Monday, August 11, 2008

UFC 87: What We Learned

UFC 87 was a tremendous event which proved without a doubt the UFC is the top MMA organization in the world by a large margin. I am an admitted Affliction supporter and even I will say it was one of the best fight cards I have ever seen. The question I was left with after watching was, "What did we learn from this event?"

-Demian Maia is legit and may have the best jiu-jitsu in the UFC. His jiu-jitsu is MMA tailored. Most submission fighters have trouble adapting their technique in the MMA arena where strikes are legal. Maia uses ground strikes in unison with his jiu-jistu and it makes him deadly on the ground. He is 3-0 in the UFC and has won "Submission of the Night" at all three events. The UFC would be wise to develop him and push him as a contender. He is only 6'0, which means he could probably drop down to Welterweight, where he would be even deadlier on the ground.

-Roger Huerta is 25 and still has a lot to learn. I believed Huerta was ready to upgrade his skills and come out a different fighter for his bout with Kenny Florian. It did not happen and Florian picked him apart. The thing to remember, though, is Huerta is still very young. He has time to evolve into a complete fighter. It will happen when he realizes brawling is not the only way he can win fights. I think we will see a St-Pierre-like transformation from him in the next 2-3 years, where he develops into a championship fighter.

-Kenny Florian might be the smartest fighter in all of MMA. He seems to understand how to win better than anyone else. The way he outsmarted Huerta was incredible to watch. Every thing he did in the Octagon had a purpose and sound logic behind it. Combine his mental strength with his other tools and you have the best lightweight in the world not named BJ Penn. The only problem Florian faces is a lengthy wait to get Penn in the ring.

-Brock Lesnar has a long career ahead of him in the UFC. He erased all doubts about whether he can be a successful MMA fighter. By destroying a veteran heavyweight, Lesnar sent a message to his critics. The Kimbo Slice comparisons are over. This guy is for real and will be the UFC Heavyweight Champion sooner than you think.

-Jon Fitch is close to be a champion. It is hard to criticize his effort at UFC 87, but the one glaring weakness he has is average striking. If he wants to be the man who knocks off GSP, he must fine tune his stand-up and make it a strength rather than a weakness. He has all the other tools, including the ability to make Goldberg and Rogan shut up while he takes an unbelievable amount of punishment (Honestly, he is the first fighter who has ever made them let the images tell the story. I wish all announcers were forced to watch golf coverage for a week straight before they were allowed on the air. It would teach them that there are times when you just have to shut up and let the action happen without commentary.)

-Georges St-Pierre is now in the Pound for Pound discussion along with Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, and BJ Penn. He has defeated every major challenger in the Welterweight Division and he has done it in dominating fashion. There were questions about his striking, he answered them. There were questions about his heart, he answered them. There are no more questions. He is one of the top 4 fighters in the world.


hundred dollar man said...

Stinks Couture won't fight for UFC. There are good fights for him with Nog, Mir, Lesnar. None as BIG as Fedor. Still top billing fights.

Matt D. said...

Nice Post! I agree with you completely that Maia may have the best jie-jitsu in the UFC. I'm interested to see what happens when the UFC puts him into the ring against a fighter that is predominantly a striker.

I hadn't thought of it before, but St. Pierre does deserve to be in the discussion for best pound for pound fighter in the world. I still think that crown goes to Fedor, but since he is a heavyweight I also think Fedor has the greatest chance of being the first pound for pound candidate to lose.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is in love with B.J. Penn. I don't see what has he done to make him P4P. GSP beat him! Penn beat Pulver (not a top guy anymore), Stevenson (nowhere near a top guy), and Sherk (top 3 lightweight). How does that compare to GSP who has beaten everyone for years? It doesn't. GSP will knock him out.

Rear Naked said...

BJ is the only one who has fought at higher weights, which to me is what the Pound for Pound tag should be about. Fedor is in there because he always goes against bigger fighters. BJ has jumped to Welterweight and won the title off Hughes. He fought Machida to a decision despite being down 30 lbs. He's the only fighter doing this sort of thing, so he gets more respect.