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Monday, January 19, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 93 Thoughts
by Ivan Trembow

-Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle (Kickboxing Match): The B-level-kickboxing-ization of MMA continues, as we had a fighter apologizing after a very impressive submission victory (Alan Belcher), and we once again had a B-level kickboxing match being glorified as an epic fight (Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle).

In the Davis-Lytle fight, Lytle could have absolutely benefited from taking the fight to the ground, given that he has better ground skills than Lytle and given that he was losing in the stand-up, but of course he didn’t attempt to do so because that would have made him “a pu--y," to use Lytle's sentiments and Davis' words from before the fight. There were also a couple of times that Davis had Lytle hurt and could have potentially pounced on him and finished him on the ground, but he didn't.

There are clearly fighters who fight for the Fight of the Night bonus as their primary objective and winning the fight as their secondary objective (there are even fighters who have said that), and yet the majority of fans will say with a straight face and will really believe that the UFC doesn’t encourage one kind of fighting over another.

It’s not just that the UFC rewards people for getting into stand-up-only kickboxing matches, it’s also that they punish fighters who they feel are in boring fights. Yushin Okami had a 6-1 UFC record and was put in an untelevised prelim fight at UFC 92, while C.B. Dollaway (who lost in the semi-finals and finals of TUF 7) got a main card slot instead.

Furthermore, the fact that Okami ended up having a boring fight against Dean Lister is used as justification for this treatment by people like Dave Meltzer. It would be the equivalent of arguing that the San Antonio Spurs don't deserve to be in the NBA Playoffs because they play a slower-paced style of basketball. It's a ridiculous argument that nobody would make for a sport that they didn't think of as "quasi pro wrestling."

To be clear, I’m not saying that ALL of the kickboxing in MMA is B-level kickboxing. But I am saying that Davis vs. Lytle in particular is B-level kickboxing, as are most fights involving Davis and Lytle.

I am also saying that if fighters like Davis or Lytle want to compete in a sport with no takedowns, they might want to take up professional kickboxing and leave MMA behind for all of those "pu----s" who tend to do things like, you know, actually go for takedowns when it would clearly be beneficial to their chances of winning the fight.

On a related note, what was Mike Goldberg thinking when he said that Chris Lytle is “one of the top fighters in the UFC”? Lytle went into the fight with a 5-7 UFC record.

-Snowden's Excellent Article on Davis-Lytle and Other Fights Like It: There is a very good article by “Total MMA” book author Jonathan Snowden on Five Ounces of Pain about the Davis-Lytle fight.

Key excerpts:

“There’s also something dangerous about the mentality Zuffa has inspired in many of its fighters by offering bonuses that often exceed the fighter’s regular purses. It has created an atmosphere where winning isn’t a fighter’s main goal… Winning “Fight of the Night” — that was his main goal. Not winning fights, just fight of the night honors. After all, he could make more money losing the kind of fight he knows Zuffa loves than he ever could with a Yushin Okami style winning streak. Caring more about entertaining than winning is the beginning of the end of integrity, the first step down a slippery slope from sport to spectacle… Whether or not there was an agreement set in stone, it was obvious neither man was going to the ground. Even when it became evident that Lytle was losing the standing exchanges and didn’t have the quickness to keep up with the elusive Davis, he never once thought about taking the boxer down. He wasn’t driven by a will to win. He was driven by his pocketbook. And the distinction between pro wrestling and MMA just got a little bit blurrier.”

The full article is highly recommended and it’s available here. I have also heard nothing but strong praise for Snowden's book, although I haven't had a chance to read through it yet myself.

-Shogun Beats Mark Coleman in Unimpressive Fashion: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua did not look impressive and clearly has a very long way to go with his cardio game after tearing his ACL prior to the Forrest Griffin fight, and then having two reconstructive knee surgeries and zero fights in the past 16 months. He should have been able to knock out Coleman sooner than he did. The stoppage was legit, however, and it could have even been stopped shortly before Coleman was knocked down, because he was taking brutal shots to the head and was no longer defending himself at all. That is pretty much the definition of when a referee is supposed to stop a fight.

One of the headlines on the front page of Yahoo.com on Saturday was “Fighter a fraud," and if you clicked the link it took you to Steve Cofield’s predictable piece about how much Shogun sucks. How did it go from “fighter has very disappointing performance” to “fighter a fraud”? Is every fighter who has a very disappointing performance "a fraud," or just some of them?

I was also very surprised to see that the UFC gave a “Co-Fight of the Night” award to Shogun vs. Coleman (along with Davis vs. Lytle), even while privately telling their surrogates that they thought Shogun vs. Coleman was a horrible fight. First Junie Browning vs. Dave Kaplan got a baffling "Fight of the Night" award in December, and now Shogun vs. Coleman gets one in January. I realize that the UFC probably felt that Davis and Lytle “had” to be rewarded for their “takedowns are for pu----s” mentality, but Shogun vs. Coleman winning Co-Fight of the Night? That makes no sense at all.

-Another Side Effect of Booking 12 PPV Events Per Year: The UFC ended up feeling the need to sacrifice the planned light heavyweight title fight between Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson (for which Evans may have been ready in April or May, but not March) and instead book Jackson vs. Keith Jardine for the March PPV event, due to the fact that they had no other main event that they could book for the March PPV.

-Curious Judging: There were no robberies like Matt Hamill’s domination of Michael Bisping being called a split decision win for Bisping, but there are still some very curious judges’ decisions when the UFC runs these unsanctioned shows in the United Kingdom.

In particular, the judge who scored Henderson vs. Franklin as being 30-27 in favor of Franklin (Chris Watts) should not be allowed to judge on any UFC shows in the future. That was just ridiculous, and even Franklin thought so. Henderson dominated the first two rounds, and Franklin dominated the third round. How that ended up being 3 rounds to 0 in favor of Franklin on that judges’ scorecard is just mind-boggling. (Fortunately, the other two judges had it scored 29-28 in favor of Henderson, which seemed like the obvious score.)

Next Middleweight Title Shot Going to "Not Yushin Okami": We've known that Thales Leites is getting the next shot at Anderson Silva's UFC Middleweight Title instead of Yushin Okami (who has a 7-1 UFC record), and it's not particularly surprising, given the UFC's oft-demonstrated disdain for Okami. But surely Okami would get the next shot at the Middleweight Title after that, right? Perhaps not.

If Silva beats Leites, then Silva is likely to fight in the light heavyweight division in his subsequent fight, and the next Middleweight Title shot could very well go to the winner of the June fight between TUF 9 coaches Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, who is apparently getting a title shot. Keep waiting, Okami.

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