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UFC on ESPN 12, The Morning After: Heavyweight MMA continues to baffle viewers

Here’s what you may have missed from last night!

UFC Fight Night: Villante v Greene Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

How does one even begin to describe the fight between Maurice Green and Gian Villante? What is this sh*t? All at once, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and yet it comically checks off so many low-level Heavyweight MMA stereotypes.

Let’s start off with the stuff we’ve seen before, like Villante’s apparent beer belly. A dedicated under-performer at 205-pounds who routinely frustrates his corner by refusing to do anything, it is perhaps the least surprising news of 2020 that Villante used the pandemic as an excuse to stop cutting weight.

Greene, meanwhile, looks like a successful athlete. Well, he’s tall and has discernible muscles at any rate. On the plus side, Greene is mentally tougher than many of his peers, and he’s young enough to develop his skills further. However, he also has a weird hodgepodge of an MMA game, one that cannot be trusted to work consistently.

By virtue of being an actual Heavyweight, Greene probably should have knocked out Villante in the opening couple minutes. Unfortunately, Greene has found his way to the Jackson-Winkeljohn Academy. That’s a great gym to work with other big men, but it does have a long history of teaching its athletes how to score points from the outside rather than do actual damage.

Sadly, that’s the exact opposite of what Greene needs. Greene needs a striking coach to teach him commitment, how to safely stick jabs and crosses down the center with weight behind the punches. Instead, he spent the first ten minutes tiring himself out almost entirely with slapping punches. Oh, and who could forget the countless oblique kicks, the Jackson-Wink signature that worked when Jon Jones did it in 2013 — back when every single thing “Bones” tried worked — and has become an apparent fix-all.

Since his opponent was almost trying not to do damage, Villante was allowed to test things out and see what worked. Notably, he learned that he can do that fun big man low kick, where he just drops all his weight onto the planted leg and allows his girth to deliver considerable force.

Despite all the size and a half-million oblique kicks to the thigh and testicles, it was Greene who limped.

For explicitly Heavyweight reasons, Greene decided that if he was going to finally commit his weight to a punch in the third round, it ought to be a Superman punch. Villante does understand how to throw regular punches with power and did just that, jacking his foe’s jaw with a hook as he leaped forward.

The fight nearly ended there. Villante landed some huge shots, and Greene again demonstrated that admirable grit. Instead, Villante exhausted himself chasing the finish so badly that Greene actually wrapped up and finished an arm triangle from his back while nearly mounted.

Even Dominick Cruz, vocal knower of all things, was so perplexed he fell into silence.

To be clear, the arm triangle from bottom is a real move. You can watch Aljamain Sterling strangle Takeya Mizugaki with it right HERE. However, it’s also a submission that requires a proper angle and control of the body. Greene had neither, but some combination of blood choke, chest smother, neck crank, and general exhaustion still forced the tap.

It should not have worked, but it did. Truly, I don’t believe there is anything to be learned from this fight. The division did not shift an inch. Even the two men involved will remain largely unaffected. Greene seemingly has a tough match up ahead of him in Tanner Boser, a prospect whose game remarkably makes sense. Meanwhile, Villante will most likely just gain more weight and look tired against someone else in the near future.

There is no way to make sense of the Heavyweight jumble. Whether one finds it entertaining or frustrating, Heavyweight is indiscernible all these years after the sport’s genesis.

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