I want to be fair to Urijah Faber. In a world championship fight, with a screaming crowd and a very difficult opponent, it can’t be easy to also think of the best way to signal to referee Herb Dean that he’s still coherent and able to fight. With that said, he can’t assume that sticking his thumb up is good enough – I’m pretty sure Dean never saw Faber’s thumb up. What Dean did see was a fighter who was hurt badly by strikes multiple times, and was turtled while holding onto a single leg, just eating strikes from Barao. That’s not to say Barao’s strikes in that situation were particularly devastating, but if Dean says the fighter needs to “fight back”… that generally means the fighter needs to actually move.
I understand the frustration fans have at the stoppage and I understand Faber’s frustration as well. Everything is on the line and Faber certainly knew what he was doing in that situation. I just can’t blame Dean for stopping the fight when he did.
The stoppage may have been unsatisfying but it was a spectacular performance by Barao. The only thing really missing from Barao’s game was good power in his punches and he showed that in this fight against a very durable opponent. His hand and foot speed are outstanding, his takedown defense is the best in the division, and his submissions are excellent as well. I don’t see any holes in Barao’s game.
I am now convinced that Jose Aldo is Spiderman. At one point Lamas had Aldo completely off his feet for a few seconds and STILL wasn’t able to take him down. I am constantly amazed at Aldo’s ability to stuff takedowns.
Aldo did a beautiful job of mixing up his strikes and battering Lamas with punishing leg kicks. He generally stayed somewhat safe with his strikes but still hit Lamas hard enough times that I can’t be critical of his pace. The one negative thing I can say about Aldo is that, once again, he showed very little activity in the fifth round. At the same time, Aldo still defended himself very well in that round and it’s possible he just chose to coast instead of trying to finish. Another excellent performance by Aldo overall, and I for one am really hoping he moves up to lightweight to challenge Anthony Pettis.
As for Lamas, I can’t really criticize him much either. It might seem like he was foolish for choosing to strike against Aldo, but we saw what happened when Lamas went for takedowns. Lamas is a well-rounded fighter; he just doesn’t have Aldo’s talent. He put forward his best effort but just lost to a better fighter.
There’s not much to say about this one. As I anticipated, Frank Mir was completely uncompetitive with Overeem on the feet and his submission game wasn’t very effective either. The fight was 99 percent Overeem. I will say I never thought this fight would go the distance but I should have anticipated that Overeem might choose to play it safe after gassing out in his last two fights.
I’ve written before about how effective it is for a fighter to have a combination of knockout power and takedown offense. That combination is rarely seen at lighter weights but Ali Bagautinov has it. Against opponents like John Lineker, Bagautinov can win with takedowns, and against opponents with sharp takedown defense, Bagautinov is a threat to win by knockout. In a division searching for worthy challengers to Demetrious Johnson’s title, Bagautinov is as deserving as anybody.
As an analyst I come away from this fight thinking that Trujillo’s striking defense is so poor that there’s no way his chin can hold up over the long run. As a fan… wow, what a fight! Two lightweights went in the cage and just started swinging away… with Varner crushing Trujillo repeatedly until Trujillo landed the one shot that knocked Varner out cold. It obviously wasn’t the right way for Varner to fight – a more measured and takedown centered strategy would have been better – but I appreciate the excitement these guys provided.
There were some excellent prospects making their UFC debut on this card but each of them fought a very tough opponent. Tony Martin looked great early against the more experienced Rashid Magomedov but Magomedov escaped an early armbar and ended up winning the second and third rounds. Andy Enz was very competitive in a boxing match against Clint Hester but Hester was just the more punishing striker and better athlete. Kevin Lee nearly finished Al Iaquinta by rear naked choke but Iaquinta survived and ended up out-pointing Lee. I really like the potential that Martin, Magomedov, Enz, and Lee all have. I just wish Enz and Lee were matched up against more appropriate opponents.
Sure, fighters should be MMA judges… if they know what they’re doing
It’s a logical fallacy to say that a fighter would make for a better judge of MMA than a non-fighter. How many times have we seen fighters with a wrestling background overrate wrestling moves and techniques? The same goes for fighters with a striking background and fighters with a submissions background.
We’ve all seen in sports like football and basketball that former players often make for terrible analysts. I love watching Inside the NBA on TNT, but trust me, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith are NOT good basketball analysts. They can provide some insight sometimes but I wouldn’t want any of them to be the general manager of my team.
I don’t think having fighters become MMA judges is a bad idea. I just don’t think it would really solve any problems.
Degenerate gambling results
The good news is that my biggest bet on the card was a winner: Nick Catone +160 over Tom Watson. The bad news is that my five other bets all lost. I was super close to winning a few of them – I had Alistair Overeem by KO, Jamie Varner straight up, Kevin Lee straight up, and Tony Martin straight up. Those bets were all very close to winning but fell just short. The only bet I made that I regret is Jose Aldo by KO.
Overall I lost $2.82 to take my bankroll down to $49.48. If my degenerate gambling results in just breaking even over the long run, I suppose there are worse things than that.