Here are my thoughts on the fights from Tuesday evening:
Chan Sung Jung def. Dustin Poirier by Technical Submission (Brabo Choke), 1:07 round 4
I really didn’t give the “Korean Zombie” a whole lot of respect before this fight, calling him the most overrated fighter in the UFC. He promptly fed me a full serving of crow with his brilliant performance in the main event against Dustin Poirier. I expected Jung to be competitive both at striking distance and on the ground, although I did think Poirier had the striking advantage. What I didn’t expect was that Jung would out-wrestle Poirier as well, but he did, landing a number of takedowns in the fight. Jung has shown some very real improvement as a fighter in all areas since transferring to the UFC from the WEC, and I think he’s certainly earned the distinction of being one of the top UFC featherweights.
Jung is a perfect example of how SILVA can be screwed up sometimes. SILVA is objective, so it treats all wins and losses as equal. However, Jung has two decision losses on his record that probably should have gone in his favor: a loss to Masanori Kanehara in Sengoku, and a loss to Leonard Garcia in the WEC fight that made Jung famous in the first place. If those losses are treated as losses, Jung’s SILVA score is now 44.32, good for 38th in the featherweight division. If those fights are instead treated as wins, Jung’s SILVA score would be 69.05, ranked 13th at 145 pounds. I happen to believe the latter rating is a more accurate representation of how good Jung is right now, even though it’s not his actual SILVA score.
Amir Sadollah def. Jorge Lopez by Decision (Split) (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
I felt that Lopez won the first round and Sadollah won the third. Who deserved the decision seems to depend on how you scored the second round. Sadollah landed more strikes in that round, but Lopez landed two takedowns. I happen to favor scoring with strikes over takedowns, because takedowns are a means to an end, while strikes can be the end. Unless a takedown is a slam, it’s very rare to see a fight ended because of a takedown. So I think this decision is completely defensible, on a night with a couple very questionable decisions.
Donald Cerrone def. Jeremy Stephens by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This was simply a case of the winning fighter being on a higher level than the losing fighter. Jeremy Stephens seemed to have no idea how to deal with Donald Cerrone’s height and reach, sitting just in the right range for Cerrone to batter him with straight punches and leg kicks. Instead of moving into range and then attacking, Stephens would wing hooks from the outside, and come up short on a consistent basis. Cerrone showed that he’s still a good striker despite his bad performance against Nate Diaz, but he’ll need to beat somebody better than Stephens to show he deserves to be considered among the division’s elite.
Yves Jabouin def. Jeff Hougland by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)
I figured that as long as this fight was at standing distance, Jabouin would have the advantage. I also figured that it would be difficult for Hougland to take Jabouin to the ground. What I didn’t realize was that Jabouin’s advantages in those areas of MMA were as huge as they turned out to be. Jabouin battered Hougland in all three rounds, didn’t allow Hougland to take him down, and when the fight went to the ground, Hougland was too hurt to be effective. Really, this fight showed that Jabouin is worthy of the UFC, and Hougland will probably have a very difficult time surviving in the UFC for very long.
Igor Pokrajac def. Fabio Maldonado by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
The word “robbery” gets thrown around far too often where decisions in MMA are concerned. Different people can reasonably disagree about a close fight, especially as long as the ten-point must system is the way fights are scored. This was a robbery. Fabio Maldonado thoroughly out-struck Igor Pokrajac in all three rounds, for a final significant strike count of 98 for Maldonado and 36 for Pokrajac. Sure, Pokrajac got a takedown in the first round, but ultimately did little with it except control Maldonado. Meanwhile, Maldonado was ripping punches throughout, including a lot of body shots and strikes to the head. I’ve watched a lot of MMA fights, and this is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen.
Tom Lawlor def. Jason MacDonald by KO (Punches), 0:50 round 1
Kaboom. MacDonald has been saying that he wants to fight in the UFC in Calgary and then retire, but after this loss, it’s hard to see which UFC middleweights would make for a competitive fight with him. Maybe Michael Kuiper? In any event, Lawlor’s quick KO is a great sign that MacDonald retiring soon is a good idea.
Brad Tavares def. Dongi Yang by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
This is another decision I disagreed with, but it was hardly a robbery or anything. I felt Yang clearly won the second round and Tavares clearly won the third, with the first round being very close. I gave Yang the first round, but giving Tavares that round is very defensible. The takeaway from this fight is honestly that neither man really has what it takes to put together a successful UFC career on a long-term basis. Yang is now 1-3 in the UFC and might be cut. Tavares is 3-1 in the UFC, but his wins are against Seth Baczynski, Phil Baroni, and now Yang. It’s time for Tavares to take a step up in competition, and I don’t think he’ll be able to handle it.
