UFC 117 Wrap Party: Rick Story's Awesome Night, The Jon Fitch Conundrum

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UFC 117 Wrap Party: Rick Story's Awesome Night, The Jon Fitch Conundrum

While the buzz is still deservedly on the main event, arguably the most impressive performance from Saturday's UFC 117 wasn't even seen by anyone watching on PPV.

In his fifth tilt inside the Octagon, 25-year-old Rick Story pounded on poor Dustin Hazelett, earning a second-round TKO win when Hazelett failed to fight back while grounded.

Honestly, that paragraph doesn't do justice to the whupping Story unleashed, a battering of Hazelett's body with punches that was guided by patience.

Story repeatedly let Hazelett back up to his feet and every time, Hazelett answered the challenge...slower every time.

After losing his UFC debut just over a year ago to prospect John Hathaway, Story (11-3) has put together a four-fight win streak. It must have felt good to finish, as his last two wins came via the always-controversial split decision.

While the bright lights that surround Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre are still far in the distance, Story is an intriguing prospect in a division that could use some more finishers.

 

Speaking of non-finishers, do you know Jon Fitch?

I love the Jon Fitch game face as he goes out to the cage. I love the fact he's got a reputation as a grinder, how he's about winning at all costs and how he had a fight booked just three weeks before getting married.

I just don't love watching him fight.

Saturday's unanimous decision win over a lifeless Thiago Alves was his fifth in a row and he's lost just once in what is becoming a long and successful UFC career.

At 23-3, he's poised to possibly avenge that loss if GSP can defeat No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck later this year.

But are you eager to see that fight? I'm not.

That same grinding style that has created a winner is also grinding on viewers as well. Fans routinely boo during Fitch fights, not because he's disliked.

Simply, the wrestling style he excels at isn't crowd-pleasing and he's clearly a decision fighter with Saturday's win being his eighth-straight fight that has gone the distance.

It's an interesting conundrum for the UFC. They can't deny him a shot anymore because he's dull, but selling a GSP/Fitch rematch on its own will be difficult to do. Perhaps the sleeping pill market could be a new sponsor if that fight gets booked.

 

The comeback makes a comeback

Between Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva's out-of-nowhere fifth-round submission win over Chael Sonnen and Stefan Struve's best Scott Smith impersonation, the UFC comeback has..well...made a comeback.

As they ran the replay of the Struve/Christian Morecraft undercard fight, I knew Struve had won via TKO but didn't say anything to those around me.

It was awesome to see people say Struve was done and that he was going down in the second round, only to be proven wrong.

Anything can happen in this sport. ANYTHING.

And then, there was Silva's triangle which has helped the fight get more web ink today than anyone probably expected going in.

There's more than enough opinion out there about Silva/Sonnen to read, but I will say that fight helped both guys' careers in ways I didn't expect. I hope we get to see that rematch someday soon.

 

Junior dos Santos is on the doorstep

With his hard-fought unanimous decision win over Roy Nelson, Junior dos Santos earned himself a shot at the UFC Heavyweight title. That, we know. What we don't know is what JDS we'll get when that happens.

dos Santos was amazing with his striking in the first round, almost ending Nelson's night early ala Andrei Arlovski. But he wasn't aggressive enough in trying to finish Nelson and the double-tough "Big Country" pushed JDS to his physical limits in a well-earned victory.

As JDS' career evolves, it will be interesting to look at this fight and how important it was to his career.

Champions need these type of ugly wins in their path to the championship, especially if they've been on a streak of knocking guys out early.

Everyone is mortal, and Nelson could have easily hit a right hand that would have given him the shot at the gold instead.

A much-discussed Shane Carwin/Nelson fight could give Carwin a similar test. Nelson is still a viable force in the heavyweight division and given what we saw Saturday, he'll give Carwin's cardio another big test.

 

The problem with Clay Guida is....

...he's not an elite-level fighter and it's a damn shame.

It's hard not to be a fan of Guida's attitude, emotion, and overall approach to MMA. If the UFC ever needed a lifetime ambassador, it would have to be Guida.

I'm guessing if he was unleashed on the politicians in New York, MMA would have been legalized years ago.

But Guida's strange submission win Saturday over Rafael dos Anjos was bland in spots, nothing close to the rock 'em, sock 'em nature of the epic loss to Diego Sanchez or even his recent win over Shannon Gugerty.

Guida is good, but never can seem to get a long win streak going or defeat a big-name opponent to justify a title shot.

At 28, Guida still has time, but we need to see something different his next time out, something to make us believe that his game is progressing and that he's got a shot against a top 155 contender.

A Guida title chase would be epic, filled with many more rock-star walkouts like Saturday night.

Josh Nason is a freelance MMA journalist that has contributed to FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo Magazine and Bleacher Report, appearing regularly on The Fight Show with Mauro Ranallo . Follow him on Twitter, will ya?

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