Category Archives: Fight Analysis

Jones-Gustafsson Rematch Should Happen… But Not Yet

jonesgus_original

September 21, 2013 will forever be remembered as the night Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson achieved legend when he broke down the godly aura of Jon “Bones” Jones. As an 8-1 underdog, many had Gustafsson losing within the first 3 rounds either by TKO or submission. The Mauler would simply go on to put a brilliant display of boxing, rearranging Jones’s face – including bloodying him – like no one has ever seen. Everything changed.

In spite of a furious Jones rally in round 4 and takedown in round 5, Gustafsson looked to be in prime spot to score the upset of the ages…

But not so. A tightly contested match left to the judges and they gave it to the champion. I didn’t dispute the decision but many did and I couldn’t blame them entirely. Gustafsson looked more impressive than Jones, taking him down in round 1 and landing significantly more head strikes.

But take another look. This time with fightmetric’s tally:

http://blog.fightmetric.com/2013/09/jones-vs-gustafsson-official-ufc.html

By fightmetric’s scoring of significant strikes and total strikes, Jones would have won 4 of the 5 rounds. You can argue Gustafsson had significantly more head strikes versus Jones’s ineffective leg kicks. But you can also counter argue that Jones did more damage to Gustafsson in round 4 alone than Gustafsson did the whole fight. Jones also took Gustafsson down in round 5 to get back that takedown he surrendered to him in round 1. Point being, it was too close to be a robbery as some people would think so.

A rematch will and should happen… but not right away. This is different from the Lyoto Machida-Shogun fight from UFC 104 where fightmetric and everyone including their mom had that fight for Rua.

This was Gustafsson’s coming out party. He’s vastly improved and truly showcased his footwork, boxing and even wrestling. He should be back in the title fight as soon as two fights later. The light heavyweight division is his playground now as well. Meanwhile, future contender Glover Teixeira is somewhere salivating over Bones’s apparent weakness to boxing. But at the end of it all, the champion showed heart and got the job done. Both fighters’ stocks rose dramatically and so did the UFC. Amazing fight. Everyone’s a winner (except those who bet on Gustafsson, oh well).

This fight wasn’t a robbery, it was a blessing for fight fans everywhere.

Advertisements
Link

Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones (C) vs Alexander Gustafsson (#1)

20130730052320_5D3_8974

I’m wholly aware the UFC likes to angle on The Mauler’s size “advantage” over Jon Jones yet doesn’t mention how his 76 inch reach is still dwarfed by Bones supernatural 84 inch reach advantage. Only 7 footer Stefan Struve from the Heavyweight division ties Jon Jones’s reach. Everyone else has shorter reach. But this won’t even be a focal point in the fight between both these two goliaths.

Gustafsson, while being a worthy contender, has bullied his way into a title shot by using his size over his smaller opponents. His last fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua saw him practically manhandle the former Light Heavyweight Champion. He’s done the same to Thiago Silva and has either knocked out or submitted all the rest with one glaring exception: Phil Davis, who used his superior grappling and wrestling to give the big Swede his only career loss. But it’s a loss that is a foreshadowing to his fight with Bones.

Gustafsson has improved his overall game but Jon Jones is the faster, longer, bigger and superior version of Phil Davis. Jones is a fighter on his own level – he is virtually undefeated (only loss came via DQ) and has never looked close to being in danger of losing. Seemingly, the only new “weapon” Gustafsson brings that Jones hasn’t met yet is his size and the fact he wasn’t a former light heavyweight champion or title contender but a hot young prospect just as hungry if not hungrier than the champ.

While I dream of an upset of colossal proportions, I can’t picture a scenario outside of Gustafsson catching Jones with a punch to put him out that would favour him. Bones just has him beat on every level – striking, grappling, wrestling and athleticism. This fight will go as far as Jones wants it to and it won’t reach the championship rounds.

Conclusion: Jones via round 2 submission

Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao (IC) vs Eddie Wineland (#4)

161BaraoWineland2

I feel the need to promote Eddie Wineland. He is truly the “workman’s fighter” as he suggested paving a humble but solid MMA career that has seen him beat the likes of Brad Pickett, George Roop and Scott Jorgensen. Wineland’s a tough nut and hasn’t been knocked out in 29 fights (his single TKO loss was due to injury). He’ll bring the fight to Barao and go for the knockout.

