I was all prepared to watch the first UFC card in Manila, Philippines on Saturday morning. I had stayed up until 4 a.m. and was ready to put in my solid eight hours of MMA viewing. Then the judges read the decision of the first fight and I was like, fuck this shit.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, however, I was able to grab some Zs and return in the afternoon to finish the card. And I was more or less happy I did. Not only were there some good fights, the ability to fast forward certain fights (like Gegard Mousasi's GSP impersonation) was a real bonus.
It must be noted that the judges were balls deep on the crack pipe in Manila, fucking up not just one scorecard, but two, and nearly robbing a third guy. If there's one thing that continues to make pro MMA look like a Mickey Mouse synchronized swimming fringe sport, it's the fucking judging.
I got a feeling no two people are going to agree on these grades. Some people thought Urijah Faber did surprisingly well against Frankie Edgar, while others thought he coasted. Some thought Frankie was championship material while others thought he was the same pitter patter decision fighter who bored them when he was the Lightweight Champion.
Me, I'm somewhere betwixt the arguments. I was actually impressed at how well Faber fought. I thought he was going to get dominated and instead he lost each round by a narrow margin. When he was taken down, Edgar could either do nothing with the position or refused to risk any reward by hopping on Faber's back and potentially getting reversed.
And that was part of the problem with this fight. Edgar wasn't really willing to challenge Faber's ground game, choosing a rather safe smothering top style reminiscent of GSP vs Nick Diaz, keeping the body lock for as long as possible before breaking away and striking from range again. As for Faber, it didn't seem likely he could take Edgar down but he didn't really try very often. That left Frankie pretty free to do whatever the fuck he liked. And he obliged all night long.
Frankie's most exciting improvement to his game is his new found ground and pound, but that was almost nowhere to be seen in a fight against a 135er. And that doesn't exactly bode well against the bigger and stronger fighters in a Jose Aldo rematch or a Conor McGregor showdown.
This was another classic Gegard Mousasi "what the fuck" fight. Another check-in-the-mail showdown between a world class fighter and a scrubbed up juice monkey. This is why fight fans have such a fucking hard time being Mousasi fans, too. Because the dude oozes toughness and talent but will only ever do just enough to win.
This fight reminded me a little bit of the Keith Jardine matchup in Strikeforce. Here's a matchup where one guy has absolutely no business whatsoever being in the same cage as Mousasi, but rather than proving that point we were forced to have judges confirm it on a scorecard. Which had to have been completely unnecessary. Mousasi is better than Philippou everywhere.
Speaking of our favourite shit-filled fighter, whatever happened to that amazing takedown defence we saw early in his career? Holy fuck, was leaving the Serra-Longo camp a mistake. And I still can't believe Costas looks like a body builder at this stage in his career. After getting manhandled by the nondescript physique of Mousasi, it should be clear that big muscles don't do shit in MMA.
To recap: This was a fight where Mousasi had his choice of victory and instead spent his time stuck in half guard for 15 minutes. If that was meant to intimidate most of the middleweight division I can assure you that Luke Rockhold and company are not taking anti-anxiety medication over it.
It was nice to see Mark Munoz go out on a dubya, a rarity accomplished by few other fighters like Chris Lytle. However, in order to do so he had to take out freakish giant Luke Barnatt, a man who seems to be in a battle between his own genetic gifts and a fight IQ that could be characterized as "retarded" without being politically incorrect.
Because let's face it, Barnatt is a fucking tard in the cage. A man with a ridonkulous reach advantage, who backs straight up with his chin protruding, unable figure out the concept of landing a punch. I mean, it seems like Barnatt has the whole concept of throwing a punch down. It's the landing the punch that seems to be the issue. Seriously. Go and watch the fight again, and witness the tragedy of a man unable to commit to punching another man in the fucking face.
What Barnatt does well, however, he does very well. He's great in the clinch, has good knees and elbows, serviceable takedown defense. But a 6'6" fighter who cannot throw a punch from range isn't going to last long in the UFC. Especially one outworked by a 37-year-old who had already mentally checked out from pro fighting.
