UFC on May 31: Takeaways from Germany and Brazil
The UFC put forth two events on Saturday. It all started in Berlin, Germany in the early afternoon and advanced to Sao Paulo, Brazil in the evening.
First on the docket was UFC Fight Night 41.
Middleweights Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz headlined the event, and Mousasi made quick work of the No. 7-ranked challenger. He dominated the action, submitted Munoz and will move up the middleweight ladder.
Also on the card, C.B. Dollaway defeated Francis Carmont, and Sean Strickland narrowly escaped Luke Barnatt.
In Brazil, Stipe Miocic crushed Fabio Maldonado in less than a minute. In addition, two new Ultimate Fighters were crowned.
Here are the main takeaways from the UFC's dual-fight card weekend.
Dollaway Is a Top 10 Middleweight
C.B. Dollaway could have been ranked in the top 10 already if not for a questionable decision loss to Tim Boetsch. Now there is no doubt as to his place in the UFC's middleweight division.
He put forth one of the most complete performances in his career.
He knocked Carmont down, took him down and controlled him when he was down. He showed off most of his tools en route to a decision win.
Dollaway's progression as a fighter has been something to watch. He is finally maturing into a top-tier 185-pound fighter. I used to be a former doubter, but Dollaway has made me a believer. A winner in four of his last five fights, he has a lot of potential left to fulfill.
Munoz Is Not an Elite Middleweight
Mark Munoz has bordered on being an elite middleweight for some time, and the UFC has given him a wealth of chances to take the next leap. He has never been able to do it.
UFC Fight Night 41 was his fourth time headlining a fight card, and he came up short for the third time. In all three losses, he was dominated by his opponents. On Saturday that opponent was Gegard Mousasi.
Munoz still has a lot of value, but most of that value is outside of the cage. He can still challenge fighters, but it is clear the aging fighter cannot compete against the elite of the division. There is no telling what is next for the former top-five contender.
The only thing for certain is that his relevancy in the upper echelon is all but gone.
Performance of the Night Structure Has Issues
When the UFC moved to the Performance of the Night bonus system, it was generally believed that it merely removed the Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night titles in case there were no finishes on the card.
That thought was crushed on Saturday.
UFC Fight Night 41 had several submissions and one knockout. The UFC did not reward Yuri Alcantara's 25-second knockout or select a Fight of the Night. Instead, the company selected four submission winners for the bonuses.
It is a curious decision to abandon that structure, and it was even more curious to see the most electric finish left off the bonus list as well. If the UFC wants to continue this system, it needs to define the structure behind it more clearly.
Chael Sonnen Is a Great Coach, Ambassador
Chael Sonnen was one-half of the coaching tandem for The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil's third season, and he made the trek to Sao Paulo for the finale.
Three of the four finalists came from his team. That alone shows his ability to coach, especially after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter a few seasons ago. However, he continued to show why he is a great coach and ambassador for the sport.
He was genuine in his support for his fighters. He congratulated his winners, consoled the losers and talked them up repeatedly.
Sonnen is a polarizing figure due to how he generates interest in his fights, but when he breaks character in moments like these, you can see why he is such a valuable commodity for MMA. He cares. He cares about the sport and the fighters.
His support on Saturday highlighted why he is one of the best figures in the sport today.
10-Fight Cards Are Better Than 12
UFC Fight Night 41 featured only 10 fights on the card, and the pacing seemed great. The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finale had 12, and it dragged on for far too long.
There are a couple of factors that played into this. First, UFC Fight Night 41 aired on Fight Pass with a bit of a quicker pace, as opposed to the card in Brazil, which aired on Fox Sports 1 and was required to be a bit more drawn out due to commercials.
Secondly, the TUF finale card featured several lackluster fights.
Regardless, we have learned that the magic number for a fight card may be 10. It seems to be the perfect tipping point between fun and oversaturation. With the UFC putting on more and more fight cards, perhaps it will be forced to drop the overall number of fights per card to 10.
One can hope.
The Ultimate Fighter Can Still Produce Quality Talent
TJ Dillashaw proved doubters wrong that The Ultimate Fighter was irrelevant in terms of developing new talent, and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil continued to prove that.
Without question, the top talent coming off the third season of the show is Warrley Alves.
The talented prospect dominated his fight before finishing with a guillotine just 25 seconds into the third round. His coach on the show, Chael Sonnen, has been very vocal about his talent. He stated on the Fox Sports 1 pre-show that Alves has the talent to compete with the very best in the middleweight division.
Antonio Carlos Junior defeated Vitor Miranda in the heavyweight final, but both are likely to drop to 205 soon. They are quality additions to a division that needs more athletic fighters. They are most certainly that.
The Ultimate Fighter may not produce depth in each season as the first few installments did, but it can still bring up some talented fighters through the ranks. It is a pressure cooker that speeds up the development process.
Miocic Needs a Contender's Fight
Saturday was supposed to be a contender's fight for Stipe Miocic, but his destruction of an overmatched light heavyweight only proved that is what he needs.
The heavyweight division is thin. There are only a couple of interesting heavyweights at the top tier of the division, and Miocic is one of them. He needs a contender's fight to get into the title discussion, and the UFC needs a challenger for the winner of Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum.
Also, it would help the UFC in having a replacement, should one of those two get hurt before they fight later this year.
The entire sport of MMA has a heavyweight problem. Miocic needs to have his name elevated so that the division has another premier contender for the title. I expect the UFC will try to do just that, but Saturday highlighted the issue.
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