Is Joey Beltran’s mustache good for the sport? Does it make him look too Mexican? Does it alienate the non-Hispanic MMA fans? In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m being sarcastic.
Back before I became an MMA journalist pundit …whatever the fuck it is I do, things were different. 98% of my Twitter followers didn’t know what MMA was or weren’t fans. Now, my Twitter feed is nothing but MMA fans. At first I enjoyed discussing upcoming fights and being in the loop on the latest news but coming up on two years since the birth of SBoI, I have to deal with the other side of it. The dark side… (cue over-dramatic music) A lot of MMA fans tend to over-analyze everything and make mountains out of molehills. Especially when it comes to what is or isn’t “good for the sport”. If some MMA fans obsessed over their children’s every action the way they do everything that happens in MMA, their kids would grow up to be neurotic freaks; possibly serial killers. MMA is gonna be fine. It’s time to cut the apron strings and let your baby grow up and you know, just try and enjoy it. Chael doing a Superstar Billy Graham isn’t going to ruin the sport. Relax. You have to realize that the so-called “casual” fans or potential future fans aren’t paying attention to all this minutia the way we sick bastards are. Anyway, feel free to continue being obsessed just try to do it with a sense of joy, passion, and humor rather than neurotic angst. If you can’t do that, try to keep it off my Twitter timeline. I’d appreciate it, you doughy wankers! (courtesy of @sonnench)
Speaking of this topic and segueing into UFC on FOX 2 on Saturday, one fight that stirred a lot of controversy is Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping. It’s been an almost constant stream of bickering on Twitter over who “really” won that fight. Do you know why people disagree about this? Because IT WAS A CLOSE FIGHT. Yet, once again, MMA fans start carelessly throwing around the word “robbed” in regard to a fight that wouldn’t have been a “robbery” no matter which way it played out on the judges’ score cards. My opinion is that Sonnen won 29-28. I think most people agree that Bisping took the second round and Chael took the third. The first round was extremely close and it comes down to what you give more weight to. I think the striking was pretty close to even and Chael took the round with takedowns and aggression and Octagon control. Some may argue that the takedowns shouldn’t be worth anything since Bisping was able to get up pretty quickly but I would argue he still got taken down and Chael was able to land several big shots on Bisping after the first takedown of the round while Bisping was struggling to get back to his feet. I think there is a tendency when a fighter is doing much better than expected to overestimate how well they’re doing in a fight. Joe Rogan seemed to fall victim to this tendency and, I think, exacerbated it in those watching. If you gave the first round to Bisping, try watching the first round again with the sound off and see if it changes your scoring of the round.
Either way, it was not a “robbery” and yet also not Chael’s best performance. He looked like he had a rough weight cut and was a bit under the weather – or both. Really there wouldn’t be much to say about this fight if not for the controversy over the decision. So, let me wrap up with a lightning round of the rest of the card.
Evans vs. Davis: Evans via Unanimous Decision
I like Rashad. I like Phil more. However Phil was clearly not ready for the jump up in competition. Five rounds of ho-hum one-upsmanship.
Sonnen vs. Bisping: Sonnen via Unanimous Decision
Covered the controversy but I’ll add that Mike grabbed the fence and Sonnen’s shorts so much that even Cheick Kongo was probably shaking his head. Also, it’s hard to see how one judge gave the second round to Sonnen.
Maia vs. Weidman: Weidman via Unanimous Decision
What happens when two fighters known for their ground game neutralize each other and have to keep it standing and they both gas out by the second round – one due to cutting 32 pounds in 11 days in Weidman’s case and one due to “who the fuck knows” in Maia’s case? This fight. Which looked more like a sparring session than a fight.
Dunham vs. Lentz: Dunham via TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) Round 2
I though Dunham had the edge but that Lentz had a better shot than most people were giving him credit for. The fight proved me right as Lentz’s stand-up and sheer toughness made Dunham work hard to earn that “W”. Not surprisingly, Dunham’s superior wrestling gave him the edge and allowed him to bash Lentz a second left eye in the form of a nasty gash that stopped the fight. You’ve gotta wonder where a guy like Lentz goes from here. He’s tough as nails and fun to watch but he’s not quite making that jump to the next level.
Russow vs. Einemo: Russow via Unanimous Decision
There was no thrilling come-from-behind KO for Russow, ala his fight with Todd Duffee (currently residing in the “where are they now?” file) but Russow managed to control the last of the Golden Glory fighters still in the UFC on the ground to a decision victory that had MMA fans on their feet… and walking into the kitchen to make a sandwich.
Swanson vs. Roop: Swanson via TKO Round 2
I kinda don’t like Roop because he’s cockier than his record would warrant. Roop is the technically more proficient striker and had a healthy reach advantage. However, when Cub got aggressive and brawly, Roop backed up, not in a strategic Machida way but more in a Brock Lesnar “oh shit!” way. When you back straight up you risk running out of space and getting KTFO. Nice win for Swanson.
Oliveira vs. Wisely: Oliveira via Submission (Pagan Calf Sacrifice), Round 1
It was amusing to see all the MMA nerds on Twitter bicker over what to call this submission. “Calf Slicer”, “Calf Crusher”… I decreed that it should be called the “Pagan Calf Sacrifice” because that sounds pretty metal. Kit Cope backed me up. I’m sure Josh Barnett would as well, cause he’s totally metal. So let’s get it happening!
Michael Johnson vs. Shane Roller: Johnson via Unanimous Decision
Johnson Roller sounds like an exotic sexual act. When engaging in a Johnson Roller with your partner make sure you have a safe word and plenty of lube. Yup, dick jokes. That’s one of many reasons I don’t call myself a “journalist”. Anyway, I thought Roller would win. I was wrong.
Joey Beltran vs. Lavar Johnson: Johnson via KO (Punches), Round 1
Joey Beltran’s mustache is good for the sport, by the way. However, it didn’t help him win this fight. Knocking out Joey Beltran should instantly make Lavar considered the hardest puncher in MMA. I’m sure science would back that up. But empirically, if you’ve seen the Mexicutioner’s last several fights, you just don’t knock out Joey Beltran. In 19 fights it’s never happened. Beltran is now 1-4 in his last 5 but I think Joey should be on that short no-cut list. He’s not only a great “gatekeeper” but he’s always awesome to watch fight. So, Dana, if you’re reading, keep Joey!
Camozzi vs. Jacoby: Camozzi via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 3
Who saw this fight? It was supposed to be on Facebook but I don’t think the stream was working. Anyway, we had Chris on the radio show a while back and he was a cool guy and I felt bad that I once took a cheap shot at his tattoos. So, I’m glad he won.
Alright. I’m done. Can’t wait for Diaz vs. Condit on Saturday and hope those tickets I’m working on come through. I like Condit and he follows me on Twitter, which is a good way to my heart if you’re a fighter but I want to see Diaz vs. GSP. More specifically, I want to see Diaz BEAT GSP. Until next time, ponder this: Are Pat Barry’s ALL CAPS TWEETS good for the sport?