Musings: Current UFC Thoughts and Opinion
R.I.P. Evan Tanner
The death of Evan Tanner shows the fragility of life. Even those few individuals, who are seemingly invincible, like UFC fighters, are ultimately just human. The way he lived his life was envious. Tanner did so on his own terms, attempting to value each day, while living life to the fullest.
From my perspective, I remember Tanner as a warrior. Tanner was a quirky, eccentric personality, who fought with a never-say-die attitude. His heart was always on display and despite losing several fights, he never backed down from a challenge.
Tanner died searching for an adventure. I hope he understood that his life was one big adventure and the legacy he left behind teaches us seize each day. He will be sorely missed in the MMA community.
Diaz gets the W
At Fight Night 15, Nate Diaz eked out a victory over a very game Josh Neer. What ended up being primarily a ground battle, was entertaining from start to finish. Ultimately though, Diaz certainly did enough to win, with both fighters showing true tenacity.
What was impressive about Diaz’s performance was that despite never being able to secure the submission he clearly wanted, he remained composed. At no point did Diaz seem flustered, gassed or worried. He kept chipping away at Neer and controlling the fight. His escapes were top notch, his wrestling was solid and overall I thought he performed admirably.
His problem remains his striking. It’s humorous because his striking style is exactly like his brother, but even less technical. It’s’ almost as if he paws at his opponent, with very little power. Yet, he throws quite a lot when he chooses to engage. Against a disciplined striker though, Diaz would be overmatched.
Another win though, elevates him further up the ladder. With Tyson Griffin, Sean Sherk, Joe Stevenson and Kenny Florian all involved in upcoming matches, it’ll be interesting to see who he fights next. A showdown with wild and aggressive Roger Huerta would be explosive.
An enormous overhand right landed flush on the face of Chuck Liddell, ending the fight and possibly his career. The charismatic Rashad Evans managed to pull off the upset in emphatic fashion, with one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history. Ironically, the devastating punch that knocked Liddell out was the same one he had used to dominate the light heavyweight division for years. But, tonight the torch was passed, as Evans burst onto the scene and forced his way into the title picture.
Rashad Evans’ performance exemplified the importance of a credible game plan. The most underrated aspect of the fight game is the implementation of a well-developed strategy. Evans had one and utilized it to perfection. He used his superior speed and outstanding movement to stay away from Liddell’s power. In the first round, Evans frustrated Liddell by forcing him to give chase around the octagon. With Liddell stalking, Evans fired off punches sparingly as he sized up his opponent.
The second round was a different story. Right from the start, Evans looked more comfortable on his feet and displayed far quicker hands. He was elusive, while still managing to beat Liddell to the punch. His counter punching was precise and he caught Liddell with a perfect right. Evans fainted the jab, causing Liddell to attempt an uppercut, while also leaving himself open. The sequence was set up perfectly by Evans, who knew he was quicker and landed his overhand right before getting hit.
With each performance, Evans has seemingly gained confidence and improved his skills. This marks Evans 7th straight victory in the octagon and brings his UFC record to 7-0-1. He has beaten Stephan Bonnar, Sam Hoger and Michael Bisping. At times, his style has frustrated fans and his antics have upset them. But, despite inconsistent performances, he has some excellent tools in his arsenal and, after seven victories without a loss, he is deserving of a title shot.
Some pundits point to Rampage Jackson as a viable candidate for the next title shot. But, traditionally, a former champion must beat a credible opponent before he is given a rematch. For instance, take Rich Franklin or Matt Hughes. After losing their titles, both had to get past Jason Macdonald and Chris Lytle, respectively, to earn a title shot. If Rampage is able to get past old nemesis Wanderlei Silva, he will once again fight for the belt.
Others point to Lyoto Machida. While I am a major advocate of the karate fighter, I believe he needs one more test, like Thiago Silva, to put him over the edge as a credible and exciting fighter with fans. He has dissected opponents in the past, but has remained an obscure fighter. An impressive victory would go along way towards solidifying a title shot.
Where does Liddell go from here? He has dropped three of his previous four bouts and looked rather slow against Evans. After this fight, the Iceman has been violently removed from the title picture and, at age 38, he’s not getting any younger. The guy has had a tremendous career, but the end could be in sight.
Still, Liddell is a hardheaded guy and could be one who wants to continue fighting past his prime. If he chooses do so, he must diversify his offense. Long gone are the days when Liddell used combinations of punches and kicks, mixed with superb wrestling.
In order to survive in this quickly evolving sport, one must incorporate many different disciplines into their total package. It looks as though Rashad Evans has done so, while Liddell has struggled to adapt.
Matt Hamill’s defeat was vintage Rich Franklin. The former middleweight champ beat up on Hamill from start to finish. Franklin displayed more speed and a far more complete arsenal. Franklin used vicious body kicks, upper cuts, straight rights and leg kicks. While his performance was dominating, it lacked edge-of-your-seat drama.
Hamill seemed lost from the outset. There never seemed to be any real game plan for him. His halfhearted takedown attempts were very infrequent. It seemed as though he was content to sit back and let Franklin tee off on him.
Franklin is clearly a good fighter and looked good in picking apart Hamill. But, a more well known opponent will go a long way on help determining whether or not Franklin can be a force at 205.
Hendo and Marquardt Secure Victories
Both Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt looked good claiming their respective victories after previous losses.
Marquardt is always improving. He has learned to change levels with his striking and showed he can even deliver an effective high kick. Despite his loss to Anderson Silva, he continues to prove he is an elite fighter. Opponent Martin Kampmann was supposed to have the edge on their feet, but Marquardt overwhelmed him with precision striking.
The UFC put Henderson in a difficult position, pitting him against Rousimar Palhares. His opponent was little known and after suffering two consecutive losses, a defeat would have been devastating for Henderson. At the same time, a win over a fighter with little fan fare and even less notoriety does little as well.
Nonetheless, Henderson was able to exhibit great patience, a solid game plan and impressive submission defense. Meanwhile, Palhares shined as a potential future star. He displayed a tremendous chin; really smooth jiu-jitsu and a decent jab. In the end, Henderson was solid in his win over Palhares and showed he could adapt to a difficult opponent.
With both Henderson and Marquardt looking excellent in their bouts, a match between the two would be a tremendous fight and go a long way to determining who gets the rematch against Anderson Silva. Both are quality fighters at the top of the division and both have participated in exciting bouts.
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