Bisping vs GSP

Thoughts on the cancellation of Bisping vs GSP and the state of the UFC in general.

I typically try to keep this blog focused on myself and the things I’m interested in.  I see it as a release valve for the stress in my life, and it serves that function well.  I haven’t dipped my toe into news blog territory yet, and I’m not interested in taking that direction.  However, I do want to write about something newsworthy in the MMA world that happened yesterday.  That thing is the cancellation of the Michael Bisping vs GSP middleweight title fight.

I love the UFC.  I’ve been watching it since I was a little kid.  My dad found UFC 1 on VHS in 1994 at our local video store, and he was instantly hooked.  He was always a big boxing fan, but MMA took it to the next level.  I remember him getting UFC payperviews throughout my child hood and pointing a camcorder at the TV to record the fights.

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The poster for the very first UFC event.

As a kid, I was never very interested in the fights.  But when I became a teenager I started to get super interested in MMA, and I found myself emotionally invested in several fighters careers.  Anderson Silva is easily my favorite fighter ever, and he’s my pick for greatest fighter of all time.  There’s a big debate about the G.O.A.T. right now, but for me it’ll always be Anderson.

All of this is to say that the UFC has been a part of my life pretty much since it’s inception, and I’ve been a faithful follower for probably 15 years or so.

A little background on the UFC: The Fertita brothers bought the UFC in 1997 for several million and sold the company last year for over $4 billion, the largest sport franchise sale in history.  In that time, they built the sport practically from the ground up.  All the other major sports franchises have had decades to stabilize and mature, but the UFC is practically in it’s infancy in comparison.  As such, there have been many growing pains.  Fighters have never been fairly compensated compared to professional athletes in other sports.  The Reebok deal a few years ago ruffled a lot of feathers as it took away any personal sponsorships (i.e. fighters aren’t able to make as much money).  There is no retirement or insurance when a fighter retires like in the NFL, they’re on their own financially and medically.

When the sale hit last year, the fighters realized how underpaid they were.  The UFC was worth over $4 billion, but a new fighter in the UFC typically makes $5k/$5k to start.  The proportion of UFC revenues going to the athletes was abysmal, especially compared to other professional sports leagues.  The current state of the UFC is not good.  Fighters are upset with how they’re treated by the organization, and the new owners don’t have the personal touch that the Fertita’s did.  Many high level fighters are defecting and heading to the UFC’s primary rival, Bellator.

It is in this environment that GSP announced his return to the UFC.  The new UFC owners need to make big money on pay per views, and they are starved for stars.  GSP is one of the biggest draws to ever fight in the UFC.  He’s a gigantic star in Canada, so GSP coming back to the UFC was viewed as a big win for the UFC.  He also came close to meeting Anderson Silva’s record title defenses, and he went out on the top of his career.  When he retired in 2013, he was still champion, he’d made millions of dollars, and he left with a superb legacy.

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Bisping knocking out Rockhold

In March, Dana White held a press conference announcing that GSP would be facing Michael Bisping for a title fight.  Michael Bisping is the current middleweight title holder.  GSP has never fought at middleweight before in the UFC, so already we have a red flag.  Add to that the fact that Bisping upset Luke Rockhold for the title in a fight that many expected Rockhold to dominate.  Instead of facing a legitimate challenger in his first defence (or giving Rockhold a well deserved rematch), Bisping was given a fight against Dan Henderson. Dan Henderson is a legend of the sport, but he was in his mid 40’s at the time.  He was not even close to a title shot, but because the UFC needs to sell payperviews they gave the money fight to Bisping.  This upset most of the middleweight division as it is one of the most talent heavy divisions in the UFC today.  After that fight, everyone expected Bisping to fight the legitimate number one contender, Yoel Romero.  Instead, GSP was announced as getting the title shot over Romero and 3-4 other well deserving middleweights.  GSP is a natural welterweight, so not only did this make no sense from a rankings perspective, it also seemed like a strange size mismatch.  An undersized middleweight who hasn’t fought in 4 years fighting the champion who appears to be ducking legitimate contenders.

MMA: UFC 205-Weidman vs Romero
Yoel Romero staking his claim as contender by knocking out former champion Chris Weidman.

For months, this fight has been in the headlines.  There’s been a lot of back and forth between GSP, Bisping, and the UFC.  It appears that negotiations have stalled, as Dana White announced yesterday that the fight was called off and Romero would get his well deserved title shot.  Whether or not he will follow through or not remains to be seen.

