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By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor
The UFC was off last weekend, but two events hit the MMA space with Bellator 114 and the World Series of Fighting 9. Let's get straight to it.
GOOD: Brett Cooper stops Kendall Grove
Cooper almost got stopped by Grove, and he was lucky the fight didn't get stopped. Grove was on top towards the end of the first round and just unloaded a heavy barrage. I honestly thought the ref was going to stop it there, but it was allowed to continue. Grove gassed hard after that, and Cooper took advantage in the second round. Cooper put Grove out with some powerful strikes on the ground.
BAD: Desmond Green vs. Will Martinez and Daniel Weichel vs. Matt Bessette
These fights sucked, plain and simple. They just didn't have the effort you'd expect to see from guys fighting on a card like this and trying to get to a tournament final. It makes you wonder if they even wanted to be there, as they sure didn't act like it. Green and Wiechel won by decisions.
GOOD: Alexander Shlemenko submits Brennan Ward
The first round was sloppy, as Shlemenko was getting wild with his movements, but in the second round he slapped on the submission out of nowhere. It was crazy because it seemed to come out of thin air. A really nice win for Shlemenko, another good finish as he defends his title again. The card definitely needed this, to provide a jolt of excitement after the last two fights.
World Series of Fighting 9
BAD: Ozzy Dugulubgov vs. Johnny Nunez
Nunez won by split decision, but I really couldn't care less. It didn't seem like either guy was going all-out. It's not the worst fight ever, but it wasn't very good. It was just kind of there.
GOOD: Josh Burkman stops Tyler Stinson
Burkman got back to his winning ways with this brutal knockout. He just took Stinson out with a powerful left hook. That ended it right there. It was a good win for Burkman, as it only took him a few minutes to dispatch of Stinson.
GOOD/BAD: Yushin Okami submits Svetlozar Savov
Okami did what he had to against an overmatched opponent. He should have finished him in the first round, but I suppose he didn't want to risk a fluke defeat. The BAD comes from the fact that Okami was even fighting Savov in the first place. The matchup didn't make any sense.
GOOD/BAD: Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse
No question that Moraes dominated this fight. He destroyed the legs of Rettinghouse. Honestly, the fight should have been stopped in the fourth or fifth rounds. Either the corner of Rettinghouse or the ref should have stopped it. He wasn't coming back, there's no way. I do ding Moraes for coasting in the final two rounds. That's just behavior unbecoming of a champion.
I understand not wanting to risk a fluke defeat, but Rettinghouse posed no threat out there. There was no way he was going to win. The only chance Rettinghouse had was if Moraes slipped on a banana peel. Other than that, it was a no-go.
GOOD: Rousimar Palhares submits Steve Carl
Palhares got Carl quick. One second they were rolling then Palhares slapped on that inverted heel hook and Carl had to tap. Steve Carl is a pretty good fighter, and Palhares subbed him with relative ease. It obviously wasn't easy, Palhares just made it look that way. He's a really good fighter. It's just too bad that he has so many issues...
GOOD: Outrage and hypersensitivity about Palhares
Palhares held the submission a few beats too long against Carl. It wasn't anything egregious, but this is Rousimar Palhares. He's under the microscope, and rightly so. He's judged on a different scale than other fighters. This is absolutely justified given his past actions.
We're judged by our past behavior. Other fighters that hold onto submissions too long won't be judged as much as Palhares will. Is that fair? Absolutely, it is. If he hadn't done the things he had in the past, he wouldn't be judged so harshly now. I don't know if Palhares intentionally held onto the submission longer than he should have, and that's the issue. With Palhares we don't know for sure. He's lost the benefit of the doubt. It'll be quite a while before he ever gets it back, if he ever does get it back at all.
Frankie Edgar made some comments recently about how, as a fighter, he doesn't want the ref to step in early to stop the fight if he's really taking a pounding. He said he wants to go limp before the ref stops it. Of course, that brings up the issue of the times where a guy gets knocked out, but takes more punishment which wakes him up.
There's also the problem of long-term health of fighters. They may feel fine now, but what about 10 years from now? I think people should be able to make decisions for themselves, so if a guy wants to get his head beaten in, so be it. I'm sure the UFC feels very different, though, because they don't want that on their hands.
My biggest problem with statements like this, though, is that I don't think they're truly indicative of how most fighters think. I think that most fighters are smart enough to realize the long-term effects of head trauma. However, they can't speak up for fear of being labeled soft or weak.
I think a lot of fighters want to have a life after fighting. They don't want to slur their words or have trouble remembering things or have to deal with persistent headaches. This is why I think an early stoppage is better than a late one. It's not about being tough, it's about being smart.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank
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