Saturday, December 5, 2009

10 Things We Learned from the TUF 10 Finale

1. Roy Nelson, Ultimate Fighter

"Big Country" was the big favorite heading in to Season 10 and made all those who were betting the chalk come away winners, as the former IFL champion knocked out Brendan Schaub to claim the six-figure contract and entry into the UFC.

For those who have lamented Nelson's fat belly tactics, this fight showed there is far more in the arsenal of the newest member of the UFC family than smothering his opponents with his Burger King belly.

What comes next for Nelson will be interesting; he is a legitimate Top 25 heavyweight with a fairly complete game, so if ever there was a TUF winner who could be thrown to the fire without concern, it's Nelson. Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos both need opponents...

2. Despite the DQ, Jon Jones Looked Awesome

The letter of the law was rightfully enforced and instant replay was used for the first time to determine the decision, resulting in the first loss of Jon Jones' career.

That said, damn did that boy look good!

Two things I especially liked that might go unmentioned amidst the disqualification / rules / unnecessary complaining about Steve Mazzagatti: one, Jones shock off that early Hamill single leg pretty easily, which is impressive as hell and two, that sequence of clinch / takedown / mount / beatdown was as fluid as I've seen in a while and the kid is only 22.

You can officially remove the prospect tag from Jon Jones; he's no longer a future contender. The future is now.

3. About That Ruling

As I said, the letter of the law was followed and it resulted in "Bones" Jones being disqualified.

Personally, I understand the ruling and won't ramble on about things too much, other than to say that while the elbow certainly landed and did damage, Hamill was done. He apparently broke his shoulder, so that probably had a thing or two to do with his inability to continue.

Hypothetically speaking, if the elbow doesn't occur and Hamill makes it through the round, he doesn't get off the stool to start the second round. While the ruling was by the book, it will go down as one of those "he lost, but not really" type deals.

4. Apparently I Have No Idea How to Score Fights

See, I had the Kimbo - Houston Alexander fight 29-28 Alexander with Kimbo obviously earning the nod in Round 2. As for the other two rounds, I'm not sure how he takes either of them, yet alone both on one judges' card.

Round 1 saw Kimbo do absolutely nothing for more than half the round, while Alexander did the bare minimum, throwing a couple leg kicks. Neither fighter gained any real dominant position or landed any serious blows, so Alexander gets a boring 10-9 for initiating with the crappy leg kicks.

To me, Round 3 had two big moments: the one where Alexander knocked Kimbo down with a leg kick, leaving Kimbo in obvious discomfort on the ground and the late elbow Kimbo ate to close the round. Everything else was kind of a wash, with both guys gassed and failing to land anything really serious. Another 10-9 for "The Assassin" on my card.

Apparently, I saw something different than the three people sitting cage side charged with scoring the fight. Despite my lack of judging certification, I'm not sure I'm the one who got it wrong.

5. More Kimbo to Come

Kimbo winning was honestly my worst nightmare come to life, because it means we're going to be forced to endure more Kimbo Mania courtesy of the UFC.

Since more people are interested in watching Kimbo fight just about anyone than the best heavyweight in the sport battle an undefeated up-and-comer, Kimbo will continue to take up featured space on Fight Night cards and perhaps pay-per-view events moving forward.

My question to the UFC is: Who do you force feed to him now?

Houston Alexander was supposed to be the perfect opponent, and that just backfired miserably.

My early prediction: Seth Petruzelli and tons of people will tune in for no apparent reason.

6. Isn't Heavyweight 206 and Up?

Last I checked, that was how it worked, so why exactly was this considered a catchweight bout?

I know the answer is that they agreed to an upper weight limit, but honestly, since we knew neither guy was going to come in super huge (Kimbo had fought around 235 max previously), why not just do this at heavyweight?

Alexander will continue to fight at light heavyweight, though this performance may be his swan song with the UFC, where Kimbo fights in the future is a mystery. He apparently hated trying to cut weight all week, but being a smaller heavyweight isn't a great idea these days.

Unless the UFC decides to go forward with the oft-discussed "middle heavyweight division," Kimbo is going to have to get used to cutting weight or take his chances against the big boys.

Neither sound all that appealing to me.

7. Frankie Edgar: Good Win, Glaring Weakness

I absolutely love the guy, but Matt Veach further illuminated the blueprint for beating Frankie Edgar before "The Answer" ended things early in the second round.

Bigger fighters, especially bigger wrestlers, can manhandle the smaller Edgar. We saw it in the Gray Maynard fight and we saw it both times the larger-framed Veach picked Edgar up and slammed him to the canvas.

Seeing Veach make like Matt Hughes on the first slam makes me want to see Edgar win one more fight before getting a title shot, against either Tyson Griffin or Gray Maynard. Beat a guy who can dominate you on the ground and you've earned your title shot.

8. Count Me Out for Season 11

Honestly, when Dana White said, "The fans want to see them fight again" in reference to the freshly-announced coaches of The Ultimate Fighter's 11th season Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, I shook my head and asked, "What fans?"

I'm a fan and I have no interest in seeing a third fight between the two for a number of reasons:

  1. Liddell is up 2-0, so it's not like we need a rubber match.
  2. It does nothing for the division or the company, so I don't really care who wins.
  3. It'll be 2010 when they finally meet, also known as nearly three years since either guy won a goddamn fight.
At least they're not tying up a title, but this is enough for me to officially submit my "reboot the franchise or I'm not watching anymore" statement for Dana White's consideration.

9. Things Are Getting a Little Sloppy

My wife actually brought this up during the James McSweeney - Darrill Schoonover fight and I think she's right.

Just in this fight alone we saw McSweeney almost fire a big knee to his downed opponent, run his fingers over Schoonover's eyes, prompting a warning from Josh Rosenthal, and deliver an elbow after the bell to the base of the neck.

Personally, a lot of it is the fighter's themselves, the heat of the moment and the timing of blows, but part of it, at least I think, goes to the emergence of so many organizations and the tough guy image too many people buy into because they're MMA fighters / wear Affliction gear.

Accidents happen and I understand that, but there is a part of me that can help but think that some of the traditional values of Martial Arts are being left behind as more and more people flock to the sport.

Respect for your opponent and the quest to prove your dominance and honor your style and team is losing ground to talking the most trash and being the toughest douche bag in the room who can't always be expected to remember the rules.

Just something to think about courtesy of my wife and her ever-expanding knowledge of the sport. And yes, I know I'm a lucky man.

10. The Pro Wrestling Tie-In

I have to acknowledge it.

While I know TNA Wrestling also broadcasts on Spike TV and using the UFC platform to push just about anything makes sense, putting Mixed Martial Arts next to Professional Wrestling doesn't sit all that well with me.

Having Hulk Hogan on the broadcast accomplishes what for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts? Sure it bumps the numbers for TNA a little for the next couple weeks and helps them announce their intentions to start up a new version of "The Monday Night Wars" with the WWE, but nowhere in there did I say anything about the UFC gaining anything.

Because they don't.

Additionally, people have already and will resume talking about the pro wrestling connections should all the Shane McMahon rumors ever come to fruition and people keep referring to Brock Lesnar as a "heel" like he's playing a bad guy in the WWE.

I know why they did it and the UFC certainly has to continue to shill everything under the sun for Spike TV, but just know that this left me feeling a little dirty.

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