What we learned from UFC Ultimate Fight Night (UFN) 22 and Ultimate Fighter 12
1. Nate Marquardt Scores a Sweaty Victory at UFN 22
During the middle to later rounds of many fights, we’ve heard analysts explain that catching a submission becomes more difficult as a fight progresses since fighters become slippery from sweating. Wednesday night, Nate Marquardt proved that to be true during his fight with Rousimar Palhares. He, however, was sweaty early on in the fight. This was intentional, premeditated, and just might be the most brilliant and inventive fight strategy in some time.
Marquardt entered the cage with “a good sweat going” (his words). As a result, he was able to easily slip his leg out of the danger zone when Palhares attempted to execute a heel hook. Inexplicably, Palhares took a pause to try and draw referee Herb Dean’s attention to what he thought was an obvious case of cheating, at which time Marquardt dropped a big right, followed up quickly, and earned the stoppage.
This is one of those instances that gets the whole MMA world asking, “How come no one thought of that before?” And HeavyMMA doesn’t have an answer for you. Whether this was Nate’s plan, or the strategic wizardry of either Trevor Whitman or Greg Jackson, it’s something that could (and should) catch on.
2. Easy Lesson Learned the Hard Way (or What was Rousimar Palhares thinking?)
“Toquinho” learned the hard way that no matter what the situation, you fight until the referee or the bell stops you. There is no option to petition the referee to step in when you think your opponent has done something unethical. This is something every fighter knows long before they take to the cage.
While we at HeavyMMA certainly understand the chain of thought that went through Palhares’ head – it’s early; Marquardt feels slippery; he got out of my signature submission quickly; something must be wrong – Palhares had to know that those thoughts should be expressed at the end of the round, he just got emotional. There’s no room in the octagon for emotion.
3. A New Star is Born
Some people think we in the media are overdoing it a little in crowing Charles Oliveira a future champion after only two appearances inside the Octagon. We direct those people to Tweet with us in a few years when “do Bronx” has the UFC lightweight belt around his waist.
Efrain Escudero was supposed to be a big step up in competition for Oliveira, the 20-year-old Brazilian. Escudero offered the chance to gauge the super kid’s ceiling. Well, Escudero was outgunned from the opening, and Oliveira’s ceiling is still too high up to be seen with the naked eye. He is going to be special.
Oliveira has great Jiu-Jitsu skill, better hands than anyone expected, speed, strength, defense and the kind of charisma and moxie that makes a good fighter great and a great fighter a champion. Oliveira is living up to the hype and likely will do so for some time.
4. Jim Miller Needs to Hire a Publicist
I absolutely love the old school approach Jim Miller takes to his craft. He’s a grab-your-hardhat-and-lunch-pail kind of guy who gets frustrated with himself for winning decisions and would rather just keep going to work than tell you that he’s won five-straight fights.
That’s why the younger half of the New Jersey-based Fighting Miller Brothers needs a publicist.
Since he’s so laid back and low key, it’s easy to overlook the 18-2 Miller. By the way, those two losses came to Frankie Edgar (in 2006, pre-UFC) and Gray Maynard (UFC 96, March ’09), the two top dogs in the division. After earning a hard-fought fifth-consecutive victory Wednesday night over Gleison Tibau, Miller should be right in the thick of things at 155, but his lack of interest in self-promotion could cripple his chances.
Depending on the outcome of the Evan Dunham – Sean Sherk fight next weekend, I might have to take up the cause of campaigning for a Miller title shot myself. Stay tuned…
5. Escudero Needs to Turn it Around… Fast
TUF winners get a heavier push than most, and Efrain Escudero is no different. Unfortunately, the Season 8 lightweight winner is squandering his opportunity and needs to “right the ship” soon or risk sailing right off the roster.
That may sound harsh considering our views on Oliveira and his future greatness, but more than the loss itself, Escudero’s entire approach before and during this fight look like a fighter who isn’t fully committed to his craft. He’s been underwhelming in each of his last three bouts. And TUF winner or not, passionless performances won’t keep you employed in the UFC.
Stepping off the scale three pounds over the lightweight limit was bad. Following it up by offering next to nothing and looking like you completely underestimated your opponent was worse. What takes it to “flashing red danger light” levels is that Escudero was mediocre at best in beating Dan Lauzon at UFC 114 and threw his game plan out the window before getting his arm twisted into a pretzel by Evan Dunham the fight before.
Escudero needs to start putting forth quality efforts that merit the opportunities he is afforded as a TUF season winner.