There aren’t many fighters in the UFC who have had longer layoffs in between fights than Carlos Eduardo Rocha. Well, maybe before this summer began, that is. Fighting just three times between November of 2010 and June of 2012, Rocha’s 1-2 UFC record included a submission via kneebar win over Kris McCray and a pair of close decision losses to Jake Ellenberger at UFC 126 and most recently, Mike Pierce at UFC on FX 3. The latter fight, which you may recall was originally scored a split decision victory for Pierce rather than a UD thanks to the general incompetency of Floridians, was a relatively lackluster affair that was dominated by Pierce’s clinch and wrestling game ala Couture vs. Vera.
It might surprise you to learn that Rocha, an incredibly decorated BJJ practitioner whose only trips to the scorecards have come in the UFC, was let go following the loss. As one might understand, Rocha was none too happy to learn of this news, and quickly vented his frustrations (mainly, those relating to Pierce’s performance) when interviewed by Tatame:
I went there to fight MMA and he wants to win by points. There were 15 minutes of pure stalling This is bullshit. And UFC fires me after a fight where the guy just stood there stalling. I had good performances and even so I was cut off. I didn’t expect this.
Ah, the Nick Diaz defense. Classy move, Mr. Rocha.
Rocha stated that his main frustration with Pierce’s gameplan was a result of the ridiculous amount of Sonnen-esque shit-talking Pierce was dropping on the nation of Brazil beforehand.
Wasn’t he the one who said he’d fight any Brazilian because it’s an easy fight? I thought he could come for me but he didn’t. He didn’t attack me on the clinch, he didn’t hit me nor let me hit him. That’s not MMA.
There was one promotion (that made him an offer), but the guy didn’t wanna fight me. Now let’s move on, keep my head up. I never give up. I know I’ll get better next time so I can have another chance in the UFC.
As much as we tend to crucify (or at least condescend) fighters who bitch about their opponent’s gameplan in hindsight, Rocha kind of has a point here. Aside from the aforementioned trash talk Pierce was spouting leading up to the fight, his past two losses have come as the result of close split decisions. One could even argue that he deserved the nod in his loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 143, so the fact that Pierce seemed all too content to ride out another decision against a relatively low-level guy like Rocha seems like kind of a weak move on his part. Plus, when the BJJ guy is complaining about not being hit enough, you know the fight must have sucked.
Then again, it takes two to tango, so if Rocha really wanted to do something to negate Pierce’s wall-n-stall tactics, perhaps he should have trained takedown defense and clinch work just a bit more in the months before the fight. In either case, at least he’s looking to the future and not dwelling on this loss for too long.
And hey, there’s always Strikeforce. They still have a welterweight division, right?