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Brady: Let me clear my throat; UFC 96

Just when I think I’ve seen it all, Matt Hamill wins by head kick?

While I won’t go as far as to say that Hamill is the next Rashad Evans, there was something eerily familiar between Hamill’s vicious knockout of Mark Munoz last night and Evans brutal knockout of Sean Salmon at UFC Fight Night 8. At the time of the Salmon knockout, Evans was generally viewed as a tremendous wrestler with decent striking ability. Even though Evans previous fight was a vicious ground and pound stoppage of Jason Lambert, his three previous bouts for the UFC had ended in uneventful decisions.

While Hamill is normally fairly exciting to watch, his stand up game has never been his greatest strength. Even though his greatest strength will never be his striking arsenal, Hamill showed last night, a lot like Evans did in his bout with Salmon, that he is far from a one trick pony. The three time NCAA Division III National Champion in wrestling just gave his future opponents something else to worry about in the octagon, outside of defending the takedown.

I’m not saying that I am completely sold on Hamill being the next UFC light heavyweight champion by any means, but I am saying that the fashion of his victory last night sure peaked my interest, a lot like Josh Koscheck‘s knockout of Dustin Hazelett and Evans knockout of Salmon had previously forced me to pay attention to what I had considered to mainly be pure wrestlers at the time. With the contrasts that Koscheck and Evans’ careers have taken since the previously mentioned fights, it will be interesting to see how it unfolds for “The Hammer” as time goes on.

For the first time ever, I am genuinely excited to see Hamill’s next appearance in the cage.

Kendall Grove’s Inspector Gadget punch

I could have swore I heard Grove say “Go, go gadget arm”, right before he threw the jaw jarring punch that deposited Jason Day onto the canvas. It was a perfect display of how a vertically advantaged fighter should ‘fight tall’.

At 6′ 6″ tall, Grove presents some very unique challenges to anyone that stands across from him in the UFC’s middleweight division. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that “Da Spyder” has a good chance of dethroning “The Spider” anytime in the near future, but I will say this, if Grove can continue to use his lengthy frame and reach to his advantage the way he did against Day at UFC 96, he very well may have finally tapped into something that could keep him in the UFC for many fights in the future.

The light heavyweight division has a new shark in the waters

UFC’s light heavyweight division is notoriously stacked but the ultra loaded division just got one contender deeper after Jason Brilz‘ impressive victory over the extremely powerful and dangerous Tim Boetsch. Boetsch won the first round of the pairs match up but Brilz was able to utilize superior wrestling in the second and third rounds to guarantee himself the unanimous decision victory in his second appearance in the octagon.

With a 2-0 record in the UFC, Brilz has not suffered a loss in mixed martial arts in his last thirteen outings. To put Brilz’ win streak in a different perspective, he hasn’t lost a fight since 2001. It’s going to be interesting to see how the former University of Nebraska wrestler will do in his next couple of bouts with the UFC.

Can Gray Maynard please have the respect he deserves?

I know he’s only had a total of eight professional bouts in MMA but what does Maynard have to do, or who does he have to beat, to break into the top ten of the MMA’s lightweight rankings?

The main knock on Maynard from many of his detractors is the same knock long shared by top light heavyweight, Lyoto Machida, he doesn’t finish fights. You know what, who cares? Maynard is winning fights and most impressively, he’s winning them against beasts.

I’m sorry, but since when has finishing off guys like Frankie Edgar or Jim Miller been an easy task? Miller has beaten very capable lightweights Bart Palaszewski, David Baron and Matt Wiman throughout the course of his career, with his sole loss coming at the hands of Frankie Edgar. A man who Maynard holds the sole defeat over, Edgar has toppled top lightweights Tyson Griffin, Mark Bocek, Spencer Fisher and Hermes Franca during his time in MMA. Both Miller and Edgar are two of the most capable and elite competitors in the games lightweight division, and the fact that Maynard holds victories over the pair demands that the former Michigan State University wrestling stand out turned mixed martial artist is finally given his due respect, and hopefully a consensus top ten ranking in the lightweight division.

One of the worst stoppages ever

Let me make one thing clear before I get into this. I have never had a problem with Yves Lavigne, and I actually think that he is one of the better referees in the sport. I also feel like referees in mixed martial arts generally take way too much heat for what I consider to be an extremely difficult and under appreciated job.

