It seems these days that all the UFC events, along with the new season of Bellator, becomes a blur of violent, sometimes fantastic, smear of MMA. One event becomes confused with the next in memory. Then a show like 156 comes along like a whiff of smelling salts overloading your senses, turning confusion into clarity. There were a few things that stuck with me after the event that will have long reaching implications as we look forward to a new year of MMA.
We have already had a taste of this but the Strikeforce fighters are a force to be reckoned with, as were the WEC additions. It's good to see all these guys, and now gals, under one roof but it does leave one thinking that even though the UFC has the largest collection of top flight fighters, they do not possess all of the world's best fighters. Even with the demise of Strikeforce the debates will rage on. I kind of like that. In the meantime we get to see guys like Jacare, Rockhold, Gilbert try to match their compatriots early successes. That is going to be very exciting.
Demian Maia at 170 is a very dangerous fighter. He's one of the first ADCC champions to develop a smothering MMA wrestling game. The thing about someone like Maia compared to other MMA wrestlers is once he has you wrapped up on the ground his goal isn't ground and pound, he wants to snatch your breath and stop the blood flow to your brain. The fact that he outwrestled Fitch is quite a feat. Fitch is an extraordinary submission defense artist, few would have been able to defend what he was forced to, and I think few will. What Maia has shown us, aside from his pedestrian striking, is a specialist with ADCC credentials can adapt his game to MMA to be utterly dominant against the best in the division, even the wrestlers. We have seen the reverse of that with say someone like Jon Jones who has used his wrestling to create submission opportunities on the regular. This is a new hybrid of the MMA fighter, a new hybrid because it is not just a jack of all trades, well rounded fighter, it's a fighter that operates at the highest levels in the world in one discipline and then develops another skill set that comes close to rivaling their original specialty. The new age has been thorughly cemented.
What do you do with a problem like Rashad Evans? I think it was pretty much a lock that if he defeated Lil Nog, which many of us thought would be a foregone conclusion, he was going to get a shot against the greatest fighter on the planet in a huge fight. A poorly played out gameplan later and he is in the third circle of purgatory. This was a man that was considered the best LW for a period of time. Even today he is ranked number two, he was so long defined by his rivalry with Jones and his broken heart at the hands of Greg Jackson. He is the leader of what is now looking like a cursed group of fighter in the Blackzillians and he is miles away from a title shot in any division, perhaps for the duration of his career. Who could have imagined before this event where fate would drop Rashad because of a lackluster performance against a capable but clearly not "in the mix" fighter. I don't think it is the end for Rashad but where does he go from here? Motivation is going to be hard to come by, what fight is really going to get his blood pumping after all he has been through. This one didn't. I wish him well.
CC Sabathia is a behemoth of a man and his pitches have extraordinary power. That's why for some time it was a mystery why he took a month, maybe two to get himself into elite form. One year the Yankees decided to have him simulate an inning in the bullpen before he took the mound and it had an impact. His mechanics were smoother and he wasn't overpowering his pitches thus losing accuracy. I know the differences are vast, but there is a lesson in there for Frankie. We have watched time and time again Frankie lose the first two rounds pretty decidedly, start to turn things in the third, and then turn it on in the fourth and fifth. It seems the more he works, the better he gets and his cardio then wears his opponent down as he figures out their game. We saw it with Jose, Jose was butchering his leg till Frankie timed his kick and put him on his back, Jose tried again early in the next round and had the same result. Jose stopped kicking Frankie's legs but it was too late. I think Frankie, after years of five round fights, is going back to three round fights now and he is just going to go balls to the wall from the bell, which is what he needed to do in these five round fights. I hope he makes it back to the kind of fight that requires five rounds and I hope he learns the lesson not to let the first two slip away.
That is all.