As a fan who loves a good donnybrook, I have to admit that I was pretty excited going into UFC 125. I mean what more do you want when you have a card with guys like Diaz, Leben, Guida, Stann, Maynard, Gomi, Edgar, and Stephens. That is a card full of guys who come to fight, and bring out the best in the opposition that they face. All in all, I think it is fair to say that it was a great card, and a great way to start out the New Year.
Here are a few of the things that this fan saw as I watched last night.
I am sorry but we are getting to the point where the judging is affecting the outcome of at least one match per card. We, that is the guys paying the dough to watch, have had enough, and we demand that someone fix this.
The Edgar-Maynard match was a great one, and I would not want to be the poor guy trying to judge it. It was close, and I will admit that. I am sure everyone out there has an opinion about who won. The facts are that the ten point must system is not working. I had no idea who was going to be judged the winner. In the fight last night, we had three completely different scores between the judges, and one point scored the other way would have swung the vote.
I am not saying how, and I am not saying who. I am just saying that I am getting tired of the unpredictability of it all. I am saying that this is getting a little too close to the judging at the Olympics for figure skating.
Seriously. This is becoming one of the biggest sports in the world, and a multi-billion dollar business. Somebody needs to fix it while it is still fixable. MMA has changed and evolved since its inception, and there is no reason why this cannot be fixed.
Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard
Still think Frankie has no chin? Still think he lacks the size to fend off take downs from the bigger guys in the division? Still think he lacks the desire to be a champion? Frankie is erasing doubts, and although this fight went the distance, and turned out to be a draw, he still helped bring on another exciting main event.
Gray has all of the tools and looked pretty good in his first foray past the third round. I was surprised to see him out wrestled by Frankie, given his natural size advantage. Gray still has a long way to go, but presented himself pretty good. I admit, I thought it was over early.
Still, these two little guys did a great job of making this a memorable card, and have the MMA world looking forward to a rematch. This one had a little bit of everything, and has everyone in the MMA community talking.
About the only criticism I have of the UFC, is that prior to this match, they publicly came out and called Anthony Pettis the number one contender, and the guy who would fight the winner of the main event.
Unfortunately, we had no winner. Thus they have now stuck Pettis officially in limbo. If he stays inactive until after the rematch, which is not likely to happen for a few months, he runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, in a company, with a huge roster. Worse than that, what if he takes a fight and loses?
For me, it just brings to light what I feel is the main thing wrong in all of the MMA organizations out there...
Unpublished, and unsanctioned rankings
The facts are that if the UFC published a set of sanctioned rankings, we would know who exactly should be fighting for the belt. I have said it a hundred times over, but the current system is occasionally a popularity contest. With a roster the size of the UFC's, particularly, it would be nice to know the implications of each fight.
I do not think it will ever happen, because the current system is fan friendly. The fans ultimately get the best match ups, and the fights that the collective public wants to see. Still, an example is the Josh Koschek shot at GSP. Josh got the shot, because he is a villain, and people will tune in to see him. Jon Fitch is the most deserving of a rematch in the division. It also sure as heck does not hurt the PPV sales.
It is about marketability, and I get that. However, is the quest ultimately fair competition for all, and legitimacy? If so, we need to know the entire puzzle, that Dana, Joe Silva, and the Fertittas have posted in the war room. The implications of every match are hard to gauge, given that we are actually guessing as to who fits where in the rankings.
The only people who know where each fighter fits, and who should be fighting who, own and run the company. Where is the accountability in that for all of the fighters on the roster? The rankings are not being used for any level of legitimacy. They are being used and kept a closely guarded secret to angle towards better business and higher sales numbers.
It is not fair to the fighters on the roster, and it certainly is not fair to the guy watching, and paying the tab.
I think the thing that stood out for me the most on the entire card was the level of class and the humble nature of Brian Stann. Why the UFC had him fight Leben here, instead of on the Fight for the Troops in two weeks, I do not know. Going into the fight, I knew Leben, who is one of my favorites, was going to be in tough. But this?
When was the last time you even saw Chris get beat up like this, while almost delivering zero damage on the way? It was an impressive win, and a humble victory speech. What a great representative for the sport, The Military, The USA, and of course, The UFC.
The UFC needs to give guys like this a little more face time.
The truth is that Brandon Vera quit in his match with Thiago Silva. The truth is that Brandon "should" be next on the cut list. The truth, is that you can stick a fork in the truth.
The fact is that I am not buying into the Brandon Vera hype ever again.
