Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 2.7.14: More Superfights
Posted by Robert Winfree on 02.07.2014
News and thoughts on Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis being in doubt, Pat Barry leaving MMA and UFC on FOX 11 getting more fights! Plus a look at Renan Barao's controversial victory over Urijah Faber and the rest of UFC 169!
Greetings, it's nice to see you guys get Locked in the Guillotine again. First of all, I apologize for not having something up last week. I went to New Mexico with my dad to vising my grandfather, it was an enjoyable trip, but I was there on Thursday, when this is due to be submitted, and they don't have a computer or internet access. But I'm back, and so are you, so that's good. While you're going about your business, please check out the Radulich in Broadcasting network. We're on iTunes as well as Blog Talk Radio. There's a variety of podcasts, though you're probably most familiar with the weekly 411 Ground and Pound radio show, so you should be able to find something that tickles your interest.
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Alright, I didn't get to preview UFC 169 for you guys, but I do get to review it so let's get to the action.
Magny with the shutout: Neil Magny defeated Gasan Umalatov by unanimous decision, a rather easy 30-27 from my vantage point. Magny is huge for a welterweight, he stands 6'3 with an 81" reach. There are heavyweights with less reach than that. Magny looked good in the grappling aspect as well, he escaped a deep half guard position and had Umalatov's back a couple of times. If Magny improves on this, he might be someone who you'll want to keep an eye on.
Russian power: Rashid Magomedov defeated Tony Martin by unanimous decision in a fight that I enjoyed a great deal. Martin had a tight armbar in the first round, I thought the fight was over and most guys would have tapped out, but Magomedov managed a high level escape and came back to dominate rounds two and three with accurate striking and good takedown defense. If Martin keeps improving he's someone to pay attention to because he has some skills. Magomedov showed heart as well as good striking and a solid top game from what we saw, this was a really enjoyable fight so kudos to both guys.
Hester wins: Clint Hester defeated Andy Enz by unanimous decision. Hester landed a nice leaping left hook in the first, but Enz wouldn't stay down, he survived the onslaught and started firing back. The two had a decent, if sloppy, striking exchange through the fight. If Hester would straighten out his punches he'd land a lot more and they'd probably land harder. Enz has some toughness and I'd like to see what he does next. Nothing special, but not the worst fight in the world.
Iaquinta wins: Al Iaquinta defeated Kevin Lee by unanimous decision. Iaquinta landed a really nice left hook in the first that wobbled his opponent, then floated into a really nice inverted heel hook attack on the ground. Lee survived and had a good second round, he timed a takedown and spent the round on Iaquinta's back looking for a choke. The third was closer, but Iaquinta landed more shots and stuffed several takedown attempts from Lee, leading to his winning the decision.
Well that was there: Nick Catone defeated Tom Watson by split decision. Catone landed a couple of takedowns but did very little with them. Watson landed some nice leg kicks, but this was a case of judges valuing the takedowns highly, arguably too highly. There wasn't a whole lot here to discuss.
Cariaso wins: Chris Cariaso defeated Danny Martinez by unanimous decision. Cariaso was landing sharp blows, but Martinez was constantly pushing him into the fence and looking for takedowns. Cariaso winning was probably the correct decision, Martinez had some success when he got close and was throwing punches, but he constantly pushed forward from there into the clinch and did very little. Nothing special here.
Bad decision: Alan Patrick defeated John Makdessi by unanimous decision, but I personally find that decision highly questionable. Makdessi was busier, landed better strikes, and stopped every takedown attempt from Patrick. The fight wasn't good, in fact this was just another in a string of really lackluster fights. Not a good way to head into the PPV card.
Thank heavens for that one: Able Trujillo defeated Jamie Varner by KO in the second round to end a card that was nothing but decisions until this point. These two came to fight and brought the action, which this card desperately needed. Varner got a takedown in the first and spent time working for a north-south choke, but they ended the round swinging. The second was more of that, the two men stood in front of each other and threw bombs until one of them fell down. Trujillo was hit more than once, but he landed the final punch that put Varner out cold. This was exactly what this card needed after a string of less than impressive fights.
