RUMBLE, VERSION 2.0
It’s funny how one win can completely change an opinion of a fighter.
Fans and media were down on Anthony Johnson after he wrestled away a win against Dan Hardy back in March, and high on Charlie Brenneman after he did the same against Rick Story in June. Saturday night’s bout between the two resulted in a violent trading of places between the two participants.
Johnson blasted Brenneman from the outset, showing the fierce striking that made him one to watch two years ago. Though the stoppage was probably a little early, it was also an act of mercy; Brenneman had nothing to offer Johnson, and was saved from enduring any more punishment.
Now that he’s fully committed and working with a talented team at Imperial Athletics in Florida, the sky is the limit for the 27-year-old who is suddenly a surging prospect once again.
THOUGHTS ON THE EARLY STOPPAGES
Yes, the Brenneman stoppage was early, and you have to give the fighters every opportunity to defend themselves. Cheick Kongo looked in worse shape against Pat Barry and look what happened there.
The stoppage in the Shane Roller–TJ Grant bout I have no issue with whatsoever, just like I didn’t have an issue with the same situation when it happened in Ronda Rousey’s Strikeforce debut.
If you’re instructed in the back that any scream while caught in a submission is going to be viewed as a verbal submission, you’ve got to avoid screaming; simple as that.
Easier said than done? Absolutely. But those are the rules, and everyone is aware of them.
Additionally, I’d rather see two guys in bad positions “get saved” than watch one get smashed into unconsciousness while the other has his arm snapped. While you can argue that neither scenario might have happened, they could have just as easily have happened, and referees are there to protect fighters.
I’d rather they make a mistake that keeps someone safe than one that puts someone in danger.
PAUL SASS IS THAT GOOD
I have to admit that I was a doubter. I didn’t think Paul Sass would be able to continue his string of submission wins on Saturday night.
I was dead wrong.
The unbeaten Brit remained that way after stepping into the Octagon in Washington, catching Michael Johnson in a nasty heel hook late in the first round, moving his record to a perfect 12-0 with 11 submissions. That kind of repeated success isn’t luck.
We’re supposed to be beyond the days where one singular dominant skill isn’t enough to carry you to success, especially jiujitsu. Dominant striking or wrestling maybe, but not jiujitsu. Sass proved otherwise on Saturday night, and made himself one of the more intriguing talents in the lightweight division in the process.
I’m no longer a doubter.
INTRODUCING MIKE EASTON
There is a new talent to watch in the bantamweight division, and his name is Mike Easton.
“The Hulk” made an impressive Octagon debut Saturday night, in front of his hometown crowd no less, stopping a game Byron Bloodworth with a string of sharp knees midway through the second round.
A training partner of Dominick Cruz, Easton has all the tools to become a star in the UFC, including charisma outside the cage. With a dominant victory under his belt, don’t be surprised if Easton gets an accelerated push up the 135-pound ladder.
WELCOME BACK JOSH NEER (AND WHAT WERE YOU THINKING KEITH WISNIEWSKI?)
Fighting in the UFC for the first time in two years, Josh Neer continued his hot streak, battering Keith Wisniewski with vicious short elbows that forced the doctor to stop the fight following the second round.
Always a tough out, Neer seems to have harnessed the killer instinct necessary to stick around on the big stage. Where he used to just believe in his talents, now he went out and put them to work for him.
On the flip side, I have no idea what Wisniewski was thinking. He literally let Neer smash him in the face with elbows for two rounds without really making any concerted effort to stop it.
While Neer showed exactly what you need to do when you get welcomed back to the UFC, Wisniewski illustrated the opposite, and will likely be sent packing once again.