As far as post-fight thoughts go, these are relatively late, but better late than never!
-I was just as shocked as everybody else to see Vitor Belfort come extremely close to submitting Jon Jones. From everything I had seen of Jones, I had no reason to believe Belfort would be any threat to submit him from bottom position on the ground. Kudos to Belfort for making the fight a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. With that said, it’s important to remember that Belfort’s offense basically consisted of the armbar attempt in the first round and two uppercuts in the fourth round. The problem of inactivity is not a new one for Belfort, and he spent a lot of time staring at Jones. Pulling guard frequently was awful – there are VERY few fighters for whom this is a good idea, and those are guys like Paul Sass and Shinya Aoki.
-I do not believe Jones was exposed in any way. Maybe his ground game isn’t quite as sound as we thought, but in reality, Jones dominated the ground game. He pummeled Belfort with elbows, and eventually won by submission due to americana after trapping Belfort’s left arm.
-I agreed with the decision that gave Demetrious Johnson the first UFC flyweight championship. When I did my first look at this fight, every bit of statistical evidence I could find pointed to either a close fight, or a Johnson victory. When I saw Joseph Benavidez listed as a strong favorite, I assumed there was something about the fight the betting public knew about that I didn’t, as was the case for the Urijah Faber-Brian Bowles fight at UFC 139. As it turns out, the statistically-based analysis was correct: Johnson did just enough to earn the victory.
-I like Brian Stann, and I root for Brian Stann, but he’s just not a top-notch UFC middleweight. His wrestling is sub-par, his ground game is decent but not great, and he was out-struck by Michael Bisping. Being out-struck by Bisping isn’t something to be ashamed of, but if you’re supposed to be a striker AND a title contender, you need to be better at it than Bisping is. For Stann to win fights at the elite level, he needs the knockout, and as hard as he hits, that just isn’t going to happen consistently. Stann will beat lower level UFC fighters, and will always be a deserved fan favorite, but he’s a mid-tier UFC fighter, not somebody deserving of top 10 status.
-Matt Hamill was handed a “gimme” fight against Roger Hollett, and proceeded to answer the question “can a fighter be dominant and not look impressive at the same time?” Hamill landed a bunch of takedowns, which is good, but he was already fading at the start of the second round. Fortunately for Hamill, so was Hollett. If Hamill had an absurd activity rate like Mauricio “Shogun” Rua normally has, then I might have a different opinion, but really, that was not a good performance.
-I don’t want to accuse Charles Oliveira of not being mentally tough, because it takes serious mental toughness just to train for a fight, let alone get in a cage and actually do it. But the way he lost by TKO to Cub Swanson just looked weird. Swanson hit Oliveira with a clean strike, Oliveira looked fine for a second, and then he just dropped. It was very reminiscent of the way Oliveira lost to Donald Cerrone. Perhaps Oliveira was badly dazed and hid it well for that second; I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But I’ll also consider the possibility that Oliveira REALLY doesn’t like being hit. Huge win for Swanson, who now has to be considered among the title contenders at 145 pounds, alongside Ricardo Lamas, Dennis Siver, Chan Sung Jung, and Erik Koch.
-Igor Pokrajac’s game plan was mind-numbing. You’re a striker who hits like a ton of bricks, but you decided to take down a submission wrestling world championship medalist?
-I badly underrated T.J. Grant’s striking. Not only did he deliver a great performance against Evan Dunham, he probably earned himself a spot on a UFC main card for the first time.
-Sean Pierson’s hands were so much faster than Lance Benoist’s. Benoist almost pulled off a comeback in the third round, but otherwise, Pierson was the better man. Consider Benoist’s prospect status gone.
-Marcus Brimage exposed Jim Hettes’s striking defense. Brimage has a good, aggressive boxing game, but nobody should get hit square on the chin as often as Hettes did.
-Simeon Thoresen can join Vitor Belfort and Igor Pokrajac in the awful game plan club. You’re a submission specialist… so why didn’t you at least try to take down the dangerous Seth Baczynski?
-Great victory for Mitch Gagnon, who likely sent Walel Watson out of the UFC with a quick submission. But the questions about Gagnon’s gas tank still remain.
-Charlie Brenneman was the victim of an early referee stoppage, but seriously, you can’t survive one minute without being hurt by the hands of Kyle Noke? Brenneman’s wrestling talent is on par with guys like Johny Hendricks, Josh Koscheck, and Mike Pierce, but those fighters became good because they also developed their striking games. Brenneman hasn’t, and that’s why he’s either out of the UFC, or one loss away from it.