Gleison Tibau is one of the foremost stepping stones in the lightweight division.
Seriously! He has consistently beaten guys like Jason Dent, Josh Neer and Rich Clementi, and has consistently lost to fighters like Nick Diaz, Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller. He is the perfect test for a fighter like Francisco Trinaldo, who is sitting on an impressive 11-1 MMA record, and won his UFC debut with a first-round KO back in June.
What ensued was another wild, exciting fight on a card that has had the fighters consistently deliver thus far in Rio de Janeiro. The fight ended with Tibau getting the nod from the judges, but there was a lot to look for in this battle of savvy veterans. So what did we learn about either fighter, UFC 153 and the dynamics of the fight game?
Gleison Tibau and Francisco Trinaldo Are Huge Lightweights
Seriously, look at the two of them and tell me that they belong in the same weight class as Joe Lauzon or Anthony Njokuani. It is remarkable to think that the two of them weighed in at 155 lbs Friday.
The two of them are by no means young relative to other fighters; Tibau is 29 and Trinaldo is 34. They are not really short, either, as Tibau stands at 5'10" and Trinaldo stands at 5'8". Neither of them gassed in any huge way (Tibau looked a bit slower in the third, but this was likely due to being repeatedly punched in the face more than actual conditioning).
How the hell is that even possible? I don't know, but apparently it is.
The Referees Were Very Fast With Standing Fighters Up Saturday Night
Referees were very trigger-happy Saturday night when it came to standing up fighters, and Marc Goddard was similarly unwilling to let fighters work on the ground. That is not good for an event already mired with two questionable decisions.
The bad decisions and the NBA-style refereeing may not make headlines for these fights, but with Anderson Silva fighting Stephan Bonnar in the main event, Dana White must be at least a teeny bit nervous. After all, if Silva lost, even in super-controversial fashion, it would be a catastrophe for the UFC.
Gleison Tibau Still Has “It”!
While labeling Tibau a stepping stone may sound harsh, it is not meant to be an insult. The UFC has amazingly talented fighters come in and out on a daily basis. Surviving five years of fighting for the world's biggest promotion speaks volumes about how skilled he truly is.
Yes, Tibau had a bit of trouble against a relatively new fighter in Francisco Trinaldo. However, nobody is expecting him to make a run for Benson Henderson at this point. What Gleison Tibau showed is that he is a tough dude with decent standup and a strong ground game, and that is something.
Tibau has all the intangibles you could want and some serious skills. He deserves a great deal of credit for this fight, even if it is a small victory in comparison to guys like Jeremy Stephens, Caol Uno and Rafael dos Anjos.
Francisco Trinaldo is Now Permanently an Undercard Fighter
This is a sad fact. Truly, truly sad.
Yes, Tibau is a stepping stone for rising prospects. Unfortunately, by losing to him, he has shown that he is not a rising prospect. At 34 years old, the Francisco Trinaldo you saw just now is the best Francisco Trinaldo you're ever going to see.
Trinaldo is an older lightweight who has some strong striking and a serviceable ground game, but, again, his age is most certainly not helping him. He is not going to develop physically. He is almost certainly not sitting on a deep well of untapped potential.
He has the stuff to stick around in the UFC, but he just plain isn't going to be getting any better than the guy you just saw lose to Gleison Tibau.