UFC 149: What We Learned from Mitch Clarke vs. Anton Kuivanen
Anton Kuivanen and Mitch Clarke kicked off UFC 149 with a 15-minute grappling display that had the Calgary fans revved up from start to finish.
Here's what we learned from the bout.
What we'll remember about this fight:
It was actually a pretty entertaining contest—one befitting the first-ever UFC fight to take place in Calgary. The bout was characterized by exciting, albeit sloppy grappling exchanges that kept it interesting from beginning to end.
The split-decision eared by Kuivanen was also his first UFC victory. We'll have to wait and see what that means for him and the UFC's lightweight division long term, but congratulations are certainly in order.
What we learned about Anton Kuivanen:
We learned that Kuivanen still needs to do a little work on his takedown defense. He exhibited good stand up in his UFC debut this February, but was unable to find the time to work it in with his fight against Clarke because he couldn't stay on his feet.
Fortunately, Kuivanen also happens to be quite strong, which allowed him to take control of his opponent despite poor position on the floor.
We also learned that Kuivanen is limited in what he can do on the mat. He was able to power out of some precarious positions, but to say his ground game looked sloppy is an understatement. His reliance on strength over technique could lead to trouble against stiffer competition than Clarke.
What we learned about Mitch Clarke:
One thing we learned is that Mitch Clarke has a burgeoning fanbase in Calgary. The crowd was seriously loud and supportive of their countryman during the night's opening bout.
Another thing we learned is that he isn't at the level he needs to be to stick it out in the UFC. Clarke has found success throughout his career sinking in submissions; that he couldn't do it against Kuivanen, who looked somewhat hapless on the mat, suggests that he just isn't there.
What's next for Kuivanen:
Probably another undercard match against an unheralded opponent. He needs another win before he hits the next level of competition.
What's next for Clarke:
More likely than not, a pink slip and a return to the regional circuit.
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