Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 1.10.14: Cruz Out... Again Edition
Posted by Robert Winfree on 01.10.2014
News and thoughts on the latest around Dominick Cruz's injury, thoughts on Tarec Saffiedine's win and the rest of UFC Fight Night 34, a preview of UFC Fight Night 35 and more!
Alright ladies and gents, 2014 keeps rolling along, and I'm very glad you've made getting Locked in the Guillotine part of your regular routine. I don't express my gratitude to you guys for reading this oven enough, but I know that I wouldn't still be here if there weren't some of you who click that link and read what I type out here on a weekly basis, so thank you. This week I'm looking back at UFC Fight Night 34, and looking ahead to UFC Fight Night 35. While you're browsing, driving, or basically just living your life please feel free to check out the Radulich in Broadcasting Network, home to a large variety of podcasts and I'm sure you'll find something that interests you.
Current Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Mark Radulich on BlogTalkRadio
Alright, now that you're enjoying some quality internet radio, let's get to the fights.
Hawaii starts off strong: Russel Doane defeated Leandro Issa by technical submission at the end of the second round with a very nice triangle choke. I very much enjoyed the grappling in this fight, Issa is a former jiujitsu world champion and Doane proved again that the submission game in MMA is different than that of straight jiujitsu. Doane looked good on the ground, and on the feet, and started things off on a good foot for the Hawaiian contingent for this event. The transition used by Doane was very nice and I look forward to seeing him in the future.
Hawaii keeps rolling: Dustin Kimura defeated Jon Delos Reyes by submission with an armbar. Kimura has some serious issues with his striking, both offensive and defensive, but his grappling is pretty slick. I'd like to see Kimura work on his striking for his next fight, and good on him for making weight after missing last time, hopefully he improves for his next fight.
Hungarian power: Mairbek Taisumov defeated Bang Tae Hyun by unanimous decision. Taisumov had some hype from insiders, and he looked pretty good here. His offensive wrestling looked pretty good, and his striking is polished enough for MMA. Bang didn't do much in the fight, he seemed like he was constantly waiting to counter punch or fight in close but it never went into his wheelhouse and he had no second plan. Taisumov didn't look like a world beater, or the next big thing, but he had a solid performance and I'm curious as to what he'll do in his next outing.
Amateur hour: Royston Wee defeated David Galera by unanimous decision. When watching this fight I was a little bored and unimpressed with both guys, but then I thought about it. This was just Wee's third professional right, and Galera's sixth and both men were making their promotional debuts. Galera had zero takedown defense and Wee was just able to hold him down and get the decision. I hope Wee improves for his next fight, because he's the first native of Singapore to fight in the UFC and he could be a big star in that part of the world. Galera threw a deliberately illegal kick in the third round, hoping to get stood up and I wouldn't be upset if I don't see him in the UFC again.
Well that was odd: Katsunori Kikuno defeated Quinn Mulhern by unanimous decision in a very odd fight. Kikuno fought with a traditional karate stance, hands at his sides almost, and Mulhern had no idea how to use nearly ten inches of reach. Mulhern wound up shooting a lot and pulling guard with very little else. Mulhern subsequently retired from MMA after this fight, and if this was what his future was going to look like it was probably the right move.
Holloway cleans up: Max Holloway defeated Will Chope by TKO in the second round. Chope is huge for a featherweight, he stands 6'4, and in the early part of round one he was able to use a substantial reach advantage but Holloway kept his composure and got the timing of Chope down and was able to follow the punches of Chope and started beating him up on the feet. Holloway battered Chope en route to his second round finish. Holloway needed a win here after two straight losses and this was his best performance to date. Holloway is a very young guy, just twenty two, and if he keeps improving he's got potential to challenge for a title. I liked things I saw from Chope, he could use some improvements in his striking but with his size for the division is pretty crazy.
Korean dominance: Kyung Ho Kang defeated Shunichi Shimizu by submission in the third round. Kang dominated the entire fight from start to finish, but there was some drama in the first round. While Kang had a locked in mounted triangle choke and landed a couple of illegal twelve to six elbows and had two points deducted. Two points is a substantial deficit and Kang likely would have only had a draw if the fight went to the judges, but Kang got an arm triangle choke in the third round and forced the submission. Shimizu looked undersized, and could likely make flyweight if he wanted to, but he has a solid grappling background. Kang got a good win here, he didn't get flustered by the point deduction and I'd like to see more of him.
Disqualification: Kiichi Kunimoto defeated Luiz Dutra by disqualification. There isn't a whole lot of analysis to be had here, Kunimoto was looking for a takedown against the fence and Dutra landed several twelve to six elbows very obviously to the back of Kunimoto's head. Kunimoto couldn't continue and Dutra was disqualified for his illegal blows. I wouldn't care if Dutra gets cut, you can't have fighters who put people in that kind of danger and I didn't get to see anything out of Kunimoto so I can't say what I thought about his performance.
The Crusher is here: Tatsuya Kawajiri defeated Sean Soriano by submission in the second round. Kawajiri had some trouble getting the fight to the mat early, but as soon as he got it there Kawajiri owned Soriano. Kawajiri is a very physically strong and choked Soriano out in the second. Kawajiri asked for a title shot after the fight, and if the promotion wants to get him into the top level they have to act pretty quickly. Kawajiri isn't a young guy, and has a fair amount of mileage for his career and if both he and the promotion want him in a title fight it has to happen soon.
