Sorry that these results are so delayed, but as it was a holiday weekend I was only able to watch the fights last night. Thank goodness for DVR. I must say, UFC 132 delivered and more. It was an excellent card, top to bottom. As the title suggests, I’m going to throw some of my random thoughts- or "manic musings" into this Questions Answered article.
Best Walkout Music: Carlos Condit for Rage Against the Machine's "Know Your Enemy"
Always Awesome Walkout Music: Wanderlei Silva's techno (Darude- Sandstorm)
-If Yushin Okami gets hurt, I vote for GSP to move up to fight Anderson Silva and the UFC book Nick Diaz vs Carlos Condit. Here would be the caveat- If GSP wins, he obviously stays at MW; If he loses, the fight after will be for the welterweight title. Zahabi has already stated that GSP’s weight gain has had diminishing returns- why not take a huge money fight against Anderson without gaining too much weight.
-Condit got REALLY high with his jumping knee. As I said in my predictions, I NEED to see Condit vs. GSP, and I still do. It will be a shame if the UFC matches Condit against Fitch, because frankly I think Condit has proven he has the ability to give anyone trouble in a five round fight, and they shouldn't allow Jon or Jake Shields to steal Carlos's streak with a three round "Fitching."
-If you listen closely, you’ll hear loud "Tito" chants reverberating throughout the arena about 15 seconds before he dropped Bader, giving Ortiz a huge explosion of energy that he threw into the right hookercut. It really gave the "I love you" mime he mouthed to the crowd a genuine feeling. As an Ortiz fan, I’m glad he’s back because Tito adds a dynamic personality to the sport and brings a huge following of fans with him.
-P.S. Tito’s shirt read "I am not the next somebody, I am the first Tito Ortiz." I think that’s a potent and poignant point.
-You often hear in sports that a team having success in an unconventional way will always breed copycats. I suspect that many of the takedowns Wiman utilized in the fight will be used in future matches you see. I particularly like his technique of dipping his head under Siver’s leg while he had the German pressed against the cage and had ahold of a single leg. By utilizing this technique, he was able to avoid Siver’s guillotine and use more of his body to get Dennis off balance. It seems like a great way to gain back control as well. I’m not sure if Siver getting the decision was correct, but I think the argument boils down to on what basis the judges are scoring: Siver definitely outlanded Wiman, but Wiman had a good submission attempt, more aggression in my opinion, and a few good overhands landed to go with the edge in takedowns. Siver had some takedown defenses, and a lot more landed strikes, but relinquished a few timely takedowns to Matt. While I don’t really disagree with Siver being awarded the fight, I think it could’ve gone Wiman’s way, and I also think the final round could’ve been scored a 10-10. What makes me lean toward Wiman in this fight is how razor close the third was, and how much more dominant Wiman was in the second round than Siver was in the first.
More after the jump, and my pre-fight questions answered.
-I really hate Mario Yamasaki’s heart symbol he makes to the camera- unless he’s doing that for a family member or something. In that case, I still don’t like it.
-Chris Leben looked to be in fantastic shape for this fight. I don’t know why everyone has gotten on Wanderlei for his performance- asking him to retire- I think this fight was more a sign that Leben really has progressed, and Brian Stann is just THAT good. Wanderlei came out guns blazing per usual, and as we heard from Leben in his post fight interview, Silva landed a bomb on Leben’s nose that got the latter brawling. In my mind, the fight-changing punch was Leben’s left hand that landed behind Wanderlei’s ear. It threw out the legend’s equilibrium, and we saw him reach for a Thai clinch that is normally devastating for his opponents. In this case, he failed to bring Chris closer to him, and the "Crippler" capitalized with some massive uppercuts. I’m not sure how this fight was a sign that Silva needs to retire, though- it was a TKO, not a brutal lights-out knockout, and Leben is one of the best 185 pounders in the world.
-I’m not sure if it the real reason for Rafael Dos Anjos’s knockout victory over George Sotiropoulos was his training in Singapore- but he threw a punch I can only describe as "Leonard Garcia-esque" and put the Aussie’s lights out for a brief second. It was a flash knockout that George immediately recovered from, and it left me on the fence as to whether it was an early stoppage or not. I’m leaning towards no, but I wouldn’t be surprised to have George speak to the contrary in the future. Has the time passed for GSot’s contendership? Definitely for the moment.
Holy sh!#, Anthony Njokuani. Also, Andre Winner- is your chin made of the same metal as the X-Men’s characters Colossus’s chin or Wolverine’s claws (adamantium)? That first round was an absolute beating (surefire 10-8, if we were scoring half points it would be 10-7.5), and I for one am stunned by how much more complete Anthony’s striking looked compared to Winner’s. Njokuani utilized two really effective weapons to dictate the distance of the fight- first, a tight uppercut every time Winner tried to close the gap, and second, a back leg push/ side kick very reminiscent of the Anderson Silva vs Thales Leites title fight at UFC 97. I don’t want to borrow Joe’s and Goldy’s fight analyses, but it was clearly a more complete striking arsenal that won "the Assassin" the bout. Despite his dominance, I think Anthony’s cardio kept him from finishing the fight, and he spent much of the latter two rounds with his mouth open- an oversight that could haunt him if he ever fights someone who can time his duck and uppercut strategy and either deliver a solid strike to thread the defense or change levels and use Njokuani’s long frame against him.
