If you stayed up for UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson (for our readers who live in the Americas) it was well worth your time and complete disregard for your body's need to get some rest. This was a strong Fight Pass card that could've easily passed off as a really strong Fox Sports 1 card, and the event ended with a bang when Mark Hunt made Roy Nelson fall flat on his face with a wicked uppercut. Myles Jury, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Kyoji Horiguchi also stood out with their great showings on the main card.
Normally the Sunday Perspective is T.P Grant's territory, but with Mr. Grant unavailable this weekend I get to write this up for you. So without further ado, a few more thoughts on yesterday's card:
- Mark Hunt put forth another great performance, setting up his strikes well and neutralizing Nelson's gameplan of "right hand with takedowns mixed in" by avoiding Roy's big punch and stuffing all but 1 takedown. The 40-year-old is an unquestioned top 10, maybe even top 5 heavyweight right now, and while he may not be at a level of someone like Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos or Fabricio Werdum, you can't deny how incredibly entertaining it's been to watch Hunt go from losing to Sean McCorkle to knocking out the likes of Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve, and now Roy Nelson.
- Roy Nelson has always been highly susceptible to the uppercut. The KO to Arlovski was kickstarted with an uppercut, and it was an uppercut that had him staggered vs. Junior dos Santos. These problems have persisted for years and have consistently been exploited by high-level strikers, and there's no reason to believe he's going to correct that now. This loss ends any glimmer of hope he had of fighting for a title shot, so it's all about whether or not this KO sends him spiralling towards any sort of real steep decline.
- It's time to take off the kid gloves when handling Myles Jury's career. The progression up the ranks has been logical, as he's been mixed with other TUF veterans as well as declining "name" opponents like Sanchez and Gomi. Other than the really uneventful showing vs. Mike Ricci, Jury has been miles ahead of the rest of his opposition, including the seemingly more promoted Michael Johnson. He's proven himself worthy and capable enough of mixing it with established ranked fighters and that's who he should face next.
- This will come off as "hindsight is 20/20", but Takanori Gomi was bound to get knocked out. If Myles Jury didn't do it, then another hard-hitting puncher would've done it. Nate Diaz had Gomi badly hurt several times but chose to armbar him instead, and Eiji Mitsuoka nearly forced a stoppage in the 1st round before he gassed and Gomi rallied for the win. "The Fireball Kid" had a good mini-run vs. Danzig, Sanchez, and Vallie-Flagg, but his time is really up in this sport.
- Yoshihiro Akiyama had come under fire for his underwhelming UFC showings prior to his 2+ year absence, much of it justified, but his win over Amir Sadollah was no doubt impressive. He showed no signs of rust, had Sadollah hurt more than just about any other opponent he'd faced other than Johny Hendricks and Duane Ludwig, and displayed superior skills everywhere. Beating Sadollah probably won't spark some sort of dramatic rush into the top 5, but at least we know he's still got something left in the tank, and that's good news for fans of Sexyama.
- Someone get Rin Nakai a striking coach, because that was terrible beyond belief. She wasn't blown out of the water like I'd expected her to be against Miesha Tate, but that aspect of her game is woefully underdeveloped.
- I cannot understand how you could score Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Rich Walsh for Kunimoto. Round 1 is an arguable 10-8 for Walsh and Kunimoto really didn't do much in the 2nd to convincingly even things up. The UFC assigns these judges, including veteran Vegas judge Tony Weeks, so when they screw up, they can't blame the commission because it's all on them.
- Kyoji Horiguchi was essentially given a showcase fight, because Jon Delos Reyes is quite clearly not equipped to be competitive against ranked fighters at 125 or 135 lbs. Horiguchi could be the Japanese sensation that the UFC has looked for. He's got the blend of knockout power, speed, beautiful striking, and tremendous killer instinct that provides plenty of reason to be optimistic about his chances of being a flyweight contender. All that said, he needs to fight a top 10 guy next to prove he belongs in the discussion as one of the best in his division.
- Alex Caceres is never going to contend until he can actually get off to good starts. He consistently drops the 1st round and ends up fighting from behind as a result. Sometimes he's able to rally like he did vs. Sergio Pettis and Roland Delorme, but he wasn't able to do it vs. Masenori Kanahara. It's a really big loss for Caceres and it sets him back considerably in the bantamweight division.
- Takenori Sato now has consecutive knockout losses where he stubbornly held onto a leg and went limp after repeatedly being struck in the face. It happened with Erick Silva via punches, and now at the elbows of Hyun Gyu Lim. There's not much more you can add to that.
- Isn't it great when the UFC occasionally doesn't knee-jerk hand out Fight of the Night bonuses to the first STANDANDBANG encounter that comes up? Kyung Ho Kang and Michinori Tanaka were well deserving of their $50,000 bonuses after their terrific back-and-forth grappling battle. Kang got the decision in the end, and he's done quite well after failing to win his first two UFC fights.
- Dan Hooker lost to Maximo Blanco. I told you it's never a good life decision to trust a Hooker.