However, the UFC is not the WWE.  It should be a meritocracy, where a fighter proves his or her worth in the octagon and the best fighter in the world gets a crack at the champion.  Ever since the sale, the UFC has proven that it prefers fights that perform well financially over fights between the actual #1 and #2 guy in the world.  It’s troubling, because I love the UFC and I have an emotional connection to their brand.  I’ve been watching their shows since I was a little kid.  But if I was  fighter, I’d be jumping ship to Bellator ASAP.  Bellator pays better, they take better care of the fighters, and fighters are allowed their own sponsors.  I think the UFC has time to right the ship, but the UFC’s leadership hasn’t shown any sign they’re interested in restoring the their brand to a meritocracy.  I could see a world where Bellator is the face of MMA and the UFC is a relic of the past.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but I love MMA.  I’m going to watch the show that pits the best fighters in the world against each other.  If the UFC isn’t the place where that happens, then I’m going wherever those fights happen.  It’s a sad thing to say, but the UFC is slipping and they might soon find themselves irrelevant.

UFC 210

A great night of fights, marred by the ineptitude of the New York State Athletic Commission.

Before I talk about these fights, I have to address the issues the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) had leading up to and during the fights for UFC 210.

NYSAC Drama

Pearl Gonzalez was slated to fight Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 210.  Late in the week last week the news broke that Pearl was being pulled due to breast implants that she had previously disclosed to the athletic commission.  This is a problem because not only did Pearl disclose the implants, but the rule was implemented for boxing years before MMA was even a thing.  The UFC worked it out with the NYSAC, but for a short while it seemed the pay per view was going to lose a fight.

The second issue was Daniel Cormier’s weight cut.  The new early weigh-in process was in effect in New York, and when Cormier weighed in he was 1.2 pounds over the 205 lb limit.  Seeing as this was a title fight, he was given an extra 2 hours to lose the weight.  He weighed in a little over 2 minutes later and hit the mark right at 205.  How does a person lose that much weight in 2 minutes?  When he weighed in the second time his coaches held a towel up in front of him because he was naked.  He put both hands on the towel while he weighed in.  This is an old wrestlers trick to hide a few pounds during weigh in.  The NYSAC didn’t investigate and accepted the weigh in.  The whole thing was super shady, and Cormier’s opponent Anthony Johnson is asking for an investigation and 20% of Cormier’s purse as a result.  This was absolutely the NYSAC’s responsibility, and this illustrates their immaturity and lack of experience.

The last issue was by far the biggest, and it had to do with the Weidman vs Mousasi fight.  In the second round, Weidman tried to take advantage of the new rule that defines a grounded fighter as a fighter with two hands on the mat.  You can’t knee or kick a grounded fighter.  Mousasi was aware of the rule, so he used underhooks to lift Weidman up and knee him in the head.  The knees definitely did damage, but Weidman appeared to be conscious and capable of competing after they landed.  The referee thought the knees were illegal because he had a bad angle, and when Mousasi lifted Weidman it was very hard to tell that the knee was legal, even on replay.  Dan Miragliotta was the referee for this one and he usually makes the right call.  However this was a super tight call and he had to make a split second judgement.

Another wrinkle to this whole mess is that replay isn’t available to the ref in New York yet, so he wasn’t able to review the tape before stopping the fight.  When he stepped in, he told Weidman he had 5 minutes to recover.  Weidman played up the injury I think, possibly to try and push for a disqualification win.  I don’t like when fighters do that, but he was taking advantage of the five minutes he was told he had.  While he was resting, Dan talked to the commission and the doctors and they told him on the replay that the knee was legal.  Dan reversed course and ruled the knees legal.

The doctors stepped in and examined Weidman.  Despite his protests, they called the fight off and Weidman was given a TKO loss.  Many rules and procedures were broken or disregarded throughout the whole process, and Weidman has excellent grounds for a no contest appeal.  Mousasi obviously didn’t want to win this way, and the sting of another loss does nothing good for Weidman’s trajectory in the middleweight division.

Any one of these three issues taken on their own would be a big deal. The fact that all three happened on one fight card — and the fact that this kind of stuff is happening regularly when the UFC visits New York — is indicative of the state of New York’s athletic commission.  If I was a fighter, I would not accept a fight on a New York card.  Hopefully smaller leagues will come to New York and let the NYSAC cut their teeth a bit.  But until that happens, I would not advise any of the UFC’s marquee fighters to put their records on the line in New York.

Fights

Cormier vs Rumble Johnson

The first matchup between these two was about two years ago.  Rumble Johnson is known for his one punch KO power, and Cormier is an all time great wrestler.  The first fight was great, Rumble hit Cormier two times cleanly with his powerful right hand.  Cormier was able to weather storm both times and grind out a rear naked choke in the third.  It was impressive because no one up until that point had been able to eat a clean shot from Rumble and remain in the fight.  Rumble has knocked out most of the top 10 light heavyweights at some point in his career.  I assumed we’d see pretty much the same fight this time, the only real question mark for me was whether or not Cormier’s chin would hold up.  It’s been two years and age has a real effect on fighters, so I could see Cormier getting knocked out if he got hit clean again.

