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UFC 80 Thoughts & Commentary

B.J. Penn, in shape and focused at 155 lbs., is an unstoppable force.

And that’s a fact. What he’s done to his last two opponents is simply destroyed them. He carved through Jens Pulver and he completely dominated Joe Stevenson last night. It’s not due to Stevenson’s lack of preparation or skill level, either. Stevenson is highly skilled and has a very bright future ahead of him but he just happened to run into a buzzsaw in B.J. Penn. Penn was better at every facet of the game last night. Striking, grappling, wrestling, jiu jitsu, top control, you name it, B.J. was better.

It was almost like he was toying with Stevenson in the first round. He had him mounted a couple of times but didn’t do much with it. Once the cut opened up on Stevenson’s head, however, B.J. went in for the kill. Even if Stevenson wasn’t cut open during the fight, B.J. would have dominated him. If B.J. continues to fight like he has been in arguably the UFC’s most crowded division, he’s going to catapult himself into the talk for the #1 pound for pound spot in the world. For me, the lasting image of the night was B.J. licking Stevenson’s blood off his gloves directly after the fight. Is that the image of a warrior? I certainly think so.

Fabricio Werdum made a statement.

And the statement was that not only is he one of the best heavyweights in the world, but he’s not the same fighter that we saw against Andrei Arlovski. It was evident in the first round that Gonzaga’s gameplan was to take Werdum’s legs out from under him with killer leg kicks and he executed that plan to a tee, knocking Werdum down several times. At that point it looked like Gonzaga was on his way to a victory but the way that Werdum was able to adapt to Gonzaga’s gameplan in the second round was ultimately what won him the fight.

In the second, Werdum kept his distance from the leg kick and checked a few, countering with punches every time Gonzaga threw a leg kick. This allowed him to close the distance, clinch Gonzaga up, and pour on some brutal Chute Boxe style knees, eventually ending Gonzaga’s night via TKO. Werdum did two things last night. He erased the terrible performance against Arlovski and he let everyone know last night that he’s not a joke in the heavyweight division.

What happened to Gabriel Gonzaga?

Where did his toughness go? He looked very good in the first round but once Werdum adapted to his gameplan he had no answer. He looked gassed in the second round when almost no damage was landed on him in the first round. At this point in his career I think it’s safe to say that Gonzaga is a hot and cold fighter. He has flashes of brilliance but his cardio is always a factor and looked to be a factor last night. Sometimes Gonzaga is tough as nails. Other times he folds up like a chair. If Gonzaga can be more consistent and work on that cardio he could be a force in the heavyweight division. Right now, though, he’s got more questions surrounding him than answers.

Marcus Davis deserves a chance to fight a contender.

Davis has done enough for himself to earn a shot against one of the 170 lbs. division’s contenders. While I thought that his fight with Liaudin could be fight of the night, I was clearly wrong and Liaudin got slept in the opening minute of the fight. While it’s not likely that Davis will end up being a worldbeater or the next Georges St. Pierre, his heavy hands, knockout power, and winning streak in the UFC should earn him a shot against someone along the lines of Josh Koscheck or Diego Sanchez. Davis could surprise some people with his power at the top of the division but I think it’s due time for him to see where he stands against the division’s top dogs, not the Jess Liaudins of the world.

Wilson Gouveia’s got some serious power.

Hats off to Jason Lambert for controlling Gouveia for the first round and dominating the fight, but leaving your hands down and letting Gouveia create distance to let his hands go was a pretty bad mistake. Lambert paid for it dearly by eating a face full of leather and then a face full of canvas in the opening moments of the second round. Gouveia needs some work on his wrestling and he could be a legitimate top ten light heavyweight. As for Lambert, the loss is a disappointing one but he did show that he could be on the cusp of competing at a higher level in the UFC. Just gotta keep those hands up.

Kendall Grove did his best Steve Nelmark impression.

