We get a lot of feedback here at the site; some of it good and some of it negative. In the last week, we’ve received several complaints. One reader expressed concern over a lack of fight analysis on Thursday following UFC Fight Night 15. We’re all part-timers and Thursday was a busy news day so we don’t always have time to cover all the angles. And with the launch of our new format, one reader expressed concern that we might become strictly a news site and stop offering opinion-based features.
Well, this column should address both complaints all in one shot as I will do my best to offer fight analysis pertaining to UFN 15 as well as offer some opinions pertaining to the show as well as the premiere episode for the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Let’s get started, shall we?
Why does Clay Guida have to be a finisher?
There’s quite a dichotomy between the reception Clay Guida gets from a live audience in comparison to the Internet. When Guida gets introduced to a crowd, he is universally cheered in the arena. However, it’s a different story on the Internet. While he has his fans on the Interwebs, he is not met with the same universal positive reaction he receives from crowds, as he has his fair share of cyber critics.
The number one complaint made against Guida is that he doesn’t finish fights. I really fail to see how that is a legitimate chink in his armor. I mean, who does consistently finish fights at 155 lbs. besides B.J. Penn? I’m not saying there aren’t good finishers at lightweight, but due to the nature of the size of the fighters, you don’t see a lot of knockout artists at that weight.
To me, Guida is indeed an exciting finisher — he literally finishes fights by going the distance. I don’t mind seeing Guida go a full 15 minutes because his cardio is off the charts and he’s constantly pushing the pace. The guy rarely ever tries to pace himself and he’s just relentless. I’d rather see a 15-minute war than a two-minute squash match.
Guida is getting the respect he deserves from a lot of people but I still think there are a lot of others who need to wake up. His wrestling and cardio are exceptional. His striking isn’t world class but he still brings something to the table when he stands.
Maybe he’s not a knockout artist or black belt level when it comes to his jiu-jitsu, but he’s a top fighter who I believe is more than just a gate-keeper. With quality wins over Josh Thomson, Marcus Aurelio, and now Mac Danzig, I believe he has the potential to evolve into a top-ten caliber lightweight. It’s important to remember that he’s still only 26-years old.
Nate Diaz has a chance to be better than his brother
I have a lot of questions about Nate Diaz’s all-around game but after his win over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC Fight Night 13 this past April, I told myself it was time to start to ignore those questions because his ground game is just too slick.
Nate’s older brother, Nick, is known for his prowess on the ground as well, as he is just one of three men to ever be promoted to black belt by Cesar Gracie. But there’s a huge difference between Nick and Nate and that is takedown ability.
Even though they train together, Nate has done a much better job of incorporating Judo takedowns into his MMA game. For whatever reason, Nick hasn’t been able to show the same skills and relies too much on traditional jiu-jitsu takedowns that really aren’t effective on a national MMA level. Nate Diaz is 5-0 in the UFC because he’s been able to get his fights to the ground whenever he’s needed to. The same can’t be said for Nick Diaz.
I really don’t know about Nate’s standup skills though. He tried to show some of his boxing training against Josh Neer on Wednesday and it was the same pitter-patter punching we see from Nick that might score some points with judges but they don’t inflict a lot of damage against opponents.
At the end of the day though it’s all about the ground for Nate Diaz. Aside from B.J. Penn, I’m not sure anyone currently in the UFC’s lightweight division has better jiu-jitsu than and that says a lot considering fighters such as Kenny Florian, Thiago Tavares, Hermes Franca, and Marcus Aurelio are no joke on the ground.
But in talking about Nate Diaz’s performance from this past Wednesday, I am left with two questions.
First, why don’t fighters with world class jiu-jitsu and so-so standup skills spend more time becoming takedown specialists? If I was an MMA fighter with black belt level skills on the mat, I’d not only try to master jiu-jitsu takedowns but I’d study Judo and would also go to wrestling schools to learn Greco-Roman upper body takedowns as well as freestyle wrestling leg attacks. I think if you can master multiple takedown styles then it might be pretty hard for an opponent to scout you on video and time you up with their sprawl.
And the second question, what happened to the old Nick Diaz? You know, the guy who knocked out Robbie Lawler at UFC 47 and the dude who was smoking Takanori Gomi so bad with punches at PRIDE 33 that Gomi felt a need to take a fight to the ground? There was a time when Nick Diaz actually threw power shots.
More from the Houston Alexander-apologist department
My op-ed piece on Thursday defending Houston Alexander drew quite the response. In reading some of the responses, there was one thing I don’t quite understand and that’s the anger that some people have towards him because of his poor performances on the ground.
The way some people get mad at him is the same way a sports fan gets down on an underachieving athlete competing for their favorite local team. I can understand why a sportsfan would resent the starting shortstop on their favorite team that is batting .212 and strikes out with runners in scoring position all the time. When it comes to local sports teams, your money is funding the franchise whether it be through alloted tax money that built a new stadium or high cable rates to cover the inclusion of the regional cable channel on your basic tier that televises the games.
