Ryan Bader inched closer to a light heavyweight title shot, Ross Pearson suppressed his Diego Sanchez demons and Tim Boetsch made all of Maine happy.
You already know who won and who lost Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Saint Preux. We here at Haymaker are more concerned with going beyond the results.
Here’s what we took away from the UFC’s first event from Maine:
Another judge dread?
Tough break for Lauren Murphy, but the judges made the correct call.
You’ve probably already seen the stats from FightMetric. Total strikes: Lauren Murphy 193, Sara McMann 64. Looks like a blowout, right? Absolutely not. MMA is not a statistics-based sport, no matter how many people try to paint it as such. This is not baseball. There is no system of sabermetrics. The only "WAR" is those dumb hashtags on Twitter when someone is cheering on their favorite fighter. Maybe there will be someday, but mixed martial arts contains too much nuance. It’s hard to pin down with numbers.
The judges made the right call in giving McMann a split-decision victory. She controlled the fight on the ground. McMann had Murphy on her back for the majority of 15 minutes. Murphy landed strikes from the bottom, but in MMA when you’re in dominant position — for better or worse — judges are going to see you as winning the fight. Murphy did a great job against a former Olympic wrestling silver medalist and is absolutely a factor in the UFC’s bantamweight division. But the bottom line is if you can’t stuff a takedown, you don’t deserve to win at this level, even if the flawed statistics show something different.
"The Barbarian" cometh
How awesome was this?
It was the second round, Brad Tavares was dominating and most people viewing were probably wondering how much longer they would be seeing Tim Boetsch in the UFC. A loss would have given him four defeats in his last five fights with only a rather suspect split decision win over C.B. Dollaway mixed in between. Somehow, though, Boetsch channeled Paul freakin’ Bunyan and rocked Tavares with a left hook and right hand that ended the fight. Just … like … that, as Mike Goldberg would say. Or something.
Suddenly, Sunday morning we’re talking about Boetsch’s incredible comeback KO rather than him being cut from the UFC. Oh, MMA. This is why we love you. Making it even cooler is that Boetsch was the only fighter on the card who was actually born in Maine. "The Barbarian" grew up about an hour south of Bangor in Lincolnville. He had family and friends in attendance and when he won, the Cross Insurance Center got about as loud as the Cross Insurance Center is going to get. It wasn’t quite Conor McGregor in Dublin, but it was a pretty darn special moment for Boetsch.
Sealed with a kiss
Alan Jouban is a starter for Team Handsome.
C’mon, man. Really? Talk about staying true to your gimmick. Alan Jouban, a male model when he isn’t getting paid to beat people up, knocked out Seth Baczynski on Saturday night and then, to celebrate, he ran over to the nearest camera and gave it a big kiss. That’s right from the Rick Martel handbook and extremely impressive. If Jouban doesn’t come out to his next fight in a pink robe with pink trunks carrying a men’s perfume named "Arrogance," I’ll be severely disappointed.
Seriously, though, the UFC should see dollar signs when it comes to Jouban. He’s a good-looking, well-spoken and charismatic guy with some talent. He trains with Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida at Black House and is a brown belt at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu under Eddie Bravo. He does photo shoots and acts. The UFC pushes its attractive women pretty hard, there’s no reason they can’t give Jouban a little love as well. He earned it with a Fight of the Night comeback victory.
When is too soon?
It’s hard not to feel for Gray Maynard.
It’s always uncomfortable when UFC president Dana White talks about how one of his fighters should retire — even when he’s completely right. We saw it with Chuck Liddell and just earlier this year with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Gray Maynard, who was knocked out for the third straight time Saturday night, is the latest on thelist of UFC athletes that most people believe should hang up the gloves. White didn’t say Maynard should in the post-fight press conference and that was the correct call.
Maynard is not a dumb man and every fighter deserves his or her own right to choose when to step away. No matter what people on Twitter are saying — right or wrong — Maynard has earned the ability to make his own decision. It’s definitely sad to see someone who was one of the best in a loaded 155-pound division come to this so quickly. But let’s also not forget Maynard was ranked No. 12 among lightweight contenders coming into the bout against Pearson. That being said, it’s probably better to leave too soon than too late. It’s up to Maynard and Maynard alone to figure that out.
Ross Pearson has been busy since his last fight — getting inked.
Ross Pearson must have been so depressed after getting robbed by the judges in that Diego Sanchez fight that he went on a tattoo binge. Since the last time Pearson fight, in Albuquerque back in June against Sanchez, he added multiple tattoos to his chest, arm and neck. Some people turn to the bottle, Pearson chose the needle. Not like that, guys. Keep your composure. There’s nothing wrong with ink and Pearson looks fine. It was just kind of a shock to the system to see him so damn tatted after only being out of action for two months.
This is also an event that featured Gray Maynard’s wondrous tramp stamp, that has been made fun of so many times by comedian Adam Hunter, I’ll completely refrain from any jabs. Any time a dude has a tattoo on his lower back, the jokes kind of write themselves. Then there was Jack May, who is sporting … something on his left pectoral. Is it a bird? Is it a dragon? Is it the visage of Tim Sylvia? We may never know.
Bashing the bout order
There was a lot of his on the UFC Fight Night prelims.
Alright, so I am completely guilty of this myself. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. You see a fight or two on the prelims that you’re really interested in and take to Twitter: "OMG! Why isn’t Sara McMann on the bleepin’ main card, you guys?!" I’m paraphrasing, but you get the picture. UFC Fight Night in Maine had a couple of fights like that. McMann vs. Lauren Murphy and Zach Makovsky vs. Jussier Formiga were on the FOX Sports 2 prelims rather than the main card on FOX Sports 1.
Guess what? The UFC ended up making the right choice. Those two fights were methodical decisions. Both were enjoyable, technical fights if you like ground work, but maybe not all that aesthetically pleasing to the common fan. The first five fights on the main card, on the other hand, all ended in highlight-reel knockouts or submissions. There is usually a method to the UFC’s madness when it comes to choosing where fights are placed. Sometimes they are trying to get a name or two on the prelims so people will watch. And sometimes, like Saturday night, they’re just putting the potentially more exciting fights on the main card.
Let’s start the chant: "One more time! One more time!"
The UFC, for one night only, should have given Tim Sylvia another shot. No other fighter in MMA history has represented Maine quite like the former UFC heavyweight champion and it was a shame that "The Maine-iac" didn’t get a chance to compete on the biggest stage in his home state. It was a long battle to get the sport legalized in the New England enclave and Sylvia helped. So why not give him a one-off bout? It isn’t like he wouldn’t have been competitive with one of the UFC’s lower-level heavyweights.
Of course, Sylvia would have had to have made the 265-pound heavyweight minimum. That goes without saying. He has struggled with his weight lately, fighting at super heavyweight. But if given the opportunity to fight in Maine with enough time to prepare, it’s hard to believe Sylvia wouldn’t have put the work in to make it. It was clear from his Twitter crusade a few months ago when the venue was announced that he was dying to compete on the Bangor card. It didn’t happen on the first UFC card in Maine. Maybe next year?