Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre returned to action and was an instant classic of a scrap. Here are the talking points coming out of the UFC 154 card.
Georges St. Pierre retained the UFC Welterweight title last night against Interim Champion Carlos Condit. It was a very entertaining fight in which St. Pierre showed off great heart, determination and skill. I'm not going to say that you are incorrect if you didn't enjoy this fight, as everyone has their opinions and views, but I will say that if you didn't like this fight then you are not as happy as you could be watching this sport. That fight had a little of everything, some great striking, awesome wrestling and good jiu jitsu exchanges. If the fact that it was a decision ruined the fight for you then I suggest you reevaluate why you watch this sport. The majority of high level fights don't end in finishes because what makes elite fighters elite is often how hard they are to finish.
Ok I've probably made enough people mad at me for one day, here are the rest of my talking points:
- The argument of gi vs no gi comes up a lot in grappling communities and GSP provided a prime example of why gi training is valuable. Condit attempted several armbars and St. Pierre executed a perfect defense to them. Many MMA fighters attempt to first stand out of armbars and slip out of them, which works just fine at times in no gi grappling because of the slickness of sweaty limbs. But sometimes if the bottom man has a good bite or it is early in the fight all that accomplishes is further straightening the arm that is in danger. This escape is metaphorical suicide in gi grappling as there is too much friction to simply slip out. So instead of standing up GSP used the basic armbar escape taught in gi jiu jitsu. He drove down into Condit, stacking him. This prevents Condit from extending his body and straightening the trapped arm, and then GSP would simply rotate his elbow out of danger. There will be a full Judo Chop on this with pictures, gifs, videos and whatever else I can find.
- Carlos Condit did not go quietly and that head kick he landed caused an gasp of horror heard clear across Canada. One thing that impressed me greatly was Condit's work off his back. It is no secret Condit has a good guard, but GSP has sliced up great guards in the past. Condit however was very game off his back, even sweeping GSP at one point, which is nearly unprecedented in the UFC. Josh Gross of ESPN on his podcast said that he though Condit's guard would be able to contain GSP and I privately scoffed at that idea, but he was right and I was wrong. Condit had great hip movement all night and was able to keep GSP in guard. However St. Pierre was able to strike very well from the top and did a great deal of damage. Hats off to Carlos Condit, the man is a warrior.
- I'm still interested in a Anderson Silva vs Georges St. Pierre match up. I think size difference works both ways and Silva's speed, which he uses so effectively at both Middleweight and Light Heavyweight, will be less of a factor against the smaller GSP. Clearly Silva dominantes if the fight is on the feet, but I think there is little doubt that the very active and technical grappling of St. Pierre is a huge problem for the largely passive guard game of Anderson Silva.
- Johny Hendricks has a nasty left hand. He launched Martin Kampmann backwards with that straight punch and got a pretty epic knockout. There is a lot of talk of a possible title shot for Hendricks, and I wouldn't argue with a fight with St. Pierre if it is announced, but I still think Hendricks is too raw on the feet. He reminds me a lot of Josh Koscheck, who had some success with his power hand and has fashioned himself a feared striker. A powerful strike does not make someone a good striker however. Hendricks should emulate Dan Henderson, who has many sneaky ways of setting up his power punches. Kampmann was a great test for him, but relies a lot on absorbing damage, which clearly can't work against Hendricks. If given a match with GSP, I think it looks a lot like the second Koscheck fight only with GSP circling right instead of left.
- Francis Carmont should not have won that fight. He did next to nothing and looked completely disinterested in Tom Lawlor. While Lawlor did almost as little offensively as Carmont he was a least trying to mount some offense. This was a horrid fight and have set back Carmont's chances of becoming somebody in the Middleweight division for at least half a year.
- Rafael dos Anjos looked awesome against Mark Bocek. No other way to put it, dos Anjos beat Bocek up for three rounds. The only real offense Bocek appeared to have was the kick to the groin he landed in the second. This was a big win for dos Anjos and should get him into the ranks of contenders at 155 pounds.
- Pablo Garza is just flat out fun and put on a great fight against Mark Hominick. The first round really looked like Hominick would get back in the W column, but he just couldn't put Garza away. Then in rounds 2 & 3, Garza figured out that Hominick's guard game was composed of weakly throwing up omoplatas and exploited that to the hilt. This is a tough loss for Hominick and very well could get him tossed out of the UFC.
- In the end Dan Mirgaliotta made the right call DQing Alessio Sakara for strikes to the back of Patrick Cote's head, but there needs to be some uniformity to this process. I understand it is very, very tough to make a call when one fighter is striking while the other fighter is moving around on a lower level and blows are landing to the back of the head, but the inconsistent nature of how referee's adress it is a problem.
- Canadian crowds rock, they are so loud and so into the action. I loved the back and forth cheering during the wait for the Sakara and Cote decision, when they gave Sakara a cheer after he apologized, the fact they booed the Carmont decision, and their high level of engagement in just about every fight. It would be a tough call to pick between Brazilian crowds and Canadian crowds as the most fun to host events with.