Speaking of, Munoz wowed the fans on Saturday but let's put it all into perspective. He was fed a can ripe for the crushing, and despite the wrestling and powerful punches, it was obvious retirement was the right choice. His speech after the fight was gracious and touching and respectful, reminding us that despite the Jon Jones and Conor McGregors, there are still some class acts in pro MMA.
I read some comments on Mania about people not being imprezzed by the performance of Neil Magny. Dude, what? Put down the pipe. Not only did Magny pass a stiff test in Lim, he fucking destroyed him inside of two rounds. This is a guy who in February of 2013 took John Manley to a decision. Barely two years later he's finishing a power puncher like Lim, who had never been stopped by strikes.
Yeah, but Magny got lucky, says the keyboard warrior. He was on queer street when Lim connected and would have been finished if Lim didn't gas. Actually, Magny didn't get lucky. He got caught, covered up, retreated, regrouped, and then put a vicious asskicking on Lim. He finished the first round in a position where the Korean was literally saved by the bell.
Magny has got to be the most underrated fighter in the UFC. He clearly has one of the most solid work ethics in the promotion and has gone from winning decisions against tough opponents (Alex Garcia, Tim Means) to finishing guys in convincing fashion. It might sound silly to compare him to Jon Jones, but at 170 pounds Magny has similar advantages in reach and grappling, and perhaps most importantly the cardio and the will to succeed at the highest levels in this division. The next fight he has will be the big test.
As for Lim, I don't want to take away from Magny's work, but it looks like cardio is still the big problem for this heavy hitter. It's not enough to be able to land bricks against durable fighters if you can't keep up your pace. He showed similar signs of weariness in his fight against Tarec Saffedeine, despite somehow going five rounds.
Wow, "faintin' Phillipe" finally won a UFC fight, eh? In his ancestral homeland, no less. What a great story, right? Yeah, except he fucking didn't. He got fucking worked and the judges home cooked that score for crowd-pleasing effect.
Nover started out impressively, completely neutralizing Nam against the cage in a first round that was more or less stalemated. Nover certainly won the round on pressure though. Round two looked to be much of the same, but midway through the round Nam began to show signs of being the stronger fighter, reversing the pressure and landing some heavy shots on the feet. The round finished in dominant fashion for the Korean.
The third was all Nam and the easiest to score of the fight, as Nam took Nover down at will, worked an arm triangle choke for a century, and then finished with ground and pound. It was the easiest 29-28 you'd ever have to score. And then the judges did their thing.
My question is, how can I get a job where I can be a fucking moron with impunity and still get paid to come back? Because that sounds like a great gig.
So on Saturday we learned that Levan Makashvili gave up a gig as a street "tough guy" to become an MMA fighter. Shoulda' kept your day job, bra. Makashvili showed me nothing that would indicate he's going to get anything except destroyed the next time he fights a UFC opponent who lives anywhere west of Afghanistan.
Makashvili displayed the killer instinct of a vegetarian at a baby duck abortion eating contest, staring at Eddiva for most of the fight in the hopes his opponent might swoon at the size of his big swinging dick. This lack of giveafuckitude earned Makashvili a split decision against a fighter who couldn't seriously be ranked in the top 200 featherweights in the world.
As for Mark Eddiva, he did the best he could under the circumstances. Those circumstances being that he's had 8 MMA fights in the last 9 years and trains out of that hotbed for UFC superstars, Baguio City, Philippines.
After breaking his toe to force him out of TUF Live and then starting his UFC career with 2 wins and 2 losses, John Tuck finally put together a complete performance. A talented striker and grappler, Tuck connected several times before dropping Tae Hyun Bang and then finishing him with an extremely tight rearnaked choke.
Bang is, big surprise, a fucking banger. But Tuck never gave him the chance to get started in this one, using his speed and kicks to stifle the offence from the Korean. The problem with Bang's style is that his balls to the wall approach is really a do-or-die scenario. In the fight-ending replay, Bang pounced on an axe kick from Tuck but didn't expect the righthand counter.
Talk about amateur hour. While Jon Anik and Brian Stann were going on about how Johnson has 30 professional fights I kept thinking, how the fuck can you not know how to score a takedown after 30 fucking fights? I don't think I've ever seen a guy secure that many body locks without being able to drag the guy to the ground. Somebody get Khabib on line 1 and teach these bitches some Sambo.
