Monday, January 24, 2011

UFC Fight for The Troops 2 Aftermath

Before getting into what happened and what's next for the fighters of the last UFC event, I wanted to reiterate how meaningful it was to see the UFC executives and fighters spending time with the troops stationed at Fort Hood and before the event how they visit injured soldiers as well. Dana White expressed in his video blog leading up to fight night that he felt that there is not enough Patriotism in this country and how there is a special bond between the UFC and the US Military. It is great to see these guys have genuine empathy for the men and women who serve in the US Military. More people needed to be reminded about the sacrifices these men and women make in the work that they do. Whether you support the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can still support those who have volunteered so a draft like there was during Vietnam is not neccessary.

Now to the fights!

Evan Dunham versus Melvin Guillard
Result: Guillard via TKO

These are two fighters whose careers are going in different directions. Dunham was the talk of the lightweight division just 5 months ago and now he has lost two straight fights. On the other hand, Guillard has won six of his last seven fights and has shown he has matured inside and outside the octagon since a great deal since joining Greg Jackson's fight camp. Dunham tried to get Guillard to the ground to no avail which allowed Guillard to use his striking skills and his speed to pick apart Dunham, leaving to the Technical KnockOut.

Next for Dunham: He obviously had no answers for Melvin Guillard's stand up game. While Dunham has shown flashes of skill while on the feet, he needs more work. It should be noted that Dunham has only 13 career pro MMA fights so he is still new to the big time. Dunham needs to be tested by another agressive, stand up fighter who is an up and comer live Dunham. Jeremy Stephens would setup a matchup that would be a good test for both fighers who are still in their 20's.

Next for Guillard: Despite his opinion that he should get a title shot, the lightweight division in the UFC is a crowded field with many talent, elite level fighters. Guillard has 38 pro MMA fights under his belt and he has won four straight fights. I think Guillard should be setup against the winner of the Donald Cerrone/Paul Kelly fight that is on tap in a couple weeks. Cerrone is the former WEC Lightweight champ and if he gets by Kelly would be an excellent test for Guillard.

Matt Mitrione versus Tim Hague
Result: Mitrione via TKO

Matt Mitrione has only four career MMA matches and he has gotten better with each fight. Tim Hague seemed suprised with Mitrione's improved stand up skills. Mitrione brought the fight to Hague and finished him off in the first round via strikes.

Next for Mitrione: Mitrione said after the fight he wants to continue to be challenged and wants to take another step up on competition. But the UFC knows how popular Mitirone is and they do not want to rush his progress. Ben Rothwell would be a good matchup for Mitrione at this point. Rothwell is an experienced MMA veteran who has a background in Kickboxing and Wrestling. Considering most heavyweights are already booked with upcoming fights, Rothwell seems like a good option right now.

Next for Hague: Even though Hague won his last two fights before Saturday's loss to Mitrione, he won those two fights outside of the UFC. In the UFC he has one win in five matches. If Hague is to stay in the UFC, he needs to win his next fight. I could see Hague fighting the winner of the Chris Tuchscherer/Mark Hunt fight that will take place in late February.

Mark Hominick vs. George Roop
Result: Hominick via TKO

Hominick came into the fight with the guarantee that if he won that his next fight would be against Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Belt. Hominick did not waste time, using his boxing to finish Roop in the first round. Roop, who has trained previously with Hominick, was expected to put up more of a fight. Instead, he looked like he was a step below Hominick in skills.

Next for Hominick: Winning five straight matches has earned him a shot at the UFC Featherweight belt. Hominick claims Jose Aldo has never faced a fighter with Hominick's standup skills. While that may be true, Hominick should be careful that he doesn't under estimate Aldo who has shown he is very skilled in every aspect of the MMA game.

Next for Roop: After winning two straight fights, Roop's loss to Hominick shows he is not ready yet for top line competition in the UFc Featherweight division. A fight with Javier Vazquez, who has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, would be an interesting test for Roop since he has little experience in the ground element of the MMA game.

Pat Barry vs. Joey Beltran
Result: Barry via Unanimous Decission

Beltran did a lot of talk about turning this fight between him and Barry into a brawl before last Saturday. He was able to impose his game plan during the first round of the fight. But in the second round Barry got back to what he does best, which is punish his opponent with vicious kicks. By the third round, Beltran could barely stay standing on one of his legs and Barry dominated the third round.

