Michelle Waterson, Alan Jouban and Mickey Gall all had something in common last Saturday night. Each of them in their own way were responsible for shutting down some major hype trains. Waterson, Jouban, and Gall each had the responsibility of battling fighters who have considerable upside. That’s not to say that Paige Vanzant, Mike Perry, and Sage Northcutt don’t have a future. In fact, if nothing else the losses these three sustained were absolutely necessary for their career advancement.
For Sage Northcutt the message was simple: stay at 155 lbs. Sure, Mickey Gall called out the young talent, but it wasn’t reason enough to fight the New Jersey native. It was a high risk, moderate reward situation that forced Northcutt to fight at a weight class that he hasn’t done very well in thus far. Sage Northcutt’s handlers should have looked at the bigger picture and understood that having the twenty year old build slowly in the right division is going to be the key to the young man’s success. That and the fact that his ground game, take down and grappling defense included, needs a ton of work if he’s still hoping to be the UFC’s youngest champion.
In Mike Perry’s case he had to learn the hard way that talking trash does little in the way of winning fights. The reality is that Perry’s aggressive come forward style has the potential to be exciting but will ultimately become a double edged sword. At this point of the game a combatant coming forward, tucking their chin, and throwing bombs does not an elite fighter make. Perry had flashes of success in his match with Jouban, but his inability to adapt and change his game plan proved to be his undoing. Jouban showed that he was willing to make improvements in his own game in between camps and during the fight itself, true signs of an elite level competitor. If Perry hopes to become elite himself then he’ll have to be willing to change his approach and avoid his usual emotional style in order to elevate his game. If he’s able to rein in his ego, Perry truly can become a force in the UFC.
The third humble pie recipient was Paige Vanzant who had little time to show any improvements in her game outside of her footwork. Vanzant had great movement while the fight lasted on the feet, but it still was done with little purpose with no set ups for potential angles. While having superior footwork is certainly the future of the sport, it must be performed with actual strategy in mind or else it’s simply just dancing. Waterson herself showed just how dangerous she has become since her last fight inside the octagon. The head and arm throw which so rarely works in MMA was performed with such technique and power it showcased just how advanced Waterson’s game is becoming. While Vanzant will once again be forced to reevaluate, Waterson will see her star rise as her rear naked choke victory sets her up as another potential challenger for the strawweight strap.
What were your takeaways from UFC on Fox 22?