UFC 158: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
UFC 158 has come and gone, and Georges St-Pierre continues his stranglehold on the UFC welterweight division. The champ defended his belt against arch-nemesis Nick Diaz in a five-round affair that had moments of shock and intrigue, but was ultimately decided by the unparalleled wrestling of GSP.
Also on the card was a pair of welterweight contender fights. Johny Hendricks outpointed Carlos Condit in a Fight of the Night performance while Jake Ellenberger scored KO of the Night honors in his victory over former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt.
Heading into the card, fans had questions about many of the fighters. Now that all is said and done, here is a look at the questions answered and lessons learned from UFC 158.
Bringing Duane Ludwig in to Coach Team Alpha Male Was Brilliant
At UFC 158, T.J. Dillashaw looked fantastic for the third time in a row. However, this time, an improved striking game is what brought him success.
Team Alpha Male recently brought in Duane Ludwig as their head coach, and it is already paying dividends. The muay thai world champion has 13 years of MMA experience and he is sharing his wealth of knowledge with his new students.
Dillashaw's head kick knockout of Issei Tamura is only the beginning.
Rick Story Is Not Ready to Lay Down and Die
It may have been easy to write off Rick Story as a flash in the pan whose 15 minutes of fame is up.
Consecutive wins over Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves put story in the spotlight. However, the wrestler lost three of his next four contests, which was enough to demote his UFC 158 appearance onto the Facebook preliminary card.
However, Story is dangerous when his back against the wall. Coming out swinging against a respected Quinn Mulhern, Story needed less than a round to score the TKO stoppage and get back to his winning ways.
If Saturday's performance is any indication, Rick Story is eager to climb back up the welterweight ladder.
Canadian Fans Are Incredibly Rude
Admittedly, the opening of Daron Cruickshank and John Makdessi wasn't thrilling, however, the Canadian audience didn't give these boys much of an opportunity to warm up before showering the Octagon with boos.
With two high-level strikers going toe-to-toe inside the cage, it's unrealistic to expect them to throw bombs from the opening bell. They need to find their range and get a feel for their opponent's timing. Otherwise, they aren't fighting to the best of their abilities.
This booing wasn't exclusive to Cruickshank vs. Makdessi. Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi and Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher didn't exactly get a warm reception from the live crowd, and both contests had hometown fighters.
While American fans are notorious boo-birds, there is no doubt that our neighbors to the North can be just as vocal when they don't appreciate what's taking place in the cage. Even if it makes them look like jerks in the process.
Jordan Mein Is the Real Deal
- Technical proficiency to escape nasty armbar attempt? Check.
- One-punch power to drop opponents? Check.
- Ability to differentiate when to swarm vs. when to back off? Check.
Mein is a welterweight to keep an eye on, and the splash he made on Saturday night will lead to great things.
Yves Lavigne Gets No Respect
While there is a lot of debate that took place regarding the stoppage victory that was awarded to Darren Elkins, Dana White tweeted that the stoppage was premature, while BloodyElbow.com's Brent Brookhouse and Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter were among the pundits agreeing with the official.
However, the most relevant opinion came from Dr. Johnny Benjamin. Commonly referred to as "The Fight Doc," Benjamin frequently gives his insights on the medical side of MMA for MMAjunkie.com
The following is a series of Tweets from the doc moments after the fight.
- Lavigne will catch hell but that was an excellent stoppage!!!
- @joerogan "queer street" is called a concussion. Excellent stoppage!
- Great stoppage @YvesLavignemma...fighter was concussed!! fact!
- Notice how he wobbled, got a glazed look and never threw another punch? Concussion
Regardless of what side of the fence you find yourself, you have to realize that when there is any question about whether or not a fight is over, a referee should always err on the side of fighter safety.
The Ultimate Fighter Is Still Bringing in Dead Weight
When Georges St-Pierre headlines a card, you can essentially fill the main card with anything you want and fans will buy it.
With Ultimate Fighter runner-ups Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher somehow sneaking their way onto the pay-per-view portion of the event, fans were given a lackluster battle between two guys who don't seem to be on the same level as the rest of the UFC lightweight division.
Fletcher was outclassed in this fight, which says a lot considering that Joe Rogan couldn't stop talking about Ricci not living up to his potential inside the Octagon.
This season of The Ultimate Fighter certainly got a makeover and is a more enjoyable program to watch than it has been in recent years. However, until the level of talent improves, it's hard to take the new fighters too seriously.
Jake Ellenberger Will Fight for a Title in 2013
Johny Hendricks might be the next man in line for Georges St-Pierre, but Jake Ellenberger is certainly nipping at his heels.
On Saturday night, "The Juggernaut" wasted little time in flooring former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt with a barrage of punches. In the process, Ellenberger netted a $50,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.
Not bad for three minutes of work.
The sole loss in Ellenberger's last nine fights came after some inconsistent officiating in a bout against Martin Kampmann last year. In the same span of time, Ellenberger has convincingly defeated three UFC title contenders: Marquardt, Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields.
Heading into last night, Ellenberger was the No. 6 contender in the division. With his win, he should leapfrog Maia and MacDonald, who do not have as many wins over top contenders at 170 pounds.
There Is Nothing That the Judges Value More Than a Takedown
Never mind the fact that Carlos Condit repeatedly rose to his feet only seconds after being taken down. The only important thing that happened during Condit vs. Hendricks was "Big Rig" scoring repeated takedowns.
At least that is what the judges would have you believe.
In no way am I advocating that Condit was screwed out of a win. However, I feel that Condit neutralized every takedown by quickly returning to his feet, throwing strikes from his guard or threatening with submissions from the bottom.
In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to say that Hendricks did anything significant from top position at any point in the fight.
For that reason, I've got to think that Condit won the grappling exchanges throughout this fight. However, Hendricks was unanimously awarded the first two rounds, when his wrestling was on full display.
Hendricks won the fight, and he should have. However, it's about time that judges require a fighter to do something after a takedown before simply awarding them the round.
Georges St-Pierre Is Beatable
- Beginning with Round 3, Nick Diaz surprisingly began to stuff takedowns on a regular basis. I haven't seen the official stats on takedowns yet, but by my count, GSP was shut out 10 times in 13 attempts in the third and fourth rounds.
- Georges knew that fighting Nick Diaz in the boxing world would prove dangerous, however, he was goaded into it. You can gameplan all you want, but if you abandon it in the cage due to anger, then it does you no good.
Last night, two things happened that led me to the conclusion that Georges St-Pierre is beatable.
The strongest weapon in Georges' game is his takedown. If opponents can stuff them, they stand a much greater chance of dethroning the champ.
Seeing chinks in the armor of GSP is rare, but now that he appears vulnerable, it's only a matter of time before someone takes advantage.
Nick Diaz Is Still a Nutjob
The ridiculously insane antics of Nick Diaz certainly didn't cease last night just because he was in a title fight.
On two occasions during his fight with GSP, Diaz threw a punch at the champion after the bell sounded. It was only after referee Yves Lavgine threatened to disqualify the Stockton native that the post-bell punches stopped.
Were that not enough, the profane pugilist once again hinted at retirement in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. Maybe this really isn't what he wants. However, I think he is just a sore loser.
Think the night is done there? Please,
During the post-fight press conference, Diaz told the world that he is probably going to jail now because he has never paid taxes in his life.