UFC 164 Postfight Thoughts: That … Was … Awesome

You aren’t even getting a proper opening paragraph. I need to get my thoughts out on what was my favorite card this year.

It was kind of nice to watch a Jared Hamman fight without wondering if he was going to die.

Thanks for making it quick, Magnus.

That Kang-Chico decision was a legitimate shocker to me.

I acknowledge that Chico did more overall damage (which should probably end my argument … yeah, but still), and he definitely won the third round. No beef there. I just thought Kang’s grappling dominance was so thorough and lengthy that you couldn’t conceivably go any other way. It’s not like he was just getting takedowns and laying in guard; he was battling a guy that was constantly trying to improve his position from the bottom, and he was completely and totally stifling him EVERY step of the way. He won scrambles, acquitted himself pretty well on the feet, and spent well over half the fight on top of Chico chipping away with nonstop ground and pound.

When Buffer started reading the scores, I heard a 30-27 and thought, “Wow, how could anyone NOT give Chico the third round?” You know, assuming that the other 29-28′s were for Kang. Then they gave him the fight!

I heard people saying that Soa Palelei vs. Nikita Krylov was the worst fight to ever happen in the Zuffa era … and Jesus, those people might not be wrong.

It’s not just that Nikita Krylov is a terrible fighter, which he is. And it wasn’t that Soa Palelei ran completely out of gas in 3 minutes, which he did. This went deeper. This was about bragging rights. This was about historical putrescence. After the first round, this was about answering one question: What’s the worst fight of the Zuffa era? I don’t mean “the worst” in a “lack of action” sense. I mean it in the “I can’t believe this is happening in the UFC and not in the parking lot outside a Mushroomhead concert” sense. Based on this criteria, there are only two candidates. This fight, and Jonathan Wiezorek vs. Wade Shipp, which took place way back at UFC 47.

Let’s break this baby down. Wiezorek-Shipp has the “Oh my God, just LOOK at these guys” advantage. Wiezorek looked like he stepped out from behind the deli counter at Albertson’s and into the octagon. Shipp looked like he played Slipknot at his wedding. Wiezorek-Shipp was also special because Jonathan Wiezorek didn’t have a single identifiable MMA skill, didn’t attempt to pretend to use any, and still somehow won the fight after Shipp got a world class Troy Aikman Face going. He sloppily beat on Wiezorek for four minutes, gassed out, and that was it.

Palelei-Krylov is obviously more recent, so my thoughts on it are more detailed. First off, it has the advantage of happening in the Twitter era. That definitely made it at least 17% more fun. Second, I loved how Rogan called it like it was like any other fight, saying things like “Krylov might go for an omoplata here” and “Krylov is crafty off his back”. Third, LOTS of things happened in this fight. Both guys gassing hard, both guys repeatedly trying things that had a 0% chance of success, both guys refusing to give up … it was just magnificent. It went about 5 minutes longer than it should have, and it made me think things like “These guys would still suck in Bellator” and “These two make Eric Prindle look like 2004 Fedor Emelianenko”. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is the worst fight of the Zuffa era. You made history on Saturday night, Soa’s ribs and Krylov’s omoplata’s. Holy shit.

After Palelei-Krylov, Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera could breathe a huge sigh of relief and just go out and fight.

In the MMA heavyweight universe, this had to be like following Paul Rodriguez at a comedy festival. No worries at all. I made fun of that matchup pretty harshly, and then these two had the nerve to go out and put on a decent fight. It was still sad, but decent. It unfolded pretty much exactly how I thought it would, except for A) Ben Rothwell didn’t get tired, and B) Ben Rothwell briefly lost his mind at the end, and doing so appeared to inspire him to victory. I was actually sort of impressed with Ben’s performance. He was looking limber, motivated, and confident. I wonder why?

And can Brandon Vera please go away now? That’s 241 pounds of disappointment and broken dreams. Enough.

Not only was the rest of the main card awesome, but it played out pretty much exactly how I thought it would.

Look, I’m not tooting my own horn here. I just want to convey this … sometimes, it’s nice to feel like you know what you’re talking about. Normally, I’m second guessing myself with almost every fight. I sat there and tried to imagine a way Clay Guida could beat Chad Mendes on the feet, and the mere thought made me giggle. Not happening, Clay. I sat there and tried to convince myself that Erik Koch was a better athlete and striker than Dustin Poirier, but I couldn’t, and Poirier put on one of the year’s best performances. I sat there and tried to rationalize Mir beating Barnett, thinking that ring rust and lack of consistent competition might do Barnett in. Wasn’t happening. It’s Frank Mir. I know what I’m talking about. What a great card. And Anthony Pettis? Hang on, he gets the privilege of bringing us home …

Anthony Pettis, folks. Anthony Pettis.

Bendo came in with the correct strategy, which was to keep ahold of Pettis and nullify his ability to do anything. It didn’t work, but it was the right way to approach the fight. When Bendo finally got on top due to an ill-advised kick, he never saw that armbar until his arm was popping out of its socket.

The armbar was a thing of beauty. It literally looked like a video game. Picture perfect quickness, technique, and balls. Even going for it in the first round of a five round title fight against a guy who was 32 for 32 defending submissions as a Zuffa fighter was impressive. I’m not even mentioning the soul crushing body kick parade Bendo had to go through before hitting the ground. I’ve bagged on him plenty, but Bendo is a good fighter, not someone I’d perceive as a first round loser. And he had no chance.

You know everything that followed: Pettis busting out the old school gold chain to go with his new championship belt; having trouble getting his postfight interview going because he was yelling at younger brother Sergio to give him some water; his heartfelt, somewhat arrogant speech; and this:

Good luck, lightweights.

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