Another UFC event has passed... and there was actually more finishes than decisions! Considering the inordinate amount of decisions as of late, this was incredibly refreshing. Wait... you want the actual details of who fought and won? Well, I suppose that is why I type these things up so you win.
Alexander Gustafsson had very little trouble with dispatching an overmatched Jimi Manuwa and setting up a rematch of epic proportions. More details on that in a bit. Though the co-main event was a major stinker, the rest of the main card went as expected and produced some good action. In a change of scenery though, there doesn't seem to be a single controversy from the event. If you really want one I'll have to either make up something. But I just deal in facts, not opinions (wink). Though what to do with Gustafsson is obvious, there are more questions for the rest of the card. I'll fill ya in though.
* indicates I was right in my pick
*Alexander Gustafsson defeated Jimi Manuwa via TKO 2nd Round
Gustafsson had very little trouble with Manuwa as he took the Brit to the ground in the first round and controlled him for the vast majority of the round and ended up scoring a powerful knee to Manuwa's chin in the clinch and signature uppercuts to send Manuwa to the ground and followed up with some finishing punches. Was this a surprise? Hell no. But the UFC was hoping that Manuwa would show more as the light heavyweight division is more shallow than a your typical valley girl. Still, the UFC isn't upset with a dominant Gustafsson victory.
If you don't know what is next for Gustafsson at this point you clearly don't pay any attention to this sport at all. Gustafsson pushed current pound-for-pound and light heavyweight king Jon Jones to the brink in September in one of the best fights the sport of MMA has ever seen and many thought Gustafsson should have gotten the nod.With the victory Gustafsson is almost guaranteed to get his highly anticipated rematch... granted that Jones is able to overcome Glover Teixeira in his title defense at UFC 172. If Jones falls short there is no guarantee who gets the first shot at Teixeira between Jones and Gustafsson. We'll see what happens.
Manuwa showed his incredible strength in both of his powerful swings (that didn't connect nearly enough) and when he threw Gustafsson off of him as Gustafsson attempted to take Manuwa's back. Oh yeah, he was able to stuff a takedown in the 1st round as well quite impressively (though Gustafsson did get him down earlier). Aside from that, Manuwa didn't look very good. The UFC was in a win-win situation if Manuwa won or lost as if Manuwa won, they had an instant new contender. If Manuwa lost, they get the Gustafsson-Jones rematch. But I have no doubt that they wanted Manuwa to show more than what he did to promote him as a potentially still-developing prospect. I feel at this point that they have no choice other than to give him a fairly high profile match... otherwise it'll look like Manuwa was a gimme fight for Gustafsson (and I wouldn't necessarily disagree). If he were to meet up with the loser of the Phil Davis-Anthony Johnson bout at UFC 172. It'll be another opportunity for him to prove himself at a high level. At 34, its best for him to do it as soon as possible.
This was a disappointing fight as two normally explosive fighters had too much familiarity and respect for one another and never really let fly as they usually do. Outside of the occasional flurry, there was very little action and the crowd let their displeasure be known. If anything, it feels like both of the fighters were losers in this bout. In the end though, Johnson pushed the pace enough to emerge as the victor in the fight... at least in the record book.
Johnson didn't gain anything out of this victory. He didn't look impressive and didn't truly let loose with his hands as he usually does. Everyone knows that Guillard has dangerous hands, but if Johnson has the best standup in the division (as he claims) he should have gone out and proved it against one of the challengers to that throne. Still, it brings his win streak to 3 and each victory has been against a longtime staple in the division. He should get a bout with a ranked opponent. Rustam Khabilov suffered an injury that forced him out of his fight with Rafael dos Anjos. If he isn't out long he would be an excellent choice to face off with Johnson and see which young buck is better.
Guillard exhibited none of his trademark cockiness and that is a bad thing. Its what makes him who he is and any potential shot he had at landing a haymaker seemed to be minimized without his swagger. Based on what was heard in his corner, his coaches seemed to be trying to eliminate that and that is a horrible idea. Guillard needs to find his confidence again and come out swinging. Sure, he has gone done in flames that way before, but he best moments were also a result of this style. John Makdessi would be the perfect opportunity to put this to the test as he is a talented kickboxer himself and could put Guillard to sleep just as easy. Here is hoping the cocky Guillard shows up.
As most expected, this fight was largely a back-and-forth slugfest between two English brawlers... but Pickett did show enough of his wrestling in every round to make sure that there was absolutely no confusion who deserved the W as he used some nice elbows and hammerfists on the ground to accumulate damage and gain the advantage. Pickett likely got the better of the standup by a slight advantage as well, but Seery landed plenty of hard shots to keep people wondering if he could pull of the upset. It was a fun fight that left fans satisfied.
Pickett talked of getting a fight with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson soon and it may be a reality. But at least one more victory is needed as Seery is a newcomer and not at all established in the flyweight hierarchy. If Pickett can utilize his wrestling as effective as he did here, he will certainly be seen as a worthy opponent for Johnson... especially considering he owns a victory over the champ. Before he gets there though, he needs to fight Zach Makovsky to see whom should get a shot at the dominant champ. Both have had a good amount of success at bantamweight and have shown well in their new class. But both also need one more victory.
Seery showed that he could be more than just an injury fill-in by giving Pickett all he could handle on his feet. He will never be a contender as I don't ever see him shoring up his grappling at this point in his career to the point that it needs to be at to enter the upper echelon, but he'll be good for fan-pleasing brawls... just like the one he was in. Ryan Benoit is also coming off of a loss in his UFC debut and loves to slug it out. I would expect nothing else other than those two to stand and swing. Who doesn't want to see that?
Nelson showed exactly why people are so excited about the youngster and some are even touting him as a future champion. He waited patiently for an opening to place a well-timed left hand to get Akhmedov off balance and finished the takedown and got top position on him and rained down some short hammer fists and devastating elbows. At that point, he allowed Akhmedov up in a scramble and was able to sink in a guillotine (quite the common move on this card).
Should Nelson get an elite opponent at this point? I would say no as he just came off a one year layoff and though he looked very good against Akhmedov, Akhmedov isn't exactly an established fighter at this juncture. Throw in the fact that Nelson is 25, there is no reason to rush him. My favorite option is Stephen Thompson. Both have karate backgrounds with Thompson owning a champion kickboxing background, but Nelson will have a decided advantage on the ground. Maybe the UFC doesn't want to derail either hype train, but I anticipate Thompson would push Nelson in his standup as he hasn't been before.
Akhmedov was looking for openings early in the fight, but Nelson showed some improved elusiveness and Akhmedov never landed a very clean shot. He is young enough (26) that he could still make a difference maker in the division in the near future. He is very large for the division and should be able to overpower many fighters as a result. There isn't much positive that can be said for him here though... so lets get right to who he should fight. Marcelo Guimares started his UFC career with a victory followed by a loss (just like Akhmedov), but has now been out for over a year with injury issues. If he heals up soon, he and Akhmedov make for a good challenge for one another.
Record for the Card: 6-3
Record for Year: 57-28
I'll accept all comments and opinions... except those of you who claim the Guillard-Johnson match was worthwhile.