Questions: Has Shane Roller figured out how to successfully translate his excellent wrestling background into Mixed Martial Arts? Will his submission prowess enable him to overcome the odds in this fight and attack the perceived greatest weakness of his opponent? Will Melvin be able to avoid the mat in this fight? Also, does he sit back and jab out a decision much like his fight with Jeremy Stephens, or will he instead come out aggressive and looking to make a statement?
Answers: Who knows? No. Yes. BIGTIME Statement. Melvin kept his hands low- a strange strategy against someone coming off an unexpected knockout victory in their last fight, but it appears as if he wanted to showcase how lopsided this matchup actually was. Roller landed a few good strikes, but none seemed to phase Guillard, who looked like a madman in stalking down Shane. Melvin proved his abilities are on a whole other level than a few of the middling fighters in the division, and he needs to be matched up with the best of the best to truly prove it. With Gray Maynard still not ready for another title fight, should Frankie Edgar instead be matched up with Melvin? ABSOLUTELY.
Questions: Will the time away from the cage prove to have improved Rafael's striking and evolved his jiu-jitsu or will he need time to shake off the rust? Does Dos Anjos have the capabilities to overcome a significant step up in competition, or is this a fight designed to get George Sotiropoulus back on the winning track? Does George look like he's improved his boxing and offensive wrestling skills?
Answers: I’m not sure if you can really determine how much Dos Anjos’s striking has improved by looking at this fight, because the back and forth looked pretty sloppy in the beginning of the first round. However, this was Rafael’s first career knockout victory, so I guess for that to happen his striking had to have improved in the layoff. What I can definitively say from the few moments we have to go off of- RDA’s footwork and striking defense looked superb. I don’t think George landed a strike more significant than a leg kick. Obviously, RDA was ready for the step up in competition- again though, with these types of fast fights I’m not sure you can measure his abilities as well as you could in a grueling decision. George’s boxing looked okay- nothing spectacular- but we now know that he simply cannot brawl, and he should keep his hands up when he gets within haymaker range. In terms of his offensive wrestling, he did not shoot for a single takedown in the entirety of the fight. With regards to the Brazilian- I think he’s going to be a force in this division in a year or so. He’s always had the grappling technique to compete with anyone in the division; we then saw him add leg kicks into his repertoire, and now great footwork, and obviously knockout power. At 26, and having the experience against the guys he’s fought- I think slow and steady is the best strategy, but Rafael looked fantastic.
Questions: Does Bader try to follow a similar gameplan to Matt Hamill, testing Ortiz’s wrestling and skills from his back, or does he look to test the aging Ortiz’s chin? Know that he has historically had the better cardio, will Ortiz look to wear Ryan out in the first round and then keep the pace as high as he can, hoping to break Bader? Can Tito use footwork and range to keep away from Bader’s powerful double leg? Finally, can "Darth" rebound from his first career setback to get back on the winning track, or does he look tentative to engage and in doing so leave openings in the Octagon?
Answers: Did Ryan even attempt shooting on Tito in the fight? No. It looked like he "knew" Tito didn’t have power in his strikes, enabling him to just wade in and throw heavy overhand rights and lead left hooks like he always does. Tito never had a chance to test "Darth’s" cardio, but I’m pretty sure the Ortiz we saw in the cage on Saturday was ready for anything that Bader had to offer. He looked like a man possessed, and full of emotion. Unfortunately for Darth, he suffered another setback in his young career- although losses to Jon Jones and Tito wouldn’t hurt him as much as losing to someone in the middle of the pack- say a Brandon Vera. I’m not sure he thought that he was leaving openings as much as not acknowledging any power Tito could have in his strikes. As an Ortiz fan, seeing him dig the grave for the first time in years was pretty awesome. I know some say a celebration like that is unnecessary- given the circumstances, I think it was warranted and deserved for the legend.
Questions: After seeing Dennis Siver stuff George Sotiropoulos’s attempts to bring the fight at UFC 127, will he be able to continue the trend and shuck off Wiman’s attempts to put the fight on the mat? What tactics do Wiman employ to deal with the rangy kickboxing of Siver, and does he continually step away from Siver’s powerful spinning kicks? Does the domination of Miller and Sotiropoulos seem to have any hangover effects for either fighter, or do they look hungry to tack on a fourth victory to their winning streak?
