Breaking down the battle in the Big Easy
“THE JUGGERNAUT” HAS ARRIVED
Jake Shields said in the build-up to this fight that he didn’t know much about his opponent.
Ellenberger made quick work of the former Strikeforce middleweight champion and UFC welterweight title challenger, shrugging off two weak takedown attempts before burying a knee into Shields’ face, following him to the canvas and pounding out the finish.
His tremendous performance Saturday night extends his winning streak to five, and not only introduces him to a wider audience, but makes him an immediate title contender as well.
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR SHIELDS
My heart goes out to Shields right now.
A class act through and through, he’s had to deal with a lot in the last month following the unexpected passing of his father and manager Jack. He put on a brave face in sticking with this fight, and now that it’s over, he can take the time he needs to grieve.
When he’s ready to come back to fighting, there are going to be questions that await him. Shields was manhandled Saturday night, losing for the second straight fight after underwhelming in his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann.
With the number of young talents looking to carve out their place in the welterweight division and Shields having reached his ceiling in terms of what he brings to the cage, it’s hard not to wonder where he goes from here?
THE BIGGEST LOSER IN ALL OF THIS IS GEORGES ST-PIERRE
I know some of you are wondering what the welterweight champion has to do with all of this when he was thousands of miles away in Montreal, but here it is:
With both Carlos Condit and Chris Lytle putting Hardy away, and Ellenberger now obliterating Shields, the questions being asked bout St-Pierre’s risk aversion are going to start getting louder, including from me; expect a full-length look later in the week.
TIME TO STOP THE HARD SELL ON FORMER TUF WINNERS
I think Court McGee is a serviceable middleweight. If his offensive weapons ever climb to meet his conditioning, he could be a dark horse contender because after going 15 minutes Saturday night, McGee looked like he could go another 10, no problem.
But when you stand him next to the other main card middleweight winner, Alan Belcher, you see that the big push the Season 11 Ultimate Fighter winner is getting is more promotional than actual promise.
Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan tried to find every way they could to make Jonathan Brookins’ performance against Erik Koch seem interesting, name-dropping Randy Couture umpteen times as the Season 12 winner pressed Koch into the fence and did little else. No amount of “Couture made his living here” was going to convince viewers that they had to tune in to see Brookins fight again next time.
I understand the logic and approach from a business standpoint, but sometimes the right thing to do in the boardroom is the wrong thing to do on the operating floor. McGee isn’t a co-main event fighter, even for a Spike (or future FX or Versus) card, and the UFC would be better served showcasing guys who can actually make an impact in both the present and the future, rather than pumping up their reality TV winners.
SPEAKING OF THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
Overall, it was a rough night for the long-running program.
Seth Baczynski, a member of the Season 11 cast who had already been released by the company, returned as a welterweight and had the best performance of the night amongst the group of TUF graduates. While McGee edged out a decision against Dongi Yang, and Justin Edwards did the same against Jorge Lopez in the opener, there were no great performances from the recent cast members on the card, and that is telling of where TUF has gone in recent years.
I know the days of finding a bumper crop of future stars like was found in the early years have passed, but there has got to be better talent out there than Clay Harvison. Shamar Bailey showed tremendous heart and fortitude in his bout with Evan Dunham, but didn’t manage much offense, and that’s after cutting down to lightweight in an effort to be more competitive.
The upcoming season doesn’t count to me, as it taps into the previously untouched featherweight and bantamweight talent pools; the same goes for if they ever do a flyweight season. Moving forward, the onus has to be on finding fighters who can become contributors in the organization beyond filling out the preliminary portion of televised events.