Kendall Grove is not a guy who takes fights lightly or doesn’t come to bang. He usually comes in top shape and ready to go. He may have taken Jorge Rivera lightly, however. Jorge was in his face all fight, punching him repeatedly and it looked like Kendall panicked. He panicked, tried to scramble, and left himself in bad positions to take more punishment. In the end, Jorge slept him and did to Kendall what Tank Abbott did to Steve Nelmark back in 1996 and that knockout was brutal. I don’t know where exactly Kendall Grove goes from here. He certainly stays in the UFC and continues to fight based on his name recognition and the middleweight division’s lack of talent. How much of a factor he will be from here on out is the big question. He’s been fed two guys who were tailor made for him to beat and lost badly on both occasions. Not good for Kendall Grove.

22 COMMENTS
  • garth says:

    Kendall Grove is a total joke. The TUF competitors are shaking out rather badly. Who’s for real from that show? Forrest? Maybe Bonnar?

    I’d say that Marcus Davis deserves a shot at a real contender, not someone like Sanchez or Koscheck. Koscheck showed zero against a world-class fighter, and Sanchez got dominated by Fitch. I’d rather see Davis fight Fitch. While Fitch would obviously be a favorite, Davis could bring a ton of pressure, and from an angle Fitch isn’t used to getting pressure. It seems kind of along the same lines as Huerta-Guida.

    You’re right: BJ Penn looked incredible. I felt bad for Joe Daddy. Also, why does Sean Sherk deserve an immediate shot? Wouldn’t you rather give a guy a fight or two to see if he can test clean? What if Sherk takes a “supplement” and comes out positive again? The UFC loses yet more credibility.

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  • Tanner says:

    Werdum also proved that Gonzaga has absolutely no heart, tons of skill, tons of power, but no heart.

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  • Tanner says:

    And i’m officially of the Grove bandwagon. He looked awful last night. Did anyone else see that Shawn Tompkins was the one smacking him in the beginning. Tompkins seems to think that he’s this god of a striking teacher and completely neglects the ground game. I think they need to ditch that guy, watch some of his MMA fights and you’ll understand.

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  • Anton K says:

    I’m not sure Grove was tailor-made to beat Cote or Rivera… Grove seems to do better against pure grapplers than strikers. Rivera made Grove look uncharacteristically weak. Grove’s stand up needs some serious work.

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  • SteveXtreme says:

    I don’t agree with the evaluation of Penn – Stevenson. Most of it was dead on. Penn was sharper in all areas, but i don’t think he would have won the fight if it wasn’t for the cut. He was obviously better at stand up, but on the ground he wasn’t doing any damage to Stevenson other than the cut. I think Stevenson would have been able to do what most said, endure rounds 1 and 2 then control 3, 4, and 5 and win via decision. I don’t wanna take away from BJ’s victory or his performance because it was spot on, but it can’t be said for sure that Joe would have lost even if the cut wasn’t opened.

    Oh and i was off of Groves bandwagon after he lost to Cote. I picked Rivera to win and even made a little money off of it.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    Stevenson was getting owned, cut or no cut.

    And who was breathing heavier at the end of the fight? Stevenson. B.J. had Joe Daddy’s number and would probably have it 9 times out of 10.

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  • Paul Balsom says:

    Good lord, I thought you were gonna start talking about meteoric rises and game opponents… you should join the UFC commentary team.

    clownin…

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  • SteveXtreme says:

    Actually BJ had to prop up against Joe Rogan just to remain standing at the end of 1 and a half rounds. So that doens’t hold any water. Stevenson was upset that he lost. He may have been on the ground crying, but i give him more credit than that. I only think BJ could beat him 5 out of 10 times. And getting owned and getting hurt are 2 different things. BJ never hurt Joe.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    He didn’t have Joe hurt when he dropped him with an uppercut at the beginning of the fight? What offense did Joe mount to make you think that he could win 5 out of ten times? There wasn’t a scratch on BJ anywhere. I would urge you to watch the fight a second time if you haven’t already. Joe Stevenson did nothing.

