Tonight did a good job of reminding that the fighter who evolves his game past his crippling flaws is rare. The two featured bouts for UFC on FX saw men fall into the old traps that have always held their careers back, mainly an inability to deal with the submission attacks of other fighters.
Melvin Guillard actually managed to hurt the iron jawed Jim Miller early in the fight and flurried to try to finish him off. Unfortunately for Melvin, he couldn't put him away and then went to a bad strategy. Guillard was content to rely on flying knee attempts, continually taking his feet off the ground was an invitation to Miller to take advantage and put him on the floor. That turned out to be exactly what happened and once there it was Miller moving to mount and Melvin recklessly trying to explode to his feet and giving up his back, leading to the rear naked choke submission.
He had shown that he was strong enough to muscle out of takedown attempts by Miller, to continually take his base off the ground is just an example of a low fight IQ and is the number one reason he lost this fight.
Guillard is a guy with the power to beat anyone on any given night, but also the flawed game to also be beaten by anyone. Once the fight hits the floor he is just so susceptible to submissions that it feels inevitable that he will tap.
- Luke Thomas tweeted a very accurate point right after the fight: "Everyone saying ' just learn jiu-jitsu, Melvin' just don't seem to realize not everyone can be great or good or even half-good at jiu-jitsu."
- Miller is incredibly tough. The guy was getting blasted clean by arguably the hardest hitting lightweight in the game and recovered with incredible speed to win the fight. He's incredibly underrated and incredibly tough.
- Duane Ludwig has the same problem as Guillard without it being quite as famous. He was picking Neer apart but did his standard thing where suddenly he finds himself in a bad situation and finished. He's as good as anyone at putting together technically solid combinations but he just tends to fall into positions that he can't get out of and it limits how far he can really go.
- Before I go any deeper on the card, the UFC deserves a ton of credit for putting together a card full of very fun fights even if there was very little action with any real top of the division relevance. This was a really fun night of fights.
- I'm still not sold on Mike Easton and tonight makes it hard for me to make up my mind one way or another. I didn't expect Jared Papazian to do much of anything in the fight but he looked very good. Given my questions about Easton coming in I'm forced to wonder if Mike not being as good as advertised is part of why Jared looked good, or if Jared is just better than I thought. Regardless, that was a hell of a fun fight.
- Pat Barry's ground game was good enough to survive when Christian Morecraft put him on the ground a few times. Being able to survive meant he was able to work his way to his feet and eventually find the space to land a bomb and put Morecraft out cold. The ref was slow getting in there at the end and resulted in Morecraft getting crushed by a few unnecessary shots.
- I guess before we get to the undercard it's time to talk about the announcers. I liked Anik for the most part, he had some rough spots but I'm willing to chalk those up to first time doing it live. Florian needs to turn it down a few notches and not go so hyperbolic with his post-fight analysis though. Kenny went to "world class" a bit too often tonight and it was jarring.
More after the jump...
- Jorge Rivera going out on a win was a nice moment. Eric Schafer folded a bit once he got tagged but Rivera getting the win was fun. He's been around for a long time without ever being a true top guy, but always evolving enough to remain relevant. That's more than most fighters will ever be able to say.
- The only fight I didn't enjoy on the show was Kamal Shalorus vs. Habib Nurmagomedov. Kamal looked like he never really recovered after being hurt in the first round and Habib (or Khabib) was rather unimpressive in victory.
- Charlie Brenneman did the Charlie Brenneman thing against Daniel Roberts. He worked takedowns and passes without really coming close to finish but making a clear case that he'd won the fight. I don't know that the UFC is going to be dying to put him on main cards anytime soon, but he'll be a Fuel staple.
- Tom Hayden did well as a guy fighting over his normal weight on late notice but once it turned into a ground fight, Fabricio Camoes was simply better and got the submission.
- Pat Schilling looked like he had no business in the cage with Daniel Pineda. Pineda was trouncing him on the feet, then once it was on the ground it wasn't even close as he got the submission.
- It's a shame that the event takes so long that it's easy to forget Nick Denis' beautiful elbow knockout of Joseph Sandoval. Denis is a lot of fun to watch and has a certain kind of explosiveness that is going to make him a must-see fighter.