Sunday, June 24, 2007

TUF Finale Analysis

It was a solid, although somewhat strange card last night. Here's what I saw.

Gray Maynard (No Contest) Rob Emerson.

This was a pretty exciting fight. Maynard dominated the striking and more than held his own on the ground. Emerson displayed a great chin but still took a ton of damage. Maynard easily won the first round. In the second round Maynard nailed Emerson with a tough uppercut. He slammed him into the ground which hurt Emerson enough that he immediately tapped out, however, when Maynard slammed Emerson, he also slammed his own head into the mat, rendering him unconscious.

I think was the right ruling, but I really would not have had a problem with awarding the victory to Maynard. As far as prestige and reputation go, Maynard was the winner.

Future prospects:
Maynard showed good skills all around against Emerson. He won't be competing for the title any time soon but I think they should throw him a more skilled TUF veteran, and if he does well against him, start putting him up against real contenders.

Emerson showed a great chin and heart, although his skills need a lot of work. I think his future lies in fighting other TUF vets. He'll be in UFC fights for awhile because his resilience will make for fights that are fun to watch and will give his opponents a good stage to showcase their skills.

Cole Miller TKO(strikes) Andy Wang

Miller showcased some great skills during the show and absolutely outclassed Wang for the one minute and ten seconds that this fight lasted. He outstruck him, and after dazing him with a kick to the head, he jumped on his body and pounded his face until the ref pulled him off.

Future Prospects:

I thin Miller has a future in the division, although it was hard to really assess his skills in such a quick fight. His biggest test so far was against Joe Lauzon during the reality show. Joe definitely won the fight wire to wire, but Miller showed great defense and heart. Like Maynard, I think they should throw Miller a better TUF-level fighter in order to see what he can do against better competion. Since he already has good skills and he's only 23(and fighting out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL), I see him being a legit contender in a few years.

During the reality show, Wang was noted for
1) proclaiming to be a warrior
2) ignoring his coach's advice to take the fight to the ground
3) losing
4) crying about losing
5) getting kicked off his team

He's a BJJ blackbelt, and unlike some martial arts, they don't just give those away. In the two fights I've seen, he did not make any serious attempts to take his opponent down and was content to try to slug it out with his opponent, poorly. His striking skills are below-average at best, and due to being 5'6" they're not going to get that much better. To his credit, he has shown some heart, but doesn't have enough of a chin to be considered "scrappy."

I'm sure he'll get another fight or two from the UFC if he wants it, but I just don't see him fighting anyone but other TUFers. Unlike Emerson, he doesn't have a good enough chin to make the fights interesting enough to fight for very long. At 30 years old, he should probably start thinking about looking for a new career. Due to quotes such as, "I think I'm one of the best 155 pound fighters in the UFC," I'm not sure he's ready to.

Joe Lauzon Triangle Chokes Brandon Melendez

This was a standard striker versus grappler match. Brandon was getting the better of Joe standing up, but Joe dominated the ground game. Brandon kept giving up his back to Joe, but Joe was unable to secure a Rear Naked Choke, although he did land a bunch of shots to his face. Joe controls and wins the first round. The secound round is a similar story, with Joe getting Melendez's back, but unable to secure the choke. However, when Melendez escapes this time, Joe is ready and puts him in a triangle choke for a tap out.

Future Prospects:

Lauzon looked impressive in this fight. He tried striking with Melendez, but after realizing that Melendez had the edge he took the fight to the ground where he dominated. He gained immediate credibility in his UFC debut when he knocked out former champion Jens Pulver early in the first round. His striking could use some work, but he's very intelligent(has a degree in Computer Science, and unlike some degrees, they don't just give those away) and knows how to adapt. He's not at BJ Penn's level, but at 23 years old he has a very promising future in the division. Ideally he'd fight and beat a couple better fighters and potentially meet Miller for a rematch of their TUF battle before he moves on to fighting for a title.

Nate Diaz Lucks Out Manuel Gamburyan

This was fought almost entirely on the ground. Diaz had to play defense against Gamburyan's submission attempts for the first round, which Gamburyan won. At the beginning of the second round, Gamburyan shot in to take Diaz down.....and immediately started tapping. Gamburyan dislocated his shoulder in the attempt, so Diaz wins.

Future Prospects:

This was the finals for TUF season 5, so Diaz gets a 6-figure contract which means he'll have quite a few more fights. It is difficult to look good against Gamburyan, but Diaz did show good defense. I'd give him the Miller/Maynard treatment, throw him a more polished TUF-level fighter and see how he does.

Despite being short (he's listed at 5'5"), Gamburyan gives good grapplers a really hard time on the ground. I'm not sure if this would remain the case against contender-level fighters. Also, he said that he has dislocated his shoulder several times before. This could make it difficult for him to have a successful career. Despite this, he's shown greats skills and good heart. I don't think he'll ever be a real threat to win the belt, but he'll at least eventually get a shot at the next level.

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