Brock Lesnar doesn't just stop offense. He stops all movement from underneath. He keeps hips from swiveling and shoulders pinned to the mat. He uses a combination of size to blanket his opponent, strength to control them and natural athletic power to throw short yet crushing strikes in tight range. The secret to Bruce Lee's "one inch punch" was just physics: can you generate enough force in the one inch margin to knock a man off of his feet? For Lesnar, it's a similar circumstance. Even with Mir's head cradled in one arm and the other arm hand fighting with Mir, Lesnar needs only a few inches to land a substantive punch that won't turn the lights out, but quickly accumulates the punishment. Mir previously criticized Lesnar's ground and pound for not creating enough distance when he strikes, but if your power is so massive that you require nothing more than a marginal space, what can one reasonably do to defend?
The pressure to make the Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight happen for not just financial gain but for the benefit of the heavyweight division and the sport is going to reach a fevered pitch. White has been critical of boxing and the politics or perverse incentivization of sanctioning bodies that prevents major fighters from fighting one another in critical bouts for their divisions and boxing. I realize the UFC has standard operating practices with contract arrangements, but some renewed effort at reconciliation has to happen. I personally have sincere doubts about the parties being able to reach some consensus, but hope springs eternal.
I do like Mir's new attitude and even in defeat he didn't appear despondent. He does genuinely seem to be on the other side of his disaster and rebuilding phase. As Joe Rogan said last night, I hope this new ascetic, disciplined lifestyle and training attitude continues. With a few wins there is always the possibility of a rubber match even if at the moment there is positively zero interest.
For a very long time, I've thought some of the hype behind Thiago Alves has been manufactured. He deserved the title shot based on his performance in the welterweight division, but the proclamations about his skills and danger were somewhat exaggerated. For a lot of fans and insiders, Alves was supported and built up as a way for them to hedge their bets on his future. Clearly Alves is possessive of considerable skill, but there was also always a sense that he was too incomplete to stand up to St. Pierre's comprehensive offensive.
Rogan argues St. Pierre is the best wrestler in MMA. I have substantive issues with that assertion, but St. Pierre might have the best takedowns in the game. During the fights last night, notice how when St. Pierre shoots for the legs and feels resistance from Alves he immediately switches his hand positioning to the upper body to transition into a knee tap. That is positively impeccable timing, perfect technique and the sort of particularly rare athleticism capable of delivering incredible results.
Michael Bisping appears to be who we thought he was. He mostly delivered on what many predicted he would, namely, lots of movement, circling, jabbing and staying out of the way. Clearly he didn't do that well enough. Much is being made of Bisping's decision to circle into Dan's powerhand and while it's unforgivable Bisping did it, it's something that his camp had to know he'd do. Bisping likely feels more comfortable circling in that direction, irrespective of opponent. From the outside, I get the sense that his camp worked tremendously on defensive wrestling and not nearly enough on dealing with a Henderson who was executing plodding if effective ring generalship. As for Henderson, I'm with Josh Gross: let him fight the winner of Maia vs. Marquardt and let that winner be the man who earns the next title shot at Anderson Silva's belt.
I don't have much to say about Akiyama that Leland didn't already cover except that I thoroughly enjoyed his entrance and was glad to see the UFC allow him to bring the act over from Japan. As for Belcher, I get the sense he left some of that fight in the gym. His leg kicks were noteworthy, but there never really appeared to be a theme to his striking. He seemed to be very improvisational. I'm reminded of Charles McCarthy, so in love with his own jiu-jitsu that he feels he can lord it over opposition at will. For Belcher, I wonder if he felt too comfortable with his own skills to put together a more targeted game plan.
The only new takeaway from the Fitch vs. Thiago fight were Fitch's growth as a grappler and Thiago's surprising well-roundedness. For Fitch, he has shades of the wrestler-turned-fighter convert where he compromises his safety for positional dominance, but his ability to effectively take and hold the back caught my attention. It's not as if Fitch is hitting arm drags from the guard Marcelo Garcia style, but he is quite adept at slowly and methodically working himself into advantageous positions and holding himself there for long durations. As for Thiago, I don't get the sense he'll ever contend for a title, but he does appear to be ready to compete at this level (something I wasn't sure about given the previous fighters he has faced in Brazil). He doesn't have much of the wrestling necessary to compete so that will be a hurdle, but he does have excellent chokes and is always looking for angles and movement underneath to create openings be they submissions, sweeps or working back to the feet. I admired how active Thiago was in looking for some sort of weight to shift, limb to grab and space to create.
As for the undercard results, I'm in as much shock as others about Stephan Bonnar. We knew from the Evans fight that you can beat Bonnar on takedowns if one has to, but I never thought an aged, battered Coleman would be able to rinse and repeat over the course of three rounds.
Jon Jones continued his impressive run, but the ending there was fairly predictable. However, it is good to see he was able to work submissions into his repertoire as he grows and progresses.
I can't comment on the Kim vs. Grant fight until I see it, but from the Sherdog.com play-by-play it appears to be quite the ugly affair for the Canadian.
As for Lawlor, congratulations on the win. C.B. Dolllaway reminds of Denis Kang: great offense, not so great defense.
Last note: no one seems to be commenting on the new camera angles and camera positions the UFC employs. This is not the first event the UFC has used the overhead camera, but it's worth noting how much dimension it adds particularly when viewing in high definition. The moving overhead camera is an excellent, excellent addition to the viewing experience. I was asked last night what took the UFC so long to get such a decent camera position and the answer is likely money. The more cameras and camera positions used during a show, the more money it costs. Having an overhead camera that can move on a wire and appears to be able to rotate in a full circle is a costly piece of equipment. This is a small example of why a bigger more mainstream MMA means a better MMA.