Melvin Guillard AKA The Young Assassin, needs to be reevaluated. Heavily. I think it’s all been ingrained in our minds to remember a young 22 year old kid who was running his mouth on the second season of TUF only to be eliminated in his first fight. “Do you know who I am?” still rings in our ears every time we think of the guy. He made a lot of rookie mistakes as well when he first came into the UFC. Running his mouth too much and getting shown up against the vets like Joe Stevenson, Rich Clementi and Josh Neer. But he’s not that guy anymore. He has matured and begun to truly master his craft. Recently he joined Greg Jackson’s camp and his true potential has finally begun to show. He has won 8 of his last 9 in the UFC. Five in a row including wins over guys like Gleison Tibau, Evan Dunham, Jeremy Stephens and most recently Shane Roller. I think it’s about time we start tipping our hat to 28 year old Guillard and start looking forward to what could possibly be the most talented and athletic fighter at 155 right now.
Natural Born Skill
Speaking of Greg Jackson fighters it seems another one of his young fighters is coming into his own. 12 out of 13 wins, all but one was a finish of some sort. His only loss in the last five years was a split decision to Martin Kampmann. But it seems that just now we are realizing how dangerous he is. His last 3 fights in particular. The come from behind finish against Rory MacDonald is something that folk heroes are made of. We’ve all seen it a million times where a fighter is down two rounds and falls short of finding a way to win. Carlos overcame that by getting the TKO in round 3. Then there was the one punch knockout on the very tough chinned Dan Hardy with a counter left hand. Hardy who took heavy shots from both Marcus Davis and Mike Swick fell quickly to the Natural Born Killer’s heavy punch. Finally of course there is previously undefeated Dong Hyun Kim who fell to the flying knee from Condit. The Stun Gun came in using the same sort of defensive standing and ground neutralizing style that had frustrated 14 other opponents to a loss. However Condit used his underrated ground game to keep Kim out of his usual game and ultimately pushed the pace. It was then he saw the opening to throw not only a flashy knee, but a damn effective one. Condit is said to be given the next title shot between the winner of GSP/Nick Diaz. But I doubt he will be willing to sit on the shelf that long. Expect to see another exciting finish from the Natural Born Killer sometime in late fall.
Ortiz Lives…for now
Tito Ortiz is doing the marketable thing right now and taking his win over Ryan Bader and running with it. Saying outrageous things about how Bader will be his stepping stone back to relevancy. While we all love a comeback story I think it would be much smarter of Ortiz would hang the gloves up now and go out on a win. Before anyone comes out and calls me a hater lets call a spade a spade shall we;
1. That was not the Ryan Bader who fought little Nog. Hell that wasn’t the Bader that fought Jon Jones. I don’t know if his confidence was shot or if he just felt his best chance of winning was to change up his boxing style but bouncing around left to right throwing snapping punches is not how Bader fights. Bader comes in methodical but effective. Not exactly slow but not like a hamster on crack like say a Dominick Cruz would fight. But still credit to Ortiz for coming in game and ready to fight.
2. This is Tito’s first win since 2006 against Ken Shamrock. Let me say that again Ken Shamrock. When was the last time Ken Shamrock was relevant in MMA? 1996? I guess you could go to 2004 if you want to call his win over Kimo relevant. Granted Tito was only finished by Chuck but it’s not like he was close in any of those losses. Machida embarrassed him for fifteen minutes. Forrest out-struck him. And Hamill, a guy who we say has problems pulling the trigger, mangled him for three rounds. So despite Tito getting a win he is still only 1 for 6 against anyone in the last five years.
3. I don’t care how many times he says how healthy he is, Tito’s body is wearing down and fast. Tito hasn’t fought more than once in a year since 2006. Granted a year and a half of that was because of a feud with the UFC and Dana White but still that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t fought at a reasonable pace since his early thirties. I don’t know if it’s denial or simply him trying to continue to market himself but Tito isn’t the type of fighter that can compete against the top ten anymore. There isn’t any shame in that. He’s had an amazing career but the smart thing to do would be to hang it up now.
