Sunday, February 2, 2014

UFC 169: Average "Super" night at the fights

On Super Bowl weekend the Ultimate Fighting Championship came to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ with a super card on paper, but just like most Super Bowl games it just didn't live up to the hype. Unfortunately, what could've been never was and what was expected to happen did as there were no surprise endings. Here are a few thoughts on the key fights.

First off in the main event, interim and now only UFC bantamweight (135 lbs.) champion Renan Barao (32-1, 8 KO's 14 subs), now riding an almost nine year winning streak, may very well be the best fighter from his gym Nova Uniao; the significance behind that statement is that he is teammates with featherweight (145 lbs.) champ Jose Aldo. However, his first round finish of 'The California Kid' Urijah Faber (30-7, 7 KO's 17 subs), defeating him for a second time, says a lot.

Now many may argue that the stoppage by referee Herb Dean was premature; however, my response to that is two fold. One is that Faber legitimately got caught and dropped by Barao, not once, but twice. Second and more importantly is that Urijah Faber telling Joe Rogan afterwards that he gave Herb Dean a "thumbs up" when Dean repeatedly asked him to "do something," is not intelligently defending yourself.

I'm sorry, as I'm a Faber fan, but when a ref asks you to "do something" while you turtle up on the ground taking punches, he's not looking for a thumbs up. Therefore, it's "thumbs down" on Faber for that move, however I will give him a "thumbs up" for acknowledging that Dean was just doing his job in looking out for the fighter. Bottom line, save the thumbs up or down for critiquing movies, not MMA fights.

As for Aldo (24-1, 14 KO's 2 subs), what can I say? He continues to do what he does best, literally kick the sh** out of his opponents as he tears up their legs with his brutal baseball bat swinging Muay Thai round kicks. While his teammate Barao is almost at nine years without a loss, Aldo just hit eight years this past November; to be a fly on the wall at Nova Uniao when those two are sparring each other.

As for Aldo's opponent Ricardo Lamas (13-3, 4 KO's 3 subs), he put up a good fight and it appeared he really was trying to win, but why did he wait till the fifth round to show it? Okay, Aldo and those kicks had something to do with it I know, I just wonder why a dominant wrestler like Lamas, who is vicious with his top game, waited till round three to finally attempt to shoot on Aldo. Why didn't he take a shot right from the start, possibly catching a cold hesitant Aldo in round one? Unfortunately, he's probably asking himself that very question this morning.

Finally, here are my thoughts on the featured bout between heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir. A less muscular Overeem (37-13, 15 KO's 19 subs) appears to have made for a better 'Reem as he wasn't even breathing hard after three rounds of pouncing on Mir standing and on the ground. Good for him as he breaks a three fight skid, however not sure that calling out a retired Brock Lesnar, who he already beat, on a rumor that he may return means much.

As for former UFC Heavyweight champ Mir (16-9, 3 KO's 9 subs), after his fourth loss in a row, its obvious his best days are behind him; the question here is whether he should continue at all? On the outside looking in, it appears Mir's heart just isn't in it anymore. He seems willing to show up, but once there just doesn't seem to go after it. At only 34 years old, Mir has become less than a gatekeeper, he's become a journeyman.

The label as the best jiu-jitsu player in the heavyweight ranks just doesn't hold much weight anymore now that MMA has evolved since that was the case 10 years ago. His monumental arm-breaking submission of Rodrigo Noguiera is now over two years old and just a fading memory.

The word has always been that Mir is a strong family man and it appears that is where his heart is, which is great and commendable. However, MMA is not a hobby and definitely not at the UFC level. A former two-time champion, Mir has nothing else to prove. Therefore, don't be surprised if Mir takes a serious look in the mirror and sees what I already know.

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