A draw? In MMA? In a championship fight? This just doesn’t happen in MMA! Well…it sure does now. I apologize for any frustration displayed throughout this column that negatively influences my writing.
I had people who were new to the sport texting me, tweeting me and asking me if there would be a sixth round. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in this relatively new sport, that has a very flawed judging system. However, one thing I noticed with all of the feedback, and perhaps backlash surrounding the fight: people weren’t harassing the judges for once.
Saturday night’s UFC 125 main event Lightweight Title fight between champion Frank Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard was NOT what I’d expected. It had the stylistic match up that could have been very boring. Not on this night. Out of the gate Gray Maynard blasted Edgar with a flurry of shots, and looked to nearly finish the champion early. Round one was total destruction from the challenger, and I scored it 10-8. Those of you who bombarded my twitter talking about a 10-7 round need to watch the Kalib Starnes vs. Nate Quarry fight. THAT is a 10-7 round, not what we saw Saturday night.
Rounds 2, 4, and 5 played out in favor of Edgar, or so it appeared. Edgar outwrestled the highly decorated wrestler in Maynard, including a huge slam. Edgar in my view beat Gray Maynard at his own game for three rounds, with a very close round being tossed in the mix. This was the true definition of a back and forth battle. Rounds three and five could have went either way. Edgar really battled back with his jab, as he used it effectively to set up his single and double leg takedowns.
When the results were read, I was shocked, as was everyone. With all of the shady activity involving the judging in MMA, I just assumed the fight would go to one or the other. However…each fighter was given a 48-46 round, as well as a 47-47 draw, and it was the RIGHT DECISION. This fight was a draw, and one of the best title fights in the history of the UFC. There’s plenty of room to argue, but the judges didn’t screw this one up folks. This isn’t Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, which should have been a draw. It’s not Nam Phan vs. Leonard Garcia, which was highway robbery. It was a controversial, yet correct decision.
There were many people also clamoring to Dana White, Joe Silva, and the UFC, that there should be an immediate re-match between the two. In which UFC faced a dilemma, as it had already announced previously that WEC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis would face whomever came out of Saturday’s fight in a title unification bout. The UFC did not flinch, as it quickly announced the planned bout between Pettis and Edgar would be the route they would take.
I’m torn on this subject. Fair is fair, and this is what was announced beforehand. But this is why I don’t think fights should be announced before the implications of an impending fight have been revealed. Gray Maynard does deserve a re-match, and where’s the harm in having the WEC Lightweight title exist a little longer? Anthony Pettis hasn’t beat a top 10 lightweight (Henderson possibly), and Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulos would make formidable opponents for said title. That way, if one of the aforementioned wins, there is a credible challenger either way. If Pettis were to win, he’d have a legit top ten victory under his belt. However, In the hours following the event, things didn’t seem so set in stone, as Steve Cofield of Yahoo and ESPN Radio reported Dana White was going to strike while the iron was hot with rematch with Maynard and Edgar. Go figure.
I was elated at the fact that Dong Hyun Kim remained undefeated in his career, defeating the ridiculous thug gangbanger Nate Diaz two rounds to one. Kim used his judo to his advantage as I’d predicted before Diaz got desperate in the third round and took over. Kim has been calling out GSP, but I think he’s still at least two victories away from a fight of that caliber. Diaz once again choked when facing anyone near elite talent. As much trash as he talks after beating inconsistent fighters like Rory Markham, or squeaking out victories over Josh Neer, he faces the Kim’s, the Gray Maynards, Clay Guida’s etc, he does not deliver for a full three rounds. He takes one round, and one round doesn’t do it. The gameplan for Nate Diaz is to simply get to the judges scorecard, because he gets extremely frustrated when he can’t finish someone. I honestly feel that if he were to fight Melvin Guillard again at 155, it would be a different story now that Guillard is training with Greg Jackson.
Brandon Vera is likely to be given his walking papers after dropping his third straight fight, this one to Thiago Silva. Vera, who was once heralded as the future of the UFC in whichever division he chose to compete in, went from going 4-0 in the UFC, to going 3-6 since. A big yapper and loads of potential won’t take you far in the sport. It seemed like for the second fight in a row, Vera took his opponent’s striking ability likely. Not something to do to Thiago Silva….cause that guy is just mean. Really. He’s mean. What a grinch.
Brian Stann, Jeremy Stephens and Clay Guida were all big winners at UFC 125 as well. Brian Stann scored and upset TKO over a Chris Leben, that many were hoping would have a career revival. Stann called out Wanderlei Silva, although I think Chael Sonnen is much more likely to snag that bout than Stann.
Guida picked up his third consecutive victory (all by submission) over former Lightweight terror Takanori Gomi. Clay Guida is simply everything positive about the sport. Tons of heart, tons of potential and the drive to succeed. He doesn’t talk trash, and it’s nearly impossible to root against him. I would expect a big name to come his way very soon, expect him back in the cage by March.
Other news coming out of UFC 125 is that Randy “The Natural” Couture would in fact NOT be retiring, and will be likely be taking on former Light Heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida at UFC 129. The event is planned for Toronto, and may also include GSP in a title defense against Jake Shields.
UFC wasn’t the only game in town this week as DREAM put on a huge New Years Eve card. Japanese favorites Sakuraba, Shinya Aoki and Minowaman were all defeated in their high profile bouts, which seemed to shock and drop the crowd. However Strikeforce fighters Alistair Overeem, Sergei Kharitonov, and Gegard Mousasi were all victorious.
Overeem is now the DREAM interim Heavyweight champion, in addition to Strikeforce champion. He completely overmatched the unprepared and unqualified Todd Duffee, knocking him out cold in 18 seconds. I see an impending fight between Overeem and Kharitonov, likely on Japanese soil, as Overeem would love to avenge his previous loss.
Chael Sonnen had some choice words for Overeem, criticizing his abilities and such, saying he wasn’t fighting real talent, and that no one cared about him. Sonnen put on quite the performance against Anderson Silva, but every time he opens his mouth, he loses credibility. From calling out Brock Lesnar, getting popped for PED’s and the following…. Fast forward to 2:19
Yes. That would be Sonnen accusing Silva of being a cheater….then immediately denying it. Referring to nobody being able to outstrike him? I believe Overeem could probably handle that task.
For more MMA opinions, Follow me on twitter! Next week I’ll have the rest of the UFC 125 Fallout, My 2011 predictions, and my take on Chuck Liddell’s retirement!