I’ll probably rehash all this more eloquently later on, but for now here’s my take on the UFC’s first venture into the UAE:
Frankie Edgar Becomes The Most Accomplished Jersey Boy Since “The Situation“
It goes without saying that the 50-45 scorecard is a bit absurd, however if we’re being completely honest, I don’t believe either party really “won” in the lightweight case of Penn v. Edgar. From what I saw, Frankie Edgar didn’t take the coveted gold plated leather strap so much as Penn let it slowly slip away. And a guy like Frankie Edgar is simply too skilled and hungry to leave anything on the table.
Say what you will about Penn not being his usual destroyer self, but the pride of Tom’s River came to fight and fight hard. Edgar never appeared all that intimated by Penn and executed a plan that would make Greg Jackson or Randy Couture proud. “The Answer” also showed up in phenomenal shape. Frankie managed to finish a 25 minute contest outside in the spicy hot middle east, with plenty of gas in the tank (no pun intended). That’s called conditioning, people.
Rumble In The Jung…er…Desert?
In 1974 Muhammad Ali was, like Frankie Edgar, a major underdog going in against the seemingly unstoppable force that was George Foreman. But Ali had spirit, a plan, and the weather on his side. All of which resulted in one of the most famous upset victories in the history of boxing. In the hot Zaire night deep in central Africa, high temperatures and unforgiving humidity plagued Foreman as Ali danced and rope-a-doped for 8 rounds, goading Foreman into gun fights knowing it would drain precious energy reserves.
I can’t help but compare Edgar’s valiant showing earlier today to Ali’s of 36 years ago. Surely, Frankie Edgar is no Muhammad Ali, but Edgar brilliantly shuffled around Penn for five rounds, forcing the champion to throw heavy hands- most of which only connecting with the steamy desert air. If nothing else, Penn drained his body too quickly and, in my estimation, lacked the energy needed to seize the finish when it became absolutely necessary. One has to wonder if Marv Marinovich, Penn’s lauded strength & conditioning coach, adjusted Penn’s training at all knowing this battle was going to be al-fresco.
I’d love to see an immediate Penn-Edgar rematch, but it makes more business sense for Penn to have at least one non-title fight first. The internets speculate that Penn will get (technically) undefeated wrestling standout Gray Maynard while Frankie Edgar deals with Kenny Florian, with both winners facing off for the title. Yep, that makes sense. Seriously, it does. Sorry if it came off as sarcastic.
The Case Of The Bored Spider
I once wrote an article titled “Who Can Blame Anderson Silva? I Sure Can” in the wake of Silva’s depressing defeat over Thales Leites. Many disagreed with my diatribe and called me a crazy know-nothing jackass. Well, that may still be the case, but you know what? I still blame Silva and no one else for these piss poor performances. Silva is a champion. Is it too much to ask that he perform like one even if the opposition isn’t the most predatory? He is still getting paid a boatload of money, isn’t he? It’s not like Dana White and Co. are asking Silva to do them a solid and fight some dude in the bar for extra scratch.
Did I get a kick out of The Spider’s mocking antics as most of us probably did? Of course, I’m only human after all. But there comes a point when you say to yourself “Hey, I paid for this fight, this is the main event, so why is this man eating up precious time with this physical comedy routine? And where the hell are those wings its been like 40 minutes damn it.”
I fully understand the argument that the otherworldly talented Spider cannot be held accountable for being matched up against fighters who aren’t as aggressive as Forrest Griffin or Chris Leben. But for the sake of fans everywhere Mr. Silva, please look to finish fights when you can instead of imitating a scene from Only The Strong. Not that I dislike Only The Strong, its an awesome movie, but its not what I paid to see today. And we all know you’re better than that. How about reminding us some time.
Hughes Beats Gracie, Fails To Bring Peace To Middle East
Before I comment, I think it should be noted that Matt Hughes could walk into my living room, steal my playstation, punch me in the face and hook up with my girlfriend, and there wouldn’t be much I could do about it since he’s a professional fighter and I’m an out of shape bum who watches too much Iron Chef. That being said, something is clearly terribly, terribly wrong when Matt Hughes is picking an opponent apart in the stand up game.
While its unlikely Hughes suddenly blossomed into a K-1 level kickboxer, he did effectively use his above average striking to slay a rusty, over the hill, and poorly conditioned Renzo Gracie. And I hate to say that because I’ve interviewed Renzo before and he’s about the coolest person on the planet. Nonetheless, the man had zero business fighting a top tier welterweight and, well, it showed. If I were Renzo’s physician I’d prescribe him a steady diet of dedicated training and any welterweight who isn’t top-ten in his next outing, assuming he’s still determined to compete. Anything beyond that is simply asking too much of the 43 year old veteran whose already contributed so much to the sport.
In other observations:
-Phil Davis and Mark Munoz are coming along brilliantly and deserve a real name in their next bouts. Both are rounding out their arsenal nicely to compliment their top notch wrestling. Dedication- it pays off.
-The Abu Dhabi crowd seemed genuinely enthused and emotionally invested in each contest. Its quite satisfying seeing a truly passionate audience in a part of the world most people stereotype and mock.
-Though it sounded almost laughable when first mentioned, the construction crew in Abu Dhabi somehow assembled a large scale venue from nothing in what, just about a month or two? Damn.
-Watching a UFC PPV in the middle of the day was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The bar was much less crowded and those in attendance were significantly less annoying and meathead-ish. Not to mention a mid-day event means you get a Saturday night free to relax or discuss/blog/troll about the fights rather than find yourself stuck in the local Hooters between Affliction clad Jersey Shore clones. Ahh, Philly.