Transitions, Transitions, Transitions
Transition between the different phases of combat is something Tuesday Morning Sweep (heretofore TMS) believes is the most important aspect of MMA. TMS has covered this aspect before and will continue to do so with regularity.
José Aldo, in the main event of the night showed what perhaps is the quickest transition between takedown defense and offense we have ever seen. Aldo barely had time to break the grip from Mendes’ bodylock, spin and he was back with a knee strike and the follow up punches.
Similarly, Vitor Belfort defended the takedown with a front headlock then transitioned to what could have been a Brabo or any other arm-in choke and then really quickly transitioned to the back of Anthony Johnson. Despite a really tired Johnson, it was a really impressive ground work transition from a fighter that mostly relies on his boxing in fights.
Roussimar Palhares very quickly transitioned from strikes to a takedown attempt he had no intention of completing and really quickly transitioning to the leg lock.
Much, much more after the jump
Despite the idea that José Aldo has superlative stand up that is incomparable in the featherweight division, it appears that this skill set is perhaps the one he is least comfortable with. Against Kenny Florian and Mark Hominick, both durable and proficient stand up fighters, Aldo was cautious and scored with a lot less power than in the past. In the Mendes fight, he showed much less concern for Mendes’ stand-up and opened up, in a big way. While the finish was predicated as much from the stellar takedown defense Aldo showed as sloppy defense coming out of the takedown attempt, Aldo just simply pounced on the opportunity to finish and did not let Mendes recover. Take that, Fraser Coffeen.
The Belfort-Johnson fight was a combination extremely nice technique, a lot of sloppy scrambles, missed opportunities and a nice finish by Belfort. Anthony Johnson showed some competitiveness at the beginning of the fight and could very well have controlled Vitor on the ground for the span of the fight had he not botched his weight cut that badly. Vitor has shown in the past that he can get discouraged when controlled on the ground, but here was active and aggressive and profited from the king of quick stand-ups, Dan Miragliotta.
Who wants to fight Rousimar Palharaes at this juncture? What if Anderson Silva can’t quite keep the tree stump away and he gets to the ground with him? How long does this last? It is unlikely that this fights happen, but TMS sure would liken to see it. Chael Sonnen? TMS thinks he taps. Mark Muñoz? Same. Vitor? Yup. All of them could knock Palharaes out or control him on the ground for three to five rounds, who would really be confident of getting out of the cage with four functional limbs?
Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy
Sloppy submission defense from Ednaldo Oliveira and Anthony Johnson. Sloppy preparation from Terry Etim and Chad Mendes, both barely checking kicks against fighters with extremely hard legs kicks. Sloppy defense from a number of fighters throughout the night, from the aforementioned defense coming out of the takedown attempt by Mendes, sloppy kick defense from Etim, sloppy stand-up from Antonio Carvahlo and Ricardo Funch.
Sweet Moments of the Week
It felt like an old lightweight Omigawa fight against Yuri Alcantara. Alcantara looked a full weight class above Omigawa in the fight and manhandled the japanese fighter for two rounds. In the final frame, Alcantara showed a lack of conditioning that could have given a chance to a more dangerous fighter. Omigawa showed once again that he might be one of the most difficult fighter to finish in the featherweight division. Furthermore, Omigawa is never in a boring fight, and can seemingly always make it a fight.
Sweet: Gabriel Gonzaga showed exactly what TMS thought of him in the first place: he will run through lower level opposition, like Ednaldo Oliveira, fail against the top of the division. Dominant win by Napao that quickly dispatched of an opponent of limited appeal.
Did you hear the FoxSports sounding music during the post fight card commentary by Goldberg and Rogan? Could the Nu-Metal be on its way to the archive? How wonderful would that be?
Sour Moments of the Week
Obvious sour: Anthony Johnson seemingly unable to make weight at any weight. Fighters not making weight are a rarity in modern MMA, especially at the highest levels. For Johnson to miss weight constantly is sour beyond belief. TMS thought that maybe with the move to the Imperial athletics gym, filled with capable trainers, that this issue might dispear with Johnson, but apparently not. Perhaps what Johnson really needs at this point is dietary babysitter to the stars, Mike Dolce, to kick his ass into a proper diet for a high level athlete.
Also, on the video blog, it appeared that Johnson was pointing to his kidneys when explaining the issue to Dana White. Speculation could lead that Johnson was really close to kidney failure when the UFC doctor decided to pull the plug on that weight cut. Once again it was simply poor weight cut planning from Johnson.
