Making the Grade: Passes/Fails from UFC Sydney and Uberlandia
Luke Rockhold styled on Michael Bisping, Ovince Saint Preux made PRIDE fans cry and Alan Jouban continued his dichotomous brawler/model life.
You already know the results from UFC Sydney and Uberlandia. We at Haymaker prefer to go beyond who won and lost.
Here’s what we took away from the events in Brazil and Australia:
All the rage
Al Iaquinta had something of a star-making performance by knocking out Ross Pearson on Friday night in Sydney. But it wasn’t just what he did with his fists that made him stand out. Iaquinta took his opportunity in front of the mic with Dan Hardy to cut an Iron Shiek-like promo, promising to "humble" the rest of the lightweight division. Iaquinta said next he was going to suplex a kangaroo and put Jaws in the camel clutch. Absolute gold.
Iaquinta has all the characteristics to be the next star after Chris Weidman out of Serra-Longo, NY, on Long Island. His skills are considerable. He’s a fantastic wrestler and grappler and, as Pearson would likely admit, his striking has come a long way. Iaquinta said he was going to beat Pearson standing and no one believed him. He did it. And then he dropped a hilarious few lines on the Aussie crowd afterward. Fans watching are going to remember both. "Ragin’ Al" is now someone to keep an eye on.
I’m gonna let you finish
You have to go back seven years for the last time every fight on a UFC card ended in a finish before Friday night in Sydney. In MMA years, that is an eternity. The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale was June 23, 2007 and featured a main event between coaches B.J. Penn and Jens Pulver. Nate Diaz won the TUF tournament by defeating Manny Gamburyan and Roger Huerta won his fourth straight fight at that event.
The TUF 5 Finale only had nine fights, though. UFC Sydney on Friday had 11 with a record 11 finishes, culminating in Luke Rockhold’s one-armed guillotine submission over Michael Bisping in the second round. With a rather non-descript lineup outside of Rockhold-Bisping, it came out as one of the most exciting UFC events of all time. Honestly, UFC Fight Pass has had its fair share of those this year. The bigger names might be on pay-per-view and FOX, but you could make the case Fight Pass has had the most fun cards in 2014.
Gotta go to Joe
Every time we hear Joe Martinez’s voice, we can’t help but hearken back to the days of the WEC when almost every event was a thrill a minute, where names like Urijah Faber, Anthony Pettis, Dominick Cruz and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone were built. What was better than popping on Versus on a Sunday night and seeing incredible fights every couple of months? Those were the days.
Martinez got the call for Friday night’s UFC show in Sydney and the other thing we think when he belts out introductions is just how darn good he is. Martinez is one of the best ring announcers in MMA — maybe even the best. We have nothing but love for Bruce Buffer. He cares so much and he’s so passionate. Buffer has some haters, but how can you not respect the love he has for his job and the sport? But Martinez, a professional, no-shtick type of guy, is a nice change of pace for the UFC. We don’t understand why he hasn’t found a regular gig yet.
Jouban gets jobbed
It was bad enough Alan Jouban didn’t get the nod from the judges against Warlley Alves on Saturday night in Uberlandia. But to not give the man a Fight of the Night bonus, either? That’s just cold, UFC. It’s hard out there for handsome male models living in Los Angeles. Jouban rightfully should have gotten his show money, win money and an extra $50,000 for his and Alves’ extremely violent showing in the co-main event. Instead? He might break even for the trip. He could have done an underwear commercial and made more.
Thomas Almeida vs. Tim Gorman won Fight of the Night and sure that was a fun one. But consider the position Jouban and Alves were in. They were thrown into the co-main event role after Ian McCall fell ill and had to pull out of his bout with John Lineker. Everyone expected McCall-Lineker to be an incredible fight. Jouban and Alves filled their shoes admirably. We had Jouban winning the fight by decision, but it was closer than most people online are saying. However, the real injustice was that Jouban and Alves didn’t take home that bonus loot.
Ovince Saint Preux just knocked off the legendary Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, the ninth-ranked contender in the light heavyweight division. So, if he were to challenge someone next, you’d expect it to be someone like No. 6 Glover Teixeira or maybe even No. 5 Phil Davis. No one would have even blamed Saint Preux for asking for a rematch against No. 8 Ryan Bader, the man who beat him in August.
Instead, Saint Preux meekly mentioned the names of Fabio Maldonado and Anthony Perosh as potential next opponents. Yes, that’s right — a Brazilian journeyman known for his ability to take an incredible amount of punishment and a 42-year-old Australian brought into the UFC initially as cannon fodder for Mirko Cro Cop. We understand the light heavyweight division is bad — and it is the absolute worst — but that’s the best you could do, OSP? Maldonado put it best when he wrote on Twitter that he thought Saint Preux would have asked for someone higher up the rankings. We did, too.
UFC Fight Fail
We’re going to assume someone called in sick Friday night. Or maybe someone new is being trained for the job. There has to be some reason why the tale-of-the-tape pictures of fighters were so skewed and not proportional during the Sydney card. Everything was corrected and looking fine for the Uberlandia event just 24 hours later. Maybe the legitimate UFC graphics people have a clause in their contract that they can’t work Fridays? This was a serious Photoshop fail.
The whole thing was really weird and looked extremely unprofessional. What’s most unfortunate is that the card was absolutely fire — the most exciting event of the year and one of the best ever. UFC Sydney had a record 11 finishes in 11 fights. That just doesn’t happen. Yet if someone was watching the UFC for the first time on Fight Pass with his or her buddies you’d have to imagine the awful graphics work would have left an impression along with the ample violence. That’s a poor job for a digital network that very well could be the future of the UFC.
Enough is enough
Are we getting to the point were blows to the back of the head are as acceptable as a fighter grabbing the fence? It’s almost like when a guy is going for a finish, it’s absolutely fine for him to land blows to the back of the head. One of the most blatant cases of this was Saturday night in Uberlandia when Caio Magalhaes rocked Trevor Smith with a knee and then hit him umpteen times with hammer fists clearly to an illegal area of the cranium. It’s getting ridiculous.
We’ve given Mario Yamasaki crap in this space multiple times, but he had the nerve to disqualify Erick Silva for a similar violation back in 2012. It doesn’t seem like any referee has the cojones to do that anymore. Daniel Cormier said on the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show that it’s hard to penalize Magalhaes, because Smith was already going out. Yeah, it’s hard. But it’s the right thing to do. The rulebook doesn’t say strikes to the back of the head are illegal only when they are the finishing blows. They’re just illegal — plain and simple. That’s like saying kicks to the groin should only be enforced if the victim is TKO’d by one of them.
The only way to prevent things like that from happening is to discipline fighters correctly. Magalhaes should have been disqualified.