UFC 189 Recap and some UFC Fan Expo stuff tacked in
I often buy things and judge their worth based on how much they cost and what I get out of them. If I pay let’s say, One hundred dollars for a pair of pants but then blow the crotch out the first time I wear them with my stupendously average testicles.
Then essentially, I wasted my money as I got one wear for one hundred dollars. On the flip side if I wear that well crafted denim one hundred times then it’s only a dollar per wear and to me that is money well spent.
When I put that into the context of a UFC Pay Per View I often think that people pay $60-$70 and give up their Saturday night and possibly hung over Sunday morning to watch a man put their skillset on the line against another man. If there were only three good fights out of eight on the card, I’d say you did not get your monies worth. However every so often when the mood is just right and the stars align, things live up to what we need of them.
UFC 189 to me was some of the best money spent if you are a fan of fighting. Dana White had said that Aldo vs McGregor would be everything that Mayweather vs Pacquiao was supposed to be. And I think even though it wasn’t Aldo, UFC 189 still did more for the fans and was absolutely worth the entertainment investment more so than any card I can think of in the last few years. This weekend isn’t over but for the average fan, if you were to ever plunk down your cash to travel to Vegas to see a fight, doing it during UFC FAN EXPO week is without a doubt the best time to do it. But don’t bring your girlfriend that was very strange to see all these different people do. The entire Expo I am watching fans, young kids and old men, fat people and tall people, brown people and red headed people and everything in between. But very often I would see some super excited guy dragging along his girlfriend in his childlike glee and her just walking behind him, planning their breakup that he doesn’t know it yet but will happen in exactly one year from this date. The reason the Expo was great, first, I don’t know how much it cost, but if it were $60 and you decided, who cares about autographs or fighter interaction and merchandise available, it is still without a doubt everything you can imagine in one room. I watched an arm wrestling tournament. Does anyone reading this have any idea how amazing that was? Two guys with tiny legs but upper bodies and forearms the size of an adult Koala went to a weird table with hand grips and they arm wrestled And the announcer put Joe Rogan to shame. He would get his face and inch from the guys arm wresting’s hands, he would scream over and over how it was the match of the century, he would break out in cold sweats that wold drip between his eyes and down his nose to the floor and when it was over it’s like an energy release similar to an orgasm happened inside his trousers (that cost $100 but he has worn 200 times) and he did this for hours. Besides that, I watched a BJJ tournament, caught up with old friends, watched a wrestling tournament, at 10:30 in the morning I watched the best kickboxing match I’ve seen since Ray Sefo and Mark Hunt fought and it was fought by two girls who did it for free and I lost my mind watching the Amateur world MMA championships. There were Karate tournaments and Judo and of course the UFC Hall of Fame induction and stories told by people like Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes and my favorite, Don Frye. So, again, amazing, find out how much it cost though and don’t bring your girlfriend if she’s not into that, save your money send her to a spa and you go alone, it will be more fun than hearing her yap about whatever it is that your girlfriend yaps about. Mine yaps about how much I yap and how I point at things and that it’s apparently rude to point.
So, the fights. Matt Brown was getting tossed around a little bit and then he wasn’t. He latched onto that choke extremely fast and while he looked better against Robbie Lawler he looked pretty good tonight. I’ve already said how much I like that guy as a person so I can only hope he continues to fight and continues to fight the way that he does. Tim Means used size but made the mistake of going toe to toe elbow to elbow and Brown didn’t back down. He landed the cleaner shot and then latched on. Fight over.
Gunnar Nelson needs to move somewhere that the sun shines and there are other people to talk to. The man can fight no doubt but he cannot communicate. I actually like it because when you ask him a question he looks at you, his eyes do not search for answers or clever things to say that will later be used as sound bites, instead he says exactly what he wants but he shortens it. He speaks the way Ivan Drago did in Rocky (not as broken up) but you ask him about how the fight went. “It went good.” You ask him if he planned to win by submission or strikes, he says “Yes.” You tell him he didn’t answer the question he says, “Mmmm.” He is indeed an interesting guy and a talented one but I don’t think going out for drinks with him on a Friday would be the time of your life. I believed he would win by submission and I believe it would be a rear naked choke on a scramble. I did not believe he would set it up with a one two and then end the fight as fast as he did. Brandon Thatch needs to figure out where he stands in the world. Being bigger and stronger may have gotten him this far but now he is fighting people who are faster and smarter. Hopefully he retools his skills from bulling people to moving with them.
