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Wrestlers Boxing Badly

(Matthew Polly is the author of Tapped Out, his odyssey through the strange and wonderful world of MMA. Sometime during that journey he met us in Montreal and after a dozen double jack n cokes we cemented a relationship where he provides us with content even though we are the Khloe Kardashians of the MMA world. Here are his thoughts on le merde we witnessed this past Saturday.)

UFC of Fox 2 cemented a question I have been worried about for awhile: Am I doomed to spend the majority of my MMA time watching elite wrestlers and grapplers box and kickbox badly?

Demian Maia has apparently been attending the Hendo Remedial Boxing for Wrestlers Academy where they wait until the third year to teach the jab. God gave us two hands for a reason, Demian. At least Chris Weidman had a late call-up and a brutal weight cut as an excuse his Ambien-sponsored sleep-boxing performance. Their match felt like one long slow-motion replay.

I can understand why Phil Davis finds it hard to throw a punch with those Popeye shoulder muscles, but his kicks wouldn’t have passed a suburban karate studio’s orange belt test. Each one begged, “Please catch me!” And I’ve seen better footwork from cerebral palsy victims. Anyone who has ever said that he’s the next Jon Jones needs to put down the crack pipe.

Rashad Evans continued to prove the exception (along with Frankie Edgars) to the rule about wrestlers being ugly strikers, but one wonders if this is only because they are undersized for their divisions and have no other choice. And someone still needs to explain to him the difference between boxing and shadowboxing, because he seemed completely unconcerned about landing a punch. If Davis knew how to maintain or regain guard, it would have been an impossible fight to score.

While Bisping was the only legitimate striker on the Fox card, it was hard to tell from his performance. He was mostly content to pull a Tank Abbot and press a surprisingly weak Chael Sonnen against the cage. And what was up with those half-hearted spinning kicks? Is he eyeing a post-fight movie career as the next Jason Statham?

I’ll refrain from bagging on Sonnen because at least he attempted to do what wrestlers who can’t strike should do and ground and pound. Also, after eeking out a decision victory, his Pro Wrestling Q&A with Rogan was sufficiently self-destructive that there is little need to pile on. He’s gone from telling jokes to becoming the joke.

I am hoping Saturday was just an off night. But it increasingly seems to me like the ground game has become, if not irrelevant, than at least an afterthought. Clearly the quick restarts by the referees and the lusty boos of the fans have made clear to fighters where the money lies. But it also seems that this latest evolution of MMA has produced a crop of fighters who are great at sprawling but terrible at brawling.

Maybe the UFC has a job for Chuck Liddell that requires some actual work after all.

(pic via Heavy’s UFC on FOX 2 gallery)

  • glassjawsh

    you’re being too general. you should’ve prefaced this by saying that this was only about the Fox fights because their was a GD calf crusher in the fuel prelims.

    This felt very “the sky is falling” BE style to me. and we all know you’re better than that

  • iamphoenix

    i still don’t know what made people think phil davies can fight. dude sucks dick.

  • matthewpolly

    Point taken. I belatedly preface this article by saying the prelims were great. Loved the calf crusher. When Fox figures out how to slip in featherweight prelims or my cable company picks up Fuel, then I will officially retract this post. Until then, I remain yours and truly, Chicken Little.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Nah, the important card sucked balls.  The part that was on Free Television and available in any basic HD package sucked a dead donkey dick. 

    Shitty results from two last-second replacements and a Main that should’ve never been made in the first place.

    I cannot forget that shit fest from Maia, who has been focusing on his shitty striking instead of working from his base of grappling and focusing on wrestling.

    And this particular “sky” has been falling since Dan Severn.  The sport is still filled with shitty wrestle-punchers but putting them on a big stage just makes them seem exponentially shittier.

  • CAP

    When they first announced this card I thought it lacked some sizzle for their first official FOX card. I didn’t really understand why they chose those matches. Was hoping when Sonnen/Bisping was made it would deliver but it all fell short. People are freaking because all the hardcores know how awesome MMA can be but it just hasn’t happened on FOX yet. Yet.

  • frickshun

    1st of all, I REALLY LIKE this new belligerent Polly. He rarely badmouths fighters like this. It’s making all the blood rush to my crotch. 2nd, Polly–>you can come to my casa any time you want for some hot guy on guy Fuel action, complete w/Jay Glaser & KenFlo post-fight wrap up show!!

  • Symbul

    Yeah but every time you remember the good about the prelims you then also remember Russow-Einemo.

    Yeah, that happened.

  • fightlinker

    I found it pretty funny. Joe Rogan explained everything that’s wrong with jiu jitsu in mma while calling that fight

  • matthewpolly

    I may need some hot Fuel action to recover from the news that Gladiator and Haywire’s poor box office performance is making it difficult for my agent to sell the movie rights to Tapped Out. (Karmic retribution for my negative review?) I would just like the UFC to put on a decent Fox card once, so mainstream viewers can discover what we already know: just how awesome MMA fights can be.

  • ghostboner

    Amen Polly. Amen. I was really looking forward to seeing Maia and Weidman grapple. I even tried to convince myself that the turrible punching contest wasn’t possible cause Maia would not be able to nor want to stop Weidman’s takedowns. I had myself believing it. But I thought Rashad vs Davis was ok. Or maybe it just looked that way in comparison.

  • agentsmith

    I completely tuned out during Russow/Einemo.  All I remember is Russow laying on him.