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UFC 136: HOLY SHIT!! Edition

I originally posted this at www.pttogames.com

Going into UFC 136 I was pretty hyped. The card was stacked, with some really good matchups, the return of Chael Sonnen and the Edgar-Maynard re-match I’d been waiting for.

Anthony Pettis vs Jeremy Stephens


This should have been a great fight.

Things didn’t start out very well, with Anthony “Showtime” Pettis giving us an anti-showtime display against Jeremy Stephens, and wrestling his way to a split decision victory.

It’s nice to see Pettis learning from experience after Clay Guida derailed his title shot aspiration by annoying
monkey grinding himself to a win in Pettis’ first UFC fight. Pettis has obviously spent the time since then working on his wrestling, as he showed considerably improved wrestling skills.

It was a good win for him, but for the guy who won the WEC Lightweight Championship by jumping off the cage and kicking Ben Henderson in the face, it was a little underwhelming. Especially
considering it was Showtime Pettis vs a real slugger in Stephens. What should have been an awesome and dynamic stand-up war turned into a mediocre wrestling match.


There wasn’t a lot of this going on for Pettis at UFC 136.

Demian Maia vs Jorge Santiago


The crowd is already asleep.

This match almost put me to sleep.
It consisted mostly of Demian Maia, one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu artists in the world, continuously taking down Santiago and not doing much of anything. Santiago was in complete turtle mode and didn’t give Maia anything to attack
with submissions, but his ineffectual ground strikes and general lack of pace against an opponent who didn’t really have anything to offer in terms of resistance was disappointing.

That was the last preliminary fight, and the pay per view was due to start proper. At this point I wasn’t so excited about UFC 136 anymore, and kind of zoned out and started doing other things while things played out in the background.

But that was when the Melvin Guillard vs Joe Lauzon fight came on.


Melvin “I’m gonna get dat knockout bonus yo!” Guillard

Melvin Guillard tends to be his own worst enemy. A supremely physically talented kid, with power, speed and insane
explosiveness, he’s always had problems getting it together mentally. Guillard had been back to his cocky self in the lead up to this fight, focusing more on what move he should use to knock Lauzon out with in order to get the KO of the night bonus than doing what he needed to do to actually win a fight.

He came in, jumping around, high fiving the crowd and generally acting like he had already won. Once the fight started, he clearly gave zero fucks about Joe Lauzon’s standup and showed no respect whatsoever, jumping in with kicks and flying knees without bothering to keep his hands up.

Naturally, it ended up being basically a replay of his loss to Joe Stevenson: he got caught with a hook, got shaken up, couldn’t recover, and got submitted.


Oops. No knockout bonus for you.

Lauzon jumped on the chance as he always does, and get the rear naked choke. Crowd went wild! Melvin Guillard is so talented, and had looked like an absolute beast after joining Greg Jackson’s gym, so Lauzon had been completely counted out of that fight. He got the upset in just 47 seconds and got the pay per view off the ground with a bang.

Leonard Garcia vs Nam Phan


This is all part of Garcia’s plan. His Homer Simpson syndrome will wear them out!

This was a rematch of one of the worst robberies of 2010, when Garcia (aka Hypnotoad) won a majority decision over Nam Phan after Nam spent 3 rounds beating him up while Garcia was mostly swinging at air.The judge’s decision was so bad that Dana White still gave the win bonus to Nam Phan.

They were all set to have an immediate rematch, but that was derailed by injuries. Nam would go on to lose a hard fought decision to former WEC 145 pound champion Mike Thomas Brown in what was a spirited effort from Phan. Leonard Garcia went on to have a different rematch of one of the craziest fights of 2009 against the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung. Garcia quite spectacularly lost to Jung by a twister submission, the first and only twister I’ve ever seen in MMA competition.

The UFC 136 fight between Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia picked up exactly where their last fight left off, only worse, with Nam absolutely picking Garcia apart. Phan showed tight boxing and great body punches as he kept tagging Garcia while Garcia was swinging at air with wild looping shots.

