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UFC 81 Thoughts & Commentary

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Brock Lesnar is no joke.

Did he lose? Yes. Is he capable of fighting on this level, especially given the UFC’s lack of heavyweight talent? You bet your ass he’s capable. Before Lesnar got caught in the kneebar he looked like everything that he was built up to be. He ragdolled Mir all over the place until he got caught in the kneebar. He took him down with ease, he almost knocked Mir out on the feet, and he pounded him in the face relentlessly. Are there still questions regarding Lesnar’s game? Absolutely. His submission defense was quite lackluster. But he proved last night that he can hang with a former heavyweight champion and will have plenty of more fights down the road to climb up the heavyweight ladder. One thing that really impressed me was Lesnar’s attitude after the fight. He was smiling, he knew he made a mistake, and was very humble. That’s how you win fans over. Give Brock a bit more time and he will be the UFC’s biggest star.

Props to Mir for hanging tough.

I’ll eat my crow. I picked Lesnar in this fight and thought that if Lesnar had him in a position to where he was landing clean punches to Mir’s face on the ground, Mir would cover his face, turn over on his side, and that would be the end of it. Props to Mir for hanging in with Lesnar when he was in the worst possible position during the fight. Any time you’re in the Octagon with a BJJ black belt, anything can happen. Mir is one of the best heavyweight submission artists in the game and he stuck with his bread and butter and eventually caught Lesnar making a mistake and totally capitalized on it. Good win for Mir, hopefully this is the fight that lights a new fire under his career.

All that being said, Mazagatti’s point deduction was awful.

How many times does it happen in the UFC where a guy takes several punches to the back of the head and the fighter landing the blows gets not one, not two, but three or even four warnings? Why did Lesnar immediately get a point taken away with no warning? He landed one blow to the back of Mir’s head and automatically Mazagatti is stepping in and taking a point away from Lesnar and restarting the fight on their feet. My personal take is that Mazagatti was stepping in to stop the fight and realized that he totally fucked up and then had to make up for it. When he jumped in, it looked like even he was confused as to why he jumped in. So he had to make up for it somehow and that somehow was by taking a point away from Lesnar and restarting the fight. Too bad for Lesnar because he was in a very, very dominant position at that point during the fight. I’m not taking anything away from Mir’s victory, he won fair and square and this is no excuse for Lesnar’s loss, but Mazagatti’s actions in the Octagon last night were bush league at best.

Nogueira is about as hard to finish as they come.
Is there a tougher fighter to finish than Minotauro? Tim Sylvia beat him up for two and a half rounds, almost knocking him out on more than one occasion. But Nogueira weathered the storm, fought through adversity, waited for his one moment to capitalize, and took full advantage of it. Once Nogueira was able to get the fight to the ground it was his game. He swept Sylvia, passed his guard, and set up a trap for Sylvia to put himself into the guillotine choke. Beautiful BJJ by arguably the best submission artist in mixed martial arts today. One of Nogueira’s talents is his durability. That’s a pretty nice advantage to have on your side going into the Octagon. He can take a massive amount of punishment and keep on coming. It’s what he’s done for years. Great win for Nogueira, but who the hell is “Handy Couture”?



Tim Sylvia deserves a rematch.

Boohoo. So you don’t like Tim Sylvia. Too bad because the guy deserves a rematch after dominating the fight for two and a half rounds. He enacted the exact gameplan we all thought he would and he was winning the fight handily until the final moments. Sylvia has worked his ass off to get to where he’s at with little to no pure athletic ability and one hundred percent work ethic. There may not be a harder working individual in mixed martial arts and he does it because that’s what he has to do to keep up with the pack. For as dominant as he was last night he simply made a mistake. He deserves another shot to make history and become a three time UFC heavyweight champion.

Was that the best Nate Marquardt we’ve ever seen?