Next for Barry: First off, Barry's post-fight words about the military were very genuine and you could tell how much fighting for the troops ment to him. Despite the win, he still needs to work on his grappling skills since it took him time to stop being so timid with his stand up offense due to worries about being taken down. A guy like Cheick Kongo would be a good matchup for Barry since Kongo is a kickboxer with average wrestling skills.

Next for Beltran: Losing his last two fights, Beltran's days in the UFC may be numbered. There are very few matches that make sense for him at this point that are not re-matches. Beltran is not going to be improving much more then who he is now: a brawler with average striking, grappling, and wrestling skills. Maybe a fight with the MIA Heath Herring would be an interesting fight for an prelimenary card.

Cole Miller vs. Matt Wiman
Result: Wiman via Unanimous Decission

This was one of those fights that helps lineup who is moving up and down in the UFC lightweight ranks. Both fighters had looked really good in their last two fights, but it was Wiman who came out on fire in this matchup. Miller seemed overwhelmed by Wiman's aggressive standup and when they were on the ground, Miller seemed lost against his opponent.

Next for Miller: Cole Miller is 6-3 during his time in the UFC and his three losses have been to aggressive fighters. It is usually Miller impossing his aggression in the Octagon that has led to wins, but he seems to loose that attitude when he is faced with aggressive standup fighters. A fight with Charles Oliveira would be an interesting matchup of two guys with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Next for Wiman: Now on a three fight winning streak, Wiman seemed unable to finish Miller in three rounds. This tells me he still has a great deal of room for growth despite his exponential improvement since his decission loss to Sam Stout. A fight with Nik Lentz would open the chance for both fighters to show who is going to be moving up the lightweight ranks and who is not ready yet.

Quick thoughts on some Preliminary Card Fights

Cody McKenzie vs. Yves Edwards: McKenzie learned Saturday night that just because you have never lost a fight doesn't mean you can get away with relaxing on the ground against a veteran fighter like Yves Edwards. Edwards, who has 57 matches in his Pro MMA career, submitted McKenzie in the second round which showed Edwards still has some left in the tank. Edwards versus Sam Stout would be an interesting standup battle. Cody McKenzie has potential but seems very laid back to be able to achieve much in the UFC.

Mike Brown vs. Rani Yahya: Since losing the Featherweight belt to Jose Also, Mike Brown has lost three of his last five fights. He just is not the same fighter he was before he met Aldo. Its as if Aldo killed his Mojo or his confidence. Whatever the reason, Brown seems to be coming to the end of the road as an MMA fight, despite his popularity. While Yahya has some nice career wins, he has shown an inability to consistently beat top level MMA competition. Maybe a fight with Josh Grispi is in order to see if Yahya has what it takes in the UFC Featherweight division.

Waylon Lowe vs. Willamy Freire: You can't take a win away from a guy, but one can look at Waylon Lowe's last two wins and come away with questions. No one can question Lowe's excellent wrestling skills or his amazing collegiate wrestling credentials. But I can say that the way he wins makes Jon Fitch look like an exciting fighter. He seems to run out of steam quickly and take too much time to regain his energy. Stamina and standup skills are a problem for Lowe. If he expects to have even half the type of career in MMA that he had as a collegiate wrestler, he needs to improve in both of those areas. Lets not forget he lost his UFC Debut by a Knee to the Body from Melvin Guillard.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

UFC 125 Aftermath

UFC President Dana White has said numerous times that fighters should try to end fights and not leave it in the hands of the judges. The main event of UFC 125, a championship bout between Lightweight Champion Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard, came out as a draw because each of the 3 judges saw the fight differently. Its a shame that after a solid night of fights that a great main event left the sour taste of a "Draw" in our mouths.

