UFC 191 is in the books, a mostly sparse card dotted with a few quality matches. Joe Riggs and Ron Stallings started the card with a quality scrap featuring some brutal ground and pound from Riggs and slick use of BJJ from Ron Stallings. The fight ended with Joe Riggs walking away the victor after a controversial illegal upkick. Despite not hitting Riggs in the eye, Riggs claimed to be unable to see, but this was because of several shots taken in the first round that left him blinking and recovering. The best action came from Fox Sports One undercard beginning with a women’s bantamweight match between Raquel Pennington and Jessica Andrade.
Pennington locked up a tight performance of the night submission winning rear naked choke in the closing seconds of the second round. It looked as though Andrade would survive, but she tapped in the closing moments of a fairly entertaining bout. John Lineker defeated Francisco Rivera next with a tight guillotine choke. The two came out swinging wildly to the delight of the fans. Rivera caught the worst of the exchange and after a half-hearted takedown he found himself tight in a guillotine choke. And Paul Felder and Ross Pearson both proved to be worthy contenders in a back and forth fight headlining the Fox Sports prelims.
Has Arlovski’s Magic Faded?
Andrei Arlovski’s storied return to the UFC has made him hard to cheer against. He made it through his fourth straight since returning to the UFC with a win over fellow longtime vet Frank Mir. With Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night honors for his first round knockouts over Travis Browne and Antonio Silva, Arlovski was hoping to continue to build steam, and though he won, the fight wasn’t terribly remarkable.
Mir looked horrible throughout most of the fight. His gameplan was a simple one: throw wild left right combinations while pressing forward to set up a clinch, then work Arlovski against the cage. This can be used to numerous advantages, but Mir had very little to offer once he gained these positions. As such, the fight turned to classic wall and stall. To Arlovski’s credit, he was able to work these situations to his advantage and gain the better position, but he did little to avoid him. Mir managed to score a takedown once and a knockdown once, two of the most substantial elements in an otherwise dull fight.
The most interesting aspect of the fight is the difference between the way this fight was judged today vs. the way it may have been scored ten years ago. MMA judging has evolved right alongside the sport, and situations that may have won fights then are scored differently today. The way the nebulous concept of “Octagon control” plays into this decision. Mir technically had control throughout much of the contest, even scoring a takedown and a knockdown, but cage wall tactics are now sometimes viewed as an inability to further advance position rather than an actual position of control.
Regardless, it wasn’t the type of fight that seals the deal for a title shot. Arlovski’s striking was more effective than Mir’s, but Mir has always been more of a BJJ guy with some recently improved boxing skills. It was apparent after this fight that a solid boxer like JDS or a strong wrestler like Velasquez would be able to make work of Arlovski in their respective disciplines.
For now, Arlovski is floating near the middle of the heavyweight pack and should continue to flourish there until someone upends his streak, but it’s hard to believe he’ll be walking away with a title anytime soon.
Rumble Rediscovers Wrestling
Anthony Johnson is a junior college wrestling champ, but you wouldn’t believe that by looking at his record of finishing people on the feet and getting choked on the ground. In fact, four of his five losses come from rear naked chokes, the fifth was an accidental eye poke. Johnson rocked Manuwa in the first and instead of rushing in to finish, he took a page from the playbook of the man who last defeated him by patiently using a takedown to control the fight and land more damage. In the second he came out and quickly found a home for a left body kick into the same bone-crushing overhand right that spun Daniel Cormier around in a circle during their title contest earlier this year. This one was enough to drop Manuwa for the win, and he credited the work he’s done with Neil Melanson with his improved work on the ground. Johnson dedicated to his supporters and is haters.
Johnson’s saltiness was in part due to the negative focus he received entering this fight. Johnson, who has faced domestic issues in the past, posted a rant to Facebook in which he went off regarding a woman bringing her yoga mat too close to the lifting area at the gym. He remedied the situation by flinging her ill-placed mat across the room and a few thousand dollars into the coffers of women’s charities to make amends for the situation. He later blamed mma media for the negativity surrounding the situation.
Mighty Mouse Outpaces Dodson for Five Rounds
If three words could describe the reign of UFC Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, they would be speed, pace, and technique. The champ is one of the fastest if not THE fastest athletes on his feet, and he’s excellent at using angles to stay out of danger while pressing his opponents into uncomfortable positions. He’s continued to improve and develop his style throughout his career, especially during his tenure as champ. He doesn’t get hit very often due to how effective he is at moving in and out of range, and he’s excellent from top position. We very rarely see him on his back.
All of this was on display during his title defense against John Dodson, his 7th since winning the belt in 2012. Mighty Mouse never gave Dodson the opportunity to land the big right hand; he was too quick and forced Dodson into fighting his style of fight. By the final bell Mouse looked like he could easily go another 2-3 rounds, whereas Dodson was feeling the effects of five rounds at a higher pace.