Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 1.17.14 Fight Night 35 Review
Posted by Robert Winfree on 01.17.2014
News and thoughts on Georges St-Pierre criticizing the UFC's drug testing policy and more! Plus a look at Luke Rockhold's win and the rest of Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 35 results!
Hello everyone and thank you for getting Locked in the Guillotine again. This week we've got a card to review as UFC Fight Night 35 went down this Wednesday. I had the live coverage here at 411mania and I hope you all followed along with it. There was also some interesting news this week, mostly in the form of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre criticizing the UFC, but there was plenty of other stuff to talk about too. While you're reading this, or just going about your daily life, I'd encourage you to give the Radulich in Broadcasting network a listen, there's a variety of podcasts to listen to and you're bound to find something that interests you, so listen in as we delve into this weeks MMA goodness.
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Alright, let's take a look at UFC Fight Night 35 and what went down.
The Spaniard goes down: Beneil Dariush defeated a returning Charlie Brenneman via rear naked choke submission in the first round. Longtime readers, and frequent listeners to the 411 Ground and Pound radio show, will know of my dislike for Brenneman. I was fully expecting him to come in and wet blanket his way to a decision victory, but thankfully that didn't happen. Dariush landed a very nice straight left hand that dropped Brenneman and he followed up by taking the back and sinking in the choke. Lightweight is a stacked division, so I'm not sure how far Dariush will go but this was a good first impression to make.
Pichel wins: Vinc Pichel defeated Garett Whiteley by unanimous decision. To me, Pichel will always be the guy who got suplexed into oblivion by Rustam Khabilov but this was a good enough performance to bounce back on. Pichel spent 2013 on the shelf with a series of injuries, some pretty nasty, so getting a win here was a feel good moment. The fight itself was pretty good, Pichel was just able to control the grappling aspect and that's an important aspect of MMA that Whiteley needs to improve on.
Hawaiian power: Louis Smolka defeated Alptekin Ozkilic by unanimous decision in a really fun flyweight fight. Flyweights are really fun to watch, but they're kind of a beast to cover as there's so much action. Smolka did a great job in this fight of controlling distance, landing shots from range, and countering Ozkilic's wrestling. This fight is a great example of how to get up after being taken down, which techniques to use to prevent a wrestler from just getting on top and smothering you. Ozkilic took this fight just four weeks after his last fight, which might explain his cardio issues as he visibly tired, but Smolka made a great fist impression with his striking, grappling, and cardio.
Well, that was there: Trevor Smith defeated Brian Houston by split decision. I really don't have anything complimentary to say about this fight, there was clinching with no action, prolonged periods of circling, and two guys who knew they needed to win the third round but instead chose to fight not to lose it. I thought Smith won, but neither guy left a good impression.
Silverio is legitimate: Elias Silverio defeated Isaac Vallie-Flagg by unanimous decision in his lightweight debut. Silverio had a successful outing in his last fight at welterweight and looked big here, but his conditioning seemed up to par. Silverio just overwhelmed Vallie-Flagg from start to finish with his accurate strikes and superior grappling. I'd like to see Silverio fight someone a little higher up the food chain, but this was a pretty impressive debut. As for Vallie-Flagg, with the volume of shows the UFC is running keeping him is smart, but he needs to show some improvement after this performance.
Nijem beats Edwards: Ramsey Nijem defeated Justin Edwards by unanimous decision. Nijem actually looked like he'd trained some striking for this fight as his punches were a little straighter and his chin was sticking out on every exchange. Nijem used his length and grappling to win the fight. Edwards is a decent scrapper but doesn't seem good enough in any particular discipline to really make a run towards relevance. Nijem got a much needed win after his last couple of fights, hopefully this fight indicates he actually is trying to improve and not just coasting on his current skills.
Miller chokes Sicilia: Cole Miller defeated Sam Sicilia with a rear naked choke in the second round. Miller actually had some decent striking this time out, he was able to control the distance, land his punches and avoid the power shots from Sicilia. Miller landed some really nice combinations in the second round, including one that dropped Sicilia and led to the finish. Miller called out Donald Cerrone following the fight, I'm not sure Cerrone could make featherweight but we know Miller can fight at lightweight so if he wants that fight I say he should move up for it. This was a good showing from Miller. Sicilia managed to avoid getting cut after he beat Godofredo "Pepey" Castro in his last outing but if he doesn't improve he's just postponing the inevitable. Sicilia just hasn't improved since his time on TUF and he desperately needs to if he wants to keep his job.
Clucky appears: John Moraga defeated Dustin Ortiz by split decision in the only Clucky appearance of the night. Ortiz controlled the whole first round with his top game, and I thought he won the third round with his grappling, and work from the top. The fight itself was pretty fun, the second round was good back and forth action, and the third featured a lot of work from both men. Again, I simply think this was the wrong decision and I don't think it was that close. Moraga likely gets a slightly bigger name fighter now, actually if Joseph Benavidez is sticking around at flyweight I'd like to see those two fight. Ortiz had a good showing, even if Clucky decided he should lose, and I'm looking forward to his next fight. Tim Elliott or Louis Gaudinot spring to mind for him.
