UFC on FOX 9 was last night, and although there were a ton of decisions, the evening was capped off by a champ delivering perhaps the most spectacular punch of his life. Here’s a post-fight wrap up.
UFC Debut Jitters?
For those that were familiar with either Darren Uyenoyama or Alp Ozkilic leading up to this fight they knew this was quite an interesting clash of styles. With Uyenoyama being a legit BJJ player and Ozkilic having the interesting and varied wrestling background comprised of Turkish greco roman and american folk style, this fight must’ve been popular with the old school ADCC fans. In the actual fight both guys got to show a good deal of what it is they do but it was the debutant Ozkilic that impressed me most. He looked very at home in there in the world’s biggest MMA platform and did not give an inch to the veteran Uyenoyama taking the fight right to him the entire time. Making his MMA debut in Japan back in 2002, Uyenoyama may have topped out with the current skill set he has and it was quite obvious that the turk had an answer for everything Uyenoyama had. What we got to se tonight in this fight was the progression that wrestlers have made in the submission grappling department over the years all while maintaining their trademark physicality and that the older more passive, patient, Helio Gracie style of BJJ is not nearly as effective in today’s MMA, score one for the wrestlers here.
The True Trujillo?
In the UFC debut of Abel Trujillo we got to see a very promising younger fighter completely dismantle his opponent, even hanging with the decorated wrestler Levesseur in the takedown department. Trujillo looked poised to hit the ground running in the UFC and start to make a name for himself. But in the fights since then Trujillo has lacked that strength, explosiveness, and mean streak that previously made him so effective and we started to see less focus and more frustration from the Blackzillian. But tonight against Roger Bowling it was the more potent version of Trujillo that showed up in the cage and the dude put in some quality work. Bowling is tough, well rounded, quality fighter but Trujillo really has some serious potential. If he can maintain his outstanding aggression, explosiveness, and strength and keep refining the rest of his skill the guy is going to be a problem for a lot of 155’ers out there, and those body shots!
One thing you gotta respect about Sam Stout is that the guy is winning UFC fights in 2013 with pretty much the exact same game he had back in 2006 when he made his promotional debut. When you consider how long he has been fighting in the Octagon (7.5 years, 17 fights) and look at the quality of the fighters he’s faced, it’s pretty impressive. With how hard it is to even stay in the UFC nowadays Stout has carved out a nice niche career for himself and it is pretty fun to watch him work. As or Cody McKenzie he is an interesting character and you really gotta love his belief in himself but I have serious doubts that he has the athleticism necessary to compete at this level of MMA. His guillotine fixation is cool and he’s managed to get himself 2 UFC wins but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last time we hear Bruce Buffer say his name.
Fun, Fun Size
Zach Makovsky is simply a ton of fun to watch, and his “Fun Size” moniker is most definitely deserved. In the breakdown of this fight I talked about Makovsky’s FILA grappling world titles and he showed here versus Scott Jorgensen that his grappling is no joke. Fun Size was thoroughly impressive tonight and every facet of his game looked top notch, but his grappling really is world class. The way he times his double legs so perfectly, his ability to gain and regain dominant position, and the creativity he displays in getting out of tough spots is just outstanding. His defense was tight, his stand up was crisp, and he put a bit more mustard on his strikes than he usually does. Jorgensen had his definite moments here and his physical strength is going to be very potent at 125 pounds as will his size and wrestling. Young Guns has a very hard right hand but its not going to be as easy to catch these speedier guys with it down a division. You could tell Jorgensen was adjusting to this in this fight and I expect him to stay remain around the top 5 for years to come.
Pat Healy’s game has been nothing if not effective since he dropped to 155 pounds a few years ago, and even in losing he showed what size and suffocating grappling could do in the cage. But tonight Bobby Green laid out the recipe for beating these types of fighters in an extended fight. Undoubtedly the best version of Green that we have ever seen, he used speed, straight punches, variation, and SUPREME confidence to nullify the grinder. Obviously it will take someone with a skill set comparable to Green to make this game plan work but it was totally effective. Pat Healy would eventually get his hands on the slick Green and should be commended for remaining focused on his attack but Green was just to good on this particular night. After Green’s last fight he mentioned that he only trains after he gets notice for a fight and that he was going to change that, tonight we saw the result. Look for Bobby Green to make some big waves in 2014.
Shot For Shot
Danny Castillo and Edson Barboza took turns in the 1st and 2nd rounds respectively beating each other up pretty good. They both had success with their bread n butter attacks, Castillo with his heavy hands and wrestling and then Barboza with his kicks (especially leg kicks), his speed, and his snappy punches and going into the 3rd round it was pretty even. With each fighters style capable of giving the other problems this was really anyones fight heading into the 3rd round ad we have to give big props to Barboza for showing some nice fight IQ. With the fight wearing on Barboza used nice hard kicks to the body to further tire out his foe and the strategy paid off with a decision win for Barboza. Each of these guys are still likely a year or so away from their prime and each guy showed some promising skills tonight and put on a great fight.
