Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekend Roundup: UFC Plods as Strikeforce Shines

- The UFC -

Rock Em Sock Em is a child's game on par with Garcia's technique
   Zuffa loves to pass low level brawlers off as elite mixed martial artists, and continuously gives sub-par fighters like Leonard Garcia the spotlight to showcase their utter lack of technique. Tonight saw the poster boy for this flailing style put on a cringe inducing performance as he winged wild punches at his opponent, each one loopier than the next. In response, Nam Phan would cover up and circle, peppering Garcia with the occasional jab. Undeterred Garcia kept trudging forward looking like a windmill in fight shorts. At one point the fight became so absurd that UFC color commentator Joe Rogan opined that Garcia appeared to be throwing rocks rather than punches, his flailing style being so wild and devoid of any semblance of technique. It wouldn’t be such an egregious act if this were a rarity in Zuffa’s promotions, but more and more it is becoming the rule rather than the exception. And the truly unfortunate aspect of this, the rotten cherry atop this embarrassing display by Garcia, was that he was actually rewarded with the decision victory. This must be discouraging to fighters of actual skill, to see these school yard brawlers not only continuously brought back by Zuffa even after losing, when others like Gerald Harris and so many more have been cut immediately after a single loss, but to now have to watch these flailers routinely garner blatantly unjust decisions. Lets hope it does not drive talented fighters to windmill tactics.

   Yet another lamentable aspect of the flailing fighter is in how the common fan has been force fed by Zuffa into accepting them as exciting examples of mixed martial artists. The UFC has provided two options, if you want excitement, you must turn to flailers such as Leonard Garcia, Forrest Griffin, Chris Leben, or any number of the irrelevant no names they bring in for short stints, and if you want technique, you must look to snoozers like Georges St. Pierre, Lyoto Machida, Frankie Edgar, or any number of the lay-n-pray blankets they bring in from collegiate wrestling gyms across America.

Meet some of the UFC Windmills

   And that’s what the UFC has become, you want some sorry excuse for excitement? You get Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan. You want technique without fire? Here’s a couple of fighters in Demian Maia and Kendall Grove who can’t utilize their talents in an appealing or effective manner. You want some mundane mixture of the two? Grab a pillow and watch Rick Story and Johnny Hendricks. You want two irrelevant neophytes more fitted for a regional show‘s under card? Here’s Jonathan Brookins and Michael Johnson. How outrageous that this is what passes as elite level mixed martial arts in the minds of so many. On this particular UFC it was especially abhorrent how the televised card was filled with tedium as the dark matches contained two fine examples of both technique and killer instinct, with both Nick Pace and Pablo Garza finishing their opponents in dominantly exciting fashion. Ninety-nine percent of the casual fan base, however, will never see their efforts because the UFC insists on pushing the predictable brawlers. Thankfully, however, Strikeforce is providing an excellent alternative for the true MMA fan.

- Strikeforce -

   As the UFC drunks were yelling for body bags while watching human windmills, Strikeforce’s audience was privileged with an amazing night of dynamism and excitement, packaged in the wrappings of beautiful fistic technique. Paul Daley is what Leonard Garcia wishes he was. If Daley had demonstrated the skill level of a Leonard Garcia he would have embarrassed himself for fifteen minutes and been deservedly showered with boos after the final bell. But that didn't happen, and instead, Daley, with his shockingly brutal knock out of Scott Smith, showed what powerful and exciting combative ability executed in an effective manner can do. How very refreshing it is to see a talented fighter confidently using the cage as a platform to showcase the fruits of the hard work he puts in day after day in the gym. Daley trained for the fight as a knock out artist, and when given the opportunity to prove himself, he rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion.

   As devastating as Daley’s knockout victory was, it certainly has competition in how Robbie Lawler dispatched of former UFC #1 contender Matt Lindland. Lawler initially dropped Lindland with a beautifully placed counter right hand, and without a moment’s hesitation followed it up with a powerful punch to his dazed and grounded opponent, leaving him unconcious for several minutes. Not a single fighter on the UFC’s televised card even hinted at such an ability. This is yet another example of how an emphasis on technique and the focused willingness to utilize it is what produces truly memorable moments in MMA. As if the two previous knockouts weren’t enough, Strikeforce came through with an incredible main event between two relevant fighters which ended in yet another amazing knockout as former two division Pride champion Dan Henderson put to sleep former UFC #1 contender Babalu Sobral with a shattering ground and pound barrage. What better way to end an event than with three contenders for knockout of the year, and all from elite fighters, rather than irrelevant journeymen.

   It must be acknowledged that these three marvelous knockouts were all the result of focused determination and skill, and the capacity to implement them in the cage. There was no flailing. There were no loops. There were no windmills. And there was certainly no impotence in imposing one‘s will on the opponent. Only deliberately placed strikes by high caliber fighters. Perhaps Dana White should think twice next time he goes head to head with rival promotion Strikeforce, and consider making an effort to promote high level mixed martial arts of quality. What a contrast between the UFC’s offering of an awkward mixture of plodding decisions, vapid technique, and nugatory fighters, and Strikeforce’s brilliant showcase of high energy relevant fighters demonstrating technique as effective as it was explosive.


  1. Im glad the crowd didnt agree with te judges & were so vocal. Nam Phan will come back strong.

  2. Strikeforce of course had the star and technique edge over the young talent show tuf, but it also exposed the fragility of its top fighters, many of whom are on the cusp of retirement.

    Smith is still young with several years of fight left, but has taken a ton of punishment already fighting for ten years and at this point is looking at a gatekeeper position only.

    Babalu has been knocked out brutally 4 times in the last 4 years and has been fighting for 13+ years he is a shell.

    Lindland has been ko'd numerous times has been fighting for 12 years, he was noticeably slower than ever last night in his shell like performance.

    Hendo still has the goods, and like lawler hasn't taken much head trauma in his loses. Hendo definitely fights best at 205 where he has a slight speed edge on his typically larger foes.

    But with walker and a signing of another aged pro wrestler on the horizon its obvious strikforce is having difficulty finding young fighters popular enough to draw.

  3. The good thing about Daley is if he can't KO the guy in 15 minutes he does so during the post fight interview