This week, The Sunday Junkie contributors had plenty to say about Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 7 card – especially the main and co-main events.
Benson Henderson‘s lightweight title defense against former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez had a few critics, as did Daniel Cormier‘s UFC debut victory over Frank Mir. But the rest of the card, including eight knockouts, had most fans raving.
But this week’s winner of our weekly reader feedback feature, Kansas’ Kevin Loss, wonders if the typical quality of FOX and other free TV cards will usher in the end of the pay-per-view format.
For his winning entry, Timothy wins a free one-year subscription to “Fighters Only” magazine, the world’s leading MMA and lifestyle magazine.
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Also, as a reminder, please be sure to include your hometown and stick within the 150-word limit (and include your submission in the body of an email, not in an attachment). Many quality submissions this week didn’t meet those minimum guidelines and couldn’t be considered for publication.
(Pictured: Benson Henderson)
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THE END OF PAY-PER-VIEW?
For the second week in a row, the UFC not on pay-per-view has delivered big results, leaving the longtime fan to wonder what is left to gain by promoting fights to a limited audience of people willing to shell out $50 for a fight card that may not come close to the intensity of the FOX/FX events. Next week’s pay-per-view offers a predictable main event and a snoozer of a co-main event that already has me looking past it to see the entrance of Luke Rockhold to the octagon on FX. I think TV audiences are bigger and the fighters are more game to put on a show in effort to pick up household notoriety. Bring on the free events, and even my PBS-loving old man will watch!
UFC RANKINGS ALREADY MEANINGLESS
When the UFC announced it would be releasing its own official fighter rankings a few months ago, no one was more excited than I was. I thought it would give transparency to how it views its fighters and showcase lesser names who earned higher rankings. I was wrong. Saturday night, the UFC had not only one, but two fighters ranked No. 1 in their divisions fighting on the undercard. This is not to take anything away from Matt Brown and Jordan Mein because they are solid fighters and had a great fight, but both are unranked and guys like Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez deserve more of a showcase. It remains to be seen if those two men, who have won multiple fights while ranked No. 1, will even receive title shots. The UFC has to start showcasing contenders in the lighter weight classes for the divisions to grow.
Fruitland Park, Fla.
MIR VS. CORMIER PROVES SIZE DOESN’T MATTER
Last night, we saw a smaller wrestler have his way with one of the bigger heavyweights in the division today. We saw a big “in shape” Frank Mir get stuck against the cage and take body shot after body shot and not really push his game plan. I think the in shape Mir we are seeing now isn’t the right shape for him. I feel that Frank is a little too big and bulky for this division, as funny as that may be. With guys like Valasquez, Cormier and JDS all weighing under 240 pounds and all in the title picture, maybe Frank shouldn’t have bulked up so much and then we could have seen what the true lighter, faster, still as dangerous and in shape Frank Mir have been able to pull off last night.
Andy “Twreckiller” Martinez
MIR VS. CORMIER PROVES TWO THINGS
There was one common trend across the MMA community about UFC on FOX 7. DC was going to smash Mir with relative ease Saturday night. To me, as a long time Mir fan, two things became obvious after their fight. Mir moving to Team Jackson/Winkeljohn was obvious with great improvements in his game, but showed his weakness is still a strong wrestler. But more importantly, this fight showed me DC may not be as good as we all thought. When DC fought Barnett, I was shocked with how good he looked. Then in his final Strikforce fight, DC in my opinion did not live up to expectations against the unknown Dion Staring. That fight should have lasted as long as a Rousey armbar. But last night, DC convinced me he will never hold a UFC heavyweight title and if he drops to light heavyweight, he is no threat to the king of 205.
Worcester Mass. #BostonStrong
BIGGER THAN THE FIGHTS
What a night of fights! Eight finishes and enough controversy to keep message boards lighting up for days! For my money (and by money, I mean my monthly contribution to the cable company), the front runner for card of the year. But some things happened last night that transcended all of this. Dana White says that, without a plan, he is going to Boston to “write some checks.” He recognizes that there are people who are struggling right now with the recent events and he is going to use his resources to help! Ben Henderson, impervious to the “homer” boos, asks for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. He tells Joe Rogan that some things are more important than fighting and he had to make sure she was in his life forever. These moments were certainly bigger than the fights!
WILL HENDERSON EVER BE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE GREATEST?
What makes Benson Henderson different from UFC elites Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and the champions of the lower weight classes? The glaringly obvious answer is that he seldom, if ever, dominates an opponent to the point where a judge’s decision is clear. He is making a nasty habit of squeaking out agonizingly close decisions. This is not to say that fans don’t enjoy watching him fight – they obviously do. But will this tendency to coast through five rounds without ever hitting top gear mar the lightweight champion’s legacy? It’s not like Henderson lacks the power or technique to knock people out – he no doubt could finish anyone at 155. But last night, he seemed content to let the judges decide, and because of this he will never be mentioned in the same breath as the above fighters.
