UFC on Fox 7: Random observations and analysis for Henderson vs. Melendez, Cormier vs. Mir

Esther Lin for MMAFighting

Dallas Winston shares his live-time scribbles on the action that transpired in the main and co-main event for tonight's UFC on Fox 7 event.

Ben Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez

  • Henderson seems a little too calm and composed amidst the blistering pace that Melendez sets early, almost to a fault. Pace and tempo are really the areas that Melendez kills you with too.
  • For Gilbert Melendez, two words: tough bastard. He's nearly statuesque. We've never really seen him out of sorts, off balance, stumbling around, or sucking wind. It's like he's surrounded by a rock-like shield that simply deflects punches while he marches forward, bashing and dinging up whatever's in front of him with those leather-covered mallets he swings.
  • 3 rounds in and this fight is building as one with arguments for either fighter in every round and accented by extremely competitive combat throughout, i.e. the toughest to judge. I hate the 1/2 Point System but there is a tangible and identifiable benefit to its proposed 10-9 vs. 10-9.5 scores in tight rounds. In fights like this, if you abstain from 10-10 rounds like many (myself not included) do and perceive one fighter to edge the round with a very finite set of accomplishments, how do you score a round wherein one fighter clearly wins but doesn't dominate?
  • I've been on board with Rogan's commentary all night long, ranging from his stances on Darren Uyenoyama's lack of closing his guard and/or controlling posture to Tim Means "not fighting tall" on the prelims, and I think he nails a very key sequence in which the pace and pressure of Melendez noticeably lowers in intensity. This was in the 4th round and seemed to mark a subtle shift in the tide toward the champion late in the fight.
  • My aforementioned praise of Melendez' incessant stalking and steady drum of pestering punches seems to be working against him, as it's now exuding a bit of a monotonous feel that missing something momentous or memorable. Though he employs short slashes of head movement and footwork inside, he presses in a straight line and at the same speed. What smacked of predation early now comes off more like chasing, as his steady-paced, straight-line, battering-ram patterns don't afford the angles required to cut off the cage and corner Henderson.
  • Towards the end of the fight, Melendez does break his hum-drum pace and unloads a giant heater with his right hand and follows with a leaping knee shortly after. In my opinion, those types of tempo-breaking outbursts, though riskier than his usual M.O., pay dividends on the score cards by sticking in the judges' minds.
  • On one hand, it's hard to call the decision controversial because the fight was so close but, then again, that almost means the outcome will probably be controversial no matter what. The general consensus seems to lean toward Henderson in rounds 4 and 5, so, if that's the case, the question becomes whether he won any 2 of rounds 1-3.

Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir

  • Mir allows himself in a bad position right off the bat, and it's ominously reminiscent of some of his key losses in the past: heels on the cage (which is concerning enough in itself), standing still and alternating between defensive clinching and blocking big combinations, and doing both with his back on the fence, albeit doing it effectively. (See: title photo.) But succeeding with adequate defense in a poor position is not a good trend, and what really irks me about it his willingness to accept that position and scenario rather than avoid it with urgency.
  • There's just something cool about seeing big-ass heavyweights throw a 1-2 to spinning back roundhouse kick combination (Mir) and ... was that actually a jumping roundhouse kick (Cormier)?
  • Further to my first point as the fight grinds on, Mir's stand-up has undoubtedly improved over the years and he's not reduced to desperately trying to force a ground fight, but at some point you have to ask yourself the question, "What am I doing to win this fight right now?" Mir's submission game is so volatile because when he "lands" it's curtains, but there is just no threatening offense on the radar screen for him here.
  • Physically and athletically, Cormier is really something special. He has the hand-speed of a lightweight, the agility of a middleweight and the strength and power of a heavyweight. On top of that, he has steely composure, he always comes in with and executes a good gameplan, and he has great fight instincts.
  • Overall, this fight was a bit of a letdown. I'm guessing Mir respected Cormier's speed and voracity, and understandably upped his focus on defense. It definitely kept him from getting wobbled or any near-finishes, but his offensive effectiveness suffered because of it.

SBN coverage of UFC on Fox 7

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