Joseph Waldorf and Chip Melendez (© Greg Savage & Jordan Breen) put on a fantastic fight. But before I get into all of that, here are a few other tidbits I took away from UFC 179.
Can we get some sort of petition going to find Gilbert Burns a more Brazilian sounding name?
Maybe it’s the fault of my subconscious cultural expectations, but I hear “Gilbert Burns” and picture a guy in my head that looks like a young Ving Rhames. For some reason, I don’t think this when I hear “John Lineker”, even though that name sounds just as non-Brazilian. The fact that John Lineker has a non-Brazilian sounding name somehow fits with his other quirks. Gilbert Burns just confuses me. It’s like finding out that Marcus Giles is white all over again. Can we call him Gilberto Burneiro?
Naoyuki Kotani has officially wormed his way onto the prestigious “We need to put a prospect over, let’s drunk dial someone” list.
He’s right up there with Efrain Escudero, Ryan Jensen, Paulo Thiago … it’s a great list. At least those guys had moments in the UFC where they didn’t look completely helpless and overmatched, though. Hell, Ryan Jensen was taking Court McGee to the cleaners before he predictably fell apart. Paulo Thiago has Josh Koscheck making the “Uh oh, dad just came home, and he’s drunk” face.
Naoyuki Kotani? Nope. Nothing. Four fights chock full of him being emasculated, pounded on, tapped, and being removed from his consciousness. If he gets another UFC look, I’m firing off an angry letter to Kotani’s gym.
Phil Davis won, answered a few important questions … and it still wasn’t that great.
On the bright side, the first round of Davis-Teixeira was almost a career saving revelation for Phil. He showed that when he actually commits to throwing punches and staying in the pocket, he can render an opponent inert. I thought he did a great job of keeping constant punching pressure on Teixeira in the first frame, and that served as a great appetizer to the takedown parade that followed. He had never done anything like that before. Before this fight, Phil Davis’s striking game could be boiled down to “Kick the legs and body to set up takedowns, and hope like hell that I can score them, because if not, I’m going to be reduced to a skittish catastrophe that seems terrified of his opponent”. It was an important win for Phil, who needed one in the worst way.
And yet … it wasn’t fun to watch. At all. His punches kept Teixeira on the defensive, but you wouldn’t exactly call them effective offense. They were more akin to a house fly that won’t leave you alone. What I’m trying to say is this: It was a good win for Davis, but it also left you realizing that his ceiling is a notch or two below the top fighters in the division. He can climb and climb, but he won’t reach the mountaintop.
The featherweight division is fast becoming one of the UFC’s most compelling, and it isn’t just because of the Irishman.
A common belief amongst Conor McGregor backers seems to be that because Jose Aldo ditched his conservative style and really opened up against Mendes, that somehow leaves him more vulnerable against a superb offensive striker like McGregor. While I can see the logic behind this argument, I definitely don’t agree with it.
Aldo has a great chin. That has to factor in. Those uppercuts and left hooks Mendes was hitting him with would have KO’d at least half the featherweight division seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Secondly, and I know this is a trite argument, but a motivated Aldo is a more dangerous Aldo. You think 4 months of listening to Conor McGregor talk about how pathetic of a fighter he is isn’t going to fire up an already semi-prickly Aldo? He certainly seemed stoked about fighting Mendes, and the fact that his fifth round was one of his strongest was incredibly telling for a guy who usually hangs on for dear life as the fight gets deeper. Lastly, throwing yourself into the fire is always going to carry with it a certain degree of risk, but Aldo has phenomenal hand speed, counters like a champ, and always has those A+ leg kicks to fall back on if he doesn’t like the way things are going with McGregor in the pocket.
Of course, Conor McGregor has to get past one Dennis Siver in Boston on January 18th. Dennis Siver is a good fighter. I think it’s reasonable to say he’s exceeded expectations when it comes to discussing his UFC career trajectory. This was a guy that was quickly knocked out by Melvin Guillard and quickly armbarred by the immortal Jess Liaudin.
He started winning. A lot. Using his physical power and compact frame, he developed an excellent volume based striking game. One of the things you always notice about a Dennis Siver fight is that he never stops throwing meaningful strikes. His wrestling has evolved over the years, too.
But Conor McGregor is a ghoulish matchup for him, and this, of course, is by design. Conor will use his length to fight Siver’s hands and set up a fight ending strike. Actually, that isn’t specific enough; what’s really going to happen is that Siver is going to walk (or bounce) directly into something terrible. After struggling against a still-green-as-shit Charles Rosa (that’s not a knock on him, by the way … Rosa might be good), I’m supposed to believe that Siver can take McGregor’s precision on the jaw and keep fighting meaningfully? Get lucid. This is a lamb being led to the slaughter.
At least we know Siver won’t be as openly rattled fighting Conor as poor Dustin Poirier was. We know that Conor McGregor won’t be confused with Floyd Mayweather when it comes to defending strikes. We also know that Siver will give it his best go. He won’t back down. And that’s the problem.
Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor, Memorial Day weekend. Book ‘em, Dano.