In last week’s episode, Justin Lawrence took on Cristiano Marcello in a battle of fighters many felt would go deep into the tournament. The conventional wisdom, which I agreed with, was that Lawrence would win as long as the fight remained standing, but Marcello would have the advantage if the fight went to the ground. As it turns out, the fight stayed standing for the entire duration, and Marcello had an extremely difficult time landing strikes on Lawrence. Eventually, Lawrence’s strikes accumulated to the point that he scored a knockout of Marcello late in the second round.
I have to call out Urijah Faber for his chosen strategy going into the fight. I understand the desire to be unpredictable, but the most important thing in a fight is to take the fight to where the fighter in question has the advantage, or at least the best chance of success. By instructing Marcello to mix it up with Lawrence at standing distance for a while, Faber put his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace in the worst possible position to win. As it turns out, Marcello attempted just one takedown, maybe two, failing to get Lawrence to the ground. I know that it’s easy for me to say now, but I would have highly preferred to see Marcello attempting takedowns early and often. Unpredictability is highly overrated.
I don’t want to take anything away from Justin Lawrence, who continues to be extremely impressive. Fighters like Lawrence, who are inexperienced but still able to beat a tough, veteran fighter like Marcello, often turn out to be the best prospects in the long run. I was particularly impressed with Lawrence’s ability to shut down pretty much any offensive move Marcello attempted. Lawrence claims to have well over 100 amateur fights, and while fighters who make such a claim are usually including every combat sport activity they’ve ever participated in, Lawrence certainly appears to have composure far above and beyond that of a typical 3-0 MMA fighter.
With all of that said, I’m still going to stand by my original analysis and say that Lawrence won’t be the eventual TUF 15 winner, because of that lack of professional MMA experience. This has nothing to do with Lawrence’s fighting in particular, and simply stands by the historical trend that inexperienced fighters usually don’t win TUF. I will say that if there was ever a fighter to join Amir Sadollah as the only fighters to win TUF with fewer than five professional fights, it would be somebody like Lawrence.
Meanwhile, SILVA has been essentially useless so far this season, and is now 9-9 making predictions for TUF 15, but I’ll keep posting the list of SILVA scores anyway:
Tonight’s episode will pit Dominick Cruz’s highest-rated fighter, Myles Jury, against Urijah Faber’s lowest-rated fighter, Al Iaquinta. Needless to say, I like Jury to win the fight, and I think Jury is a strong contender to go all the way. I do need to admit that I’m biased in favor of Jury, because I’ve liked his potential since he was supposed to compete on TUF 13, and I want to see just how far he can go.
As for Iaquinta, he’s the lowest-rated fighter in the field, but he was Urijah Faber’s first pick. I’m willing to accept that Iaquinta may be significantly better than SILVA would suggest, because guys like Faber generally know what they’re looking at when they’re scouting fighters. I still don’t have a ton of hope for Iaquinta in winning this fight though.