UFC 159 will go down as one of the most bizarre UFC events of all time. There were a lot of eye pokes, a lot of injuries, and a lot of very strange happenings. What there weren’t a lot of were entertaining fights. I feel bad for anybody who paid good money to attend the event, because they didn’t get their money’s worth tonight.
Hopefully this will end the idea that fight cards that look bad on paper will be entertaining in practice. Whether or not a card is entertaining is basically random. For every UFC 108 that turned out to be a great night of fights, there’s an event like UFC 149 which falls flat.
-The only thing I liked about the fight between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen was the fact that Sonnen was going to go right after Jones from the beginning. He did that, Jones took him down easily, and Sonnen had little to offer from his back. Hopefully we’ve seen the end of Jones fighting middleweights who have very little chance to beat him.
-Of course, now Jones has a nasty injury to deal with and heal from before we see him fight again. That’s another reason the fight with Sonnen should not have been made. Great champions like Jones won’t be around forever. Too much of his career was wasted with the build-up and fight with Sonnen, when it could have been spent matching Jones against a better opponent.
–Alan Belcher has porous striking defense, and it was exposed by Michael Bisping. Belcher’s hands are all over the place and he doesn’t move his head, which is a recipe for getting hit a lot. A great example of Belcher having poor defense was his UFC 100 fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama – Akiyama is no master striker, but was still able to tag Belcher repeatedly in their fight. Against a much better volume striker in Bisping, there was no way Belcher wasn’t going to get hit a lot.
-I really hope Belcher is OK, that eye poke late in the third round was brutal.
-What can I say about Roy Nelson? He has a devastating overhand right that knocks people unconscious. I would still pick against him in a heartbeat against just almost any top ten heavyweight, but he’ll always be dangerous because of that KO power. Sometimes, I’m wrong about a fighter enough times that I have no choice but to respect him, and Nelson earned my respect (although I did ultimately pick Nelson to beat Cheick Kongo).
–Phil Davis isn’t going to win the K-1 World Grand Prix any time soon, but what he does well is throw a lot of straight punches. This is something I’d recommend to anybody who isn’t a polished striker – straight punches land at a fairly high percentage, and keep the opponent at distance, which aids in defending takedowns as well. Vinny Magalhaes was aggressive early in the fight, but as the fight went on, it was clear he had no idea what to do about Davis’s skill set.
-I thought Jim Miller’s lack of takedown defense would be problematic for him against Pat Healy, but the real problem in the fight was his conditioning. Miller was exhausted in the second round, and that allowed Healy to apply his smothering, grinding style, and eventually win by choking Miller unconscious. To be sure, a lot of that is because of Healy’s style, but at the same time, if Miller aspires to be a UFC champion, he needs to have better cardio than that.
-I was so excited to see Yancy Medeiros compete against Rustam Khabilov, because after watching Medeiros compete against Gareth Joseph three years ago, I really liked him as a potential star in the UFC. Unfortunately, after Medeiros looked impressive early, he broke his thumb and the fight was over. It’s a shame, but hopefully the injury isn’t too severe and we can see Medeiros compete again before too long.
-With that said, Medeiros looked like a completely different person at lightweight. Seriously, he used to be a thick (fat) middleweight, now he’s a lean lightweight. That’s not a transformation often seen in MMA.
-I’m hardly the first person to say this, but Gian Villante getting poked in the eye is a perfect example of why eye pokes should come with a five minute period to recover, just like strikes to the groin. Give Villante up to five minutes to recover from the eye poke, and I’m sure he would have been able to continue. With the way the rules are written now, there is no five minute period to recover from an eye poke, and that helps result in debacles like Villante’s fight with Ovince St-Preux going to a technical decision.
-That’s not excusing Kevin Mulhall’s awful decision to stop the fight the way he did. For crying out loud, at least let the doctor in the cage to give his ruling before making such a hasty decision.
-After three minutes of doing very little in Sheila Gaff’s guard, I was afraid we were going to see a pretty boring fight between Gaff and Sara McMann. Thankfully, McMann showed much better offense after her second takedown, easily passing Gaff’s guard, securing a crucifix, and finishing the fight with strikes. With her wrestling background, McMann certainly has the potential to be a champion in the UFC, but I hope she can develop a more well-rounded skill set soon, as her striking leaves a lot to be desired.
-I was really hoping that Johnny Bedford would have an answer for the grappling of Bryan Caraway, but that turned out not to be the case. Bedford entered the fight with a record of 19-10-1, with nine losses by submission. Usually, fighters who enter the UFC with a lot of losses have that record for a reason, and usually, the flaws that led to those losses don’t just go away. Caraway exposed Bedford’s flaws in this fight, and that’s bad news for Bedford’s UFC future.
-If Leonard Garcia gets another fight in the UFC, it’s a travesty. It’s not that I WANT fighters to be out of a job in the UFC, but MMA is a sport, and sports should be at least somewhat merit-based in terms of who gets opportunities to perform. I don’t want to take anything away from Cody McKenzie, who did a great job of controlling Garcia, but there are only so many spots in the UFC, and Garcia should not be taking one of them. Give an up-and-coming fighter with potential an opportunity instead.
–Steven Siler and Kurt Holobaugh were even through two and a half rounds, when Holobaugh decided to try to throw Siler by the head. He failed, Siler took his back, and the fight was over. I don’t understand why fighters go for this technique – it’s a low percentage, high-risk move. Siler has never had good takedown defense, so why go for something fancy, instead of a standard body lock or double-leg takedown? That move cost Holobaugh the fight.