No more damn politics for a while. I’m back in the real and important world.
Sports. Don’t tell me that professional sports aren’t real or important. Millions of dollars are involved, making them very real, and they make people happy, so they’re very important.
I’m on a four-day weekend, so I thought I’d wander down to the Irish Pub last night, in Wiesbaden. They were showing UFC 93.
I’ll comment on two fights, the first between 44 year old, Mark Coleman and Maricio ”Shogun” Rua.
Coleman was, years ago, the UFC’s heavyweight champion and possessed what may be the best ground and pound techniques in the game. His takedowns, polished from his Olympic candidacy, were incredibly quick, and his ensuing rain of punches were powerful and lethal. His only flaw: Endurance.
Though in very good condition, his attacks were so intense that they often left Coleman spent after the first round, should his opponent prove capable of weathering what amounted to Ultimate Fighting’s Perfect Storm. Opponents picked up on this and built strategies around it. They found another weakness too. Coleman couldn’t defend against the Thai kicks once he was tired.
I started feeling depressed when I saw Coleman fighting. Not that he performed badly , but because of my horrible curse of nostalgia. My dad carries this curse, too. Coleman was still in very good shape, but I could see his age. Where as before he was a wall of muscle, he now appeared slightly hollow. I just read that he had to drop weight for this fight, so that probably explains a lot of the hollow look.
The fight began, and it was apparent to me that despite Coleman’s age, Rua still had a fight on his hands. Coleman took some shots, but delivered several of his own. I could see though, that his old nemesis, fatigue, was going to haunt him yet again. He began to drop his hands, and Rua began to land more shots. At one point, Rua had Coleman in a shoulder-lock on the mat. Rua was using his hip and leg to wrench Coleman’s shoulder and to leave him defenseless against hammer-fists. I thought that the referee may stop the fight, because Coleman was unable to defend himself, but Rua was too tired to capitalize.
In the following rounds, the two continued to trade stand-up shots and Coleman was able to take Rua to the mat on several occasions, but his fatigue was such that the ground game amounted to nothing. Finally, in the waning seconds of the last round, Rua’s youth gained him an advantage. He had been losing the round, in my opinion, but he’d managed to back Coleman against the fence and began a burst of punches from multiple angles. Coleman, too tired to clinch, caught a devastating upper-cut that threatened to lift his head from his shoulders. He fell, and as Rua moved for the kill, the ref jumped in to announce the TKO.
The next fight I’ll talk about is the Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson fight.
A few years back, Rich Franklin looked unbeatable: Then he met the current champ, Anderson Silva, and he’s not been the same since. While Silva is phenomenal, I think part of Franklin’s problem is that his style matches badly with Silva’s. Franklin likes to stand outside and drill people with accurate punches from many angels. He’s pretty good at maintaining distance and his conditioning is such that he can punch for all three rounds. Silva though, is the master of the Muy Thai clinch, and just kills people with knees and punches from close in. His ability to clinch with Franklin nullifies Franklin’s ability to maneuver and keep the distance.
Henderson is a classic ground and pound guy, with world-class wrestling skills and a tremendous right hand. His conditioning is also great. The first two round had the two fighters trading stand up blows, with Franklin gaining the edge on his feet and Henderson finding a few opportunities to take the fight to the ground. But Franklin proved his ability to keep the episodes on the ground very short, and when the fighters stood up, he continually peppered Henderson with kicks to the midsection and overhand punches.
Two things happened in the fight which I believe had a subliminal effect of the judge’s score cards. First, while in the clinch, the two fighters banged heads, resulting in a horrendous cut on Franklin’s scalp. When he got to his corner, his crew began working on the gash, but Franklin, ever the gamer, just laughed. The next event happened in the third round. With Franklin pressing a stand-up attack, he lunged in with a right punch. Henderson reflexively raised his left hand and one of his fingers drove deep into Franklin’s left eye. Franklin immediately dropped and began crawling on the mat, obviously in agony.
I’ve studies some Jeet Kun Do, the martial art created by Bruce Lee. One of the attacks greatly favored by Lee was the eye flick. Lee was incredibly fast, and this type of attack would have fit him perfectly. The problem would be, actually landing the attack intentionally. In the UFC, eye gouges are illegal. But it was an incidental occurrence. The results, though, were immediate and devastating. Franklin fell like Achilles struck on the heel. I was actually scared for him. He held his face and I expected him to look up with his eyeball cupped in his hand. Fortunately though, after a 40 second pause, Franklin was back in the fight. Nothing more of importance occurred after the eye-gouge though.
Before the judge’s gave their verdicts, I believed Franklin had won a close victory. He had been the aggressor the whole fight, persuing Henderson. Henderson was not really able to land any decisive shots, while Franklin, especially in the last round, was hitting Henderson all over.
The judges didn’t feel that way though. Two of them gave the decision to Henderson, 29-28 and the third gave it to Franklin 30-27. I read on-line that there may have been a scoring mess-up, because in the UFC, the total scores of ll three judges is what matters, not the number of judges that think a fighter wins. In that case, Franklin would have won 86-85. The fight was doubly important because the winner earned a spot on the next Ultimate Fighter as a coach.