in point, Diego Sanchez in the co-main event, who despite being well past his best-before date can still bang with the third best featherweight on the planet.

If you stuck either one of these jokes in with the third best anybody in any division, you would need a coroner cageside and somebody to notify the next of kin. These guys fighting for the title of best welterweight? Cathal Pendred would bury these guys.

As for the fight? What can I say? Sloppy, slow, awkward, amateur, apathetic fighting. Marin surrendered a takedown with 21 seconds left when he had six figures on the line. The only thing you do with a choker like that is send him back to Spain before he turns purple and passes out.

It hard to put into words the abject failure that was Horacio Gutierrez's performance. It's even worse when you consider that he was the betting favorite. Despite all the talk about his fearsome striking, none of that was on display Saturday night, as he surrendered takedown after takedown to the Peruvian Enrique Barzola.

Speaking of which, do we really need another blanket in the UFC? I mean, we know grappling is part of the game but if you're going to batter somebody on the ground at least finish him. Perhaps it's the eight decisions in the row talking, the rank amateur MMA on display, or merely the late hour of this writing, but there was little to get excited about while watching Barzola.

I know I'm supposed to offer some kind of profound analysis about this fight but if I'm being honest it's hard to dissect what went wrong when you've got a takedown artist and a guy with the takedown defence of a jenga tower.

It's interesting that Efrain Escudero was booked for this card, not just because of his heritage, but he's more or less the first TUF winner to really fail in every conceivable way to live up to expectations. After winning TUF 8, Escudero was 11-0 and a rising star in the lightweight division. And then he went on a 2-2 run, including a fight where he missed weight, and was cut.

Escudero came back in 2011 and 2012 only to lose both fights. He also lost in his third return to the UFC, putting his record with the company at a dismal 2-5. But thanks to the globalization of the UFC they brought him back again and he managed to string together a couple of wins against fighters who are also in dubious standing with pro MMA.

That winning streak crashed once again as he took on the enigmatic Leandro Silva last night to kick off the main Fox Sports 1 card. I say enigmatic because Silva is 19-2 but fights like a guy who doesn't seem terribly concerned about winning.

This fight was a fairly back and forth affair, with both guys trading the advantage through the first two rounds. But as Escudero has been wont to do throughout his career, he choked in the crunch and gave up the third round to Silva in the form of takedowns.

Escudero is a lasting legacy of all that is mediocre about the TUF show. For every Forrest Griffin, world champion, there are dozens of Escuderos. Well, maybe not dozens. But the longer the show has gone on, the more winners of no consequence it has produced.

It's true that TUF has found some diamonds in the rough. After all, Neil Magny basically flunked out of TUF 16 and has shaped up to be one of the best prospects that show has ever delivered, while Kelvin Gastelum was little more than a pudgy unknown on TUF 17 before ripping through all the middleweights on the show.

But the company really needs to learn to let go of the fighters who despite being given second, third, fourth, or more chances, continue to fail to make the grade.

Quick Hits From The Undercard

  • Although this was yet another decision, Erik Perez (B+) performed very well in not only coming back and winning after a huge layoff but doing it after losing the first round. Taylor Lapilus (B-) is a decent prospect but needs to work on his cardio and his intensity.
  • Bartosz Fabiński (F) may have just laid and prayed his way out of a job against Héctor Urbina (F). I don't care how good your grappling is, nobody wants to watch that shit.
  • It looks like Scott Jorgensen (C) just can't catch a break, falling to an injury against Alejandro Pérez (B) in a fight that should have been stopped after the first round. A shame that his coaches refused to save their fighter from an obvious injury
  • Andre Fili (A) looked quite devastating in finishing off Gabriel Benitez (C), who I thought looked great until he got caught by Fili.
  • Alvaro Herrera (B) benefitted from a very early stoppage but Vernon Ramos (F) was bound to get knocked out with such a terrible leaping, defenseless tactic of fighting. Why was he the favorite again?
  • Polo Reyes (A) looked great in his fight, rocking Cesar Arzamendia (C+) several times before finally shutting the lights off emphatically. Arzamendia was doing very well with takedowns until he got caught, however Reyes clearly had a power advantage from the outset.
  • Michel Prazeres (C) benefitted from the incompetent judges in a clear win for Valmir Lázaro (B-). However neither fighter really demonstrated anything that would indicate fans are excited to see them again any time soon.

That's a wrap! We are quickly closing in on the insane month of December. Next weekend it's UFC Seoul. Who's excited to get up at 4:30 a.m.? Me! Me! Me!

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