HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 151 and UFC 196

Bellator 151 and UFC 196 both took place this past weekend. Let’s get right to the rundown. MMAcolumnist-HydenFrank_300x250

Bellator 151

GOOD: Joe Taimanglo vs. Sirwan Kakai

This fight was fine, it was solid. I was only half paying attention, but it seemed like a hard-fought fight. Taimanglo picked up the decision win.

GOOD: Goiti Yamauchi vs. Bubba Jenkins

This was another solid fight. It was hard-fought and close, with Jenkins picking up the decision here.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Gilbert Smith

Gonzalez won the split decision in a very close fight. To be honest, I wasn’t paying the closest attention to any of these fights tonight because I’ve taken to throwing parties and having people over to watch these Bellator events. There’s often a lot of crap on these cards, and it’s a lot easier to sit through them if you’ve got friends over. This was a solid fight. Nothing great, but it was solid.

GREAT: Darrion Caldwell submits Joe Warren

Caldwell came out and ran right through Warren in a pretty damn impressive performance. At one point he gave Warren a suplex from Hell that would have been the highlight of the fight except for right afterwards he choked Warren unconscious with a nice rear-naked choke. Warren refused to tap so he went out. This was a big statement win for Caldwell. He just announced himself big time to the rest of the division.

UFC 196

GOOD/BAD: Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko

Nunes had a dominant second round after a good first, but then tired and Shevchenko took the third round. Nunes got the decision, but fading late is worrisome to her title hopes. If she’s tiring out in the third round, what would she be like in the fourth and fifth rounds? Of course, if you never go that far it won’t be an issue, but this is still something to be concerned about if you’re in her camp.

GOOD/BAD: Corey Anderson vs. Tom Lawlor

This was a close fight (despite judge’s scores of 30-27 for two of them), but I’m throwing a BAD in there because it didn’t seem like either guy wanted to win in that third round. Way too lackadaisical from both guys. That took things down a notch. Regardless, Anderson won the decision.

BAD: Gian Villante vs. Ilir Latifi

This was just a crap fight with both guys gassing hard down the stretch. Latifi won the decision, but it’s not going to mean much.

GOOD/GREAT: Miesha Tate submits Holly Holm

The fight itself was very tense. The second round saw Tate nearly finish things with her excellent ground game, but Holm battled back and was likely leading on the cards heading into the fifth round. Tate showed incredible toughness and tenacity as she fought through Holm’s offense and got the submission late in the fifth round. She choked Holm out cold. Neither woman was going to give an inch and they both fought their asses off.

Tate finally breaks through (in the UFC) in an epic moment to win the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title, and we’ve got ourselves a very interesting pair of matches for the next title fight.

If Ronda Rousey returns for UFC 200, having her face Tate for the third time is very intriguing. Rousey handily won their previous two fights, but things are vastly different now. Rousey is coming off the only loss of her career, a vicious knockout at the hands of Holm. You would expect her to show a champion’s heart and come back stronger than ever. On the other hand, Tate has tasted gold again (having been previously the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion) and surely has to be as confident as ever. This would be the same scenario as what happened in Strikeforce, though, as Tate wins the title and then faces Rousey in her first title defense. I have to think, though, that Tate would be ready to go and eager to try to beat Rousey and exorcise those demons.

The other fight would be Holly Holm getting an immediate rematch. After all, she was winning this fight heading into the fifth round. It would be interesting to see what each woman changes in her approach if they were to fight again. Obviously, the big money fight is Rousey’s return, but Holm-Tate 2 would also be a good sell. I’m interested either way.

GOOD/GREAT: Nate Diaz submits Conor McGregor

McGregor took the first round as he bloodied up the face of Diaz. He was lighting him up with shot after shot, but Diaz is known for being ultra-tough. He took what McGregor was dishing out and kept coming. I think that rattled McGregor. Diaz is also a good boxer and he stunned McGregor in the second round. That’s when McGregor made a huge error and shot in. Why he would want to do that is hard to imagine. I understand he was rocked, but you don’t go to the ground with a guy the caliber of Nate Diaz unless you can match him, and there’s just no way that McGregor is as good as Diaz is on the ground. You take your chances on the feet, even if you’re rocked. Diaz isn’t known as a knockout artist so you should be able to weather the storm.

I think McGregor would have won the fight if he had kept the fight standing. I’ve talked with people who disagree with that, but I think McGregor is the better striker. Diaz is really tough, but any man can be stopped if you hit him enough times. Going to the ground with a guy the caliber of Diaz is entirely too dangerous. I don’t think it’s worth the risk. McGregor had some nice moments, but you’re playing with fire if you try to engage Diaz on the ground. I know McGregor was getting hurt in the second round, but you don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. We can all disagree about McGregor’s chances on the feet, but I think we can all agree that he had almost no chance on the ground.

I’ve also seen a fair amount of people trying to blame this on weight, and saying that McGregor went up too far in weight. I don’t agree with that at all, and I’m disappointed to see some fighters making that claim. Diaz fought for a bit at welterweight, but had little success. He was considered too skinny for welterweight. Lightweight seems his natural division. On top of that, he’s known for having a granite chin. McGregor not being able to stop him didn’t have anything to do with weight, it had everything to do with the fact that Diaz can eat punches like few others.

It’s not surprising that McGregor couldn’t finish Diaz by strikes in the first round, or even the second. What would have been surprising is if he had been able to knock him out that early; it would have been stunning. I don’t think this can be chalked up to weight issues. I think that’s too dismissive of Diaz and what he was able to do. He took some hard strikes from a good striker and kept coming. And he paid the price for it, looking at his face after the fight shows you that. However, he kept coming and showed incredible toughness. That’s the story of the fight, that Diaz was tough enough to take McGregor’s best shots and submit him. That’s impressive. To say it happened because of weight takes away from Diaz. He just had the biggest win of his career, not because he was bigger, but because he was better.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

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