Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 10.25.13 All Hail the Cain
Posted by Robert Winfree on 10.25.2013
Thoughts on Gilbert Melendez's big win, Cain Velasquez's dominating victory and the rest of UFC 166! Plus news on Tatsyua Kawajiri signing with the UFC, a preview of UFC Fight Night 30 and more!
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, and you're Locked in the Guillotine again. This week there was the excellent UFC 166 card, so you know I'm going to review that including the main event fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, plus the probable Fight of the Year between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez. The UFC also signed a couple of new fighters so there's good news to discuss. Let's get to it before you decide to tap out.
Before going too far, please check out the Radulich in Broadcasting network. Seriously, it's your one stop place for all your podcasting needs. We've got the Long Road to Ruin, which just wrapped up a great look at the Hellraiser franchise, The Casual Heroes for all the wrestling fans out there, the weekly 411 Ground and Pound radio show every Sunday at 9pm Eastern, and my own show Everyone Loves a Bad Guy which is looking at horror guys in honor of October. It's also on iTunes if you'd rather listen through them, it's just a great group of shows.
Winning debut: Kyogi Horiguchi defeated Dustin Pague to kick off the night and immediately ruin my chances of predicting a full card correctly. Horiguchi normally fights at flyweight, so seeing him take this fight on somewhat short notice up at bantamweight was a little surprising and quite impressive. Horiguchi had a tough first round, he spent a fair amount of time with Pague on his back looking for a choke but he kept his cool and escaped the position. In the second round he tagged Pague with a couple of strong left hooks that dropped Pague and he never really recovered. Pague managed a reversal on the ground and got top position, but Horiguchi stood up and took Pague down rather quickly. Horiguchi landed some impressive ground and pound that eventually finished the fight in the second round. Horiguchi looked pretty good here, I'd like to see him fight down at his natural weight of 125 but this was a very good debut. Pague is likely done in the UFC for the immediate future, but since he comes from TUF he might get one more curtain jerking slot at bantamweight.
Fili-ing good: Andre Fili defeated Jeremy Larsen by TKO in the second round and had a really fun fight. Fili did miss weight, he officially weighed in at 148 for a fight at 145, but he took the fight on short notice and actually cut down from about 168lbs to get as close to weight as possible. I have little patience for guys who miss weight, but all things considered this is a circumstance where other factors are in play and the debut was impressive. Larsen displayed a lot of heart, and had a couple of gnarly cuts from some nasty knees in the first round, all around a fun fight and no complaints from the viewer here.
Quick comeback: Tony Ferguson defeated Mike Rio by submission with a d'arce choke in the first round. Ferguson had been out for a while after his loss to Michael Johnson, a couple of unfortunate injuries, and this was an impressive performance to come back on. Nice choke, good striking when they were there, this was a good fight for Ferguson.
Russian mauling: Adlan Amagov defeated TJ Waldburger by KO in the first round. Amagov looked great here, he stuffed takedowns, landed powerful shots, the left hook that wound up spelling the end for Waldburger came from the clinch. I picked against Amagov but he looked worlds better than his last outing, he could really make a run if he is able to keep up this kind of impressive work.
Sucking at winning: KJ Noons defeated George Sotiropoulos by unanimous decision in a really uneventful fight. Noons landed better shots as a general rule, including the two most damaging blows of the whole fight, but really just nothing at all was of note here. Sotiropoulos likely gets cut here and Noons is never more than two losses from going away as well.
Split decision: Jessica Eye defeated Sarah Kaufman by split decision in a fight that woke people up after the previous one. I personally scored the fight for Kaufman, but the second round could have gone either way while rounds one and three were pretty definitive for Eye and Kaufman respectively. A fun fight all around, but Kaufman's penchant for following her opponent instead of cutting her off reared it's head and Eye had a really active jab that did work. Good win for Eye and Kaufman really lost nothing in defeat given the close nature of the fight.
Lombard impresses: Hector Lombard knocked out Nate Marquardt in the first round to avoid the chances of a drawn out affair. Lombard isn't a great fighter when moving forward, he punches wild and gets off balance a lot, but Marquardt moving backwards is just so bad at MMA that Lombard was able to land punches in close quarters and hurt Marquardt. Marquardt is dangerously close to getting cut, welterweight is a deep division and he's not bringing anything to the table right now. Lombard needed an impressive win and got one but his next fight will be more interesting in a lot of ways depending on who the UFC matches him up with.
