UFC 79 – Nemesis

January 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm (Sports) ()


Hughes v. GSP:

I love watching GSP, I just don’t really enjoy seeing him defeat Hughes. I thought Hughes was very convincing in his pre-fight interviews, excited about going back to his roots and determined to defeat GSP once again. Hughes was correct in stating, “You won’t see the same Matt Hughes,” unfortunately for him the outcome was not what he envisioned.

I believe that GSP has learned from his two significant loses: the first to Hughes at UFC 50 in ’04 where GSP clearly had Hughes hurt with the reverse kick to the stomach, had he pounced rather than waited that may have been a much different outcome; the second to Serra, perhaps the upset of the year (and beyond). If GSP can learn from his mistakes, as well as from those around him (NOTE: Penn & Sanchez), on how important maturity and the mental aspect of fighting are, he will have a great run as the future of the division.

It was impressive that GSP defeated Hughes, but the shock was in how he beat him – absolutely dominating him at his own game. Hughes didn’t have an answer, GSP dictated every aspect of the fight from the pace to how/where it was fought. Hughes showed his great strength in holding onto GSP (literally) and his skill in not allowing GSP to deliver a great amount of damage, but in the end was taken apart. Hughes was gracious in defeat and when asked he confirmed what he has expressed at other venues, that he is deciding whether this is the end.

I think that GSP will defeat Serra and then we will get the Hughes v. Serra fight that everyone including the two Matts want. Other than a possible rematch with Serra I don’t see Matt being the type to serve as a test match for up-and-comers. Hughes is starting his own gym, H.I.T., and seems to be at that place where he is content to venture into that area “beyond the octagon”.

Liddel v. Silva

Both Liddell and Hughes were fighting to prove that they still belonged in the UFC – not because they don’t deserve to be there, but because their time may have come. Liddell’s fighting style is much more conducive to remaining in the game. Liddell is primarily a responsive fighter, he sprawls better than anyone in the game and is possibly the best/only fighter who can knock you out on the retreat. Liddell ate some punches against Silva but he had the maturity to not let that draw him into a frenzy of trading punches at the center of the octagon. Hughes, on the other hand, is a wrestler who overpowers you. He can hang with the best of even those more skilled in Jui-Jistsu (Note Penn & Gracie), but all things considered this is a young man’s mehtod.

Liddell v. Silva was a great fight, it was like watching Griffin v. Bonnar 1 but with so much more skill and anticipation hanging on every movement. Two styles that seemed to be the right ingredients for an explosive fight – Silva being an aggressive stalker who violently pursues his prey and goes all out; Liddell being more of an assassin who counters precisely and fatally. Both fighters are at the very top of what they do, both came in with great respect for each other and put on a great show.

The two questions that I have that only a rematch could answer are: (1) What is the effect of the octagon on a fighter – being that it is much different than most rings, especially PRIDE; (2) What is the effect of the UFC and possible the American atmosphere on a fighter. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the top PRIDE fighters have come over and had some difficulty in the UFC. There are great differences between PRIDE and UFC: the rules, expectations of the fans, atmosphere, match structure, style of fight, etc.

It is great to see the influx of a wider demographic of fighters, not because I tout equal opportunity fighting, but because we are getting a greater blend of styles. Entrenched champions are falling, the landscape is very different from a year ago and there is better competition in the divisions. UFC wrapped up 2007 on an exciting note and 2008 should hold no less.

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