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.

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