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UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber Wrap up

While the main event might have made your head explode if you were a judge, it was just what us fans needed to cap off the marathon of Zuffa cards.  What to make of all these knockouts and upsets though?  Let’s take a close look at what transpired and where these guys are headed in the UFC 132 Wrap-up.

Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber:  A stellar main event that introduced casual fans to the UFC Bantamweight division couldn’t have been more competitive, as Faber and Cruz went at it for a full 5 rounds.  Cruz used his vaunted dysrhythmic striking assault early while Faber looked to counter, and while Faber arguably gave better than he got, Cruz was still able to push the fight, securing a unanimous decision.

Cruz showed me several things here; Some good, some bad.  On the positive side, his striking is actually getting better and he’s avoiding becoming stagnate when he closes the range.  This is important, as pin point strikers like Miguel Torres and Eddie Wineland would have a field day later in a fight with the Cruz that fought Benavidez and Jorgensen.  Another trait on the upswing for Cruz is his takedown attack, which he’s gotten down to a science, using knee tap takedowns and ultra-fast level changes to accomplish takedown points without risking sweeps or submissions.  On the bad side, we saw that Cruz just doesn’t hit hard at all.  Aside from a knee to the liver, nothing that Cruz landed on Faber seemed to hurt him, including many flush overhands.  This is a problem for him against power punchers that can avoid the takedowns, as he’ll have to dodge KO shots for 5 rounds, with no outs to finish.

There are two names on the horizon for Cruz, and both are very different fighters in Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson.  Johnson makes for the most interesting fight of the two, as his takedowns and cardio are elite level.  The problem I see there is that Cruz has such a tremendous size advantage and wrestling pedigree, I can’t see Johnson winning the majority of scrambles.  Bowles is also an interesting bout due to his power and hand speed, but Cruz proved easily in their last bout that he’s simply too wily for Bowles predictable attack.  With honesty, the only match-up that Cruz would have a lot of trouble with is former long-time champion Miguel Torres, as he brings incredible submission skills, powerful strikes, and a comparable level of speed.  Will we see this fight though? I wouldn’t count on it.  For Faber, he runs into an issue of having too high a pay grade to get any real tune-up fights, meaning he’ll likely be getting either Bowles, Johnson or Torres himself.

Chris Leben vs. Wanderlei Silva: A dream match between two sluggers became a reality, Chris Leben and Wanderlei Silva went toe-to-toe….for all of 27 seconds.  While I’d have liked to see this one last, it only took a handful of punches for Leben to dispatch The Axe Murderer, and prove once and for all that he’s the best brawler in the division.

Leben is one of those fighters that is painfully predictable, yet becomes a near impossible fight for some.  The question has always been whether or not the UFC is willing to push him, as he’s proven to be a PR nightmare in the past, and he tends to be an easy mark for those they want to go somewhere in this division.  My money is on the UFC brass using him as a stepping stone and pairing him against either Demian Maia or Chris Weidman, both of whom have the tools to defeat him on the mat.  For Silva, the question of retirement still looms, but don’t count on it coming to fruition.  Instead, Silva waits in the wing for a dream rematch with Vitor Belfort and goes out in style.

Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman: One of the best fights of the night, German kickboxer Dennis Siver continued his winning streak with a questionable decision over TUF 5′s Matt Wiman.  Siver’s takedown defense and brutal inside punching skills gave Wiman fits for the entire match-up, but Wiman kept pace by using loopy right hands and ground and pound on several occasions, making for a razor-close bout.  While myself and many others thought Wiman took the fight, all the scorecards gave it to Siver in a competitive bout.

Siver has improved dramatically in short time, and proved his takedown defense is sound against a conventional grappler.  Where Wiman had success though was in the reckless takedown attempts where Wiman’s average submission skills couldn’t take advantage of loose limbs and exposed necks.  Siver has a lot of potential opponents out there and his future depends on who he faces next.  Someone like Benson Henderson or Clay Guida will likely destroy Siver and snap his win streak, while a match with Sam Stout or Donald Cerrone would be in Siver’s favor in my book.  For Wiman, I’d expect him to face someone like George Sotiropolous or Mark Bocek in his next outing.

UFC13200026 300x200 UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber Wrap up

Ortiz pulled off the unlikely upset against Bader

Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader: In the most stunning upset since Edgar vs. Penn 1, Ryan Bader was dropped with a right hook and choked out by future Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz.  While calls of “Tito’s Back!” were ringing all over the internet, I’d take this with a massive grain of salt, as Ortiz pre-fight mittwork and majority of his time in the cage were lackluster.  Bader’s lack of striking footwork and perhaps being a bit star-struck had as much to do with his demise as anything Tito threw in that fight.

