Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 9.27.13: Looking Back at Jones and Gustafsson
Posted by Robert Winfree on 09.27.2013
411's Robert Winfree looks back at UFC 165 including the battle between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland, the war between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson and more!
Hello everyone, and welcome back. I can't say how grateful I am that you guys keep coming back week after week, I'm not much for external validation, but it remains the only way to quantify the type of job I'm doing here on 411mania. This week there's a great card to review, well mostly great at any rate, but there was a hell of a fight to cap off the night. There's more on that event coming up, but first you've got to get Locked in the Guillotine.
Before we get any further, have you checked out the Radulich in Broadcasting network? There's plenty of greatness there, The Long Road to Ruin, The Casual Heroes, The Metal Hammer of Doom, my own contribution Everyone Loves a Bad Guy, and of course the weekly 411 Ground and Pound radio show. A brief note on that show, this week it will be held at 11am Eastern time to accommodate the series finale of Breaking Bad. All of those shows are worth listening too, so please give them a listen when you get a chance.
Typical heavyweight fare: Daniel Omielanczuk defeated Nandor Guelmino by KO in the third round. The fight wasn't very exciting, there was a fair amount of clinch against the fence and odd looking strikes. In the third round Omielanczuk landed a straight left to the jaw of Guelmino that knocked him out cold. Guelmino will likely need to find another promotion to fight for, Omielanczuk won and so keeps his job, but this fight highlighted why a lot of guys don't like heavyweight fighters.
Afro power: Alex Caceres defeated Roland Delorme by split decision. I was a little surprised that this was a split decision as I felt Caceres easily won the second and third rounds. There were some fun grappling exchanges in the first round, but the second and third rounds featured Caceres landing a higher volume and more accurate strikes. There was a long running joke for a while on 411mania that Alex Caceres was the worst fighter on the UFC roster, and there was a time that it was probably true but it isn't anymore. I wouldn't hate seeing Caceres get a slight step up in competition, a fight between him and Brad Pickett would probably be fun to see.
Prazeres wins: Michel Prazeres defeated Jesse Ronson by split decision. I personally scored the fight for Ronson, but the second round was the deciding round and could certainly have gone to Prazeres. The fight itself wasn't terribly memorable, but it wasn't bad and I'm interested to see if Prazeres can adjust and beat a guy who isn't stepping in on short notice.
There's a fight: Mitch Gagnon defeated Dustin Kimura by technical submission with an arm in guillotine choke in the first round. Both men were throwing nasty body shots, Kimura really hurt Gagnon with a huge left to the liver. Gagnon survived because Kimura got a bit too aggressive and got taken down because of it, but he was in real trouble for a moment there. Gagnon did recover though, and after hurting Kimura standing he got the choke from a failed takedown and Kimura went out cold rather than tap. This was an action packed one round fight, if you haven't seen it I'd encourage you to find it. Great win after being off with injuries for Gagnon.
Wonderboy: Stephen Thompson defeated Chris Clements by TKO in the second round. Thompson displayed some improved grappling, scoring a takedown and showing that he has learned that there is indeed a clinch game in MMA. I like Thompson's style, it's fun to watch but I don't think he'll ever get to the top level of competition. That isn't a knock on him, the top level of welterweight is a lofty position, just an assessment of his skills as things stand right now. Fun fight all around though.
Menjivar stumbles: Wilson Reis defeated Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision in a bantamweight tilt. Menjivar had a good first round, he landed good strikes and avoided most of the takedowns from Reis, but that changed in the second and third rounds. Reis was able to get takedowns, control positions, land good ground and pound, and keep Menjivar from doing anything effective. Pretty good debut for Reis, and at this point I have to imagine Menjivar needs a change to get back on track.
Bleh: Myles Jury defeated Mike Ricci by split decision to round out the preliminary card, but man oh man did that fight die off after the first round. The first round was actually a fun little affair, but in the second and third rounds both men just seemed to lose their will to fight. Two mediocre competitors from mediocre seasons of The Ultimate Fighter produced an incredibly mediocre fight, who'd have thought? On a more serious note Jury is still unbeaten in the UFC, and while this fight did him no favors in terms of drawing power he could use a slight step up in competition to see where he stands.
