The MMA Weekend Roundup – Volume 2
The Main Event
Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber
Yes, there was controversy, but there was no disputing the fact that Renan Barao had Urijah Faber badly rocked in the 1st round. Faber could have recovered had Herb Dean not stepped in, and he likely deserved that opportunity considering his career and experience, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Faber had to fight a perfect fight to beat Barao, and one little slip up, ended up costing him another opportunity to win UFC gold. Faber is still a class act and an elite fighter. Part of me was hoping that with Aldo’s move to Lightweight, Barao would move up to Featherweight, which would ultimately open the door for Faber to rule the Bantamweight division. Unfortunately, Faber may go down as one of the best fighters to have never won a UFC title.
Jose Aldo def. Ricardo Lamas
Alistair Overeem def. Frank Mir
Ali Bagautinov def. John Lineker
Abel Trujillo def. Jamie Varner
Jose Aldo’s title fights can be somewhat comparable to Anderson Silva’s championship reign. You never know what you’re really going to get, including some lackluster 5-round affairs. It seemed as if Aldo was coasting for much of the fight. Yes, he clearly showed he was better than his opponent in nearly all areas, but there wasn’t any sign of desire to go after the finish. Aldo has the capability to be a star in this sport, and quite possibly the heir to Anderson Silva, but he didn’t seize the moment. It’s tough to fault Aldo because he’s as good as it gets, but for a guy with as much talent as he has, he should be finishing guys like Lamas. That’s no slight to Lamas, it’s just obvious that Aldo is on another level.
With news that Aldo may be leaving to Lightweight to fight Anthony Pettis, there will likely be a fight setup to crown a new champion. All signs are pointing to Chad Mendes vs. Cub Swanson, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UFC set up a 4-man tournament with the winner of Mendes/Swanson facing the winner of Edgar/Penn. Lamas will likely need another win to get back in the mix.
Alistair Overeem saved his UFC career by dominating Frank Mir for 3 rounds. He likely could have finished Mir in the 1st, but he seemed overly cautious to avoid any potential come from behind submission attacks from Mir. It wasn’t Overeem’s greatest performance in the world, but it was enough to get him back in the mix. He strangely called out Brock Lesnar afterwards, but someone from the media suggested Junior dos Santos, which Dana White seemed interested in. Overeem didn’t say a word when Dos Santos’ name was thrown out, which leads me to believe, Overeem isn’t in any rush to face the former UFC champion.
Ali Bagautinov may have just won himself a shot at the UFC Flyweight title. The UFC has made a concerted effort to sign Russian talent in recent months, and it has paid off with new contenders in Bagautinov, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Rustam Khabilov. Bagautinov would be a considerable underdog against current champion Demetrious Johnson, but Johnson’s in need of new challenges considering his recent wins over Benavidez, Dodson, and McCall.
As for Lineker, he did end up making weight, but these shenanigans just need to stop. He’s only 5’2, which makes him the shortest fighter on the UFC’s roster. Had he used Mike Dolce like the UFC and American Top Team were advising, he at least wouldn’t have the cloud of missing weight hanging over him. Instead, not only did he lose this fight, but he likely lost any shot of fighting for the title in the near future. The UFC doesn’t tolerate fighters missing weight multiple times, ask Anthony Johnson about that. Lineker’s one of the division’s best, but he may need to be released by the UFC in order to send a message firm and clear, that he needs to get his weight under control. Lineker claimed Dolce’s diet was too hard for him, but in essence, it sounds like he just doesn’t care.
It came as no surprise that Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner won Fight of the Night. Varner looked like the superior fighter early, but Trujillo always had a dog in the fight with his huge one-punch KO power. You can’t fault Varner for going for it, but his breakneck style led to him getting knocked out cold. It was a somewhat sad ending for Varner, whose career has been reinvigorated since returning to the UFC. As for Trujillo, his success will likely come down to matchups because his grappling is not where it needs to be to compete with the Top 10.
Alan Patrick def. John Makdessi
Chris Cariaso def. Danny Martinez
Nick Catone def. Tom Watson
Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee
Clint Hester def. Andy Enz
Rashid Magomedov def. Tony Martin
Neil Magny def. Gasan Umalatov
Alan Patrick vs. John Makdessi was not supposed to play out this way. In my eyes it was the most disappointing fight on the entire card. There were no real moments that stood out beyond the decision being read aloud. Patrick looks like one heck of a physical specimen, but he has a ways to go with the finer aspects of his striking. He flashed a couple of spinning attacks, but outside of that, there just wasn’t much there. Makdessi seemed content to win via decision, which is becoming a hallmark of the Tristar Gym. I did think Makdessi did enough to win, but hopefully this is a wakeup call for him and his camp that relying on the judges is sometimes not the best strategy.
