Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 01.03.14: Year in Review Edition
Posted by Robert Winfree on 01.03.2014
Thoughts on Chris Weidman successfully defending his middleweight title against Anderson Silva, Silva's gruesome leg injury, Ronda Rousey defeating Miesha Tate and the rest of UFC 168 as well as the loss of Silva and GSP in the same year. Plus a look ahead for Rousey, Silva, and some injury replacement news.
Greetings everyone, and welcome to 2014. I would get excited, but I was betting that we wouldn't successfully revolve around the sun this time around, but darn it if it wasn't just another year of The Little Planet that could. Nice to see you guys back here, and getting Locked in the Guillotine again. We've got the UFC's year end show to review, and what a show it wound up being. Let's get to it guys and gals.
Oh, have you checked out the Radulich in Broadcasting network yet? There's a variety of podcasts and you're almost assured to find something that strikes your interest. Give one, or more, a shot while you're going about your daily life.
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Alright, onto the MMA.
Problems arise: Robbie Peralta defeated Estavan Payan by TKO in the first minute of the third round to get things going. Payan had superior grappling for the first two rounds, but Peralta knew he was likely down and came out swinging in the third, he clipped Payan and didn't let him recover. Peralta's striking is ugly, but he hits like a truck and that usually means he'll have a place in the UFC. Payan had a couple of decent rounds and I liked elements of what I saw here. Not a bad way to get things going.
Voelker gets beat up: William Patolino defeated Bobby Voelker by unanimous decision. Patolino clearly has a grasp of head movement as well as accurate striking because he absolutely abused Voelker for all three rounds. He landed accurate punches, didn't get hit often, basically just got to show off what he's good at. Voelker apparently wont be cut, despite this being his third loss in three UFC fights, but he looked like a glorified punching bag. I'd like to see Patolino against a higher level of competition, but he looked good tonight.
Howard wins: John Howard defeated Siyar Bahadurzada by unanimous decision. The fight wasn't very noteworthy apart from a pretty cool slam from Howard. Howard was able to get the better of the grappling and avoid the power punches from Siyar. That's really all there was to this fight, Howard now has back to back wins while Siyar will need an impressive performance if he gets another fight in the UFC.
Siver rolls on: Dennis Siver defeated Manny Gamburyan by unanimous decision. Siver had a better striking game, which he used in rounds one and three, in addition to getting Gamburyan down in both those rounds. Gamburyan got top position in round two and had some decent ground and pound, but Siver rather handily won rounds one and three. Gamburyan is a decent name, but he's not showing a lot of growth as a fighter over the last couple of years. Siver continues to have a good run at featherweight, if Chad Mendes isn't getting a title shot, he should mind you but in case he isn't, Siver would be a decent enough fight for him.
Johnson gets better and better: Michael Johnson knocked out Gleison Tibau in the second round. This was a surprising result, though I admit I might be overestimating Tibau's abilities, but he's been an upper level gatekeeper for most of his career in the UFC and he's proven a very difficult out for everyone he's fought. Johnson's striking has improved a lot over the last year or so, and his movement continues to impress me. Johnson is on a winning streak and has looked great so far, I think it's time to give him a bigger name for his next fight because he's earned it. As for Tibau, at this point the guy is unlikely to get cut, but he's also unlikely to make a run at the top of the division. You need guys like him around, and I hope he rebounds well from this loss.
Leben quits: Chris Leben quit between rounds one and two in his fight against Uriah Hall. I'm still not sold on Hall, because Chris Leben has been over the hill for a while now and he looked awful tonight. Hall circled, used his reach, and picked Leben apart, pretty much the perfect strategy in this case. Hall landed a nice straight right that dropped Leben at the end of the first round, he pounced, but the bell saved Leben. Leben then told his corner that he was done between rounds. Leben should have retired after his last fight, and he definitely should retire now. The guy was a name for a long time, he provided some fun fights, he's got nothing left to give and he doesn't need to get beat up in the cage anymore. Hall desperately needed this win after his last two fights, I'm still not sure quite where to place Hall though. Beating a washed up Chris Leben isn't exactly a career maker. I'd move him up the ladder a little for his next fight, not necessarily a top fifteen guy, but a guy who isn't so far over the hill he's starting to go up the next one.
