I'm not going to mince words here. If you didn't get up in the early morning to watch fighters you don't know or care much about you didn't really miss anything.
UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday (Sat., Nov. 28, 2015) was a forgettable event for anybody except the the most die-hard of Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) fans. And even then you'd probably be better off waiting for a Deep or a OneFC event in that case.
The only genuinely good thing about this exclusively Fight Pass broadcast was the pacing. They cruised through all 12 fights in five hours, which was an unusually efficient way to watch a UFC card.
And in the name of fast pacing, who got top marks and who failed to pass in this week's "Report Card"?
Find out below:
I'm not really sure what the point of this fight really was. To demonstrate that Benson Henderson's Korean genetics are somehow relevant? To prove he belongs at welterweight by fighting a fellow lightweight who also moved up? To show he still finishes all his fights the same way, by five round split decision?
Whatever the reason, as far as fights go this was a "Bendo" classic. Five rounds of back and forth action followed by a dubious decision by the judges. At the end of it all, he laid his gloves on the UFC canvas in some kind of symbolic move to demonstrate he's going to go and play the field.
He also made a veiled reference to Georges St-Pierre. But honestly I would have no interest in watching St-Pierre smother Henderson for five rounds, which is precisely what would happen. I would actually prefer that he would stop this nonsense about welterweight and head back down to 155 pounds where he belongs.
As for Masvidal, he did the best he could on short notice, replacing the injured Thiago Alves. But as I mentioned before, Masvidal has fought most of his career at lightweight and although he did knock out the hulking Cesar Ferreira in his last outing I don't really feel he was the test Henderson needed for this weight class experiment.
Masvidal fought with some of the same style problems that cost him his fight against Al Iaquinta in April. Although he was aggressive, he wasted some effort trying to smile and play psychological games with Henderson like dropping his hands and protesting that strikes weren't hurting him. That kind of crap allowed the aforementioned robbery with Iaquinta to happen.
If Henderson does leave for Bellator MMA and decides to drop back down to lightweight a fight with Will Brooks might be interesting. Especially as Brooks suggested such a fight would be "easy." But although he may make more money in Bellator or elsewhere, everyone knows UFC is the major leagues and whatever accomplishments he makes from here on out will never be recognized in the same light as UFC gold.
I've probably seen more humiliating losses. It's just hard to remember where. Dominic Waters looked like a white belt in his first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lesson yesterday, getting dropped and stopped by Dong Hyun Kim's pitter patter punches in a crucifix he couldn't escape.
To be fair, Masvidal was originally scheduled to take on Kim, which I imagine would have been a good scrap. But when injuries shake up cards already hanging by the skin of their teeth with respect to talent, you end up with the mismatch we saw here. Waters was in no way, shape or form on a level with Kim.
I'm not sure what the gameplan here was but Waters engaged in the clinch early on with Kim, seeking takedowns on a fighter who has more or less made a UFC career grappling. Kim quickly whipped out his fourth degree black belt in Judo and slammed Waters, got into a mounted crucifix and then laid down annoying punches until the referee stopped it more from embarrassment than from damage.
I do have to say one thing though. If three knockdowns in a round isn't a stoppage with Alberto Mina and Yoshihiro Akiyama, then how the fuck do you stop a pitter patter crucifix? Especially since Waters had been bucking and twisting and turning and squirming the whole time? It really makes you scratch your head.
After the fight Kim called out Demian Maia for the rematch. It sounds like it might be a good fight but he's set to face Gunnar Nelson at UFC 194. We'll see how that shakes out first. As for Waters, time to work on that blue belt, buddy.
No, I don't think the judges' decision was bad. And I'll tell you why. First off, I believe the fight ended in round two. For all of the hundreds of early stoppages made by referee Herb Dean (who wasn't reffing), this was three knockdowns in the span of 20 seconds. Akiyama was literally saved by the bell because he was TKOed.
Considering the fact he got dropped three times in a row in 20 seconds, he not only lost the round (it should have been stopped), he loses the round 10-8. If Frankie Edgar gets dropped three times in one round against Gray Maynar and it's a 10-8, then it's no different here. It doesn't matter whether Akiyama had dominated four minutes and 40 seconds of the rest of the round. He was dropped three times.