Romero with the comeback: Yoel Romero defeated Derek Brunson via TKO in the third round. Brunson was winning the fight, and had pretty decisively won the first two rounds, but in the third Romero started landing his big left hand and he dropped Brunson with it. The finish was a barrage of elbows to the body, but Romero put a beating on Brunson before the ref stopped it and that actually spawned some talk of a late stoppage, which in this case has some merits. The official gave Brunson multiple "final warnings" that saw Brunson do nothing differently between them. The final elbows were of the illegal 12-6 variety, but it just seemed like it didn't matter. I've said in the past that various athletic commissions need to re-evaluate 12 to 6 elbows and see if they are in fact more dangerous than elbows with a slightly different angle to them. In any case I personally feel that 12-6 elbows to the body shouldn't be an issue as long as they're to a legal target and not the spine. Romero is still undefeated in the UFC, and while he struggled with Brunson I wouldn't mind seeing Romero take on Costas Philippou, who lost in the main event.
Dillashaw beats the Hulk: TJ Dillashaw defeated Mike Easton via unanimous decision. This fight went about how I predicted it would, Dillashaw used his wrestling and his reach to control and dominate the fight from start to finish. Mike Easton has to be considered a bust at this point, the guy just hasn't shown anything noteworthy during his entire UFC run. Dillashaw got a win here, I wouldn't mind seeing him take on Eddie Wineland or Michael McDonald to really see if he can hang at the top of the division. He might even get a title shot if Rafael Assuncao gets injured after Renan Barao beats Urijah Faber atain.
Boring: Brad Tavares defeated Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision. This fight was boring, neither man did much of anything and Tavares won largely based on activity. Tavares said he wants a top ten opponent next, I say go for it, if this fight was any indicator he'll lose and we can all see it. Larkin looked gun shy here, he wasn't able to string together combinations or land anything all that cleanly. If Larkin wants to stick around he really needs to work on that.
Rockhold is back: Luke Rockhold defeated Costas Philippou in the first round with a nasty couple of liver kicks. I predicted this fight going long, I was wrong but I feel that was a combination of underestimating Rockhold's skills and overestimating Philippou. Rockhold fought smart, he stayed on the outside and used his reach and kicks to keep Philippou from form getting in close and using his power punches. After the fight Rockhold said he wants a rematch with Vitor Belfort in the states, or a fight with Michael Bisping. With Belfort likely to fight Chris Weidman for the belt next that leaves Bisping as the viable option, and I'm down for that fight. Philippou is in a bad spot for his next fight, he'll really need a win. Fortunately for him with this loss he'll likely get a much easier fight as this drops him firmly out of the top ten, or top fifteen, and he wont have to fight a really talented guy next. I'm a sucker for a liver shot finish, so here's Patrick Bateman.
GSP shoots at MMA drug testing: Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre recently spoke out about his feelings regarding drug testing in the UFC. When asked if that was part of the reason he decided to step away from the sport, St-Pierre responded that it was and that he wanted to move the sport forward. He said that he feels there are plenty of fighters who are using illegal performance enhancing drugs. St-Pierre himself has been accused in the past of "juicing", a claim he denies and his spotless test record supports his position, and there's a chance his desire to get stricter and more frequent testing is a personal one. The UFC have responded with their usual canned responses, they test themselves when they go over seas, they follow all the protocols from various athletic commissions, they've caught fighters that they like and have punished them, etc. While all true, the UFC's counter argument seems to miss the crux of what St-Pierre is saying. You can conform all you want to the standards of athletic commissions, if those standards are low it means very little. My understanding is that St-Pierre wants to advance the sport, and while the UFC has testing policies in place, they could be better. I personally don't know why professional athletes aren't subjected to the same standards of testing that Olympic athletes are, and they likely should be tested more frequently than they currently are. The issue of performance enhancing drugs stretches across all sports, and it's one that isn't going away in the immediate future.
Sad news: Cat Zingano's husband, Mauricio Zingano, was found dead from apparent suicide this week. Mauricio was 37 years old, was a father, and a well known Brazilian jiujitsu instructor. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family he left behind during this difficult time.
Bellator now hands out title shots: I don't normally talk much about Bellator MMA here, there are a variety of reasons for that including time constraints, my personal level of interest, and the fact that Bellator is a level behind the UFC right now. That isn't meant as an insult, but my interest in lower level promotions is pretty slim. I have seen Bellator shows, and when I hear about a good card or fight I go out of my way to find it, I just rarely feel inspired to write about them or what's going on. Well this week Bellator announced that former featherweight champion Pat Curran will get an immediate rematch against new champion Daniel Straus. Straus defeated Curran by unanimous decision at Bellator 106 in November of last year. Bellator has recently added a new clause where they can do immediate rematches for title fights, now normally this should be implemented in case of either a disputed outcome, or a really awesome fight. The first fight between Straus and Curran was neither of those things, I know, I watched it live. Now sometimes, even if the original fight wasn't great, due to scheduling or injuries rematches can still be an acceptable option. In this case, Bellator has two tournament winners waiting in the wings, Frodo Khasbulaev and Patricio Freire both won tournaments and have yet to receive title shots. Khasbulaev has reportedly had some visa issues, which happens, but Freire is healthy and wants the fight. He took to twitter to criticize Bellator for this decision. Champion Daniel Straus was critical of the decision as well, stating on facebook he feels that Bellator really wants Curran as the champion and so gave him an immediate rematch in close proximity to his hometown. Straus has just one loss in Bellator, that being to Patricio Freire. You shouldn't have a difficult time selling that fight based on the history between both men. This further indicates that Bellator's tag line of "Title shots are earned, not given" is no longer the model they're using.
And on that note, you've escaped another Guillotine. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show will be live this Sunday at 9pm eastern time and we'll be discussing UFC Fight Night 35 and looking ahead to UFC on FOX 10, if you'd like to call in and join in the discussion the number is (323) 657-0901. Next week I'll be breaking down UFC on FOX 10, including the main event of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson taking on Josh Thomson. Until then keep your heads up and your necks safe.