The Eagle is still here: Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Pat Healy by unanimous decision in a fun fight. Healy's game plan was pretty obvious, he was going to move forward, throw punches and not stop until he either got Khabib against the fence and on the ground or until the fight ended. It's the same game plan he used against Jim Miller and most of the guys he beat in Strikeforce, but Nurmagomedov didn't get tired and didn't let Healy get him against the fence. Nurmavomedov was able to land punches, especially uppercuts, as Healy was moving forward, score takedowns, and basically dominate every aspect of the fight. Healy is no joke and this marks just his second loss at lightweight, but this was an incredibly impressive performance from Nurmagomedov as his career is now at 21-0. He called for a title fight during his post fight interview, which is a tad premature, but his next fight should definitely be against one of the very best in the world. Later in the week Nurmagomedov specifically called for a fight with TJ Grant, which realistically makes plenty of sense and is a fight I'd very much like to see.
Well that sucked: Francis Carmont defeated Costa Philippou by unanimous decision in a horribly boring fight. Carmont used superior wrestling to get Costa down and keep him there for the entire fight. I was amused by the commentary team talking about how Carmont is a great striker since the majority of his UFC fights have been contested with a heavy grappling element that Carmont himself decided was necessary. Give Carmont someone a little higher up on the food chain so he can get swatted back down. As for Costa, this derailed his momentum and he'll need to seriously work on his takedown defense, but he's still a good enough fighter to stick around.
More heavyweights: Brendan Schaub defeated Matt Mitrione via submission with a d'arce choke in the first round. Schaub really needed a good performance after his last several fell flat, and this does technically qualify. The fight was short and unoffensive, which is generally about what you can hope for out of mid level heavyweights.
Barao is a monster: Renan Barao defeated Eddie Wineland by TKO in the second round of their fight. Barao is the bantamweight champion now as far as I'm concerned, if/when Dominick Cruz comes back he'll be fighting to regain the title, not defend it for my money. Barao and Wineland spent much of the first round in a feeling out process, and part of the second in much the same pattern. Barao got hit a couple of times, but his diverse striking was making a difference. In the second round Barao threw a spinning back kick to the chest that Wineland happened to duck straight into so the kick landed on the side of his head and dropped him. Barao followed up with some strikes and the fight was over. If Cruz isn't definitively ready to have a return fight by early April at the absolute latest the UFC needs to strip the title from him. When Barao and Cruz fight I'll be looking forward to it, both men are some of the most exciting fighters in the sport and are hands down the two best fighters in that division. As for Wineland, he's still a good bantamweight fighter and despite this set back if he keeps improving he could easily get another shot at the belt.
Fight of the Year: Jon Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson via unanimous decision to set the new record for consecutive light heavyweight title defenses, he also earned his tenth straight UFC win which puts him up with Anderson Silva territory for most consecutive wins. Just think, if he hadn't been disqualified against Matt Hamill he'd be unbeaten in the UFC and in his career. But the story of this fight wasn't Jon Jones winning so much as it was Gustafsson pushing the champion. In his entire UFC run Jon Jones has never really been pushed by an opponent, sure he's been in fights and had to make adjustments, but this was the first time Jones was in a dog fight, and Gustafsson was more than game. Jones clearly has issues with his boxing, both offensively and defensively, and Gustafsson was the first person who wasn't at such a reach and size disadvantage that they couldn't take advantage of them. There has been a bit of controversy on the internet over the scoring, many people saying the fight was 48-47 for the Swede. I did coverage for the site for the event and scored the fight 49-46 for Jones at the time, but I can't argue with a 48-47 for Jones given how close the first round in particular was. I don't think people who scored the fight for Gustafsson are wrong, the first three rounds were very close and the fourth is somewhat debatable. The only clear rounds, for my money at least, were three for Gustafsson and five for Jones. The fight was great, great action from both men, a great story unfolding, everything about it was great. Gustafsson looked better in this loss than he did in his decision win against Shogun, and I for one would like to see the rematch as quickly as possible.
Diaz opts out: Nate Diaz, who was scheduled to take on Gray Maynard in the third meeting between the two, decided that he wasn't going to make that fight as he has a High School reunion that weekend. Honestly I hope they just move the fight to the next card after that one because I want to see the two of them fight again, but I do understand the decision Diaz has made here. Here's hoping that we get the fight a little later than initially scheduled.