Chris Cariaso won a close decision over Danny Martinez in a fight that also drew its fair share of boos. I thought it was a decent fight, and both fighters seemed to be laying it all on the line for the most part. Martinez threw punches with reckless abandon, but he’s way too much of a brawler to ever make it towards contender status. Cariaso has proven that he is a smart, well-rounded fighter.
Nick Catone was the hometown favorite coming into this card, but he didn’t really do much to make the fans cheer for him outside of his takedowns. Catone did land some decent punches early, but he soon went back to his bread ‘n’ butter, wrestling. Tom Watson was supposed to be the favorite coming in, but he was just unable to create enough distance to win this fight with strikes. Watson was upset at the decision afterwards, which was debatable, but the only one he should be mad at is himself. His prior 2 losses in the UFC were for very similar reasons, so either he starts making the improvements needed, or he’s likely going to find himself released.
Al Iaquinta vs. Kevin Lee didn’t make a lot of sense from a matchmaker’s perspective. Iaquinta was coming a solid win over fellow prospect Piotr Hallman, and instead of elevating him against a better known star, they give him another fairly unknown prospect in Kevin Lee. Iaquinta ended up winning a hard-fought decision, though he was on the brink of being choked out in the 2nd round. Iaquinta’s striking, conditioning, and takedown defense eventually sealed the deal in the 3rd round. Hopefully, Joe Silva stops pitting top prospects against one another because they are basically lose-lose situations for both fighters involved.
Clint Hester and Andy Enz put on a somewhat entertaining slugfest, though there were notable times of inactivity. Enz has proven tough, enduring big strikes in both this bout and his TUF 17 preliminary fight against Uriah Hall. Hester has the raw skills to be a bruiser in the division, but his lack of polish and grappling will likely hold him back from reaching the upper levels.
Another curious decision by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva in this one. I’m usually one of Silva’s biggest supporters, but this fight just never made sense. Both fighters were considered solid prospects and Rashid Magomedov likely deserved to fight someone with a slightly bigger name in order to quickly push him up the ranks similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s route. Instead, we saw two of the best prospects in the division duel it out on a virtually unseen platform of UFC Fight Pass. I was disappointed to say the least. The fight was excellent, though both fighters tired down in the final round. Magomedov’s armbar escape was one of the most climactic moments on the whole undercard. Magomedov went on to batter Martin with strikes in the final few minutes, and earn the decision victory. Once again, a lose-lose situation for the UFC in developing their new prospects. Now, Martin sits at 0-1 in the UFC, while Magomedov has nearly no hype behind him, despite being arguably Russia’s top Welterweight for the last 2 years.
Neil Magny opened up the UFC 169 fight card with a solid performance that made people rethink their initial judgements of him as a fighter. Magny used his length well, and seemed to be much smoother with his striking, and even utilizing some well-timed takedowns. Umalatov may need to consider moving down to Lightweight. He did give a solid effort, and was giving it his all in the final round, but he just didn’t have enough steam left in him to really do much damage.
There was a ton of action outside of the UFC this weekend. RFA (Resurrection Fighting Alliance) and ROC (Ring of Combat) are two promotions, filled with top-flight MMA prospects.
Henry Cejudo garnered the most attention outside of the UFC this weekend, but for all the wrong reasons as he missed weight for his Legacy FC flyweight bout. Cejudo was likely on his way to a title shot had he won without incident this weekend. Now, he may find himself suspended by the AC. Cejudo did end up fighting Friday night, where he defeated Elias Garcia via decision. BE did a great write up detailing all of Cejudo’s activities outside of the cage, and it sounds as if he may not be as focused on his MMA career as many of us hoped he would be.
Tim Means is quickly showing that the UFC may have made a mistake in releasing him last year. He once again used his striking to stop another tough veteran via strikes in the 1st round. Means at Welterweight could be a beast. He had his mishaps with weight cutting while at Lightweight, so hopefully Means decides to stay at 170, where he will still be one of the tallest fighters in the division.
Former UFC veteran Karlos Vemola won his 4th straight fight since being released by the UFC in 2013. He fought at 205 lbs., and beat a winless journeyman via 1st round submission.
In Brazil, Jungle Fights 65 put on a solid card as Tiago “Trator” dos Santos (18-4-2) defeated Ary Santos (6-4) via 3rd round TKO. In other action, fringe prospects Junior Orgulho, Rodrigo Souza, and Luciano Benicio ended up losing their bouts.
Moving over to Japan where Bantamweight prospect Shintaro Ishiwatari defeated Yo Saito via decision. Former UFC/PRIDE veteran Yuki Kondo also picked up a KO win.
Canadian Ryan Machan picked up his 21st career win as he won via 2nd round TKO.
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