The fight was extremely bizarre because shortly into the first round, Cormier hit Rumble with a right hand that clearly got his attention.  After that, Rumble chose to engage the clinch and wrestle with Cormier for most of the rest of the fight.  Johnson landed a clean left head kick on Cormier in the second, and while it clearly stunned Cormier, Rumble didn’t press the standup after that.  He continued to engage the wrestling, which is Cormier’s bread and butter.  Cormier eventually got into a dominant position on the ground and choked Rumble out.  Rumble’s best chance to win was in the standup, so it appears that he panicked when Cormier hit him with that right.  He went back to his base, which is wrestling.  Unfortunately for him Cormier is a far superior wrestler, so Cormier had an easier night than anticipated and retained his belt.

Rumble retired in the ring after the loss.  He said he was going to retire if he won or lost, the decision didn’t matter.  He has some other lucrative business opportunity that he’s going to pursue.  While it is a blow to the division and a blow to me as a Rumble fan, I’m glad to see a fighter going out before CTE sets in.  A lot of fighters push their bodies for too long and pay the consequences later in life.  I’m happy to see one of my favorite fighters go out in his early thirties, fighting for a title.  Especially given the fact that Rumble is a striker and he trains with Henri Hooft, he’s doing his brain a big favor going out like this.

Weidman vs Mousasi

Weidman has had some trouble recently.  He lost his title to Luke Rockhold due to an ill advised spinning kick he didn’t know how to throw properly, then lost his comeback fight to a devastating knee from Yoel Romero.  A fight which he was arguably winning up until that point.  Mousasi is one of those fighters who has the potential to fight at the top level, but always chokes when he fights a top 5 guy.  This was supposed to be his opportunity to break through and get a marquee win.  Weidman controlled most of the first round, while the second round was a bit more competitive.  Mousasi’s stand up is a lot cleaner than Weidman’s and he was winning the striking exchanges.  However, Weidman was taking Mousasi down pretty much at will.  It was a good fight, up until the knees were thrown.  Hopefully the fight is overturned to a no contest due to the incompetence of the NYSAC and the mistake made by Dan Miragliotta.  Weidman desperately needs a win at this point, and Mousasi deserves a chance to earn a legitimate win over Weidman.

Calvillo vs Gonzalez

I saw Calvillo fight on UFC 209, and I was super impressed.  She’s a team Alpha Male fighter, so living in northern California she’s a hometown fighter for me.  At 209 she looked big and mean, and her ground game was excellent.  She got the submission so quick at 209 there wasn’t much fight time to analyze.  This time we got to see her standup a little more as well as more of her ground game.  She was the superior fighter in both aspects against Gonzalez, who I’d never heard of before.  This was a good fight to showcase Calvillo and let her get an impressive submission win.  Calvillo is a star in the making, and hopefully the UFC recognizes that.  She’s a pretty girl with a lot of skills, especially on the ground.  Hopefully they can build her up first before throwing her to someone in the top 5 or 10.

Cote vs Alves

This fight was fun because it felt like a throwback fight.  Patrick Cote and Thiago Alves were relevant ten years ago, so to see two vets like this fighting each other was cool.  Alves looked like his old self, which was fun to see.  Cote looked like an older fighter just trying to hang with the younger guys.  The big wind ups at the end of the third didn’t do anything to change that perception.  I’d like to see Alves find success after this fight, but the 2017 welterweight roster is very strong.  I don’t see Alves beating anyone in the top 10. Seeing Cote hang his gloves up at the end of this fight on the main card of a big pay per view was great.  I honestly would have liked to see both fighters retire after this one.  Cote went out swinging and Alves could have gone out with a win.  I don’t see Alves getting many more after this one.

Brooks vs Oliveira

Will Brooks was supposed to be a huge prospect coming in to the UFC.  He was the Bellator lightweight champ before making the jump.  Considering the fact that Eddie Alvarez came over and won the belt, Will Brooks had a lot of cache coming into his UFC career.  He won his debut against Ross Pearson, but he lost to Alex Oliveira last year in a controversial fight.  This fight was supposed to get him back on track, but unfortunately for Brooks Charles Oliveira snapped in a choke early on in their fight.  Oliveira has been hot and cold in the UFC, and he was coming back up from featherweight after missing weight a few times.  Lower weight fighters moving up to a more natural weight has been a positive trend recently, Cowboy Cerrone and Kelvin Gastelum have both seen great success in cutting less weight.

Oliveira looked great, he was not intimidated by Brooks name at all and carried out his game plan.  I like Oliveira at lightweight, I hope he stays there despite publicly staying he wants to move back to featherweight.  I’m a big fan of fighters fighting at more natural weight classes.  For Brooks, he needs to get back in the win column.  The loss to Alex Oliveira was controversial, but there was nothing controversial in this fight.  Charles Oliveira was just a better fighter Saturday night.

 

UFC 209

Recap of UFC 209 from last weekend.

