Please send contributions to the different sections to TuesdayMorningSweep@gmail.com . The column will happen following major Zuffa/Forza Fight weekends but will not only be limited to that fight card.
Looking back at UFC on Fox 2, TMS thought there were a few things that stood out for the winners and losers of the main card on Fox:
Rashad Evans is an elite Light-Heavyweight. The way he darted in and out of range on the feet and the way he transitioned from striking to grappling was precisely what Phil Davis wasn’t able to do. He fought a smart fight that wins him a date with Jon Jones, in what could very well be his biggest payday of his career. The story is there to be exploited, we’ll see who takes advantage of it.
Chael Sonnen’s smothering of Michael Bisping in the third round won him the fight in the opinion of TMS. Once Sonnen managed to pull Bisping in the middle of the cage, you could clearly see the superior grappling of the former. But Bisping is a very good grappler despite his lack of credentials. Once again the value of the takedowns being more important than what the fighter does with it. TMS thought after the fight was that Bisping won round one and two because of the lack of any offense generated by the takedowns. However, looking back at the notes taken showed that Sonnen might have won the first. It was a very close fight and showed, at the very least, that Bisping belongs in the middleweight elite conversation, he gave Sonnen all he could handle.
Chris Weidman graduates with little fanfare to the elite of the middleweight division, perhaps a bit too early for his own good. Much like Phil Davis, he is a special talent that needs time to blossom and fighting the likes of Demian Maia, Michael Bisping or Yushin Okami is not what you wish for this early in a career. You hope for incremental step ups in competition. That said, Maia made it easy for him to win this fight, much to the chagrin of the fans that remember his sport grappling and early cage prowess.
Much, much more after the jump...
Balance, Balance, Balance
In a few fight this past weekend, the balance of the fighters was in question. Phil Davis, perhaps the most noticeable of the weekend spent some time on the mat against Rashad Evans, and mostly looked outclassed on the feet all because of his lack of balance while striking. Davis was flailing around after strikes because he still has not found the right moments to plant his feet and throw. He lacks the recognition of what the opponent is doing so that he can move at the right moment to once again be in a position to strike without having to fall backwards, forward or to the side to keep upright.
It has become a catch-22 for Davis. He needed to work on his striking to evolve as mixed-martial artist, but his bread and butter always has been his wrestling and all his dominant performances came on the back of dominant positions gained through his wrestling. But in contemporary MMA, you cannot just duck under a punch and shoot a double and expect to take down the best in the division. Concentrating on your striking is the right thing to do, but at the same time he cannot forget that taking the man in front of you is where your offense comes from. Davis is a long way from being ready to tangle with the good strikers of the division and hold his own in a pure stand-up fight. In the meantime has to learn to stay upright while throwing strikes so that he can shoot or clinch off them and take people down.
One fighter who had exactly the same problems as Davis is Michael Johnson. While on the Ultimate Fighter and in his first UFC fights he would flail around throwing strikes. The result was that any wrestler, unafraid of his wailing punches, could just duck and put him on his butt, something Jonathan Brookins did very well on his reality show winning performance. However, in his fight against Shane Roller, Johnson exhibited much better balance while striking and it permitted to thwart Roller’s takedown attempts and pepper the All-American wrestler all night.
Another elite grappler that still doesn’t keep it level when throwing strikes is Demian Maia. Similarly to Davis, Maia has concentrated his efforts on striking for a long time now, and he still looks awkward throwing his hands and looks ready to fall on the floor all the time (and he did.) The good part of that strategy is that nobody really wants to engage him on the floor so he can flail all he wants. The bad part is that he will not win many fights that way. That being said, like Davis, he needs to use his kickboxing to -get- to the ground so that he can work his magic. Instead he tries to engage on the feet and knock people out, which is unlikely to happen. His fight with Chris Weidman was a bit disappointing due to the latter’s lack of cardio and the fact that they are both novices in the kickboxing department and both made no effort to take this fight to the ground.
Sour Moments of the Week
Dhiego Lima, with a limited advantage on the feet against Nathan Coy kept trying to counter-punch against an opponent that had a very clear game plan from the beginning: throw hands to set up the takedown and never get into an exchange that would not benefit him. Lima could have tried to change strategy mid-fight but obviously didn’t have it in him. Coy, who is one tough customer, controlled the fight from the get go and if he had not gassed in the third could have completely dominated the fight.
Sour: Roller's inability to find an opening to land a takedown was the story of the fight. The common prediction was that Roller would be able to take him down easily and control Johnson with relative ease due to the massive difference in grappling abilities. It proved to be true in the third round as Roller capitalized on a Johnson mistake and took him down and battered him for most of the round as well as threatening with a rear naked choke. His inability to find an opening in the first two rounds lost him the fight.
This fight could very well have been a draw, because if it wasn't for that reversal at the end of the round, it was as close to a to a 10-8 round as TMS as seen in a while.
