HYDEN’S TAKE: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from UFC Fight Night 106 including Gastelum vs. Belfort, Shogun Rua, Edson Baboza, Oliveira

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch columnist

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

UFC Fight Night 106 was this past weekend and it featured some great moments. Let’s get to the rundown.

UFC Fight Night 106

GOOD – Alex Oliveira submits Tim Means: Means is tough and exciting, but Oliveira really took the fight to him. He worked his wrestling well before setting up the fight-ending submission. Good win for Oliviera.

GOOD – Bethe Correia vs. Marion Reneau: The fight ended in a majority draw after Correia took the first two rounds and Reneau won the third round 10-8 in the eyes of two of the judges. Correia controlled things well early but Reneau put a beating on her in the third round. Correia showed good toughness to not get finished. Good fight.

GOOD – Jussier Formiga vs. Ray Borg: This one was extremely close, with Borg picking up the decision win. Tremendous speed on display here, and Borg moves closer to a title shot. Formiga drops a bit, but the division isn’t super deep so this loss won’t hurt him too badly. Good win for Borg.

GOOD/GREAT – Edson Barboza stops Beneil Dariush: Dariush was fighting very well in the first round, landing some heavy shots to Barboza. He tried to keep doing that in the second round, but Barboza’s speed caught up with him. Dariush landed a punch on Barboza then started for a takedown when, lightning quick, Barboza lifts his knee and completely crushes Dariush and ends the fight. That looked so painful and was amazingly impressive. Just fantastic stuff from Barboza as he continues his highlight-reel ways.

GOOD – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua stops Gian Villante: Shogun has been fairly impressive in his last few fights. Granted, the guys he’s beaten aren’t around the top guys or anything like that, but it seems like he can still summon up the magic to beat these bottom of the top 10 or top 15 guys consistently. As for what happened in this fight, these guys were throwing bombs. Villante dropped Shogun, Shogun dropped Villante, and they were both going for the knockout. In the third round, Shogun got the finish after wobbling Villante with a combination. It would be almost impossible for Shogun to make a title run, but there’s still guys in the division that he can beat. As long as no one gets ahead of themselves and books him against the better guys, he has a chance to beat them. I don’t know how much longer Shogun wants to fights, but he can keep going like this for a few more years maybe.

GOOD – Kelvin Gastelum stops Vitor Belfort: Everyone knows that Belfort comes out hot in the first round, and this was no exception. He was hitting Gastelum with big shots. He was quick, he was active. However, Gastelum showed good speed and big power himself as he dropped Belfort with a combination and then finished him off. Belfort didn’t go down easy, he was still landing big shots even after he was wobbled and about finished. This is a huge win for Gastelum. Not just the fact that he won, but how he won. He went toe-to-toe with a good striker and came out on top. Big performance from Gastelum.

Joe Rogan recently criticized the booking of UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping defending his title against the returning Georges St. Pierre. He asked why even have champions if the rankings don’t matter? GSP has never fought in the middleweight division, hasn’t fought in three years, and there’s guys in the middleweight division with a strong case for a title shot.

Yoel Romero is the man that most people would say should get the title shot. It’s hard to dispute that, given Romero’s record. Another guy that I would list as more deserving of the title shot is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The only loss Jacare has in recent years is to Romero, and that was a split decision that was extremely controversial and you could easily argue that Jacare won that fight.

Either one of these guys could easily get the title shot and there would be no question they deserved it. I’m not hating on GSP, if you’re offered a title shot you have to take it. I don’t blame him, I’d do the same thing. I can also only give Bisping himself a little bit of the blame. He’s been publicly calling for these high profile fights because he wants to make as much money as he can. Hard to blame a guy for that. The UFC gets 99.9% of the blame here. Just because Bisping wants a big fight instead of defending his title against the top contender, doesn’t mean that you have to give it to him. Every fighter is going to want the big fights, the ones that make you the most money.

At the same time, the UFC wants to make as much money as they can. That’s understandable. However, booking GSP-Bisping is just a short-term gain that diminishes the title. Not by a whole lot, but it adds up over time with the “entertainment over sports” decisions the UFC has been making a lot lately. If you’ve got a popular champion, this doesn’t matter all that much. What happens when you don’t have a popular champion, though? When you have someone who doesn’t do well at promoting themselves or their fights? That’s when you lean on “This is a title fight, folks!” as part of your promotion. When you’ve established that guys can jump the line, though, the titles don’t mean as much. That’s a long-term consequence.

This kind of stuff is going to happen in the fight game. The key is to not do it too often. GSP’s return fight is going to be huge, regardless of who it’s against. There’s no reason to make it a title fight, that’s not going to make it any bigger. It would be a little different if he was returning to a welterweight title fight. He vacated the title a few years ago. It would still be questionable as Demian Maia has a strong case for a title shot, but GSP was the longterm kingpin of the division so it makes more sense. GSP returning to reclaim the title he never lost makes sense. GSP returning to fight in a division he’s never fought in, as well as jumping over two top contenders to do so, doesn’t.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: HYDEN’S TAKE: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from UFC 209 including Tyron Woodley showing why he’s not a big draw, Overeem reasserting himself, Khabib pullout

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

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