Five things from UFC 115
1. It's time for Chuck Liddell to find his sunset
After 23 fights in the UFC, many of them as a headliner, Chuck Liddell has finally given the sport all he has to give. His first-round knockout loss to Rich Franklin illustrated that point in unfortunate and visceral fashion.
The image of Liddell laid out on the canvas in a discombobulated haze as his body and brain struggled to get on the same page was something no one wanted to see, but it felt all too predictable. Liddell's knockout punches aren't as fast or powerful as they used to be. The chin that used to eat return fire with ease can barely survive an exchange.
If Dana White expects anyone to believe that he cares about his fighters, he'll tell Liddell -- one of the men who helped make the UFC what it is today -- that it's time to call it a career.
2. Pat Barry is wasting his potential
There was a moment in the first round of Patrick Barry's fight with Mirko Filipovic when Barry dropped his hands and embraced the man he was being paid to fight. Moments like that make for a unique visual, but it's worrying that Barry couldn't get over his doe-eyed hero worship of Filipovic long enough to finish the job he started.
Cro Cop was getting outclassed by his youthful foe until Barry simply stopped doing the things that were winning him the fight. For whatever reason, Barry stopped throwing the leg kicks that were hobbling Filipovic and seemed dead-set on scoring a high-kick knockout.
All it got him was a gas tank running on empty and a submission to a rear-naked choke with no hooks in. It's time for Barry to throw away the junk food and become a professional, or he'll end up just another sad story in an unforgiving sport.
3. Martin Kampmann is only getting better
The vast majority of fans and observers, myself included, thought Martin Kampmann would give Paulo Thiago a good fight en route to a loss. Past displays of Kampmann's iffy chin and poor game-planning were seemingly enough to ensure that Thiago would eventually gain the upper hand and hold onto it.
Instead Kampmann reminded the world that he is still one of the most gifted offensive fighters in the game. Better yet, Kampmann showed up with a strategy perfectly tailored to show off his strengths and camouflage his weaknesses.
If this becomes the norm for Kampmann, the welterweight division just got that much more interesting.
4. Evan Dunham is the truth
Tyson Griffin has lost before, but no one has been able to outclass him until now. Ignore Tony Weeks' egregious 29-28 scorecard, because Evan Dunham beat Griffin in every facet of the game.
Save for some anxious moments as Dunham struggled to find his range early on, this fight was nothing less than Dunham announcing himself as the UFC's newest lightweight title contender. A heavy-hitting southpaw with killer back control is no joke. Dunham proved against Griffin that he has the wrestling to dictate where his fights will go.
The winner of the lightweight title rematch between Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn will likely have to worry about Dunham much sooner than later.
5. Mistakes in MMA have real consequences
Tony Weeks thought Tyson Griffin beat Evan Dunham. Yves Lavigne cost Mac Danzig a make-or-break fight. Kevin Dornan made a tough call and handed Carlos Condit a technical knockout win.
The first two calls were serious mistakes and the third is already igniting some contentious debates. What they all have in common is that the consequences are felt entirely by the fighters. Judges and referees really answer to no one as long as they can construct even the most flimsy defense for their actions.
I've said this many times before and I'll say it again now: There is a serious problem with the judging and refereeing of MMA and something has to be done about it.
Tomas Rios is a contributor to Sherdog.com.
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