Bagautinov keeps rolling: Ali Bagautinov defeated John Lineker by unanimous decision. This was an interesting fight, Bagautinov knows how to counter strike effectively and apparently has a good chin. Lineker is a pretty one dimensional guy, he moves forward with power punches, and Ali either out struck him, or took him down and out grappled him. I'm not sure if Bagautinov is ready for a title shot, but if he's not then his next fight should be against John Moraga or John Dodson to see if he's really ready for the elite level. Lineker has scary power for the division, but his striking is technically ugly, with some work on it from a technical standpoint he'd be much better.
Overeem wins: Alistair Overeem defeated Frank Mir by unanimous decision. This was a very controlled fight from Overeem, he rocked Mir with a knee to the face in the first round but didn't burn himself out trying to get a finish. Overeem's knees to the body are still some of the most impressive weapons in MMA, I'm not sure how well Overeem will do against someone like Junior dos Santos, but he got a much needed win and won every minute of every round. Mir is likely done with the UFC, it's unclear if he'll go to Bellator or retire and take an office job with the UFC, but at this point it's unlikely he'll fight again.
Aldo wins: Jose Aldo defeated Ricardo Lamas by unanimous decision to retain his featherweight title. This was a different performance from Aldo, he was very measured in his approach. Lamas took the vaunted Aldo leg kicks well, I was surprised at how well he was able to take them and continue fighting effectively. Aldo's future might be at lightweight, I still think he beats everyone at featherweight right now, but Aldo isn't getting younger and the weight cut has never been Aldo's friend. Lamas did well and fought hard to the very last minute. I'm not sure what's next for Aldo, if he stays at featherweight it's almost impossible to deny Chad Mendes a shot at the belt next. If Aldo goes up, personally I'd rather see him fight someone other than champion Anthony Pettis to debut at the weight, but there's no denying it would be a great fight.
Barao is a bad man: Renan Barao defeated Urijah Faber via TKO in the first round to retain his UFC bantamweight title. There was some controversy over the finish, Barao was landing hammerfists while Faber held into a leg, the official told Faber to move, Faber gave a thumbs up, and a second or so later the fight was stopped. If I might editorialize just a bit here, a thumbs up is a great way to inform the official you're alright when in a submission hold without there being confusion about a possible tap. When you're being hit with strikes and the official warns you to move or the fight will be stopped, you should consider moving, even if just enough to show the official you're hearing and responding. The ref isn't watching your hands for a thumbs up, he's watching the punches hitting your head. Barao looked great, he hit Faber a couple of times standing with some solid right hands that wobbled and dropped the former WEC champ. It's really unfortunate that there was some controversy about the stoppage because it takes focus off of Barao and just how good he looked. Given the somewhat controversial nature of the stoppage it wouldn't be out of the question for Faber to earn another title shot. My personal opinions of Faber aside, he had a phenomenal 2013 and was the only real option to replace Dominick Cruz when Cruz got injured, and he was likely the next in line for a shot had Barao and Cruz fought. With another two or three wins Faber could get another shot, but at this point I don't think he can beat Barao.
Pena is injured: Julianna Pena, who became the first ever female winner of The Ultimate Fighter last year, is going to be out for a while. Pena suffered a horrible knee injury at her gym, tearing her MCL, ACL, LCL, and meniscus. Apparently there was a bit of controversy as initial, somewhat confused, reports indicated she suffered the injury while goofing around, and Dana White tweeted that what happened could constitute assault. Well a little common sense and time proved that wrong, this was a horribly unfortunate injury, but it was sustained during the course of training. The recovery time for an injury of this magnitude is roughly two years.
