Ronaldo "Souza" Jacare hosted a grappling clinic in the middle of the Connecticut forest, Ben Rothwell knocked Alistair Overeem off his high horse and Matt Mitrione bulldozed Derrick Lewis.
You already know the results from Friday’s UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1. We here at Haymaker are more interested in going beyond who won and who lost. Here’s what we took away from the card.
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Lauzons undefeated in 2014
Joe Lauzon (right) and his fiancee Katie have had an awful year, but things are looking up now.
Joe Lauzon went through absolute hell this year. His son, Joey, was diagnosed with cancer six days after his birth in January. For the next three months or so, Joey had to go through chemotherapy and then the waiting game began. Finally, in July, the Lauzons found out Joey was cancer free. It was a weight lifted off Lauzon’s shoulders and he looked loose and free in a TKO (doctor’s stoppage) win over Michael Chiesa on Friday night.
Lauzon is already a pretty incredible guy. He has won more fight-night bonuses (13) than anyone in history, has made the most out of every gift he was given and excelled in the UFC consistently for eight years. The past few months, though, were the toughest stretch of his career and Lauzon talks about them like they were routine. They weren’t — they were impossible. Lauzon is just too humble to expand on how much he and his family have overcome. He lets his fighting do the talking and it has more to say than most.
The Rothwell hop?
Ben Rothwell looks awkward even when he’s dropping fools with highlight reel knockouts. But what on Earth was that celebration dance he pulled out after he floored Alistair Overeem in the first round Friday? It was somewhere between "The Running Man" and squirming people do when they have to go to the bathroom. Rothwell has absolutely no rhythm and it’s awesome.
It probably took a lot for Rothwell to pull that off in front of thousands of onlookers. You know how some guys can’t dance unless they’re drunk? That was "Big Ben" at Foxwoods. He was inebriated on adrenaline and natural ecstasy and simply had to bust a move. It just felt right. Good for him. This was Rothwell’s biggest career victory and the first time he has won two straight since 2007. That’s something worth dancing about.
Chas Skelly needs a nap.
We’re not sure why Chas Skelly felt the need to fight twice in 13 days, but damn if it wasn’t inspiring and maybe a little dumb at the same time. Skelly was so exhausted after beating Sean Soriano by decision Friday night that he had to be helped to the locker rooms by his cornermen. The guy could barely stand up. Two weight cuts in a span of two weeks will do that to you. How in the hell did he beat Soriano anyway?
Skelly defeated Tom Niinimaki on Aug. 23 in Tulsa. Then, when the UFC needed a replacement for the injured Andre Fili, Skelly was crazy enough to volunteer his services. By the third round against Soriano, Skelly was dog tired, but he still managed to outgrapple the prospect. If that’s what the Team Takedown product can do with his gas tank at E, the featherweight division should take note.
The entire Foxwoods experience is rather surreal. Take the off ramp on I-95 in Connecticut, drive another 25 minutes or so and, poof, out of nowhere pops this massive resort and casino in the middle of the forest. It’s kind of like an oasis that reeks of cigarette smoke and shame. It’s also entirely too big. Foxwoods is the second largest casino in the United States (WinStar in Oklahoma recently surpassed it) and mostly a logistical nightmare when it comes to navigation.
The event experience there was kind of odd, too. The Grand Theater where UFC Fight Night was held was just that — a theater. The Octagon was stuck into a corner of the venue with seats on three sides of it and a wall on the other. The angles were strange and the atmosphere was a little bit off, except for when area fighters like Joe Lauzon and Al Iaquinta competed. Obviously, the UFC has to come to the Northeast a few times a year. Hopefully, the ban is lifted in New York before long so the organization can crack into some legitimate venues.
Mario Yamasaki politely asking Matt Mitrione to stop bludgeoning Derrick Lewis with his fists.
We almost wanted to give Mario Yamasaki a mulligan for his rather reluctant stoppage of the fight between Matt Mitrione and Derrick Lewis on Friday night. On two occasions, it looked like Yamasaki wanted to get between the two men after Mitrione rocked Lewis in the opening seconds. But those are some large men and Yamasaki very well might have been risking life and limb.
Eventually, Yamasaki did pull Mitrione off Lewis just 41 seconds in. Lewis was fine and the stoppage wasn’t exceedingly late, but it was obvious Yamasaki wanted in there earlier and he just had a hard time pulling the trigger. Largely, Yamasaki is a good ref and that was a difficult situation, but it’s dangerous to hesitate in these cases. Mitrione was dropping some serious blows onto Lewis’ undefended head. Referees put themselves at risk every time they step into the Octagon. Yamasaki should have just put his head down and hoped for the best.
Pass the Dutch
Is it any wonder that both Alistair Overeem and Gegard Mousasi have each spent a number of years living in Amsterdam? It’s a wonderful city with incredible cultural and historical significance. It’s also one of the most laid-back places in the world. Overeem and Mousasi are the MMA epitomes of that attribute. Both came up short Friday in Connecticut and their reactions were rather indifferent.
In the post-fight press conference, Mousasi said he just didn’t have much fighting spirit in a loss to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. He mentioned something about the fight getting shuffled around a little bit, so his head wasn’t completely in it. Oh. After a first-round knockout loss to Ben Rothwell, Overeem called the bout an "unfortunate turn of events" on Twitter. The Dutchman has lost three of his last four, but says his "spirits are still high." We wonder if it’s just his spirits that are high. A little Amsterdam humor for you.
Silva’s second chance
UFC president Dana White is absolutely right. Thiago Silva deserves the opportunity to make a living, especially since all charges against him stemming from an ugly incident were dropped. But why does it have to be in the UFC right away?
Silva was arrested in February after a standoff with police on assault charges, stemming from an incident involving Silva’s estranged wife and her boyfriend, Pablo Popovitch, in front of Popovitch’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu school in Florida. Silva’s wife, Thaysa Kamiji, also reportedly claimed that Silva had put a gun in her mouth before that and threatened to kill her. When the news got out, the UFC immediately released Silva and White said he would never fight for the organization again.
Maybe at the time, with so little information available, those were rash words. But White had every right to be angry after hearing the reports about what one of his fighters might have done. We’re not going to sit here and pretend to know what happened between Silva, Kamiji and Popovitch, but something occurred and the charges were only dropped, according to TMZ Sports, because Kamiji will not cooperate with authorities and has likely left the country.
It isn’t like Silva was acquitted by a jury of his peers. His accuser just isn’t going through with the case. That doesn’t mean he’s 100 percent guilty, but it doesn’t make him innocent, either. From what level-headed people down at Silva’s Blackzilians camp say, Silva is not a bad guy at all and largely misunderstood. That might be the case, but there are red flags everywhere. Silva also has a history with using banned drugs and two of his victories have been overturned due to failed drug tests.
The UFC might have been better off waiting a year or two before bringing him back into the fold. They would have been well within their rights to let Silva win a few fights and stay out of trouble in a lesser promotion before re-signing him. Let’s hope the decision to bring him back right away doesn’t blow up in their face.