Right off the bat I’d like to point out that we got shorted in this one due to the recent series of injuries that has been sweeping through the UFC like a 2012 tsunami. This card is solid, no doubt about it, but it had the potential to be so much more. Two fights we lost out on tonight due to injuries that I was personally extremely excited for were Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves in a rematch, and Todd Duffee vs. Paul Buentello in a slugfest. Sure, Fitch/Pierce is alright, and Buentello/Struve is… cool, these guys need to start taking a little better care of themselves away from the Octagon. If Rocky Balboa training isn’t agreeing with you, let’s try taking the foot off the gas just a little bit.
Is the lightweight division going to turn into B.J. Penn’s own personal “Bum of the Month” club if the champion can defend his title, and defend it convincingly this evening?
Let’s just imagine for a moment that Penn tears through Sanchez like a five year old under the tree on Christmas morning; Are you guys really going to be excited about the potential of someone like Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar, or dare I say, Shinya Aoki somehow derailing the champion?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly calling any of the top level athletes competing in the UFC bums by any stretch of the imagination. No, the comparison I’m making is actually to one of the greatest boxers to ever lace up a set of gloves, Mr. Joe Louis, and his ridiculously dominant title reign during a beatdown filled 29 months of terror between 1939 and 1941. You weren’t even alive back then, right? Well neither was I, but let me attempt to explain as to why I am making such a comparison.
Louis was at one time, as dominant a champion as there ever was in combat sport. In just over two years time the man defended his heavyweight boxing title thirteen times against men that were considered the top challengers to his title at the time. These guys were all solid fighters, but “The Brown Bomber” was just on another level to where his opponents began to be referred to as “bums” automatically.
While B.J. hasn’t defended his championship nearly as many times as Louis had, the apparent lack of a serious threat at 155 pounds begs for the question to be asked, if he can beat Diego in convincing fashion; Is there any end in sight for Penn’s reign at lightweight? In my opinion the only man that can beat B.J. over the next five years at the weight class will be B.J. himself.
So the word around the campfire is that Wilson Gouveia was at fault for not being able to make weight, proposing a catchweight bout at 190 pounds, but Alan Belcher just said screw it, let’s do it at 195. Essentially, you’re saying you can’t make weight, I’m not cutting another pound; And good for him. Coming in at weight is your responsibility as a fighter. There is no excuse when you’re given the proper notice to prepare, AND potentially pull out of a bout if you don’t feel like meeting the requirements will be within your grasp. It’s a job like any other.
If anyone ever deserved to be sliced off a healthy serving of humble pie, it has go to be Frank Mir. I was among the many that felt Brock Lesnar overreacted just a little bit following his second round demolition of Mir at UFC 100, but in retrospect, with hindsight being 20/20, Mir did run his mouth a lot leading up to that fight. Like A LOT.Kind of like in this fight.
Hearing Mir poke fun at Kongo’s still developing English struck a nerve with me I couldn’t properly put into words without seeming somewhat hostile. So with that, I’ll leave at this; I used to be the biggest Frank Mir fan there was. I ordered his fights in UFC events from the UK when they could be found nowhere stateside and made a special trip to the grocery store years ago to make sure I picked up a copy of the, at time groundbreaking, issue of Muscle & Fitness with Mir on the cover. But he lost me. He lost me when he made fun of how Kongo spoke. You want to say he has crap Jiu-Jitsu, fine. You want to say he doesn’t have a chance, whatever. But there’s no place for the type of arrogant and hurtful comments towards Cheick in the UFC, or anywhere else for that matter. There’s enough of that type of insecure ignorance infecting the world like a plague as it is.
I don’t feel very confident that we’re going to see Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia make the televised card tonight. I feel certain we would have seen it if it wasn’t for Belcher recently being so vocal in his criticism of the UFC’s choice to schedule him on the undercard, but who knows now. We probably will, because it’s a fight that promises to deliver in the excitement department. Just don’t be too shocked if it doesn’t end up being aired.