Jones will meet Glover: Following the incredible fight between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson last week there was speculation that we'd get an immediate rematch, well news broke this week that Gustafsson will likely have to win another fight before getting another crack at the title. In an upcoming edition of All the Kings Men, a great read every time it gets done, I give my reasoning for supporting an immediate rematch, but the UFC has decided that Glover Teixeira will get the next crack at the belt. Teixeira was announced as the next title contender after his win over Ryan Bader earlier this month, and apparently Jon Jones requested that Teixeira get the next shot. I don't feel Jones is ducking Gustafsson, he won the fight via unanimous decision and there is a legitimate precedent for not giving an immediate rematch to a guy who lost a close fight but a unanimous decision, just don't tell Frankie Edgar about it. That being said I would have been perfectly happy with an immediate rematch between Jones and Gustafsson, in fact in an upcoming edition of All the Kings Men I lay out my reasoning for supporting it. The fight between Jones and Teixeira is being talked about as headlining the UFC's show for SuperBowl weekend in February. Gustafsson will likely need another fight between now and then, a rematch with Phil Davis if both parties are up for it, or a fight with Rashad Evans make the most sense. Honestly after his last fight there's only a couple of guys I'd favor over Gustafsson, and if he beats another top contender he'll get a rematch against Jones in his next fight. And yes, I am picking Jones to beat Teixeira.
EDIT: News broke of a tragic death Brazil as Leandro Souza passed apparently due to complications from cutting weight. I will wait for more information to become available before discussing this more, but I fully plan on talking about this next week.
Since this wound up being a news light week I wanted to sneak in a quick Final Thought. While listening to The Man Cave podcast where they reviewed UFC 165 Samer Kadi engaged in a line of thought that I found fascinating and in several ways accurate. In the course of discussing both Jon Jones and Renan Barao's victories the dynamic nature of both champions was brought up, and how especially in a five round fight their ability to change strategies, to use unconventional techniques, to have a little something extra benefits them in a huge way. This is true of other fighters as well, Dominick Cruz is a very dynamic fighter as he transitions from striking to wrestling seamlessly and chains together great striking combinations. Jose Aldo is a very dynamic fighter as well, again transitioning from striking to grappling, the variety of strikes that he throws effectively, and his explosiveness all contribute to his domination. There's not a much more dynamic athlete than Georges St-Pierre, his explosiveness and transitions are second to none in the whole of MMA.
So what does this have to do with anything?
Well the ever evolving nature of MMA that level of diversity and of effectiveness with unconventional techniques is going to be a big deal in the future. There was a time when solid fundamentals were more than enough to become a successful fighter, now that isn't enough. You need to be a better athlete, a better tactician, and the ability to transition between styles and positions without missing a beat. That isn't to discount the importance of fundamentals, if Jon Jones had better boxing fundamentals the fight with Gustafsson might have looked very different, but a fighter like Matt Hughes or Chuck Liddell wouldn't be successful in the UFC today. Take Hughes or Liddell in their prime and drop them into the current landscape of MMA, they aren't very close to title contention much less deserving residents of the UFC's Hall of Fame. That isn't a knock on them, just a fact of how the sport has kept moving. For up and coming fighters, put effort into your athleticism, learn how to put all the facets of MMA together, and make sure you have solid fundamentals in all the important disciplines. Again, if Jon Jones had better boxing just imagine what a better fighter he'd be, and considering his incredible level of success and talent that's not something I say lightly. How many times have we seen someone with great single aspects fail in MMA? Alistair Overeem is a decorated and talented kickboxer, he can't find his footing in MMA because he move from kickboxing to the other areas. How many members of the Gracie family have failed miserably in MMA because they don't know the basics of striking or how to deal with wrestlers who know how to defend submissions from the guard? How many wrestlers have been swallowed up in either superior jiujitsu or adequate takedown defense? You need to be good or great at everything, and more importantly you absolutely need to be able to put all of those skills together in a fight without missing a beat. This is where GSP or Cain Velasquez excel, they're not just good everywhere, they put it all together during a fight and look seamless while they do it. That is what it's going to take to be a champion in the UFC in the future, it's possible but certainly a daunting prospect.
Alright ladies and gentlemen, that wraps up another edition of Locked in the Guillotine. If you're reading this on Friday when it goes live then tonight at 9pm eastern time I'm hosting a call in version of Everyone Loves a Bad Guy talking about television baddies. I'd encourage you to call in if you feel I've missed a television bad guy/evil protagonist that you like, or if you want to rehash one I've already done, or if you just want to scream profanities at me for a couple of seconds, call in please. The call in number is (323) 657-0901, so if you've got the time and the inclination please call in and contribute. A brief note about this weeks 411 Ground and Pound show, it will return to the time of 11am eastern so as not to conflict with the upcoming finale of Breaking Bad, so if you want to listen live or call-in to that show be up early for it. I will be part of that show, as I always try to be, so I hope there's plenty of you guys listening. So until next week you've escaped the Guillotine and I'll see you next week.