Barao on the other hand is just on another level and I feel he’s on a class of his own  similar to Jones in the light heavyweight division. Barao has also never lost since dropping his first professional MMA fight way back in 2005. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert (who also trains with Featherweight Champ, Jose Aldo) has won almost half his fights via submission (14) and the decisions he won were barely close. His speed, technique and poise are just phenomenal.

Wineland is going to give Barao a big fight similar to fellow brawlers Pickett and Michael McDonald but he’s just not on his level. He will ultimately succumb to Barao’s advanced grappling within the first three rounds.

Conclusion: Barao via round 2 submission

Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub vs Matt Mitrione

Schaub-Mitrione_large

Let’s call this right away: Mitrione by first round knockout. I like Schaub a lot better and he’s on a good winning streak but his three most recent losses (all by KO) suggests he can’t take hits as well as he can dish them. Add the fact Meathead is a one of those prototypical top-heavy fighters with heavy fists and this fight is big trouble for Schaub.

Schaub can win if he fights smart and keeps his distance from Mitrione, “out-pointing” him because he is the faster of the two but Mitrione is tougher. This fight may end up mimicking the Vera-Rothwell fight one PPV ago where Vera outstruck Rothwell for the majority of the fight but eventually let Rothwell get too close and score the big knockout. I don’t see this fight lasting all three rounds and I see Schaub hitting the mat in a heap within round 1 or 2.

Conclusion: Mitrione via round 1 KO

Middleweight Bout: Costa Philippou (#7) vs Francis Carmont

1069029_702527799762458_1417202555_n

I don’t know too much about fighters and it’s because neither one has really had a fight that’s been memorable. Costa’s biggest win came against Tim Boetsch a few months ago, utterly dominating him and finishing him in round 3. Carmont on the other hand has been on the better end of controversial decisions most recently against Lorenz Larkin, a fight that saw him fail at multiple takedown attempts and get kicked around.

My heart suggests Philippou, who appears to have more knockout power of the two, will finish off Carmont once he finds his striking range but the rangier Carmont  has the better grappling game and is tenacious with his takedown attempts. Having GSP at his side is also an “intangible” that’s clearly worked in his past fights.

Conclusion: Carmont via split decision

Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy (#10) vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

4433bac5-c958-4580-9d2d-ad0d249422fc

I’m tempted to buy into Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov’s hype. He’s undefeated and has absolutely manhandled the four fighters he’s faced in the UFC. He’s the type of fighter as Dana loves to say, “wrestle f*cks” you to oblivion with his triple threat background of sambo, judo and wrestling. Scoring a big win over Healy would vault him up the lightweight rankings and a title shot would be within striking distance.

Healy on the other hand is one of MMA’s more underrated fighters. His “grind you to death” style of wrestling/fighting is not too unlike Nurmagomedov and while he doesn’t have the Eagle’s pedigree he has twice the experience (46 fights versus 20) and has even fought at welterweight beating the likes of Paul Daley and Dan Hardy. Since moving to lightweight, Healy has gone 8-1-1 with his NC decision being an original Submission of the Night win over the gritty Jim Miller. Healy’s only loss came to Josh “The Punk” Thomson, who is now fighting Anthony Pettis for the lightweight title.

The Eagle has a bright future in the UFC and is one of the better prospects but he hasn’t fought an opponent of Healy’s caliber and experience and “Bam Bam” rises up to usually overcome his underdog status. Chalk another big win for Healy.

Conclusion: Healy via unanimous decision

Greatest Upset in MMA History – not really

Image

That is exactly what transpired on UFC 162.

Then the questions came like a torrent: did Anderson Silva lose on purpose? Was it finally just Silva’s time to be humbled? Was it simply poetic justice that the showboater gets his just desserts? Whatever reason it was, it just shows the impact.

The majority of Anderson Silva’s wins have come from him counter-punching and striking down his foes. That is also why he’s constantly goading his opponents. It all started with the Demian Maia fight. It’s always worked since until Chael Sonnen exposed his kryptonite: the ground game. Wrasslin’.

Chris Weidman was an undefeated (9-0) powerful wrestler hot off the gates. Everyone knew his potential. Guys with championship pedigree like Georges St. Pierre and Frank Mir  boldly predicted him to upset Anderson Silva. Heck, Chael Sonnen is also picking him to win and if anyone knows Silva’s weakness it’s him:

Georges St. Pierre:

I believe it’s a bad matchup for Anderson Silva. Very bad, style wise. Anderson’s weaknesses are Weidman’s strengths. I’ve trained with Weidman and his wrestling is on another level. Not only is Chris Weidman going to beat Anderson Silva, I believe he’s going to finish Anderson.

