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Hindsight Being 20-20: UFN 18

The eighteenth installation of the UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night had quite a few points of interest that absolutely deserve taking a look back at. From the uncertain futures for some, validations of high expectations for others, UFN 18 shared a brief glimpse into rising competitiveness of the organizations future. The talent filled card was stacked with fighters that are currently, or have the potential to soon become threats to the throne in each of their respective weight classes.

Ricardo Almeida made a believer out of me

I’m not going to go as far as to say that he’s the guy that is going to dethrone the current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, but I won’t go as far as to say he couldn’t either. Sometimes fights come along that make me completely change my mind about a fighter. I’ll be honest, nine times out of ten it’s when a guy I normally view as a one dimensional ground fighter surprises me with his stand up. I’ll point to Josh Koscheck‘s knockout of Dustin Hazelett, Rashad Evans’ head kick of Sean Salmon, or Sean Sherk and Tyson Griffin‘s stand up war with one another as points of reference. After all of these bouts I was, quite honestly, immediately converted from a sceptic to a believer. Much like with Almeida, I wasn’t convinced that any of the previously mentioned were sure to become the next champions in their divisions, but at the same time I was absolutely looking forward to their next bouts, for the first time I could remember.

One of the major knocks on Almeida by many as of late has been his questionable gas tank. The dangerous Brazilian looked exhausted during his last bout with Patrick Cote in July of 2008. A bout he wound up losing by unanimous decision, Almeida also lost a title shot at Anderson Silva the process. The word coming out of Almeida’s camp was that he was terribly sick going into the bout with Cote. Regardless, Almeida showed that his cardio does not need to be questioned in the future as he maintained a tireless pace in a winning effort against the zombie-like fighter with a notoriously endless gas tank, Matt Horwich.

Most notably in the bout against Horwich, the third degree Renzo Gracie black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu showed a surprisingly effective striking arsenal. His boxing was crisp, sharp and effective. Almeida’s significantly improved hands allowed him to set up take down after take down, and once on the mat he displayed punishing ground and pound. Although Almeida’s strength has long been his submission game, in the bout with Horwich going for a submission seemed to be pushed to the back of his mind. The thirty two year old middleweight’s eagerness to exchange punches in this bout, and his effectiveness doing so revitalize him as a legitimate threat to the crown at 185 pounds.

Tim Credeur is a problem at middleweight

I’m sure glad that Tim didn’t decide to step away from the sport after a long, hard ten years of fighting for peanuts before he entered The Ultimate Fighter for the show’s seventh installation. After coming up short in his quest to become the season’s middlweight Ultimate Fighter, Credeur has shown he belongs in the world’s elite fighting promotion, racking up three stoppages in three wins inside of the octagon over the last nine months.

A first degree judo and jiu-jitsu black belt, Credeur had racked up six submissions in his previous nine victories before fighting for the UFC. However, in the thirty one year old Louisiana native’s initial two bouts with the UFC, both been finished by TKO.

Getting back to his roots this past Wednesday night against Nick Catone, Credeur put on an absolute submission clinic against the previously undefeated middleweight. In the opening moments of the first round Credeur had Catone close to being finished with a nasty armbar attempt, but to Catone’s credit he managed to escape from the submission. For the duration of the round it was Credeur transitioning from submission attempt to submission attempt. From armbars, heel hooks, kimuras and triangle chokes, Credeur left Catone no room to breathe during the first round of their bout.

The Ultimate Fighter veteran showed a few holes in his defense while on the feet, but nothing big enough for Catone to capitalize on. With one minute thirty seconds left in the second round, Credeur went for a leg lock from the bottom which he beautifully transitioned into a sweep to get the fight standing. From there he instantly locked on the fight ending standing guillotine and dragged Catone to the floor which brought an end to the surprisingly one sided contest.

Credeur is just one of those guys that seems to improve every time you see him fight, and he showed in his win over Catone that to beat him anytime soon you’re going to have to pack a lunch.

Speaking of standing guillotines

Rob Kimmons upright choke out of Joe Vedepo was just plain nasty, in a good way. Once the strangle hold was locked into place it took an excruciating fifteen seconds for Vepedo’s body to go limp and sag against the cage. One of the more brutal submissions in recent UFC memory. If you haven’t had a chance to see this one, get a chance.

It’s okay to get excited about Aaron Simpson

I know Simpson has only had five fights and he hasn’t really faced a super tough test yet, but that’s alright, only five fights into his career this former Arizona State University wrestling coach is displaying all of the trademarks of a future threat to the middleweight championship. Obviously, Simpson doesn’t need to face Anderson Silva or Nathan Marquardt in his next performance but who knows how things could pan out in a year from now for this seemingly limitless prospect.

The undefeated middleweight came out like a stick of dynamite in his UFN 18 bout with former Arizona Combat Sports teammate, Tim Mckenzie, swinging for the fences with explosive punches before scooping McKenzie up and depositing him onto his back ten seconds into the bout. After allowing McKenzie to his feet, Simpson delivered a bone jarring right hand to the temple that sent his opponent reeling to the canvas. A few well placed punches to the downed McKenzie forced the referee to call a halt to the contest in the early moments of the first round.

Simpson will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on in the UFC’s middleweight division for years to come.

Where does Junie go from here?

I think that the most important thing to keep in mind when considering the controversial former Ultimate Fighter cast member’s future with the UFC, or in mixed martial arts in general, is the fact that the bout with the experienced and dangerous Cole Miller was just the young lightweight prospect’s fifth official professional appearance in MMA. Miller was a veteran of seventeen contests heading into the fight with Browning and showed every bit of that experience on his way to submitting Browning with a guillotine choke in the very first round of their bout.

Does Junie still have a lot of room to grow in the future? Absolutely. Was the loss to an opponent as experienced and well rounded as Miller at this early point in his career really that bad of a thing for Junie? I’d have to say no. Browning has plenty of time to improve in mixed martial arts and has always shown the potential to become a more complete fighter than he is at this early state of the game.

Where will Cole Miller fit into the UFC’s stacked lightweight division after two impressive victories

While the dominating victory over Browning won’t throw Miller into immediate title contention, he can most certainly expect a step up in competition in the very near future. Miller seems to get better every time we see him in the cage and it’s going to be interesting to see how he will fare if matched up against a Frankie Edgar, Tyson Griffin or Gray Maynard sometime soon. There are a ton of interesting match ups awaiting Miller in the octagon and it’s going to be interesting how he stacks up against some of the divisions top rated fighters.

Tyson Griffin may be a super human

The leg lock that Rafael dos Anjos had Grffin stuck in during the first round of their bout was absolutely horrific. There’s no other way to describe it. How Griffin’s leg didn’t snap int two pieces, or more importantly, how Griffin managed not to tap out from the submission attempt is a mystery to me.

After the Xtreme Couture trained fighter was able to shake his leg free from the dangerous submission artist, it was apparent that the leg had suffered extensive damage. Briefly hobbling around the octagon with the tweaked leg, Griffin composed himself and ignored the injury as he managed to continually dominate dos Anjos standing.

Would it have been easier on the experienced lightweight’s injured leg to try to take the action to the mat? Most likely. However, Griffin realized that he would probably be in greater danger if the fight went to the ground, so injured leg or not, he was going to win the fight on his feet.

Having never been stopped either by knockout or submission, it leaves me to conclude, there may be a good possibility that Griffin may be a martian, or perhaps a cyborg sent back from the future to lay beatdowns on lightweights in the UFC. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but the grit and determination Griffin has displayed throughout his career in mixed martial arts, and most recently his bout with dos Anjos, must be noted.

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