UFC 121: 10 Things We Learned
UFC 121 was certainly a memorable event. It was not the greatest UFC event ever, but there were two fights that were outstanding and we saw the crowning of the first Mexican heavyweight champion in combat sports history (I'm surprised UFC didn't try and market that some more). Here are 10 things that were learned from UFC 121.
10. We Have No Idea How Good Matt Hamill Is
Matt Hamill beat a man far past his prime and fighting on his last legs. He was able to get some good shots in and outlasted Tito Ortiz to win the fight by unanimous decision. However, watching it he looks to be a solid fighter but not a guy who can hang with the top guys in the light heavyweight division.
He can be a good fighter who will stick on the main card of UFC events, but if you put him in against a guy like Shogun Rua, Rashad Evans, Forest Griffin, Rampage Jackson or Vitor Belfort he would be outmatched. He reminds me of a WWE wrestler who is a solid worker, but will never overwhelm you with charisma or talent.
9. Tito Ortiz Is Done
He is a former light heavyweight champion who is still on the main card for UFC based on what he did in the past, and not for his recent performance in the Octagon. There is no reason for Ortiz to fight again other than his own desire to fight.
It’s wrong to begrudge a man from wanting to do something that he loves, but Tito Ortiz is 0-5-1 in his last six fights with his last win coming four years ago. He is 35 years old and has gone through numerous injuries and ailments that have hindered his performance. It’s sad to say but there is no denying that Tito Ortiz’s days in UFC are (or at least should be) numbered.
8. Josh Koscheck Is the Biggest Villain in UFC Today
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Josh Koscheck might be the most hated fighter in UFC today. In the Court McGee-Ryan Jensen fight, there was a big commotion in the stands when Koscheck walked into the arena and the crowd was booing heavily. He was the most hated person on the show, and he wasn’t even fighting on this night. The heat for the GSP-Koscheck matchup in December is going to be off the charts.
7. Paulo Thiago and Diego Sanchez Stole the Show...Until the Main Event
Paulo Thiago and Diego Sanchez had the best fight on the entire card. Cain easily had the best knockout of the night, but it was the three round performance that these two men put on that was the best combined performance of the card. They went back and forth for 15 minutes and it was never boring or dragged out.
There were some great wrestling spots like Thiago monkey flipping Sanchez, and Sanchez lifting Thiago up and driving him into the mat with a powerslam. They traded punches, kicks and takedowns. It was exciting. Sanchez was able to get the judge's decision, but it was very, very good and very close between these two men for three rounds.
6. What Was Martin Kampmann Thinking?
Martin Kampmann had the worst fight strategy against Jake Shields. Martin Kampmann knew that his opponent's strength is his takedown ability, so he made it his mission to not get taken down. In doing so, Kampmann was so apprehensive to try any kind of striking that he cost himself a victory. This was a classic case of a fighter who fought not to lose as opposed to fighting to win.
5. Jake Shields Won, But...
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Jake Shields should not face the winner of GSP-Koscheck. For those that have seen Shields fight before, they would likely say that he is not an overly impressive fighter. He has an excellent takedown game and strong submission game, but he is boring as a fighter.
In his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann, he was not strong at all. He couldn’t land any punches or kicks, and he got a couple of takedowns but was never able to lock in a submission. He was able to keep his win streak alive thanks to a split decision, and Dana White said that Shields will get the winner of GSP-Koscheck, but he has a lot of work to do in order to keep up with either one of those two.
4. Brock Lesnar: What's Next?
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Where does Brock Lesnar go from here? It was one loss. His career is most definitely not over, but what happens next is up in the air. He needs to work on some things with his fighting game, but it would be useless to underestimate this man and what he is capable of because he is so uniquely talented.
He will likely have one fight against someone around the same time that the Velasquez-dos Santos bout goes down. Assuming that both Cain and Brock win their respective fights, that would perfectly set up a rematch which would likely be one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport.
3. Brock Lesnar's Biggest Weakness Shone Brightly Against Cain
Brock Lesnar needs to work on his standup fighting. It’s easy to be awestruck when watching Brock fight. He is a physical marvel: 6’3”, 265 lbs and abnormally quick for someone that size. However, he has never had any kind of standup game. His style consists of running at his opponent, drag them to the ground, pound on them and make them give up or he will lock in a submission and make them tap.
His biggest weakness was brought to light against Cain Velasquez. He had no kind of standup punching game and when he ran into someone who was just as quick as he is it flustered him. Brock has only been doing this for three years and has been getting better in each fight. This one showed him another aspect of his game that he needs to improve on to get the title back.
2. Junior Dos Santos Will NOT Beat Cain Velasquez
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Junior dos Santos is the No. 1 contender and will fight Velasquez at some point in the near future. Dos Santos is a very good striker and has the ability to land a punch that could take down Cain. With that said, he is nowhere near as fast as Cain and as we saw against Lesnar. Cain’s striking is stronger than it has ever been. In this sport, it’s very difficult to say never, but knowing dos Santos and seeing Cain it would be a shock to see dos Santos be able to defeat Cain given the speed difference between the two fighters.
1. Cain Velasquez Is Now a Superstar Fighter
Cain Velasquez is THE BEST HEAVYWEIGHT in UFC today and it might not be that close.
This fight was perfect for Cain in so many ways. He dominated Brock Lesnar and was able to capture the heavyweight championship in the process. He made his claim to being the best heavyweight fighting in the Octagon. It’s not just that he won, but it’s the way that he won.
He didn’t succumb to the quick onslaught that Brock tried to put on him at the beginning of the fight. Brock took him down, and he got right up. Brock tried to punch but couldn’t land anything. Cain used a combination of speed and power and completely humbled Brock.
He was faster, stronger and quicker than Brock and now he is the No. 1 heavyweight in UFC. Cain was very good before and now he is the best of the elite fighters in the heavyweight division.