Sour: The lack of submission defense fundamentals by Ednaldo Oliveira was appalling for a UFC fighter. Napao barely had any control over Oliveira’s body on the finishing sequence, no hooks, and Oliveira barely hand fighting with Napao. Oliveira has a long way to go before he is UFC caliber, he might have the build to be successful but certainly doesn’t have the skills.
The negative effects of the loss of a close friend and mentor can never be underestimated. Whether Sam Stout was really that affected is questionable, but his aggressiveness on feet in the first round let Tavares close the distance way too easily. At 1.45 of the first, Stout managed to scramble out from under Tavares and he decides to take Tavares to the ground? What was he expecting to gain by doing that? The pace changed in favor of one that would favor Stout but he could not connect and was not landing with the consistency and volume that we have seen from him in the past.
In most contests, Sam Stout’s path to victory is through outpointing the adversary on the feet and scramble to his feet if taken down. The strategy works as long as he can land with volume and control the stand-up. Tavares, managed to keep this fight competitive on the feet by landing with power, when he did, and controlled the distance and kept Stout on his toes.
Sweet & Sour Moments of the Week
Sweet&Sour: After a dominant first round, Antonio Carvhalo just could not take down Felipe Arantes in the last two rounds, despite the success he had in the first, he completely abandoned his takedown and clinch game afterwards. He was also way too comfortable on his feet against the superior fighter there.
Perhaps the most sweet-sour-sweet sequence of the night: Yuri Alcantara rock Omigawa with a right hand, transitions to the back, loses the position via a very nice transition by Omigawa and then has a very deep armbar on Omigawa at the end of the round. Back and forth action from the featherweights.
Sweet: How sweet was that kick? The kick-loving, Tae Kwon Do black belt Rogan just might have underpants residues of this fight.
Much like the featherweight champion, Edson Barbosa gets all of his offense off from the leg kicks. When Barbosa was against a similarly skilled and rugged striker as Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson, he had all sorts of problems getting his offense going. Against Etim, he took that leg under the Brit and dominated him from the middle of the first frame on.
On the sour side of things, Barbosa’s takedown defense seemed very much predicated on his athleticism and strength, and not that much more. It worked against Etim and Pearson, but it probably wouldn’t against Gray Maynard or Clay Guida.
Sweet: Mario Yamasaki doing what TMS would do more often, as punches to the back of the head at the end of a fight are extremely common. Referees, when the punches are cursory ones to finish the fight after a knockdown, mostly let then go as legal, even though they are not. Yamasaki made a judgment call that is controversial today but perhaps should be one that is regarded as right one.
Extremely sour: Rogan putting Mario Yamasaki on the spot in the cage without warning. It it not the place of the referee to comment whatever decision in the cage following a fight. Should he review his performance the next day? Absolutely. But there is no good reason to have the referees speaking in the cage.
East-West Blast Test (or cross-sport ball busting)
In this article, the wonderful bubble-busting Mike Tanier take a swipe a number of NFL myths that seem to prevail despite all the informational or statistical evidence of the contrary. Let’s take a moment to find MMA analogies to each of the myths discussed:
Beware of teams that won in the first round — they have “momentum.”
“Ever since fight X, fighter Y has been on a tear, thus he comes into this fight with momentum.” This one is easy. A common Roganism is that a fighter coming into the fight on a 3 fight win streak has a better chance of winning a fight against a similarly skilled fighter coming from a win-loss situation. Unfortunately, TMS does not have the statistical evidence to say the contrary but it is highly unlikely that it is true. Reality is that most often, in MMA, the most skilled fighter wins, with some surprises here and there coming the way of a perfectly thrown punch or kick. Even in the latter situation, that punch or kick was a more skillful display of violence.
Coach should have gone for it on fourth down, or not: poor Mike Smith.
This one is a little harder to figure out, here is the TMS s attempt: “Against a powerful wrestler, the striker should throw as many submission attempts from his back as possible.” As some recent decisions against Miguel Torres and Anthony Pettis have shown, there is no anecdotal evidence that throwing submission attempts actually scores points with the judges.
The quarterback doesn’t have what it takes to win in the playoffs
“Fighter X chokes in big fights” Perhaps the most famous of these fighters is Kenny Florian that was accused of such by UFC president Dana White. At the same time everybody agrees that Florian is perhaps the fighter that has made the most out of his, relatively, limited abilities. A skilled fighter that has refined his technique as much as he could because he lacked some of the natural athletic abilities looked for in any sport. Florian is not a particularly strong, powerful or explosive fighter, which just hampers him against similarly skilled fighters with those traits. Florian has lost against extremely strong, technical, wrestlers Shawn Sherk and Gray Maynard, a more skilled boxer and BJJ artist in BJ Penn and a flat out exceptional athlete in José Aldo. TMS always, and always will, expound skill over almost everything else, however, when the skills are equivalent natural athletic abilities often win.
