10 Things We Learned: UFC 119
Where’s the Anti-Wrestling Crowd Now?
The main card of UFC 119 featured next to no wrestling with all five fights going into the final frame, coming within seconds of completing a full slate of fights decided by the judges. This was essentially everything that the anti-wrestling crowd was calling for and while there were some entertaining moments, this was a night of boxing and it was kind of tough to watch.
While the Dunham vs. Sherk and Lytle vs. Serra bouts were solid, fifteen rounds of guys measuring their shots and feeling each other out don’t make for the most exciting night of fights around. Bouts that had people salivating because of their potential action fell flat. Guillard and Stephens stayed fairly cautious for three rounds, while Mir and Cro Cop clinched and pawed until Mir’s big knee ended Cro Cop’s evening. Even the Mitrione vs. Beltran bout that featured two big men coming forward and throwing bombs for 15 minutes was nothing more than a sloppy brawl with very little technique and timing.
What makes this sport so incredible is the combination of styles and the diverse action that usually makes for a complete night of fights. Where is the anti-wrestling crowd now to defend a night full of boxing that will undoubtedly be panned by fans and critics alike?
Mir Needs to Do More if He Wants to Contend
Frank Mir seems like a fighter who is fighting himself.
He can’t decide if he wants to be bigger or smaller, wondering aloud about a move to light heavyweight after bulking up six months ago to counter the super-sized heavyweights dominating the division. He’s got some of the best jiu jitsu on the UFC roster regardless of weight class, but has fallen in love with his striking to the point that he didn’t go to the ground once against Mirko Cro Cop.
In the end, all it shows is a fighter in a state of flux who will need to do a lot more than earn a last second knockout over a fading superstar if he hopes to contend in the heavyweight division once again. The UFC 119 version of Frank Mir would get eaten alive by the big dogs of the division, and since a move to 205 is completely unrealistic, it’s back to the drawing board for the former champion.
Bader Arrives, But Still Has Work to Do
Note: I realize this is sounding like a pretty negative / critic collection of thoughts so far. Just not an overly impressive night if you ask me, but there will be some positives shortly, I promise.
TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader got the biggest win of his career, earning a unanimous decision over the twin brother of his TUF coach, Rogerio Nogueira. The victory keeps the Arizona State star unbeaten and will propel him up the light heavyweight ladder. If he wants to keep climbing, he’s still got some work to do.
Once again, Bader wore down as the fight went on. While it is expected, Bader was more than fatigued as the final frame wound down; he was gassed, and as he climbs the ladder, the competition gets stiffer and a shallow gas tank isn’t going to cut it. He also needs to work on doing more with his takedowns, as Nogueira popped back up on several occasions.
His blend of wrestling and powerful hands will always keep him in the fight. As we saw against Nogueira, the threat of the takedown makes opponents hesitant to throw, and that will serve the Season 8 winner well moving forward.
Not to take anything away from Bader’s performance – this was a great win and he should be pleased with the accomplishment – but to excel at the highest level, there are areas of his game that need some serious improvement.
Bader vs. Jones Doesn’t Make Sense
Why in the name of all things right in the world would you do this, Joe Silva?
I never understand why an organization would want to pair the two brightest stars of the division together, increasing the credibility of one prospect at the expense of the other. Did we not learn anything from Strikeforce throwing King Mo and Gegard Mousasi fiasco that wasted “The Dreamcatcher” to build Mo, only to have “Feijao” throw a wrench in it all?
Both guys are definite Top 10 talents with promising futures, but competing against each other makes little sense. There are a number of proven veterans available to test both “Bones” and Bader in the upper levels of the division without giving one of them an unnecessary loss.
Matt Serra Channels Jorge Gurgel
Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt? Check.
Love affair with stand-up? Check.
Stay standing even when the ground is the only shot at victory? Check.
Matt Serra went full-on Jorge Gurgel Saturday night, throwing his best possible path to victory out the window in an effort to “give the fans what they want.” Here’s the problem: a lot of MMA fans are spoiled and don’t know what they want, as evidenced by the chorus of boos that provided the soundtrack of the evening.
I get the “entertain the crowd” angle, but there are some of us who want to see fighters compete with their best weapons and at the top of their games, not just taking all kinds of shots to the head in a boxing match they shouldn’t be fighting.