Sunday, December 13, 2009

UFC 107: Sunday Morning Thoughts

First of all, I want to say one more time what a spectacular night of fights that was last night. It was the type of card that should really remind any MMA fan why we love this sport.

The main event was not amazing, mostly because it was so one-sided. BJ is one of those rare fighters that exists on an entirely different plane. Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St-Pierre are the only other fighters with similar claims to MMA supremacy. Diego Sanchez showed a lot of mental fortitude and never lost the fire to compete. He also showed amazing resilience in surviving a first round knock-down that BJ followed with a barrage of shots from above. I still think Gray Maynard poses interesting problems for BJ Penn at LW and Frankie Edgar has looked sharp, but the UFC might soon need to look outside its roster to find compelling challenges.

Mir looked excellent, with the exception of rushing in too rashly and almost ending up getting stuck under Kongo. Still, his weight training has clearly paid off as he physically pushed Kongo to the ground with his fist. Also, it seemed apparent that Mir had gotten inside Kongo's head as the big Frenchman held his hands way too low. Kongo needs to win another three or four in a row to get another sniff at a contender. Personally, I'm not sure he has another run like that in him. To review, Mir looked massive and the choke was slick, but, again, if Mir had missed it he would have been in trouble. That won't fly against the top-five heavyweights.

Florian, on the other hand, looked almost flawless in his clinical dissection of Clay Guida. Aside from being put briefly on his back, Florian thoroughly dominated "The Carpenter." That cut on Clay's scalp was caused by classic "Hell-bow" fury. Let's face it, "KenFlo's" counter striking was awesome to behold. I now have Kenny as my firm world number two-- Shinya Aioki is not nearly as well-rounded.

Perhaps the biggest story of the night was the excellent technique shown by Mike Pierce, both on the feet and on the ground. I believe I referred to Pierce as "semi-interesting" in my predictions, but I've officially upgraded him to blue-chip prospect. Fitch is unquestionably an elite fighter, but Pierce had his moments throughout the fight and clearly won the third round. He nearly finished Fitch with a flurry at the final bell, as well. As for Fitch, I'm calling for a fight with Koscheck for a title shot. I don't care that they're friends, it would be an awesome fight and I've had enough of these two asking for another shot at St-Pierre while refusing to fight a fellow top contender.

You can't go 10-1 without a bit of help and I definitely got some from the judges in the Struve vs. Buentello fight. Don't get me wrong, I had the Flailing-Dutchman up 29-28 on my card, but we've seen judges undervalue leg kicks in the past and "The Headhunter" definitely lived up to his name throughout. I got another bit of help when Belcher outlasted Gouveia in an all-out slug fest. It was a high-risk gamble, but Belcher has taken his conditioning to a new level and should be given a top-five MW opponent in the near future. I think the currently-opponentless Chael Sonnen, who was just budged out of a fight with Nate Marqardt by Vitor Belfort, would make sense.

Wiman, Hendricks, and Palhares all did pretty much exactly what I thought they would. It was this stretch of fights that really jacked up my score on

DaMarques Johnson showed a good amount of composure setting up that upkick that set Edgar Garcia up for the fight-ending triangle choke, the again Johnson also demonstrated very porous stand-up defence getting rocked twice on the feet. As I said before, neither of these guys is likely to make an impact in the welterweight division. If I had to miss one fight, I don't mind being wrong here. Besides, Garcia was clearly winning until he lost.

Finally, TJ Grant cleared his good name as a legit contender dispatching Kevin Burns with relative ease via first round TKO. I haven't seen the fight yet, but it sounds from descriptions as though Grant controlled the action pretty well. I still like Grant to climb the lightweight ladder and hope he can get at least on a televised prelim or a SpikeTV card in the near future. He also came through for me on my cash bet, which was nice.

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