Poirier beats Brandao: Dustin Poirier defeated Diego Brandao by TKO in the first round. Brandao missed weight badly for this fight, and didn't look like he'd even trained. Brandao was a bit of a head case during his season of The Ultimate Fighter and it looks like that wasn't an act, or a clever editing job, the guy has a screw or two loose. Poirier's striking, offensively at least, looks worlds better than even earlier this year. His punches are straighter and he's mixing up his offense. Defensively he's still got a lot of work to do, but this was a good performance for him. He requested a rematch with Cub Swanson after this win, I'm not sure he'll get it but that wouldn't be an awful fight, or a rematch with The Korean Zombie.
Miller time: Jim Miller submitted Fabricio Camoes with an armbar in the first round. Miller's grappling, he was on his back when he got the arm, looked very good. The rest of his game not quite so much, but he's also not in his physical prime anymore and is likely in the process of evolving his skills to match his age. The way Miller set up the armbar was very nice, and Camoes is a high level grappler so this wasn't exactly a given. I'm not sure what Miller does next, but he got a needed win over a guy he should have beaten.
Browne is legit: Travis Browne knocked out Josh Barnett in the first round. This will be the last time I pick against Travis Browne unless he's fighting Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos. Browne avoided Barnett's takedown attempts, caught him with a right hand to the eye, a jumping knee on a takedown attempt, and finished him with elbows of the same style he used on Gabriel Gonzaga. Browne has lost just once in his career, he tore his hamstring during a fight with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, and has now knocked out Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in back to back fights. Due to Cain Velasquez being out with shoulder surgery Browne will likely fight Fabricio Werdum for the next title shot, and I think Browne can win. Josh Barnett is in an odd position, he's clearly a very talented fighter but this loss is a big deal. There's still money making and interesting fights for Barnett, but he's not a young man anymore and a run towards the title is now unlikely.
Rousey wins again: Ronda Rousey submitted Miesha Tate in the third round with an armbar. Ronda Rousey had to fight for more than the first round for the first time in her career, and she didn't look bad. Rousey has a very active and high volume style of fighting that had plenty of people wondering if she'd be able to fight after the opening round. The answer is yes, she maintained her pace well, kept throwing Tate around and looking for submissions. Miesha Tate has almost no fight IQ apparently. Tate's best chance at victory was striking, sticking and moving, and avoiding grappling with the superior grappler. She didn't do that, instead she constantly clinched, or shot for takedowns that were quickly reversed by Rousey. Rousey will meet Sara Kaufmann in the main event of UFC 170 in a fight that I'm actually looking forward to. Miesha Tate is in an odd spot, she's lost her last two fights, and is 1-3 in her last four fights, but has some name value. I don't see Tate getting another shot at the title, and honestly I wouldn't be terribly shocked if she retired in the near future.
Weidman retains: Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva by injury TKO in the second round. Anderson Silva threw an inside leg kick, Chris Weidman checked it, and Silva's leg broke. This was the same type of injury that happened to Corey Hill, or Joe Theisman for those not familiar with MMA, it's a nasty looking injury and likely ends the career of Anderson Silva. Weidman won the first round with a knockdown from the clinch and top position work, so this wasn't a situation where an injury robbed a winning fighter. Chris Weidman has defeated Anderson Silva twice in a row, no one has done that, and now will likely be defending the title against Vitor Belfort. Belfort is a very different fighter than Silva and I'm looking forward to seeing that one play out. As for Silva, injury is a horrible way for a great career to end, regardless of the sport, and if he isn't able to fight again I'd just like to say thanks for the memories.
Silva needs surgery: Following his gruesome injury at UFC 168, Anderson Silva needed surgery to repair the broken leg. By all accounts the surgery was successful, and average recovery time is six to nine months. There are plenty of details that could change how this goes of course, the nature of the break being a big part of that. If it was a simple fracture, yes the whole bone snapped but if it was a clean break, then it should heal quicker than if the fracture was messier. Plenty of people, myself included, anticipate this as the end of Anderson Silva's fighting career. The man is almost 39 years old, will miss almost all of 2014, and has nothing left to prove to anyone as far as the sport is concerned. If Silva comes back, a pretty substantial if, it will likely be for one fight in a showcase capacity so that he can go out on a win instead of a nasty injury. Whatever he decides I wish him the best.