UFC Lightweight Champ Frank Edgar versus Gray Maynard
Result: Draw

Maynard came into this fight with the distinction as an undefeated fighter who is responsible for Edgar's only career loss. Maynard had a couple opportunities to finish this fight in the first round when he knocked down Edgar a couple times. Despite the fact the Edgar suprisingly survived that onslaught, it was evident that Maynard has some serious power and has good stand skills. The problem for Maynard was that he threw over 90 strikes in that first round and gassed himself for the rest of the fight. Edgar dominated the second round that included a solid takedown as well. From my perspective, Edgar won the third, fourth, and fifth rounds with his great footwork, solid striking and his ability to stuff Maynard's takedowns. But the judges couldn't agree on the fight: one scored it for Edgar, another scored it for Maynard, and the third scored the fight a 47-47 draw. These two fighters battled for 25 minutes and laid it all out there in the octagon and the judges gave them a draw. Such a disservice to these two athletes is another example of the mess of MMA judging.

Next for Edgar, Maynard: Dana White told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani that there will be an immediate rematch between these two men. Factoring in the war and damage these two fighters received in this fight, we may not see this rematch until May or July. Remember, Edgar's last rematch with the belt on the line against B.J. Penn that Edgar fought even better the next time round. I expect him to do the same against Maynard the next time around.

Chris Leben versus Brian Stann
Result: TKO by Stann

Chris Leben now has only seven losses in 32 MMA fights and this is only the second time any fighter has stopped Leben with striking. The other guy to do so to the tough Leben is one of the top fighters in all of MMA: UFC Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva. Stann is getting better and better with each fight. His striking and clinch game is constantly improving while his power was on display as he crushed Leben. So if Chris Leben is considered the "toughest man in MMA", does Stann now get that title since he beat him?

Next for Stann: The former WEC Lightweight Champion is looking to work his way up the UFC Middleweight ranks to get a title shot. If Michael Bisping gets by Jorge Rivera, then Stann should get Bisping next. This would be a great stand up battle between two popular fighters in their repsective nations. If Bisping loses to Rivera, then I think Stann should get to take on Nate Marquardt. "Nate the Great" is considered by many a top 10 Middleweight fighter who had two losses in title contender fights in 2010 (against Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami). Stann says he wants to be challenged and Marquardt definately fits that description.

Next for Leben: Leben had a solid 2010 in which he went 3-0. Starting 2011 on a losing note puts him a step back in the middleweight division ranks. Leben's next fight should be a sort of "where do these guys stand" clarification fight. A matchup with Alan Belcher or Mark Munoz would give Leben and his opponent clarity on who is going to be moving up the middleweight rankings and who is going to stay in limbo.

Brandon Vera versus Thiago Silva
Result: Silva by Unanimous Decission

This was suppose to be the fight that started Brandon Vera's "Comeback". But Thiago Silva was having none of this. Silva (who has not fought in a year due to back problems) showed his superior striking, grappling, and strength in his domination of Vera. Vera seemed lost whenever Silva got his hands on Vera in the clinch and took him down to the ground. It got so bad that in the third round Vera was doing very little to defend himself and Silva started slapping Vera in the face and on his back cause Vera was doing a lot of nothing.

Next for Vera: It seems that when Vera made the decission to drop from Heavyweight to become a Light Heavyweight fighter he choose to cut some muscle instead of just cut fat and try to maintain muscular strength. Vera is maybe too lean to be a topline light heavyweight fighter. Vera has a background in Greco-Roman wrestling and Muay Thai, two disciplines that are known for needed strength to execute their skill sets properly. It seems to me that Vera needs to hit the weight room and take some serious Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training before he gets matched up with any new opponents.

Next for Silva: After going 2-2 over the last two years, Silva needs to get on a consistent winning streak before one can consider him ready to take on the topline light heavyweights in the UFC. Rising UFC star Phil Davis would be a good matchup next for Silva. The fight would give both guys the opportunity for a win against an opponent many consider just outside of the top ten in that weight class.

Clay Guida versus Takanori Gomi
Result: Guida by submission

Gomi had no answer for Guida's movement and grappling in this fight. Gomi looked lost most of the fight and seemed disapointed afterwards. Guida, under the guidence of Greg Jackson, seems to be finally piecing together all of the tools he has to put him on the road to truly meeting his potential. Guida was always a high energy guy who had a pretty good ground game and effective striking. Now he looks like he is skill wise light years ahead of his competition.

