Post UFC 115: Referees, Newbies, and What's Next
UFC 115, like most other pay-per-views, left a lot to be desired after all was said and done. Not only were some of the fights snoozers, but there were a lot of questions about referee decisions that were not up to snuff.
Why oh why are we in the fourth or fifth year of MMA being somewhat mainstream and still having referee problems. In my honest opinion, I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the fight organizations do not have any control over them. Here's the thing, there are still 3 states in the U.S. holding out on sanctioning MMA. The athletic commissions assigned when sanctioned are in charge of the referees that the organizations use, and seeing how corruptible man can be, I can see why. The problem is, is that we are asking states that are new to the sport to find or train referees in the sport in which they know nothing about. I, for one, would like to see organizations like the UFC and Strikeforce have schools or classes in which one can become a referee. There are tons of amateur fighting orgs. that would benefit from such help from the larger organizations, and in the long run, the larger orgs. will have better refs. The "kicking the head of a downed opponent whilst going for an arm triangle choke" call was pathetic, but not nearly as pathetic as the ref's stopping the fight to warn, then standing the fighters up only to have them get back down once the warning was issued.
Shock and Awe
One awesome thing that came from UFC 115 was the privilege of seeing three outstanding up and comers fight to the absolute best of their abilities. Evan Dunham outbested top five lightweight Tyson Griffin for three rounds, proving not only a force to be reckoned with but also a possible near future contender. Claude Patrick debuted in spectacular form taking out Ricardo Funch with yet another outstanding choke hold (his 9th choke hold win in 11 wins). And Canadian Rory McDonald, who came into this fight his second in the UFC, and was given former WEC champ Carlos Condit. McDonald dominated Condit, pressuring him non-stop until eating a right early in the third and falling to Condits gruesome GNP. He made it clear, not only can he bring it to some of the best, but also has class afterwards not blaming the last second stoppage (when he could have possibly won or brought the match to a draw) and thanking his opponent for being game.
The Main Event
So we get to the main even and saw the former light heavyweight champ Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell go up against the former middleweight champ Rich "Ace" Franklin in what the UFC wanted everyone to think was going to be a good matchup. In a ways, I guess they were right, I mean, Chuck did come into the fight with a good gameplan against Ace. He put the pressure on Franklin, made him scramble, and even hit him good a few times (at least one good hit since Rich ended up showing off what a badass he is fighting with a broken arm). The only problem with the Iceman's strategy was that newly discovered glass jaw. It should have been by all accounts a very predictable end to the fight (despite how much credit Liddell was given beforehand). The Iceman now has 3 consecutive losses via knockout, each one taking longer than the last to recover from. Franklin looked outstanding and in much better form at 205, and used his head movement and kept calm when crowded to pull off a clean win.
There are a few things that we should all like to see happen after this pay-per-view.
Franklin vs. Machida
This fight makes since. Franklin now is somewhat established, and being a former champion should get to face top tier opponents. Machida was Franklin's first loss, and now Machida needs a good opponent to keep him in the running. Stylistically, this fight is very interesting to me, but may not be as exciting, so we'll call it a Co-Main Event for now.
Dunham vs. Pellegrino/Sotiropolous
Dunham has proven himself able to face stiff competition. I have him ranked 10th in the division just below these two fighters. Both fighters give Dunham a big challenge, and the winner would move one step closer to a title shot.
Condit vs. Swick
This may not sound as good as the others but hear me out. Swick has been for a while top ten in the division although his fight history is somewhat thin. Condit being a former champion would either beef up Swick and quiet the doubters (if there are any other than myself) or Condit would defeat a top-tier opponent and move within one or two from a title shot.
UFC 115 had left us with a lot to be desired, but at the same time, I would have nothing to write about if it didn't. It was good to see the UFC use some of its new recruits, and I for one, couldn't have been more impressed.
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