So now that I've had a bit of time to digest this weekend's UFC 146, I thought I'd gather a couple of thoughts to rub together and see what everyone else thinks.
- Junior dos Santos looks like he has a better shot than anyone else in the division to hold onto the title for that elusive third title defense that has thwarted the best efforts of every previous "baddest man on the planet." His foot and handspeed are top notch and he's got the beard to survive exchanges. The dude is likeable as hell, and I can't really think of anyone else in the division I'd rather see succeed.
- Frank Mir had as little for Junior dos Santos as everyone expected. It seems that he did a very Frank Mir job of analyzing the fight, except that in breaking everything about his technique down in slow motion, I think he forgot to watch it again at full speed and realize just how damn fast Junior is. I'm somewhat disappointed that Frank didn't get to fight Cain, because I think that it's a more interesting fight as Cain isn't as fast as Junior with his movement and I still want to see what Cain can do against a strong BJJ guy who's willing to latch onto a limb and crank. Cain's freewheeling top control lends itself to scrambles and though Frank has a tendency to eat punches, I think those scrambles also lend themselves to loose limbs just waiting to be snatched.
- Speaking of Cain, I'm probably the least impressed of anyone with his victory on Saturday night. That fight should've been stopped due to the cut. I didn't hear anyone calling Krzysztof Soszynski's first performance against Stefan Bonnar grounds for a title shot (and at least Bonnar was coming off a win). Now, before anyone uses the word "savage" to describe Cain's performance, let's talk a little bit of anatomy. One of the primary conditions of people with acromegaly (that's the medical condition Bigfoot has that makes him look like a stone denizen of Rapa Nui) is that it often results in large organs, including the heart, which leads to (drumroll please) hypertension. This means that the fountains of blood coming out of Bigfoot's face were less the result of a extraordinary savageness and more of a normal result of Bigfoot's medical condition. That was the clearest case of the necessity for a cut stoppage I've ever seen. Clearly, Bigfoot's vision was affected as it was spouting directly into his eyes and he was trying to shake it out the entire time. For this reason, I'm not impressed that Cain was able to pound a blind man who couldn't defend himself until he rolled over and forced the ref to stop a fight that really had ended much earlier.
- As a result, I'm not on the Cain train for a second title shot so quickly. I understand why it's happening: as strong as the heavyweight division is (at least compared to past heavyweight divisions), it's still top heavy. However, I think there's another way. Even though I was a big advocate of seeing Daniel Cormier fight Fedor for his final contract fight with Strikeforce, I now think he needs to be brought over for an immediate title shot against Junior dos Santos. I think he matches up better with Junior than Cain does because he has quicker hands and feet, and he presents that same interesting takedown threat. Let's face it: Cormier showed a lot more by going 5 rounds with a very game Josh Barnett than Cain did by making a bleeding statue stop wanting to get punched by a man obscured by fountains of his own blood.
- I think this is part of a general trend to rush people into title fights and preserve contenderships via waiting it out (ask Rashad what a good idea that is) or rushing folks in. Carlos Condit is declining to defend his interim belt despite several interesting challengers (Ellenberger, Kampmann, Hendricks, eventually Diaz if his day in court goes his way), Hendricks is waiting for a title shot that won't even occur until Condit waits for his title shot. Nate Diaz is waiting for the winner of the Edgar and Bendo. As a result, talented hungry young fighters like Anthony Pettis are taking less than the top level fights they deserve because the top level guys are all sipping piña coladas in vacationville. It's not a good look and it's denying us good fights. With Cain and Junior, the opposite; I don't see the rush to throw them back together when as guys at the top of the top heavy heavyweight division their reunion is inevitable for a second and likely third time. It's not that Cain isn't a credible opponent based on skillset, but given the emphatic way that Junior won their first fight, I think it's reasonable to expect Cain to fight again before they rematch.
- If I had my way, there are plenty of credible game opponents for Cain to face in the interim. Werdum should (should--far be it from me to discredit the hammerfirst of doom) polish off Mike Russow (Russow's only loss is to Sergei Kharitonov by armbar--call me crazy but I think Werdum can manage that) and would make a great opponent for Cain with his muy thai plum and elite BJJ. I would even love to see Cain fight Roy Nelson: he has a credible chin, decent takedown defense, solid jiu-jitsu, and a good punching power. Nobody has really made a gameplan of taking him down before and he has the punching power to test Cain's chin and striking defense. Those are fights that Cain will likely win, but let's face it, Cain is the favorite against anyone not named Junior dos Santos (and possibly Alister Roidereem).
- Some matchups for the rest of the main card that I would like to see: Peewee should face Brendan Schaub. They're both lanky and naturally athletic talents but unfortunately neither one has the great chin they need to be competitive at Heavyweight.
- Stipe Miocic should fight either Mark Hunt or Gabriel Gonzaga; the first is a test of his ability to get a fight to the ground and win with wrestling, while the second would be a test of his ability to avoid the ground with his defensive wrestling (and Gonzaga's not a complete joke on his feet, either).
- Shane Del Rosario should get a comeback fight because anyone who remembers Frank Mir coming back from the motorcycle accident remembers that nobody is the same fighter they used to be right away coming off a catastrophic injury. Oli Thompson or Christian Moorecraft would make sense (I know Moorecraft was cut, but it's HW. Just bring him back).
- Stefan Struve should fight the winner of Big Nog vs. Cheick Kongo to see if he's finally ready to gameplan his way to victory instead of ungameplan his way to sleep.
- Lavar Johnson should really take six months off and get someone to explain to him how an armbar works; when he comes back, he can face Phil De Fries to see if the lesson sank in or if he at least learned to avoid a takedown.
- For the undercard, I think we learned a few things about a few fighters. Diego Brandao is the FW Shane Carwin. He gassed about three and a half minutes into the first round, and once his explosive offense was gone, he had no answer for Elkins' pressure wrestling attack. Jackson needs to send him to New Mexico and not let him back until he has run at high elevation and learned to pace himself.
- Jamie Varner executed the formula laid out by Ross Pearson against Edson Barboza but had the power to finish; impressive stuff. Give him a good fight, preferably not an ex-WEC fighter yet. I think TJ Grant could use a push against someone who has good wrestling and good hands as well.
- Dan Hardy proved that sometimes a person's record is not indicative of their abilities as a fighter; I think he still has a long way to go with his wrestling, but Hardy's not nearly as bad as people make him out to be. Sure, his wrestling and ground game still have a long way to go (especially at welterweight) but his striking is better than people gave him credit for when they complained about his fight with Chris Lytle.
- Paul Sass, for his part, should fight George Sotiropoulos. That fight would make jiu-jitsu nerds everywhere cry tears of pure unadulterated joy.
- Glover Teixeira looked fantastic in his debut, and though I am ordinarily an advocate of people being brought along slowly, I think bringing him along toward contendership is acceptable given the cleared out state of the LHW division.
via i.imgur.comApologies for using the bullet point format. I know it's not ideal, but since a lot of these are short one-off points it makes it the easiest to read and breaks up the wall of text feel of this thing.