This kept going until the 3rd round, when Garcia suddenly appeared to have a massive second wind and scored with combinations ending with leg kicks until he nailed Nam with a hook that dropped him.

Nam got back up and the crowd went wild while Garcia wailed on Nam against the fence like a madman. It looked to be bad, but upon re-watching the sequence, Garcia missed or had his punches blocked almost every time.

Pretty soon Nam was back to picking Garcia apart until the final bell.

What followed was one of the most idiotic Joe Rogan moments I’ve ever seen. Throughout the fight, Rogan kept complimenting Garcia on being exciting, as Garcia was stumbling forward and swinging at air like drunken Affliction t-shirt wearing idiot in a bar. After Garcia was well and truly beaten and Nam Phan stood there with his hands raised in joy after actually winning a decision against the hypnotoad, Joe Rogan came in and started babbling about how awesome Leonard Garcia is.

Leonard Garcia came over and was interviewed while Nam just kind of stood there not knowing what was happening. And at the end Joe Rogan said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, Leonard Garcia!! … …. Oh and the winner, Nam Phan!”

Usually I really like Joe Rogan, and it’s Bill Goldberg that annoys me, but man, I wanted to slap Rogan after that.

Despite getting screwed by the judges last time, and screwed by Joe Rogan this time, Nam still whooped up on Leonard Garcia LIKE A BOSS!

Next up was my most anticipated fight of the night: Chael Sonnen vs Brian Stann.

Brian Stann, while boring as a brick, is a hard hitting stand up fighter, who really showed his power when he knocked out Chris Leben, a feat that only Anderson Silva has accomplished before.

Chael Sonnen on the other hand, is a hilariously awesome fighter who no one really cared about when he got a title shot against Anderson Silva, but got everyone’s attention with his outrageous pro-wrestling style dissing of his opponent.

Chael Sonnen happily took a fight with Brian Stann, a guy no one wanted to fight because since Stann is an ex marine and a real American hero, everyone who fights him becomes the bad guy. Chael didn’t care, he loves playing the heel.

Come fight time, Chael Sonnen had been out of the cage for over a year. But he went in there and did not miss a beat. If anything, he looked better than he ever has. For the first time, rather than hanging out in the guard and just doing damage and earning points with strikes, Sonnen actively worked to pass guard, go for submissions and finish the fight. Stann didn’t have a chance. His ground game isn’t terrible, but he got worked by one of the best wrestlers in MMA.

Normally, I’m not a wrestling fan. I think if wrestling as a transition art, used to control where the fight goes, while striking and submissions are finishing arts. As such, wrestling is a great support pillar to back up your finishing attempts. A wrestler can win fights on points because of his control, but he can’t finish fights without striking or submissions. Usually pure wrestlers are the most boring fighters in the world.

Chael on the other hand, at UFC 136, he showed some of the best MMA wrestling I’ve ever seen. He was working and moving and passing guard and threatening at all times, blending wrestling skill and improving BJJ seamlessly. There was not one boring moment in a match that consisted almost entirely of wrestling based grappling. That, to me, is a marvel.

After schooling Brian Stann, Chael was approached by Joe Rogan for a post fight interview. Cheal completely ignored Rogan’s questions and launched into a pro-wrestling style promo.

“Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck!”

Cut to Silva sitting ringside with his manager Ed Soares on one side, and Charles Barkley on the other, all with a WTF look on their faces.

Stann had been vanquished, the all American marine was out of the way, so Sonnen got right back to talking smack. He issued a pro-wrestling style loser leaves town stipulations challenge to the champion Anderson Silva, stating that if Chael wins, Silva has to leave the 185 pound division, and if Silva wins, Sonnen will leave the UFC.


We need this again!

Would Sonnen really leave the UFC
now, after he’s finally becoming a big name and getting in the position to make big money, and would Dana White allow an emerging cash cow like Sonnen to go? Probably not. But regardless, it was great showmanship. There is no way Dana White and Joe Silva can not make this fight now. While you could make cases for other challengers previously, such as Dan Henderson if he defeats Shogun Rua for example, who has massive momentum after knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce, and has said he wants to cut down to 185 for another shot at Silva. But with that post fight challenge, Chael Sonnen basically guaranteed himself another title shot. While not officially confirming it, Dana White said it himself in an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, that he would be stupid not to make that fight.

