MMA enthusiasts like the Bloody Elbow community will always have a knee jerk reaction when they see a fight announcement. You may see a matchup that could go either way, or you may see a total mismatch that is merely a foregone conclusion as to the winner. My reaction to the Dustin Poirier/Korean Zombie fight was that it would be an easy win for Poirier. I honestly believed that the Zombie was extremely overrated, and would be used as a stepping stone to a Poirier title shot.
Obviously, I could not have been more wrong about the Korean Zombie. Having watched him from his WEC career onward, I was instantly a fan after his Fight of the Year decision loss to Leonard Garcia. I thought that he won that fight, but I didn't see him as anything more than an exciting fighter with a good chin. After George Roop head kicked Jung into another realm, I felt that an interesting gimmick had run its course.
Everything turned around for the Korean Zombie when he had his long awaited rematch with Garcia. He finished the fight via the Twister, a spectacular and painful submission which I had never seen finished in a fight. I was impressed by the finish, but a 1-2 record in WEC/UFC fights with a lone win over Garcia did not have me touting him as anything more than an entertaining gatekeeper.
I was surprised when I saw the Hominick booking, and assumed it was a fight to get Hominick a win over one of the few recognizable names at 145. Seven quick seconds later, and I was once again left with my jaw hanging courtesy of Chan Sung Jung. I probably should have been convinced at this point, but I wrote it off as flukey because of the death of Shawn Tompkins affecting Hominick.
Leading up to UFC on Fuel 3, I made my picks for the Civil War, and picking the Korean Zombie never even entered my mind. I thought Poirier was gonna go through him like a hot knife through butter, and either finish him in the later rounds, or cruise to a decision. Within the first round of the fight, I realized I was completely wrong about the ever improving Korean fighter. The Zombie would go on to finish the fight via D'arce choke in the fourth round, earning him a FW title opportunity. He is one of the best in the world, and at only 25 years of age, will be a factor in the FW division for years to come.
The sad thing for me is this is the second main event in a row that I have had this problem. I had the same doubts about Nate Diaz, and we all know how that worked out. I was certain Miller and Diaz would fight to a tough decision, with Jim Miller eventually getting the nod.
I had written off Nate Diaz as a contender when I watched Rory MacDonald throw him around like a ragdoll for three rounds. He had just been held down against his will by Dong Hyun Kim, and I thought he had hit his ceiling after the back to back losses.
When he dropped back to LW and carved up Takanori Gomi with surgical precision, I chalked it up to Diaz fighting a shell of the champion Gomi once was. I gave him credit for the win, but the fight did very little to change my perception of Nate Diaz.
I was far more impressed by his destruction of Donald Cerrone, but I still was not ready to believe that the younger Diaz was championship material. I was more stunned by his ability to get into the head of Cowboy than the beating he put on him. Diaz manipulated Cerrone into fighting his fight, and then beat him like a drum for the entire fight, shattering the UFC record for significant strikes landed in the process.
I probably should have figured it out by now, but I am nothing if not stubborn, and when I saw Diaz/Miller, picking Diaz never entered my mind. I would have been stunned to see a finish either way, but my mind was blown watching Nate Diaz choke out Jim Miller. Nobody finishes Jim Miller, and I couldn't believe my eyes when it happened. It was that humbling moment when you realize you were completely wrong about a fighter.
Having tasted the humble pie two main events in a row, I hope you will join me in sharing the experiences where a fighter has shocked and put you in your place at the same time. I think it would be great to hear different perspectives on this, because we all watch fights through our own two eyes and see vastly different things.
Chan Sung Jung and Nate Diaz have earned my respect. I was totally wrong about both of them, and I readily admit my mistakes.They have earned their title shots, and it would not surprise me to see gold around at least one of their waists in the next year.
These are the men that have made me feel like a fool, while thrilling and entertaining me at the same time. Who has done that for you, and what was that special moment where they changed your mind? Let's celebrate our collective lack of knowledge for the sport we all love.