The quality of this fight night would have been worth the pay-per-view price. During the night, fans witnessed some brutal knockouts, a great submission, and quality fights. Every bout was exciting and helped sort out the increasingly crowded lightweight division. Free events such as these help solidify UFC as the number one organization in all of mixed martial arts.
Kenny Florian def. Joe Lauzon (TKO round 2)
At first glance, Kenny Florian is not your prototypical mixed martial artist. His thin, lanky frame does not exude machismo or ability. Yet in spite of his seemingly exterior inefficiencies, Florian continues to prove he is an elite lightweight in the UFC. Against Joe Lauzon, Florian once again showed his resiliency and toughness. Despite a difficult first round and facing a physically stronger opponent, Florian kept his composure, never gave up, and battled back to secure a TKO victory in round two. With his win, (his fourth in a row since losing to Sean Sherk) Florian has catapulted himself back into title contention.
Florian is not overwhelmingly dominant in any one area but he is extremely well rounded. Florian utilizes an innate ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses while sticking to what he does best. Often times, he executes a well crafted gamelan and does not stray from it. You will never see Florian revert to a slugfest; instead he will work a combination of effective kicks and knees, while incorporating a diverse striking arsenal to compensate for his lack of punching power. On the ground Florian likes to use unrelenting and vicious elbows which he did against Lauzon (he also used them to bust open and defeat Chris Leben on the first ultimate fighter). While having an assortment of skills, what sets him apart is his sheer will and determination. He is a scrapper who never stops working. Lauzon managed to take him down but Florian kept scrambling, worked at a frantic pace, and never lets his motor stop.
Although losing, Lauzon has a bright future. He is an efficient striker; his long arms give him a capable, precise jab. He has also shown an up and coming ground game with an assortment of submissions. What was impressive in his fight though was that Lauzon was forced into several precarious positions against Florian and managed to stay calm and focused. For a younger fighter on a big stage, in his first main event on national television, Lauzon did not fold under the pressure, instead showed tremendous heart. With continued improvement he should be a force in the division for a long time to come.
Thiago Alves def. Karo Parisyan (TKO round 2)
It seems as though whenever Karo Parisyan is on the cusp of a title shot he comes up a little short. With a loss in such a critical fight, it has become clear that Parisyan has yet to transition from a very good fighter into a great one. Against Thiago Alves, Parisyan was fighting well but looked almost too comfortable on his feet. Although being a good striker, Parisyan should be have forced the action onto the ground. Off their feet Alves would have been unable to employ his punching power, devastating leg kicks, or accurate knees. In the second round Parisyan got over anxious, lunged in lazily on Alves, and got caught with a knee that dropped him.
Parysian's attitude makes him difficult to like but his skills as a fighter are undeniable. Whether it is an incredible judo throw, wild high kick, or even a flying knee, Parisyan almost always shows the fans something remarkable. He is a world class talent. At times though, he can be his own worst enemy. His conditioning has always been suspect and he can get caught up in the moment and stray from his game plan (as he did against Alves). Luckily for Parisyan, he is still young with plenty of potential that could still materialize. To his credit, Parisyan has fought legitimate contenders his entire career and has beaten a number of them, including, Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, Matt Serra, Drew Fickett, and Josh Burkman. Throughout his career, Parisyan has shown flashes of brilliance but needs to elevate his game to that level consistently if he wants to achieve greatness. It will be interesting to see how he responds in his next fight and whether or not the UFC decides to give him a credible opponent immediately or someone to help build him back up.
Regardless of the outcome, Parisyan displayed a lack of class after the bout with his emotional tirade. Understandably and even admirably, Parisyan is passionate about being a fighter and was upset about the loss. But he looked liked a spoiled child storming around the ring whining and stomping his feet. Next time take the defeat like a respectable professional and come back stronger in your next fight.
As for Alves, he has strung together an impressive win streak (five since his loss to Jon Fitch) and with his latest victory he has maneuvered himself into the title picture. Alves is a dangerous striker but has shown he can be beat when taken down and put on his back (Jon Fitch exposed this????). A fight with the winner of the upcoming Marcus Davis/Mike Swick bout could be a potential number one contender’s match (behind Fitch).
Gray Maynard def. Frankie Edgar (unanimous decision)
It’s unfortunate that someone as tough and talented as Frankie Edgar is simply too undersized to be dominant in the lightweight division. As my friend remarked during Edgars match with Gray Maynard, “it looks as though Maynard is fighting his little brother.” This comment seemed true because from a strictly size standpoint, Edgar looked like a mini-Maynard.
