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The Aftermath: UFC 102

GonzagaDuring the Ultimate Fighting Championship‘s most recent installment of UFC 102 the company once again showed why they are the very best at what they do. Fast paced, electrifying , and well-matched battles between some of the most dangerous fighting talent from around the planet combined with flawless timing, production and execution made UFC 102 an event that delivered in every way.

Call me crazy, but does Todd Duffee vs. Brock Lesnar, or Todd Duffee vs. Shane Carwin sound good to any of you? Don’t get me wrong, a seven second knockout in his debut doesn’t go a long way in answering the questions hanging over a fighter as green as Duffee’s head, but the previously mentioned heavyweights are still relatively green in the grand scheme of things. Brock has five fights, Duffee has five fights, Carwin’s fought a combined total of just over thirteen minutes, and Duffee has put just over ten minutes in during his professional career of hurting people. Of course Duffee has some proving to do before he’s held in the same regards as Lesnar or Carwin, who have both proved their positions at the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division with impressive victories over top rated opponents. While Tim Hague doesn’t hold a victory over a Randy Couture, Gabriel Gonzaga or Frank Mir, the enormous heavyweight brawler showed his resolve in his UFC debut where he was blasted with Pat Barry head kicks early on, yet managed to secure the stranglehold submission when it was all said and done.

It’s okay to get excited about prospects in this sport if they give you something to be legitimately excited about. Five wins, five knockouts, the fastest knockout in well over a hundred UFC events, and an awesome nickname like “The Irish Car Bomb” make Duffee a prospect worth getting excited about.

As much has been made about Randy Couture’s forty-six years of age, perhaps more should be made of it. Not in a negative light, but quite the opposite; Randy showed in his three round battle with Antonio Rodrigo Nogieira that he can continue to compete at the highest levels of this sport. A true one of a kind, Randy continues to defy logic and set precedents as to what a man nearing his fifties can be capable of. It sounds cold, but it’s true, “The Natural” is closer to fifty than he is forty.

George Foreman made headlines some fifteen years ago when he became the oldest boxing heavyweight champion in the history of the sport at forty-five years of age, eventually retiring at forty-eight. The difference is that Big George relied heavily on his massive 6’4″, 250-plus pound frame and clubbing knockout power that had carried him throughout his illustrious boxing career, while Couture has never been known for a big punch. They say the last thing to go on a fighter is their punch, I firmly believe this statement is true and feel like it carried Foreman a long way before his age caught up with him.

The thing that makes Couture so remarkable is the fact that he is in a sport that involves punching, wrestling, submissions; anyone that has spent any chunk of time in training mixed martial arts will testify to the enormous variety of injuries that can be suffered during training alone. Joints are twisted, knees are bent in funky directions, and there’s no sport in the world that requires more from you cardiovascularly in fifteen minutes than fighting does. Randy is a work in progress, a man they will look back on decades from now as the standard for durability, and having just inked a career closing six-fight deal with the UFC, this legend’s story is far from done being written.

Two things were validated during Aaron Simpson vs. Ed Herman: A) Ed Herman is an absolute warrior, and B) Simpson is for real. The fight between the two was absolutely violent and raw, a true pleasure to watch. Unfortunate would be an understatement to describe the bout ending injury suffered by Herman during an Aaron Simpson takedown late in the first round. The Team Quest trained fighter showed the type of grit that would have made John Wayne proud, answering the bell for the second when it was more than obvious that he had suffered some sort of serious injury to his left knee. Up until that point we had a real war on our hands.

Herman is as tough as nails and utilized upkicks from the ground as well, if not better than I had ever seen employed before. When Simpson threw his punches you could hardly see them, but you could hear them, and that is a truly frightening thing. Both of these warriors were battered and rocked during several moments of the first round, in what was one of the most exciting rounds I have witnessed in quite some time, and it was nothing less than a tragedy that the fight had to end the way it did. However, these things happen in this sport unfortunately, otherwise the bout may well have given Couture vs. Nogueira a run for it’s money in the “Fight of the Night” department, as epic as that heavyweight battle was.

I don’t know, but maybe after a fighter is kicked in the groin so hard that he is vomiting in the Octagon it’s time to take the executive action and stop the fight. Chris Tuchscherer was absolutely leveled with a left kick to the ballocks in the opening moments of his UFC debut against Gabriel Gonzaga with a kick that seemed difficult to misplace. Now I’m not saying that Gonzaga meant to get things started with the sack-kick, but it didn’t even appear as if the kick had a chance of landing anywhere other than the groin. Regardless the fight should have been stopped as it was apparent that Tuchscherer was in no condition to continue, but kudos to Chris for manning up and sacrificing himself for the thrill of the fans. Not to say he was going to trounce Gonzaga if the foul hadn’t occurred, but it immediately cancelled any chance of a fair fight.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand more times, “really good at everything” will trump “amazing at one thing” every time. Nate Marquardt making surprisingly short work of Demian Maia was a perfect example of this. While the bout didn’t go very long to say the least, it didn’t have to. The whole thing with Maia is that you don’t want to go to the ground with him. The days of having to be worried about one specific area of your opponents arsenal are dead at this level of fighting. All Marquardt had to do was keep the fight standing and punch Maia in the face a few times. In what came as somewhat of a surprise, it ended up taking a couple less than a few. When Maia threw the second kick of the bout to Marquardt’s head and Nate flicked it away like a misdirected spitball you could just feel the wind being sucked from Maia’s sails, and it was as if he panicked when telegraphing that fateful third kick. The Octagon is no place to panic.

On a side note, kudos to Marquardt for holding off on that last punch to the downed and out submission specialist. So may times we have seen men that are clearly unconscious being battered about the face with the excuse,”Well, it’s the referees job to stop the fight”. Thank you for that show of class and respect to your opponent Nate, you’re a class act and great representative for the sport.

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