A rookie quarterback should learn from the bench, or start right away
Perhaps the most appropriate analogy is the following: “Fighter X is not ready for primetime yet, certainly not ready to face the best in the world.” Truth is, just like QBs, it depends. Some guys require very little seasoning before they perform at a very high level and other require years of fighting a large amount of fights to get to that level. For every Jon Jones there is ten Alistair Overeem, but anything is possible because every fighter is different.
Obscure Statistics of FightMetric
At King of the Cage 20: Crossroads, current UFC fighter Diego Sanchez and last week main event loser Keith Jardine won their fights under two minutes and ten seconds, combined. The victims of these quick finishes were Bryan ‘Pain Inducer’ Pardoe for Jardine and Shannon ‘the gateway to better things’ Ritch for Sanchez.
Shannon Ritch is an interesting case of a mediocre, at best, fighter of unimaginable toughness that manages to have more fights than is probably healthy, and yet has fought some of the best in the business on their way to the top. He been fighting since 1998 and yet still fought eleven times in 2010 and three times in 2011. He has mostly lost in the past few years, going 5 and 14 since 2009, and has been especially prone to submission throughout his career (Sanchez beat him by rear naked choke.) Still, this is a man that made his money through KOTC and Rage in the Cage promotions fighting future UFC fighters like Yves Edwards, Antonio McKee, Jake Shields, Jason MacDonald, Brian Ebersole, Evan Tanner and T.J Waldburger. He is one of those pioneers that were never quite there in terms of talent and never got a chance in the big shows.
Perhaps what he will be remembered for is a fight with Ebersole that was turned into a No-Contest by the CSAC because they thought it was a work. Although Ritch had been accused of works before (considering that he has fought so much, and has fought for so long, not an unlikely proposition) Ebersole also admitted to works in the past, although he never specified which fights. The fighters apparently talked quite a bit during the fight and then Ritch submitted at a very strange moment in the fight. The explanation that Ritch gave was that Ebersole’s athletic cup dug into his head which cause his back to give out and he tapped. At the hearing, Armando Garcia, chairman of the CSAC at the time, noted that Ebersole’s famed wheel kick was not a real technique and that the whole fight had to have been a work.
This famed fight had Ebersole exile to Australia shortly after and finally gave him the opportunity to fight in the UFC on short notice and make a career on the big show.
Obscure Fight of Fight Finder
The same Ebersole welcomed a certain Stephan Bonner to Mixed Martial Arts on November 10, 2001, at IHC 3 -Exodus. Bonnar quickly dispatched of his fellow mid-western foe by guillotine at 51 seconds of the first round. Shannon Ritch also fought on that card, losing to Henry Matamoros. Perhaps more interesting, Miguel Torres, fellow Carlson Gracie fighter with Bonnar at the time, fought twice in one night dispatching of Steve Reyna by doctor stoppage and getting the decision against Nick Mitchell. Both of these latter fights probably fought at a higher weight that we are used to see Miguel, as Reyna is more of a 170-155 pounds fighter.
Bizzarre MMA TV Occurence
Vitor Belfort and GSP call Vitor ‘Victor’ on UFC 142 Countdown. TMS thinks this happened before on some other Countdown but it is still disconcerting. This is not War Machine level, but the man has a name and it does not include a ‘c’.
MMA Dual Personality Complex
Chavs are one of TMS’s most enduring unlikeable characters in the world, right next to uber-hipsters. Terry Etim, despite being a fighting favorite, looks and acts like a chav a lot of times in the cage. But hearing him in interviews and him interacting with certain people, make TMS question the notion of Etim as a chav. He really sounds and sometimes acts like a super nice, thoughtful, guy. Perhaps he requires to channel his inner chav in the cage to perform. Yet he comes in to Phil Collins.
The Disapearing Goldbergisms
Standing next to Aldo at the end of the fight, the original master of leg kicks in the golden age of the UFC: Pedro Rizzo. The story repeated ad nauseam by Goldberg was that a goog leg kick in the meat of the thigh lands with a thud and feels like a baseball bat, as Randy Couture mentioned once in the commentary position. The reality was that Couture was sidelined for many months recovering from the Rizzo fight as his knee almost gave out under Rizzo’s kicks.
Given the state of the union of leg kickers, this Goldbergism has been missng in action for quite some time, much to the chagrin to the Goldberg drinking game players.