Me, I was so hyped after that fight. Joe Lauzon put on a great warmup act with his upset win over Guillard, they set the night up perfectly, and Chael Sonnen just went in there and knocked it out of the park.

Not only do I hunger to see the Silva vs Sonnen rematch, I still think Sonnen has a very real chance to beat Anderson Silva. Silva’s one weakness has always been his wrestling, and Sonnen showed that he is very capable of closing the distance, taking Silva down and controlling him on the ground. If the ground work Sonnen showed at UFC 136 also comes with an increased awareness of submissions and better submission defense, we have a serious fight on our hands. A fight where you feel like Anderson Silva actually might lose, a fight you tune in to see not how Silva is going to play with his prey before he finished his opponent off, but if Silva can actually pull off the win.

I haven’t been this excited for an Anderson Silva fight since his fight against Dan Henderson. As far as I was concerned, UFC 136 had already delivered, and we weren’t even at the main events yet.

Jose Aldo vs Kenny Florian

Kenny Florian gets yet another title shot after dropping to 145 (he fought at 185 in the Ultimate Fighter season 1, wtf?) and beating Diego Nunes. I honestly didn’t expect much from this fight. Kenny is weird in that he fights differently in title fights. Normally he’s really aggressive, fights smart, but goes for the finish at all times. But in title fights he comes in with some strange ideas of gameplanning, and instead of doing what got him there in the first place, he spends the fight pushing people against the cage and trying to lame it out so he can win on points.

Kenny Florian has long been one of my favourite fighters, since he’s not very talented physically, he’s just a scrawny jewish kid. He’s had success in the UFC through heart, determination and intelligence. He beats people who on paper are way better than him because he’s smarter and he just wants it more. That’s exactly the kind of fighters I can’t help but love.

Unfortunately, his gameplans for title fights just don’t work out. He always gets to the big show, that opportunity all fighters hope for, and then comes up short. His first title fight was against Shean Sherk in 2007, and he got absolutely mauled. He had another shot against BJ Penn, and got just outclassed by a much better fighter. He was given a title eliminator fight against Gray Maynard, and got outwrestled and controlled.

Jose Aldo on the other hand, is an absolute beast. He packs world class BJJ, vicious Muay Thai, and fantastic takedown defense (seriously, over 90%) together with a powerful and explosive physicality. He honestly hasn’t looked super impressive in the UFC so far, but his knockout highlight reel from WEC is something to behold.

Florian tried to fight smart, and I actually had him winning the first round, with his cage pushing and control method. His takedown attempts had Aldo hesitant to throw his murderous kicks, which is Aldo’s #1 weapon, so Florian was doing good. But then in the second round, Aldo connected with some strikes, and Florian seemed to never really be the same after he felt Aldo’s power. Soon Jose Aldo was back to kicking the lead leg of Florian, stuffing takedown attempts, and winning almost every striking exchange.


Why does Kenny keep getting title shots?

You’ve got to give Florian props for going all 5 rounds, as he looked more and more outmatched every round, the dude has heart. But it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t really an exciting fight.

Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard

Frankie Edgar was 13-1-1 in his career. That’s 13 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. Those were both Gray Maynard. Frankie Edgar was 13 and Gray Maynard.


Maynard was so close to being the champion.

In their first fight in 2008, Gray Maynard repeatedly took Edgar down and controlled him to a dominant decision victory.

In their second fight, Edgar has become the champion after getting an upset win over BJ Penn, and then proving himself to be the anti-BJ in their rematch, when he dominated Penn for the decision win. Maynard came in full of confidence, knowing he had beaten Edgar before, and he showed it. He caught Edgar with a huge hook and had him reeling. Edgar, showing the heart of a lion wouldn’t stay down though. Maynard chased him around the cage, dropping him 3 times in one round and just continuously beating on him. Somehow, Edgar survived the round. It’s the worst beating I have ever seen anyone take and come back from. Easily should have been a 10-7 round. In the second round, Edgar got his wits about him again, while Maynard had punched himself out and was really gassed. Edgar regained momentum and started catching up in the scorecards.