Going into this fight Big Brando told everyone who would listen that he was "back", and was going to go out and let loose, and really put on a show. Well Brandon, about the only thing you showed was that you are still tentative, still lack an all-around game, and that a nose can in fact be smeared across a face.
Don't get me wrong. Fighting is a tough racket, and Vera is tough. So tough in fact, he basically laid there most of his match, getting beat on by an aggressive and tough dude in Thiago Silva. He did not tap during the match, and took a ridiculous amount of punishment.
When I say he quit, I just mean that he just physically looked content to lay there, waiting for the ref to stop his fight. Thiago, literally, bitch-slapped him across the head about ten times.
His head is obviously not right. When he goes out there and throws down, he is effective. He has wins in his career, and close losses to some pretty high level talent, in two different weight classes. He trains fighters, and has a great deal of experience, and a high level of talent.
I am not saying he should retire. I am not saying he is a bum.
I am saying the the UFC needs to stop charging me money to watch guys like Brando get beat up in uncompetitive match ups.
Nate is one of my favorite fighters. I love his attitude, and I think he has all of the tools to be relevant in the UFC. He shows up to fight, and actually tries in every fight, to amp up the heat between he and his opponent. But it is not working anymore. These guys are showing up, understanding that Nate does, what Nate does out there, and not letting it break them from their game plans.
His loss to Kim came as a bit of a surprise, and when Kim seemed unafraid to fight him on the ground, I thought he would get submitted. But to his credit, Kim out-wrestled him, and avoided dozens of submission attempts. I feel that the current judging system does not award enough points for submission attempts, and strikes from the bottom in the guard, but that is another conversation, for another day.
The facts are that Nate is not evolving as a fighter. It is almost as if he has hit the wall. He is showing up, and fighting the same fight, and ending up losing almost every time out, the same way. He needs to reassess his game plans, and preparation. He needs work in the same areas he needed work in three years ago. His age makes me think that he can still be a factor in whatever division he decides to compete in. He looks comfortable at this weight. What is lacking is a more all around approach. His wrestling and his dirty boxing need work. He seems to constantly throw straight punches at the face, and completely ignores any body work at all. he rarely kicks, despite having great legs, and technique.
Head hunting and mean mugging is not working. His opponents are showing up ready for what he will bring, and countering it effectively. He needs to start turning his weaknesses into strengths.
In the old days of the NFL, the quarterbacks called the plays based on what they saw when they hit the line of scrimmage. Nowadays, It is all planned out for them, and they have an earpiece, where some guy is telling them what to do out there, and what plays to run.
For the most part, it has created a lot more offense over the years. But there are times when you see a QB, that needs 11 yards for a first down on a third down conversion, run a draw, that cannot possibly go for more than three yards. Why? Its called game planning, and playing it safe.
Guida has learned not to go in there, and do what it is that made him "The Carpenter" in the first place. He was fighting an extremely good game plan, and actually made Gomi look confused out there. I am not saying it is a bad thing, other than, the fans are losing a guy who actually came to mix it up, and whoop some arse out there, for one who is showing up and fighting "not to lose". Hey, it worked. Guida got the "W", in a pretty good fight, and performance.
Still, I do not want to live in a world where guys like Guida go out there and fight safe. I watch to see real fights break out, and Guida has always been a guy who showed up to do just that, win or lose. Him versus Gomi seemed like a match-up that could easily turn into a war.
But with losses coming at a heavy premium on this stacked, and way too big roster...This will become the rule rather than the exception for a lot of fighters. Guida is not the first, and he definitely will not be the last. He needs wins on his records to remain relevant, and I credit him for getting one against the very talented and experienced Gomi.
Still, I love when he gets in there and just bangs, win or lose.
I do not know why, but I like to watch Phil Baroni. I think he is entertaining.
Don't get me wrong. Phil has invented new and exciting ways to lose out there. But he is a character, and he make me laugh. In his fight with Brad Tavares, I actually was crazy enough to think he might pull off a rare win.
But also, it wasn't meant to be, and I am not sure I am real surprised about it, nor am I sure I care.
I have said it before, and will say it again...If they ever have a "World Street Fighting Championship" my money would be on guys like Baroni, Ken Shamrock, or Kimbo Slice. I like watching guys like this in the under cards. Nobody will ever accuse any of them of not being tough. Nobody will ever call him afraid to fight anyone, anywhere, most likely, under any rules, win or lose.
Complete Martial Artist? Not many people are calling him that either.
I thought that the Card was a really good start to the New Year, and welcome your commentary below. I hope you all have a great year, and look forward to a lot of great fights and matchups in the future. Have great 2011.