HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from UFC Fight Night 90, TUF 23 Finale, and UFC 200

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch Contributor

There were some huge fights this past weekend, despite Jon Jones having one of the most clutch fails of all-time. Staff08Hyden_150Let’s get right to it.

UFC Fight Night 90

GOOD: Joseph Duffy submits Mitch Clarke

Super quick fight as Duffy floored Clarke, took his back, then locked in the choke for the win in about 25 seconds. Big win for Duffy.

GOOD: Alan Jouban vs. Belal Muhammed

Jouban dominated early, nearly finishing things in the first round, but Muhammed showed incredible toughness and kept coming. Jouban said he broke his hand in the second round and was just trying to hold on, which opened the door for Muhammed to come in and put together a good third round. Jouban still won the decision, though. Great chins by both guys, who were also both throwing and landing some tremendous shots.

UGLY: Derrick Lewis vs. Roy Nelson

This fight sucked. Imagine the worst heavyweight fights you’ve seen and this was about on par with those. Nothing happened, and both guys gassed badly. Moving on…

GREAT: Eddie Alvarez stops Rafael dos Anjos

Alvarez caught dos Anjos with a great counter that hurt him, then poured it on to get the ref stoppage. I didn’t see that coming at all. I thought Alvarez would grind and work hard, but ultimately come up short to dos Anjos. He did take dos Anjos down a few times, but he just ate up dos Anjos on the feet. His punches were so hard and damaging that it’s amazing that dos Anjos was able to take them and remain standing. To stop a guy as tough as dos Anjos is, is just incredible. To do it while winning the UFC Lightweight Title has to be even sweeter. Awesome stuff.

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale

GOOD: Joaquim Silva stops Andrew Holbrook

Silva dropped Holbrook and followed up with more punches to get the stoppage in about 30 seconds. Big win.

GOOD: Doo Ho Choi stops Thiago Tavares

They fought on the ground and against the fence for a while until Choi dropped Tavares with a power right hand. Big win for Choi.

GOOD/BAD: Will Brooks vs. Ross Pearson

I can’t give this a full GOOD because it wasn’t. It was fine, but it wasn’t all that great. Pearson is a tough veteran and was able to neutralize Brooks to a degree. This was the UFC debut for Brooks and I’m sure nerves came up. This played out largely the way I think most people saw it, with Brooks winning a close decision. Pearson is too tough to think that Brooks was going to finish him, at least without taking unnecessary chances. Brooks didn’t want to come in and lose his debut, so he was going to play it safe and play to his strengths. It was an okay fight, it was fine, but it was just there.

I do think that Brooks should be given a top ten guy next. Let’s see where he stands. Brooks called out new UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez after his win, and while I wouldn’t go there just yet, I would do something close to that. Assuming that Tony Ferguson wins against Landon Vannata tonight at UFC Fight Night 91, I would give him the next title shot against Alvarez. I would have Brooks fight Khabib Nurmagomedov to determine the next #1 contender. That would be highly unconventional for sure, but Brooks never lost the Bellator Lightweight Championship, so why not give him a chance to show what he can do against high-level UFC competition? I think it would be really interesting to see how these guys would deal with the other.

GOOD: Tatiana Suarez submits Amanda Cooper

Suarez was all over Cooper from the start and finally was able to lock in the submission to win the TUF 23 Strawweight tournament. Big win for her and, based on her submission skills, could lead to some good things for her in the division.

UGLY: Andrew Sanchez vs. Khalil Rountree

This fight sucked. Neither guy did anything worth a damn and they were gassed like crazy. The only thing that could have saved this was if Richard Roundtree had jumped into the cage and whooped both their asses. He probably could have done it, and that man just turned 74 years old. Sanchez won the decision and the TUF 23 Light Heavyweight tournament. So…yeah.

