The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Post-UFC Thoughts

– Not my best night of picks.

– Velasquez. A quick look around the blogs has people downgrading his performance because of Nog’s condition. Two quick counterarguments: first, if Nogueira was shot than Velasquez was the one who shot him because no one- NO ONE- was saying in advance of this fight that Nog was physically done or so degenerated or shot that he was going to get blown out in less than a round (well, almost no one). Trying to retrospectively gank plaudits from Cain because of how quickly and effectively he won is simply perverse. Moreover, in terms of specifics Velasquez has clearly improved- his footwork and control of distance and timing were clearly superior, he mixed up kicks and punches and changed levels on his strikes better, he used timing to his advantage and generally looked like an accomplished MMA-style kickboxer lightyears removed from the guy who showed up for the Cheick Kongo fight. I don’t know exactly how good the guy is, but he’s almost certainly an inner-circle heavyweight at this point- top 10 in the world, top-5 in the UFC.

– Nogueira. Hard to say what his next fight is, but I half-suspect he and Crocop are looking at a return date upcoming as a semi-main which is a fight either can win and which will net the winner one more big payday.

– George Sotiropoulos looked amazing tonight, better even than I thought he could ever look. To beat Joe Stevenson puts you into the running for a bigger fight since Stevenson is effectively the gatekeeper at lightweight, but to dominate him so completely is a real statement. How about this match- Sotiropoulos vs. Grey Maynard, winner to face BJ Penn or Frankie Edgar? If George wins you have a guy with real momentum for the slot and Maynard has no constituency thus putting his shot off costs you nothing, and if Maynard wins there’s at least a chance he’ll be getting his shot off of a more impressive win than a boring decision vs. Nate Diaz.

– Say this for Wanderlei Silva- he may or may not have hired Mark Coleman to impersonate him for this fight, but he also looked better than he has in forever tonight. Bisping, say what you will, is a very solid middlewight and Silva to my mind was clearly superior on the balance of the evening- he won the second and I had him winning the third even before the late knockdown. He came close to a finish twice where Bisping never even hurt him, and in showing that he could take a solid-ish shot at 185 he made it clear that there’s still some real gas in the tank to make him a going concern at 185. Why not do a rematch of Wanderlei vs. Vitor Belfort next? Both men have been talking of late about not wanting to face Anderson Silva, and this way you kill two birds with one stone- the winner has great momentum going into his title shot, and the loser isn’t in line for one at all thus saving Zuffa from having to promote one title fight which the challenger doesn’t want. Show a month of highlights of the awesome KOs of each man on Unleashed/Best Of Pride and it’s a guaranteed draw fight for an October/November show.

– Ryan Bader is what you might call a person of interest. His flaws are obvious, and yet as a potentially superior wrestler he brings something to 205 which isn’t found much there currently. His win over Jardine however points out how impressive Sotiropoulos’s dismantling of Joe Stevenson really was- Bader was at 1-1 in rounds and looking tired when he caved in the chin of a guy known for having his chin caved in, where the Aussie easily won two and likely won three rounds off of his opponent and demonstrated clearly superior skills over the duration of the fight. The practical implications of this are that if I were Joe Silva, I’d be a lot more willing to match Sotiropoulos hard next time out than I would Bader. That said, if Rampage Jackson beats Rashad Evans, Evans vs. Bader to me is a natural and interesting matchup.

– If Keith Jardine could take a punch he would be an unholy terror. He lost the first round to Bader’s takedowns and immediately adjusted to stuff them almost completely for the balance of the fight. He dominated the second, using range and timing to screw with Bader’s head and throw his rhythm off- that round was a textbook example of octagon control, as the fight happened where and when Jardine wanted it to and only with his consent. He did more damage to head and body and had the more varied and effective striking offense, and on the ground he defended himself effectively from the bottom and forced a standup. In terms of skills he was unquestionably ahead of Bader. And yet, as this fight demonstrated, skills are not everything- Jardine has now lost his last three in a row, 4 of his last 5, 3 of those and 2 straight by brutal KO. He’s becoming as skilled a trial horse as you’ll see.

– And as such, he’s almost a problem. Part of the purpose of a gatekeeper or trial horse is to test the skills and preparation of an up and coming fighter, and at times Jardine can absolutely do that- but at times, he can also provide seriously false readings. His skills as such are among the upper echelon at 205, and he will prove a very formidable obstacle for skilled but soft-hitting light heavyweights; and yet, heavy-handed but less developed fighters- like Ryan Bader- should be able to get past him based almost entirely on that one dimension of their game. Matching Jardine up from here on out is going to be an interesting challenge for the UFC. Personally, I’d like to see Jon Jones vs. Jardine if Jones gets past Brandon Vera (as he should). There’s risk in that fight, but if Jones is the phenom he’s supposed to be he’ll find a way to win and at that point he’ll have 4 straight recognizable name opponents down as wins on his record. That will go a long way towards making him a star. If he loses, he’s still very young and Jardine has a deserved rep for beating guys better than he is- it won’t hurt Jones much at all.

– And finally, Huzzah for the Aussie crowd, knowledgeable and excited all through the show despite the odd local start time.

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February 21, 2010 - Posted by | MMA

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