First off, I think Kenny Florian should fill in for Joe Rogan as much as the UFC will allow it. His fight commentary was spot on and he effortlessly managed to make Mike Goldberg (who to my amusement he called â€œGoldieâ€) sound foolish several times- always a treat.
Anyhow, UFC 83 answered a lot of questions so lets get right to it.
Is Matt Serra actually capable of hanging with George St. Pierre?
Absolutely not. While the fight did not end in the fashion I imagined, GSP nonetheless disposed of Serra like he had no business being in the cage with him, which he probably doesnâ€™t. Though to be fair, GSP immediately went in for takedowns on Serra and definitely did not want to engage in a standing war with the much shorter opponent. That speaks volumes.
Did Serra at least go down with some class?
To the surprise of some, Matt Serra did in fact lose humbly and gracefully, even going above and beyond by hoisting St. Pierre over his shoulder and raising his hand as the â€œtrue champion.â€ Everyone loves GSP, but you have to respect Serra for his post-fight class. Additionally both St. Pierre and Serra said after the bout that most of the “trash talk” was just ammunition to help hype the fight, which is probably accurate.
So whatâ€™s next?
For Matt Serra, the UFC should have him stay at 170lbs long enough to make the Matt Hughes fight happen, then send the guy back to lightweight where I think he belongs. While Serra would surely have his work cut out for him with the 155lb clan, heâ€™d still travel a smoother road as a standard sized light-weight rather than an undersized welterweight.
For George St. Pierre, its back to good old fashion title defenses. First up would be Jon Fitch, and then who knows. This time around I think its safe to say that GSP will hold on to the title for a while, and I really hope that people donâ€™t start yammering on again about him moving up to fight Anderson Silva. Sure thatâ€™s a cool match to think about, but GSP has a lot of clutter to clean out before a bout with Anderson should even be considered.
Is Rich Franklin still Rich Franklin?
Yes, heâ€™s still the guy who can likely beat everyone else in the middleweight division except for you know who. Not to take anything away from Richâ€™s performance, but Travis Lutter clearly gassed out- hard. In fact, it was one of the worst cases of cardio-crash Iâ€™ve ever seen inside the octagon. Lord only knows what could have happened if Lutter didnâ€™t crap-out and managed to keep Franklin on his back. Perhaps Travis focused so much on making weight that he neglected to make sure that he could work for 15 minutes once he made the weight. Also I refuse to believe that Franklin â€œbaitedâ€ Lutter by almost getting caught in a submission. That sounds ridiculous and Franklin should just admit that he almost got caught, escaped, and out worked Lutter. No need to make up stories in the post fight.
So whatâ€™s next?
For Franklin, he will have to keep beating people up at 185 until he gets his inevitable title shot yet again. Assuming Silva doesnâ€™t lose the title before Franklin gets another crack at it, expect a future broken nose and knock out loss from Rich Franklin. Sorry Rich, but since you donâ€™t plan to move up in weight or leave the UFC, its only a matter of time before The Spider puts his well documented hurting on you.
Expect Travis Lutter to be thrown into a random, un-televised middleweight undercard some time over the next few months. I donâ€™t think the UFC will cut his contract short just yet, so if he can improve that cardio and prove himself against some of the other 185lb talent, he just might be able to hold on for a few more UFC pay days.
Is there anyone the UFC should â€œlet goâ€ (fire immediately!)?
Well as a matter of fact there is, and his name is Kalib Starnes. I donâ€™t care how long Kalib has been with the UFC or how many respectful performances he has put on in the past. There is just no excuse for the disgraceful â€œrunning from the fightâ€ strategy he utilized last night. Normally Iâ€™d frown upon the Frank Shamrock-esque antics which Nate Quarry showed off during the bout, but hey, there are exceptions to every rule. I think Quarryâ€™s actions were damn well justified, and I actually applaud him for making it even more obvious that his opponent had not come to work that night. I also got a little kick out of his Rocky IV speech at the end there.
So whatâ€™s next?
For Kalib Starnes, a big bye-bye from the UFC. You just canâ€™t market a guy after that kind of performance, and you shouldnâ€™t have to.
For Nate Quarry, a decent opponent. Since his most recent fight wasnâ€™t so much a fight as it was a battle to see who could circle the most without getting dizzy, Iâ€™d say the guy just needs a real fight and fast. Lets see what Quarry can do when his opponent isnâ€™t in the middle of a non-violent protest against fighting.
Is Michael Bisping that much better suited at middleweight?
Absolutely. Though Charles McCarthy didnâ€™t threaten Bisping a heck of a lot outside of an almost successful armbar attempt, Bisping still looked a world faster and more fluid in his 185lb debut. Not to mention the guy now has visible abs and muscle-cuts, something never seen from the Bisping we knew at 205lbs.
So whatâ€™s next?
For Bisping, simply another match at his new middleweight home against someone who will make the fight a lot closer than Charles McCarthy did. Maybe not someone on Rich Franklins level just yet, but perhaps a Patrick Cote or Chris Leben? Iâ€™d really like to see Bisping fight someone who will test his chin.
For Charles McCarthy, well since heâ€™s supposed to be more of a ground guy, maybe he should be the undercard opponent for Travis Lutterâ€™s next fight. Just a thought.
Is Mac Danzig the real deal?
Yes, he is. While Danzig is not in for any free rides in the 155-pound weight class, he does work a lot stronger at lightweight and may just find himself teetering in the LW top ten after a few more fights. Though in my opinion Danzigâ€™s sprawl looked a little weak against Mark Bocek, I imagine itâ€™s nothing a few months of mat-work can’t help remedy.
So whatâ€™s next?
For Danzig, I recommend a sit down with Joe Silva to pick out just the right opponent. Danzig needs to face a strong lightweight that will help prove his status among a very crowded division. A rematch against Kurt Pellegrino would be interesting, as would a match up against the growingly popular Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard, or Rich Clementi.
For Mark Bocek, well he was lucky enough to have a fight broadcast on a pay-per-view event, and I doubt next time he will be as fortunate. I expect Bocek to be another un-televised undercard fighter who may or may not be with the UFC much longer, since the LW division is so cramped.
Should any of the other undercard fights have been broadcast instead of Goulet-Hironaka?
Most would probably argue no, and that Jonathan Goulet’s knockout over Kuniyoshi Hironaka was sufficient post-main event icing. While I agree Gouletâ€™s K.O. was great stuff, I would have liked to see Day vs. Belcher or Maia vs. Herman, as those matches hold a little more meaning and notability. I understand the UFC just wanted to show the most “entertaining” undercard regardless of who the fighters were, but honestly I would have preferred to see one of the matches I was more curious about. Plus I heard that Demian Maia’s submission was sick, would have been cool to see that.
All in all, a reasonably entertaining UFC pay-per-view that unfortunately gets dragged down a bit due to the now infamous Kalib Starnes shame-fest. UFC 83 went down pretty much as expected, which is usually a good thing for the promotion, but I expect UFC 84 to have a few more fireworks.