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UFC 77 Recap and Ruminations

  1. Midwest UFC shows are excellent - I wasn't there live, but if one can reliably judge by the telecast, then the show was excellent. From the fights to the match-ups themselves to the crowd's enthusiasm, there is something unique about hosting shows in Ohio. Obviously Vegas will remain the fight capital for MMA and boxing for the forseeable future, but I cannot wait until the UFC returns to a place where MMA is treasured. There was a bit too much booing, though.
  2. The future of Rich Franklin - he put up a much better fight this time, but he was essentially delaying the inevitable. Franklin is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. If he wants a future in the UFC - and I hope he does - he needs to step away from the sport and specialize. Put on the gi and head to Brazil, or better yet, head to Thailand and train at the Fairtex camp. He needs to develop a skill set in his arsenal that can be his go-to. Simply having well-rounded skills isn't enough against experts like Anderson Silva. And don't think we've seen the last of him. This is MMA, so who cares if he's lost to Silva twice? With a break from the sport and a few acquisitions to the middleweight division, a refreshed and retooled Rich Franklin can both contribute to the division, work his way towards a title shot, and revitalize his career.
  3. I'm sorry, but Anderson Silva is beatable - let's call off the hero worship of this man, shall we? Obviously he's dangerous. Obviously he has tremendous skill. Obviously he's a gracious and deserving champion, but I'm not convinced yet. He's still yet to face a credentialed wrestler with unavoidable takedowns, excellent top control, good guard passing, and an ability to finish. If you don't think a Matt Lindland or Dan Henderson wouldn't strip Silva of his belt in a hurry, you've got some homework to do. Both men can be KO'ed (Lindland more so than Henderson), but both men would give Silva a taste of his own medicine when - not if - the fight hit the floor. Silva's takedown defense was less than impressive, so are you really going to suggest former Olympians wouldn't be able to get the fight to the ground? Please. Henderson, TKO, 1st round.
  4. What happened to Brandon Vera? - he fought Tim Sylvia, that's what. Look at what I said on every show or any post I wrote: this fight was not going to be a blowout for Vera by any stretch. Sylvia is easily the most underrated and under appreciated fighter in the UFC. Just because you don't like him doesn't mean he's not good. As for Vera's kicks? Sylvia never let "The Truth" bring them to bear. It's not clear how Vera's broken hand caused him to abandon his gameplan, but I'm not so sure that would've mattered. Ultimately, I think Sylvia is right: if a couple of years Vera is going to be a force to reckon with. Key words: in a couple of years. The two will rematch and the fight will be very different the next time out, but last night belonged to Sylvia and he earned every bit of it.
  5. As for Vera's chin... - it's pretty good. He was getting nailed with heavy shots and never even stumbled. That's the silver lining for "The Truth".
  6. The cut on Starnes's forehead - dear god that was nasty. I'm still a little unclear as to what the commotion was when the fight was called between Starnes and his corner, but the stoppage was appropriate. What was not appropriate? Rogan farting on air.
  7. Gurgel, Gurgel, Gurgel - I understand why the UFC made his fight with Robinson a main card attraction, but I would've rather seen Okami vs. MacDonald even if the fights looked the same. And here's the truth of the matter: being on your back in a MMA fight in a cage is simply not a good idea unless you have a guard like Dean Lister. Telegraphing armbars to the same arm for two rounds is a guaranteed way to lose...every time. If you want to do extended guard play, be prepared to eat shots and to get pressured against the cage. You need to work sweeps and escapes from the bottom more than you need to practice triangles and oma platas in modern MMA. Let that fight be a lesson to everyone.
  8. The debut of Demian Maia - impressive. Admittedly we only saw a glimpse of what he has to offer both positively and negatively. In my view, however, he's the best pure grappler in the UFC and that includes BJ Penn. But as with any high-level grappler, it seems their bubble is burst when the face anyone with decent takedown defense and heavy hands. Hopefully Maia will learn this lesson before he becomes the lesson to learn.
  9. The UFC middleweight division - it needs talent. Badly. It's clear that unless they sign established wrestlers like Frank Trigg or bring over Paulo Filho from the WEC, there isn't anyone in the division who can touch Silva. Again, I personally believe Dan Henderson would wipe the floor with The Spider, but he's insistent on not cutting weight to make 185lbs. The next season of TUF is supposedly to be all middleweights, but if next season is anything like the current show, then we'll see a batch of middleweights who have more to offer as a television personalities than they do UFC-level fighters.
