Sunday, January 29, 2012

UFC on FOX 2 Post Fight Thoughts

 Chael Sonnen needs a new ghostwriter.

Nobody in MMA is more known for hyping fights and talking trash than Mr. Chael P. Sonnen. Anderson Silva has been a favorite target, as has his inexplicable and odd refrain of referring to himself as the middleweight champion, which culminated during the press conference for this card, where he answered questions with a fake belt sitting in front of him. This was amusing, but only because it compelled a horrified Dana White to make sure everyone in the Chicago media knew that this was not the middleweight champion.

His trash talk before this fight was top notch, as well. Check out his Twitter sometime. It's full of daggers. However, during the press conference, during the pre-fight interview, and during his post fight "interview" with Joe Rogan, all of this trash talking momentum came screeching to a halt. It took a turn towards the awkward and sad. During his back stage interview, he made an awkward reference that fighting him should come with a surgeon general's warning, like cigarettes do. He concluded with "Fighting Chael Sonnen ... is hazardous to your health" as he gave the camera a pseudo-menacing look. I swear, for a second I thought I was watching Harold Howard hamming it up before UFC 3.

His post fight interview was even worse, where he ignored Rogan's question and stumbled through a stump speech about "being in the presence of greatness" as he repeatedly looked towards the ground, trying to remember the next line that he had attempted to memorize backstage when he should have been working on his overhook-underhook game. It used to be that Chael was good at talking smack because he didn't take himself seriously. Now he's bad at it because he's taking the talking more seriously than the fight. It was like the end of an era.

(Chael was much more lucid during the post-fight presser, but the damage to his trash talking output had already been done. I thought he won the 1st and 3rd rounds for the 29-28 nod, but what was with that "grabbing my own wrist" move every time Bisping would press him against the cage? Doesn't he know how to jockey for an underhook? Does Chael Sonnen secretly suck in the clinch?)

Chris Wiedman's limited gas tank was understandable, but what was with Demian Maia's?

This one baffled me. This was a blown opportunity. How could he come in in such poor cardiovascular shape? His style doesn't lend itself to gassing, he doesn't push a furious pace, and he doesn't carry around excess muscle. He was just out of shape, and on top of that, he elected to stand there throwing left hands instead of engaging Wiedman on the floor. Not that this would have guaranteed he'd put on a better performance; after all, Weidman is a great grappler that can throw up chokes with the best of them. Still, pulling guard like he used to do would have given him a better shot at creating meaningful offense. This fight was just a disappointment to me. I was curious to see these two in the clinch, and I was especially curious to see the grappling exchanges. Instead, I got to see two guys wheezing.

Just being honest.

Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones will be competitive.

Mind you, I'm not saying it will be close. I still think Bones walks away with a decision. However, fights can be competitive without being close, and that's my forecast for this one. Rashad looked good last night. His boxing was much more technically sound, and his punching power hasn't gone anywhere. What I was really impressed with was how he was able to secure dominant positions on Davis, who seemed to be the superior positional grappler going in.

In previous fights, when Evans scored takedowns, he didn't really do much on top. In this one, the scrambles enabled him to find and secure side mount and the feared mounted crucifix position multiple times, and you could tell it really took the wind out of Davis's sails. His takedown defense was solid, and his clinch work saw him land knees to the thighs and solid uppercuts. All in all, a good performance, and one that catapults him into true title contention. Jon Jones, you can stop glancing down at your notes every 3 seconds, because it's time to start training for a guy that, so far, you have grossly underestimated. I think you'll win, but not without Rashad Evans earning your respect.

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