UFC 130 Prelims: Results, Recap and Thoughts
The main card of UFC 130 wasn’t met with a great reaction from fans, fighters and even Dana White himself. In situations like that, the undercard often provides some great highlights, however at UFC 130 the premlinary fights were only slightly more exciting. All in all, it was not a banner night for the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
There was almost one extremely bright spot on the undercard, the match between Demetrious Johnson and Miguel Torres, however it ended in some controversy. Torres displayed some of the slickest grappling we’ve seen in quite a while in the UFC, showing the ground game that truly is his greatest asset, but he sometimes chooses to forego in favour of his strikes. Johnson for his part displayed some of his lightning quick takedowns, scrambling ability, and submission defense, but not a lot in terms of offense. That’s why the decision was so puzzling to me; all of the attempts to finish the fight were initiated by Torres, the most dominant positions were held by Torres, and the volume of strikes landed favoured Torres. Despite all of those factors, the judges sided unanimously with Johnson simply because he was on top for slightly longer.
This all came on a night where a point was made that Nevada judges had the ability to use monitors cageside for the first time ever, which was supposed to ensure that judges wouldn’t miss a beat of the action, specifically when fighters are clinched up across the ring from the judge, or on the ground. So much for that idea. This really was another nail in the coffin of the current crop of judges we have in MMA. The rules for scoring fights are laid out simply, and they state that a fight can be won by a fighter on his back, however judges have never embraced this concept. This needs to change, but nothing will be done, because fans are coming to expect these types of decisions, and as such, they’re not disappointed, frustrated, or angered when the verdict is rendered. This complacency and acceptance of the status quo for judging ineptitude is a terrible sign, since the next step after that will be that the majority of fans will start to agree with the judges, due to the overwhelming precedent that has been set.
The other bout airing on Spike had nowhere near the action or controversy levels of the Johnson/Torres affair. In what seemed to be the theme of the night, Tim Boetsch wrestled his way to 30-27 scorecards across the board against Kendall Grove. There is really not much to take away from this fight, as Boetsch was simply bigger and stronger than Grove, and wore on him all night. 185 certainly looks to be a good home for “The Barbarian”, even though long term he’ll still get beaten by better wrestlers (Sonnen, Okami, Munoz, etc) just as he was at Light Heavyweight.
The facebook side of the prelims looked to have some exciting action on it, however these bouts failed to impress as well. Gleison Tibau made short work of Rafaello Oliveira, submitting him in the second round and further cementing his gatekeeper status at Lightweight. Tibau is big enough, strong enough, and skilled enough to give most LWs issues, but his cardio isn’t great and he struggles with guys he isn’t able to bully into takedowns.
Michael McDonald had been starting to build some buzz in the MMA community leading up to this bout, but he put on possibly the least impressive performance of his young career. Normally McDonald shows much more aggression, yet in this fight he seemed solely focused on countering Chris Cariaso, and it nearly resulted in a loss for the youngest fighter in the organization. I imagine the next time we see McDonald he will be much more aggressive, as he was in the Figueroa fight, as well as his bouts in and prior to the WEC. If McDonald can address that issue, which is a gameplanning one more than anything, he still has tons of potential and time to reach the pinnacle of the Bantamweight division. As of last night, he looked like a 20 year-old kid who still needs more seasoning though, and the UFC seems high on him, so I’m certain they will oblige him with somewhat favourable fights.
Cole Escovedo’s long awaited UFC debut was spoiled by another fighter who was able to outwrestle and control his opponent in Renan Barao. For the majority of the fight Barao controlled top position, and Escovedo did little more than try to prevent the Brazilian from passing his guard (which, if we’re chalking up moral victories can definitely be added to Cole’s tally). Barao extended his unbeaten streak to 27 fights (26 wins and 1 No Contest), but looked far less impressive than against Cariaso. This is mostly due to Cole Excovedo being a tough fighter and difficult to dominate, but Barao seemingly had other options available to him that went unused. The striking displayed by Renan was once again significantly better than even his last fight, and I wish it had’ve been something that Barao stuck with more during the fight, as he did find success.
At any rate, the prospects on the prelims didn’t deliver in quite the way that was expected, and a controversial decision and subject was brought to the forefront once again, which took some of the lustre away from the best fight on the whole card (I don’t care what the Fight of the Night bonus says). Nothing seemed to click for the UFC on Saturday, and the result was an uninspired Pay-Per-View which will likely produce some uninspired numbers.