MMA has one of the most fickle fan-bases in all of sports. Often times, fans invest a lot of stock (or money, for the bettors) into their predictions and are angered when they don’t come through. No fighter is immune to this scrutiny following a loss. In recent months, we have seen great fighters like Fedor, BJ Penn, and Lyoto Machida all have their records dismantled and deemed as overrated. While some dissection is often warranted and interesting to discuss, all too often the discussion digress into "Fighter X sucks and has never been any good," which is typically as far from the truth as possible.
This Saturday night, two great fighters will compete in the main event of UFC 128. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is one of the greatest, if not the best, fighters to compete in the 205lb weight class. He packs serious power in both his hands and legs and has the killer instinct to end a fight at anytime he senses his opponent is in danger. He has defeated a "whos who" in the division with wins over Rampage Jackson, Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem, and Lyoto Machida.
Jon "Bones" Jones is "the next big thing" in MMA. He is 23, athletic, lanky, strong, and unorthodox. He has great wrestling credentials and comes from the premiere MMA gym in the business, Jackson’s MMA. His willingness to let it flow in the cage is something to be admired considering the amount of hype and pressure being placed on his shoulders. He has wins in his UFC career over Stephan Bonnar, Brandon Vera, and Ryan Bader. He has stepped up in competition with each fight and as Joe Rogan would say, "passed with flying colors"To help out some readers after the fight, I will discuss three things you will probably hear about each fighter following a loss at UFC 128. Please add in the comments or disagree with my statements.
Following a Shogun loss:
(1) Since 2006, Shogun has only beat one highly ranked fighter, Lyoto Machida, who he went 1-1 with. Beating a shot Mark Coleman and a fading Chuck Liddell aren’t really standout victories.
(2) His ground game is way overrated. He has only submitted one fighter in his career, Kevin Randlemann, who isn’t much of a BJJ player. His takedown defense is terrible, If a 41 year old, purple Mark Coleman could take him down, any live body with some wrestling can do it.
(3) His knees are shot. All the talk about properly healing before a fight for the first time in his career was ridiculous. 3 knee surgeries are going to leave their mark and he will never be the same.
Following a Bones loss:
(1) Beating up old guys (Matyushenko and Bonnar) and washouts (Brandon Vera and Jake O’ Brien) aren’t guys that should build a title run. None of them are any good, and the jury is still out on Ryan Bader as a prospect.
(2) His striking sucks. For all of his talk about being like Anderson Silva, he doesn’t use his range well and lacks power in his strikes. Spinning elbows and superman punches are nice, but when you lack the fundamentals you can’t compete on the highest level of the sport.
(3) He can’t compete with guys who can compare to his speed. When fighting wrestlers, he has beat them to the punch and been much quicker and more agile. When fighting a fighter like Shogun who can keep up with him as an athlete, his developing skills and immature technique are exposed.
This is all just in fun and meant to stir up some discussion. I don’t want this fanpost to be perceived as fighter bashing. I do not necessarily subscribe to any of the ideas presented; I just think they have the potential to be talked about following the result of the fight. I should also note that not only are losses discredited but wins are as well. The loser of the fight is quickly dismissed as not that good anyway, allowing for doubters of the winner to still be skeptical. This was a common theme immediately following Jones vs. Bader.