Next for Guida: The last time Guida was on a three fight winning streak he lost his next two fights. But that was before Guida was training with Greg Jackson and company in New Mexico. Guida deserves a next level opponent after beating Gomi. Ben Henderson seems like a great matchup on paper: both fights are high energy fighters with great stamina and footwork, effective striking and solid ground games. Also, they both have similar hairstyles...

Next for Gomi: Going 1-2 in the UFC is nothing to be ashamed of especially against competition such as Kenny Florian, Tyson Griffin, and Clay Guida. But Gomi is the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion and has shown a serious weakness in his losses in the ground and submission aspects of the MMA game. He definately needs to take some Jiu-Jitsu classes before his next fight. A matchup with Jamie Varner or Jeremy Stephens would be a brawl type of matchup that favors Gomi's fighting style.

Nate Diaz versus Dong-Hyun Kim
Result: Kim by Unanimous Decission

Whether the reason was Kim is that much better a grappler then Diaz or Diaz's gameplan against Kim was all wrong, the fact is this was a boring fight in which Diaz couldn't get much offense going against Kim until the third round. Kim stiffled Diaz's submission efforts when the two were on the ground and Diaz was not able to get any rhythm against Kim on the feet during the fight. Kim's style leaves something to be desired for the average MMA fan while Diaz seemed ready to forget that this fight ever happened before the judges decission was announced.

Next for Diaz: Before this loss, Diaz had looked solid at 170 pounds and many assumed he would start making a resume of wins to make his way up the UFC welterweight ranks. Now with this setback, Diaz needs to forget this fight and keep improving as a fighter. He needs to stay away from becoming indifferent like he did when he lost three out of his last five fights at lightweight. A fight with either John Hathaway or Rory MacDonald could be enough fireworks to keep Diaz from getting complacent.

Next for Kim: Some lessons in English and Public Relations. His post fight interview was the most rediculous and pathetic interview after a fight I have ever seen. He had no interest in answer Joe Rogan's questions and just wanted the world to know he wants George St. Piere. How about Kim beat someone like Paulo Thiago before we talk about him facing any of the top level fighters in the UFC welterweight division.

Quick thoughts on some Preliminary Card Fights

-Poirier made Grispi "Crispy": Dustin Poirier spent three rounds taking the fight to Josh Grispi, who was suppose to be next in line to face UFC Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo before Aldo sustained an injury. It cannot be dismissed that Grispi had won four straight fights against well respected guys like L.C. Davis, Jens Pulver, and Mark Hominick. But it is fair to say that if Poirier was able to dominate Grispi like that, Grispi probably had little to no chance against Jose Aldo. Also, this loss by Grispi opens the door for this question: Is there anyone in the Featherweight division qualified to face Aldo for the belt?

-Davis Gets KO'ed by Stephens: Marcus Davis dropped down to Lightweight to prolong his fight career. In fact, he was winning the first two rounds of his fight with Stephens. But Stephens changed everything with one solid strike that ended the fight. Davis now has lost four of his last five fights. I'm not sure how many more chances the UFC is willing to give him to right the ship, despite his popularity. On the other hand, Stephens is now 6-5 in the UFC with four wins by KO or TKO and he's only 24 years old.

-Tavares shows Baroni who's "Bad": Phil Baroni may be popular, but his fighting career does not reflect that. He's been in many long, tough fights where he has come up on the short end and the fact that he has been training at American Kickboxing Academy with guys like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch shows he is very serious about his fight future. But a knockout loss like he had to Brad Tavares will make anyone disheartened and question their future. Tavares has a bright future in the UFC, but does Baroni have any future at this point?

-Volkmann calls out who?!?: After Jacob Volkmann's split decission win over veteran fighter Antonio McKee, he called out President Obama over Obama's Health Care plan. Come to find out that Volkmann has his own Chiropractic practice and he says that elements of Obama's Health Care plan that was signed into law is bad for people in businesses like his. I doubt we will see ever the President in a UFC octagon ever, but maybe he could make a stop by Volkmann's practice and talk to the typically mild-manner fighter. With all the negative media Obama has been getting over the last few months, maybe a PR move like that could help his approval ratings. Just a thought.