I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable MMA fan. I think I have a pretty decent grasp of a lot of the techniques used, the fighters and their histories, and a general sense of how match-ups may play out. However, every once in a while a fight will catch me completely off guard because of some factor I either completely misread or didn't acknowledge at all. Here are a few examples:
- Oh yeah, Forrest Griffin throws really slow strikes. REALLY slow. I forgot about that. Maybe the speed advantage for Anderson Silva will give him the edge to - . Oh, it's over. That wasn't even close. Not even a smidge.
- Oh yeah, 5 round fights go the full 25 minutes. And Chael Sonnen has abysmal submission defense. And he spent most of the fight inAnderson Silva's guard. I guess when you line all those things up, the ending didn't completely come out of nowhere. I forgot about all that.
More about my failings and the Miller/Bisping fight after the jump.
If your first takeaway is that I don't have any idea what I'm talking about, you're probably more right than you realize. That's not to say that I'm completely ignorant, just that my analysis of how potential match-ups play out are handicapped by A) the extreme amount of random probability that can affect an MMA match very quickly and B) the limited information I have to extrapolate future fights. A few minutes of cage time a year is not a lot of data to sift through when trying to make comparisons or run hypotheticals. And because I'm not a hardcore fan, I have even less knowledge to work off then many of my SB peers. I now recognize that there will always be a large amount of instinct at work when these picks are made. And my instincts are horrible. So hopefully my disclosures will assist all of us in recognizing two distinct truths: MMA is a very hard sport to predict, and I should never be allowed to do the predicting.
But old habits die hard and Michael Bisping is really hard to support. So Saturday night I found myself hoping that Miller would win through a steady blend of high-frequency take downs and effective ground control. I didn't expect to see a stoppage and I honestly acknowledged that Bisping had plenty of tools to pull off a victory. Say what you will about Bisping but his striking is very proficient, his TDD defense and hips from the ground are extremely frustrating and his top game G&P is brutal.
I knew all that going in. What I forgot, for whatever reason, is how GODDAMN AWFUL Jason Miller's TD's are. His cardio was surprisingly disappointing as well, but his open mat TD were wince-inducing every time he bent over at the waist and flailed his arms like a drunk toddler. No striking setup. No commitment to driving through. Just bend over like you saw a tremendously shiny penny, sling your arms at his knees and ..... I'm not sure what's supposed to happen next. Being a medium that responds well to visual stimuli, I tried to find pictures from the fight to illustrate my observations and criticisms. Perhaps being more self-aware than any of us thought, Google generated zero useful results when I tried a combination of the fighters' names and event info. Being as aesthetically unattractive as they were the first time, maybe the Internet figures that seeing it once was enough for all concerned.
Again, when Bisping doesn't want to go down, he makes it tremendously hard with automatic underhooks and an intuitive sense of balance that makes you earn every bit of that TD. But Jake Shields is no push-over either and Miller had consistent success with gaining a body lock against the cage. For what ever reason, that option didn't manifest in any way Saturday night and Mayhem's clunky striking was ultimately neutralized by straight striking from the Count en route to a very definitive ass-kicking.
When I look back on all of the Mayhem fights I'm familiar with, I'm struck by the fact that he's never really shown the type of TD's I expect are necessary against someone as defensively sound as Bisping. He usually wades into close-range, gets the body lock from cage or corner and works from there. Why I expected any different from Miller is a question that can probably be answered equal parts distorted memory and basic ignorance. Which is why, Saturday night, I sat in front of my TV and had another "Oh yeah...." moment courtesy of Mayhem Miller and his awful TD's. In that sense, we were both losers. It bears mentioning that I, at least, didn't get punched in the face approx. 300 times. So I have that going for me.