  10. Why did Sylvia call out Kongo? - isn't Sylvia supposed to be fighting Nogueira? I guess Kongo's stock was upped a little more than I thought with a win over CroCop. And to be honest, a Sylvia vs. Kongo fight would be a lot of fun to watch...provided Sylvia didn't hug him the entire time.
  11. Enough about Brock Lesnar already - repeat after me: WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW GOOD BROCK LESNAR IS. He's clearly a great athlete and he's clearly a great wrestler. Beyond that, we know NOTHING about him. Beating a Korean jobber in one fight tells us nothing. As Sherdog's Jordan Breen points out, Sylvester Terkay has virtually the same credentials as Lesnar and is by no means a premier level MMA fighter of kickboxer, so I fail to understand the predictions of "here comes the dominator". That's also why the UFC didn't hold a huge coming out party for him. If he turns out to be a bust, they want to leave themselves an out. Until Lesnar has proven himself against top-level competition in difficult fights and difficult situations, you nor I know anything about him. Period.
  12. UFC 78 - I'm going to watch it and I'm looking forward to some the fights, but let's be honest: talk about a B-level event.
  13. I told you so about Grice vs. Black - go back and listen to the last episode of Any Given Saturday. I told you that anytime a fighter in MMA is a +400 underdog or a -400 favorite, something is up. You could've taken that one to the bank, quite literally. A plus or minus 400 is usually an indication the oddsmakers are unfamiliar with a fighter or simply writing him off. Grice had been training with BJJ blackbet Renato Tavares and no one knew about it. Add to that fact he had gotten over his UFC jitters, has great wrestling, and was facing an opponent who has to cut a tremendous amount of weight and, voila, Grice wins. Always, always, always be skeptical of odds in a MMA fight that tilt that far. In this game, you cannot rely on them.
  14. Fox Sports Radio in Las Vegas - they were live yesterday with Frank Trigg after the fights in Cincinnati. I was on the air at 2am EST, so if anyone has the audio, I'd love to hear it. Send it my way, si vous plait.
  15. Nogueira and Wanderlei get lots of love - but we heard no official announcement about when either would be fighting. The UFC wouldn't be putting their faces all over the screen if they weren't planning some sort of media campaign, but for my money, I'd rather hear plans for their UFC fights than shots of them watching the fights. I know what they look like; I do not know who and when they're fighting (Big Nog slightly notwithstanding).
  16. Last night's broadcast team a little off - and I'm not just talking about Rogan farting either. Both men did a good job when the fights were in full swing, but the transitions were a little rough. And while I always think Rogan and Goldberg get more grief than is warranted, I really would've liked to have seen Couture help commentate the co-main events. The three have great chemistry and it's clear why the UFC put Randy in there to begin with. Here's to reconciliation.
  17. No more commercials, for the love of god - I guess the UFC has to run ads for atrocious movies to pay for financial blackholes, e.g. shows in the UK. In a perfect world, though, I'd like to see all nine fights. This isn't necessarily a statement about UFC 77 per se, but now is as good an opportunity as any. I guess I should also be glad we got to see 6 fights instead of 4, but I'm not. I'm a fight junkie and I want to see all the action, every time. Thank god for illegal download and torrent sites.
  18. Here's why the signing of Brock Lesnar is important - that's one less fighter for Fedor to face outside of the UFC. Now it's Fedor's brother (who he'll never fight), Mark Hunt, Josh Barnett and (maybe) Randy Couture. That'll keep Fedor busy for a year, tops, with decent competition. Again, you don't evaluate a fighter by looking at his physique and remarking how scary he is. Kongo is scary yet can't wrestle a lick. Lesnar's talent is that he is super marketable, so it robs Fedor of a potentially decent fight insofar as marketability is concerned. But hey, you reap what you sew, right?
  19. The rankings - Rich is going to fall, Tim is going to rise, and Vera is going to fall. But how far for each? A case can be made for Sylvia to be number 3 behind Fedor and Randy (or behind Randy and Fedor depending on how you wish to look at it). I say he should go in front of Josh Barnett if for no other reason than he's been more active even if Barnett's problem is acquiring a decent employer. As for Franklin, does this lose bump him out of the top 5 or even the top 10? I need to think about it more. The problem with losing to Silva is that it doesn't really change much other than solidify his bridesmaid status. It's not as if by losing to Silva he's any more likely to lose to anyone else in the division that he could've defeated before. And Vera, well, this loss certainly doesn't help matters. This was a tough fight regardless, especially considering the long layoff. I'd like to have seen an easier fight than Sylvia for his UFC return, but that opportunity is over. A match now with an Arlovski or Werdum would be ideal and could catapult him back into the championship hunt. Let the rankings madness continue.

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