Lessons Learned: UFC on FOX 5
By Tom Taylor
As MMA fans, we learn more about our sport every time we watch a fight, even if we don’t realize it. We might be reminded of something we had long forgotten, or we might be made aware of something we had never considered. And stubborn as MMA fans are, we might even change our opinions on certain issues. Regardless, in one way or another, we learn more about our sport with each night of fights that passes. This past weekend, the UFC returned to Seattle, for UFC on FOX 5. The card lived up to its own hype, and will certainly go down as one of the finest nights of fights of 2012. From start to finish, the event was packed to capacity with thrilling fights that will not easily be forgotten. With the card now in the rear view mirror, here are the things we can take away from UFC on FOX 5.
Changing of the Guard:
UFC on FOX 5’s main card boasted two high-stakes matchups that pitted rising contenders against seasoned veterans of the sport. First, welterweight dynamo Rory MacDonald trounced his veteran opponent BJ Penn, and then, Swedish light heavyweight prospect Alexander Gustafsson outworked 205 lb legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to a decisive unanimous decision victory. In the lead up to the UFC on FOX 5, the UFC did not let anyone forget these storylines, frequently referencing the two fights as old lion versus young lion matchups. In both cases however, youth and exuberance seemed to prevail with relative ease. Both fights were intended to be stark tests for the young prospects, but neither MacDonald nor Gustafsson seemed to be particularly troubled in handing their veteran opponents decision losses. Indeed, it appears as if a new generation of mixed martial artists has arrived, and if their performances at UFC on FOX 5 were any indication, they’re more than capable of driving the old guard of mixed martial artists from the top of the mountain.
Under the Radar:
In the wake of UFC on FOX 5, most conversation is circling around the dominant performances of the main card’s winners. The lopsided wins of Darren Cruikshank, Denis Siver and Scott Jorgensen are also getting generating some buzz. One winner, however, doesn’t seem to be garnering the discussion he deserves. Sure, Raphael Assuncao’s decision win over Mike Easton might not have been as thrilling as some of the other fights on the card, but it was impressive nonetheless. Assuncao’s experience was the visible key to his success, as he implemented his game plan, and lit his highly regarded opponent up with counter punches. Throw in the fact that Assuncao had stepped in as an injury replacement on very short notice, broke his arm in the fight’s first round, and did not have any sponsors or an official manager at the time of the fight, and his performance is made even more impressive. Easton was riding some serious momentum heading into the fight, but Assuncao proved a definite roadblock in the young contender’s ascent. At UFC on FOX 5, Assuncao proved that he is dangerous opponent for any bantamweight who enters the cage with him. With a record of 19-4, and with his four losses coming at the hands of Urijah Faber, Eric Koch, Diego Nunes and Pat Curran, we probably should have already known that.
A beast of a Featherweight:
Dennis Siver was hot and cold as a UFC lightweight. With notable wins over George Sotiropilous and Matt Wiman, but losses to Gray Maynard, Melvin Guillard, Ross Pearson and Donald Cerrone, he appeared to be in definite flux, perpetually floating somewhere in the middle of the pack. So, following his loss to Cerrone, Siver was one of a crowd of lightweights to attempt to drop to featherweight. And while some of those lightweights didn’t have much more success at the lower weight class, Dennis Siver has looked nothing short of savage as a featherweight. First, he battered Diego Nunes to a unanimous decision win, and at UFC on FOX 5, in his sophomore outing at 145 lbs, unleashed a violent beating on the always resilient Nam Phan. In round one, Siver punished Phan with a massive array of strikes, and in rounds two and three, he showcased his frequently underrated ground game with several solid takedowns and some pulverizing ground and pound. Siver’s win over Phan solidified his status as a true contender at 145 lbs. Just over a year ago, when he was still competing as a lightweight, “Dennis Siver” and “title shot” would likely not be found in the same sentence. Now, provided he continues to bulldoze his way through the division, it appears that Dennis Siver is well on his way to a championship fight.
The Importance of Constant Offense:
In Marcus LeVesseur, Abel Trujillo faced an extremely talented wrestler with some of the most impressive takedowns in the game. When their fight was waved on, it initially appeared as though Trujillo would find himself on the receiving end of a wrestling clinic, as LeVesseur sent him crashing into the cage with a seemingly rocket powered takedown. Trujillo, however, was not content to be bullied against the cage. Despite having difficulty avoiding being sandwiched between LeVesseur and the fence, Trujillo opted to unleash a steady diet of strikes to the body and head of his powerful opponent. This strategy proved to be the catalyst for a sudden and drastic turning of the tide. Trujillo’s constant assault, even when he was being squashed against the cage, visibly broke his talented opponent down, until finally, Trujillo was able to impose his own game plan. From there, it was all downhill for LeVesseur. Trujillo pounded his opponent’s body with knees that must have broken several of his ribs, and quite possibly the ribs of several of the fans who looked on in awe. Time and time again, we’ve seen powerful strikers neutralized against the cage by wrestlers. Trujillo found an antidote to this problem in constant and unrelenting offense.
Tune in Next Weekend for Lessons Learned: The Ultimate Fighter Finale.