Dennis Bermudez I thought deserves more than he got credit for. He lost when he got tired, he got tired because he cut a lot of weight and he fought that way and his opponent did not. His opponent did not make the weight and didn’t seem to mind his own unprofessionalism. It was actually funny that Stephen came out of round 2 and went into round 3 super pumped up. He heard the crowd cheering loudly and he started waving his arms as if they were cheering for him and he got fired up. While the crowd should have been cheering for them (guys in the cage) as it was a great fight the crowd was actually cheering for either Mike Tyson or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Either way, it lit a fire and he won but he also was 4 pounds over the weight, which means the cut didn’t drain him as it may have. Would he have won either way, don’t know, won’t know but it’s still unprofessional. Either make it or move up. The fight was amazing and always will be but it’ll forever be pock marked by that small factor.
Brad Pickett was fighting amazingly well for being such an old dog. The cards were all stacked against him and I thought he was doing great and possibly on the way to shutting down an coming out party for Almedia. Unfortunately Almeida had other plans and seen that opportunity for the knee early in their fight and waited until it would land and not glance but thud and end it. It did land and when it did everyone in the rooms eyes went wide and then people erupted knowing that the other fighter was okay and that they just seen one of the cleanest knockouts they ever will.
Robbie Lawler. Damn. I figured his wrist or hand broke because after he blocked kick after kick he stopped throwing the right for a few minutes. Even damaged he kept walking Rory down. I actually like Rory even more now in defeat than I did in victory. I always find Rory obscenely talented, possibly a serial killer and someone who is content to jab your face off. This time, he fought better than 99% of people on earth ever have and ever will. The 1% of course being Robbie Lawler. When Robbie had his legs wobble I started to wonder if life finally caught up with him. When he defended against the cage I thought maybe he is trying to bait Rory into forgetting how hard he can punch and hopefully Rory will walk directly into a punch (As Robbie did with Melvin) but when Robbie was flailing punches back and not effectively returning fire I thought maybe this fight is done. Maybe the belt changes hands and goes back and forth between Hendricks, Rory and Lawler for the next year or so. Then after taking a beating that stare down going into round 5 between these two. Both of them refusing to move or break away. Great googling mooglie that stare down is a perfectly encapsulated moment not between two fighters but two animals. Two people who took one year off their mortal lives to live ten more as legends. That stare down showed evolution exists in all of us and we are not far removed from all other species. All animals in the animal kingdom have a moment like this when they are willing to lose everything in order to survive. Not only animals do this, we do this and if you are ever faced with your life on the line a moment like that is a reminder that no matter what has happened we can always survive and push through. With that fight, they sealed their way into the Fight Hall of Fame. Strangely enough on the exact same day that his teammate and close friend Matt Hughes was inducted for Fight Hall of Fame. So to go into the 5th round and having both of them spraying blood on the mat and then Robbie land that single right hand directly on the snoot. I was very happy when Rory felt it, thought about it and went down. He didn’t fall down and he wasn’t knocked down or out. He quickly assessed, do I want bone fragments being slammed around in my face for another two minutes? Do I want to be disfigured for life? Is there life after this or should I live to fight another day? I am extremely happy that he conceded on his own terms and did so safely. Rory won me as a fan and I’m happy I will see him fight within 6 to 8 months this way and not 2 to 6 years the other. Also, Rory had a broken nose before that; it broke in the first so that shows how tough he is that despite not being able to breath and having to fight through that, that guy is one of those people who stranded on an island for years would scratch out a living.
