With the UM football season winding down (no game until Jan 3rd), and Dallas losing to the Arizona Cardinals (see the carnage of clock (mis) management here), and thereby causing me to lose hope once again that they will pick up their 6th super bowl ring, lets take a little time and explore my UFC musings.
First off, I love combat sports. It really is the only sport where the "players" are out to end the contest by obliterating their opponent. Whether it is by a brutal knock out, or by forcing them into submission, the primary goal is to beat the opposition. This strikes many as brutal and to an extent it is. There is a higher set of rules though, that I feel the good ones follow. These are the fighters that I choose to root for. Arrogance, cockiness, "swagger" (i really, really hate that word) is not an attribute of these fighters. They respect all, and fear no one. They willingly take to the cage to engage their opponent in martial combat. Most relish the contact, but all strive for that balance between taking contact and delivering their own. After the fight they will often help their opponent up, check to make sure they are ok, and may even embrace them as brothers. Its more than sportsmanship. The good ones look forward to the combat, and once done, they always respect their opponent more. Not all are friends of course, but there is almost always a mutual respect for each other. The code I mentioned above is summed up very well in one of my all time favorite movies Ronin. In one particular scene, a supporting character (Jean-Pierre) asks the lead character, played by Robert Deniro, if he understands the warrior code. The need to serve something higher than themselves on the field of combat. What is left if there is no longer that serving need? Only, "a man without a master". In a personal musing of mine I have compiled pages of quotes, most of them centered around the warrior ethos. That quote, and I encourage you to look it up to read it in its entirety, is definitely my favorite. It encompasses my belief that Honor comes before arrogance, Servitude comes before cockiness, and winning will only come with the desire to do both to the best of your ability. The fact that in today's society you can achieve great things by using pure athleticism is disconcerting to me. To see grown men mix words with each other is shameful and lacks a certain respect for them mutually. All the instigating words spoken before the matches are mostly propaganda forced upon the fighters by the promoters, a sad price to pay for the sport. But there are certain fighters who have been able to side step the back and forth and choose to let their actions in the ring speak for themselves.
Ok, so I will now step off my soap box and continue on to reviewing some recent results in the ring, and talk about a couple of upcoming fights. The TUF (Ultimate Fighter TV series) finale ended spectacularly for the two winning fighters in the show, and sort of fizzled for the main event between the coaches. I grudgingly accept that Bisping won this fight by totally dominating an opponent who I don't particularly care for, but rooted for nontheless because of my dislike for Bisping (see above and think OPPOSITE!). Mayhem was not prepared for this fight physically, or emotionally. He had not fought in over a year, and his previous fights had been in the underwhelming Strikeforce promotion. This amount of time off is usually reserved for injuries (of which he had none) or a lack of contract. In either case though the challenge in this sport is staying in fight condition, which you do by fighting. No amount of sparring or treadmill time can equate to the pressure, weight cut, and build up of fight week. It is all very taxing and I think it showed. Additionally he spent the last few months in verbal sparring matches with Bisping as they were coaches on TUF. Whether Bisping got into his head no one knows, but I am sure it was an inefficient way to train for a fight.
Meanwhile, in the undercard, the latest addition to the UFC, the featherweights and bantamweights, went toe to toe for their respective contracts. The bantamweight fight between John Dodson and TJ Dilleshaw was a huge upset. Dodson, who annoyed most of the fighters in the house by not respecting his team and leaking vital fight information to his buddies on the other side, came out swinging and effectively took away the wrestling of ground and pound artist Dilleshaw. Dodson was a huge underdog due to his height disadvantge, but showed you can win at a high level without reach (although his reach was actually pretty even with Dilleshaw, monkey arms??). In the featherweight match top class Brazilian Diego Brandao handled Dennis Bermudez fairly easily, although he did get knocked down early in the first. This kid is good. He has a rather sizable chip on his shoulder that I would like to see go away as he has more success, but for now he is a good up and coming fighter for this packed division. One thing about the little guys is that they rarely have a slow match. Their conditioning is always top notch and rarely do fights go the distance. I was extremely glad to them added to the UFC.
The next season of TUF promises to be a good one as Uriajah Faber and Dominick Cruz square off as coaches. For those of you who do not know the history behind this rivalry, check it out here. See Faber's take here. And Cruz's take here. Bottom line, it will make for good TV. Also, it will be live and on FX as opposed to Spike, so something else to look forward to. Dana White really is a marketing genius.
I am looking forward to the Jon Jones fight coming up, as well as Georges St Pierre (aka GSP, but not to be confused with THAT GSP). More to follow on those fights as they get closer.