He dominated Jeremy Horn from start to finish. Horn didn’t look in too great of shape and Marquardt looked to be in the best shape we’ve ever seen him in. It looks like the loss against Anderson Silva has really lit a fire under him to get better. Horn, on the other hand, just doesn’t look like he’s into the sport anymore at least as a fighter. He’s fought over one hundred times and held numerous accolades so what more is there for him to do? He was just overpowered last night by a more in shape, focused, and well rounded fighter. Marquardt came to bump last night and Horn looked like he was collecting a paycheck. Nice win for Marquardt over a guy who is always dangerous just based on talent alone.

Ricardo Almeida is back, kinda.

There isn’t a lot to be said about Almeida’s performance last night because it was over so quickly. Yundt just wasn’t ready for that top shelf BJJ yet and Almeida made him pay for it. He finished with an arm-in guillotine choke, the hardest kind to finish. Almeida’s in shape and he has top shelf jiu jitsu and right now that’s enough to contend in the UFC’s lackluster middleweight division. Welcome back, Big Dog.

Tyson Griffin did what he does and that’s win decisions.

Tyson Griffin is a master of grinding out tough decisions over tough fighters. It’s just what he does and he did it again last night against a bigger opponent. Tibau was able to take Griffin down a couple of times but was never able to keep him there. When they were on the feet, Griffin got the better of the exchanges, landing a right hand over and over again square on Tibau’s jaw. If there’s one thing we should know by now about Tyson Griffin, it’s that you should always be looking to finish him. If you don’t finish him he will most likely do enough during the fight to gut out a decision. What plays into Tyson’s favor, though, is that he’s extremely hard to finish. Not a bad combination. Griffin was talking about possibly moving up to 170 lbs. here soon. That would be a bad move. 155 lbs. is the perfect weight for him and last night was a perfect example of why.

Tim Boetsch came out of nowhere.

Wow. I want to see more of this guy for sure. He manhandled David Heath from the outset of the fight and literally ragdolled him at the end of the fight, throwing Heath right onto his head out of a whizzer and then pummeling him in the face with punches. Seriously explosive light heavyweight. I said during the Pain Poll that I would have picked the guy had it not been such short notice. Next time I’ll know better. More Boetsch, less Heath please.

32 COMMENTS
  • woooburn says:

    good write up. i agree with regard to the point deduction. no verbal warning was ridiculous. had he not stepped in, the fight very well could have ended the same way it eventually did. but it also couldve been the opposite, quite easily. i wouldnt mind seeing a rematch to be honest. and speaking of rematches, i agree about sylvia. he’s not my favorite fighter, but i think he looked much more aggressive than he did against vera, and his post fights comments were respectful. maybe it’ll be the winners of mir/sylvia and nog/werdum, and he’ll get his chance.

    and boetsch… damn. reminded me of guida in a way. a guy who’s willing to go out and put on an exciting show, win or lose. hopefully he continues to improve. i wouldnt mind seeing him against a guy like houston alexander eventually.

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  • Tommy says:

    Lesner didn’t knock him off his feet, Mir slipped from the kick. But hey if it makes you feel better then believe what you like. The point shouldn’t have been deducted but Lesner hit him 5 times in the back of the head, not once. Try watching the fight again and not just listening to Mike and Joe. I rewatch the strikes three times to make sure the count was right, and yep, it was five times to the back of the head. Replay only showed one so rewind it and watch yourself. Imagine a guy like Brock hitting you in the back of the head five times and see how you’d feel. Brock didn’t do it on purpose but he wasn’t caring where he was punching. Lesner subbed to a kneebar that in no way could have broke his leg and just got nervous and tapped. The knee joint is only in trouble above the hips, not below. On the main event, Tim does deserve a rematch and while Big Nog won and proved to be one resilient sob, I can’t say he impressed me. Except with his abilty to take a lickin and keep on ticking. Should nickname him The Timex.

