Alright, upfront disclaimer: I like picking fight winners, I also like to think I'm decent at it (that is highly debatable). I do not, however, like to gamble. I don't know how gambling works, for a start, but mostly, I hate the idea of losing money for nothing. Inevitably gambling is the art of losing money for nothing and not particularly minding the experience (or at least not so much so that you don't keep doing it).
However, my lack of financial investment notwithstanding, I still like to take my fight picks seriously and whether they go right or wrong I want to know why. What's there to learn from each fight now that I have the benefit of hindsight?So I'll make a brief rundown of each fight on the card, what I picked going in, and what I learned as a result.
Hindsight: Jose Maria vs. Dustin Ortiz (I picked Maria, I was wrong)
- Maria doesn't have the cardio to maintain his unorthodox high output style against strong opposition.
- Ortiz is a stronger wrestler than I thought.
- Ortiz has poor judgement and accuracy when throwing strikes and I still think he falls into "autopilot" a bit on offense.
Hindsight: Daron Cruickshank vs. Adriano Martins (I picked Cruickshank, I was wrong)
- Cruickshank isn't evolving. His style either works against his opponent or it doesn't.
- Martins is huge for the lightweight division.
- Martins' grappling is way better than I gave him credit for, partially because of his size advantage.
Hindsight: Justin Salas vs. Thiago Tavares (I picked Salas, I was wrong)
- I don't know if he was sick, or just unprepared, but Salas did not look good for this fight.
- The thing about a fighter like Tavares, who doesn't show up all the time, is sometimes he does show up.
- Salas' submission defense looked abysmal. I don't think he could have made that back-take any easier.
Hindsight: Omari Akhmedov vs. Thiago Perpetuo (I picked Perpetuo, I was wrong)
- Perpetuo gave that fight away. At the base level, his technique was better, but his impatience ruined him.
- Akhmedov has a long way to go if he's going to replicate the success of his Dagestani contemporaries.
- There's a lot to be said for timing and distance as basic skills in MMA.
Hindsight: Godofredo Pepey vs. Sam Sicilia (I picked Sicilia, I was right)
- Whether he gets another fight or not Pepey should probably be done in the UFC.
- There are some real dangers to an aggressive guard game.
- Sicilia's last couple showings make me believe that he's got the basic skill to stay in the UFC long term.
Hindsight: Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens (I picked Jason, I was wrong)
- Stephens can be every bit the same fighter at featherweight as he was at lightweight.
- Jason didn't get caught, he was shown that being wild and aggressive aren't the same thing as being skilled.
- Stephens needs some non-MMA related image rehab, I'd say his underdog status going in was related to his public perception.
Hindsight: Ryan LaFlare vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (I picked LaFlare, I was right)
- Ponzinibbio is, to coin a Winston phrase, a tough bastard.
- LaFlare needs to work on his ability to finish fights. He's outclassed two opponents to decisions now.
- I'm really bummed that LaFlare had to spend the better part of three years of his prime on the sidelines.
Hindsight: Brandon Thatch vs. Paulo Thiago (I picked Thatch, I was right)
- Thatch stays in excellent control while still being the aggressor in striking exchanges.
- Thiago can still compete at the lowest end of the UFC, but he probably shouldn't.
- It feels like forever since I've seen a fighter finished with a step-in knee to the body, excellent technique.
Hindsight: Rafael Cavalcante vs. Igor Pokrajac (I picked Cavalcante, I was right)
- Light heavyweight is not a competative division in it's current form.
- Feijao, whatever his ups and downs will remain a feared fighter, much like Thiago Silva.
- This bout rebuilds Feijao nicely, but most likely leaves the UFC with one less fighter in a thin division.
Hindsight: Cezar Ferreira vs. Daniel Sarafian (I picked Ferreira, I was right)
- Ferreira's size continues to be his best asset as a middleweight.
- Sarafian's size continues to be his worst asset as a middleweight.
- Those of us who were excited for this shouldn't have been. It was bad.
Hindsight: Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson (I picked Belfort, I was right)
- The more patient and resourceful version of Vitor Belfort is a fun fighter to watch.
- The writing was on the wall for this loss from Henderson, more attention needs to be paid to how fighters age.
- I don't think Henderson is done in the UFC, but that day may not be far off.
Those are my takeaways from the last UFC event. No matter how close or far off my picks for a fight are there's always something to be learned. A fifteen second knockout says as much about a fighter as a 15 minute war, even if I know, going in, that the fight will end in fifteen seconds. That's the beauty of MMA, the diversity of skills and the seemingly unlimited ways that those skills can interact lends itself to a ton of analysis. Of course, some of what I wrote seems obvious now, but that's the benefit of hindsight.