UFC 209 was a big card that got a lot less big after Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of his fight with Tony Ferguson.  The fights on the main card were decent, aside from the main event.  But the lack of Khabib and Tony really put a pall over the whole thing for me, I was so pumped for that fight that.  Having it fall through the way it did was a huge let down.

I didn’t discuss every fight on the card, just the big name fights.

Stephen Thompson vs Tyron Woodley

This fight was a rematch, and the first bout was a contender for fight of the year last year.  There was a lot of anticipation for the rematch, and the fight itself did not live up at all.  I think I’m a bit unique in the way I appreciate fights.  Any time there’s a big match up, usually a title fight or contender eliminator, I enjoy the fight regardless of how entertaining it is.  This fight is no exception, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time because I care about the welterweight division and the implications of either fighter winning.  That said, the fight itself was truly terrible.  Despite the fact that I was tense on the edge of my seat, if I were to watch it again knowing the outcome, it would be one of the most boring fights ever.

Both fighters were extremely cautious throughout all five rounds.  Woodley turned up the gas in the last round and came close to finishing Thompson, but other than that not much really happened.  I had Thompson winning 3-2 going in to the decision, but it was extremely close.  Hopefully they never book this fight again, as it was a real dog to get through.  I’d like to see Woodley defend against the winner of Masvidal vs Maia and Thompson fight the loser.

Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

This fight didn’t happen.  I was SOOO excited for this fight, it was the main fight I wanted to see on this card.  Khabib had trouble cutting the weight and pulled some shady stuff, and the fight was cancelled.  I don’t know if they’re going to reschedule or what, but I was so bummed out this fight didn’t happen.

Rashad Evans vs Daniel Kelly

This was Rashad‘s first fight at middleweight, and his body looked amazing.  He looked like a natural middleweight.  I’d never seen Kelly before, but he looked like a flabby old man by comparison.  I was shocked when Kelly’s awkward standup pressure neutralized Rashad throughout the first two rounds and into the third.  Rashad starting to figure it out by the end of the third, but by that point it was too late.  Kelly picked up a big decision over Rashad and turned me into a fan in the process.

Alistair Overeem vs Mark Hunt

This fight made me sad.  I have a hard time being a fan of Overeem because of the cheating and his tendency to run away during fights, so I was really pulling for Hunt. Plus Hunt has been treated like crap by the UFC for the past year, and I think he’s absolutely in the right as far as that conflict goes.   I’ve been watching both fighters since the Pride days, so I was really pumped for this one.  Overeem fought a smart fight, he stayed on the outside and used his knees in the clinch.  It was a brutal knockout, and I wonder if maybe age and all of Hunt’s legal troubles affected the outcome at all.  He seemed content to just stalk Overeem and coil up for that one shot that would put Overeem out instead of putting together combinations.

 

UFC 207

A new male bantamweight champ begins his reign while the female bantamweight champ silences doubters.

UFC 207

UFC 207 had a lot of weird build up.  The show was supposed to be Ronda Rousey’s big homecoming.  In the lead up to the fight, Ronda worked out a deal with Dana White so that she wouldn’t have to do any media during fight week.  This lead to the media attention shifting away from Ronda and Amanda Nunes and onto Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt.  This probably led to lower PPV numbers, but the numbers haven’t come out yet.

No one in the histroy of the UFC has ever been granted a media exemption like this before, not even Conor Mcgregor who is arguably a bigger star than Ronda.  Conor was pulled from the biggest card of the year for refusing to do media, so it makes Ronda’s situation last week all the more unusual.  I’m not sure what this means for current and future stars, but the UFC’s hypocrisy is becoming more and more blatant.

Dominick and Cody had several emotional verbal exchanges throughout the week, including one where Cody left an interview to try and physically confront Dominick.  Dominick Cruz is one of my favorite fighters, and his style of trash talk is particularly effective.  It’s much more cerebral than Conor, and I saw that as an asset for Cruz going into the fight.

Amanda Nunes vs Ronda Rousey

Amanda Nunes was the underdog going into this fight.  I don’t bet, but if I did my money was on her to lose.  On paper, Nunes is a great match up for the Ronda Rousey of old.  Nunes is very aggressive, rushes in, and focuses on striking.  These attributes should have played well into Ronda’s game, which is to clinch up, hip toss her opponent to the ground, and arm bar or ground and pound for the finish.  I saw this fight going exactly the way the Cat Zingano fight went, but Amanda Nunes spoiled Ronda’s comeback.

