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UFC 169 Parting Shots

By on February 4, 2014

jose aldoAlthough Dana White is apparently embarrassed by the quality of UFC 169, it was a decent enough night of fights, despite the lack of finishes.

In particular, Jose Aldo and Alistair Overeem have drawn the ire of White, despite the fact that Aldo in particular was as aggressive in his bout as Renan Barao was. He just didn’t benefit from an early stoppage.

How can you really say Aldo isn’t being aggressive? Do you see with your eyeballs how hard he’s throwing those leg kicks? Look, there are “just scoring points” leg kicks and there are “separate your leg from your body” leg kicks. Aldo’s are obviously the latter.

What Aldo did is pick his spots against an opponent who himself was constantly looking to finish the whole night. That’s kind of what fighting is about, Dana. Hitting. Not getting hit. Winning.

And that’s exactly what Overeem did, outstriking Frank Mir by a margin of 139-5. Off the top of my head, I don’t think we’ve seen that lopsided a fight over three or more rounds since BJ Penn outstruck Diego Sanchez 150-8 at UFC 107. And oh- Sanchez was never a UFC champion like Mir was, and Penn didn’t face any criticism after the fight for letting Sanchez hang around for over 22 minutes when he so obviously had him outclassed (the fight was only stopped because the ringside doctor intervened, by the way).

It’s clear that Dana has his favorites, and Overeem just isn’t one of them. That’s fine, I guess, but don’t transparently lie to us and tell us that Overeem’s performance was somehow the stinker of the card. After all, it’s your organization’s cut-happy mentality paired with the monopoly you have in the sport that has created this culture of playing it safe in the MMA business. Overeem knew he was cut if he lost to Mir. Why would he take big chances late in a fight that he was clearly winning? It’s not like he was vying for a title shot- he was fighting to keep his job in the only promotion in the world that can pay him anything close to what he got for Saturday’s fight.

I try to be sensitive to the fact that I’ve never been in there against another world-class fighter and had the pressure of earning a win bonus to provide for my family over my head when I write these columns. Still, there are times when you have to criticize someone for complacently cruising to a close decision loss or doing something else particularly head-scratching. But neither Aldo or Overeem’s fights deserved that criticism. Perhaps the frat boy mentality you’ve cultivated in your own fans, Dana, by openly criticizing your fighters all the time has come back to haunt you now that these same morons expect every card to be Ultimate Knockouts 5.

What does Faber do now?

Well, I don’t think he can make 125 pounds.

I kid. But seriously, I’m as perplexed about what to do here as the next guy. You’ve got a champion in each of the two divisions he’s fought in that he’s lost to (decisively to Aldo, less decisively but multiple times to Barao), and absolutely no one outside of a coach in his own camp wants to see another fight with Barao.

Was the stoppage hasty? It was. But it’s not as if this was a close fight and a barn-burner up until the stoppage. And he had already been repeatedly rocked within that one round. It’s certainly not fair, but as Dana White himself has seen fit to remind us, this is a business, and no one’s going to want to see Faber-Barao 3.

So now, you’ve got a guy who still has a few years left in him and has been fighting better than ever that can’t seem to beat the two champions in the divisions he can fight in. What do you do? Why not put him against other guys in the same position?

In the short run, I think that means you stick him in there with the winner of BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, if Faber is open to moving back up to his old weight class for a one-off bout. It’ll keep everyone busy, it’d be a big name fight either way, and it wouldn’t be eliminating a young, up-and-coming title contender for no good reason.

Who knows? If Aldo makes good on his threat to move up to 155 pounds, Faber could move up to his old class and be a bona fide contender again. But until then, he’s just treading water and eliminating other would-be contenders all the while, which doesn’t make him quite so useful to the UFC.

Quick Shots

–Abel Trujillo-Jamie Varner was a great fight, no doubt about that. But then again, it gives Varner three losses in four fights. No way he’ll get cut after being what White apparently believes is the lone bright spot in a card of stinkers, but this definitely puts him on the block. Would he really not have been better served with a more measured approach once he hurt Trujillo?

Movin’ On Up Award

Ali Bagautinov’s win over John Lineker has to propel him towards title contention in a division where everyone had Lineker in the top five. Lineker, who has struggled often to make 125 pounds, had won four fights in a row, including three by KO/TKO.

Beautiful Loser Award

This has to go to John Makdessi, who was screwed by the judges against Alan Patrick in a fight that was close but clear. For reference, ten of the eleven media members polled by had Makdessi winning, and the one holdout had it as a draw. One judge, Cardo Urso, had all three rounds inexplicably going to Patrick. Tell me, Cardo, was it the takedowns that Patrick landed which Makdessi immediately stood up from without taking any damage?

Holy $#!% Award

So obvious I almost don’t want to type it- Abel Trujillo’s knockout win over Jamie Varner in an early contender for 2014’s round of the year.

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