So tonight, my girlfriend kindly offered to transcribe my hoots and yelps during the UFC’s all-heavyweight main card, so that I could get on with swearing at everybody. A fine idea, undone by Josh Rosenthal: at whom I unleashed such a torrent of foul language that she simply refused to continue.
Look: I’m all for letting fighters fight, but when someone’s face is pissing blood like a sprinkler and they shake their head like a sneezing dog while they’re talking to the fight doctor, you might want to take the decision out of their hands. You’d at the very least want to keep an eye out for an opportune moment to stop the fight, instead off letting them take a career-shortening series of face-punches from a barely-functional half guard. I’ve watched that stoppage five times and every time I think I’d have jumped in three punches earlier - I can’t believe there isn’t more outrage about this elsewhere. I was actually gearing up to have a go at Yves Lavigne for letting Shane Del Rosario get his face elbowed to a paste, and this stoppage was worse. Elsewhere on the card, my notes simply say ‘Fuck’s sake, Mazzagatti,’ presumably a reference to him letting Jamie Varner grab the cage for balance while he pounded out Edson Barboza. Not, all in all, a great night for refereeing.
The one referee that didn’t have much of a job to do was Herb Dean. In-keeping with his job as the nicest man in the face-punching business, JDS seemed almost polite in the way he’d blast Mir with belly punches and occasionally stiff-jab him in the face throughout a fairly one-sided title fight. Even the little hammerfist he ‘finished’ with was almost an afterthought, more like a little nod to the Dean Machine: ‘You’re stopping it, right? You are? Definitely? Great.’ JDS looks like a monster at the moment, easily the best puncher out of the heavyweights and seemingly impervious to being taken down. Something struck me as weird about his stance and I’ve finally worked out what it is: he stands in a really wide version of an orthodox boxing stance, left leg quite far forward instead of being squared off like most MMA fighters. It makes him basically invincible to blast doubles, and though it’s relatively easy to scoop up a single, his balance in defending such things is insane. I hate to think how much he’s drilled hopping around on one leg, but love to see that there’s an archetype out there for traditional boxers to copy.
What else is there to say about that card? Johnson/Struve didn’t go long enough to tell if Struve’s learned to fight like the giant he is yet, but Johnson needs to take some BJJ lessons if he wants many more outings in the Octagon. My girlfriend saw that armbar coming before he did, and she was mostly-focused on my excellent spiced chicken salad. The traditionalist in me was pleased to see that after calling over a thousand MMA fights Mike Goldberg still doesn’t know what a head-arm triangle choke is - ‘He’s got the arm in…DOESN’T MATTER!’ from the Teixeira fight - and the poet in me was sad that he didn’t finally correctly identify a thing happening in the Octagon as ironic (Crocop fan and shorts-mimicker Miocic having no defence to getting his liver destroyed by kicks). Oh, has anyone else noticed that Paul Sass is 3-0 in the UFC, undefeated in a 13-fight career, and has only gone to decision once alongside 11 first round submissions?True, he can’t punch or do takedowns, but maybe there’s literally no lightweight in the world he can’t heelhook or triangle. He was supposed to fight Dunham last time out - that’s as good a next fight as any.
Finally, great to see Hardy back in the win column. At first glance the shootout that led to the knockout looked terrifyingly close to Hardy Vs Condit, but in reality it showed that he’s grown as a fighter. The feint he threw before it was flawless, and the jab Ludwig caught him with was sheer reflexes. Hardy’s got genuine knockout power - much as I love them both and don’t want to see either lose, I think he’d make a great matchup with Akiyama. Only possible downside: I don’t think my TV could take all the swearing.