Amanda came out aggressive, and Ronda came out of her corner a shell of her former self.  She looked like an amateur fighting a pro.  She initially tried to strike with Nunes, and when it became clear that Nunes’ striking was light years ahead of Ronda’s, Ronda froze up.  She had no answer for Amanda’s stand up assault.  She tried to clinch briefly before Nunes lit her up and put her away.  I mean, the fight was over in less than a minute.  There’s not much to the fight to analyze, Ronda was just supremely outclassed on the feet.  Why she didn’t shoot for a takedown or tie Nunes up is a mystery.  Some have speculated that Edmond Tarverdyan is the problem, but who knows.  Ronda wanted to stand up with Nunes, and she paid for it dearly.  This was an absolutely embarassing performance for the former champ.

I had a feeling Ronda would retire after this fight, win or lose.  I pictured her winning her belt back and going out on top, but that was not to be.  I hope for her sake she hangs up the gloves after this one.  Either that or change camps, I don’t know much about Edmond or his coaching strategy but he’s clearly not game planning well for her fights.

All of this is to say that Amanda Nunes is the real deal.  She legitimately took out the two biggest female draws in the UFC back to back, and both fights were extremely dominant performances.  Nunes deserves the attention of the media in her next fight and I think she earned the respect of the MMA community in this performance.

Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt

Dominick Cruz is the best bantamweight of all time in my book.  He dominated 135 for years before being sidelined for years.  Those years were in the midst of his prime by the way, he wasted several of his best years with injuries and surgeries.  When he blitzed Mitzugaki in his UFC return, he looked like a killer.  Then he won his belt back from TJ Dillashaw a year ago and defended it agains Uriah Faber.  While he has looked a bit slower than he has in the past, his awkward movement and creative striking remained intact.

Cody Garbrandt is an undefeated fighter who comes from Uriah’s gym.  He basically talked his way into a title shot, there are several guys far more deserving of a shot at the belt.  However, Garbrandt followed Conor Mcgregor’s example and was able to secure his shot.  I haven’t seen a ton of his fights, but from what I’ve seen he looks like a heavy handed power puncher.  The two fights I saw previous to UFC 207 were  both first round knockouts.  He didn’t showcase his cardio or his ground game in those fights, just his power.

I had this fight for Cruz.  I figured that Garbrandt’s relative lack of experience with 5 round fights and Cruz’s cerebral game planning would amount to a decision for Cruz.  What I didn’t expect was for Garbrandt to out strike Cruz throughout a five round fight, but that’s exactly what happened.  The majority of the fight consisted of Cruz moving around Garbrandt, throwing awkward combos and pot shots while Garbrandt patiently waited for openings and capitalized with power punches.  Cruz was knocked down 3 or 4 times in round 4, something that’s never been done to Cruz before.  Garbrandt ended up taking an easy decision to win the belt.  It was an excellent performance from a potential star.  Garbrandt is young and good looking, and if he can work on showing more of his personality he could be the next big UFC star.

Everyone gets old, and I think Cruz is just on the back 9 of his career.  I think he could have beaten Garbrandt on a different night with a different game plan.  He’s still a top 2 or 3 bantamweight.  But we’ve seen this so many times with other fighters, there comes a time where you’re just this much slower than the new guy.  Cruz is the best analyst and commentator aside from Joe Rogan, and I would love to see Cruz step away from competition and focus on his desk duties.  There’s no need to receive any more CTE or brain trauma, Cruz has one of the strongest legacies of any UFC champion, and a loss to Cody Garbrandt does nothing to tarnish that legacy.

TJ Dillashaw vs John Lineker

I saw this fight as a very similar matchup to the Cruz vs Garbrandt fight, stylistically.  TJ Dillashaw has adapted much of what makes Cruz such a great fighter, he has great head and foot movement, and his striking has been phenomenal since he started working with Duane Ludwig.  John Lineker is what I thought Garbrandt was, a somewhat one dimensional fighter who relies on power over technique to headhunt his opponents.

This is the only fight that I called correctly out of the three big fights on the PPV.  TJ was able to outwork Lineker on the feet using his movement, and he took Lineker down at will throughout the fight.  The entire fight was either Dillashaw outstriking Lineker, or Dillashaw dominating Lineker on the ground.  TJ even went after a calf slicer, a submission we rarely see in the UFC.  Lineker found his range with one combo at the end of the third round, but a few shots to TJ’s midsection does not erase the last 14:30 of the fight.  TJ earned a one sided unanimous decision over Lineker.

TJ vs Garbrandt is the fight to make.  There’s a built in storyline as the two used to train together, so the fight is already marketable.  On top of that, TJ is clearly the number one contender to the belt.  If Cruz was a little more competitive in his fight with Grabrandt, I could see an immediate rematch.  But he wasn’t, and TJ has been on fire ever since he took the belt from Barao. His only loss was to Cruz, and that decision was razor close.  An argument could easily be made that he won that fight.  It’s rare these days that the challenger for a belt is the actual, legitimate number one contender rather than  a marketable marquee name.  This matchup just so happens to be both, and I’d be shocked if TJ doesn’t get his shot.

UFC 206

A lackluster card on paper turns into one of the best cards of the year.