Cody McKenzie def. Marcus LeVesseur by Submission (Guillotine Choke), 3:05 round 1
I know there are some in the MMA blogosphere who don’t like Cody McKenzie because he wins fights with a “gimmick.” I’m the opposite. I like Cody McKenzie because he has found a way to win fights despite not being the most talented or athletic guy in the UFC. At the same time, I have a hard time thinking McKenzie would have won if Marcus LeVesseur wasn’t a perfect example of a “regional superstar” in MMA. McKenzie survives for now, but his UFC career will be about treading water at best.
T.J. Grant def. Carlo Prater by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
T.J. Grant wasn’t dominant in any one area, but he was better than Carlo Prater in every area. This includes the ground game, in which Grant was much better at establishing favorable positions and putting together genuine submission threats. Prater has some slick submissions, but with very poor striking and wrestling by UFC standards, he’ll have a hard time putting together wins against anybody.
Fun fact: Grant has fought eight times in the UFC and is 5-3, but has never appeared on a main card and I don’t think he’s even been featured on Spike TV.
Rafael dos Anjos def. Kamal Shalorus by Submission (Rear Naked Choke), 0:40 round 1
Shalorus has awful striking technique and particularly poor defense. He got cracked by a head kick and was submitted in the first minute, a testament to the talent that Rafael dos Anjos brings to the table. I was particularly impressed by the way dos Anjos set up the choke; after taking Shalorus’s back, dos Anjos pinned his left arm with his legs, and while Shalorus attempted to free the arm, dos Anjos cinched up the choke and forced Shalorus to tap out. With Shalorus now 0-3 in the UFC, and having been finished in all three fights, I have a feeling we’ve seen the last of “Prince of Persia.”
Johnny Eduardo def. Jeff Curran by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Entering this fight, I wondered if SILVA was being too negative about Jeff Curran, especially since Curran put together a pretty good performance against Scott Jorgensen in his previous fight. After Curran lost to Johnny Eduardo, I think SILVA does underrate him, but not by a whole lot. Curran is very good on the ground, but with mediocre striking and no wrestling, it’s hard for him to win decisions at the UFC level. Eduardo basically won a decision here based on hard leg kicks for two rounds.
Francisco Rivera def. Alex Soto by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
I screwed up in the SILVA scores of both these guys. For Soto, it was a simple spreadsheet error that led to him being given a SILVA score of 16.35, when he really should have had a SILVA score of 23.49. The screw-up of Francisco Rivera’s SILVA score was much worse. When Rivera made his UFC debut against Reuben Duran, he didn’t qualify for a SILVA score. Since Rivera fought in the UFC less than 12 months ago, I just assumed he had been on the roster this whole time, but he actually fought twice in Tachi Palace Fights and should have been rated with a SILVA score of 25.99. Woops.
As for the fight itself, when Soto got taken out in short order by Michael McDonald, I chalked it up to McDonald not only being just a superior fighter, but having great striking power for the bantamweight division. But Soto got rocked multiple times by Rivera, at one point doing everything he could just to stay on his feet after being sent reeling. Rivera really should have been able to finish at some point, but his ability to hurt Soto on a consistent basis was impressive.
Updated SILVA scores
- Donald Cerrone: 76.07
- T.J. Grant: 58.63
- Dustin Poirier: 55.20
- Johnny Eduardo: 52.75
- Rafael dos Anjos: 49.85
- Jorge Lopez: 48.76
- Amir Sadollah: 47.06
- Igor Pokrajac: 47.01
- Tom Lawlor: 46.17
- Yves Jabouin: 45.78
- Chan Sung Jung: 44.32 (as I said above, this could easily be as high as 69.05)
- Fabio Maldonado: 42.16
- Kamal Shalorus: 41.49
- Cody McKenzie: 40.62
- Jeremy Stephens: 39.84
- Carlo Prater: 39.53
- Brad Tavares: 39.40
- Francisco Rivera: 33.54
- Dongi Yang: 32.70
- Jeff Hougland: 29.31
- Marcus LeVesseur: 28.64
- Jason MacDonald: 26.07
- Alex Soto: 17.11
- Jeff Curran: -1.07