UFC 87 Review and Commentary

GSP Dominates

Jon Fitch was a game opponent, but ultimately, he was outclassed. Before the match, a very humble, but nonetheless confident, GSP proclaimed that he was superior to Fitch in all facets of the fight game. After last night’s bout, he proved the validity of that statement.

As always, GSP relied heavily on his wrestling. Like so many other opponents, Fitch was taken down almost at will. On his feet, GSP looked sharper than he has in a long time. His jabs were crisp and he set up his overhand right again and again. Analysts would be hard pressed to find any chinks in his armor.

The fact that GSP couldn’t finish Fitch is a testament to Jon’s enormous heart. Fitch was rocked and dropped several times and consistently took a beating throughout the fight. But, he never quit and never stopped moving forward. Although Fitch displayed true spirit, GSP was never in any real trouble at any point during the course of the 25-minute fight. There is no question that GSP can fluidly translate all variations of martial arts into one all encompassing fighter better then anybody else in the game.

GSP really does remind me of a rookie Michael Vick – the hybrid athlete with the abilities to change the way the sport is played. GSP is that same type of athlete, one with all the tools to be a new generation of fighter.

Currently, GSP is among the top four fighters in the world, along with B.J. Penn, Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva. But, Penn and GSP have yet to reach the level of dominance that the other two currently possess.

Both GSP and Penn have won their last several bouts in impressive fashion. They manhandled quality opposition and did so without being truly threatened. As much of an accomplishment as that is, Anderson and Fedor punctuate their victories with even more brilliance. They finish their opponents so quickly and so savagely, that they make elite fighters seem amateurish. More importantly though, Fedor and Anderson thrill the audience with an incredible spectacle each and every time they fight. Both of them are awe-inspiring fighters who never cease to amaze the viewers. When Penn and GSP clash, the winner should have the right to ascend onto that next level of dominance.

Brock Shows Promise

Within the first 15 seconds of the bout, fans were on their feet. Brock Lesnar put Heath Herring on his back and then sent him flying across the octagon with one of the most forceful right hands I’ve ever seen. The roar was deafening when Lesnar connected and rose to a whole new stratosphere as Lesnar flew across the ring and attempted a spear- like maneuver straight out of the WWE.

While the rest of the fight was far less exciting, Lesnar controlled the bout from start to finish and acquired his first UFC victory. Any lingering questions regarding the legitimacy of Lesnar’s foray into mixed martial arts should be put to rest. This was a quality win over a solid opponent and provided many insights into the number of skills Lesnar possesses.

Watching the bout, it was clear Lesnar had abilities in a variety of areas. His overall power is scary. Whether it’s his striking, takedowns, or clinch, he is above and beyond the strongest man in the UFC.

His takedowns will be next to impossible to stop. If a fighter over commits and swings wildly, Lesnar will take them down. The combination of his explosiveness and strength makes it difficult to prevent.

Lesnar is comparable to an immovable object. Herring’s scrambles and escape attempts were admirable, but for the most part, Lesnar did the bare minimum damage to keep the fight grounded. He controlled Herring with his sheer size and body control. It looked like a perfect display of lay-n-pray. Lesnar did very little while on top, but prevented Herring from being able to do anything whatsoever.

There were, however, several drawbacks to Lesnar’s performance. For one, he did a lot of laying and not too much praying. Lesnar did not look like the same guy who went buck-wild on Frank Mir when he was on top. I fully realize the importance of Lesnar staying composed and being reserved in only his third pro fight, but it would have been nice to see a little more damage being inflicted from top position. Secondly, it’s clear because of his inexperience in MMA, that he is a very limited fighter. He had no jiu-jitsu to speak of whatsoever. Lesnar had Herring’s back on more than one occasion and did not attempt to sink his hooks in or apply a legitimate rear-naked-choke. Finally, Lesnar looked slow and prodding when striking. He certainly looked technical and landed a devastating right hand, but his other shots seemed telegraphed and almost moved in slow motion. He might want to continue working on his hand speed. But, for someone who is essentially learning MMA on the fly, he did more than a commendable job.

For only his third fight in MMA, Lesnar was impressive. Besides the opening punch, he didn’t land anything meaningful (besides some occasional knees), but thoroughly controlled the fight. He looked like a more athletic, stronger and quicker version of Tim Sylvia. Like Sylvia, Lesnar overwhelmed his opponent with his size. When standing, he didn’t give Herring room to strike. He used all his physical tools to his advantage and wasn’t overly aggressive. In fact, if anything, he could have been more aggressive. To dominate Herring the way he did, it’s clear that Lesnar has a promising future.

Word has it that Lesnar will fight Cheick Kongo next. Give him credit for taking on all comers. The man is fearless. Kongo will provide another good test for him because of his kickboxing and somewhat comparable strength. Hopefully, Lesnar will continue to work hard and improve his skills so that eventually, he can challenge for the belt. It became clear Saturday night that Brock Lesnar is truly worthy of being called, The Next Big Thing.

