Monday, December 21, 2009

Where Does the UFC Go From Here?

BJ Penn's total destruction of Diego Sanchez exposed 2 things:

1) Sanchez's skull

Here's a couple pictures of Diego Sanchez's nasty cut:

2) A major problem in the UFC right now

The champions in all five weight classes are just too good, no one can touch them.

Lightweight: BJ Penn (five straight wins as a lightweight) didn't just beat Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian he dominated them. As the great Joe Rogan pointed out, who at 155 now can be expected to challenge Penn? No one. So what's next for him? Maybe a third shot at GSP? If Rogan is right and Penn is better conditioned now then maybe I could see it. If not, will Penn keep busting his ass in training to fight guys he can beat in his sleep?

Welterweight: While there are no questions about Georges St. Pierre's (6 straight wins) training habits he faces the same questions about upcoming opponents. Dan Hardy is a good striker but I don't like his chances against GSP's wrestling. GSP has a way of taking on guys who have built reputations as pit bulls and completely taking away their will to fight.

Middleweight: That's the same thing Anderson Silva (10-0 in the UFC) has done to the middleweight division. He's even had to move up to 205 to find challengers and he's embarrassed them too. But he doesn't want to fight for the title at 205 because he considers Lyoto Machida a brother.

Light Heavyweight: Machida (16-0, 8-0 in UFC) right now rules (tenuously) the deepst weight class in the UFC right now. The old veterans who just won't quit (Liddell, Ortiz, Coleman, Couture and Wanderlei) are there along with some guys who've still got it (Henderson, Evans, Shogun and maybe Griffin) as well as some young guns (Darth Bader and my personal favorite Bones Jones). But I really don't think any of them will beat Machida because if they go after him aggressively he'll counter and kill them, and if they are too patient Machida will do enough to outpoint them because he can't be hit.

Heavyweight: This is why Brock Lesnar's illness may be the best thing to happen to the UFC. No one can beat Lesnar. No one can stop his takedowns and no one can get up once he's on top of them. And because he lost that first fight to Mir by submission when he got sloppy, he is so patient and so cautious so as not to get caught again. A winning strategy, but a boring one. But without him around there are some intriguing heavyweight fighters who could put together some big bouts (Nogueira, Mir, Carwin, Velazquez) and in time maybe Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve too.

A string of uninspiring main events will likely continue into the new year and I really don't know what fight they could book to really get fans excited again.


ton said...

I want to put a little more thought into the potential match-ups...but I think the UFC will be just fine. They have lots of interesting matchups, even if they aren't for a belt.

Yeah, the champs are pretty hardcore, but Lyoto didn't even come close to impressing in his last who the hell knows. I also wouldn't be surprised if Silva fights one more time, then just retires forever.

Also, Mir has no other goal in life than to beat Lesnar...and is in ridiculous shape because of that. Right now, any fight he is in seems exciting to me. Ex champ, great comeback story, got beaten by a controversial champ, wants revenge etc.

BTW, Henderson is officially out of the UFC, and with StrikeForce.

But yeah...BJ Penn could be the light heavy champ for the next 10 years if he wanted to. That won't happen, because I think it's impossible to stay motivated that long.

SCZA said...

You forgot the real challenger to Lyoto once he gets another UFC fight or two under his belt - Little Nog, Minotauro's twin brother, who dominated Pride and has looked really good in his first two UFC fights.

Looks like a skinnier version of Minotauro Nogueria, and in my opinion is better.

I agree 100% with Ton about Frank Mir. Try to download the UFC 107 countdown show if you didn't see it and watch how Mir is training. He's absolutely obsessed with fighting Lesnar again and winning.

Paul said...

TON, only the light heavy division has non-title fights that are intriguing.

I don't trust Mir or Penn. Every fight the announcers say they are in the best shape of their lives. Why wasn't Mir this motivated for the previous Lesnar fight? Remember they were saying all the same things after he knocked out Nog. And he got killed by Lesnar. No way Mir can stop Lesnar's takedowns or get up once Brock is on top of him.

SCZA makes a good point about Little Nog but Machida is definitely a few fights away for him.

I forgot about Hendo signing with Strikeforce.