By the end of the fight, it was so close, it was scored a draw. Both fighters were disappointed, but Maynard much more so. He almost had it, that championship he’d been working for, and it
slipped away.Anthony Pettis was supposed to get the next title shot after Maynard, being the WEC champ and all, but Dana White declared that Edgar and Maynard would have to happen again, in order to settle it.

This brings us to UFC 136, and the rematch of one of the craziest comebacks in MMA history. The feeling of the fans was that Frankie Edgar would probably be able to do what he did the last few rounds of the previous fight.

Once again, Gray Maynard was full of confidence, and showed it. He caught Edgar with an uppercut in the first round and dropped him. The crowd went wild. I was on my feet. Again? Seriously?

It wasn’t quite as bad as the first fight, but it was by far the worst way the fight could have started for Frankie Edgar. He got dropped twice, and was out of it and running away to recover. Maynard was much more measured in his approach this time, wary of punching himself out like last time. Once again, Edgar showed incredible heart and lasted the round, but clearly a 10-8 round for Maynard. Frankie was in a hole again.

But
Edgar has the heart of a lion.

In the second round, something weird happened. Maynard had nothing. He wasn’t tired like last time, but he came out tentative, not pressuring and not trying to push his momentum. Edgar managed to
get his feet back under him and found his timing and range. Maynard gave the round away and let Frankie Edgar back into the fight. In round 3 and 4 it just got worse, as Edgar started picking Maynard apart with his speedy footwork and accurate strikes.

In round 4, Edgar caught Maynard right on the chin with an uppercut and hurt him. Maynard had repeatedly stated that Edgar has no power and couldn’t hurt him, but now he was in big trouble.
Edgar jumped on it and tagged Maynard again with some solid hooks, Maynard fell face first as Edgar descended on him and pounded his face into the ground with repeated strikes. It was done. Little Frankie Edgar had knocked out the powerhouse Gray Maynard.

That was an amazing end to a surreal night. Frankie Edgar once again basically made himself into a real life Rocky Balboa as he got his ass kicked and came back to win through pure heart and determination


Finally rid of Maynard.

Frankie Edgar finally vanquishes the Gray Maynard demon, while Maynard has some serious thinking to do after having the champion at the brink of defeat and basically giving the fight away twice.

All in all, UFC 136 was an amazing event, despite the lackluster Pettis vs Stephens and Florian vs Aldo fights. It had upsets, all out wars, dominations, comebacks and crazy talk, submissions, KO’s and actually entertaining (and not screwed up) decisions, I don’t think we as fans can ask for much more than that.

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UFC 135: Jon Jones is the future of MMA. And I’m so mad.

I originally posted this at: www.pttogames.com

Let’s get this out of the way immediately. Jon Jones is an awesome fighter. It’s ridiculous how he makes some of the best fighters in the world look like they don’t know what they’re doing. I love watching him fight.

But here’s the thing, I really don’t like Jon Jones.

Yes, yes I am.

Jon Jones is a phenom. Physically, he has the length and athletic ability to excel at any sport of his choosing. If he had chosen to be an American football player, like his brothers, or a basketball player, or a sprinter, or whatever he
wanted, he would have been great at it. After a promising wrestling career, he chose to get into MMA.

After just 3 years of training martial arts, he’s a UFC world champion. His lone loss a result of being too eager, too dominant and too plain vicious in smashing Matt Hammill’s face with a 12-6 elbow.  He was immediately interesting, and opened eyes already when he faced Stephan Bonnar, a fight in which he dropped Bonnar with a spinning elbow and suplexed him all over the cage.

He has that thing. You know, that thing where it feels like he’s on another level. He’s above you. That LeBron James thing. He’s so gifted, and everything seem to come so easy for him. He’s almost too good. There’s not really a lot of
exciting fights for him at this point, because he’s so dominant. If anything, I think he should move up to heavyweight, where someone like Dos Santos or Velasquez could test him.