GREAT: Claudia Gadleha vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jedrzejczyk retained her UFC Women’s Strawweight Title with a thrilling decision win here. Gadelha came out and took the first two rounds with her wrestling and overall grappling. Showing the heart of a champion, though, Jedrzejczyk came roaring back and took the final three rounds. I was a bit perplexed by the scoring, though, as two of the judges gave Jedrzejczyk a 10-8 and one judge gave her two 10-8 rounds. Maybe the fourth round was a 10-8, but I just don’t know if you can quite go there, and I certainly don’t remember another 10-8 round.

Regardless, the drama here was palpable. Gadelha’s fans had to be trying to will her to get one more round to win the title. She was so close she could taste it. And the heart of Jedrzejczyk can’t be overstated. She was being beaten those first two rounds. Yeah, Gadelha gassed, but I think Jedrzejczyk’s amazing conditioning made that look ever worse. At the end of the fight, Jedrzejczyk looked like she was ready to go another five rounds, it was incredible. Her speed was fantastic, she didn’t seem to slow down at all. This was such a good fight. I know I’m a bit biased as I’m a big fan of both of these women, but this was so good. I’m trying to not jump into hyperbole territory, but I’m so impressed with both of them. Especially Jedrzejczyk, who came back from after losing two rounds and showed us all again why she’s called Joanna Champion. Great stuff.

UFC 200

GOOD: Cain Velasquez stops Travis Browne

Velasquez looked like his old self here, as he pummeled Browne with repeated strikes until the ref stopped it with only seconds to go in the first round. If Velasquez can stay healthy he’ll be challenging for the title again really soon. Big win for him.

GOOD: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar

Aldo rebounds from a quick loss in his last fight to take the decision here. He just picked Edgar apart and peppered him with shots. It was a close fight, but Aldo was clearly the better fighter. He showed what he’s capable of and sets up a rematch with UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor. That should be an awesome fight. As for Edgar, Aldo was just too quick for him. I don’t know where he goes from here, he’s better than just about everyone else in the division.

UGLY: Anderson Silva vs. Daniel Cormier

This fight perfectly encapsulates one of my biggest irritants in life. It happens with politics, social issues, sports, and everything else but I’ll focus on just the sports aspect here. There are too many people who think that things have to be on one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. In MMA terms, you either have to lay on a guy and blanket him while doing nothing, or you have to stand right in front of him swinging like a drunk guy swatting at a bee. This ignores that there’s a tremendous swath of middle ground with which to operate.

Cormier laid on Silva for the majority of this fight, and got loudly booed for doing so. This, of course, brings out the aforementioned people, I’ll call them apologists. These apologists use words like “fighting smartly” and “fighting intelligently” and “doing what he has to” and other such garbage, as if what Cormier did was the only way to do any of those things. They use this flowery language to try to cover for a supreme lack of effort. They also accuse booing fans of “not understanding the intricacies of wrestling” or of wanting Cormier to stand and trade with Silva and risk getting knocked out.

To be as crystal clear as possible, no one has said that they wanted Cormier to stand in front of Silva and trade punches with him, no one. I repeat, NO ONE has said that. The problem is not that Cormier kept taking Silva down. The problem is what he did after taking Silva down, or to be more accurate, what he didn’t do. Cormier didn’t do anything even remotely resembling what you would expect from a fighter who’s trying to win a fight. Throwing a love tap every ten seconds to avoid being stood up isn’t trying to win. That’s not fighting smartly. Fighting smartly would be taking the guy down, trying to advance position (which Silva was working hard to prevent), and pounding the guy out. If the guy is stopping you from advancing position, posture up and rain down hell on him.

I’m still a big Anderson Silva fan, but he’s 41 years old. He’s not nearly what he used to be. He can summon it up for brief stretches, but by and large, he’s a shell of his former self. So, there’s one. He also took this fight on two days notice. He’s coming in off the couch. He’s not ready to go three rounds. He also had his gall bladder removed less than two months ago. He’s not even going to be as good as he can be, however good that is at 41 years of age. Finally, he was moving up in weight.

