There were so many Independence Day weekend fights that I’m combining all of them together in my mind. Going from memory, a congenital amputee lost the UFC women’s bantamweight title in 16 seconds after being ragdolled by Dana White’s voice. Or something.
Let’s get to it.
OK, so … who at 185 is messing with Chris Weidman?
I have no idea, but I do know that I ain’t buying Vitor Belfort as that guy. There are way too many potential pratfalls there. Historically, he gets tired and stops throwing offense, and he gets discouraged and sad when you’re getting the better of him. This is a guy that was pulling guard at the start of the 2nd round of his 2006 PRIDE bout with Dan Henderson. They should have just stopped the fight right there and awarded it to Henderson. This is also the dude who laid on his back and allowed Kazushi Sakuraba to kick his legs 352 times. Once Weidman figures out how to stay composed and savvy enough to avoid Vitor’s trademark blitzes (an inevitability since Weidman is far more than “I’ll just run at this guy swinging, and my pure athleticism will make him crumble”), it’s done. You heard it here first.
Chris Weidman has all the tools to become an all time great, but he’s also a really smart fighter. The fashion in which he approached the Machida fight showcased composure that would suggest he’s had far more than 12 pro MMA bouts. You don’t dismantle Lyoto Machida for the better part of 25 minutes without a smart gameplan.
Jacare, Rockhold, Vitor … good night, and good luck.
BJ Penn and Frank Edgar cobbled together one of the most depressing fights I can remember in recent memory. I asked the same thing when the fight was announced, but I’ll ask it again: Why? Seriously … WHY?!
This was a baffling waste of time on both sides. After losing three straight title fights (even though most people agree he should have won two of them), Frank Edgar got back in the win column in July of last year with a unanimous decision win over Charles Oliveira. It was the kind of fight that left you wanting to see Edgar fight frequently, and actually see him fight a variety of good fighters. As opposed to, you know, fighting the same 3 guys his entire career. Instead, he took a coaching gig on the Ultimate Fighter, which is where relevant fighters go when they want to needlessly stall their careers filming something barely anyone watches. And you can see why this is so alluring. Who doesn’t want to waste months and months of their prime trying to teach Matt Van Buren not to suck?
Edgar’s reward was fighting a guy he had already beaten soundly 4 years ago. The second Edgar-Penn matchup was totally justified, as Edgar benefited from more than one questionable scorecard in their first encounter. The UFC set up the rematch quickly, and a wrong was righted. Justice was served. Edgar got his chance to shine again, and shine he did. So why run it back 4 years later after Edgar has done nothing but improve and Penn has done nothing but sit on the couch in between demoralizing, emasculating beatings? I get that BJ Penn has always been a sneaky good draw for the UFC, and I also get that they need good draws now more than ever. But still. This felt like a stretch.
That brings me to Baby Jay Penn. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what his mindset was in last Sunday’s fight. He offered no significant responses to Edgar’s attacks, seemed totally at ease with the idea of being on his back and playing a guard that was seemingly supposed to be offensive (but never was), never made a concerted effort to get his boxing game out of first gear … it was just odd. If he knew that this was going to be his “retirement fight” beforehand, you would think he’d have gone in there with a little bit more fire up his ass. You would think.
By the third round, he was little more than a punching bag with lungs. Edgar obviously looked great. Then again, so would you if you were fighting a guy that didn’t seem interested in fighting back. If Penn had gone out there and gotten destroyed, but went down swinging, it would be a little bit different. The takeaway would be more “Wow, this guy doesn’t have it anymore. Great career.” Instead, he calmly allowed himself to get beaten up. The whole scene was weird and off putting. You know you’re behaving erratically in a fight when Kenny Florian is openly questioning just what the hell your objectives are.
I’ll let Jens Pulver take us home …
“What got to me watching that was, I understood. It’s the hardest thing to realize when you’re in there, because in your mind you’re like, ‘I can do this.’ But once you’re in the fight, it’s like you’re not doing anything. That was the hardest part for me to watch. I was looking at him in that fight and going, ‘I get this. I know that feeling.’ Nobody told us how to get old. Nobody told us what getting old was supposed to feel like. There’s no magic switch where it all shuts off.”
That may be a great quote, but more than anything else, it affirms my position that this fight shouldn’t have been made. I want to see Frank Edgar fight the cream of the crop, not guys who peaked 6 years ago.
UFC 176 has gone the way of the dodo (and of UFC 151). Chad Mendes said stuff. Jose Aldo said stuff. What does it mean that these two individuals said stuff? And how inevitable is it that the cancellation of pay-per-views is going to become more common?
Chad Mendes talking trash about Jose Aldo might be posturing, or self-encouragement, or a little of both. But the fact is that it must be weird to hear someone you savagely knocked out say that you’re afraid to fight them. Chael Sonnen’s “Anderson Silva didn’t beat me, I beat his ass for 23 minutes! Then he wrapped his legs around me for 8 seconds, and they call HIM the champion?!” routine played great, because it was completely tongue-in-cheek, and because, in a sense, he was right (I mean, not really. He lost. But when you describe the fight in those terms, you could talk a casual fan into thinking “That IS kind of bullshit!”). But Chad Mendes was the victim of one of the most iconic and precision knockouts of the past several years. If that were me, I’d be eating giant slices of humble pie every day leading up to the fight.
As far as the pay-per-view being cancelled, I’m torn. On the one hand, it seems crazy that the UFC couldn’t find SOMEONE to step in and fight for an interim belt against Chad Mendes. If you’re Cub Swanson, you scramble to be ready in a month. You never know what could happen to your promised title shot.
On the other hand, the UFC was already going to take a bath on this card, and without Aldo, it only would have gotten worse. At a certain point, you have to pay respects to the people who buy your product. You can’t just arrogantly and flippantly throw something together and expect people to buy it anymore. They can just watch the next free card on FOX.
Cancelling was the right move. Happy trails, UFC 176. Say what’s up to UFC 151 for me.