UFC 131 saw some solid displays of striking take place in the Octagon, but some of the reaction left me wondering what some boxing personalities would think of the punches thrown during the event. Lucky for me, I didn't even have to do any legwork as a few interesting statements have come out over the past few days. First, Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook talked about Sam Stout's KO of Yves Edwards:
Sometimes, MMA folks will talk about a fighter's great boxing skills, and I've always kind of said, "Yeah, it's good boxing for MMA." This is sort of what I mean -- Stout's boxing here is not great, but it's good for MMA and the environment of that fight. But would I look at him and say, "That guy could box"? No. This is why I don't look at Nick Diaz and assume he'd actually be successful in boxing. KJ Noons is a pretty good MMA boxer with some pro boxing experience, too, but he wasn't good enough to beat James Countryman, and Countryman never boxed again.
Again, this is not meant to crap on Stout, the knockout, or MMA. Like I said, this is an excellent example of what I mean when I say that MMA boxing doesn't necessarily translate for boxing fans -- this is good stuff, and it's exciting, and it's a hell of a knockout that will be among the nastiest of the year in either sport, and I still wouldn't look at this and wonder how Stout would translate to boxing, even though he's a kickboxer and Muay Thai guy (I rarely wonder how those guys would translate either, for the record).
I'm sure some people will get upset without really thinking about what Scott is saying. Basically, his point is that there are big technical differences (he notes the different stance for the prevention of takedowns, dealing with kicks, etc.). And those technical differences mean that when he, as a boxing fan, sees a highlight reel KO or a guy who MMA fans brag about their "great boxing" that he tends to see a guy who has good striking for the sport and doesn't have that gut reaction of needing to make it more than it is and elevate a mixed martial artist to a "great boxer."
A former Olympic boxer, Howard Davis Jr. weighed in on the striking display from Junior dos Santos against Shane Carwin (via Yahoo! Sports' Cage Writer blog):
"If you compare it to boxing it wasn't that good. It was okay for MMA," Davis told Alex Donno from 790 the Ticket in Miami. "If he was a pure boxer, he would've knocked him out a long time ago. He just seemed cautious and scared. He didnt throw enough jabs. He should've put him away."
"If Chuck Liddell [in his prime] was a heavyweight fighting one of these guys, especially Shane carwin, he would've knocked him out," said Davis. "Chuck was a fast starter. He didn't play. He tried to put you away. These guys are just too tentative too me."
It's actually a little bit funny to see someone complain about the boxing on display by dos Santos, who is one of the best "boxing in MMA" guys and then reference Chuck Liddell. Chuck's overhand right was not exactly the kind of thing you'd ever see taught in a reputable boxing gym, but Davis' point about killer instinct should stand. Junior did have plenty of opportunity to put away Carwin during the fight but when the first round flurry didn't get the stoppage he came off the gas a little.
That isn't to say he never threw a shot for the KO after, but more that he probably would have benefited from putting more pressure on Carwin. It was clear that Shane didn't have the speed to counter and Junior probably would have been safe to open up a little bit more to try to hurt a wounded and likely partially blinded foe.