In any case, in January, after absolutely dominating Ryan Bader in what people thought would be his first real test, he was offered a title shot against Shogun Rua after Rashad Evans had to drop out due to a knee injury.

Jones angered fans with a cocky and dismissive attitude. Signing autographs with the words “Champion 2011” before the fight had taken place.

I bet on Shogun for that fight. Shogun was coming off yet another knee surgery, but he had previously looked to be an equally vicious but smarter fighter than he was in Pride when he took the title and inflicted the first loss of Lyoto Machida’s career. What followed was one of the worst beatings I’ve ever seen. I may be biased because I am an unapologetic PRIDE mark, and Shogun was the man, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as shocked and upset during a fight as I was during the Shogun-Jones fight.

                               Stop! He’s already dead! He’s already dead! *sobs*

In the time before and after the Shogun fight, we had the drama between Jones and his former  friend and team-mate at Team Jackson, Rashad Evans. Jones took Rashad’s place in the title shot against Shogun, and betrayed a longstanding unwritten rule in team Jackson, that you do not fight your team-mates. Rashad made a big deal about it, and left the Jackson camp to make it on his own. Jones on the other hand, started getting a bit of a reputation as a fake and slimy
dude.

He followed this up with douchebag stuff like refusing to sign fans’ replica belts because they’re fake, and he worked too hard for his belt. It was insulting to him to have people asking him to sign replicas.

This reputation was not at all helped after Jones essentially denied Rashad a title shot by dropping out of their planned fight because of a hand injury that he said required surgery, and then changing his story once Rashad was committed
to another fight. Suddenly he was fine, no surgery needed, and he was looking for a new opponent. This is around the time I started thinking “Hey, what’s up with this guy? That’s not cool”.

Rashad came back from injury looking better than ever. He absolutely destroyed Tito Ortiz, and settled an old grudge from their draw a few years ago. It really seems like Jon Jones is creating a beast in Rashad Evans. I’ve never seen Rashad look that driven and determined.

Jones on the other hand, got matched up with Quinton Rampage Jackson. Another one of the old PRIDE fighters. Another one of my favourite fighters. They did a lot of PR leading up to this fight. Conference calls, press conferences, talk
shows, Jimmy Kimmel. Rampage was killing Jones the whole time with his trademark wit. Jones on the other hand, always seems a little bit off. There’s something very unnatural about him, like you’re watching an actor who just can’t quite sell you on his character.

Rampage was on his game now, after beating Lyoto Machida by decision, and finally getting the opportunity to get his belt back after losing it to Forrest Griffin in 2007. I haven’t seen Rampage look as good as he did in this fight since back in PRIDE. He was lean and determined. I was sold. WAR RAMPAGE! Rampage was going deal with this kid and put him back in his place for sure.

Again, what followed was a dominant performance by Jones. He didn’t run straight through Rampage like he had his previous opponents. Rampage shrugged off a lot of takedown attempts, and managed to get up when Jones got him down, even getting out of a full mount at one point. But that was pretty much it for bright spots in Rampage’s night.

                                                This again? Oh come on! >_<

Jones controlled him in all aspects of the fight, and used his reach and diverse and unpredictable attacks to keep Rampage on his heels. Jones fought a very smart fight, he avoided Rampage’s power by either being all the way out, or all the way in. Meaning he was either picking at Rampage from outside Rampage’s reach with long punches and kicks, or getting close and clinching whenever Rampage got past Jones’ long attacks. He almost entirely took the mid-range away in the fight, never letting Rampage get into the pocket and throw his powerful hooks.

By the end, Rampage looked lost and desperate. And the finishing rear naked choke seemed a lot like Rampage gave up, realizing he didn’t have anything left, and gave Jones his back, just so it would be over.

Another dominant performance. Another PRIDE warrior vanquished. Another one of my heroes left broken on the floor of the ever unforgiving cage.

All hail Jon Jones, the present and the future of the UFC light heavyweight division.

And I’m so salty. My sodium levels are through the roof. Rashad, you gotta do this for me man. Take this kid out!