UFC 130 had a lot of fans rolling off this couches in a particularly grumpy mood Saturday night which may or may not be justified. What it does highlight though is just how much a card rests upon its top two fights. Imagine if Nelson/Mir and Rampage/Hamill had actual drama and intrigue, imagine if Hamill come up with a plan B and had Nelson done a little bit of cardio work. I think in that case nobody would have had anything to complain about, but as it were this event left people with a nasty taste in their mouth which is probably not what the UFC needs right now as they move towards another card in two weeks that had their main event altered when their biggest money maker, Brock Lesnar, had to step aside due to his recurring medical condition. Be that as it may here are ten thoughts to chew on as we say goodbye to UFC 130 and start looking ahead to The Ultimate Finale 13.
1. As a rule I hate analysis that sound something like this, “I’m too lazy to actually interpret what I’m seeing so I, the armchair quarterback, am just going to say that person/team X isn’t trying hard enough.” That said I don’t know what else we could take away from Matt Hamill’s performance in the main event. Obviously the man is a wrestler and obviously Rampage Jackson knows that and prepared for that. Still how could Hamill attempt 16 takedowns and score on none of them? And worse, when that plan went bust he was happy to just stand and bang with Rampage and try to knock him out (because that strategy always works). I like Hamill and we all know the backstory of how he landed in this position in the first place but I have to say that he left me with a feeling of disappointment in my gut.
2. Sticking with the main event, to me that fight was far worse than the GSP/Jake Shields boxing match we got at UFC 129 but somehow I suspect that the fans will give Rampage a free pass and not complain that he was unable to finish Hamill. He was also, not that we’re counting, unable to finish Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans (mainly because he lost), or Keith Jardine. Still I’ve yet to hear criticism #1 from that same peanut gallery who spent the week after Toronto eviscerating the welterweight champ for his “unwillinginess” to finish.
3. Probably the stupidest thing to roll through the blogosphere this week would be the idea that somehow Travis Browne wronged or assaulted Stefan Struve post knockout by adding a hammerfist to the mix. I think we all understand by now that until the ref calls a halt to the action you need to do everything you can to finish your opponent. This fight took place on the main card of a UFC PPV, truly the stakes couldn’t be much higher, and yet some are going to try and make some grand point about violence in an inherently violent sport. If you think that Browne’s hammerfists were uncalled for then you need to lay that at the steps of referee Steve Mazzagatti.
4. I for one am very much in favor of every single UFC fight ever being broadcast in one capacity or another. I don’t think that Facebook is necessarily the best outlet but that is neither here nor there. Tonight’s Facebook prelims though were rather dull. We did get to see Gleison Tibau’s Submission of the Night (mainly because it was the only submission of the night) and more of Michael McDonald’s ascendency to the top of the Bantamweight division. But despite these fights being less than jaw dropping we should all applaud the UFC in getting more of their product out there to us, their hungry fans.
5. I would like to openly admit that I have wrongly doubted the skill level of Brian Stann. I’ve picked against him in each of his last two fights in picks that I thought were sure bets. His utter domination of Jorge Santiago was shocking considering that Santiago came in a winner of 11 out of his last 12 fights. I think we can probably look forward to him possibly being in a title eliminator in the coming weeks possibly against the winner of the Demian Maia and Mark Munoz at UFC 131.
6. That said I would also like to say that Stann’s military service has been completely overhyped and his character is skating dangerously close to 1980’s WWF stereotype territory. Do we really think that next time we see Jacob Volkmann that the UFC will trumpet his medical/educational pursuits in quite the same way that they bullhorn Stann’s other career? Of course not even though there is a case to be made that those services are much more noble, and that is because Dana White and the UFC are smart enough to know that a love affair with the military is very good for business.
7. There has been a ton of talk about Roy Nelson’s “embarrassing” gassed out performance this past weekend and the conventional wisdom solution seems to be that he should drop to 205. That seems like a pretty massive weight cut to me not to mention that so much of his game is built around using that frame. Remember the Kimbo Slice fight? All he had to do was score one takedown and position that gigantic belly just right and the fight was over. Sure, it was boring but it also wasn’t because of the magnitude of what we were seeing. White has said that he has a meeting with Nelson this week and I think the assumption is he will encourage him to drop down in class which will be very interesting theatre though probably not the wisest think Nelson could do going forward.
8. I was also glad to see Dana White come out yesterday and admit that perhaps he was a little hard on Frank Mir in the post-fight press conference. Nobody is going to get out there and say that the co-main event was in any way a quality piece of MMA, but Mir did devise and execute a perfect gameplan. And I know that White reference the UFC 119 main event where Mir and Cro Cop went out there and played footsie for two and a half rounds, but to me that was actually offensive whereas his most recent fight wasn’t because I truly got the impression that from bell to bell both those guys cared about winning.
9. Last go round I had a beef with the knockout of the night, here that was pretty clear cut (Browne’s mauling of Struve) as was the submission of the night (Tibau’s aforementioned rear naked choke) but fight of the night somehow ended up going to the Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago contest that, to my eyes at least, was pretty one sided. I was much more partial to the Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story stand up war that went the distance. Story’s early dominance probably worked against it but Alves’ comeback in the final stanza wherein he landed vicious shot after vicious shot to Story’s jaw was thrilling. I would never be so crude though to suggest that perhaps the decision had something to do it being Memorial Day weekend.
10. Finally I’d like to give kudos out to Tim Boetsch and his dominant victory over Kendall Grove on the Spike prelim portion of the card. Last we saw Boetsch he was being devoured by the upwardly mobile Phil Davis but now, after dropping to Middleweight, he was able to use his weight and size advantage to smoother the smaller Hawaiian and score a 30-27 across the board shut out.