The Contender Nobody’s Talking About
Dennis Siver went out at UFC 132 and won again. Was it pretty? Not really but it makes it four in a row for the German kick-boxer. Not to mention 8 out of his last 9 have been victories. Some believe it was a bad decision I don’t see how. I’m actually a bigger Wiman fan than I am a Siver Fan but you can’t give him the first or the third round really. He got a few takedowns but didn’t do anything with them in those rounds. Still even after a big win like this no one is talking about him. Hell after his last win against Sotiropoulos you would think the UFC would be pushing this guy hard. His striking is fun as hell to watch and his takedown defense is ever improving. He’s also not scared to throw heavy or wild shots if he thinks it’s there and that makes it all the more exciting to watch. His one knock is that he isn’t really active off of his back. Good luck getting him there. Matt Wiman had to do everything short of sacrifice his first born child just to get Siver on his back in the second round. The big thing of course is that 155 is so damn stacked right now it’s hard to tell where anyone is in line for a title shot. You have Maynard and Edgar fighting, then you have the argument of either Guidia who defeated Pettis or Jim Miller who has won 7 in a row not to mention his only two losses are to the current champion and challenger. So a guy like Siver has to win at least 1 more before being considered in the mix.
Leben Shows Wanderlei the Door
Chris Leben is a good fighter. Perhaps with his latest stint winning four of his last five you could say he is on the tail end of the top ten list. He stopped Wanderlei in 27 seconds. I’m sorry Mr. Axe Murderer you can’t hang anymore. This was supposed to be a fight that could revive his dwindling career but instead I think it put the final nail in the coffin. This wasn’t a close decision loss to Rich Franklin or getting caught by the elite boxing of Rampage Jackson. No this was Wanderlei not being able to take return fire from the Crippler. Had this been a back and forth affair like we were all expecting and Wanderlei got caught by a nice shot at the end of the first round I don’t think it would matter. And don’t get me wrong if you stand and trade with him Leben can knock out anyone in the division. But this wasn’t a series of clean nasty strikes. This wasn’t even a beautiful counter that clipped Silva’s jaw perfectly. No this was a simple left hand down the pipe and a few sloppy uppercuts that followed. I could go on all day with the stats. The fact that Wanderlei has only won 2 out of his last 8 and so on and so forth but nothing really drives it home like the fight we saw this last Saturday. Wanderlei we love you, you gave us some great memories but I think it’s time to hang them up.
Cruzing to a Victory
I watched Dominick Cruz get dropped three times in the first four rounds and still there was not a doubt in my mind he had won at least three of those early rounds. Why? His footwork, and his pace. Urijah Faber is truly one of the most skilled fighters in the UFC and he couldn’t land a solid combination the whole night. Each takedown he gained was reversed and each powerful shot he managed to land couldn’t be followed up on. The biggest reason of course was how Dominick moved at such a high rate and was so unpredictable. I lost track of the number of times he moved forward leaning back and forth without throwing a shot while Faber backed away like his opponent was wielding dual long swords. It was impossible to predict where he was coming from next and each time Faber began to stand his ground expecting another feint Cruz snapped forward with a nasty punch or kick that caught the California Kid flat footed and looking stupid. The crazy thing to me is I would still say that Faber is faster but Cruz is just so hard to predict it didn’t matter.
So now at 26 years of age Cruz stands atop the bantamweight mountain with no obvious challenger in sight. However while some may think this has all the ingredients for a dynasty I don’t see it quite that way. Cruz has the best stamina he could possibly have right now. That stamina isn’t going to get any better. More than likely it will start decreasing by the time he hits 30. On Saturday night he looked like he was winded in the last minute of every round because that frantic pace he puts on his opponents. If he can’t find a more effective way to use his footwork then I don’t see him staying champion much longer. So Mr. Dominick Cruz consider this free advice from me to you, slow it down a bit eh?