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  • Shawn says:

    Couple things:

    First off, anyone who still talks shit about the TUF guys “shaking out badly” not only doesn’t know what’s happening in the UFC but they don’t know what happens in life. If you look at TUF alum, many have had a lot of success and others have simply failed to deliver. The show is a testing ground for prospects. The thing with prospects is some pan out to be serious athletes in their sport and others don’t. Life is not black and white. Not everything or everyone can be lumped into one single category. TUF alumni are all different people and the mere fact that they participated in the reality show to gain more exposure for themselves meaning more money says nothing about their actual ability individually.

    And yes, Marcus Davis is a legit contender. A dude tried betting me in the bar that he was going to lose to Liaudin. I got a free beer. Thanks Marcus. He needs to fight Fitch in March for number one contender status.

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  • Matt C. says:

    i like Davis vs Koscheck. Can Davis stop the Kos takedowns? can Kos handle Davis’s power hands? I think that would be a nice matchup later on in 08.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    I don’t think Davis deserves Jon Fitch, but he deserves someone like Kos or Diego for sure.

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  • Paul Balsom says:

    I don’t think SteveXtreme deserves a computer, but he still has one… bring on Davis/Fitch. Let’s see how Davis stacks up. No hurt there.

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  • Anton K says:

    Marcus Davis knocks out Kos. Sweet!

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  • YaImAGirl says:

    SteveXtreme I think you are typing out of hate for BJ. It was complet control through the whole fight. Joe was stunned by BJ’s punching power from the start and when Penn getts you down, as you saw, he doesnt let you up. Also, enough talk about his conditioning. This drop in weight was the best thing for BJ. He can go 5 rounds again, the question is “can anyone take him there?”

    “Actually BJ had to prop up against Joe Rogan just to remain standing at the end of 1 and a half rounds. So that doens’t hold any water.” SteveXtreme

    Watch Penn vs Hughs one and you will see when BJ wins he is so overcome with emotion he has a tough time standing and that fight was 1 min. So…… your statement “doens’t” hold any water.

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  • Nate says:

    Oh, Burned by a Girl!!!

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  • SteveXtreme says:

    I don’t think Paul B. has a brain but he can still type words on the screen…

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  • SteveXtreme says:

    All this grief just for standing up for Joe Daddy a little. Well lets see what kinda nerve this hits… Marcus Davis knocking out Gomi 1st minute 1st round. Make it happen UFC!

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  • Sam Cupitt says:

    As if Davis hasnt earnt the right to face Fitch. He’s earnt it I think more than Gono did and I think Davis/Fitch would be a lot more exciting than Gono/Fitch.

    Make that fight happen! Who else is Fitch gonna fight?

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  • I_Lew says:

    Sean Sherk is a sad little man. I completely agree w/ Sam’s analysis, and cannot wait until BJ beats him into obscurity. I rolled my eyes when they introduced him before the Penn vs Daddy fight. The UFC has become as bad as old Don King by being absolutely SHAMELESS promoters.

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  • Sea_of_Red says:

    Steve, you have some self-examining to do. BJ Penn completely and utterly dominated Joe. I know that he’s your golden boy, but the dude got beat up. He didn’t land more than 5 strikes in the entire fight. BJ looked better than he has in 5 years. On the Davis note. I would like to see a Karo fight. I dunno, just an idea.

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  • MMA Kamander says:

    This was a great card. Eight out of the nine fights were televised, and those fights were all solid. Overall the fights were relevant and exciting.

    MMA Kamander gives this card 4 stars.

    4.5 stars for B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson
    3 stars for Fabricio Werdum vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
    3 stars for Marcus Davis vs. Jess Liaudin
    4 stars for Wilson Gouveia vs. Jason Lambert
    4 stars for Jorge Rivera vs. Kendall Grove
    3 stars for Antoni Hardonk vs. Colin Robinson
    3 stars for Paul Kelly vs. Paul Taylor
    3 stars for Alessio Sakara vs. James Lee
    2 stars for Sam Stout vs. Per Eklund

    Events and fights are rated from 1-5 stars based on:
    – action and excitement
    – skill and technique
    – significance and interest

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