UFC 124: Ten Things We Learned

UFC 124

photo by Josh Hedges/UFC.com

Where the Hell Did That Come From?

Joe Stevenson hadn’t been knocked out since 1999. Mac Danzig hadn’t knocked anyone out since a TKO win in 2006.

Saturday night, those streaks quickly came to an end, as Danzig caught Stevenson with a perfectly-timed left hook to the jaw that left Stevenson falling to the canvas unconscious. Coming off a brutal stoppage loss in Vancouver this summer, Danzig needed a victory more than anyone on the card, and now he can rest assured that a pink slip isn’t coming his way.

Incidentally, it’s kind of funny when a guy who has been fighting professionally since 2001 says after the fight that he never knew how to put power in his punches. High-five for improving and always learning, but who were you working with all this time?

Thiago Alves is Still a Threat in the Welterweight Division

Anyone who doubted that was proven wrong on Saturday night, as Alves showed up in tremendous shape and proceeded to put on a striking seminar against John Howard.

After losing two-in-a-row and missing rate in the second of those two bouts, the American Top Team product needed a strong showing, and he delivered just that in Montreal. His boxing looked tremendous – quick, tight hands, countering extremely well – and he brutalize Howard with his trademark leg kicks.

Perhaps most important of all, Alves was off his stool, pacing for the start of the third round, his breathing at a normal rate.

The victory put “The Pitbull” in an interesting position; he seems to have deficiencies against wrestlers, but he’s capable of banging with anyone. He’s still a ways away from a title shot at this point, but at some point, he’s going to have to get a good win over a quality wrestler if he wants to climb back to the top of the welterweight ranks.

submission victory at UFC 124

Bocek Impresses with Another Slick Submission

Toronto native Mark Bocek showed his elite grappling game in one of the two preliminary fights aired on UFC.com Saturday night, submitting fellow BJJ black belt Dustin Hazelett in the first round.

If not for a close – and somewhat controversial – loss to Jim Miller back in March, Bocek would be riding a five-fight winning streak and probably in the position his UFC 111 opponent is in now. As it stands, he’s earned four wins in five tries, all by way of submission, and he’s ready to prove he belongs amongst the division’s elite.

When speaking with Joe Rogan after the victory, Bocek stated his claim to being the best jiu jitsu player in the division, and lobbied for an opportunity to prove just that against George Sotiropoulos when the company comes to Toronto in April. While the talented Aussie might not be his opponent, expect to see Bocek get a step up when the organization debuts in his hometown next year.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Who’s going to get cut and who’s going to get another chance? Here’s my best guesses:

Joe Stevenson: he’s gone 3-4 since getting strangled by B.J. Penn, and while he’s got a solid track record and a TUF season win under his belt, there are a ton of new ‘55s coming into the division, and I don’t know if Stevenson can survive. A move to 145 might be an option.

John Howard: “Doomsday” isn’t going anywhere; two-fight losing streak or not, he’s hung in there with tough competition and is an exciting part of the welterweight ranks.

Joe Doerksen: I would expect “El Dirte” to get another pink slip, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him back down the road. He’s a gamer, and his willingness to take fights on short notice works in his favor.

Dustin Hazelett: Though he’s now lost three straight, I think “McLovin” will get one more crack as a lightweight before being let go. Bocek is a solid competitor and a one-and-done in a new division for a guy who has shown promise in the past seems hasty.

Raphael Natal: So long, “Sapo.” You don’t go 0-1-1 and get asked back for another fight.

Jesse Bongfeldt: Stepping in on short notice will get him a second chance, but he’ll need to shine because no one likes fights that result in a majority draw.

Pat Audinwood: “Awesomely Awesome” he is not.

Dear Haters…

There are sure to be the usual cavalcade of complaints about GSP not finishing and whatnot, and I’m tired of hearing it before it even starts.

This was a clinical performance by the most complete weapon in the sport, and even though there are always those select few that have to find a reason to complain about everything, don’t listen to them; those guys are idiots.

If the only thing missing is a finish, stop complaining and appreciate the greatness of Georges St. Pierre. And if you can’t do that, I think your “I’m an MMA Fan” card is about to expire.

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