Hindsight: UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs. Mousasi in retrospect

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Join me as I dig through the loam, down to the bedrock of my short term memory to look back at my pre-fight picks for Fight Night 36 and how they were spot on... because technically you're never wrong if you don't fully commit.

This was a rough event for fight picking. Not just for casual fans who knew next to nothing, but for hardcore fans looking for strong performances out of relatively even (on paper) fights. There were a lot of raw prospects, a lot of raw vets, just a generally tough set of fights for even the best prognosticators to come down on the right side of. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself as I lay awake at night thinking about why I picked Gegard Mousasi to win.

Pre-fight disclaimer. This, right here, is exactly why all of my fight betting is theoretical. Because there's no doubt that I would have lost a significant portion of my shirt on February 15th (at the very least the sleeves). So yeah, for as often as I feel like I have a pretty clear picture of how fights are going to go, and as much as I enjoy looking at odds and picking fights, I'm not really a gambling man and this isn't really a gambling post. That said, I'm using BestFightOdds for the pre-fight odds on this card and taking the mode for each fighter.

Hindsight: Douglas Siva de Andrade (-110) vs. Zubair Tukhugov (-110) (I picked Silva de Andrade, I was wrong-ish)

  • Live and on video I took Tukhugov and did so for all the reasons he won. He's the more complete fighter with a more diversified skill set and showed excellent transitions from striking to wrestling and really solid kickboxing.
  • I read about D'Silva's lack of a true training camp before this fight, but expected his high natural talents (including his terrific power and rock-solid base) to stifle a lot more of Tukhugov's offense and really put him on his heels. He definitely stunned Tukhugov once or twice, but largely was unable to create effective striking opportunities.
  • I'm not sure that I'm way higher on Tukhugov after this fight, he looks like the fairly bright prospect I saw him as coming in, but I'm definitely a lot lower on D'Silva. His lack of technical polish really shown through, and given his age and experience I'm not all that sure that he could make the necessary changes to his style even with a much better camp behind him.

Hindsight: Ildemar Alcantara (+190) vs. Albert Tumenov (-240) (I picked Tumenov, I was wrong)

  • 70% of the first round of this fight played out exactly like I expected. Tumenov showed off his great offensive skill and power striking by dropping Alcantara early and landing massive amounts of ground and pound on his way to a finish. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get one and showed a lot of heretofore unseen holes in a loss.
  • Ildemar Alcantara looks much improved, far moreso than I thought the 31 year old had in him considering he's 8 years in to his pro career, and still primarily training at the gym he and his brother run together. His striking looked much more polished later into the fight, and the general increase in his offensive output will make him a much tougher fighter to beat going forward.
  • I'm still pretty sold on Tumenov, especially given his early performance in that fight, but he needs to work seriously on his conditioning, his takedown defense, and his defensive striking. He's very young, so he's got time, but blitzing opponents on the Russian MMA scene hasn't quite left him well prepared for fighting in the UFC.

Hindsight: Felipe Arantes (-120) vs. Maximo Blanco (-110) (I picked Arantes, I was right)

  • If he hadn't done so before, Blanco once again proved that consistency and strategy is key to beating him. He's such a physical beast, but so prone to errors and poor game-planning. Arantes was able to stay outside, use his varied striking combinations and keep Blanco off balance for most of the fight.
  • I can't help but feel that Blanco's fight IQ (or perhaps his mentality) lost him that fight. The groin kick was very probably unintentional and I think he lost a point from it based on reputation, but once that point was gone he just seemed to stop trying. Both he and Arantes were tired, but it was Arantes who was able to rally after the hard shot to his cup.
  • I can't help but feel that Blanco's time in the UFC is coming to a close. He's 1-4 under Zuffa, keeps making bad, sloppy mistakes, and failing to make use of his advantages. He's an all action fighter, so I'm sure that the UFC would rather keep him around, but his flaws are large and don't appear to be changing.