Cormier was preparing to face Jon Jones, who might be one of the biggest idiots in sports, but is one of the premier fighters in the world. I understand it’s a different fight, but how do you go from preparing to fight one of the best to fighting a guy well past his prime and not nearly physically ready to go, and your performance diminishes so much that you need to pull out a microscope in order to see it?

Cormier’s effort was pathetic. What makes it all the more galling is knowing that he’s capable of so much more. Something that’s equally as pathetic is seeing these apologists scrambling to cover for him. There’s no excusing what Cormier did Saturday night. He was on the biggest stage he’s ever going to be on in his MMA career and he laid a turd the size of an elephant. He didn’t fight smartly, he barely fought at all. Fighting intelligently isn’t laying on top of a guy for minutes at a time where the slightest mistake could cost you the victory. Fighting intelligently would be getting that guy down and pounding him in the face until the ref pulls you off. It was more dangerous for Cormier to let Silva hang around and hang around. Ask Chael Sonnen what it’s like to dominate a guy for the entirety of the fight only to make a single mistake at the end that costs you everything. Ask Sonnen if he wouldn’t give up anything in order to have that moment back so he could perhaps be more aggressive and try to seal the deal.

Wouldn’t fighting smartly be trying to minimize your time in the cage with a dangerous opponent (Silva’s old and stuff, but he’s still dangerous)? Especially when it would take so little effort and risk to do so? It was more risky to let the fight continue on the way it did. That’s not smart, that’s lazy.

I did get a kick out of Cormier losing his mind about Donald Cerrone criticizing him publicly, tough. To be clear, Cerrone was wrong to use a homophobic slur. That word has been ingrained in our culture for decades, but it’s 100% wrong to use. However, Cormier flipping his lid like he did just shows how aware and how sensitive he is about his awful performance. Which he should be, it was truly the worst possible thing he could have done in that situation. To throw a fit like he did only makes things worse. The best thing Cormier could do is come out, own up to it, and say something about how he’ll learn from this and use it as fuel to get better.

GOOD/BAD: Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt

To be blunt, this fight was meh at best and dull at worst. The GOOD is entirely for Lesnar returning and looking as good as he did. It’s been years since he was in the cage. It was your classic grappler vs. striker fight. At times Lesnar looked really good, and at others he looked almost lost. That’s what being away for so long will do to you, though. It wasn’t all that good, but it was memorable. Lesnar picked up the decision win in a fairly close fight. Lesnar looked pretty good in the first and third rounds. The second round is something to work on, if he decides to fight anymore. I personally think he’s done, but you never know with him. Never say never with Brock Lesnar. I liked this fight more than others might have, but I am a Lesnar fan. Plus, I’m always amazed when people return from long layoffs and look good. I mean, Lesnar didn’t look as good as UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz did when he returned, but Lesnar looked good.

GOOD: Amanda Nunes submits Miesha Tate

Nunes started lighting Tate up with strikes, which forced Tate to go for a takedown. Nunes defended really well, took Tate’s back and got the choke locked in for the tap. Great stuff from Nunes. She busted Tate up badly. Tate is really tough, but no one is going to take shots like that and be able to keep coming, not at full capacity. Nunes delivers a big time moment to close out one of the biggest shows in MMA history. Presumably she’ll fight Ronda Rousey whenever Rousey can return, and that’s a fight I’m definitely excited for.

The UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title has switched hands over and over again lately, going from Rousey to Holly Holm to Miesha Tate and now to Amanda Nunes. It’s an exciting time in the division. Another big performance like this from Nunes and she’s going to turn a lot of heads. This card had some good moments, some bad moments, and some ugly moments. I don’t think it’ll be remembered like UFC 100 (thanks for that, Jon Jones), but it’s still a huge deal. It also set up some huge fights for later in the year, or early next year.

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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