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UFC on Fuel 1 Parting Shots

By on February 19, 2012

It wasn’t such a success ratings-wise, but the first UFC event on Fuel at least offered some solid action to those who were able to watch. Still, the whole point of these events is to build up Fuel TV in the way that the UFC previously made Spike TV a successful network, and the event did give the network its highest ratings of all-time.

Aside from the issue of ratings (and whether many MMA fans could even see the fights through their cable provider), many questions arose from the main event, where Jake Ellenberger defeated Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision.

Breaking the Welterweight Logjam

As if we needed another reason to realize that interim titles are a pointless exercise, Carlos Condit apparently wants to wait to face Georges St. Pierre instead of defending his “title” this summer.

I can see where Condit is coming from, and he actually seems to have the same mentality that I have (that an interim title is no title at all), since he’s treating the situation more like he’s simply the number one contender. He doesn’t want to lose his actual title shot against St. Pierre, so he plans to wait until GSP is healthy.

The problem is that the whole point of the interim title is to keep the division moving and avoid a logjam scenario. If Condit is simply going to stay inactive for another 9 or 10 months, what is the point of having him be the interim champ? Wouldn’t the point be that he could defend the title while we all wait for GSP to get healthy? Furthermore, since when does a champion get to say, “Nah, I’m not going to defend my title until the guy I want to fight is ready”?

He can do that because an interim title is no title at all.

So, what does Ellenberger do if Condit really isn’t going to fight until late 2012? Some have suggested a rematch with Diego Sanchez, and while that would make for an entertaining fight, I don’t think it’s warranted. Saying that Sanchez was well on his way to beating Ellenberger is all speculation. Ellenberger had escaped the bad position Sanchez had him in and was firing away with him standing up as the third round ended. I differ from some people in that I don’t think Ellenberger was any more gassed than Sanchez was, either.

I’d rather see Ellenberger fight the winner of Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck, which would give us a clear cut top contender after the Condit scenario plays out. I think Hendricks has as much of a claim to being the top contender as Ellenberger does, and will have an even better claim if he can beat Koscheck on May 5.

Quick Shots

–I’m not going to harp too much on the huge gaffe of having Ellenberger-Sanchez compete in a three-round fight. So far, the change to five-round main events has been hit or miss, largely because it hasn’t been implemented with the kind of consistency it should have had. However, since the last Fuel or FX main events that will not be five rounds will be Thiago Alves-Martin Kampmann and Alexander Gustafsson-Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, at least the end to the silliness is in sight.

–Since I like to take judges to task when they screw up, I should also give credit where credit is due. Props go to Jeff Blatnick, Sal D’Amato and Dave Jobeun for correctly using 10-8 rounds in the TJ Dillashaw-Walel Watson fight. Yes, I am now giving people compliments for doing what they’re supposed to do. And since Blatnick somehow recognized the second round as a 10-8 round, but not the first round, maybe I shouldn’t. I guess I’m feeling nice today.

–Watson’s got a lot to clean up before he can really compete with decent opponents. Many often forget that there is more to good standup than just good striking. Head movement, footwork, defense- these are all important elements, as well. Watson can throw some pretty strikes, but it’s hard to call him a good striker when he’s not controlling range against a shorter opponent and is eating punches with his chin up in the air.

–Omaha fans, why boo Ronny Markes?

–I won’t be able to buy into Stefan Struve until he starts learning how to control range. He’s far too easy to hit and still seems reluctant to use straight punches (especially jabs) and leg kicks to keep opponents at bay. He can do that against Dave Herman, sure. When he steps up in competition, he’ll be in a lot of trouble.

What Are They Watching?

I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd gave a louder “whoa” when Octagon girl Brittney Palmer stumbled on her way back to her seat than they did seconds later when Dillashaw opened his fight against Watson with a nicely-landed Superman punch.

Movin’ On Up Award

A lot of fighters made big jumps up the ladder (Stefan Struve, Ronny Markes, Jonathan Brookins), but nobody had more to gain or lose than Ellenberger, and he looked very good for nearly all of his fight with Sanchez. Sanchez rarely allows an opponent to look all that great, so I wouldn’t hold it against Ellenberger that he couldn’t put him away or that Sanchez had his comeback moment late in the fight. On a side note, I know it was Ellenberger’s hometown, but is there a fighter who is inexplicably less popular than Sanchez, despite putting on Fight of the Night-quality bouts nearly every time out? Shouldn’t Sanchez be a fan favorite for that alone?

Beautiful Loser Award

I could probably name this award after Sanchez at this point. Huge heart and determination against Ellenberger. Even though his cardio wasn’t quite as good as usual due to the ankle injury he sustained in training camp, he still dug deep and kept up the pace, even winning the third round.

Holy $#!% Award

In a night that was really kind of lacking in terms of truly explosive finishes, I’ll give this to both Stipe Miocic and Philip De Fries, both of whom brought the thunder in their all-too brief slugfest. Honorable mention goes to Brookins, who showed surprising power in putting away the tough Vagner Rocha.

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