Clucky is here: Tim Boetsch defeated CB Dollaway by split decision. The fight itself was sloppy, but fun enough if you could overlook the technical flaws in both men. The reason Clucky showed up stemmed from the third round. In the third round Boetsch was poked twice in the eye and the ref took a point from Dollaway, which was justified, and somehow one judge still scored the fight for Dollaway. I personally scored the fight a draw giving Dollaway the first two rounds and Boetsch the third round 10-8 after the point deduction, but the second round could have gone to Boetsch without any complaint. If you like sloppy striking with a couple of scrambles then this is a fight you'll enjoy.
Dodson is back: John Dodson knocked out Darrell Montague in the first round to get the PPV portion of the card going. Dodson hurt Montague with a nice left hand, he swarmed, but Montague survived the onslaught and kept fighting. Dodson took his time and found the big left again this time knocking Montague out and forcing the stoppage. Montague is tough and I'd actually like to see him again, Dodson displayed some maturity and patience here and is likely just one win away from a title shot. Good fight to start things off on the main card.
At least it was quick: Gabriel Gonzaga defeated Shawn Jordan in the first round with strikes. Jordan was coming forward and Gonzaga landed a really nice counter hook that landed right on the button and dropped Jordan. Thankfully this fight didn't go beyond the first round because it would have become ugly quick. Nothing offensive here and the main card goes 2 for 2 in terms of first round finishes.
Fight of the Year candidate: Gilbert Melendez defeated Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate. Sanchez did what he normally does, move forward, throw somewhat predictable combinations, and try to pressure his opponent until they break. Unfortunately for him Gilbert Melendez knows how to fight against a forward moving opponent, he landed a high volume of punches, good combinations, and was in no danger on the ground from Sanchez. The fight itself was incredibly entertaining, it really needs to be seen as it could be Fight of the Year. I maintain that Sanchez has severe holes in his game, but that doesn't mean he isn't fun to watch and he and Melendez meshed for a great fight.
Well there that was: Daniel Cormier defeated Roy Nelson by unanimous decision. The fight went about as everyone thought it would, Cormier moved well, landed punches and kicks, out grappled Nelson and avoided being hit with the power punches from Nelson. Cormier announced his next fight will be at light heavyweight, and if Nelson keeps slimming down he could wind up down there too, but the fight itself wasn't anything special.
Cain is king: UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defeated former champion Junior dos Santos by TKO in the fifth round to retain his title and cement himself as the undisputed king of the heavyweights for the next several years. The fight was more competitive than their second encounter, JDS landed some impressive shots but couldn't seem to reliably find his range or fight in the clinch to the level that Velasquez was. Cain spent the majority of the fight pushing dos Santos against the fence and working him over from there, though he landed plenty of strikes from the outside as well. Velasquez just can't be beat right now, I don't see Fabricio Werdum as having a chance at beating him, Travis Browne wouldn't get out of the first round, and so on down the line. Junior dos Santos is now in a terribly precarious position within the UFC, he can beat everyone but the champ. Does that line sound familiar? It should, it's been said of Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami as well. Junior has an advantage in that he usually has good fights, but if he gets another shot sometime in late 2014 or early 2015 and loses again, the UFC will likely start looking for a reason to cut him. You can't keep someone around who's that good but can't beat the champion, at least that seems to be the UFC's philosophy as of late. This was a good fight all around, both men clearly improved since their last fight, but the big defensive issues from both men were still evident. All in all the event was a huge success from a fans perspective, only Boetsch vs. Dollaway, Noons vs. Sotiropoulos, and Cormier vs. Nelson weren't good fights, and really if anyone thought those were going to be good they were selling something. All in all this is a front runner for Event of the Year.
The Crusher is coming: One of my personal favorite fighters has signed with the UFC this week, Tatsyua "Crusher" Kawajiri. Kawajiri has a professional record of 32-7-2 and has fought almost exclusively in his native Japan. His lone fight in the states was in Strikeforce, a first round TKO loss to champion Gilbert Melendez, and he has since dropped to featherweight going 4-0 in the new division. The UFC is always looking to expand the lighter weight classes at the moment, and Kawajiri is a solid addition especially as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has been talking about moving up to lightweight in the near future.