Frank Mir:

Anderson has shown one weakness – he can be controlled on the ground by powerful wrestlers – and Weidman is the most powerful wrestler there is in the division.

Chael Sonnen:

I think Weidman takes Anderson down at will, I think he blows past Anderson’s guard, and I think he finishes him. Taking Anderson down isn’t a hard thing to do.

And that’s only discussing his wrestling ability. Weidman has knockout power in those fists. He hasn’t finished a lot of guys via KO. In fact he’s only done it twice but in two notable fashions: his first knockout came against Uriah Hall who is one of the more lethal strikers in the middleweight division. But check out how Weidman puts out Hall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lAo_eAM_Hsg#t=239s

Poor quality, but Weidman hits Hall with a left punch right in the chin similar to where Weidman caught Anderson Silva:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/mma/ufc/watch-ufc-central-on-sportsnet-see-chris-weidman-knockout-anderson-silva/

What’s worth noting is Uriah Hall has an 80.5 inch reach compared to Anderson SIlva’s 77.6 inch reach. Chris Weidman is familiar with striking with an opponent who has long reach.

His most latest KO before Silva was Mark Munoz, who coincidentally won his fight last night as well. Munoz has never been stopped at middleweight but Weidman put him out with an elbow, not too unlike Anderson Silva in the creative department:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bXNXkoilRQ

Needless to say, Weidman’s hype had the evidence to make it look real. Chris Weidman was legit.

Silva is a cocky guy and one might think he stayed a champion without having to overexert himself and used his supreme striking skills to put away each guy. But I’m sure he does his research right? Why would you goad a guy who has knockout power at a reach that can very well catch you?

He didn’t throw the fight. But he certainly didn’t seem like he was in any way trying to win it either. Silva’s done some somewhat “strange” things during the fight promotion most notably his amiable demeanor towards Weidman going as far as this:

Image

Symbolic for passing of the torch? I’m being too dramatic here right? After, Silva said it’s all just promo:

http://youtu.be/gguPLDzkZJI?t=31s

Maybe he foresaw his own defeat at the hands of a legitimate threat who could potentially outwrestle him like Chael Sonnen did?

The other side of the equation is Anderson Silva and camp simply didn’t do their research enough or he simply let his arrogance cloud his better judgment and got clipped as a result. It doesn’t make sense from a fighter’s objective perspective since Silva didn’t even win the first round.

Weidman was able to briefly showcase why he was so hyped. He took Silva down within the first minute of the first round and managed to almost get him into a leg submission that it looked like for a brief moment the Spider would get caught and tap. But he got out of there alarmingly quick.

You’d think since Silva lost the first round he’d get fired up and attempt to finish Weidman or go after him more fiercely. But in true Spider fashion, he threw caution to the wind and began taunting Weidman and dropping his hands choosing to dodge Weidman’s flurry of punches ala Spider-Man style until a few of those punches finally found their mark ending his night quite abruptly.

The impact of Weidman’s stunning upset – the entire bar I was in fell eerily silent as I’m sure happened everywhere else outside Weidman’s hometown – will forever be foreshadowed  by Anderson Silva’s careless conceitedness.

I was literally the only person applauding in the crowd but I wasn’t sure if I applauded Weidman’s win or Silva getting beaten for making a mockery of an honourable sport. Maybe both. Or maybe I just applauded seeing something that I would’ve thought to only see in pro wrestling. Did Vince buy the UFC from Dana overnight? Is that what’s up?

It wasn’t about Weidman pulling off the upset of the decade, it wasn’t about Anderson Silva going down in a blaze of glory leading many to question his career and it certainly wasn’t a fight for the ages. It was a cautionary tale of fighting etiquette coming from the fighter many consider to be the greatest mixed martial artist ever. It was a tale of the greatest fighter making a costly arrogant error more so than the underdog pulling off the win for the ages.

Silva needs to challenge Weidman again for that belt but I wouldn’t blame him if he just retired given how he’s never taken the sport seriously since God knows when. But for justice’s sake and if Silva still has any pride left he would at least attempt to reclaim the belt and maybe we would actually see the legitimate fight we all came to expect.