Conor McGregor. I’ve thought about this for a while now and first let me say, Mazdak and the guys wearing tank tops in the elevator just two seconds disagree with what I have to say, but here is what I think. It was interesting to see McGregor this fight. He is no longer the loud Irishmen with a chip on his shoulder. He is a man now. He became one last night when he walked into the cage and when he won the title, he went from Conor McGregor the superstar to Conor McGregor the legend. He matured ten years in two minutes. Even at the press conference sure he looked the same, but he talked different. He talked with respect and with humility and as brash and outspoken as he is, he focused on everything and everyone else and not just himself. We watched him turn into a man and it’s amazing to see it. Took Robbie Lawler ten years and it took Conor two. Now, I want to say how impressed I am. How blown away and how mythical I think this is. I believe he needs to take a step away to how many hands are grabbing at him. He looks physically tired, I seen him earlier this year in Boston and he was full of life, happy and joking and now he is tired and different in a way. Media obligations and promoting have drained the life out of him. I hope we see him as a fighter and not a celebrity because I like him as both, but I like him a lot more as the first one than the second. I still enjoy how he united a country I enjoy how he instills confidents but I honestly cannot say I am as blown away as before. Before this fight I thought there were few people on earth that could touch him. The way I felt about Anderson Silva and Fedor. I know he won the fight and he won it fair and square. But he kind of sort of got trampled a bit there. And yeah, by the second best guy in the world but also the second best guy in the world who was eating cheeseburgers twelve days before they fought. Now, that’s Chad’s fault. If you say you’re a fighter and will fight anyone anytime then you should be in the best shape possible at all possible times. That’s what you signed up for, if you don’t want to do that then there are office jobs everywhere. So, while I give Chad some wiggle room it is his fault for not being in the shape he should have been in. I understand he got a call and money dangled in front of him, but personally I would fight McGregor and get knocked out in less than thirty seconds for a million dollars. I would happily do it. But after watching that fight the unbeatable McGregor that destroyed everyone else slowly became one of the toughest men on the planet that can be beat. Chad Mendes can beat McGregor. No doubt about it. He rag dolled him to the ground caught him with a lot of shots standing up and then got tired and got sloppy but outside of that there was not one minute that I thought he was losing the fight until he did in fact get knocked out and lost the fight. Someone argued with me how there was only three seconds left and they should have let it go. I think stopping in then saved everyone from having to see a much worse knockout that was coming. McGregor did have the better stand up but that only looks that way since Mendes stayed on the outside circling which in all honesty made him look scared, in truth it was because he didn’t trust his cardio as much as he told everyone he did. He knew a wild exchange would zap what little he did have out of him (again, his fault). But no one watching that fight should look at it with the same eyes they had for McGregor when he demolished Dustin Poirier with ease or Dennis Siver without ever being threatened. Whether it is all the fame and such he now has to live with, Conor McGregor beat a world class guy who trained for 11 days and he beat him after taking a little bit of a beating. None of the questions were answered, how would he do against a wrestler? Terribly. How would he deal with taking hard shots? That he did amazingly well, seemed to not mind any of them actually. How would he deal with being on bottom? Again, poorly. I think if Chad were still in shape and didn’t gas in the first minute he would have wore Conor to nothing. To his credit Conor knew his cardio was questionable and he landed these genius small sharp kicks over and over to the stomach and zapped the oxygen out of Mendes. Conor is a bad, bad dude. He took hard shots and laughed, he took hard ground and pound and laughed he got out of a very close crucifix that could have been a serious problem, he did use his guard to nullify any advance by Chad and he knocked him out with a perfectly placed one-two punch that would have knocked out anyone all the way up to middle weight. He is the champ and I think he’d do well against and could beat Aldo. But I also think Aldo is a little to battle tested at this stage and the version of him that will fight Conor is not the version we need to fight Conor. He’s taken a lot of fights and some damage on the way and that weight cut just isn’t for him any more. I think Conor can beat Aldo but will take a bit of a beating in the process but I think Mendes will become champion on Conor’s back and not Aldo’s. Everyone says how Aldo is a different kind of person and going to crush McGregor and so on, I think we are talking about young Elvis and old Elvis here. It’s still Elvis, he’s still a stud and capable of singing better than anyone, but it’s not the same Elvis. The larger problem with a guy like Mendes is how many title shots can you give the guy? It seems like a Faber situation. The guy wins every fight outside of a title fight but how many title fights can you give him? And how many of the guys getting title shots can he beat? I think McGregor is and can be and remain champion but he isn’t going to do so well against a relentless Frankie Edgar. He will beat Edgar up for a few rounds and then Edgar will do as Edgar does and he will win by just no giving up. He might not beat a super fit Mendes, sure he can take his hardest punches and outbox the snot out of him but Mendes won’t look to finish by submission the second time they fight. He did that because he wanted to end the fight since he was getting tired. Next time Mendes will get on him and wet blanket him for round after round and a lot of people will dislike that fight. I do think McGregor can beat Aldo, I think he can catch him with a counter punch and send him down. But Aldo in shape and ready to fight I think has went ten years without losing for a reason. McGregor is champ because he is one of the best fighters on the planet but he is also champion because pure and simple luck of the Irish. The luck of an out of shape Chad Mendes (his fault) and an injured Aldo (also his fault). I would love for McGregor to fight again this year. I would love to watch him fight everyday. I think McGregor will prove me wrong as to how good he is and he will prove everyone else right. We’ll see if it’s merely luck of the Irish or if it’s calculated fist placement. He’s good and after last night he matured. The scary thing is how good he is, how young he is and how much better he will be. That’s what scares me.