Bitter Taste aside, Here’s what stood out at UFC 167

| November 17, 2013 | 12:32 am | Reply

UFC 167 LongAn eventful UFC 167 to say the least, we had a main card that shined like a diamond, though the end left a bitter taste in many people’s mouths. We’re here to talk about the art of fighting itself though, so here’s what I picked out of the fray tonight.

Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano: In interesting fight considering how hard the UFC is going to push the younger Pettis, and one that showed good and bad from both men. For Pettis, we saw a bit more flow than in previous bouts, having a solid understanding of the mat game and moving well on offense and defense. He used strong combination work and his counters are actually quite slick indeed, although has little power at 135lbs and needs to drop back to Flyweight to have any real hope of longevity. We also saw his takedown defense simply isn’t there yet against a strong shot, with his stance work playing directly into opponent’s single and double leg game.

For Campuzano, we saw everything that’s kept him from being successful on the world scale. A sharp striker with a good deal of power, Campuzano has never had a high gear, which is murder in a weight class known for their speed. While Campuzano has found success when dictating the pace of the bout, he’s simply not fast enough on the counter and doesn’t have the output needed to turn the tide against a solid active fighter.

Pettis has seen where he needs work and expect him to be back at 125lbs next time out, as Bantamweight isn’t going to do him any favors. For Campuzano, I’m not sure there’s any hope he learns to get off first consistently and pressure, and this will keep him from finding success in the Octagon from here on out.

Thales Leites: Having recently come back to the UFC fold, Leites showed us his best side again tonight, taking on a gritty Ed Herman and coming away with a handy decision. While Rogan was talking about Leites having sharpened his skills in his time away, I’m really not seeing that as a major contributing factor to his success, though hard work certainly plays into it. Some fighters are incredible tacticians or technical wizards, but are lousy athletes, and I think that was largely Leites problem in his career.  While he was always sharp, his body didn’t have the juice to drive for those takedowns and his punches weren’t snappy enough to get anyone’s attention, especially when his gas tank would fail late in the second round. The time in the gym has really given him a new platform that can execute his considerable BJJ acumen and keep up with fighters for the entire fighter, and he stands as a stiff test at the middle of the division.

Ali Bagautinov: Bagautinov showed a great deal of potential in his UFC debut, and more of the same tonight against mischievous gremlin Tim Elliott. Bagautinov has a great deal of combat sports accolades in Mother Russia, and I’m starting to see why, given his laser-accurate strikes and his outstanding core strength and balance. Elliott’s only real takedown came from a full run into a power slam, but otherwise Bagautinov’s hips floated beautifully around Elliott as he scrambled for purchase on the mat.  Bagautinov’s output could stand to improve considering he’s in the fastest division in the sport, but the pieces of a champion are there.

Robbie Lawler: One of the best surprises of the night, Lawler used his precision striking to rightly grab a split decision over Rory MacDonald, sending that hype train off the tracks in flames. Looking at Lawler across the years, this resurgence shouldn’t be such a surprise, as he truly has some of the best X-factors in the sport. Durability, patience, tenacity, confidence, and composure all mend together with his very tangible power and timing, making him a late bloomer at the elite level. Sometimes a fighter just needs to percolate for a while, and with a lengthy career under his belt already, the best Robbie Lawler seems to have arrived in style.

Georges St PierreGeorges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks: Just to get it out-of-the-way, I scored the UFC 167 main event 49-47 for Hendricks, giving GSP the 3rd round, and calling the 5th a 10-10. Despicable decision aside, this was a telling fight on both sides of the cage.

For GSP, we saw what happens when someone geared towards point fighting has a break down in their game. Ever since the second Matt Serra fight, GSP has looked to fight a meticulous game, using an incredibly sharp jab, an occasional right straight and superman punch, a short leg kick off the lead leg ,  a multi-level rear leg kick and his single and double leg shot. These tools are perfectly honed and haven’t failed him in a long time, but they did fail him tonight.

The issue we saw was that GSP doesn’t command enough respect against a determined opponent with his style, due in part to a lack of real power and a lack of serious output. Having grown used to keeping an opponent on the end of his jab or under him in a scramble, GSP didn’t switch gears and look to make openings on Hendricks, instead playing his low output game.

Hendricks fought brilliantly here, with his major salvos nearly ending GSP’s night multiple times. The left hand was there, but the uppercut and jab were both finding the mark and with serious steam on them. In the wrestling department, Hendricks showed his base was simply too strong and his own takedowns, while few, were executed perfectly against the cage. Hendrick’s mindset of utter confidence was exactly what the doctor ordered to deal with a living legend and now that he’s tasted a championship fight, he’ll be back for more.

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Category: Featured, MMA, 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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