Dominick Cruz dominance highlights excellent card
It’s not that Demetrious Johnson didn’t have his moments; he most certainly did.
But while Dominick Cruz looked slightly fatigued and pressed at times, he still posted a fairly one-sided victory over another top five challenger, defending his bantamweight title for the fourth time.
The in-fight decision to change strategies — which may have had as much to do with the broken hand we learned about after the fact as it did Johnson’s speed and aggression — worked like a charm. Cruz played to his advantages, using his size and strength to muscle Johnson around on the ground.
Finding out after the fact — through Dana White — that he did all this after breaking his hand only ups the ante. Cruz is one of the very best in the business. Hopefully this becomes the bout where more people start recognizing that.
THE BEST LAID PLANS
I liked putting this fight on free television; I agreed 100% with the decision from a “get him in front of the largest possible audience” standpoint. The timing, however, was horrible.
Not only was this event sandwiched between two very intriguing pay-per-view events, but it also came as Major League Baseball was kicking off their playoffs. While free television could have meant more eyes than pay-per-view, I doubt the returns will meet the expectations.
Utilizing televised events as a way to increase the exposure of fighters like Cruz is a great idea, but it has to be done right. The events can’t be wedged between two major pay-per-views, and the champion and challenger need to get max effort from the marketing and promotions department.
CAN’T WAIT FOR FLYWEIGHTS
Johnson was very game on Saturday night, but in the end, it came down to size. While he — like Joseph Benavidez — have been very successful to date in the bantamweight ranks, they’ll be even better once the UFC opens up the 125 pound flyweight division.
Personally, I can’t wait for this to happen.
In addition to Johnson and Cruz — who should automatically battle for the championship right away — White said Saturday that the organization is going to start looking for fighters to help populate the ranks. That should lead to talents like Ian McCall, Darrell Montague, and Jussier “Formiga” da Silva all finding their way into the Octagon, along with a number of fighters currently competing in the 135 pound division in the UFC and on TUF 14.
Anyone who says they don’t like watching the little guys do work doesn’t know what they’re missing.
IF STEFAN STRUVE EVER PUTS IT ALL TOGETHER…
I know that’s one of those “If Striker X ever develops a ground game” kind of things that critics and media types like me say all the time, and most of the time they don’t come to fruition, but it’s truthful today.
Struve took home a nice submission victory on Saturday night, and that is the most important part. Some people will surely downgrade it because of Pat Barry’s glaring weakness on the ground (we’ll get to that momentarily), but it was still a pretty slick triangle choke, and he gets extra credit for hanging on through the powerbomb too.
He still needs to learn to use his length in the stand-up, as Barry was able to walk him down way too easily. The thing to remember, however, is that Struve is just twenty-three years old, and he’s already had nine fights in the UFC. That’s a wealth of experience, and he’s still 6-3, losing to #1 contender Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Travis Browne.
Struve has told me before that the plan he’s formulated with his coaches and trainers is to be completely ready to contend for a title by the time he’s 27. By his assessment, that gives him four years to sort out how to keep opponents in space, and if he does…
TIME FOR SOME TOUGH LOVE FOR PAT BARRY
I love Pat Barry. I think he’s one of the top five most entertaining fighters in the UFC outside of the cage, and he’s always involved in exciting bouts inside the cage.
There is a part of me that completely understands why Dana White has said “Hype or Die” isn’t in danger of being released. There’s another part of me that sees a 3-4 record in the UFC, a glaring hole in his ground game, and number of fighters who have been released with far better records than the 32-year-old heavyweight.
While you can make the argument that if not for a bad decision here and an unexpected punch there Barry would be 5-2, the same applies to most fighters. The problem is that the same flaw that cost Barry his fight with Tim Hague cost him again last night against Struve, and he’s had two years to address the issue.
You can’t just hand him opponents who have no interest in going to the ground to help get him back in the win column, at least not more than once without someone calling bullshit, and you certainly can’t have him fighting too high up on the card anymore.
I hate to say it — and a lot of people are going to hate to hear it — but maybe it’s time for the UFC to cut their losses with Barry?