A Real LaFlare For This
Court McGee versus Ryan LaFlare displayed one of my absolute favorite things about being an MMA fan, being wowed. And Ryan LaFlare wowed me with his rapid improvement and a real knack for fighting. We knew LaFlare could wrestle extremely well and McGee is tough as nails but the surprise for me tonight was LaFlares kickboxing, it was money! It is always exciting when a fighter shows up and reveals a new wrinkle in their game and totally catches the other guy off guard. McGee was caught off guard and LaFlare busted him up. I love McGee at 170 pounds assuming the cut isn’t too brutal and he never stopped fighting and definitely had his moments in control. I look forward to seeing both guys fight again.
Now Thats More Like It
Coming into this fight both Joe Lauzon and Mac Danzig were on a bit of a downswing and put in performances that were not a true indicator of what each was capable of. But in this fight we got to see a bunch of each guy’s skills with Lauzon consistently getting the upper hand. Mac Danzig‘s boxing and kickboxing was crisp and accurate though I’m still waiting to see him throw with more bad intentions in his strikes. Even when he KO’d Joe Stevenson it was more due to being right on the sweet spot than it was power. But against Joe Lauzon he looked sharp. But Lauzon looked outstanding and may have even been a bit more brutish than usual at times appearing to be much more powerful than Mac. Lauzon’s aggression and offensive onslaught in the grappling was a thing of beauty and as good as we have seen from the New Englander. A very solid fight and an outstanding win for J-Lau.
Whats A Guy Gotta Do To Get A Title Shot Around Here?
After watching Chad Mendes and Nik Lentz duke it out one thing is now very clear, Mendes is the 2nd best 145’er in the world. In a fight between 2 guys that were pretty evenly matched on paper we saw that the extra bit of polish in Mendes’ game made a world of a difference. With both guys big, strong, game, 145 pound wrestlers with strength and conditioning to spare it was Mendes who had an edge in technique and execution. At this point in his career Chad Mendes is very, very, good at everything he does in the cage and the crazy thing is that I’d bet he can still get better. Regardless of what happens between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169 I think Mendes deserves the winner, no doubt. Joe Silva needs to forget about Mendes being KO’d by Aldo and give him another shot, especially with that blatant fence grab Aldo pulled that preventing Mendes from getting the fight to the floor. Lentz is a hell of a fighter and I like him at 145 very much. He was getting beat in every aspect of this fight and never once looked to be quitting, even putting in his best work in the last round of the fight. I can see Lentz having a great career in the UFC at 145, maybe something like what Jim Miller has done at lightweight.
Tell Us Something We Don’t Know
First things first, lets give Urijah Faber his due props for getting a big win and for being skill for skill, one of the very best MMA fighters there is. In the fight with young stud Michael McDonald, Faber looked totally on his A game. He was sharp and aggressive and confident, and at least as effective in the stand up exchanges of the fight as McDonald was. But its not like we didn’t already know that nobody but the very best beats Urijah and those men are still standing in his way of getting the belt. I don’t know if he ever gets the belt again but in the breakdown of this fight I opined that Faber will get 1 more title shot and I still feel that way. The crazy thing about Urijah is that after a decade in the game he is still getting better and although we learned way back in the Jens Pulver fight that Faber could punch really hard, now we are seeing further refinement to his game which is impressive. McDonald is still young enough to work his way back up at least a few more times and he didn’t look bad tonight. He looked good and he does put some serious heat on those punches of his, but there are few people in all of MMA with a better guillotine than Faber so there is no shame in getting tapped by it.
The Champ Is Here!
Demetrious Johnson has officially arrived and can take his place at the table alongside the other clear cut champions in the UFC. After a string of decision wins fans who are so used to seeing the other champs wreck people were having doubts about DJ’s position as the flyweight number one. But after polishing off a tough challenger in his last fight and leveling Joseph Benavidez in this one, I think its time to give the guy the respect a champion deserves. It is not uncommon for a fighter to take a while to find his groove and now Demetrious has found his. Demetrious took the tools we already knew he had and added that huge right hand. Benavidez has never been dropped like that so we can be sure it was a hell of a shot thrown by the champ. Benavidez is still the clear cut 2nd best fighter in the division if you ask me but after 2 losses to the guy holding the belt lets see if he ends up in the same predicament as guys like Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, and a few others, good enough to beat everyone in the division but the champ but not getting a shot anytime soon.