A random piece of fan feedback on a card that I really enjoyed. Just felt like there was plenty to talk and plenty of great fights and performances. So here is my uneducated, largely unconsidered, very off the cuff reactions to what was a really fun night of fights.
If ever a single performance made me a fan of a fighter this was it. Ever since the beating he put on Roy Nelson I've had a ton of respect for the Muay Thai game of Werdum, but boy did he put on a clinic tonight. Just the right mix of clowning and effective offense made for a really fun fight in a landslide victory contested primarily in an area where his opponent was supposed to have a big advantage.
Do I think he's got anything for Cain? No. It's just a question of pace. He might out strike Cain, he might even out grapple Cain, but there's no way he's going to enough of either, in devastating enough fashion to slow Cain down before his relentless pace takes over and destroys all comers. But I'll be very happy to tune in when it happens and I wouldn't be so very shocked to be proven wrong if Cain transpires to be somewhat diminished after his surgery.
I can't help but feel like I called this in some respect and I begin to regret a couple of comments I half typed and then didn't post for fear that my uneducated opinion might be laughed out of contention. However, what I've been wondering over and over in the build up to this fight is, what exactly has Travis Browne's streak of first round KO's told us about him as a fighter? Most people seem to have been of the opinion that they showed a rapidly improving fighter with supernatural heart and unprecedented finishing prowess from anywhere on the feet. While all of these things are true, I always felt that those performances told additional, less positive stories.
For example we learned that Travis Browne isn't as good as Overeem. He may have won the fight, but he was by no means the more skilful fighter. They told us that we have no idea what his gas tank is like, which really made me question how he was going to fare in a five rounder. But additionally the brevity of his fights and the peculiar fashion in which they all ended made it impossible for us to gauge exactly where his game was. He was just spamming front kicks to get Overeem, his elbows to Gonzaga were largely to the back of the head and he clocked an aging Josh Barnett on the feet before getting to refine that tactic. Expecting him to have his way with Werdum on the feet seemingly required that Werdum gas badly, stick his head under Browne's armpit or wade into distance blithely looking for a clinch as Barnet did.
Werdum wisely did none of these things and reaped the rewards of showing how limited Travis' game really is. The one aspect that I picked up on was the way Travis would show excellent head movement while out of range, only to then stand stock still as soon as he got in punching distance. His immaturity also showed as he allowed Werdum to bait him into a lot of bad habits which he almost always got punished for. Holding up his arm and slapping his ribs in a gesture which said "Alistair couldn't make my liver explode what the hell do you think you're going to do" literally allowed and invited Werdum to punch him right where instructed to. The body blows really told eventually as Travis' hand were held lower and lower to stop the switch kick which led to him eat jab after jab after jab.
A great athlete who I fear may have fallen victim to the hype placed upon him.
My only regret was that this ended too quick. A great shame because it looked like being awesome. All those people who wanted to say that Barboza has a glass chin just got a massive boost to their cause. Da fuck happened? I mean honestly, I watched the replays to see if he moved his weight into it, or if there was any big transfer of power from Cerrone, but nothing really drastic enough to explain the reaction it received. A good jab no doubt and as much shoulder rotation as you could hope to get placed flush in the middle of his face. Good enough I guess.
It's grim for Barboza that he has these frailties because he an offensive genius. I was expecting Cerrone to have a slight advantage with the hands tonight and that really wasn't the case. Edson was faster and more accurate for the most part and caught Donald a number of times during the brief fight. But if you can't back it up with durability then you're never going to get all that far.
Hey, did any of you guys know that this dude could wrestle? Where the hell did that come from? Seriously, it's been one of the most legitimate jokes running alongside his impressive streak that his MMA wrestling basically doesn't exist and then he goes out there and puts on a clinic. I'm no wrestling snob (Or even know anything about it that I didn't read from Coach Mike) but that was some seriously impressive shit (The good kind). I almost feel as though someone might have told him all the crap people have been talking about his wrestling on the internet and he felt like showing off. Coach Mike once said that Romero would always prefer to be the "Badass" and well that was some badass wrestling.
Credit to Tavares who looked pretty good in the striking exchanges any time Yoel wasn't turning on his turbo fuel. Who the hell else throws a full on flying knee as a feint/setup for a superman punch? How do you get guys to drill that against you in sparring.
The only downside to Romero is his age. The speed with which he's picked up striking, his natural athletic gifts, his wrestling prowess, willingness to entertain, long term power and physics defying chin (Seriously, that Brunson head kick would have finished a mountain) could have seen him become an all time great. Instead he's going to have to battle against time whilst trying to round out his striking flash with a little more defensive polish and I just don't think he's going to put it all together in time.
That's my boy. I don't think anyone makes the clinch grappling style more entertaining than The Eagle. I just love watching him work. That counter trip he hit when RDA had the temerity to try and take him down was just gorgeous. And his hands! It's like boxing technique is for losers who didn't grow up wrestling bears, you just throw your hands at the perfect time while the distance disappears beneath you. How come no one worked that out sooner?
Seriously though, the fluidity and timing that he displays in his striking is really something special and the way he's built it into his world class takedown game make him a challenge for literally anyone in the division. The only area to worry about is his striking defence as he was a little too willing to eat kicks to the body, but until he fights Pettis I don't see too many people making hay out of it.
Also, anyone else get the vibe that he's not really the biggest LW in the world? It just seems so crazy that he ragdolls guys without resorting to any size or obvious muscular advantage.
I feel bad for Dos Anjos I really do. Zane had said he was a fighter hitting his peak and I really feel like he was absolutely right. His striking looked good, his movement was excellent and he did incredibly well to get back to his feet, threaten with submission and avoid damage the way he did. But you have to be at your absolute best, just to survive against a guy, you know you're probably not destined for greatness. It was a good run and against someone more conventional I think he could have kept it going into the title challenger spectrum, but there's a very good reason no one wanted to fight Nurmmy.
Great to see him back in the cage and great to have my suspicious, pessimistic expectations of his return proved wrong. He looked strong, fast, his cardio was good; combinations came smooth and his timing was there. Honestly I feel like it was only a performance of a lifetime from Seth that stopped Alves from looking better than he did. We'll have to wait and see how Thiago does against a division stacked with quality wrestlers, but I'm looking forward to watching it progress. He's only 30 after all. Maybe the time off will have done him good in the strangest of ways. Heh, what about Thiago Vs Matt Brown? I could get behind that.
If Round One Masvidal was as good as Round Two Masvidal he could be a seriously dangerous guy in the division. Pat Healy is the kind of fighter who always had the potential to make Masvidal look good and in true contrary style Masvidal seemingly did everything possible to not let that happen. But when he gets loose he looks so good on his feet, and casually letting a guy as good as Healy try and take you down inspires confidence that he can hang with the wrestlers of the division.
Anyway. I had a lot of fun watching and just wanted to share some thoughts.