Sunday, 22 January 2012

UFC on FX 1 -The recap

Right then, the UFC's first outing on FX is in the books and it looks to have been a roaring success.  The commentary team of John Anik and Kenny Florian did a solid job, the graphics, music and general production was refreshingly different from other UFC events and the post fight show was worth a look too.  Oh, and the fights were spectacular!  Let's get straight down to a quick recap of each fight and thoughts on where we go from here.  I have also included a few nice GIFs and a video in the Pat Barry section, as I am making no secret of the fact that I have a bit of a soft spot for him.

via tapology.com

Miller vs Guillard


Setting
Both fighters were coming off a momentum crushing loss and this was the chance to regain some of the impetus they had in the middle part of 2011.  For Guillard it was his first fight out of a new camp with the Blackzilians and for Jim Miller it was a chance to shake off a disappointing (and perhaps injury marred) performance against Benson Henderson.

The Fight
Jim Miller did his best Chris Leben impression to eat plenty  of hard shots, including multiple high knees.  He was rocked, dropped but not swarmed as Guillard looked to pace himself, trying to take a more patient approach.  Whether or not Miller would have survived a more sustained attack, who knows.  He managed to take Guillard down and take his back as the Louisiana fighter attempted to explode to his feet and made short work of sinking in the choke.

via mmamania
What's Next?
For Miller, he can't be too far off a title shot.  Melvin Guillard has an obvious weakness which he exploited and he will need to prove himself against one of the top fighters in the division before he will have truly re-taken his former fuel.  I would like to see him fight Gray Maynard, Clay Guida or the loser of the lightweight title fight this February.

As for Guillard, he really needs to go into fights with a sensible game plan and learn to be calm on the ground.  Getting back to your feet is important, but doing it safely is key.  Let's see what Guillard does about his skill set after recovering from this loss, hopefully it will involve a few months in a gi.  When he comes back, his two losses see him right back in the middle of the division with plenty of climbing to do again before he is where he wants to be.

Duane Ludwig vs Josh Neer


Setting
Neer was returning for another stint in the UFC and needed a big win to cement his place in the organisation.  Duane Ludwig was on a two fight win streak and looking to make that into a dominant run.  Ludwig was probably considered the favourite and this was expected to be a standup war.

The Fight
There was no surprise that this fight spent a while on the feet.  Ludwig seemed to be taking advantage of his superior technique but Neer switched things up with a single leg take down.  Guillard obviously wasn't watching the fight, if he was he would have learned from Ludwig's mistakes as Duance also tried to explode up without taking care of his neck.  Neer got the guillotine in deep very quickly and it seemed like Ludwig was out before he had chance to tap.

via bloodyelbow
What's Next?
Realistically, Ludwig sticks around as a respectable fight for up and comers or a fighter who can provide an exciting fight for an undercard.  Neer needs a couple more fights at this sort of lower-to mid tier level before we really know if his current win streak is a result of improvements to his game or the step down in his recent opposition.

Mike Easton vs Jared Papazian


Setting
Mike Easton came into this fight with a bit of hype but question marks from some quarters about how good he truly was.  Papazian was getting his first chance at the big show, coming in off a great run with a smaller promotion.

The Fight
This fight was very much the blueprint of a what's good about the smaller weight classes.  The fight was non stop work and action, with both guys showing great clinch work and gritty boxing from within the pocket.  I disagree slightly with the broadcast team at the event, as they claimed this was a great display of skill.  Easton himself said after the fight he probably needed to working on slipping some of those punches he ate and that's an understatement.  Both guys were willing to take a shot to give one, which is often necessary but it's not a great strategy to go one for one with your opponent.  Easton one by dint of his control of the centre of the cage and the greater power in his punches.

via mmamania
What's Next?
Papazian will be back.  It's sometimes frustrating to see two up and coming guys square off against each other so that one is inevitably robbed of momentum at an important stage of their career.  Jared will probably see himself working undercards for the next few fights as he attempts to build his name up.  Easton is a work in progress and while it is perhaps a little early for him, I would enjoy a fight between him a Brad Pickett.

Pat Barry vs Christian Morecraft


Setting
As I said in my preview of UFC on FX 1, it is hard not to like Barry.  That being said he came into this fight knowing that while his job might not be on the line, a win would be needed to justify his place in the UFC.  He promised an improved awareness on the ground and more stubborn take down defence.  For Christian Morecraft, his lower profile probably meant that a loss would cost him a lot more dearly, with a knockout loss to Matt Mitrione 5 months ago still haunting him.

The Fight
The fight started with Barry establishing a nice stiff jab and Morecraft quickly made the wise decision to take things to the floor.  There he managed to set up a choke attempt and an arm bar attempt, the first of which Barry resisted and the second of which Barry rolled nicely out of.  Back on the feet, Barry slipped and ripped with a lovely left hook which knocked Morecraft out and finished off with unanswered and undefended ground and pound.  I am surprised nothing much has been made of the referee there, since it looked like a might late stoppage that cost Morecraft a pretty fuzzy head.

These GIFs of Barry's lovely left hook and nice submission defence probably tell the story of the fight as well as I can.


GIFS via ironforgesiron


Video: Pat Barry talks about his win over Christian Morecraft


What's Next
A lot has been made post fight of Pat Barry's ground game.  No, he did not look like James Tony is his ju jutsu coach and he looked good using the correct escape from an armbar.  But he is no Frank Mir yet.  Let us not get ahead of ourselves, if Barry is waiting to cut his hair till he taps a guy out, he may well end up looking like Clay Guida.  It is great though that he now has some awareness and placidity on the ground so that if he ends up going there he has a decent chance of riding it out until he can get back to where he belongs, on his feet.  For him, it's back to the middle of the heavyweight division, being used to stack a card with a guaranteed good fight.  A rematch with Kongo would be wonderful.  As for Christian Morecraft, a 1-3 record in the UFC including two straight losses probably means that he needs to hit the regional circuit, improve and pick up some more steam before he hits the UFC again.

Oh yes, that was a fun card which, in spite of not having fights of great relevance in the upper echelons of the UFC, certainly delivered.  Now we've finished this nice little appetiser, we begin the salivation over one of the most delectable non PPV cards the UFC has ever put on.  Check back at jiMMA for build up of Chael Sonnen vs Micheal Bisping and Rashad Evans vs Phil Davis as the week goes on.  Mark my words, the main course is going to be tasty.

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