Post Ultimate Fight Night 17 Notes – The Killing Fields

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Joe Rogan standing next to a DEA agent. Insane. I wonder how big the guy’s eyes would have bugged if he’d seen Rogan’s DMT tattoo. Rogan’s a real professional to do a decent job of hawking a show glorifying police officers that fight against his basic way of life.

Moving on to the actual night of fights, we had a lot of mid-level talent putting on entertaining scraps. What more can you ask for from a free TV card like this? The prospects to watch after tonight are Tibau and Velasquez to get real named fighters, with Johnson and Catone ideally getting further ‘developmental’ fights.

This was an especially brutal event, in the sense that several of the losing fighters, including Rich Clementi and Luigi Fioravanti were dropped from the organization following their losses.

Joe Lauzon defeated Jeremy Stephens via submission (armbar) at 4:42 of round 2

The biggest fight of the night, my biggest bet of the night, and it’s the one I predicted the most incorrectly. At least I still ended up positive for the event (at +0.13 on my official picks). I underestimated the impact of the short notice on Stephens, since he was helping Hermes Franca train. He was visibly gassed starting the second round, and it was all downhill from there, whereas he continued to fight strong in the third round of his last fight. I also underestimated Lauzon’s takedown ability and submission acumen.

Which is not to say this was a perfect showing from Lauzon. He still wimps out when someone is on top of him, he is too aggressive with his submission game, giving up position even on an inferior grappler like Stephens in his submission attempts, and he’s still going to have a hard time taking down top tier fighters, since he’s small and not a fabulous wrestler. There may be money to be made going against Lauzon in his next fight, after this performance raises his stock perhaps too high.

Cain Velasquez defeated Denis Stojnic via TKO (strikes) at 2:34 of round 2

Homer Simpson didn’t really look that impressive against Velasquez. He didn’t have the reach to go punch for punch or the skills to get inside, so he just got his ass beat. Cain pretty much said it all after the fight. He looked good, but he needs more ring time in order to get comfortable and throw less robotic combinations in greater depth. If AKA can get Koscheck straightened out from his old habits to the striker he is today, I’m sure Cain can improve as well if he continues to work diligently and be developed well in terms of the matchups he gets. This fight was a good one for Cain in that respect, since it’s the first time he’s gone past four minutes in a fight. Now he (ideally) needs a fight like Jon Jones had with Stephan Bonnar, where he has to fight a holding action in a third round while ahead on the scorecards and completely gassed. The one concern I would have about Cain’s performance is that he didn’t take down Simpson once, although he only made a few attempts. Obviously Cain primarily wanted this to be a standup fight, but I worry if he had legitimate difficulties taking Homer down, since he’s still going to live and die by his wrestling against top level opponents.

If Homer isn’t immediately dropped from the UFC, maybe we can look forward to seeing him in a total slop-fest against some other Euro fattie on a UK card. The guy definitely throws hard, and I’d like to see one of those haymakers connect for once, just for the sick pleasure of it.

Josh Neer defeated Mac Danzig via submission (triangle choke) at 3:36 of round 2

The crabby and stoic Danzig owes Neer thanks for kicking his ass so entertainingly and showboating, since that’s primarily what earned each fighter a 30,000 Fight of the Night award. Neer showed absolutely no respect for Danzig’s skills in this fight, shrugging off multi-hit combos and fearlessly attacking on the ground. He really treated Danzig as little more than a sparring dummy, more focused on getting off his own offense than on anything Danzig could throw his way. In the end, that confidence seemed to overwhelm Danzig and Neer nicely locked up the triangle for the finish.

To Danzig’s credit, his hands looked sharp, if not powerful, and he was throwing nice combos and slicing through Neer’s guard. To Neer’s discredit, he looked slow and hittable, something that will be exploited if he ends up facing a faster banger with more reach and power than Danzig has. The strangest thing to me was the clubbing method Neer employed in his punching. I can’t help but think he’d be better served throwing straighter, snappier punches, instead of relying on clubbing arm punches to discombobulate his opponents.

