There were two fights in particular I did extensive tape study for – Neil Magny vs. Jon Manley and Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine. Since I nailed both of those fights in my predictions, I’ll be doing more intensive tape study for future fight cards, which should be great for my predictions, but horrible for my free time.
-I have to hand it to Liz Carmouche – she at least made Ronda Rousey look vulnerable for a few moments by taking Rousey’s back in a scramble and attempting a neck crank. The thing about fighters who win so quickly all the time is that we don’t get a complete picture of their skills, or how they would perform if forced to fight longer than usual. Rousey did a good job of fighting off the submission attempt, and coming back to win late in the round, but it’s not good for a champion to have to “weather the storm” or have to survive a difficult situation. Rousey is still the best in the world until proven otherwise, but her true talent level probably isn’t as high as most people think it is.
-With the way Lyoto Machida fights, there are bound to be some relatively dull matches from time to time. Machida’s goal is always to hit his opponent without being hit back, and he did a decent job of that against Dan Henderson. The problem is that each fighter had so much respect for the other’s abilities that they simply didn’t engage all that much. I’ll put it this way – if Machida wanted to earn a title shot against Jon Jones, he probably didn’t accomplish it with this victory, as it just wasn’t a particularly exciting match. And that’s coming from somebody who usually really likes watching Machida fight.
–Urijah Faber looked terrific against Ivan Menjivar, not that it was unexpected. Faber had nasty elbows from full guard, and his ability to transition into dominant positions in scrambles has always been one of the key strengths of his game. I’ll always respect veterans like Menjivar, who always put on good fights, but Faber was just too much for him. Menjivar’s existence in the UFC is one of putting on exciting fights against average to below-average UFC bantamweights. That’s terrific, but it also means Menjivar is no title contender.
-We saw both sides of Court McGee in his fight against Josh Neer. We saw the good side – McGee is very well conditioned, fights at a very high pace, and is able to land a huge amount of strikes on his opponents, especially opponents like Neer who have no head movement at all. We also saw the bad side – McGee lacks KO power, and his striking defense isn’t exactly something to put in an instructional video. Still, McGee is now 4-2 in the UFC, and really should be 5-1 with just a close loss to Costa Philippou. I’d like to see how he would do against a top 25 welterweight opponent next.
-Please join me in welcoming Josh Koscheck to the nine year rule club. Koscheck made his professional MMA debut in January 2004, which is almost exactly nine years ago as of today. This is not the first time Koscheck has been stopped by strikes, but if I was a Koscheck fan, I’d be very worried about his future. He’s certainly not getting any better at this point. And I know what you’re thinking – hasn’t Robbie Lawler been fighting longer than nine years as well? Since you asked, Lawler is now 3-4 since becoming a nine-year MMA veteran, with losses to Lorenz Larkin, Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and Renato “Babalu” Sobral. I’m not saying take the nine year rule as gospel, but it absolutely should be kept in mind.
-I was really hoping to see some good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu out of Brendan Schaub against Lavar Johnson, but Schaub had serious difficulty advancing from half guard. Schaub deserves credit for good fight IQ in taking it to the ground, and his takedowns were on point. But even though Schaub doesn’t have a BJJ background, I thought he would be good enough to submit Johnson, a fighter who was nearly submitted by Pat Barry of all people. The cruel reality for Schaub is that he’ll have to win most fights with his striking abilities, while avoiding being knocked out due to his very fragile chin.
-One of the surest ways to tell whether a sports team is a fraud or not is to look at their actual performances, instead of their record. A team might have a good record, but if it had to come back over and over again, that’s a sign that the team isn’t really that good. I feel the same way about Michael Chiesa – I have nothing but respect for his toughness and submission abilities, but he’s had to come back to win in almost all of his recent fights. Nice job taking out Anton Kuivanen, but this trend will come back to bite him eventually.
-I hope you got the opportunity to watch Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice, because the fight was just insane. Grice won round one on my scorecard for nearly knocking Bermudez out after taking a bunch of strikes to the face early. Grice was up 20-18 on my scorecard going into the third round, when Bermudez unloaded with a five-minute barrage of power strikes to the head that nearly had Grice finished on multiple occasions. I had it 28-28 overall… not only does that illustrate how the ten-point must system sucks, but the fact that no judge scored the third round 10-8 also illustrates just how much the judges suck.
-I expected that Caros Fodor would be able to bully Sam Stout in the clinch, but I have to give Stout credit – that didn’t happen at all. Stout showcased good strength in the clinch, along with quality takedown defense and grappling. It was still a very close fight regardless, but I personally scored it for Stout, although I can see the argument for Fodor as well.
-After I did exhastive tape study of both Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine and Neil Magny vs. Jon Manley, I had concluded that Robertson and Magny were the better wrestlers. Then I heard everybody I respect say that Jardine and Manley had the better takedown games, respectively. Score one for my tape study. Robertson only landed one takedown, aided by Jardine’s willingness to attempt a guillotine choke and drop to guard. I think the drop-to-guard guillotine is one of the most overused submission attempts in MMA, since the finishing rate is somewhat low and the fighter attempting it also gives up position. Robertson showed that he’s the better overall grappler, and finished Jardine with a kneebar from a very unusual position, a situation Jardine may have been able to avoid if he had simply focused on defending Robertson’s takedown attempt instead.
-I have to give Jon Manley credit – he knew exactly what he needed to do against Neil Magny, going for takedowns from the opening bell, but just wasn’t able to make it happen. On tape, I saw Manley struggle mightily to land takedowns; while he is good on the ground, he just has a difficult time getting the fight there. It’s hard to see Manley succeeding in the UFC with his talent level. Nice win for Magny, who matched up well with Manley, but he still needs to tighten up his submission defense, and his takedown defense just isn’t going to work against good wrestlers.
–Yuri Villefort has some definite talent, and is talented on the ground in particular, but he needs to fight with more discipline. His striking isn’t very tight, and he often dropped his hands during combinations he threw against Nah-Shon Burrell. Burrell, who is a good striker with power, punished Villefort with a steady stream of combinations. On the ground, Villefort needs to focus on securing a position before attempting a submission; if he had done so, he very well could have finished the fight. And Villefort should have been going for takedowns throughout the fight, instead of spending so much time at striking distance. The talent is there, but Villefort’s striking defense and fight strategy need a lot of work.