Sour: Way too quick of a stoppage by John McCarthy in the Roop-Swanson fight. Roop was looking for space to attack the leg or get up and was still clear-headed.
Sour: Ryan McGillivray, after a dominating the grappling exchanges in the first, ducking a punch in the second and fell in a turtle position, letting Diego Bautista take his back. Bautista, in complete control, with McGillivray’s arm trapped in the hook, let himself get reversed by McGillivray and then got controlled for the rest of the round. Sour all around.
Sour: Seven pounds Mr McKee? Really?
Long Distance Sour: Melvin Guillard lost by submission, again, last weekend. In all the talks about his weak defense, lack of patience and lack of preparedness, there is the small point of ability, and lack thereof. In a lot of what Guillard does, his lack of technique is obvious. He does not throw beautiful, crisp punches, he does not have beautiful wrestling form and he certainly does not have sharp Jiu-Jitsu. What he does have is athleticism and strength to spare. While those two aspect can get him a victory and get him out of problems, it does not cover up everything.
Today, when I imagine Guillard on the High School wrestling mats in his home-state, winning state championships, I see an incredible physical specimen blasting through double-leg takedowns on unsuspecting 16 year olds. I do not see him as a technical marvel that won with persistence and skill. I do not see him succeeding in college in the discipline because of lack of technical ability.
Guillard, perhaps does not have the patience to learn the finer points of combat. Perhaps he does not have the mental fortitude to dig down and solve his issues. Perhaps he just doesn’t have it in him to be that good. Perhaps he doesn’t learn as quickly as people expect him to. Perhaps he just doesn’t have the abilities people see in him.
Sweet Moments of the Week
Sweet: The transition from the leg lock to the calf slicer from the back from Charles Oliveira, against Eric Wisely, was one of the sweetest transition of the night. The way Oliveira figure-foured his leg to trap Wisely's leg and pulling him towards him in that calf slicer from the back, something TMS had never seen from this position (sport grappling experts, don't hesitate to let TMS know your experience in this particular position.)
Speed Sweet: As mentioned before, Michael Johnson who exhibited very poor balance in striking in the past, which resulted in his opponent taking him down easily, showed in this fight much improved punching form and balance which left him in much better position to use his speed to prevent Roller's takedown. Johnson looked about three times as fast as Roller, who is normally plodding but not this slow.
Sweet: Very nice foot stomp by George Roop at 2 min of the first round that looked to have hurt Swanson, maybe breaking a toe.
Sweet: Lavar Johnson using his reach and keeping Joey Beltran at the end of his reach and completely shutting down Beltran's offense. To finish the fight, Johnson kept Beltran near the fence once again using his reach, Chuck Liddell-style ("i am not trying to knock you out, I just know I will.") Johnson is a huge man, that tires quickly, not that Beltran is a model of cardiovascular endurance, but that will potentially hurt in the future should he not be able to knock out his opponent in short order.
Sweet, sweet sweep from Einemo.
Sweet: Bisping one of the best in the UFC for takedown and ground defense. Bisping is a very underrated wrestler, and it appears that it isn't just defensive wrestling.
Sweet and Sour Moments of the Week
Bitter-sweet stoppage in favor of Evan Dunham, in a most entertaining fight against Nick Lentz. TMS could have taken three more rounds of that fight. So much for Nick Lentz being boring. Much like Jon Fitch is thought to be boring, Nick Lentz has never been for TMS, having a high work rate like those two goes a long way to make it entertaining.
Shane Roller initiating clinches against Michael Johnson, which at first would seem to a good position for him, sweet. Then Roller repeatedly reaching, if not stretching, in an attempt to secure a guillotine of Johnson in a position where he had no control over the latter’s posture or body. He then proceeded to lose the hard earned clinch every time, very sour.
Eric Wisely, defending the heel hook very well, turning the right way, moments away from getting completely away from Oliveira and falling into the trap of a submission rarely seen and being highlight fodder for as long as Oliveira fights.
Einemo was lighting Russow up on the feet in the first round, forcing Russow to clinch. Einemo's willingness to stay on his back and battle Russow for wrist control and prevent guard passing for most of the fight was extremely sour. Unable to modify his gameplan passed the first round he engaged Russow in a battle of position that a wrestler will almost always win.
Edson Barboza, with his beautiful spinning hook kick KO (very, very sweet) created a monster (very sour.) On UFC on FOx 2, we saw at least too fighters attempting the kick that was a rarity only a few weeks ago. Cub Swanson attempted it at least three times in the first round of his fight against George Roop. Swanson’s version was adept but did not land with any significance once. Michael Bisping, usually not the kind to throw high risk techniques threw a spinning back kick and a spinning hook kick a couple of times, and it was, as Rogan mentioned, slow as molasses.
Sex, Lies and Golbergism
Goldberg messed up Roller's alma mater by saying he was from Hofstra. Roller is from Oklahoma State.