From the outset Maynard’s size and strength advantage was apparent. In the first round, Edgar had favorable positions but was unable to secure take downs because Maynard was able to muscle through them. Previously, Edger had put together a three fight UFC win streak against legitimate fighters. None the less, Edgar was exposed in this fight.
Maynard tested Edgar’s chin throughout the fight which proved to be stout. The problem for Edgar was that it became difficult for him to counter punch due to his short arms. Because of the distance, Edgar was forced to take several punches in order to deliver one. When Edgar flurried he was effective, but the combinations were few and far between. Still, Edgar has an array of skills. His striking has noticeably improved, he excels at wrestling, and he can slap on some submissions (attempted to trap Maynard in a kimura). It seems as though he is better suited for the featherweights at 145-pounds and might benefit from a move to the WEC’s up and coming division led by Uriah Faber.
Gray Maynard has consistently gotten better since his time on the Ultimate Fighter. The once one dimensional wrestler has developed his striking, worked on his footwork, and exhibited some sensational slams in his win over Edgar. Maynard trains with Randy Couture and the improvement in his game is evident and he should be a fighter to keep an eye on.
Nate Diaz def. Kurt Pellegrino (submission-via-triangle choke round 2)
Regardless of the outcome, Kurt Pellegrino is a tough opponent for any fighter. Win or lose, Pellegrino is going to lay it all on the line and present a difficult match up for any lightweight in the UFC.
For the majority of this fight, Pellegrino was not just winning, but dominating Diaz. When standing, Pellegrino was landing the much crisper and powerful strikes. On the ground, Diaz absorbed tremendous amounts of punishment. No matter where the fight went, it looked like Pellegrino was better in all facets. At one point in the opening round Diaz was caught in a crucifix (where one arm is immobilized while your opponent is on top controlling your posture and raining down punches) and the end seemed inevitable. Amazingly though, Diaz was somehow able to outlast the onslaught and find a way to survive. As the first round came to an end, Diaz was bleeding badly from a cut Pellegrino had opened up.
In the second round, Pellegrino picked up where he left off and looked just as comfortable. To Diaz’s credit, he never got flustered and remained calm throughout the fight which would eventually pay off for him.
Midway through the round, both fighters hit the ground and there was a battle for position. Pellegrino ended up on top of Diaz in his guard but using his slick, long legs, Diaz somehow managed to slap on a tight triangle choke that forced Pellegrino to tap. After looking as though Diaz might have been out of his league he still managed to find a way to win.
Clearly from the beating he took Diaz did not look impressive. But with this win he did prove his toughness and show his never die attitude. In order to be an elite fighter though Diaz needs to get stronger. He is so tall and thin that some fighters are able to out muscle him. Furthermore, he needs to find a way to make his unorthodox striking more effective. With that being said, Diaz is a skilled jiu-jitsuist and has heart for days. Most impressively though is that in many of his fights, Diaz puts on a submission clinic, transitioning from arm bars to chokes to triangles. It is a pleasure to watch how his ground game can perplex opponents. He is still young and continued improvement can make him a fixture in the division.
- The story of Houston Alexander’s is not only marketable but truly remarkable as well. Alexander is a jack-of-all-trades; he is a DJ, fighter, speaker, and most importantly a father. He has also donated one of his kidneys to his sick daughter in order to save her life. While his story makes him a fan favorite it has become clear that he is a flash-in-a-pan type fighter. He is completely one dimensional and got embarrassed for the second time in a row. Because of his moving story I foolishly bought into his hype as a fighter and am realizing now my mistake.
- This fight night exemplified how deep the lightweight division is in the UFC. While there is only one great fighter (BJ Penn) and two stars (Sean Sherk and Kenny Florian), the division has an abundance of young talent. With time, these younger fighters have the potential to be great. There is an array of established fighters in Roger Huerta, Tyson Griffin, and Joe Stevenson. Other guys like Clay Guida, Gray Mayanard, Frankie Edgar, and Din Thomas have shown flashes of brilliance.
- I think the defection of Tim Sylvia from the UFC is a huge loss. Sylvia at times has put together some lack luster performances, but he is one of the best heavyweights in the world. With Sylvia gone, Randy Couture refusing to fight in the UFC again, and Andrei Arlovksy’s status in limbo, the division has thinned out considerably. I don’t even know who the number one contender for Antonio Nogiera should be. Sylvia loses is a major loss to the organization and I believe it has been downplayed considerably considering its major implications.