NO BONES AGAINST SONNEN
The UFC consistently does an excellent job staging meaningful, exciting fights fans want to see, so it is surprising, even downright disappointing, that it booked the light heavyweight championship bout between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen. Sonnen is an excellent, elite fighter – anyone who doubts that must not have seen him take the arguably pound-for-pound all-time best Anderson Silva to deep waters for five and a half rounds over two middleweight championship bouts. But that doesn’t make Sonnen the top contender at light heavyweight, especially since he hasn’t fought, let alone won, any fights in that weight class recently. That’s why I’m taking the unusual step of positively avoiding the next UFC event, and encourage all true MMA and UFC fans to boycott UFC 159. Dana White and Joe Silva are good listeners, and they listen to the fans.
CORMIER’S STRATEGY WAS A SOUND ONE
The fans in San Jose, and a lot of people in the twitterverse, were extremely critical of Daniel Cormier’s strategy against Frank Mir. But I felt it really was a smart one. I know it wasn’t pretty at times, but Mir had no answer for what Cormier was dishing out. DC was totally controlling Mir against the cage and was landing a significant amount of body shots, uppercuts and knees to earn himself a lopsided unanimous decision. Some people felt Cormier should have used more wrestling, but Mir is the one guy in the heavyweight division that you can’t play games with on the ground, with the exception of maybe Fabricio Werdum. Cormier was very critical of his own performance after the fight, even admitting to the octagon jitters. I just felt against Mir, this was the right strategy.
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
MIR ABLE TO MAKE CORMIER LOOK LACKLUSTER
Being the underdog is a great position to be in. Frank Mir coming into this fight was a 3-to-1 underdog – lofty odds when you’re a two-time heavyweight champ fighting a man making his UFC debut in Cormier. Mir’s durability in those three rounds, in my opinion, was very impressive. He did not have a good track record against fighters he was not able to take down, and with DC’s power, many predicted a knockout for the newcomer. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t pretty, and was a clear 30-27 for DC. However, Mir stifling Daniel’s offense has perhaps slowed the premature question of “Will Cormier fight for a belt at heavyweight or light heavyweight?” So, whether it was octagon jitters, Mir’s intimidating ground game or an overrated prospect will be seen in the fights to come.
PRELIMS TAKE THE SHOW AT UFC ON FOX 7
At UFC on FOX 7, the prelims took the show except for the Thomson-Diaz fight. Eight stoppages on one card ties the UFC record, while the main event and co-main event go to the judges. Ben Henderson, while a great fighter, is fighting for points and while I was really looking forward to the UFC debut of Daniel Cormier, the fight just didn’t deliver. He held Mir against the cage most of the fight and with a minute left and Mir knowing he was down two rounds, he didn’t go for broke and come out swinging. My hat is off to all the prelim fighters who stole the show, because Cormier’s performance won’t do well against Jon Jones and Henderson shows by always going to decision, he can be beaten by several in that division.
HENDERSON SHOULD EASE OFF SILVA COMPARISONS
I am by no means a Benson Henderson naysayer. I have great respect for his skill set, as well as his attitude as a fighter. However, seeing him once again win by the skin of his teeth last night makes me wonder about his talks about wanting to be the greatest of all time. He has said more than once he plans to surpass Anderson Silva’s streak of consecutive title defenses, yet two split-decision victories in three fights as champion should perhaps give him some pause. While Anderson has certainly not been flawless during his reign, eight finishes in 10 title fights speaks for itself. Ben may call himself “Smooth,” but so far his title reign has been anything but. If he wants to be the greatest ever, Henderson needs some more decisive victories, and hopefully a finish or two here or there.
SCRAP PACK NEEDS GAME PLANS
Cesar Gracie is widely known in MMA as the “209? coach and manager. However I’m beginning to wonder whether or not he’s meant for the big stage. Since the mergers of Strikeforce and WEC to the UFC, the Scrap Pack seems to fall short consistently on the big stage. One common trend seems to be all of Gracie’s fighters come out to fight with the same game plan – each using his own style and unique game plan every time no matter who the opponent is. Maybe the Scrap Pack needs to hire a new coach, one who specifically employs different and unique game plans based on their opponents.
Worcester Mass. #BostonStrong
MIXED RESULTS THE BEST OUTCOME FOR OTHER PROMOTIONS
As we all know, the UFC has been cutting fighters and it plans to cut more in the following months. This provides other promotions with the possibility to add high-profile names to their rosters. I think the best possible outcome is for those fighters to have mixed results. Think about it: If they win all of their bouts, it means even as UFC outcasts, they are at a different level. If they go on a losing streak, it means the UFC does a great job at identifying when a fighter no longer has it. If they have mixed results, the rest of the promotions would continue to build up their talent as well as making a great use of big names.
