Sunday, October 25, 2009

UFC 104: 10 Things I Learned Last Night

1. Shogun Was Robbed

Before the scores were read, I turned to my wife and said, "49-46 Shogun," feeling that was an accurate result of the fight I just watched. When Bruce Buffer announced all three judges scoring the bout 48-47, I was even okay with that.

Then he said Lyoto Machida was the winner and I was thoroughly confused.

For years we've been told that being the aggressor, landing the harder strikes and generally inflicting more damage is what leads to victory inside the Octagon. Apparently we never saw the asteriks and the fine print that says, "except if you're fighting the champion we just spent six months building up."

2. Newsflash: We Have Judging Issues

This certainly isn't brand new information, but when the Main Event of a UFC card draws as much attention for what many, including company President Dana White, saw as the wrong decision, something seriously needs to be done.

Last night's decision trumps the Chase Beebe / Mike Easton in that it took place on the biggest stage of them all. Two judges saw it the exact same way, with Cecil Peoples and Marcos Rosales giving Machida the first three rounds.

Somehow, judge Nelson Hamilton saw the fourth round for the champ, despite the fact that it was clearly the challenger's best round.

Honestly, I could go on for hours with this one and will be talking about it at length tomorrow, so I'll leave it at this: we gotta get this nonsense figured out and stop having these brutal decisions.

3. Welcome to the Big Leagues, Cain Velasquez

I'll be honest: I didn't think Cain Velasquez was ready yet. I also don't mind telling you I was dead wrong.

The AKA and Arizona State product dominated every minute of his fight with Ben Rothwell, setting the frantic pace he always does and overwhelming the overmatched former IFL titlest. Now, the question is what's next?

Originally slated to face Shane Carwin, Velasquez seems like the logical challenger for whoever emerges from UFC 106 with the shiny, gold belt around their waist. While the UFC might choose to go with the older, more experienced "Minotauro" Nogueira, Cain will certainly get his chance in the near future.

Don't be surprised if he makes the most of it.

4. Anthony Johnson, Middleweight

Injury or not, you don't head into camp looking to drop 50 pounds. While cutting weight in general isn't all that good for you, dropping those kind of lbs is big-time dicey.

All fighters want to gain whatever advantage they can and being the bigger fighter is certainly one of them. But Johnson was six pounds over, walks around above 200 pounds and has the frame, talent and overall athleticism to seemlessly move to 185 and maintain the hype he currently holds.

That being said, "Rumble" didn't sound like he was in any hurry to jump up in class after perfectly recreating the fight scene from Josh Koscheck vs. "Zenko" Yoshida from UFC Fight for the Troops.

5. How Does Josh Neer Still Have No Takedown Defense?

Last time he set foot in the Octagon, Kurt Pellegrino used superior wrestling abilities and myriad takedowns to score a Unanimous Decision victory over the Miletich Fighting Systems product known as "The Dentist."

So when he agreed to replace Sean Sherk against Gleison Tibau, I expected he would be prepared for the myriad takedown attempts that would be coming courtesy of the American Top Team lightweight gorilla.

In a word: Nope. Time after time like Cyndi Lauper, Tibau took Neer to the mat, scoring points en route to a clean sweep on the judges' scorecards.

Apparently, Josh Neer needs to stop agreeing to fight guys who like to work on the ground because he's apparently not planning on improving his takedown defense any time soon.

6. Welcome Back, Joe Daddy

Two fights into his time at Greg Jackson's in Alburquerque and Joe Stevenson looks to be back in the form that made him The Ultimate Fighter and a perennial top contender in the lightweight division.

He outworked and outclassed Spencer Fisher, taking the fight to the floor in the second round and pinning "The King" in an Ivan Salaverry-esque crucifix before forcing Herb Dean to stop the fight.

With back-to-back solid performances, Stevenson is back into the mix at 155. While he's not quite at championship contender level, he's certainly back in the conversation and one more good win could put him back into the title picture.

7. Really? Chael Sonnen?

Yushin Okami had all of one loss in the UFC heading into last night's action, that coming at the hands of former Middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Far more people were stumping for "Thunder" to receive the title shot he had to forgo due to injury than were picking Chael Sonnen.

Then the longtime Team Quest member came out and dominated his Japanese counterpart from the opening bell, securing his second consecutive upset and putting himself into the upper tier of talent in the UFC middleweight division.

Not that Sonnen is a slouch; after all, this is a former Olympic wrestler and the rightful last WEC middleweight champion, but he looked so bad against Demian Maia that back-to-back wins over Dan Miller and Yushin Okami weren't what you would call expected.

While Sonnen goes up the ladder, where Okami goes from here is anyone's guess. Chances are far fewer people will be calling for Main Card fights and title shots any time soon.

8. Stefan Struve Keeps Improving

Maybe Struve looked so bad against Junior dos Santos because "Cigano" is one of the top talents in the UFC heavyweight division, because for the second consecutive fight, the incredibly lanky youngster from The Netherlands looked really good.

Now, Dennis Stojnic and Chase Gormley are far from upper echelon fighters, but Struve has battled through a bad cut against Stojnic and secured back-to-back submission wins.

At just 21-years-old, "Skyscraper" has certainly shown promise heading into 2010.

9. Tough Night of Picking Fights

The aforementioned Cain Velasquez looked great and more than spoiled my Ben Rothwell upset pick, while the rest of the night was a 50/50 split, leaving me 5-6 for the evening.

Honestly, I feel a little dirty even saying I went 5-6 because really, if judges Hamilton, Peoples and Rosales would have scored the fight the rest of us watched, I would have gone 4-7 and that is not so hot at all.

10. There Is No Way Machida Won That Fight

Not to beat a dead horse, but honestly, there is no way for anyone to convince me that Lyoto Machida won that fight.

Yes, the champ landed some solid counterstrikes and did his karate thing as best as he could, but Shogun landed kick after leg-bruising kick, nulifying Machida's trademark elusiveness and connecting on the champion more than his previous UFC opponents combined.

Seriously, everyone had the fight in favor of Rua; Dana White, Fight Metric, you, me, everyone in the crowd and countless others. Everyone but the three blind mice sitting ringside.


  1. What would you recommend for something like this? I missed the fights, so I have no concept of how badly it went for Machida.

    What can we do to stop this miserable judging escapade?

  2. Education and training are the only things that are truly going to help keep this from happening over and over again.

    To me it's the same as officiating; we need to ensure that these men and women are getting the best training imaginable, are tested routinely to validate their positions and work with them when they make errors to prevent it from happening again in the future.


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