Having somebody else than Goldberg narrate a hype video on a broadcast is such a relief.
Politics rear its ugly head often in sports despite the fact that most people participating and commenting on sports would rather not have anything to do with the matter. The following are a couple of events of the past week:
Tim Thomas of the Stanly Cup winning Boston Bruins, the MVP no less, decided not to attend the team’s visit to the White House as a political protest. The Flint, Michigan, native leans on the right side of the aisle, if not sitting in the libertarian rows, and disagrees with the current administration, as well as past administrations, and blames all of them for the size of the federal machine and believes that American liberties are being threatened. While TMS’s beliefs reside square on the other side, there is nothing but respect for Tim Thomas in this particular instance. While getting a chance to go to the white house and be the focus of a brief speech from the President of the United States of America is an occurrence that very well could not be repeated, Thomas’s case (he is 37), it is a bold gesture to refuse to go. While the gesture is packed with significance, it also does not affect anybody else but Thomas himself (and not pushing another person’s freedom one way to display yours.)
Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota essentially gave an ultimatum to the Vikings of the same state for the location of their partially publicly-funded future stadium. The Minnesota Vikings organisation have been navigating through a minefield of political issues for a replacement to the derelict Minneapolis Metrodome. The Wilf family have pledge 425 million towards a new stadium, given that it is not located at the same place as the Metrodome (which would require the team to be relocated elsewhere for a season or two and would require renovations to the other stadium to make it work. They would also lose a significant amount of revenue [in ticket sales mostly] in this scenario.) Unable to find a common ground with Minneapolis, the Vikings found a partner with the local government to relocate to Arden Hills. The project is now deemed impossible because it would require either raising a tax, which the republican state house won’t do, or have a raceino, which the powerful Native American lobby in the state opposes. Another Minneapolis site was found and quickly rejected as it would require the city to sell some of its land and the left-leaning city-council, which opposes the new stadium, will almost surely not sell. Which leaves the Metrodome site as the only alternative, politically.
LA Vikings you say? Maybe.
The Boxing Corner
As as with many MMA fans, TMS is a boxing fan. Perhaps even better than boxing itself is writers that write about boxing. And I don’t mean Steve Kim. James Verini recently wrote one of the best portrait of a fighter TMS has read in a while, while profiling Bernard Hopkins on Grantland. Perhaps what is even better is the fact that it is Verini’s first sport-related article, him writing mostly about politics. What is fascinating in the article is that it helps contextualize a number of things about Hopkins, from his paranoia to his drive to be a boxer at his age. Fantastic writing.
Obscure Statistic of Fightmetric
In his first fight in the UFC, former Middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante, fought Yoji Anjo in UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3, and won the fight handily via arm triangle choke in the second round. The victory is not that impressive per say, but the statistics for the fight are: Anjo had no recorded strikes, no takedowns, no submission attempt and no guard passes. In short, no offense whatsoever. Bustamante managed eleven strikes, four takedowns, one successful submission attempt and seven guard passes, no less.
On the same card, the Punk, Ikuhisa Minowa, loser of his fight against Kendell Grove last weekend, won by TKO due to cuts against the immortal Joe Slick. The UFC perhaps were hoping for Slick to win this one as Minowa had already lost twice to Slick’s last opponent, Jason deLucia at the time of the fight.
Obscure Fight of the Sherdog Fight Finder
Sometimes, the longevity of fighters is staggering in MMA. One such case is the aforementioned Minowaman. He started his career in 1996 at the Lumax Cup - Tournament of J, losing a two round decision to Yuzo Tateishi, who lost in the next round of the one night tournament against Masanori Suda. Tateishi fought three more times after this fateful night, losing all three times in the Shooto organization. While Minowa would go on to star in Pancrase, Pride and especially in Dream these past few years, his opponent went his own way, although it appears that he also participated in a boxing fight, losing again in 2001. At the time of this fight, Minowa was a young twenty year old on his way to Professional Wrestling and MMA stardom.
If you don’t follow FightOpinion.com, you should. Zach Arnold has probably the best coverage of the whole UFC-SOPA-PIPA-Anonymous-UGNazi love triangle on the web.
Obscure Sport Event of the Week
Today, in Hungary, the man know as the Whiskey Robber is released from a Satoraljujhely prison. Attila Ambrus, a goalie for a local professional hockey club, supplemented his income, from 1994 to 1999, by robbing a series of twenty-seven banks, travel agencies and post offices. Ambrus became a folk hero in the country before getting caught in 1999.
Ambrus gained his nickname because he was always seen near the location of his next heist, in a pub, drinking a whiskey. More importantly for his legend, he never hurt anybody during his heists, gave flowers to a teller and sent wine to the police as a form of provocation.
His stat line from his years in the professionnal league is not very impressive, having not played a game in five years, yet managing four minutes of penalty.