Florian the Man to Beat

Besides champion B.J. Penn, Kenny Florian is sitting pretty, atop the lightweight division. Florian has now reeled off five straight victories, against top competition, in very impressive fashion. Against the tough-as-nails Roger Huerta, Florian used far superior technique and a diverse range of skills to pick Huerta apart.

The fight was relatively close, but Florian was never in danger and Huerta never truly looked comfortable. Florian, on the other hand, looked right at home. He almost finished the fight with submissions, but somehow Huerta fought through seemingly fight ending positions. At no point did it seem Huerta had a concise game plan. Florian’s defense and effective counter punching perplexed the overmatched Huerta. Despite Huerta’s best efforts, Florian refused to engage in a brawl and landed with well-timed shots.

Florian is a complete fighter. He can box, wrestle, grapple and fight on the ground. His skills are varied and, although not superb at any one aspect, he is all-around very solid. Huerta is very athletic, has great stamina and a stout chin. His skills need to be refined and he needs help strategizing. I’d like to see him face another skilled opponent like Gray Maynard, to see if he can improve from this loss. As for Florian, he has positioned himself as a title contender once again, but must wait for Dana White to decide the fate of the division. Still, as good as Florian looked, he isn’t in the same class as a B.J. Penn. The fact remains that Penn is strides ahead of all the other fighters in the division.

Maia Shows Flashes

Down the road, Demian Maia could wind up being a potential opponent for Anderson Silva. His jiu-jitsu was very impressive and he fought well off his back, always looking to improve his position. The guy is clearly very dangerous and could pose problems for Silva on the ground. Clearly, his weakness is his striking. A step up in competition would help build the fighter up as a future star in the division.

Side Notes

Cheick Kong’s interview antics were hilarious. Joe Rogan tried to take him through the TKO on the jumbotron and instead Kongo simply walked away. Rogan looked dumbfounded and goes, “or not!”

The UFC added a new dimension to their telecast by adding statistics. I thought it was a great touch by the UFC and allowed fans to get a sense of the fighters’ strengths in a tangible sense.

Comments

  1. yea lets see kongo take on lesnar. lesnar will have a hard time just laying and praying on kongo. the last thing i want to see now is lesnar beating down a senior citizin in colman.

  2. i would rather see penn clean out the lightweight division by defeating florian and griffin before stepping up and facing gsp. i don't see penn beating gsp.

  3. I am looking forward to seeing penn fight GSP. Its gonna be awesome but I think GSP will take it.

  4. BJ PENN is an ass! That was the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen. He wants this fight so bad and I honestly dont see him winning it. I hope GSP tears his chubby little face off. Also lesnar also needs to learn a thing or two about being a little more professional, pretending to lasso, pointing and laughing, not in the wwf anymore bud time to grow up. Also Kenny Florian should be pist beyond belief if penn does get a shot at GSP before he does Kenflo deserves a shot, hes earned it.

  5. I would also like to see Kongo fight Lesnar too, I dont think there is anyone in the ufc who matches up with him strengthwise and that stupid chest pound thing would be awesome to see again.

  6. Jordan Katz says:

    Steve-O two great posts my friend.

    You are absolutely right about Lesnar. I thought there was a definite lack of class there. Herring took one hell of a beating and I thought Lesnar could have been far more gracious.

    And secondly, the Kongo chest pound was pretty cool, even if he was a clown in the post-fight interview. He is by no means one of the best heavyweights in the world. In fact, despite his physical gifts, he is a very pedestrian fighter. Average all around.

  7. GSP's fight was waaay too boring. I was expecting a knockout of the night from him, but had to wait for 5 grueling and boring rounds. If it wasn't for Kenny vs. Huerta watching this fight card would be your surefire way to fall asleep.

  8. i kinda though that whole stats thing was interesting, until the gsp fight when thats all the one dude was saying while joe was commentating the fight. brock is a beast, kind of arrogant but he just won his first ufc fight so maybe he was just really excited. roger huerta is a joke now. all that shit talking about dana and the ufc and he goes out and loses every round. all that talk about his troubled past makes me laugh. all around i thought it was a good card though, defintely be back in minnesota

  9. i think brock was really so full of adrenaline at the end of that fight that he couldn't really control himself and as a result he acted dumb. he's like that jock that on the bus ride back from a winning game who can't sit in their seat and can't shut up.

    thats the type of character that got him millions of fans in the WWE so i wasn't that suprised to see him do some taunting afterward. brock vs. kongo, hell yeah, i'd like to see that.