This puts Ortiz in an interesting position, as this puts his fairly high up the rankings and according to him, sets up a rubber match with Forrest Griffin.  Don’t expect anything different here than the last bout, as it’s one that Griffin should once again handle.  For Bader, the young talent needs work in the striking department and will be sent far down the ladder after this botched fight.  A bout with Mike Massenzio would be just what the doctor ordered for Bader to get some confidence back.

Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim:  On paper, this was a fight that Kim should have had no trouble with, but Condit came into this match blissfully unaware of this.  While Kim did manage to get one takedown and attempt to work his top-heavy game, Condit had none of that, as he swept, attacked from top, and ultimately finished the fight with a brutal flying knee strike.

Condit has made a strong case for a title shot at this point, but will likely have to face Jon Fitch to get it, which makes for a difficult fight for Condit to win.  For Kim, he suffers his first loss and has shown a need for a bit of traditional wrestling training to close distance, as his upright judo assault doesn’t cut it against accurate strikers.  A fight with John Howard would make for a competitive bout for both men and one worth seeing.

Anthony Njokuani vs. Andre Winner:  A fighter who’s slipped under the radar for some time, Anthony Njokuani has made solid improvement in his striking game, putting on a clinic against Andre Winner.  While Njokuani has always been a deadly power striker, he’s added some reliable defense to his game as well, making him one of the most complete strikers in the division.

While I don’t know who the UFC will throw at Njokuani, guys like Jeremy Stephens and Sam Stout would make for an exciting stand-up affair.  For Winner, the future is uncertain.  While he’s an exciting fighter in his own right, he’s been treading water in this division for a while now.  Cutting him loose makes sense, but I’d prefer to see him face a tough newcomer to try to earn his keep.

Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller:  In a kill-or-be-killed kind of fight, Melvin Guillard brought his considerable power to bear against wrestling specialist Shane Roller.  While I didn’t think it would leave the first round, both guys still had time to show me defects in their game, as well as the positives of their style.  For Guillard, while he’s extremely athletic and powerful, he’s fallen back into over-confidence in his skills, which saw him nearly KO’d by Roller in this fight. As for Roller, he showed that his punching power is no fluke, as his stiff shots appeared to do damage to Guillard, but his own over-confidence made him contest this fight in the most dangerous way possible.

At the end of the day, Guillard pulled off the win convincingly, but showed his composure is starting to fall apart.  While he has the explosiveness to put away just about anyone, he’ll need to respect his opponents at this level or risk a major setback in his title hunt.  With Guillard having fought or training with nearly every Lightweight at the top of the division, I feel the best match-up for him would be Sean Sherk, who plans on making a return in the next several months.  For Roller, more time spent working on that rudimentary boxing will help his overall game.  A fight with Vagner Rocha or another new Lightweight could put him on the winning track again, or a fight with Mac Danzig would be a test for both men.

george sotiropoulos ufc132 279x200 UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber Wrap up

sotiropoulos has now lost two in a row

 Rafael Dos Anjos vs. George Sotiropolous: While Ortiz vs. Bader was the stunner of the night, this fight was a close second, as Dos Anjos KO’d Sotiropolous early.  The feeling out process was a short one here, as Sotiropolous’ bouncing boxing style faired poorly against Dos Anjos wild strikes; Leaping directly into a looping left that knocked him out cold.

Dos Anjos has been a mystery to me for a while now, as he’s one of the best functional grapplers in the division, but looks to rely on his striking.  I’d like to see him take on TUF 12′s Michael Johnson next, where he’ll have to pick his spots careful against the much faster opponent.  For Sotiropolous, two losses in a row puts him in a tough spot, but there are still a lot of great match-ups for him.  Mark Bocek called him out awhile back, and that would be exactly the kind of fight both men need at this point.

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Tags: Andre Winner, Anthony Njokuani, Carlos Condit, Chris Leben, Dennis Siver, Dominick Cruz, Dong Hyun Kim, George Sotiropoulos, Matt Wiman, Melvin guillard, MMA, Rafael Dos Anjos, Ryan Bader, Shane Roller, Tito Ortiz, UFC, UFC 132, Urijah Faber, Wanderlei Silva, Wrap up

Category: Exclusive, Featured, MMA, Opinion, UFC

Mike Hammersmith (Featured Staff Writer)

About the Author ()

I'm a 20+ year veteran of martial arts and a fan of MMA since UFC 1, when my world was thrown on its head by the budding sport. I'm obsessive in the pursuit of martial abilities and have competed across the country in everything from Vale Tudo to archery to Scottish broadsword. Once my body broke down, I picked up a pen and went in the direction of writing. I specialize in betting advice, predictions, and I'm a walking encyclopedia of MMA trivia. I own a cafe in Exeter, NH called Hammersmith Sandwich Company and write out of my office between customers.

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