Barry is gone: UFC heavyweight fighter Pat Barry announced his "indefinite leave" from MMA. Barry entered the UFC with a successful kickboxing career behind him, unfortunately his lack of experience in grappling hindered his career in the UFC. Barry put on some entertaining fights, and has already signed with Glory kickboxing, so while MMA is behind him Barry is likely to show up on Spike TV competing in kickboxing.
UFC 173 gets matches: UFC 173 got a main and co-main event this week. The event will be headlined by a UFC middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and challenger Vitor Belfort. The co-main event will feature the coaches of the current TUF: Brazil season, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva, squaring off. UFC 173 will come to the world live on PPV May 14 of this year and is being held in Las Vegas. No word yet on Belfort's possible therapeutic use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy, prior statements indicated given his past positive tests for anabolic steroids he would not receive an exemption. UFC 173 is shaping up to be a big card, and will be the first real test of Chris Weidman's drawing power without being opposite Anderson Silva.
UFC on FOX 11: The UFC's return to Florida, following a less than great gate and attendance after a show run in Miami, has a pretty decent card shaping up. The main event, as of this writing, is likely to be a heavyweight showdown between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum with the winner getting a heavyweight title shot. Also on the card is an important lightweight clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos has won his last five fights in a row and Nurmagomedov is unbeaten as a professional with 21 wins. This is a big fight for both guys, the winner is likely a top five lightweight and at most two wins away from a title shot. Announced this week for the same card is a middleweight clash between Yoel Romero and Brad Tavares. Both men were victorious at UFC Fight Night 35. Finally a lightweight clash between Pat "Bam Bam" Healy and Jorge Masvidal is set to take place at the event. Healy lost his last fight, a unanimous decision against Bobby Green, and was coming off of another unanimous decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Masvidal also lost to a Russian, though in this case it was in his last fight against Rustam Khabilov, and this is very much a battle for Healy to stay near the top of the division while Masvidal would be looking for his biggest win in the UFC.
Well, it was just a matter of time before that same old song and dance started up again. Every now and then the UFC, or the MMA media, seems to latch onto something that is supposed to create a spark, generate interest, get people talking about the product. A few months ago, for some reason, the rumor of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returning started floating around the old rumor mill. Now almost everyone with a fully functioning brain, the ability to logically process information, and an ability to objectively view the situation knew this was a load of crap. Brock Lesnar might have regrets about his MMA career, unfortunate illness and going out on a loss both spring to mind, but the man makes a ton of money for and with WWE right now, get's to work a lighter schedule, and doesn't have to worry about his physical well being in quite the same way you do in a legitimate fight. The amount of money and persuasion that would go into convincing Brock Lesnar to break his current deal with WWE to return to the UFC is staggering to think about. Yet, as media outlets are prone to do nowadays, we got reports of this possible return frequently, high level officials within the UFC were asked in almost every interview about it, and this continued until the UFC announced the Fight Pass program, at which point it became clear that people either spun that rumor out of control because they had nothing better to do, or the UFC let the rumor leak to generate a little extra buzz around their secret announcement (which wound up being Fight Pass).
So, what is it this time? What event, or rumor, or bit narrative has me rolling my eyes? One word ladies and gentlemen: Superfight.
The phrase has been tossed around so much that it's lost all meaning at this point, and it seems that whenever speculation starts up the fight itself falls through. Personally speaking, there was just one legitimate Superfight, that being Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre. While that fight was seemingly endlessly speculated about, there came a point when I personally realized it would never happen. That was long before people stopped talking about it as a possibility, and I was far from the first guy on the planet to realize Silva vs. GSP would forever be relegated to the realm of the hypothetical. I also figured Anderson Silva wouldn't fight Jon Jones, which was the other Superfight being tossed about as a possibility. Superfights, under the traditional definition, are a pipe dream by and large. They are fun to speculate about, to debate, to wish for, but they rarely come together and become a reality. Or when they do, people don't seem to recognize them. Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar was a legitimate Superfight, the featherweight wrecking machine Aldo welcoming the former lightweight champion to the division with the belt on the line. For whatever reason, poor promotion or the fact that no one wants to pay to see Frankie Edgar, that fight didn't draw numbers and the fight itself wasn't as close as the UFC tries to make you believe.
