I just got back from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in what was the first live UFC (not first MMA) card that I was able to attend. It was a great experience and the UFC certainly puts on a tight live show. I am much more impressed with their live show than their telecasts. Something is really missing from their telecasts and it really behooves them to try and take things to another level. Their TV shows aren’t bad, but they could be a lot better.
Also, I did not see Brock Lesnar. He might have been there, but nobody really knew about it if he was.
I will run down my thoughts match-by-match.
Clay Guida over Marcus Aurelio - This was a strong match and it’s a damn shame no one at home got to see it. Guida won via split decision (it should have been unanimous). Aurelio didn’t look bad at all in my opinion, Guida was just the better fighter. Fighting Guida is a tough proposition because the guy is just relentless. He’s always in the face of his opponents which is a pain in the ass because you don’t have time to recover from punches, regain your wind, or simply stop and ponder a new strategy. He should receive bonus points for fighting with the hair. I don’t know how he does it. Guida deserves to receive a bigger promotion push. You wouldn’t believe how many fans are behind this guy. He got a ton of cheers before the fight and a few chants of “Guida” during it. I also saw him several times Friday at the Mandalay taking pictures and signing autographs. The UFC doesn’t have an excuses for keeping him off the main card. Some might fault the fact that he doesn’t finish guys but it isn’t for a lack of training. And it’s not like they’ve given him any easy fights.
Ryan Jensen vs. Thales Leites - Jensen came out like a ball of fire with a ton of kicks. Leites had no answer for them but it didn’t appear like they did a lot of damage. Jensen, who came out with Matt Lindland, rocked Leites a few times and I thought Leites was in trouble at one point. But Leites came back and won the match. The crazy thing is that he could be fighting for the middleweight title a year from now unless they go outside the promotion and starting signing established 185 lbs. middleweights.
Frank Mir vs. Antoni Hardonk – Mir didn’t play around. He got Hardonk off his feet and finished him with a submission. I guess some people might be impressed with the win but I really wasn’t. He didn’t have to do much to win. As for Hardonk, I see no reason why he should remain in the UFC.
Renato “Douche Bag of the Year” Sobral vs. David Heath - If you were wondering why there was so much blood on the canvas, well, it all came from Heath, who got busted open and was oozing blood all over the place. It was really sick and the fight should have been stopped much sooner than it was. To make matters worse, one of the ugliest scenes in my memory of MMA took place when Sobral didn’t release his choke after Heath tapped. He ended up putting Heath to sleep after he had already given up. I thought maybe he didn’t see or hear the ref call the match and that it was an honest mistake. No! Sobral acknowledged in the post fight that he intentionally refused to release the hold and sounded pretty proud of that fact. He mumbled something about needing to teach Heath a lesson. A lesson for what? The two had some issues at the staredown but I have no idea why. Chances are you’ll never get to see this fight unedited and everyone should be allowed to see what happened. It was a case where the UFC really needs to cover their events like a real sport. They should have explained to the viewers why there was so much blood. You’re not going to sweep the Sobral incident under the rug so better yours fans hear it from you first rather than second hand. I’m pretty sure that Sobral will lose a portion of his purse and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t suspended. Hopefully, the UFC will make an example of him and fire him. And don’t tell me I’m going overboard because if you saw it, you’d probably feel otherwise. Noah Thomas and Marlon Sims got fired for much less (and I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t have been fired). You can say both of them were expendable, but that’s exactly what Sobral has become. When you factor his legal issues outside of the UFC into the equation and there’s simply no reason to keep a liability like him on the roster. An interesting tidbit is that Sobral threw his hat into the crowd and Manny Gamburyan caught it (he was right in front of us). He chucked it right back to the cage in a fit of rage. Even the fighters know what Sobral did was bullshit. The fans booed him out of the building practically and cheered Gamburyan for throwing the hat back.
Kendall Grove vs. Patrick Cote - I was and still am in shock and am unable to comment further on Grove’s upset loss as a result.
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Joe Stevenson - Stevenson looked good, as did Pellegrino. Stevenson was just too strong for him. Pellegrino has the Jiu-Jitsu, but Stevenson had the Jiu-Jitsu and the wrestling.
Roger Huerta vs. Alberto Crane - Crane had great Jiu-Jitsu… and not much else. Huerta has good standup and his submissions aren’t bad. However, his wrestling is brutal. He couldn’t keep position against Pellegrino. Huerta couldn’t even maintain the mount. Yes, I know you want to see Huerta fight some top shelf talent. Well, don’t hold your breath.
Josh Koscheck vs. Georges St. Pierre – Yes, I know I was wrong. It won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. I am actually glad that GSP showed up tonight and answered the questions about his mental preparation. If you still think the mental aspects were an issue that needed to be addressed, just stop reading this blog now. You can’t make a legitimate case him needing to prove himself considering he acknowledged the fact he’s seeing a sports psychologist. But you also can’t make a legitimate case that he didn’t put all the concerns to rest. MMA needs GSP to reach his full potential because he has a fighting style that can really bring new fans into the game. I’m more than okay with GSP fighting for the welterweight title after Hughes for Serra. In regard to Koscheck, he’s improved in all areas but still isn’t a threat to finish a guy. His Jiu-Jitsu is so-so (I thought he had a chance to work a couple of obvious submissions and he neglected) and his standup is only good enough to be used to set up takedowns. I’m back on the GSP bandwagon, folks.
Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga - I could believe how quick Couture looked early in the first round! I also can’t believe he was so gassed so early in the fight. He took a ton of damage but kept it together. How he was able to make it through some of those high kicks is beyond me. I also think the broken nose issue is overrated. Yes, it hurt Gonzaga’s chances to win but a broken nose in a fight isn’t necessarily the death penalty. There have been fighters who have won fights with broken noses before. This loss is more than just the nose — he simply wasn’t ready! He’s a legit fighter but he’s still not fully developed. We’ll see him fighting for the title again. Now on to Randy. What can I say that isn’t already obvious? I will say this: he needs a new nickname. Natural doesn’t suit him. Nothing about him is natural — and no, I don’t mean it that way. My point is that if average human beings mirrored Couture’s training they still wouldn’t be anywhere the kind of shape he’s in. The man just has incredible genetics. His new nickname should be “Super Natural.” Randy isn’t going to retire because there’s still too much money on the table but besides beating Fedor, what more is there for him to do that he hasn’t already done.