As for the fight, it was horrible. Mina was outclassed everywhere by Akiyama, who fought an intelligent fight in every regard except for backing straight up when Mina was winging his power punches. It was nothing but the utmost of flukes that Mina wound up in a fight finishing situation in the second round, created mainly by a mental lapse from Akiyama.
In the third round Mina was the walking dead. All Akiyama had to do was pour it on and finish him at any time. He could barely stand up after flopping on his useless ass each time he was about to get knocked out. The referee could easily have stopped that fight in the third after Mina struggled to get back up. In fact, I'd like somebody to go back and watch that and see if he beats the 10 count. Just for fun.
Needless to say, neither fighter belongs in the UFC anymore. Both are slow, old, sloppy, with poor fight IQ and cardio. This might pass muster in some Japanese fight league but it's not worth watching in what is supposed to the be the premier organization for MMA on the planet.
It's hard to impress me. I'm kind of a jerk like that. An armchair warrior who groans and moans and bitches about poor fight quality, but likely wouldn't have the cardio or chin to survive five seconds in a real fight. Which is the reason it was such a pleasure to see a fighter who really made me stand up and take notice yesterday.
Knowledgeable fight fans have known about Doo Ho Choi for years, but as an admitted UFC fanboy he hasn't been on my radar whatsoever. And you can't really blame me. A lot of hyped up Asian prospects come to UFC with inflated fight records only to get hosed in the first round by a guy not even remotely ranked in the Top 50.
I'm looking at you, Yuta Sasaki.
The last time I saw a guy enter UFC with precision strikes and power like this, his name was Conor McGregor. Choi was just absolutely perfect last night, countering the aggressive Sicilia with ease and landing some brutal punches on his notoriously tough chin. This was the kind of performance that makes you really take notice in a fighter and want to see him again soon.
Perhaps the best thing about "The Korean Superboy" is that he already believes he's the best featherweight in the world. Which means he's not going to waste time trying to fight his way up the ranks. He's calling out the world's best just two fights into UFC, and based on his performance yesterday, I think he'd do alright against them.
If one thing worries me, it's that UFC has begun creating these ethnic enclaves for certain fighters on their roster, only dragging them out when they need a specific passport color on fight night. Choi should definitely not be left to languish in Asia until the fight promotion decides to make us wake up at 4 a.m. again. I want him in Las Vegas soon-ish.
Quick Hits From The Undercard
- Dongi Yang (A) made a nice return to UFC and seems to have added some power to his strikes in dispatching Jake Collier (C-) who I feel made a huge mistake not using his reach to point fight from the outside. I believe the American is much better than his showing.
- Honestly? It wasn't even close. Mike de la Torre (A) dominated Yui Chul Nam (C+) in all three rounds with precision counters and flawless takedown defense. Perhaps the judges are impressed by Leonard Garcia striking, but I'm not.
- Tae Hyun Bang (B-) had no business winning this fight after coming out from his corner to start the third round looking like a reanimated corpse. And yet Leo Kuntz (C), who recovered from a near knockout in the first round, seemingly was disinterested in putting him away, dropping the third and the fight by split decision.
- Seo Hee Ham (B+) showed a lot of grit and heart in making a come-from-behind win against Cortney Casey (B) who battered the Korean in the first round. Casey seemed unable to counter the aggression of Ham, who chased her around the cage like a pitbull on a poodle.
- Yao Zhikui (F) is exhibit "A" why you don't post when you're getting slammed. Fredy Serrano (A) was likely going to crush him anyway.
- Marco Beltran (C) has the most impressive array of kicks that never land I've ever seen. I was amazed anyone could throw that many kicks without any of them coming close to hitting the mark. Ning Guangyou (D) seemed to enjoy watching more than he did fighting.
- Sometimes UFC calls up fighters who aren't ready for prime time. Dong Hyun Kim (C-) was just a fighter, who demonstrated some ability early on but quickly tired and by the third round looked dangerously weak. Dominique Steele (B) landed a brutal slam to finish the night and, by all appearances, possibly the career of Kim. I don't think he stood back up for five minutes.
That's a wrap! We'll be back in two weeks to watch two pretty girls smash each other in the face when Paige VanZant takes on Rose Namajunas. See you then.