Rousey will face McMann: UFC 170 has a new headliner, it's UFC female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey taking of fellow undefeated fighter Sara McMann. Rousey, who submitted Miesha Tate in the third round with an armbar at UFC 168, will have a quick turnaround for this but without Anderson Silva, GSP, Cain Velasquez, or Anthony Pettis available this is likely the only title fight that could be contested in the first quarter of 2014. McMann defeated Sheila Gaff in her UFC debut but hasn't been seen since that fight. With Cat Zingano still recovering from knee surgery, her return is anticipated to be in the late summer or early fall, McMann is a solid choice. Both women are Olympic medalists, Rousey became the first American woman to medal in Judo when she won a bronze at the 2008 games, McMann won the silver for freestyle wrestling in 2004, and I don't think we've ever seen two fighters with such a successful background in their amateur careers fight for a UFC title. In terms of individual skill this might be the most skillful main event in UFC history, though there's plenty of room for improvement in both women's MMA game. The event will feature of co-main event of Daniel Cormier making his light heavyweight debut against former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. A fight between lightweight's Gilbert Melendez and Khabib Nurmagomedov, while not official, has been linked to the event as well. That's a really solid top two fights for UFC 170, hopefully nothing happens to break it up.
Injuries and replacements: This week Bobby Green had to withdraw from his UFC 169 bout against Able Trujillo, replacing him is Jamie Varner. Also this week, Jason High suffered a ruptured appendix on New Years and will miss his fight with Beneil Dariush at UFC Fight Night 35 and has been replaced by Charlie Brenneman.
UFC Fight Night 34 is airing live this Sunday at 6:30am eastern time. I will have live coverage, which is 4:30 am my time, but I have almost no desire to talk about that card as a whole, but I will briefly talk about the top two fights. Tarec Saffeidine will be fighting Korean Top Team fighter Hyun Gyu Lim in the main event. Lim is a huge welterweight, and I'm actually looking forward to this fight because Saffeidine is a very talented striker who has a good grappling game as well. The co-main event has the UFC debut of featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri, a long time favorite of mine, and is another fight that I'll be looking forward too. The rest of the card is guys that I don't know and really don't want to find out enough about everyone involved.
I want to make this prediction, without GSP or Anderson Silva the UFC's average buyrate for PPV will drop probably between 250k-325k. I don't see any show on the books right now that will break 600k. Now let me be clear, this is not a retraction of my statements on the Ground and Pound radio show about the UFC not needing to be in panic mode. I maintain that stance, the UFC has been trying to promote the brand over the fighters and times like this are when that strategy are effective. Stars are not made overnight, they are a result of personalities, skills, and good timing. I hope the UFC is able to rebound from losing their biggest cash cows, but the company is also diversifying their revenue streams and television rights make up a lot more of their income than ever before which lessens the need for big time PPV draws. That being said, the time is ripe for a fighter who is able to capture the attention of the audience, and if one is able to do so they will be a welcome addition.
Finally, 2013 ended for me, as a fan, in the worst way possible. Two of my favorite fighters are gone. Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva are both unlikely to return to the realm of MMA, and these are two of the greatest in the history of the sport. More than that, these are two of the fighters who I personally have a strong emotional attachment too. I looked forward to either man fighting, to seeing their strategies, the execution, all of the best things about MMA were evident in Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. Not only have they left, no one is likely to take their place. I don't just mean in terms of drawing money, I mean in terms of what they were able to do inside the cage. These were two fighters who, while very different stylistically, were dominant beyond comparison. As a fan, and from no other perspective than that, I have left 2013 from a place of profound depression. I am hopeful for the future, the mercurial nature of MMA allows for emotional turnarounds with exceptional alacrity, but two of my favorites have likely left the sport for good and that is a very bitter pill to swallow. But for all the sadness, as I said before, there is hope. We can look forward to what comes next. MMA, more than almost any other sport, must be judged with hindsight as opposed to foresight. No one thought Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Mark Hunt would fight for five rounds and thrill the live audience, no one thought Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson would knock out Joseph Benavidez with one punch in the first round, not many thought Wanderlei Silva could turn back the clock and get a victory over Brian Stann, ours is a sport of instant drama and anticipation. An American football game will play through all four quarters, a hockey game goes all three periods, baseball goes at least nine innings, so on and so forth. A fight can end in an instant. It can be a breathtaking display of skill, a tribute to legal violence, a visceral show of heart, or bore you to tears. Sometimes it's all of the above. That's what makes it so great. I don't know if I will ever become a fan of another fighter like I was of Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre, or Anderson Silva. But I do know it's possible, and so while I mourn the loss of my past favorites, I look forward to discovering new ones.
And on that somewhat optimistic note, you've escaped another guillotine. I will have live coverage for UFC Fight Night 34, live Sunday January 5 starting at 6:30am eastern time. I could use the company as that's 4:30 where I am, so please feel free to check out how the event is going as I assume most people will have other things to do. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show will be live that night, talking about that event and likely previewing UFC Fight Night 35. I'll see you guys back here next week, until then keep your heads up and your necks safe.