-Now we see that nobody is immune to being knocked out, not even Roy Nelson. I have to admit that the striking was more competitive than I thought it would be. Nelson really is good at setting up that right hand of his. Mark Hunt clearly had a game plan focused on avoiding that punch as he was constantly moving his head in ways to avoid being hit by Nelson’s right hand. Nelson landed his fair share of punches anyway. Unfortunately for Nelson, his defense and conditioning remain terrible, and Hunt was the wrong opponent to have those flaws against.
-If Takanori Gomi’s chin is gone then he’s completely done as a UFC fighter. The only reason Gomi has been even semi-competitive in recent years is because of his ability to absorb punishment. If that’s no longer the case then Gomi gets hit far too often to not start getting knocked out regularly. Gomi might be able to hang on with an Yves Edwards type of career, beating the bottom tier of the lightweight division, but his days of competing against contenders like Myles Jury are long gone.
-It’s time to give Jury a top ten opponent. He’s 15-0 in MMA, 6-0 in the UFC, and ranked #9 by the media panel in the official UFC rankings. Jury is one of the three up and coming threats with a good chance of becoming champion in the UFC, along with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Bobby Green. I’d love to see Jury and Green fight each other next.
–Amir Sadollah was easily landing strikes with more volume than Yoshihiro Akiyama early, but Akiyama crushed Sadollah with a right hand and punished Sadollah’s busted-up face afterwards. It’s hard to get a read on how good Akiyama is because of all the top-level competition he’s fought in the UFC. Akiyama might end up settling into the John Hathaway tier of the welterweight division: a good fighter who is too flawed to really become a serious contender.
-I wondered multiple times if the UFC knew something we didn’t with Rin Nakai. Nope. Against low-level competition, Nakai succeeded by bullying her way into the clinch, throwing her opponents to the ground, taking their back, and winning by submission. As it turns out, the only skill Nakai has that translates to UFC-level competition is the ability to take the back. Nakai is still a fairly strong grappler and that will be enough to beat some of the women in the UFC. It’s not nearly enough to beat Miesha Tate.
–Richard Walsh was robbed against Kiichi Kunimoto – and that’s coming from somebody who thinks the term “robbed” is used far too often in MMA. The first round should have been 10-8 Walsh as he battered and nearly finished Kunimoto. The second round should have been 10-9 Walsh as his effective striking should have easily out-weighed Kunimoto’s effective grappling. Sure, give Kunimoto a 10-9 third round, but it should have been 29-27 Walsh overall.
-Walsh may have “lost” officially, but he clearly has cleaned up his submission defense, which is what I wanted to see. Walsh has a punishing style that should work well against future opponents, but I’m concerned about his conditioning and his striking defense. With that said, I’m mentally upgrading Walsh even though the judges didn’t give him the victory he deserved.
-So much for Jon Delos Reyes being a threat against Kyoji Horiguchi. Reyes landed a few hard strikes but Horiguchi mostly just pummeled him. What was particularly troubling was that Reyes was hurt so easily by Horiguchi’s strikes. Horiguchi hits hard for sure, but if I have to add “bad chin” to the list of problems with Reyes, then he just has no chance to win fights in the UFC. He had very little chance of winning anyway.
-Don’t get hyped about Masanori Kanehara. Yes, he was able to hurt Alex Caceres with strikes and then showcase some effective grappling. His striking defense is still bad, his chin is still very suspect, and his takedowns are unlikely to work against opponents with better takedown defense. Kanehara’s punching power will make him a “live” underdog in any fight, but he’s unlikely to put together a winning streak in the UFC.
-It was nice to see Katsunori Kikuno bother to defend himself against Sam Sicilia, although he still got hit too much for my liking. Kikuno also had a goofy grin throughout the fight… not sure what that was about. In the second round, Kikuno was able to quickly take Sicilia’s back and finish by rear naked choke. It almost looked like Sicilia just gave Kikuno the choke. That’s three career losses by that submission for Sicilia, and at 3-4 in the UFC, it seems likely that his UFC career has just met its end.
-If you ever wondered what it would look like for a fighter who doesn’t belong anywhere near the UFC to actually compete in the Octagon… look no further than Takenori Sato. It was obvious watching Sato’s fights in Pancrase that he badly struggled to win at that level. Against UFC-level opponents, especially opponents as talented as Erick Silva and Hyun Gyu Lim… forget it. Sato needs to be released from the promotion for his sake.
–Kyung Ho Kang vs. Michinori Tanaka was an extremely fun grappling match, full of takedowns, reversals, and submission attempts. What I wasn’t expecting to see was Kang as the more effective striker. Tanaka looked almost frozen at standing distance… he appeared unsure of what to do. That’s probably what lost him this fight, because I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge and have to score the back-and-forth action on the ground.