UFC 156 is all wrapped up and my my, what a card it was. Joe B and Uncle Creepy put on a frenetic and dizzying display of striking and grappling battles, Maia Fitched Fich, a pair of upsets came charging along one after another, and a solid main event capped it all off. All of this, combined with Mazzagatti not doing something wrong, made 156 an up and down, pleasantly surprising, and generally fun card. Except for one element.
Not one fighter on the main card showed any evolution or alteration in their fight games since their last outing. More importantly, since their last loss.
In a few cases, this isn't bad, nor is it avoidable. Damien Maia and Bigfoot did what they do and it paid off. And as for Lil Nog; he was fighting a younger, more explosive fighter who possessed the ability to decide where the fight would be fought. It looked bad, but with those odds against him, if throwing out left straights once every round is what it takes, then that's what it takes I guess. No, my displeasure stems from the fact that many of the main card fighters found themselves in the same tricky, unpleasant, or down right losing situations they always do due solely to the fact that they are the exact same fighter they were last year-even last decade. This is what I saw.
The Opener- This fight was awesome. Herky-jerky,violent striking exchanges, ridiculously fast and constantly competitive grappling wars, and a superhuman pace. Pretty much the standard level of flyweight fun, with Joe-B narrowly coming out on top. And rightfully so. He managed to connect on Mcall with many of his home run shots, and used his fickle grappling game to get out of trouble when charging in led to Ian scoring a take down or two. Solid performance? Absolutely. Any alterations in his game that make him beating Mighty Mouse a realistic possibility in a rematch? I didn't see any.
As for Creepy, he maintained his, as Dallas Winston perfectly put it, cruising middle gear and never really provided enough output on the feet to sway the judges. I must also point out that Smiling and shaking ones head when probably being concussed is no sound substitute for good striking defence. Ian Mcall is an amazingly talented and athletic Fly weight, with one hell of a chin. He's fought the champ twice and now the (probably) number one contender , and has taken both men to close decisions on all three occasions. But until he learns that activity on the feet looks good on the score cards and utilizes his phenomenal wrestling more aggressively, I fear that he will be forever stuck battling for the number 2-3 position in his weight class.
Jon Fitch- BJ Penn was the first to show that Fitch's impressive wrestling acumen may be one of a solely offensive nature. After that fight, Fitch admitted that Penn's strategy had caught him completely by surprise and that he hadn't trained take down defense at all. But Maia, a known ground fighter, managed to close the distance again and again and to trip up or drag down Fitch whenever he saw fit. Joe Rogan did a good job in selling the fight with a silver lining; Jon Fitch's submission defense is indeed impressive. But until he can deal with the Fitching skills possessed by some of the UFC's welterweights, he might not be anywhere near another title shot for the rest of his career.
Alistair Overeem- Yes, the ending of this fight, or to be more specific, the fighter who delivered the ending to this fight, was an upset. But I saw it as a predictable one, if there ever was such a thing. Alistair Overeem is a glass hammer, a clay fist, a school yard bully- the man can dish out severe punishment, but has shown a tendency to wilt when the favor is reciprocated.If given time to feel out his opponents, to throw out probing kicks and hooks, the Reem will begin to shine. And when his adversaries allow him to physically bully them up against the cage with his clinch game, he really starts to come into his own. Look no further than his bout with Brock Lesnar to view Overeem's preferred game plan for every fight. And yet, when Alistair meets with any sort of aggressive and continuous pressure on the feet, he collapses. Chuck Liddell, Lil Nog, Sergei Karitonov, and now Bigfoot Silva- Against all of these men Alistair was very competitive on the feet for the majority of the fight, if not winning. But when he was unable to finish early on, when those men kept hanging in there minute after minute, it was as if a switch had been flipped.When thrust into the deep water of striking battles, Alistair reverts back to his K-1 defence (forearms brought up in front of his face, head tucked, visibility obviously impaired) and hopes for a break in the action. Sometimes this bares semi-sweet fruit- Fabricio Werdum decided to butt flop his way to a loss instead of pouring on just a little bit more muay thai when Alistair stood in front of him. But when the other big fella fails to let up, it would appear that Uber Reem calls er' quits. He falls back in a straight line, arms outstretched in an attempt to hold back his attacker, all the while with his chin held high for every fist within three feet to cuddle with. Tonight wasn't a product of Alistair being too cocky this time out. It was just Alistair being Alistair when he can't Uber-knee someone in the first or second round. UFC 156 showed me that Mr. Overeem, at 205 and even now at a beefy 265, just might not have what it takes to tough out the hard spots and hold his exquisite kick boxing game together for a full fifteen minutes.
Well now, I didn't realize how much I have to whine about. To be continued.