EXCELLENT CARD LET DOWN
Last night’s UFC card was shaping up to be one of the greatest UFC events ever. UFC on FOX 7 saw a UFC record tied with eight knockouts in the show. The prelims, both on Facebook and FX, were worthy of main-card status on pay-per-view. Romero, Njokuani, Dillashaw, Benavidez, Jury, Mendes, Brown and Thomson put on stellar performances and finished their opponents. The excitement soaring through fans’ bodies as the co-main event approached was soon quelled. We saw Cormier hold Mir against the cage for 15 minutes followed by Henderson eke out a questionable, close decision against Melendez. I think that UFC headliners are either becoming complacent in their place at the top of fight cards or else are feeling under pressure to put on a show, which hinders their performance. Regardless, we want to see more fights like the first 10 bouts on Saturday.
MIKE BELTRAN, OR GIMLI, SON OF GLOIN?
UFC on FOX 7 this weekend provided a great array of fights, but the non-stop action was overshadowed by the return of Gimli, son of Glóin – last seen in the documentary “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” Fans from all over were ecstatic to see that Gimli had adjusted well into modern-day society and was applying his new trade as a mixed martial arts referee. Assuming the pseudonym “Mike Beltran,” Gimli performed admirably in his first appearance at a UFC event. Conspiracy theorists were quick to make the assumption that Gimli was not in fact Gimli, but their arguments soon evaporated as they failed to explain the beard and beady eyes. Gimli’s UFC debut as a referee will probably go unnoticed in “lamestream” media. However, in the eyes and ears of those paying attention to independent news reports, the dwarf from Erebor is well and truly back.
ANDERSON VS. GSP NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW
In my opinion, I think the UFC is going to miss out on this superfight if it doesn’t happen now. I think both champions have the most dangerous No. 1 contenders in line in Hendricks and Weidman. I think if Jon Jones comes out of next weekend’s fight with Chael relatively unscathed, they should book Weidman vs. Bones for the light heavyweight belt and make GSP vs. Anderson happen ASAP. The fight still could happen if one of them loses, but I believe the fight will lose most of its intrigue. I just don’t see Anderson and GSP both winning their next title fights.
British Columbia, Canada
UFC ON FOX IS USED TO BUILD STARS
The UFC knows what it is doing and it has a strategy for everything. One strategy that I have picked up on was the building up of stars on the UFC on FOX cards. The UFC uses fighters that it sees to be future pay-per-view stars to headline the FOX cards. This gets the fighters’ faces out there and plants the seed for the common fan. This strategy is a good investment for the future. For example, fighters like Ben Henderson and Demetrious Johnson could be the next pay-per-view kings. Once fighters like GSP and Silva are gone, they are going to need stars to fill in those slots.
CHAEL SONNEN PROVES HE’S A PRO’S PRO
I think the entire MMA community agrees that Chael Sonnen is a polarizing character. Either you love him or hate him. I, despite cringing at times, tend to love – especially since he has been great in helping bring this once fringe sport to mainstream. His behavior whilst under attack by a fan is testament to the fact that he gets it. He is a pro and understands that compliance to a certain “code of conduct” is essential. Can you imagine the impact of him actually letting go on a member of the public? I can almost forgive him for the fake belt antics … almost!
JONES’ NIKE DEAL HOPEFULLY SIGN OF THINGS TO COME
After launching at 9 a.m. Pacific time, Jon Jones’ signature shoe, the Nike Free Trainer 5.0, sold out at Nike.com within four minutes. Prepare to see the signature shoes selling on eBay and other online marketplaces for major “Bones.” Jon Jones’ endorsement with Nike represents a huge milestone in MMA endorsements and the rate at which these shoes sold out goes to further prove to other Fortune 500 companies that MMA fans are as dedicated and merchandise hungry as are fans for any other sport. This will hopefully encourage further investments in endorsing MMA athletes as it proves to be a lucrative market and will further legitimize MMA as the fastest growing sport in the world.
IS DANA WHITE CRAZY?
First off, why would he not even consider Melendez for the rematch? Another split decision for Henderson was very disappointing. I don’t think it counts as a title defense if you are barely squeaking out a win, so what does White do? He says winner of Maynard and Grant will get next shot. That is one of the worst calls ever. Neither of the two were even in the title picture, but apparently if you have one of those magic ranked numbers next to your name they can pull a contender fight out of nowhere. I don’t know what is going on, but as a die-hard fan, lately I am always getting disappointed by the UFC and Dana White. I hope that they make the rematch because unless they want to keep Henderson on the FOX cards forever (starting to get why he can’t sell a pay-per-view), I sure won’t waste my money for another bad split decision.
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