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  • Paul Balsom says:

    Agreed on the Steve “The ‘Stache’s” no warning point-deduction and stand-up. Boo. If you re-watch the Tibau/Griffin bout, he warns Tibau 4 or 5 times about strikes to the back of the head. It’s especially ridiculous since punches had happened in between the illegal blow and the stoppage… Mir rolled into that punch, and then rolled out. Lesnar was punching so frantically that he probably didn’t even notice.

    The outcome of that fight was perfect from a promotional standpoint though, because both fighters came out looking pretty good. You can chalk the Lesnar loss up to inexperience, and you can attribute Mir’s win to heart and… experience. The fact that Mir didn’t back down after getting gorilla punched in the face is a testament to his rising confidence and progression. Good for both fighters involved.

    And yes… that Boetsch hip toss KO was fantastic. UFC 81: “Guillotine” turned out to be great fun.

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  • Paul Balsom says:

    Tommy, you should check out the replay of the Mir/Lesnar fight. Lesnar checked two of Mir’s weak leg kicks, and Mir went down while Lesnar was throwing punches… now whether it was a punch connection or not that put him down, I don’t know. But Mir and yourself are deceived if you think he slipped from a kick. He may have just been trying to block some punches and slipped, but it wasn’t from a leg kick.

    I could tell you a few places to watch vids of the fight, but I’d like to enjoy those sites being active for a while. Just search around.

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  • Tommy says:

    I don’t need to steal it for free. I dvr it and watch it on the best tv money can buy. Yeah, what does Mir know about it, you Paul are the greatest and should just tell us the outcome and what happened. Mir may have went down while Lesner was throwing a punching but his fist didn’t get within 6 inches of Mir’s face. Let me guess, the wind Brock generated forced Mir off his feet. Mir’s leg kicks were weak and were in fact checked by Brock, but to say Mir was rocked off his feet from Brock is silly.

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  • Buddha says:

    Sam you are wrong about the stand up. The Stache intervened because Frank was rocked by the back of the head punches. So at that point its either A) stop the fight because Frank was pretty much defenseless due to taking a bunch of solild shots to the back of the head or B) stand them up and take a point away allowing Frank to recover. The way that Brock was throwing them punches there would be no chance to even get a warning in, and they had already been delivered in such devistating fashion that Mir was clearly hurt by them. I think Mazzagatti did what was fair.

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  • Buddha says:

    I meant Adam not Sam.

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  • Tony Fennen says:

    I picked Brock…. and I was looking like a genius until Frank pulled off a fairly easy knee bar.
    Good Job Mr. Mir!

    Am I wrong in asking for Mir vs Big Nog? Mir never actually lost his belt and looks to be back to form.
    May be a boring fight but I bet it ends with a submission.

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  • Joe Beiskan says:

    Your comment on Tim Sylvia deserving a rematch is bullshit. Why should Sylvia deserve a rematch against Nog right away? You didn’t really explain anything, it sounded more like a plea and holds no merit. Sylvia, he’s fought and held onto the UFC title before, he should know what it takes to get to the championship. What he should also realize is he’s never been a dominant champion and thus doesn’t deserve the “Matt Hughes” treatment. Furthermore, he should be thankful he even got a title shot! By only defeating Brandon Vera? The UFC never would have given him this opportunity had Couture stayed. Tim Sylvia had his chance, blew it and now it’s time to climb up the ladder…again.

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  • Sergio says:

    Wow, Tommy.

    “Best TV money can buy”?

    When you turn a debate or an argument into a dick measuring contest, you sort of lose all credibility.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    I’m happy for Frank that he proved me wrong as well. I think I commented on this site that he would “fold like a lawn chair” under duress from Lesnar. You have to give him credit; he weathered the storm and came out on top. I hope this means we’ll see a better Frank Mir — one that is even better than the supposed “old” Frank Mir.

    And Lord knows, I am ecstatic I was wrong about Sylvia/Nog. Big Nog is the man and the dude deserves to hold the belt for a while and really cement his place in the sport’s history. Too bad you could see that Dana White wasn’t too happy that Nog won.