Hindsight: Iuri Alcantara (-210) vs. Wilson Reis (+180) (I picked Alcantara, I was right)

  • Alcantara really showed off his competitive grappling chops in this fight. He didn't look quite as slick as Reis on the ground, but he didn't look like he was even slightly overwhelmed. He gave Reis everything he could handle in prolonged scrambles and used his striking in transitions in ways that Reis wasn't able to match.
  • I was really glad to see this fight return to the ground shortly after that terrible stand-up in the first round. Refs, in my mind, usually get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to knowing when a fight should be stood up. But no ref, in his right mind, should have been standing this fight up at any point.
  • For me, this fight re-affirmed two things. Alcantara is very likely a solid top ten bantamweight at this stage in his career and Wilson Reis was a great pickup for the UFC and could easily put on a lot of fun fights in his time with the promotion.

HIndsight: Jesse Ronson (+135) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (-165) (I picked Trinaldo, I was right)

  • This was more competitive that I would have expected, mostly because Trinaldo showed very little interest in getting takedowns. He's never been a great technical wrestler, but the fact that he didn't make many attempts was an odd strategy. Surprisingly I thought he still won most of the standup exchanges of the fight.
  • I was hoping to see something new from Ronson in this fight, but I didn't really. He's a low power, wearing kickboxer who likes to break opponents down over time. Unfortunately his UFC career has also shown him as something of a slow starter. If he can't take early initiative, opponents are going to be able to do what they like against him.
  • Trinaldo spoke to taking a more conservative "get the win approach" in this fight and I'm not sure that I'm terribly impressed with the results. He came in as something of a bruiser and the more cautious version of him doesn't look a lot more technical it just looks less powerful, that's not a good thing.

Hindsight: Rodrigo Damm (+135) vs. Ivan Jorge (-165) (I picked Jorge, I was wrong)

  • This was not a good fight. And it speaks really poorly of both fighters as competitive MMA grapplers. It was a lot of fun on the ground when it finally got there in brief bursts, but neither fighter seemed capable or interested in keeping the fight there for extended time periods.
  • Damm, in general, showed the poise of a career that, while not incredibly active, has largely been fought against the best competition available. He'll always be a poised fighter who doesn't make a lot of mistakes and that was enough to get him the win here.
  • Jorge needs to take a serious look at what he wants to do in the cage. A lot of people feel like he didn't deserve his win over Keith Wisniewski, and dropping an unenthusiastic decision to Damm is not a good look. He was an ace submission artist on the Brazilian circuit prior to entering the UFC and he needs to figure out how to bring that back for his next fight.

Hindsight: Cristiano Marcello (+195) vs. Joe Proctor (-250) (I picked Proctor, I was right)

  • Proctor fought his fight for every round. Marcello is a tough out and a gritty vet, but Proctor is the superior fighter at this point in his career. He kept the fight on it's feet, controlled the clinch and handled himself well on the ground. It wasn't otherwise impressive, but he wasn't likely to finish Marcello either.
  • This was a pretty sad showing from Cirstiano Marcello. It looks like he really took commentary to heart that he needed to utilize his top shelf Jiu Jitsu skills, but that only exposed how ill suited his skills are to mixed martial arts. He doesn't have a great takedown game, and while he is quite capable of dominating on the ground it doesn't mean much if he can't get the fight there or keep it there.
  • Watching two close friends fight is still a very weird thing. There were obvious points in the fight where Proctor and Marcello were more interested in congratulating one another on their technique than pressing the fight. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it made the fight worse, but it gave it an odd vibe as Proctor lit Marcello up late.

Hindsight: Andy Ogle (+500) vs. Charles Oliveira (-800) (I picked Oliveira, I was right)

  • This fight was much closer than pre-fight odds would have led you to believe and the problem there is two fold. Oliveira has gotten a bit over-valued because of his losses to top competition, and Ogle has gotten undervalued in his losses to middling competition. Both guys are well rounded, tough-out fighters for anyone they face and Oliveira is better, but not way better.
  • Oliveira has consistently shown now that his striking defense needs a lot of work. His footwork isn't bad in terms of keeping a solid base as he fights, but he tends to only move in straight lines and to keep his torso very stiff and straight up and down as he strikes. Ogle didn't have much trouble finding his head all fight.
  • Andy Ogle may just about be unchokable when it comes to pure arm chokes (RNCs, guillotines, etc). Oliveira accused him of greasing, but everything I've seen from Ogle both in this fight and in the past just suggests that it's almost impossible to get an arm under his chin.

