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ENNIS: Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down For UFC on Fox 3 - Flyweights, Eye Pokes, Belcher, Diaz, and More
May 8, 2012 - 9:10:59 AM
By: Shawn Ennis, MMATorch Senior Columnist
The third UFC on FOX event is in the books, and on the whole it certainly did deliver some excellent main card action. Let us not pretend, though, that everything is sunshine and roses. No, in order to appreciate the good, we must endure the bad. And there were some things to nitpick about the show. Let's take a look at what worked and what didn't.
Thumbs Up: to the Flyweights. There have only been four flyweight fights in the UFC, and two of them were on this card - those two fights were the best two on the undercard. Louis Gaudinot looks like a completely different fighter at his natural weight, and John Dodson looks like a real force as well. I'd be very surprised if he's not the first flyweight title contender.
Thumbs Up: to Michael Johnson's continued improvement. I thought he looked better than I'd ever seen him against Shane Roller, and he looked great against Tony Ferguson as well. The Blackzilians are a new camp, but they seem to have done some good. I don't think we'll see Michael Johnson challenging for titles, mind you, but then again I didn't see him getting more than a win over Edward Faaloloto either.
Thumbs Down: to not getting to see the first two fights on TV. Luckily I was able to sneak in the first couple of fights on Facebook in between a few things I had going on, and I know I'm nitpicking here, but honestly there's just no reason that Fuel TV can't show every UFC fight for a card. Speaking of which...
Thumbs Up: to Roland Delorme and Karlos Vemola. The fights on Facebook featured two come-from-behind wins. Vemola's wasn't as pretty, but it got the job done as he rebounded from a losing effort in the first round to grab a rear naked choke. Delorme looked to be in a lot of trouble as Nick Denis had him on the ropes early, but he came back strong and was able to secure his own fight-ending submission with just one second left on the clock in the first round. Pretty impressive.
Thumbs Up: to great production. The opening with Ving Rhames narrating was fantastic. The opening piece on Brian Stann was very good as well, and Stann is as good as advertised in the booth. In addition, the pre-fight vignettes were tremendous, and a huge step up from what the UFC usually does. No strange filters and lighting, no shadowboxing, no random chains hanging from the ceiling—these are all positives. They just seemed more authentic and useful.
Thumbs Down: to how the good vignettes point out how terrible Mike Goldberg is. I mean this literally: with every passing event, Goldberg annoys me more. I used to be fine with him, but it seems like he continues to get worse every time I hear him. It seriously sounds like he records two-word snippets that are pieced together for events. ("That fight. Is next. Oooooon FOX!") It's just awful. He doesn't call the fights, he adds no insight, and when he tries to it's usually wrong. He's really becoming a detriment to the overall product. I don't think the UFC will ever replace him though, which is too bad. And another note on the commentators: I know they're emulating the football model where they go from the studio to the booth where the commentators are at the game, but given the weakness of Goldberg I'd keep the between-fight commentary at the booth. The team of Menefee, Couture and Stann is really good (Couture has definitely improved in the booth), and I'd much rather hear them than Goldberg and Rogan between fights.
Thumbs Up: to Lavar Johnson's power. Let's be real here: Johnson is going to struggle mightily when he fights someone who will take him down and work submissions. But if you stand in front of the guy, there's a good chance that you're going to sleep. This guy hits like a freight train and throws uppercuts more effectively than anyone this side of Tim Boetsch's against Yushin Okami. He had a really impressive showing against Pat Barry, and it may have been as bad for Barry as it was good for Johnson.
Thumbs Down: to the in-arena sound in general. This is not a new phenomenon, but the noise over the PA and with the crowd is distracting when you're listening to between-fight commentary. This is especially true when the broadcast booth is in the building. This stands in exact opposition to the fact that the UFC does a very poor job at getting across how loud the crowd is. They sounded anemic most of the night during the fights, but when we were trying to listen to the commentators between the fights, they had to yell to be heard.
Thumbs Up: to Alan Belcher. It's not as if no one was giving Belcher a chance against Rousimar Palhares, but I don't know anyone who would have picked him knowing that Palhares was going to get a hold of his leg. Belcher's performance showed guts and confidence in addition to showcasing the level of skill that he's got on the ground. We know how good a striker Belcher is, and now we know that's not all he's got. He's not in line for a title shot right now, but he's won four straight and six of seven. That should get him the winner of some high-profile middleweight fights coming up (Bisping-Boetsch, Munoz-Weidman, Lombard-Stann, and Belfort-Silva come to mind).
Thumbs Down: to eye pokes. I don't know what you can do about this, but I hope it's something that the decision-makers start looking into. This isn't something that just helps a guy win a fight. This is something that can cause permanent damage to a fighter's vision. There are those who believe that Koscheck does it on purpose as a carry-over from his wrestling days. Wrestling is full of hard-to-spot dirty tactics, so this isn't much of a stretch. Whether it's banning the open-handed pawing motion or just being more thorough in checking the monitors to judge whether eye pokes are intentional, something needs to be done. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention John Dodson also poking the eyes of Tim Elliott here as well. It's a bogus way to get an advantage in a fight.
Thumbs Up: to getting the scores right. Joe Rogan said at the end of Koscheck-Hendricks that "if he's on top, he's winning the round." He was referring to Koscheck being in top position toward the end of the third round. Thankfully, not everyone thought so. Koscheck was on top for fewer than two minutes at the end of the third round. Now admittedly I haven't re-watched the fight, but as I remember it, Hendricks was winning the fight on the feet and Koscheck didn't exactly mount an offensive explosion once he was able to get the fight to the floor for the aforementioned minute-and-something. Ironically Ricardo Almeida scored the fight for Koscheck, but in the end justice was done and Hendricks scored the victory.
Thumbs Down: to the Twitter feed. Ugh, that was terrible. I loved most of the presentation aspect of Saturday night's event, but the Twitter feed was distracting and useless. I get that they want some real-time commentary from UFC fighters on the goings-on, which is actually a pretty cool idea. But the ticker is a distraction while people are talking, and it's worse when they leave it up during the fight (which thankfully they only did for about a minute or so of one fight). It also doesn't help that we were getting some repeat tweets and some that were obviously not new (Brian Stann's tweet coming across as he is talking into the camera was weird).
Thumbs Up: to Joe Rogan's commentary for most of the night. He didn't keep it to where hardcores were annoyed by the elementary nature of what he was saying, but he also was able to explain some of the basics as they were happening (how it works when you're getting hooks in, how a heel hook works). The little videos of fighters showing how things work are nice and all, but commentary that explains the basics as they're happening is great.
Thumbs Up: to Nate Diaz emerging from his brother's shadow. I still want to see him against a guy who's going to try to wrestle him (like I thought Miller was going to do), but I'm definitely less concerned about that perceived weakness after watching him submit Jim Miller. Diaz did what Diaz does, throwing a high volume of punches, then making the most of the ground game when his opponent initiated it. I'm still not sold on Diaz beating either Frankie Edgar or BenHenderson, but I'm not dismissing it either.
All in all, it was a great showing by the UFC on FOX - easily the best showing thus far on network television. While I'd like to see another title fight (this time with lighter weight classes to build them as a draw), it's hard to fault the UFC for putting on significant fights between fighters who don't necessarily have the name value that you'd look for on a card like this. The matchmaking was great, and hopefully it gets around to the people that would have watched had they known who was fighting.
Follow me on Twitter - @ShawnEnnis
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