JDS out indefinitely: Following his second thrashing in a row at the hands of UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez former champion Junior dos Santos received an indefinite suspension by the athletic commission for medical purposes. Specifically there was concern over a broken nose and possibly broken jaw. There was legitimate talk about how the latest fight should have been stopped in the third round following a huge flurry from Velasquez but dos Santos continued to fight on giving the official every reason to not stop the fight. If I could editorialize a bit, this loss has placed dos Santos in an incredibly precarious position with the promotion. With this loss, as well as the previous one, being so one sided there is almost no interest in seeing dos Santos face Velasquez again, and with good reason.
If you read Samer Kadi's excellent look at why dos Santos should not fight Velasquez again, which you can do here, this really places the former champion in a position where the UFC will likely be looking to release him. Dos Santos is an incredible fighter, a wonderfully likable person, and certainly has a substantial fan base. The problem is he wont beat the champ, no one wants to see him fight the champ, and he draws a heft paycheck. The UFC has made it clear they don't want fighters like that with them, dos Santos has the benefit of being in a shallow division and having exciting fights, but that will only carry you so far when you beat everyone who isn't the champion. Unless Cain loses, which is not only unlikely, it's almost laughably improbable at this point, the former champion will be in quite possibly the most unenviable position in combat sports. Compounding the issue is that dos Santos is in the prime of his career, this isn't someone like Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes, or other former champions on the downside of their careers when they were in a roughly similar position, dos Santos has many years of fighting ahead of him where he can fight with the very best and beat them except for Cain Velasquez. Being in that position is not only unenviable, it's basically untenable over an extended period of time.
The UFC has another card this week, coming to the world from Manchester, England, Lyoto Machida will be making his middleweight debut against Mark Munoz. I know I normally break down the entire main card, but in this case that's not only a lot of fights, I'm also feeling a tad under the weather as I write this so if you'll forgive the lapse in quality let's take a look at the top two fights as they're the most interesting.
Melvin Guillard vs. Ross Pearson: With the injury that forced Michael Bisping out of the main event Pearson is the biggest British name on the card. These two have quite different styles and this is a case where a fight could legitimately go either way. Melvin Guillard has serious power in his hands, and isn't afraid to use knee strikes as well, combined with his athleticism and explosiveness (if you want to get drunk in a hurry take a shot whenever the commentary team uses either of those words when talking about Guillard) he has the ability to beat anyone in the division. Guillard's biggest weakness has been his submission defense, his wrestling is actually pretty good, but grappling has never been the strongest attribute of Ross Pearson's game. Pearson's chin is a tad suspect, he was KO'd by Cub Swanson at featherweight and rocked multiple times by George Sotiropoulos. Neither of those men have the same kind of one punch power that Guillard does, and if Pearson isn't on point defensively he could very easily find himself looking up at the lights. Pearson doesn't have great power in his punches, but he knows that and works around it. Pearson is a diligent striker, works good combinations to the head and body, and will wear down his opponent with a good pace and high volume. Fortunately for Pearson Guillard is also a little chinny, he's been rocked by Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone, and Jamie Varner. While Pearson wont knock Guillard out with one punch, he could very easily land a combination that rocks Guillard and he could swarm for the finish. I tend to favor Pearson, Guillard has almost no defensive skills and Pearson should be able to out work him then catch him late in the first or into the second. Guillard could easily win this though, I just feel a little safer picking Pearson.
Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz: Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida makes the cut to middleweight for the first time. This fight was originally supposed to feature Munoz taking on Michael Bisping, but Bisping suffered a detached retina and had to pull out of the fight. Machida was originally scheduled to make his 185lbs debut next month against Tim Kennedy at the Fight for the Troops event, but stepped up after Bisping's injury. Mark Munoz has powerful wrestling and some of the hardest punches from top position in the sport, but he's fighting one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world. Machida has a great track record against wrestlers, he finished Rashad Evans and Ryan Bader, plus no one with a functioning brain thought he lost the fight with Phil Davis. Machida is difficult to take down, and difficult to hold there if you do get the takedown. He also has a mastery of distance and timing the likes of which Munoz has only heard about. The reality is that if Machida has made the weight cut properly this is his fight to lose. Munoz will try to get him down, likely unsuccessfully, then make a bad decision and get finished for it. Basically this is a rehash of Machida vs. Bader if everything goes as it should.
That wraps things up for me, and you've survived another Guillotine. I'll be stepping in to host the 411 Ground and Pound radio show this week as Mark Radulich has other commitments, and I hope you'll listen along as the expert panel and I review the Fight Night card. I'll see you back here next week and hopefully the content will be back up to my regular standards. I'll catch you all in another Guillotine then.