Monday, February 6, 2012

Afterword on UFC 143

I finally caught up on UFC 143 and I gotta say it was deeply satisfying to see Carlos Condit beat, and beat up, Nick Diaz. And while the fight was close - I scored it 49-46 though I admit the first round was close, and since two of the judges agreed with my scoring, and one gave the first to Diaz, I figure I was pretty spot on - it was definitely Condit's fight. Condit's striking was just too diverse, he was able to move and avoid Diaz's volume punching while connecting with his own strikes. At the end of the fifth round, Diaz was able to get him down and came quite close to submitting Condit with a rear naked choke - so Diaz stole that round, but even so at the very end Condit reversed it and was on top of Diaz. So, good fight, and a profound thank you to Carlos Condit for exposing the weaknesses in Diaz's game: that he fights every fight the same way and if you just plan for that, he can be beaten and, indeed, he can be caused to wilt (which definitely happened in the third and fourth rounds).

Bad news? Diaz won't get crushed by Georges St-Pierre. Instead, Condit will be crushed . . . though probably not as hard because Condit didn't call GSP a chicken. I almost wanted Diaz to win so GSP could beat him, but narrowly decided I'd rather see the Diaz hype train derailed sooner rather than later - and if Diaz lost to GSP, well, who in welterweight hasn't? But losing to Condit means that Diaz is just one of many contenders at welterweight, he isn't some dominant fighter.

The ridiculous news? Diaz is an ass. The first thing out of his mouth in the post-fight interview is how he didn't "accept" that Condit won. Diaz specifically said that he pushed forward the whole fight and landed the harder strikes. Diaz also disparaged Condit's brutal leg kicks that really slowed Diaz down in the later rounds. The first is true - Diaz did push forward. Into Condit's kicks again and again. But it a lie that Diaz landed the harder strikes. The hardest blows were definitely landed by Condit - a roundhouse kick to the face (well, he landed several, but one in particular) and a spinning forearm. And those leg kicks? Some of them were just savage. So, pathetic. Diaz lost, but he whined like a spoiled brat about it.

Then Diaz said he's going to leave MMA because . . . oh, Diaz mumbling BS. There's not enough in it for him or something. He has some fantasy that he can be a top level boxer which will earn him more money.

Which is sad. While Freddie Roach has said that Diaz is the best boxer in MMA - and who am I to disagree with Freddie Roach when it comes to judging a boxer's skill? - that's a far, far cry from saying that Diaz can be a successful professional boxer. Diaz's boxing is very good for MMA, that's undoubtedly true. But many of his fights in MMA he's won by submission. He's got top notch Brazilian jiu jitsu. You can't do that in boxing.

Not to mention the same weaknesses that Condit too advantage of - Diaz's basically lousy footwork - can also be taken advantage of in boxing. The same way Condit beat Diaz will work for any boxer. Diaz will come forward, so long as you disengage so he doesn't corner you and volume punch you into oblivion you'll do okay. And pro boxers, as a rule, have really great footwork. MMA guys? Not so much, because they've got to be canny about takedowns so they have a more square stance and don't move around as much. And Diaz has bad footwork for an MMA dude (which is why Condit landed so many leg kicks; Diaz is flat-footed and plodding).

My prediction if Diaz actually goes into boxing is that he'll get a couple of novelty fights. Oooooh, it's an MMA champion in a boxing ring! See the dog talk! Well, if they're low tier fighters, he'll win. If they're middle-tier fighters, he will lose. Diaz will never be a top level boxer getting the big paychecks he imagines he'll win - and in short order, he'll be getting smaller paychecks than he would be getting in MMA where he is a legitimate title contender. He'll never be that in boxing.

So, not only pathetic that he's leaving MMA with his tail between his legs because he got whipped by Condit (c'mon, man, learn to lose, it's part of all sports!), but it's stupid. And sad.

(It also makes me wonder what his manager, Cesar Gracie, is doing with his money. Diaz lives a very modest lifestyle. Last year, he earned at least $1.1 million in just paychecks for his fights. With promotions and such, it was probably at least twice as much. So, you've got this guy who lives with two other dudes in an apartment in Stockton - he doesn't even live there alone, he shares a place - he drives a crappy car, while I'm sure he spend a fair bit on weed it's not that expensive given his wealth. But he's always whining about how he doesn't have money. Diaz would hardly be the first fighter to be taken advantage of by his manager. But if that's the case, even if he could be a top flight boxer, he'll still be ripped off by Cesar Gracie.)

Next, someone will have to come in and stop the Nate Diaz hype train. Sure, he had a goon win over Cowboy Cerrone, but that's because Cerrone came out and fought an angry and stupid fight. I'm sure a disciplined Cerrone would have won that fight . . . and I think that everyone, from now on, will train not to fall for the Diaz brothers' cage tricks like the "Stockton slap" and the trash talk. Not to mention that from now on, Nate is deep in the shark pool of lightweight. It doesn't get easier from here, so, go Dan Miller, who is a legit contender.

Other noteworthy things? Hell, yeah, Dustin Poirier's mounted triangle armbar was wicked. And Stephen Thompson's karate KO was pretty nifty, too - and the announcing was great. It was Thompson's first UFC fight, and it didn't look like he was hitting with a lot of power, and Joe Rogan was walking about how Thompson was definitely hitting Stittgen and styming Stittgen's offense but it didn't look like he'd hurt Stittgen and as Joe was saying that Thompson laid out Stittgen. Hell, yeah, karate! So, that was cool.

I also think welterweight has turned over. Josh Koscheck won his fight by a razor's margin split decision and I agreed with the minority judge. But with Jon Fitch having been KO'd in his last fight, with Josh Koscheck's uninspired victory over a very modest fighter, Jake Shield's getting clobbered by Ellenburger and Thiago Alves having already self-destructed, I think that there's going to be a whole new cast at the top of welterweight - Carlos Condit, Jake Ellenburger, Diego Sanchez and before too long Rory MacDonald. I also think that Thiago Alves can go back up to the top if he overcomes his fear of wrestling. But a lot of the old guard the UFC wants to put aside because and they're largely at the end of their careers, anyway.

I was sad Ed Herman won because he's a jerk, but he's finally become the fighter everyone thought he was when he was on The Ultimate Fighter. He might be a force to deal since middleweight is going to turn over very soon - Anderson Silva only has a couple more fights in him, and he's got a really tough test against Chael Sonnen, who came within a hair's breadth of beating Silva last time they fought. And regardless if Silva wins (and I hope he does), he won't be fighting too much longer. He's thirty-six and he's got injuries. He's got maybe two more fights in him.

I think Renan Barão is going to be fighting Dominick Cruz very soon. I think it will be a good fight, judging how Barão fought against Scotty Jorgensen (who Cruz also fought, so there is some grounds for comparison). And I like Scotty Jorgensen, but I don't think he's going to be a top guy at 145 for much longer - he doesn't seem to be developing. Oh, well.

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