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UFC on FX 7 Parting Shots

By on January 22, 2013

ufc logoUFC on FX 7 provided a pretty good night of fights with one huge headliner between Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping. A title shot was supposedly on the line, but everyone knew going into it that the shot would only really apply if Bisping won, as Belfort is unlikely to get a rematch with Anderson Silva anytime soon (and he claims he’d rather have one with Jon Jones, anyway).

In recent fights, Bisping has proven himself to be more skilled than I had previously thought, capable of beating other high-level middleweights like Brian Stann or giving someone like Chael Sonnen a competitive fight, despite Sonnen being a terrible style matchup for him.

However, the problem with Bisping is twofold: he does not have game-changing power, and (though he recovers fairly well) his chin is not among the division’s best, either. That puts him in the position of often having to fight near-perfect bouts in order to take decisions, especially against the division’s elite.

Against Belfort, that cost him.

Bisping was doing what he had to do, keeping the fight close, using movement and avoiding any real trouble. In fact, Bisping erred on the side of caution, allowing a very close first round so that he could stay clear of Belfort’s power. Perhaps he did so in the hopes that Belfort would fade and he could win the later rounds, but exactly how Belfort was going to tire out when Bisping wasn’t actually making him do anything is unclear.

The result was satisfying for those who don’t like Bisping, of which there are many. It was not so great, however, for the division itself. Now, the only opponent who stands out for Anderson Silva is Chris Weidman, who Silva already said he wasn’t excited to fight and who the UFC doesn’t seem to think deserves a shot yet, either. Of course, with possible bouts against Georges St. Pierre (not anytime soon, of course, with GSP facing Nick Diaz next) and Jon Jones (ditto, as he’ll face Chael Sonnen this spring), it may not matter.

Hey, didn’t I hear that Rashad Evans (not to mention Lyoto Machida) might drop to middleweight?

Quick Shots

–Very impressive on the prelims was Francisco Trinaldo, who steamrolled over CJ Keith en route to a second round win via arm triangle. Trinaldo was just too strong, both physically and in terms of will, for his opponent, who never looked comfortable during the fight. Trinaldo’s slams were great; that’s what happens when you let your much stronger opponent have double underhooks.

–How the hell did judge Romulo Bittencourt score a 10-10 third round in the Nik Lentz-Diego Nunes fight? So 10 seconds of decent standup is equal to 4 minutes, 50 seconds of stifling control and ground-and-pound? Come on.

–Ben Rothwell looked ready to fight against Gabriel Gonzaga. Of course, there’s a bigger factor than cardio that often comes to play: Gonzaga was just better. Gonzaga’s a frustrating fighter to involve in predictions as he’s one of those guys who you can never fully count on getting a solid performance from.

Adventures in Refereeing

Dan Miragliotta continues to secretly be the worst referee in MMA, while others like Steve Mazzagatti and Yves Lavigne wrongly take the rap. All three have their bad moments, but nobody consistently affects fights in unnecessary and unfortunate ways than Standin’ Dan himself.

On Saturday, he was officiating when Iuri Alcantara was fighting Pedro Nobre, and it only took a couple of minutes before Nobre was in big trouble. Alcantara had the back mount, Nobre was flattened out, and Alcantara landed a brutal elbow to Nobre’s right ear. Nobre grimaced and put his face on the mat as Alcantara tried to find an angle to land a legal shot. He landed two shots that were more on the back of the head, but not very solid, and Miragliotta rightfully warned him. Then, he landed another elbow, this time on Nobre’s other ear, and Miragliotta stopped the fight, which ended up being a no contest when Nobre couldn’t continue.

If the two illegal blows were bad enough, he should have stopped the fight then and there. By allowing the fight to continue, he’s saying that the blows weren’t bad enough to force a stoppage, and no foul stoppage should result when Alcantara lands a legal blow thereafter. Nobre was clearly embellishing the effects of the two shots to the back of the head. While I don’t doubt that he was hurt, it was from the legal elbows, not the relatively light shots that hit the back of his noggin.Z

And holy shit, did Standin’ Dan let Thiago Tavares take a beating from Khabib Nurmagomedov, or what? He took about 6-7 unnecessary elbows after he had already started to go out. Brutal stuff.

Movin’ On Up Award

Nik Lentz has had a great start to his new career as a featherweight, winning both bouts he’s had at 145 pounds. The latest win, against perennial top ten fighter Diego Nunes, may not put him among the division’s elite but puts him in position to face another top 15 guy and prove that he belongs up near the top.

Beautiful Loser Award

You may assume this would go to Milton Viera, but no! Viera had a case for winning the decision against Godofredo “Pepey” Castro, but that doesn’t mean he fought a great fight. He clearly lost the most decisive round of the fight (the second) and his inability to mount an offense against the active guard of Pepey in the first is what cost him the fight on two scorecards.

Meanwhile, Wagner Prado was actively winning his fight against Ildemar Alcantara, tagging him at will and winning the first round easily before he played around too long on the mat with Alcantara and ended up in a kneebar. His first round was better than anything Viera did, and he takes this prestigious honor as a result.

Holy $#!% Award

There were a few good moments here: Alcantara the Younger’s beautiful kneebar, Trinaldo’s impressive slams against Keith, and of course, Belfort kicking Bisping in the head and dropping him, leading to the TKO finish in the main event. I’m picking Belfort not just because of the stature of the bout itself or any satisfaction I may have taken from the moment, but also from the suddenness of the fight-changing moment. You could see the kneebar attempt coming, as well as the two slams (double underhooks, son), but a kick in the head is always a surprise.

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