With that said, there was absolutely no reason for Pete Sell to take the kind of prolonged beating that he took at the hands of Matt Brown last night. People will boo perceived early stoppages, and post on forums about how fighter A should have been allowed to punch fighter B a few more times all they want, but they are not the ones that have the potential to receive brain damage while participating in the sport they love.

There was more than one mistake with Lavigne’s performance as a referee last night, the first being the initial early stoppage. He should have at least taken the time to assess Sell’s condition after he hit the canvas. When Lavigne jumped in to separate the fighters, that should have been it. When he stopped Brown from further attacking Sell, he prevented the finish from happening, that was inevitably two or three strikes away. Not only did he prevent Brown from doing his job and finishing what he had started, the choice to allow the fighters to continue after he had already basically called a halt to the contest, resulted in Sell taking an astonishing amount of abuse that he never should have been subjected to.

When Sell first dropped to the ground, it was a flash knockout. Something in his brain temporarily shutdown, causing his legs to go limp. I’m no doctor but I do know this, getting knocked out, waking back up and being beaten about the head repeatedly does very bad things to the human brain. Many of the serious injuries that have come in the sport of boxing are due primarily to the fact that the combatants are allowed to be knocked down, given a count, only to have their heads traumatized for as long as they can put up with it. Toward the end of the bout, which was basically over when it began, Sell was visibly out on his feet.

Even Brown admitted in his post fight interview with Joe Rogan that he knew that Sell having a lot of trouble, and that he was vulnerable to just being pushed over because his balance was so bad. Lavigne couldn’t see how badly Sell was hurt from being that close to the action? He didn’t think that maybe when Sell fell down on his own free will that it may be a good point to call an end to the unnecessary beating? I guess not because after Sell dropped to the canvas from nothing other than no longer being able to keep himself upright, Lavigne saw it necessary that Brown plant a few more concussive blows on Sell’s defenseless chin.

Like I said before, Lavigne is generally a very good referee, last night he made a mistake, a mistake that could have proved costly to the health of a man that put his well being in the referee’s hands. I would rather see a hundred fights stopped early before I see one fight stopped fatally too late in this sport. There is no replacing brain cells once they are gone.

Shane Carwin may not have answered all the questions hanging over his head, but he sure answered one

Carwin is a real fighter, no doubt about it. He was rocked badly early on by a powerful right cross from Gabriel Gonzaga, and instead of turtling up, or running away, Carwin fought back. He composed himself, gathered his senses and did what he had to do to get back onto his feet and put Gonzaga on his back for the victory.

Does the fact that he wasn’t knocked out by Gonzaga mean that Carwin has a great chin? Not Necessarily. The fact that he was wobbled so early on raises more questions about the massive Colorado native’s jaw than it did answers. Were we able to figure out if Carwin’s gas tank was up to par, absolutely not.

One thing that is for sure about Carwin, a lot like George Foreman, he just has that big man punching strength. The kind of strength in his punch where it really isn’t going to take a super hard shot to knock out his opponent. Really, all Carwin needs is to place his enormous fist on his opponents jaw and it’s going to be a problem, for anybody, horses and elephants included.

We saw that if Carwin is put on his back by a dangerous ground fighter, he has the ability to get back up, but most importantly we learned that Carwin has the heart and determination that it takes to bounce back from the brink of defeat, and this has always been the most tell tale sign of a champion.

Jackson vs. Jardine was a lot more competitive than most people thought it was going to be, but let’s talk Jackson vs. Evans

I could talk about how much better Keith Jardine did in his bout with Quinton Jackson than most people thought he would but I’d much rather use this space to discuss the next light heavyweight championship match.

Jardine doesn’t want to fight his friend and training partner, Rashad Evans, but I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot, and Jardine was in Evans’ way for a title shot, would he not be jumping at the opportunity? I doubt it. However, luckily we don’t have to worry about that type of dilemma, as Jackson will have no problem getting into the cage and attempting to tear Evans apart limb from limb.

I wonder what the odds are going to start out at, and where they will settle before the bout between Evans and Jackson. I’m thinking that they’re going to start out pretty even and they will end up pretty even. I have been going back and forth on a bout between the two since Evans won the light heavyweight championship, and I’ll tell you what, this is no easy fight to pick.

Both men are explosive in all aspects of their game. Both have tremendous wrestling capability, devastating punching power and freakish strength for 205 pounds. Stylistically, the two are almost mirror images of each other. One thing is for certain, both men will be up against one of the toughest, if not the toughest tests of their careers.

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