Dang, UFC 206 was supposed to suck.  Originally this was supposed to be the card to showcase GSP‘s return to fighting.  The UFC and GSP could never come to terms (and they’re still negotiating a potential return) so Cormier and Johnson were elevated to main event status.  While that is a matchup that excites MMA hardcores, neither one of those guys has the drawing power of Conor or Ronda.  None of the fighters on the card had much drawing power at all, and when Cormier had to pull out a few weeks ago, some in the MMA media speculated this card could be pulled from PPV and put on Fox.  You never know what’s going to happen in MMA, and while this card may not have had a lot of star power, it more than compensated when it came to the actual fights.

Holloway vs. Pettis

Max Holloway‘s star is on the rise.  He was on a 9 fight winning streak coming into this fight with an abundance of confidence and momentum behind him.  Anthony Pettis on the other hand is a former champ who was 1-3 in his last 4 fights.  He was hoping a drop to 145 would rejuvenate his career.  This fight was Holloway’s to lose, and he absolutely delivered.

Holloway is a natural 145 fighter.  His body belongs in that division.  Pettis is a 155 fighter, and his body is simply too big for 145.  He weighed in three pounds over the limit after a gruesome weight cut.  That cut showed in the fight.  Holloway looked faster, stronger, and more fluid throughout the fight.  Pettis looked slower and drained.  Pettis had never been stopped before this fight, and Holloway put him away in the third.  As much as this fight solidified Holloway as the number one contender to the “undisputed” 145 king Jose Aldo, this fight also exposed how far Pettis has fallen in the fight game.  There was a time not so long ago that he was thought of as one of the best fighters in the world.  He was on the Wheaties box for crying out loud.  His fall from elite level competitorship is on par with Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.

Cerrone vs. Brown

Both of these guys are in my top 10 favorite fighters.  They’re both known for wild, explosive fights.  Matt Brown is reaching the end of his career, while Cowboy has been putting lightweights and welterweights away left and right the last few years.  Going into this fight, Cowboy was 11-1 in his past 12, with his only loss being a title fight at lightweight.  I think most people had this fight called for Cerrone, but the fight itself delivered.  It was almost entirely contested on the feet and both guys got their shots in.  In the end, Cowboy is on his way up and Brown is on his way down.  Cowboy finished Brown with a brutal headkick in the third.  As much as it sucks to see Brown lose his third in a row, I can’t wait to see what’s next for Cowboy.  Hopefully we see him in a number one contender fight with Demian Maia next.

Swanson vs. Choi

I’d only seen Choi fight once before this fight, and I was amazed by his performance.  The guy looks like he’s 12 years old and he knocked out Thiago Tavares in the first.  He seriously looks like an innocent little boy, but he’s starching legitimate featherweights and making it look easy.  Cub Swanson is a veteran fighter and this was the first true test for Choi.  This was my most anticipated fight on the card, and it turned out to be a fight of the year candidate.  Throughout this fight, both guys landed vicious combinations on each other.  There were multiple times where it looked like one or the other was going to be finished by strikes.  The fight was back and forth and both guys got their licks in.  In the end, Swanson was able to get in the better shots and take the unanimous decision.  His creative striking helped keep Choi moving backward and reacting to Swanson.  I’d love to see this fight again, and I get the feeling this loss is only going to make Choi better.

Kennedy vs. Gastelum

This was a tough one to watch.  Tim Kennedy has been off for two years since fighting Yoel Romero at stoolgate, a fight he should have won but didn’t.  Kelvin Gastelum has missed weight multiple times at 170, the most recent time being last month at UFC 205.  It’s hard to root for a guy who repeatedly ruins fight cards.  I was hoping this would be a return to form for Kennedy, as I’m a huge fan.  Alas, Gastelum is a legitimate threat at either welterweight or middleweight, and he was able to keep the fight on the feet where he outstruck Kennedy to a third round stoppage.  You can try and justify it by saying Kennedy was distracted with the MMAAA or a two year layoff, but you can’t deny Gastelum fought an excellent fight against a tough opponent.  Just like Cerrone and Brown, Gastelum is on his way up and Kennedy is on his way down.

More About Me

More Disclosure

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure how much of myself I would be identifying.  I kept a lot of my personal information separate from the blog.  I’m still going to continue to do that, but I figured if someone were to read this blog it would make sense to have a little more context about who I am.

Marriage

I’m a married man in my mid 20’s.  I have a beautiful wife who I love very much.  She and I are high school sweethearts, we’ve been together for over 10 years and married for 5.  Marriage has provided us many challenges, but we’ve always learned and grown through tough experiences.  My wife has had several health complications in the time we’ve been together including Type 1 diabetes, a thyroid condition, and a brain disorder.  The brain disorder was easily the most difficult for us to overcome.  She was in a wheelchair for a while, she had several brain surgeries, but eventually she came out of it free and clear.  

