Heading into UFC 131 this weekend there were a lot of topics worth examining and debating. How good is Diego Nunes and what happens to Kenny Florian if he cannot get past him? Dos Santos’ chin or Carwin’s fist. . .who ya got? Why did this Jon (or should I say “John”) Olav Einemo get a first class ticket onto a UFC main card when he hasn’t competed in professional MMA for five years? More importantly how he will look against another highly touted heavyweight prospect? What we didn’t have were intriguing fights, instead we had tons of last minute replacements and deck shuffling and mismatches. The card itself really couldn’t even stand up to the dismal card from two weeks ago at UFC 130 and neither of them are nearly as good as next weekend’s Strikeforce show. Now after watching the event I personally feel as though the show turned out to be pretty much exactly what I thought it would be (mediocre) but I also know that a lot of people really enjoyed it. And as usual with a big UFC card win, lose or draw we have a multitude of storylines to examine and psychoanalyze, sooner rather than later because remember we have Overeem vs. Werdum right around the corner and we need to start focusing on that.
1. Just as I thought he would Junior Dos Santos used the main event to pick apart and beat up on Shane Carwin to re-establish himself as the number one contender. Only, as we have known all along, he was already the number one contender thanks to his victory over Roy Nelson last summer. So what does the UFC gain from lying to us and acting like he was the newly crowned contender as opposed to somebody who had just defended his title shot? I mean even the WWE is pretty good about keeping their number one contender’s straight and when you lag behind them in the honesty department it is perhaps time to start looking inward.
2. Speaking of fixed finishes I’d like to jump now to the opening fight of the evening as Darren Elkins took on Michihiro Omigawa. Elkins won, by unanimous decision no less, in what was considered to be a controversial decision. On my scorecard I had it 29-28 for Omigawa. Sure he probably got ripped off but what worries me is the UFC’s attitude surrounding the entire fight. Go back and listen to Joe Rogan’s commentary during the fight. He was relentless in discussing just how much better Omigawa was doing than Elkins, so much so that I began to question what I was watching. Am I crazy? Did Omigawa just dominate that round even though my brain tells me to give it to Elkins? Then post-fight Dana White came out trashed the judges (they had a very rough night, I’ll agree with that) and then said that the UFC would internally be treating the fight like an Omigawa win and would pay him his win bonus. But as we all know there can’t be a winner unless there is a loser so does Darren Elkins now get credited with a loss in the mind of Dana White? And really, isn’t this a very slippery slope (damn the athletic commissions, we don’t care what they have to say) and in reality bringing us one step closer to the UFC being the body than declares the winners?
3. Since the award bonuses are such a hot topic for me, and since I am always belly achin’ about them I would like to point out that for once the UFC got it right. Granted the knockout was beyond obvious and they only had two submissions to pick from (even though Rogan claimed on air that there was only 1 all night…what about Nick Ring…how am I supposed to trust you people?). But I really think they shined in picking the Einemo/Herman back and forth war as the Fight of the Night. And this was after I had questioned their decision to leave it on the main card while also leaving Dustin Poirier on the Facebook portion of the card, but it all worked out in the end and I wanted to congratulate them.
4. Elkins/Omigawa has nothing on what I would declare the real head scratcher of a move by the ringside judges, and that would be the decision by Doc Hamilton to give the first round in the Demian Maia/Mark Munoz fight to Munoz. I don’t know what to add to the story that hasn’t already been said by others, including Dana White, only to reinforce the idea that yes, he did indeed screw up. No harm because Munoz won the fight on everybody’s cards, including my own, but what if that third round had been a tad more competitive? And I think that is a theme for the night, outside of Omigawa nobody really got screwed but there were a whole lot of nonsensical decisions being made nonetheless.
5. I think we would all agree that the highlight of the night came on the Spike TV prelims when Sam Stout earned his first ever stoppage victory in the Octagon in his 11th UFC fight. It was a perfect punch that landed milliseconds after one of Yves Edwards had also connected, and was sure to heighten the experience for everybody who was watching. However, some have gone out of their way to overly praise Stout for not continuing to land punches after he noticed that Edwards was cold. Maybe I’m a bit of an optimist but I think that for the most part the guys that the UFC employs are not there to inflict bodily harm and that if they know that somebody is out they will not continue to hurt that person. Sure there are some exceptions but having the UFC institute some policy in which people who do not hit an unconscious opponent are rewarded financially is hardly going to change that.
6. As a big fan of Donald Cerrone and a mild fan of Mac Danzig I was a little bit relieved to hear than Danzig had pulled out of their original fight that was to happen last night and in his place would be stepping Vagner Rocha. Of course the downside to all this was that we got a rather dull fight in which the only drama was whether or not Rocha would be forced to tap to the acidic leg kicks that Cerrone was landing at will. But Cerrone looked good and I was happy to see him remain on the winning track.
7. I’m already seven items in and only now am I finding the inspiration to mention the Florian/Nunes fight. I have nothing against it, truly, but it proceeded so predictably that it is hardly worth mentioning. Nunes came out ready to rumble and proved his worthiness by taking the first round. From there Florian found his groove, sliced open his head with an elbow and dominated the rest of the way on his way to claiming an implied title fight with Jose Aldo as soon as he is healthy again.
8. I don’t know about you but I fell pretty hard for the Aaron Rosa/Joey Beltran battle very early on the card. I’m well aware that what we really had was just two fatties out there throwing wild punches hoping to score a knockout, there was nothing beautiful or technical about it, but on a 12 fight card don’t we have room for one or two those? Of course Rogan oversold the whole deal but I’m going to give him a pass because it is not like he only gets out there and shills for the crappy slugfests, he is more than willing to go to bat for the seemingly boring grappling marathons and I think we should all let him have this small indulgence.
9. I would like to say that the UFC’s obsession with finishing fights has clearly bled through their product a little with fighters like Donald Cerrone and Krzysztof Soszynski apologizing to the fans for not finishing their fights. However when taken in conjunction with all of the fist pounding Dana White did about the judging I’m not sure the whole picture makes sense. Wouldn’t it actually be in White’s interest, since he seems only interested in finished fights, to keep mum about the bad judging so as to passively aggressively encourage his fighters to finish so as not to have to deal with those crazy, wacky judges who just do the darndest things.
10. I do think one of the most interesting thing to come out of this card is Munoz’s victory and how it will influence the coming fights that get booked in the middleweight division. I’d be happy to next see him in a title eliminator fight possibly against Brian Stann or possibly against the winner of Michael Bisping/Jason Miller fight. I was impressed with his victory though do think that mystery stagger he did in the opening seconds after getting slapped upside the head might portend to larger chin problems that he may have.
Tags: Aaron Rosa, Darren Elkins, Dave Herman, Demian Maia, Diego Nunes, Donald Cerrone, Joey Beltran, Jon Olav Einemo, Junior dos Santos, Kenny Florian, Mark Munoz, Michihiro Omigawa, Sam Stout, shane carwin, Vagner Rocha, Yves Edwards