    Also, good to see Sylvia finally realizing that being popular can mean more than winning. And and just being a decent, respectful guy goes far in being popular (unless your name is Tito).

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  • garth says:

    we watched the knockdown of mir on super-slo mo five times, and the first punch connected, the second was a push. mir really didn’t take as much damage as people are making out. lesnar is definitely a beast, but the game is mixed martial arts, and jui jitsu counts.
    on the “punches to the back of the head” issue, i have a related query: what’s up with the elbows to the top of the head? Jared Rollins did it a while back against war machine, and it happened again last night. that’s illegal, right? i’m baffled.

    and hilarity= randy couture cornering griffin and NO ONE MENTIONING IT AT ALL. what weird situation for handy to be in.

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    Garth,

    Here’s the deal with the elbow situation. You can’t bring them down from top position at a ninety degree angle but you can use them from the bottom because it’s a “lateral” movement and you’re not bringing them down from the top. Silly rule, I know, but that’s how it is.

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  • Tanner says:

    Garth, there was a post on fightlinker where John McCarthy talked about his interpretation of the elbows. It seemed illegal to me but i don’t know.

    http://fightlinker.com/blog/?p=1154

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  • Paul Balsom says:

    Tommy, I don’t think I made any mention of wind knocking down Mir. That was just not funny. All I said was, it was not a slip from kicking, like you said. I also paid money for the PPV, but you are so awesome for having a DVR. Awesome AND funny.

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  • Tommy says:

    Paul I made mention of wind, not you. Cause that’s all that Brock could have knocked Mir down with. Maybe he is just that strong? Look this is the way I see it. Brock caught him with the first punch, Mir went to throw another leg kick and Brock went to throw another punch. Mir, moving to avoid the second punch, reels backwards while one of his legs was still off the mat, throwing him off balence too far to stay on his feet. My point was the second strike never touched or rocked Mir as Goldberg and many watchers believed. As far as being funny, I should be, I learned from your mother.

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  • platypus says:

    the elbow rule came from old ufc rule makers watching tma’ers break bricks using the downward elbow, thats why its banned. why cant they overturn taht already?

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  • Tommy says:

    Forget all this banter with Bunion. How come no ones mentioning Big Nogs request and rightful claim to fight Randy? People too scared to step on the naturals toes or something?

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    Tanner,

    You mean Handy Couture?

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  • cyphron says:

    Randy left the UFC specifically because he doesn’t want to fight Nogueira. I mean, he can’t hold Nogueira down like he did Tim “I don’t want to be on my back” Sylvia.

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  • Kogepan says:

    I think you give WAY to much credit to Lesnar. The guy lasted less than 2 minutes in the Octagon and allowed Mir to attempt 4-5 submissions in that short amount of time. Even though he has tremendous physical tools, he showed no MMA skills whatsoever. He just stood for at least 3-4 seconds without moving and allowed Mir to make the easiest kneebar ever.

    Lesnar needs to go to the WEC for 5-6 fights to work on his skills before challenging again. He’s a one dimensional fighter at best right now.

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  • Rich says:

    that’s ridiculous cyphron…

    we all know why randy left…

    and we all know it wasn’t that..

    plus, randy sure had no problems w/ gonzaga… and he sub’s people…

    so, your logic’s kinda muffed up..

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  • mike wolfe says:

    Where the hell is Jiu-Jitsu Guy? I thought there’d be a post from him about BJJ given the submission wins in the top two events.

    Also, somebody please explain to me why Tyson Griffin was booed after the decision. He won a striking battle with a good fighter who had significant height and weight advantages. Sure he was taken down, but he always fought back up without taking any serious damage. Did something happen that wasn’t on the telecast?