I love my wife very much.  However, there are a lot of struggles that come with being with the same person for so long.  I’ve always heard those old adages proclaiming the difficulty of marriage, but none of those things seem real when you’re newly in love.  Slowly, with time, those adages prove true.  My wife and I have been working on our communication skills for the past year or two as our poor communication has caused many unnecessary arguments and complications.  We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor for a while.  When I tell people that, everyone thinks we’re on the verge of divorce.  We started going to this counselor when we were in a particularly rough patch, but now we just go for maintenance.  There’s nothing wrong with therapy, and I would encourage everyone to see someone on a semi regular basis just to make sure you’re communicating properly, even if you’re not having trouble in your relationship.  We’ve gained a lot of new skills together, but we still struggle.  Just yesterday we got in an argument over a new couch we were putting together.  It came back to poor communication, even though we have all these new skills from the therapist.  Neither one of us is perfect, and we still fail sometimes even when we have all the tools we need to work well together.  

I’m coming to realize there’s a huge difference between new puppy love and a love that endures over many years of hardship and struggle.  Puppy love is fun and exciting, but long term love that grows and progresses and changes is really fulfilling.  I’m married to a great woman.

Work

I currently work in I.T. as a senior analyst for a local government entity.  I’ve been working this job for seven years.  I enjoy I.T. and I’m good at it, but I went to school for business. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and a masters degree in accounting.  I picked accounting when I was in college because I had to pick a major and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet.  I wish that I had taken a few years off from school and figured out what I really want.  If I had done that, right now I would have a degree that I’d actually use, instead of a giant pile of debt.

My job is great in that I get to have my hand in almost every aspect of running the I.T. infrastructure of a medium sized business.  Right now I’m focused on server administration and application development, but I’ve worked on routers and switches, SAN’s, backups, antivirus, VMWare, virtual desktops, telecom, etc.  My job is not so great in that the work environment can be pretty frustrating.

My boss is a huge fan of the Tony Robbins stereotypical motivation speakers.  He wants to improve and excel, and that includes every aspect of our work.  This is great when you first start working here. I like to improve myself as well, so I was looking forward to working for this guy.  The problem comes when he doesn’t know how to turn it off.  Every conversation turns into “I just want us to do better” and “we could have done this or that better” or “I know you’re trying but I just need a little more from you.”  One of these conversations is not a big deal, but when you get that every time you submit a completed project or a task to him, it becomes demoralizing.  We’re currently hemorrhaging I.T. staff, and it’s primarily due to how his management style tends to burn people out.  You never feel good enough, no matter how well you perform at your job.  I am totally on board with self-improvement, with providing excellent customer service, and continuously progressing my skills.  But I also need a little positive energy sometimes too, instead of always feeling like I’m almost doing a good job.    

I’m currently working on developing my web development skills in pursuit of changing careers.  It’s pretty intimidating, I have a good job with a lot of built in security and a pension.  Leaving the government position is going to be hard, but now that I know I have a passion for web development I hope that I will be happier.  The difficult part right now is finding the time outside of work to develop those skills.  I’m staring at a computer screen 40-50 hours a week, and it can be challenging to come home after a 10 hour day and go right back to a screen.  Not only a screen, but using my brain to learn new things.  If I didn’t have so much debt built up from my online degrees and my wife’s nursing school, I’d quit right now and spend those 40-50 hours a week learning new web dev skills and building a portfolio.  Alas, for the foreseeable future I’ll just have to slowly chip away at it.

Hobbies

I don’t want to go too in depth on this as I’m assuming this is the majority of what I’ll be writing about here on the blog.  Here are the big topics though:

Guitar/Music

I’ve been playing the guitar off and on for about 13 years.  My uncle gave me an electric guitar when I was a teenager and I fell in love immediately.  I love any kind of guitar based music.  My parents introduced me to a wide range of music when I was younger, but I always tended towards heavier guitar music.  In the last few years I got really deep into metal music, so that’s primarily what I’ve been listening to.  In fact, that bullshit faux-intellectual blog name actually came from me trying to find a unique domain name.  I was listening to this song and just played around with some of the lyrics until I found something unique.