Saffeidine wins: Tarec Saffeidine defeated Hyun Gyu Lim by unanimous decision. Saffeidine had a rough first round, but kept his composure and began dismantling Lim with leg kicks and technically superior striking. Lim took a beating in rounds two through four but came out in the fifth round and went after Saffeidine, knowing that he was down and needed a finish, and landed a couple of good shots that hurt Saffeidine but was unable to get the finish. Lim may have lost, but he showed heart and determination, two things you can't really teach, and hopefully he comes away from this loss as a better fighter. Saffeidine is a very technically sound striker, but he hasn't fought a strong wrestler in quite some time, and if he's going to make any kind of vertical motion in the welterweight division he'll need to have answers for strong wrestlers. I would like to see him fight a strong wrestler in his next bout, just to see if he's ready for them and maybe see a few wrinkles from his game that we haven't seen yet.
Cruz is out: Well this sucks. UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is out of his scheduled title unification bout with interim champion Renan Barao. The two were to meet at UFC 169 in the main event, and it would have been Cruz's first fight in over two years as the last time he fought was October of 2011. He was scheduled to defend the bantamweight title against Urijah Faber in May of 2012, but suffered a severe knee injury that required surgery. To further complicate matters Cruz's body rejected the cadaver ligament that replaced his ACL and had to have the surgery again. This time Cruz suffered a groin tear and had to withdraw from the fight. This time Cruz agreed to vacate the title and Renan Barao is now officially the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion. Stepping into Cruz's spot at UFC 169 will be former title contender Urijah Faber, fresh off of a dominant win over Michael McDonald at UFC on FOX 9.
This really sucks, as I am a fan of Cruz and was looking forward to his return to action. Cruz must have some of the worst luck in all of sports at this point, hopefully he can recover from the groin tear and return this year. Cruz wont be the champion and will have to take at least one fight before getting another shot at the belt, but given the sheer amount of time since he competed that might not be the worst thing in the world. A layoff of this magnitude can seriously hamper a fighters abilities inside the cage. Barao and Faber will be the main event of UFC 169, the featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas will be the co-main event. I am still very interested in the title fight, but not having Cruz back dampers my enthusiasm by a fair amount.
UFC Fight Night 35 comes to you live on Wednesday the fifteenth next week. I'll have the live coverage here at 411mania if you don't want to watch it live, or can't watch it live, or just want to follow along with what I think is going on. I'm not exactly stoked on this card, but this is MMA and it could easily wind up being all kinds of awesome, so let's take a look at the fights.
Cole Miller vs. Sam Sicilia: Cole Miller rarely has a boring fight, he shows up to fight hard for all fifteen minutes. Sam Sicilia is a wrestling based fighter who narrowly avoided the dreaded three fight losing streak by knocking out Godofredo Pepey in his last fight. I think Miller takes this one, he's high volume, high pressure, and active off of his back if he winds up there. I'm not a big fan of Sicilia, and I'm not sure he's got the requisite skills to beak Miller.
John Moraga vs. Dustin Ortiz: John Moraga was last seen being armbarred by flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and get's a chance to return to the win column here. Ortiz is making his second UFC appearance and fights out team Rufusport. I've got a hard time picking against Moraga against most guys at flyweight, and I've not seen anything from Ortiz to make me think he's the one to win here, Moraga should take this one with strikes in the second or third.
Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson: Yoel Romero has all the credentials to be really successful in MMA except youth. He's an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, he's proven to have big power in his strikes, and he's got a diverse striking game. Derek Brunson has a hard time winning if he can't get a takedown, and I'm not sure he'll be able to take Romero down. We're likely in for something of a slug fest until one of these guys goes down, and I'm pretty high on Romero at the moment so I'm going with him.
TJ Dillashaw vs. Mike Easton: This is a fight to avoid becoming a substantial disappointment. TJ Dillashaw and Mike Easton both had a degree of buzz about them, and both have seen that buzz vanish with some substandard performances. TJ Dillashaw lost a decision to Rafael Assuncao in his last outing but has done a good job of can crushing generally. Mike Easton looks physically strong, has a great grappling pedigree, but hasn't been able to really impress inside the cage. He's had some good wins but nothing that really sticks out in your mind. I hope Easton shows another gear here and has an impressive performance, but Dillashaw has a more proven track record at this point and is a safer pick.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Brad Tavares: I don't care about this fight. That's a pretty unflattering thing to say, but neither man has impressed me and I've found most of their fights skippable and forgettable. Larkin is a decent striker, but he's fought several strong wrestlers who were able to control him on the ground. Tavares is a strong wrestler, but not the hyper aggressive takedown machine you need to be to keep Larkin down. I think Larkin uses his superior striking to keep Tavares at distance, off balance, and takes home a decision.
Luke Rockhold vs. Costa Philippou: Well, both men are coming off of losses here and the loser will have a long road to rebuild themselves in the division. Rockhold was KO'd by Vitor Belfort in his last outing while Philippou was out grappled by Francis Carmont. Philippou has some good boxing skills, but his grappling has been sorely lacking in his last couple of fights. Rockhold is a dynamic fighter who tries to fight where his opponent is weakest, and he has the clinch work and grappling ability to get Philippou down and keep him there. Rockhold is a smart bet here, though if he isn't careful Philippou has the power to end his night.
Alright guys and gals, that wraps up another edition of the Guillotine that you've managed to escape. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show will be live this Sunday at 9pm eastern time and we'll be breaking down UFC Fight Night 35. As I said, this Wednesday I'll have the live coverage here at 411mania if you want to follow along, and I will be back next week as well. Until then, keep your heads up and your necks safe.