Anthony Johnson defeated Luigi Fioravanti via TKO (strikes) at 4:39 of round 1

Johnson looked good in this fight, with a variety of strikes, especially nice kicks for power off his front leg, which you don’t see a lot of in MMA. Usually guys either throw slapping ineffective kicks off their front leg (I’m looking at you, Ryo Chonan) or the somewhat slower and more telegraphed traditional thai roundhouse kicks off the back leg. Johnson is no crocop, but his lead leg kicks had some snap on them, and it’s an excellent use of his frame. The guy’s upper body looks like he should be 5’10” or so, so those extra 4” that put him to 6’2” are all in his super-long stilt legs.

Luigi just couldn’t overcome the reach disadvantage—although tried gamely to work himself in and out with fancy footwork, he just wasn’t sharp enough to get inside of Anthony’s strikes and Anthony throws with too much power for Luigi to just walk through them. Johnson doesn’t throw in combinations, just looking for that one big shot. He does have one-hitter-quitter level power, but he’s going to need to sharpen up if he’s not going to wear himself out or get countered against a more technically skilled striker. Hopefully he can get some more time to work on his skills before he gets eaten up by someone like a Thiago Alves or Jon Fitch. Seems like a classy and well-spoken guy on the microphone as well, which is nice.

Kurt Pellegrino defeated Rob Emerson via submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:14 of round 2

Pellegrino was just the better fighter in this tilt. Emerson kept pace on the feet, but Pellegrino showed he had the greater depth by shifting his game up between rounds and throwing Emerson off, while Rob couldn’t adjust to anything since all he’s particularly good at is striking. Pellegrino still showed that lack of mental focus that has hurt him in the past and will continue to hold him back against top level fighters, but he was simply far better than Emerson when it came down to it. It’s interesting to note that Emerson was a larger underdog to Manny Gamburyan than he was to Pellegrino here. A flashy KO really does wonder’s for a fighter’s stock, so maybe Emerson, who does have real skills, will be undervalued in his next fight, depending on style matchup.

Dan Miller defeated Jake Rosholt via submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:03 of round 1

An unfortunate fight for Rosholt, as predicted. Jake seemed disappointed in the result in an unusual way; he seemed to regret taking the fight and to have expected things to end up like this. Having seen Miller’s near-decapitation of Dave Phillips Rosholt should be glad that he didn’t have his head removed from his shoulders.

Matt Veach defeated Matt Grice via TKO (strikes) at 4:34 of round 1

Well, this was terrible. The most important part of any sport’s rules and refereeing is that they be carried out in an even-handed fashion, and this obviously failed that test. Sure, maybe Grice isn’t as tough as Veach, who is apparently capable of flailing around like a zombie after his brain has been shut off, but we’ll never know because he didn’t get a chance to recover. Depressing stuff, but Dana is usually good about bringing back guys with hard-luck losses like that.

Gleison Tibau defeated Rich Clementi via submission (Guillotine Choke) at 4:35 of round 1

Impressive performance all around by Tibau. Clementi isn’t an elite fighter but he’s very much a gamer and a veteran. To dominate him at all aspects of the game and submit him is a pretty impressive feat. Perhaps Tibau is finally living up to his physical potential and can really make an impact in the division (don’t forget that similarly giant-sized Thiago Alves had a very rocky start to his UFC career as well). Tibau has very good wrestling skills and a killer top game, so he is a real threat. The one bad thing about this outcome is that Clementi, who has always put on solid fights and been a game opponent, ended up getting released, which is too bad.

Nick Catone defeated Derek Downey via submission (Keylock) at 1:15 of round 2

Downey was smuggling some kind of funtime surprise in his head. Too bad it didn’t pop so we could see what we won. Catone had an impressive performance here, dominating the positional game very well but finishing with a good wrestler’s sub. He’s a good addition to the UFC’s current stable of undercard-worthy prospects.

Matthew Riddle defeated Steve Bruno via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Riddle was simply too big and powerful for Bruno in this fight. The kid obviously has tons of work to do, since he got hit by every strike Bruno threw, demonstrating a good chin, but also showing a massive weakness against anyone that can really hit hard. Riddle can wrestle well, but cannot fight on the feet and didn’t seem interested in practicing any kind of jiu-jitsu except for a wrestling ride and make-work punches to avoid a standup. He has a very long road ahead of him if he’s going to stay in the UFC.

Bruno, too, is going to struggle in the future. He’s small for 170 and also has trouble with physically dominant top position grapplers… which is a terrible weakness to have in the division of GSP and Jon Fitch.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?