UFC 136 and my love/hate relationship with MMA

UFC 136 was one of those events that showed how mixed martial arts has evolved into a enthralling athletic competition and how it hasn’t.

Let’s start with the bad news, the antics that show how the sport’s fan base is still very much a pro wrestling fan base, willing to toss facts and reason to the wind for a cheap spectacle.

Continue reading UFC 136 and my love/hate relationship with MMA

Lightweightpalooza: The 60-something UFC/WEC fighters now joined by merger

In terms of sheer numbers, the lightweight class is certainly UFC’s deepest after the merger with WEC.

The UFC Web site lists 46 lightweights (for comparison: 53 welterweights, 41 middleweights, 35 light heavies and 29 heavyweights). That’s an inexact measure — the site doesn’t always keep up with every roster change — but it gives us a ballpark idea of who’s in the Zuffa umbrella.

The WEC site lists 21 lightweights. (Aside on lower weights: They have 22 featherweights and only 18 bantamweights. Will the UFC bucks and brand name lure more fighters from overseas? The rankings suggest they have plenty of room to grow at featherweight, with only five of the top 11 currently with WEC, but the bantamweight pool isn’t as deep.)

So if no one is dropped, the UFC will have 67 lightweights. Make it 68, with Marcus Davis dropping down from 170.

With the help of Sherdog’s trusty Fight Finder, I’ve tried to compile everyone’s resumes. Please do speak up if I’ve made a mistake in transcribing or otherwise made a mess of things. I’ve only taken fighters listed on the UFC and WEC sites, though there may be a couple of fighters who are in contract limbo and could bounce back in at any moment.

Rankings, of course, are from the USA TODAY/SB Nation consensus calculation.

CHAMPION

Frankie Edgar: 13-1 overall, 8-1 UFC. Wins over Penn (2), Sherk, Griffin. Loss to Maynard, his next opponent.

RANKED

2. BJ Penn: 15-7-1, 11-6-1 UFC. Had won five straight (incl. Stevenson, Sherk, Florian, Sanchez) at LW before losing twice to Edgar. Last four losses before Edgar had been at 170 or higher. Next fight at 170 vs. Matt Hughes.

Continue reading Lightweightpalooza: The 60-something UFC/WEC fighters now joined by merger

Edgar-Penn UFC lightweight bout: Tell it to the judge

Depending on whom you ask, last night’s lightweight title fight at UFC 112 was either a thrilling win for a heavy underdog, a travesty of MMA judging or a fight that was too close to call. The official decision: Frankie Edgar upset BJ Penn to win the UFC lightweight belt, with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47.

The angriest reaction came from Sherdog’s Tomas Rios: “It was a matter of time before substandard judging ruined a title bout.”

SI’s Josh Gross had it 48-47 Penn but sees a solid argument for 48-47 Edgar. He’s only irritated with the 50-45 and perhaps the 49-48. That’s a pretty common view among the more reasonable pundits, including FanHouse’s Ray Hui.

Bloody Elbow’s Leland Roling also had it 48-47 Penn but comes up with an intriguing argument to explain why the judges saw it that way: Judges are looking up through a cage, while those of us at home are seeing a more pristine camera feed. From their vantage point, Edgar’s speedy combinations looked more impressive.

Having been cageside, I can agree to an extent that it’s a different view. But when you’re cageside, you also get a greater sense of a strike’s impact. You hear it and see the effect.

And from cageside, Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole showed little patience for anyone arguing the decision. “Edgar won the fight in nearly everyone’s eyes,” he Tweeted.

Back in the USA, a few time zones away from the new Abu Dhabi stadium constructed for this fight card, MMAJunkie.com scored the fight 48-47 Edgar, as did my longtime USA TODAY colleague Sergio Non, who has also rounded up arguments on each side.

Even the stats provide no consensus. FightMetric gives Penn a 49-46 victory but seems to be undervaluing Edgar’s edge in grappling. Compustrike‘s total numbers favor Edgar, but it’s difficult to give the third round either way.

As Sergio says, “even statistics leave gray areas.” They don’t measure strikes’ effectiveness or show which fighter was pushing the pace.

One person isn’t complaining, and it’s someone who is rarely known for letting offenses go without a few words. It’s BJ Penn, who graciously thanks his fans and congratulates Edgar, the new champion, in this video:

http://static.ning.com/socialnetworkmain/widgets/video/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf?v=201004051300
Find more videos like this on BJPENN.COM

HT: Bloody Elbow