Worse still, Johnson had to know he was fighting a TUF China kid with a .500 record who was being put on the card for the Asian persuasion. To feel any accomplishment by edging out a decision victory on an ethnic card would be a grave mistake. Stann said Johnson changed everything about his camp this time around and raved about its apparent success. But to quote Brock Lesnar, you can't turn chicken shit into chicken salad. (Ironically, Tony Ferguson and Myles Jury camp out of Lesnar's camp so it's not a completely true statement).
With Dhiego Lima's second consecutive loss by in the first round, and third in the last four fights, it's safe to say the TUF 19 middleweight finalist doesn't have enough game for the big leagues. I hate to quote Brian Stann but I think he's right when he says some guys just don't perform on the stage the way they do in the training cage.
As for Li Jingliang, he's a big dude who seems to improve every time he fights and seems to have discovered some heavy hands. He's one of the few Asians on this card who I could see finding success on the North American circuit, particularly given he's still only 27 and his fights against David Michaud and Nordine Taleb demonstrate he's not lacking in the chin department.
If you thought Royston Wee looked sloppy coming in a pound overweight from the 136 limit, he looked even more putrid in the cage. Chinese fighter Ning Guangyou battered Wee for most of the first round until Royston landed a low blow. The shots to the ball sack seemed to hamper Guangyou, whose offence disappeared to the point where Brian Stann observed he was doing nothing.
But then with seconds left in the first round Wee backed up against the cage and absorbed a brutal headkick from Guangyou, who followed him to the ground and laid into the Singaporean fatass. The fight was stopped with 1 second left, but Wee did little to protest as he lay on the canvas for a prolonged period. It was a weird finish for Guangyou, who far from celebrating after getting waved off immediately tried to check on his victim.
After missing weight and getting KTFO I would imagine the UFC will send Wee wee wee, all the way home.
If the UFC cuts Roldan Sangcha-An, they're fucking assholes. I would rather watch him fight and lose 100 times than witness the sort of abortions that Ryan Bader gets paid for. Sangcha-An and Reyes put on a special treat in Manila on Saturday. The action was back-and-forth, with both fighters landing heavy shots, incredible scrambles, and plenty of tension.
Sangcha-An seemed to be getting the better of the scrambled and the striking game, and even cut Reyes open badly with an unintentional head butt. With Reyes pouring blood, he nevertheless connected on a counter strike and sent Sangcha-An screaming the canvas, following with ground and pound that stunned the Filipino fighter. In an ill-advised moved to get back to his feet, Reyes took his back and sunk in a rearnaked choke. Amazingly, Sangcha-An survived the first deep attempt, before succumbing when Reyes switched his grip to the other arm.
Reyes was put through the meatgrinder in his UFC and flyweight debuts, facing Dustin Kimura and Kyochi Horoguchi, respectively. But despite being finished in the first round in both fights, Joe Silva was vindicated by giving him a third chance. The organization needs more guys like him.
Which brings us to the robbery of the night. Nobody has any doubt that Nolan Ticman won this fight, but if I had to pick a robbery that makes me happy it would be this one. Ticman looked absolutely stunned the when the judges read the scorecards, as did Zhikui who I'm sure thought he lost. Zhikui looked extremely grateful for the nod.
But let's face it, Zhikui ran forward the entire fight while Ticman tried his best not to engage in anything resembling a fight. Not only was the fight physically hard to watch, Ticman literally ran like a bitch several times, bringing up traumatic memories of Diaz vs Condit.
Perhaps the hardest pill to swallow for Ticman is that he could have clearly destroyed Zhikui in any manner of his choosing. He had the far better striking, better wrestling and was much faster on the feet. But it doesn't matter if you refuse to engage in a fight. This was the actually the way I felt Carlos Condit should have been judged in his run-fest interim fight against Diaz.
Anyway, I'm sure this report card wasn't the most entertaining reads I've ever done, but then again I barely knew a single fighter on the card below Mousasi. Next weekend proves to be much more fun as The Fluke (tm) loses his title to Vitor Belfort via brutal KO and Daniel Cormier wrestlefucks AJ into obscurity.