    The stand up and point deduction in the Mir/Lesnar fight was a BIG deal. Mir was in a bad spot and was taking punishment. Letting him stand up allowed him to collect his wits and mentally prepare himself for the next takedown. The strike wasn’t an intentional blow to the back of the head. It happened because Mir was moving his head to avoid the strikes. The stand up happened very quickly and Mazagatti seemed angry. Is it possible he got caught up in the “Lesnar’s a pro wrestler and not one of us MMA fighters” controversy?

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  • Derek B. says:

    Lesnar is garbage that’s just the final answer to the questions everyone has been asking.

    He got Mir in a good position on the ground and instead of throwing good solid punches…he sits there and thinks that his rabbit punches are going to knock him out.

    He doesn’t have the experience to be in the UFC. They need to release him and pick someone else up to take his place.

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  • Márcio says:

    Hey Adam,
    Why should Sylvia deserve a rematch? He was winning the fight but couldn’t finish Nogueira while Nogueira finished Sylvia on his first opportunity, that’s the mark of a champion.
    This isn’t Ice Skating, merit points dont count… if he wants a rematch he must get back in tittle contention by winning a few more fights.

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  • JacRabbit says:

    “…he almost knocked Mir out on the feet…”

    Cant agree… I recorded the fight and it was definitely a slip. Mir threw a high kick, as his right foot landed–before he could correctly position, he eats a fist from Brock.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jac, he got knocked on his ass. I’m not sure how you can spin it any other way.

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  • JacRabbit says:

    “Best TV money can buy”?

    This shit was funny as hell! so out of curiosity… what type of TV is this?

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  • JacRabbit says:

    Sam, ok let me rephrase… yes he was “knocked down” though it was due to a lack of balance… but far from “almost knocked out on his feet”. He was not dazed… in fact the hit was more of a push.

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  • Derek B. says:

    I was waiting for Stone Cold to come running out of the stands to open up a can of whoop ass.

    That would have been the highlight of the night for me!

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  • JacRabbit says:

    And post #6 by Buddah was very well put… and quite likely the case (if you consider that politics didn’t play any role in this fight).

    How about another possible scenario? Is it possible that the UFC wanted the fight to go the way it did? We all know the UFC doesn’t like for its champions to look inferior to fighters from other organizations. Did the UFC really want the WWE wrestler to win this debut? After all, win or loose, Brock’s name will not tarnish from a debut against a former champ. This could have been a simple means of showing UFC fighter dominance, and still achieving the increase in PPV buys and opportunity to add a new beast to the HW roster. Maybe Mazzagati knew this…? The hits were clearly not intentional, and the hits were clearly a result of Mir rolling to avoid punishment. The stoppage was awkward to say the least.

    Personally I didn’t think Mir was a good match up for a wrestler with no MMA experience. With little GnP and BJJ experience, theres no way you could have expected Brock to be experience enough to maintain correct position against someone that skilled in submissions. Brock seemed destined to loose. A 1 min. 40 sec. defeat is far from what you would expect to see–even a mildly experienced UFC fighter (given they had a body type like Brock). All in all, YES Brock has loads of potential… but did he do a good job? NO… we expect to see spectacular takedowns from a NCAA champion wrestler… we expect to see power from any beast this size… aside from what we knew would happen before the fight started, there was nothing impressive in Brocks game. His lack of “respect” for Mir’s BJJ as he stated in his interview lost him the match. With proper experience, I think Brock definitely has what it takes to be one of the best HWs in history–but he needs to start by changing his attitude quickly above all.

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  • MMA Kamander says:

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

    MMA Kamander gives this card 4 stars.

    4 stars for Tim Sylvia vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
    4 stars for Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar
    3 stars for Nathan Marquardt vs. Jeremy Horn
    4 stars for Ricardo Almeida vs. Rob Yundt
    4 stars for Tyson Griffin vs. Gleison Tibau
    4 stars for Chris Lytle vs. Kyle Bradley
    2 stars for David Heath vs. Tim Boetsch
    2 stars for Rob Emerson vs. Keita Nakamura

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

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