(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)