Ten things to take away from UFC 127
Nobody Likes Kissing Their Sister, Even When It Makes Sense
For the second time in two months (how has it only been two full months?), the UFC had a main event end in an understandable, but altogether unsatisfying draw. Such a result has always been labelled akin to “kissing your sister,” and no one likes that, even when the situation is warranted like on her birthday or at her wedding.
Jon Fitch didn’t like it. B.J. Penn thought is was the MMA gods giving him an opportunity to fight again, and fans and media alike will be debating the result until something crops up to distract them. The funny thing is that just as in the Edgar-Maynard battle on New Year’s Day, this result was the right result.
I had Penn winning the opening two rounds and awarded Fitch a 10-8 score in the third, producing the 28-28 total two of the three judges submitted; the other judge scored the fight 29-28 Fitch, giving him the second round and only a 10-9 in the final frame.
Without starting an argument about the scoring, most people seemed to accept the result, but that doesn’t make it feel less unsatisfying. Just as we need a resolution in the Edgar-Maynard rivalry, this too feels incomplete; while you can argue all you want that Fitch should have won and he’d do the same a second time, the result on record is a draw and you never know what could happen if they do it again.
For my money, I’d like to see them do it again, maybe for the vacant welterweight title should Georges St. Pierre top Jake Shields and leave the division.
Leave the Talk of Heels and Faces to the WWE
In the wake of Michael Bisping‘s in-fight and post-fight actions, some are crowning the Brit the biggest heel in the UFC. Personally, I could do without all the heel and face talk, since it comes from the scripted world of professional wrestling and I have no time for the deplorable behaviour Bisping exhibited in Sydney.
While I accept and appreciate the entertainment element of the sport, and can see the value of selling fights based on fighter’s personality, what Bisping did extends beyond a “persona” and treads dangerously close to the actions of a man who cannot control his actions, emotions and words.
We don’t need “bad guys” who flip off cornermen and spit at them after a win, or who call their opponent’s management classless while being the embodiment of the word at the same time; we need ambassadors who will help show this sport isn’t made up of brutes and savages.
Arguing that it’s nice to see an athlete who is emotional and doesn’t give robotic, formulaic answers is refreshing here is asinine; you can show emotion, give original answers and not be a robot without crossing the line.
This isn’t the WWE and we’re not looking for a monster heel to battle the over-the-top ‘face at Wrestlemania; even Vince McMahon and company have moved away from the traditional heel/face dichotomy, and if professional wrestling is moving in that direction, mixed martial arts should steer clear of it as well.
Stiffer Penalties for Illegal Blows?
Instead of debating whether Bisping has surpassed Chael Sonnen as the biggest bad guy in the UFC or whether or not Fitch won the second round, maybe it would be prudent to spend some time investigating the idea of establishing more serious penalties for illegal blows inside the cage, both during the fight and after the fact?
Football, basketball and hockey all have penalties that vary based on severity and intent, and perhaps mixed martial arts should as well. While determining the intentionality of Bisping’s illegal blow to Rivera is impossible, it is clearly a much more damaging – and reckless – foul than an inside leg kick that creeps too high up the thigh.
In such a situation, a single point deduction doesn’t feel sufficient; if grabbing the fence or accidentally connecting with an opponent’s nether regions results in a single point being taken, crushing blows like the one delivered by Bisping clearly have a greater impact on the outcome and could merit a greater penalty.
As far as once the bout is completed, regardless of the blow being unintentional, there needs to be some kind of penalty for the dangerous act.
Again, we see this in the aforementioned sports, where flagrant fouls and jarring blows put players out of pocket, and the same could be implemented in MMA as well. Though fighters make far less than their NFL and NBA counterparts, some form of retribution could be asked, especially considering the impact such a blow would have on the sport as a whole if greater damage resulted in the cage.
These are the things we need to be discussing today, not whether or not Bisping is heel or Fitch got robbed.
In Regards to Bisping’s Win…
His victory over Rivera doesn’t change my opinion of him in the middleweight division one iota. This is a result he should have earned, and while he deserves credit for claiming victory, he’s still on the outside looking in when it comes to being a true contender.
Bisping has looked superb over his last three fights, beating Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama and now Rivera, but he’s still winless against upper echelon competition to this point in his career. While he can stump for a title shot all he likes, until he beats someone elite, he shouldn’t see Anderson Silva standing across from him.
This win will give Bisping another chance to prove he belongs in the title picture, with names like Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami amongst potential pairings for the former Ultimate Fighter winner. Looking at that list, I don’t favor “The Count” in any of those contests, and doubt many others would either.
In all reality, Bisping is the middleweight version of Josh Koscheck, without the title shot; a fighter who dominates middle tier competition and has a big enough name to get himself into bigger fights than he deserves. Neither has beaten anyone truly elite (no, Paul Daley is not an elite welterweight), yet they manage to be included in championship discussions nonetheless.
Until he beats someone in the Top 5 of the 185-pound division, my opinion of Bisping won’t change.
Siver Inserts Himself in Lightweight Chase
Dennis Siver wasn’t given much of a chance against George Sotiropoulos, but the German kickboxer looked outstanding in stall the Australian’s title dreams and placing himself in the conversation with an upset win on Saturday night.
While Siver doesn’t assume Sotiropoulos’ place at the head of the line with his win, he certainly climbs the ladder and joins the likes of Melvin Guillard in the tier just below the top title challengers in the division. He’s now put together a three-fight winning streak and has won six-of-seven in the UFC, his lone loss in that time coming to Guillard.
Throughout the bout, Siver used tremendous takedown defence to keep the fight standing, and connected with the great amount of impactful blows over the course of the contest. He rocked Sotiropoulos on two occasions in the opening round, and while he tired as the fight dragged on, he was still able to keep the fight standing and get his licks in over the final two rounds.
Getting the better of the highly-regarded Aussie jiu jitsu ace is arguably a bigger win than any of the other top-tier contenders have managed in the last year; Guillard’s quick finish of Evan Dunham probably ranks right up their as well.
Maybe the best way to decide which of the two surging lightweights takes the next step is to let them figure it out in the cage? I’m sure both sides would be agreeable to that.