But I am perplexed why that same kind of resentment exists for fighters that compete for a national promotion. Some of those posts read as though that some people really are bothered by the fact that Houston Alexander is a UFC fighter. And I don’t get that level of anger and resentment because unless you buy a pay-per-view or a ticket, it costs you nothing to watch a UFC event. Alexander’s last two fights have been on Spike TV so if he goes in there and stinks the arena up, you’ve invested nothing.
In regards to the argument that someone with Alexander’s lack of ground skills isn’t worthy of being in the UFC, one commenter made a good point and that is that as long as Alessio Sakara has a place in the UFC, so should Houston Alexander. And he’s right. But it goes just beyond Alexander. There are a lot more fighters currently on the UFC roster besides Sakara that have been given more chances than Alexander.
Three consecutive defeats is bad but he’s still 2-3 overall in the Octagon. The are fighters with far worse records than that who are competing in the UFC. Alexander definitely should take a fight or two outside of the UFC but I still believe it would be a mistake to cut him from his contract and not bring him back at some point.
Ed Herman deserved to win
If you’re one of the many commenters that believed Ed Herman deserved to win Wednesday night, you’re not alone. While I have seen far more egregious decisions in the past, I still do not believe Alan Belcher won that fight. He relied too much on his kicks and was taken down very easily. Herman also scored points by landing several power punches. I just felt that Herman finished the final two rounds strong and was the clear winner.
Eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” off to a strong start
When it comes to watching episodes of TUF, I like to keep things simple. After all, it’s a reality television show so I no longer waste my time trying to analyze the cultural impact the show has by the way it portrays MMA. When I look at it now I just ask myself whether I was entertained by the episode or not. And I found Wednesday’s premiere to be very high-paced and filled with good theater.
The most prevalent storyline on the show for me was the Jason Guida weight issue. Some people have been critical of the selection of a 17-17 fighter for the show but the idea is to create episodes that get people talking. Spike TV and the UFC accomplished that mission with Guida. And I don’t really get why such a big deal is being made of Guida’s failure to make weight.
Thiago Alves was given a big opportunity to headline a pay-per-view against Matt Hughes with a possible title shot on the line and he failed to make weight and he’s still employed by the UFC. When I complained about Alves failing to make weight and stated that the win shouldn’t count, more people people responded to defend Alves than to support my position.
I really think it’s a matter of Jordan rules. For some reason, people like Thiago Alves. He looks the part and is an impressive prospect with tremendous athleticism. Because of that, I think some people are more willing to overlook his transgressions. But Jason Guida has never fought in the UFC and doesn’t resemble a blue chip prospect so people are less forgiving. But lest we forget, Guida only missed weight by one pound while Alves missed it by four.
I’ve also read a lot of people ripping Guida for saying he’s no Gabe Ruediger. Well, he’s right. Sure, he bitched and moaned but so do most fighters while they are making a big cut in weight. The only difference is that there isn’t a camera in their face documenting everything they are saying. But the bottom line is that Guida never quit. Even after weighing in at 207 he was still prepared to go cut the additional pound. It was Keith Kizer who pulled plug, not Guida.
Guida’s only mistake was that he didn’t do a better job of masking his emotions. Because he was in such visual distress in front of the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission he forced Kizer’s hand. Had he been able to downplay the struggle of the cut a little more, he would have put Kizer in a position where he didn’t feel obligated to act in such an authoratative fashion.
I also felt the Phillipe Nover vs. Joe Duarte fight was excellent. After watching it, I could understand why Frank Mir was so vocal in his exclusive interview with Gary Ibarra were determined. regarding how the qualifying matchupsDuarte was not good enough to beat Nover but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be in the house. I will be shocked if all eight lightweights that made it into the house are better than Duarte.
I was also surprised that Lance Evans didn’t catch more flack for his decision to pull himself from his fight. A lot of people ripped Kalib Starnes for bowing out of his fight on TUF 3 because of a rib injury. Evans did the same thing. I’m not saying rib injuries are to be taken lightly, but there are fighters who suffer broken limbs and concussions during a fight and still battle to the bitter end. Evans was in a huge spot with a lot on the line and rather than bite the bullet for five more minutes, he elected to walk away.
My favorite moment of the show though was seeing Jose Aguilar get exposed. There have been several despicable individuals who lacked character that have been featured on TUF through the years but that guy took the cake for me. He was such a scumbag that he made a cocky kid in Junie Browning very easy to root for. When I interviewed white nationalist Melvin Costa last year, not even he wanted to compare himself to Hitler. I’m a conqueror, dog? I’m a criminal, dog? How old are you, 14? And after all the s— talk the dude quit on his stool after round one. Thanks for the effort.