  10. I agree dude, not necessarily about the past of huerta but all these guys run there mouth for months about what they are going to do and then enevitably end up getting there ass kicked half the time. You can be confident without being cocky, IE Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Wandi, Andersen Silva, what do they all have in common, they are icons in the sport so some of these young guys that think they are invincible could take a page or two out of there books. Look at GSP praising Fitch still today, who in my book win or lose is one tough bastard cause he took one hell of a beating, but GSP was still praising his effort in the post fight. I am a high school bball coach and I tell my players if they win to ACT LIKE THEYVE DONE IT BEFORE.

  11. I agree stevo, gsp was very impressive after the fight because he treats it like a sport not like a thug with a grudge. I love brock but he acted like a high school linebacker who just got his first sack after the fight, it was kinda funny. I can totally see why he was excited though.

  12. i didn't like his antics(brocks) but its hard to fault the guy everyone celebrates after a victory and its unfair to act like he is the only one, but i did not like the shove at the end of the round or the finger pointing and laughing at the end of the fight i thought those where disrespctfull and not celebrating but i don't see this being a problem for him in the future.

  13. Nor do i and he only did pushed herring away casue he let off of him with like 5 seconds left and herring took a swing. he was just excited nad out to prove to all the haters and to herring who took him lightly and did give him his credit before the fight. I guarantee you this herring said he has faced equals of lesnar before this fight and i bet you he changed his mind after it as well. Lesnar is in another league as far as strength stamima and wrestling ability goes. herring got his ass wooped.

  14. Roy I'm glad you said that. Lesnar did shove Herring at the end of round one. I'll admit, Lesnar did better than I thought he would. He really applied more of his wrestling than any bjj, but he still did good. I stand corrected about him and I think he will evolve into a great fighter. But there wasn't much class at the end. I understand he was happy and excited, but he was cheering before the third round was over. I think Kongo and Lesnar would be interesting because kongo would have a good reach over brock and I wonder how that will change his training. BJ and GSP will be a great fight, but BJ will definately have his hands full.

  15. Tim I agree with you too that I think Herring took him lightly and he definately shouldn't have. I also didn't think Herring ever faced anyone up to brock's caliber as far as strength and wrestling. I assume you remember that I was a brock hater, but after watching him dominate, I am becoming a fan, as long as he stops with the ridiculous celebrations and works on his submissions.

  16. before lesnar becomes a great fighter he needs to learn some ground game he had herring in full mount 2 or 3 times and didnt do a single atempt at ground and pound or any submissions it was a good first punch but thats about it. who would like to see kimbo take on lesnar they both are huge and are new to mma and both have no ground game, brock and kimbo are to new to say they are good.

  17. How can you even put Kimbo in the same class as Lesnar? that is a disgrace to him. Lesnar is lightyears ahead of Kimbo in MMA, the man has it all is is gaining more and more knowledge daily and is showing extreme improvement every fight. Kimbo on the other hand gets gased by the end of round one and no wreslting skills and no ground and pound. Lesnar has it all but needs to work on his submission defense and skills. i believe he didnt do so much from mount this time and side control cause he was worried about being called again for hitting in the back of the head. he was playing it safe i believe which is both bad and good. But seriously you cant put Kimbo in the same class as lesnar, the man out weighs him by 50lbs and is much bigger and stronger, hell you saw what extreme power lesnar has he rocked a 250lb man sensless and made him fall backwards five feet and roll into a backward sommersault. i have never seen that kind of power ever, that is freaky and very scarry. Lesnar made a huge statement but i also dont want to see anymore of the taunting, given he was excited and it was his first win that is aloud, even if he does it again im still a huge fan of his but i would like to see a little more respect at the end of his fights as he does during training and post fight.

  18. I gotta say I actually liked Lesnar shit talking to him in the fight. And his celebration after the fight. I dont care what u say. The UFC is making money b/c it entertains. Why shouldnt he be able to show boat? I never here bs like this when Diego talks shit and actually shoved his opponent when they were staring eachother down. The ufc wants to see bd blood b/c it usually makes for better PPV buys best example:tito ortiz. The only thing is Lesnar is backing it up and CAN back it up. Florian vs Penn interests me 0%. I would never pay to see that fight. Penn doesnt want another Joe Stevenson fight. He wants to fight the best and thats GSp not KenFlo. KenFlo vs Penn couldnt even be called the main event.

  19. I agree, I thought Brock was unprofessional at the end of the fight, last thing I want is the UFC turning into anything remotely resembling the WW_ BS.

    But, he sure backed up what he said unlike Herring. Kongo, another example of someone acting like a unprofessional boob after his fight, maybe Brock could walk around the ring and pound his chest afterwards for him, that would be a good fight.

    I really don't care for GSP but he is a class act in and out of the ring, I am sure BJ would realize his mistake pretty fast, I don't think he could handle a beating like that but I would sure like to watch it.

  20. STEVO, Kudos to you for mentoring those high school kids on being professional. Keep up the good work.

    STEVO: "I am a high school bball coach and I tell my players if they win to ACT LIKE THEYVE DONE IT BEFORE."

  21. Check out this one too from Sports Illustrated..

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/ben

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