Hindsight: Viscardi Andrade (-145) vs. Nicholas Musoke (+125) (I picked Musoke, I was right)

  • Viscardi Andrade showed why he was the bookmaker's favorite early, and why Musoke was the smarter pick overall. Andrade has great power, and has been a solid submission fighter in his past, but he doesn't put his tools together well and has proven much more of a one dimensional brawler in the UFC.
  • Nicholas Musoke's striking looked smoother in later rounds as Andrade tired, and he found his rhythm. However, he looked pretty robotic out of the gate and it seems like he is pretty hittable early in fights because of it. He may need to develop more distance tools for opening rounds to stop getting dropped.
  • I'm not ready to write off Andrade's fight IQ quite yet, but he made a serious mental lapse in celebrating rather than following up after dropping Musoke. The fact that he then dove into Musoke's guard to try and finish the fight further suggests that he may have some work to do when it comes to making the most of his tools.

Hindsight: Takenori Sato (+900) vs. Erick Silva (-1200) (I picked Silva, I was right)

  • Unfortunately, this fight said all the wrong things (and ran totally parallel to popular opinion) about Takenori Sato. I had hoped that he would show some competitive spirit in an eventual loss, but he death gripped a low single on his way to getting pounded out. I wouldn't be surprised if his UFC days are exceedingly short.
  • Erick Silva continues to prove that he has every possible tool he needs to blitz the lower levels of the welterweight division. He desperately needs a top 10-15 win to solidify himself as main/co-main event material in the future, but he's a fighter that I'll always pay to watch win or lose.
  • It's hard not to feel that Silva is still a very chance driven fighter. Those heel kicks he threw were a lot of fun (and apparently he works on them a lot) but they're exactly the kind of unorthodox techniques that have ended up costing him fights against top level competition. He didn't need to show a more complete game in this fight, but it should be noted that he didn't show a more complete game in this fight.

Hindsight: Francis Carmont (+350) vs. Ronaldo Souza (-500) (I picked Souza, I was right)

  • It is very tough to get a bead on Jacare's striking, still. It's obvious that he's worked a ton on proper footwork and movement, but he didn't show a lot of striking offense agaisnt Carmont when given the opportunity. I realize that Carmont is an intensely stifling fighter in all areas, but it still was less than I'd hoped to see.
  • Francis Carmont very rarely commits to his strikes, and despite his incredible reach often seems to catch opponents only at the very end of his punches and kicks. Given his high propensity for feinting without throwing and the relatively little power he's shown, I wouldn't be surprised to see him find himself soundly outstruck at some point in the future. That said, MW isn't exactly a paradise of elite strikers outside the top 10.
  • Jacare's elbow problems probably account for a lot of the reason that he wasn't able to generate the torque he wanted in his choke attempts. But it was nice to see him maintain control of Carmont on the ground. Carmont is a big strong fighter, but Jacare handled him throughout.

Hindsight: Lyoto Machida (-250) vs. Gegard Mousasi (+175) (I picked Mousasi, I was wrong)

  • I honestly do believe that the 2010/2011 version of Lyoto Machida would have lost this fight, maybe not in the eyes of the fans, but in the eyes of the judges. Mousasi came forward with strong, technical, and defensively sound boxing all fight, but Machida's own growth has shored up a lot of his former holes.
  • I will give full credit to Dallas Winston here, for pointing out that Mousasi didn't have the consistent tools to follow Mauricio Rua's gameplan. He started with powerful kicks as Machida backed away early, but as the fight wore on he relied more and more on his boxing and had less and less success.
  • It honestly does appear that Lyoto Machida is a better fighter than he's ever been at any point in his career. At 35 he may not be a "young" fighter, but for as little damage as he tends to take, I wouldn't be surprised if he can mirror Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort in his competitive longevity.

Even in writing this article I have the reflective prowess to see that my picks didn't go quite as poorly as I feel like they did. However, mistakes were made and lessons were learned. A lot of those lessons seem obvious now, but as always, that's the benefit of hindsight. Until next week, when I anticipate talking at length about why I knew Ronda Rousey would win by armbar.

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