The day after major shows I always run these pieces. A quick rundown of thoughts on the previous night's action once the hangover (the fight hangover as well as the alcohol hangover) has had a chance to die down. Unlike most events, I didn't wake up this morning with ideas for stories filling my head. that may be more a product of the main event playing out much like I expected.
Still, there is plenty to talk about so let's run it down.
- Rashad Evans looked pretty damn good for a guy coming off a year and a half layoff. Sure, he got taken down briefly early but he didn't take damage, worked back to his feet and spent the rest of the fight bullying the much larger Tito Ortiz. The flurry he unleased against the cage was a thing of beauty and the eventual rib crushing knee to the body that set up the finish was a brutal and beautiful sense of awareness.
- The size difference between Evans and Ortiz was comical at times. Ortiz looked a good two weight classes bigger than Rashad, which made it all the more interesting seeing Evans unload on Ortiz as Tito did nothing but cover up.
- I've never been a big fan of Yoshihiro Akiyama, but he's a gutsy guy who has had some fun fights in the UFC. Still, after being blitzed by Vitor Belfort, it's time to see Akiyama released to go to Japan and get some winable fights.
- Belfort is back (again)! The issue with Vitor has never been how he fares against lower level competition, when he hurts guys, he goes in for the kill. It's just that every time we get a "Vitor is back!" Moment, it's against a guy like Matt Lindland, Marvin Eastman or Akiyama (or that fight with Rich Franklin, which was a very good win). I just can't put too much of an emotional investment into a moment like that given how often we've seen it.
- Mike Fagan covered the "back of the head" situation pretty well last night. In fight ending flurries, if a guy ends up face down, there may be some incidental shots to the back of the head. No one has been more hung up on brain damage in MMA than me. But it's hard to punish a fighter for incidental/accidental shots to the back of the head on an opponent who is crumbling under their strikes. And I don't think the "just let them throw soccer kicks if you don't have a problem with it" is anything resembling a reasonable statement. Landing accidental shots to the back of the head on an opponent who is falling under your flurry is in no way the same as stepping back and throwing a soccer kick to the head. i agree that there should be a push with fighters to not do it, and maybe possible fines. But the idea of DQ'ing guys or giving knocked out fighters time to recover and continue fighting is crazy.
- I'm not the biggest fan of Brian Ebersole, but he beat the tiny pants off of Dennis Hallman. Once Hallman had the back and couldn't finish I knew the fight would not go his way. Ebersole did a fantastic job of unloading punishment once he got on top and after a few shots landed you could see the fight go out of Hallman.
- I could talk at length about the really weird reaction to Hallman's pants, but I think Fagan will have something for you all later.
- Jorge Rivera was really showing his age against Constantinos Philippou. He looked very plodding and his reliance on one shot at a time while Costa hit him with combinations cost him the fight.
- Rory MacDonald is very good. At 22 he has the chance to get much, much better if he continues to work. The way that he destroyed Pyle from inside the guard was very impressive. There is no guarantee that MacDonald won't have an injury or case of laziness or something that keeps him from hitting his potential. But everyone should be able to see that the sky is the limit for Rory.
- The only thing that sticks out to me in the Matt Hamill/Alexander Gustafsson bout was Rogan going "full homer" with his commentary. Hamill would land a single punch, get hit with three return shots and Rogan would only exclaim "BIG LEFT FOR HAMILL!" In round two, Gustafsson was simply beating up Hamill and Rogan talked about the round being a "nightmare to score" and uneventful. I suppose it was uneventful if the only guy you were watching was Hamill, but Gustafsson was doing plenty of good work before Hamill crumbled for the stoppage. There were a few bad lines here and there for Rogan, which is to be expected but on the whole it was a decent night for Joe...except this fight.
- Chad Mendes is very, very talented, but people are never going to pay to watch a guy like him fight. That's a shame and all but he just either lacks the ability or the confidence to really open up with his offense. He probably could have opened up at any point and dispensed with Rani Yahya but he kept it safe and took the decision win. Goal one should always be to win, not to entertain. But Mendes just didn't look like a guy who has full command over how good he really is.