Answers: Dennis continued his success in defending the standard takedowns that we most often see attempted in the cage- the double and single leg, both in the open and against the cage. Siver’s arm length, musculature, and compact frame helps him sprawl quickly and makes his taller opponents have to get very low to complete a takedown. He stuffs the head well, and has a good move to combat his opponents pressing him against the fence- placing a knee down and trying to pummel under. He uses great balance and good explosive bursts to shuck off his adversary. That being said, I’m not sure that Siver was prepared for the types of takedowns that Wiman was attempting, even though he probably stopped about 75% of them. To deal with Siver’s kickboxing, Wiman was relentless and used massive overhand right attempts- landing a few- to close the distance and press Dennis into the fence. The disparity in kicking was quite obvious: Wiman threw a missile of a head kick at one point, only to have it miss, but most of his kicks left him off balance and retreating; Siver, on the other hand, can throw leg kicks from any angle and looks similar to a lightweight Cung Le due to that ability. In my opinion, the fight lacked a fever pitch intensity but both fighters looked well trained, well studied, and very hungry to dispatch the other.
Questions: Combining Leben’s knockout loss to Brian Stann and his pre-fight "fear" talk- how hesitant will he be to stand and trade with Wanderlei, and will he perhaps try to use his limited offensive wrestling repertoire to grind out a victory? Is Wanderlei coming out guns blazing, or will he use his definitive advantage in kicks and speed to keep Leben out of range? How does Silva’s normal frenetic pace and caution-to-the-wind strategy suffer from his injury and rehabilitation? Can Leben rebound from his second career KO loss (his only other being toAnderson Silva), or does his chin finally looked weathered from the punishment he’s taken throughout his career? Finally- does Leben look like he has mentally taken himself out of the fight, or were his pre-fight words a ruse to make Silva over confident?
Answers: Definitely no wrestling either way in this fight. Wanderlei came out exactly the same as he always has, and the fight was too short to tell if his cardio suffered from the injury and layoff. Leben’s chin still withstood a Silva winging left directly on the nose, so I’d say it was more the accumulated damage that put him away against Stann. I don’t think Leben’s mentality took him out of the fight- but I will say that he looked EXTREMELY emotional after knocking Wanderlei out, and it looks like he definitely had something to prove to himself.
Questions: What type of gameplan does Carlos utilize to try to neutralize Kim's wrestling, i.e. has he worked on his sprawl and brawl technique or his footwork to avoid Kim's clinch and takedown tactics? Much like many Greg Jackson fighters- will he try to surprise Kim with takedowns of his own, choosing to rely on his own top control and submission abilities? Does Kim need to follow in Okami's footsteps and come to the U.S. to train, or are his skills evolving to a high enough level that he can make a permanent move up to the next level in welterweight? Does he look like he's spent more time working on his judo and grappling skills to hone is craft, or on his striking to improve his well roundedness?
Answers: I don’t think Carlos Condit can be considered a gameplan type of fighter. It looked like he came out wary of Kim’s takedowns, circling around on the outside and beyond the range of DHK’s clinch, but early into the first round decided to screw the gameplan and just do what he always does. He definitely didn’t shoot for any takedowns, but used an excellent sweep from half butterfly guard utilizing the cage to gain mount temporarily. Kim looked pretty good before he got knocked silly, so I don’t know if it’s time to move camp yet- although I definitely don’t think it could hurt him in the long run. He only attempted one takedown, which he completed, but threw a few good strikes that made it seem like he’d been working his kickboxing, and was content to cover up and pick his shots.
Questions: Will Faber let his emotions get to his head in this fight and get too aggressive, leaving room for Cruz to capitalize? Against the best MMA wrestler he's faced, will Cruz still be able to gain takedowns and plant Faber on the mat? What strategy has Faber decided would be the best to neutralize Dominick's footwork and elusive style? Does Faber try to stand with Cruz, or does he first look to test Cruz's defensive wrestling- and if he's successful in taking the fight to the ground is he going to maintain position and win rounds or will he be aggressive and look to outgrapple Cruz?
Answers: Faber’s emotions did look like they got the best of him, but I think it showed in him being a little less aggressive than normal; it seemed like he was looking for a one punch knockout, and the success he was having with knockdowns did little to corral that. Cruz’s wrestling is the best at bantamweight, bar none. He has exceptional timing, and changes level so well that he’s been able to outwrestle three of the best in the division in Benavidez, Jorgensen, and now Faber. I think that Faber’s speed- reflexes and counterpunching- allowed him to use a strategy of standing still and conserving energy while Dominick danced around him. When Dominick would come in, Urijah was ready to uncork big shots, and press as the champion retreated. Faber looked content to strike with Dominick- he did attempt a few takedowns, but did not press for them. I think that the lack of aggression both helped and hurt Urijah- he almost used the same strategy that Rashad Evans did to lure in Chuck Liddell, but he lost the fight to the pitter-patter points that Cruz was scoring. While I do agree with the decision being Cruz's, I think the fight was close to dead even and an immediate rematch is more warranted than Brian Bowles being brought in to fight Cruz. An immediate rematch for Cruz and Faber after this caliber of fight is something that could truly define the nascent UFC bantamweight division.Reposted in full from Headkick Legend