Well this time around it's Jose Aldo again, and this time it's current UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Following UFC 169 Aldo mentioned, at the post fight press conference, that he was interested in fighting Pettis. Pettis then called UFC President Dana White and also said he was interested in the fight. The two were scheduled to meet before, at UFC 163 before Pettis became lightweight champion, but the bout fell through when Pettis injured his knee. If a fight between Pettis and Aldo is to happen, now is the time. There is no clear number one contender for Pettis, Josh Thomson just lost to Benson Henderson, Henderson is just one fight removed from being finished by Pettis in the first round, TJ Grant hasn't fought in almost a year, and pretty much everyone else still needs a big win before they could be in title contention. The list of potential challengers for Jose Aldo now consists of guys he's already beaten, and beaten decisively. He KO'd Chad Mendes in the first round, ditto Cub Swanson though that was back in the WEC. He's beaten Frankie Edgar by decision, just beat Ricardo Lamas, and finished Chan Sung-Jung (the Korean Zombie). That makes up the top of the division. Yes Mendes has been on a tear, and yes Cub Swanson is worlds better than he was when Aldo KO'd him in eight seconds with a double flying knee attack, but the point remains he's decisively beaten both men. This means if you wanted to make a fight between these two, now is the time as the division isn't really being held up. No one is being passed over, well no one is in a position to claim they're being screwed by this at least, so if you wanted to make this fight it is the right time to do so.
So why am I glum about this?
It wont happen. There are a couple of reasons for this, namely the divisional requirements, fighter managers, and the fact that both fighters have been a little injury prone the last few years. The fact that Aldo would have to vacate the belt and go up could prove to be a stumbling stone, Aldo fought hard to get the belt and from interviews I gather it means a great deal to him, so having to hand it over could be an issue for him. Since no one is getting the shaft I'd have him keep the title, fight for the lightweight belt, and if he wins he has to vacate one of them, but at this point seeing Aldo hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time would be incredible. No one has accomplished that goal in the UFC, I don't see the harm in letting him try for that if you're making the fight anyway. Some stories have already come out that Pettis's team would rather the fight be held at a catchweight of 150lbs, which completely destroys any kind of narrative involving the titles and almost invalidates the fight itself. Yes, I have a rather low tolerance for catchweight fights in general so there might be some personal bias in that line of reasoning. If the lightweight belt isn't on the line, Aldo shouldn't have to drop the featherweight belt, and at that point, if neither man is defending a title, then there is a legitimate argument to be made by some fighters that they're getting the short end of the stick. Finally, I don't think either man will stay healthy enough for this fight to happen. Pettis and his injuries are becoming the stuff of legend, he seems to get one major injury per year and get's in one fight every 8-10 months as a general rule. While Aldo hasn't been as plagued as Pettis he's had a few injuries the last year or so that have kept him from a regular fighter schedule, and the reality is that injuries are becoming more commonplace. With most fights announced lately I have been taking a skeptical approach, until the two men get into the cage and Bruce Buffer announces the fight to the world I'm not getting my hopes up.
Let me also say, I hope I'm wrong. I would very much like to see the actual fight between Pettis and Aldo, the thought of what that fight could look like is tantalizing and represents, in theory at least, some of the very best aspects of MMA. I hope this fight does in fact happen, I've just been burned too many times to really get my hopes up.
And on that, somewhat depressing, note you've escaped the Guillotine. The 411 Ground and Pound show will be back this Sunday at 9pm eastern and we'll be previewing UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs. Mousasi. I'll be back next week and I'll also be breaking down the main card for UFC Fight Night 36. I'll see you then, until next time keep your heads up and your necks safe.