Fantasy Novels

In my last post, I gave my personal reading history with some specific fantasy authors.  I got into Lord of the Rings when I was young, and it made a huge impression on me.  I’ve been obsessed with fantasy literature ever since.  I definitely enjoy fantasy over sci-fi, but I sneak in a sci-fi book here and there.  I view fantasy books like I view T.V.  It’s cheap entertainment that lets me escape the mundanity of life.  I don’t read these books to gain anything significant out of them (aside from Erikson and Bakker, those dudes have poignant perspectives).  I do read non-fiction sometimes as well, usually when I’m really interested in something in the news.  I actually just finished reading the Rational Optimist, which is a great book on how much better life is now than it has ever been in human history.  I read this after a particularly negative conversation with my mother in law about how dangerous it is to let kids play outside 🙂

MMA

I’m not big into sports.  I watched every Bulls game in the ’90’s, but outside of that I’ve never been very interested in sports on the whole.  The large glaring exception to that is MMA.  My dad has been watching the UFC since it started in 1993, and I’ve been hooked on it my entire life.  I am a practicing christian, but I watch MMA religiously.  I follow my favorite fighters/bloggers on twitter, I have an RSS specifically for MMA news, I watch every single event on Fox and on Pay per View.  I already posted about Cyborg’s most recent UFC win and I guarantee you I’ll be posting about big events pretty regularly.  Speaking of which, UFC 204 is this weekend.  Watch for that H-bomb.

Video Games

I’ve been playing video games all my life.  We were poor growing up, but every once in awhile my parents would rent a Nintendo from the video store for the weekend.  I eventually got a Playstation when I got older, and played games fairly consistently since then.  I’ve always tended more towards story based games over games that are primarily concerned with mechanics.  For example, I’d pick Final Fantasy over Call of Duty pretty much any day.  

 

Anyway, that’s probably enough background on me for the purposes of this blog.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m writing this blog for two reasons: to familiarize myself with WordPress in pursuit of a career in web development, and because I’ve been journaling recently and it’s helped me to express myself emotionally a little better.  I don’t intend to advertise this blog or make any money off of it, it’s mostly just for my own edification.  If someone ends up reading it, that’s cool but I’m not really interested in making myself beholden to an audience.  I’m just going to write what I want to write, and hopefully be a better person for it.

Cyborg Strikes Again

UFC Fight Night 956 was last night.  Cris Cyborg headlined her first UFC event, Renan Barao looked for his first win at featherweight, and Roy Nelson and Bigfoot Silva squared off in a heavyweight battle on the feet.


Cyborg

Cyborg is the best female fighter in the world.  I don’t think that’s deniable anymore.  She walked through Lina Lansberg like she wasn’t even trying.  Lansberg was never in the fight, she looked like she was just riding the bull for as long as she could before she fell off.  Cyborg held her up against the cage for most of the fight in between brutal combinations to Lansberg’s face and body.  Cyborg also dominated the two ground exchanges.  She easily held top position and worked her ground and pound.

One of the highly publicized aspects of last night’s event was Cyborg’s weight cut.  She had over 25 pounds to cut as of Monday on the MMA Hour.  I’m not sure why, but the UFC keeps insisting that she fight at a catchweight of 140.  It’s unneccessary, there are girls willing to fight her at 145.  It seems like the UFC is trying to punish her for not making the Ronda fight happen at 135.

Cyborg’s last loss was 11 years ago.  Aside from testing positive in 2011, she hasn’t lost a fight since then.  Ronda was a dominant champion, but she was completely dismantled by Holly Holm last November.  The UFC needs to give Cyborg a division that she can compete in without completely draining her body.  She’s already a draw, I don’t understand why Dana White is so resistant to the idea.  If he can sell a smaller division like 115, I would think 145 with a guaranteed star would be a slam dunk.

Renan Barao

After going 1-3 in his last 4, Barao needed this win bad.  If nothing else, just to build his confidence back up.  He was considered one of the top 3 pound for pound best fighters for a decade, and the two losses to T.J. Dillashaw seem to have left him a different fighter.  The air of invincibility is gone, and he looked tentative and slow against Jeremy Stephens a few months ago in his debut at 145. Beating a guy like Phillipe Nover is exactly what Barao needed now.

Barao looked faster in almost all of the exchanges on the feet with Nover.  He consistently countered with hard shots and combinations and made Nover look slow in comparison.  Nover landed some shots as well, but Barao was clearer landing more signifcant shots throughout the fight.  If there was any doubt who won the standup exchanges, Barao’s takedowns cinched the fight for him, getting him a much needed first win at featherweight.

Roy Nelson and Bigfoot

Both these guys needed a win last night.  The heavyweight division is full of aging fighters, and Roy and Bigfoot have both been on the losing end of their fights over the last few years.  Both fighters have had a couple wins here and there, but overall they’ve both been losing more than they’ve been winning.  Bigfoot was in a worse position, losing his last three in a row.

The first round saw both guys throwing heavy leather and doing their best to avoid taking damage.  At heavyweight, all it takes is one punch, and both guys have one punch knockout power.  In the end, it was Roy who was able to connect and put down Bigfoot.  Bigfoot’s chin is just gone, he hasn’t been able to take a decent shot for years.  It might be time for him to think about hanging up the gloves.

Roy looked good last night, if I were him I’d angle for a fight with Ben Rothwell to move closer to a title shot.  There are several guys ahead of him right now, but a win over Rothwell next would put him at 3-1 in his last four.  That might be enough to talk his way into an elimination bout for a title shot.