When you think of a forgettable fight, two names often come to mind. One is Jon Fitch, and the other is Jake Shields. For instance, did you know that Jake Shields fought Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut? We didn’t, and we’re being like, super serial. Even Canada could barely muster up the enthusiasm for this fight, and they get a hard-on when any word containing the letters G,S, and P is uttered in their general vicinity. Add to that the fact that St. Pierre’s recent victories over Dan Hardy and Josh Koscheck were rather…tepid, to put it nicely, and most were not expecting a FOTY candidate heading into this one.
And we were pretty much right. After establishing that Shields could not take him down, St. Pierre all but refused to go for the kill. For fuck’s sake, Shields even managed to get the better of the exchanges at one point. GSP was gun shy, content to ride out a decision despite being the same man who had displayed brutal striking abilities in his wins over Jay Hieron and Matt Hughes. In fact, two of St. Pierre’s most recent opponents, Shields and Hardy, would be finished by arguably less decorated strikers than GSP in the first round of their very next performances. To sum it up, we were not empress wid dat erformance.
Worst. Audition. Ever. I believe a section from CrushCo’s UFC 130 aftermath piece best sums it up:
Coming off of a semi-contested and equally boring win over Lyoto Machida, Rampage’s performance last night was meant to be more than a notch in the win column. If all went according to plan, it would have provided the UFC with the type of highlight-reel footage Jackson hasn’t produced since his knock out victory over Wanderlei Silva in 2008 and had fans clamoring for a fight against Jon “Bones” Jones. But last night’s fight yielded few fireworks if any. Hamill’s mantra in the lead-up to the bout was that he would break Jackson’s will, but only a few minutes into the bout it was “The Hammer” who looked like he’d rather be anywhere than in that cage. Going 0-17 in his plodding, telegraphed takedown attempts, Hamill was unable to get the fight to the ground and understandably reluctant to stand and trade with Rampage. As for Jackson, he did deviate slightly from his hands-heavy style–incorporating knees, elbows, and even a few token kicks into his attack–but he didn’t initiate or go in for the kill against a clearly gun-shy Hamill. After the fight, Jackson put some of the blame on a fractured hand he injured back in December of last year. [Note to Quinton: we believe you and all, but you're not supposed to talk about that kind of stuff, bruh.] . Despite the lackluster performance, Dana White has stated that pending the positive outcome of tests on Rampage’s hand, he will likely be the first challenger to Jones’s belt.
You guys remember when Jonathan Brookins cruised through season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter like a boss? Well, an overly sentimental, hippie philosophizing boss, but one none the less. When Brookins used his wrestling prowess to score a unanimous decision victory over Michael Johnson and win the coveted glass plaque, it exposed to a lot of people that his stand up was not even close to where it needed to be. Then, after suffering injuries that forced him to withdraw from his fights against John Makdessi and Jeremy Stephens, Brookins finally was booked to return to action against top featherweight prospect Erik Koch, who was coming off three straight first round finishes.
Koch quickly found himself on the wrong end of a Couture/Vera clinch fest, as Brookins repeatedly tried to take him down to no avail. Though Brookins undoubtedly scored points for octagon control, the damage he inflicted on Koch was next to nothing. This would be the entirety of the fight; Koch would land a couple of good shots, only to be forced to sprawl and defend a takedown. Rinse, repeat, 30-27 Koch. The fight proved that Koch could sure defend a takedown, and that Brookins had seemingly made no improvements in his stand up game since his time on TUF, or was just not confident enough to show them off.
At first, we were thinking about omitting this fight from our list, if only because it was memorable in the fact that it was hard to think of a recent fight in which both participants gassed so badly. Also, Mark Hunt attempted an armbar. But this fight only became hyped in the first place when Rothwell made several audacious claims of being an 0-0 fighter who was finally ready to show audiences why he was signed to the UFC. People were expecting a lot out of him…and then he put on the shittiest performance of his career outside of when he beat up that fat kid.
Blame it on the elevation of the Pepsi Center, perhaps, but my God did these two suck it up, and we’re not just talking about the air. By the end of this one, both men were performing their best Butterbean impression, stuck on their backs like rolled over turtles and praying for the 10 second clack. But we’ll give credit to both men for gutting it out, because the viewing audience sure didn’t.
Maybe we’re in the minority here, but since becoming the UFC’s inaugural featherweight champ, Jose Aldo hasn’t shown the same killer instinct that gained him such popularity in the WEC. Perhaps he set the bar too high in his Mortal Kombat style wins over Cub Swanson and Chris Mickle, or perhaps it can be blamed on his increased level of competition. But in either case, Aldo’s wins over Mark Hominick and Kenflo have not convinced us that he deserves such a high spot on many pundits top pound-for-pound lists.
Where a bad weight cut/sickness could be blamed for his less than stellar performance against Hominick, his fight against Florian just seemed to be lacking some undefinable quality that always punctuated a Jose Aldo fight. “Scarface” wasn’t the only one to blame for this lukewarm match, however. Florian employed a similar gameplan to that of his lightweight title fight with B.J. Penn, which is to say, clinch, clinch, with a side of clinch. Again, it’s not that this fight was particularly boring, but it was Aldo’s first fight in the UFC to establish why he had such a massive hype train behind him, and he looked rather mediocre, which could be a testament to Florian’s gameplan more than anything. Either way, what were we talking about? Oh yeah…