This weekend featured plenty of tidbits to keep us talking for a while, but none were as fascinating as a pair of calls outs that could shape the future of the heavyweight landscape. Let's recap:
1.) If you weren't a believer in Stefan Struve before Saturday night, there's probably a pretty good chance "Skyscraper" changed your mind sometime during his second-round assault on Stipe Miocic's mental faculties.
Fresh off a destruction of Shane del Rosario, the previously undefeated Miocic was about as hyped a prospect as you get in the heavyweight division. And after piecing together his range, Struve utterly destroyed him.
Yet, even a few days later, it seems like the public's perception of the 6-foot-11 Dutchman remains tarnished by his trio of highlight-reel knockout losses. And I'm not sure if that's fair. Sure, Struve is still a slow starter. He takes too much damage and too often he wastes his range getting sucked into firefights. But watching his impressive performance on Saturday night, I couldn't help but be reminded of a sentiment he shared with me in the weeks leading up to the fight.
"People may have expected a little too much from when I went into the UFC," Struve admitted. "It's like, what do you expect when a 20-year-old kid enters the UFC heavyweight division. Do you think he's just going to destroy everybody? I don't think that's going to happen so fast, ... it takes a little longer for me to develop my body."
Aside from being a notable slice of self-awareness, Struve's words are completely valid. His case may just be a classic example of familiarity breeding conjecture. Struve is only 24 years old. He fought Junior dos Santos three days after turning 21, and since then he's racked up 11 more UFC fights. Just on the basis of health alone, that's a remarkable stretch for any heavyweight.
Perhaps we've seen so much of him that people assumed he was a guy who'd already hit his ceiling. After Saturday, though, that notion was thrown right out of the window.
"I don't think there's a lot of guys on a four-fight win streak in the heavyweight division right now," Struve remarked after his victory. "Four finishes in my last four fights.
"I think I'm a couple wins away [from a title shot], one or two. I think [Fabricio] Werdum would be an awesome fight for my next fight. I think I can cope with him on the ground, and I think I can rough him up on the feet."
Werdum vs. Struve would be a fantastic fight, no question. But Struve isn't the only man to be linked with Brazilian of late, which leads me to...
2.) Let's not forget, Werdum's name has also been linked to that of Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier. Following Frank Mir's injury withdrawal, Werdum was the most prominent fighter to publicly volunteer as a replacement.
However, according to Cormier, he's "not sure [Werdum's] an option." Instead the former Olympian had a different, more unexpected name in mind.
Cormier went on to reiterate his request, asking all of his followers to retweet his call out so Zuffa officials would listen.
A loser of three of his last four, Barry's name doesn't exactly resonate with the type of top-10 cachet Mir's did. His ground game can be considered questionable, to say the least. But still, he remains an exciting fighter that carries a rather large fanbase, so in these desperate times it isn't outside the realm of possibility to see Cormier vs. Barry headlining a Strikeforce card. In which case, Barry better work on his defensive wrestling, because being taken down by the likes of Christian Morecraft probably won't cut it.
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Struve breaks through, calls out Werdum. 24-year-old Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve catapulted himself into the early stages of title contention, knocking out previously undefeated Stipe Miotic in the main event of UFC on FUEL 5. (Video.) After which, Struve said he was "one or two fights" away from a title shot and called out Fabricio Werdum for his next fight. For more from the event, check out complete results, bonuses, and post-fight press conference video.
Mitrione turned down Cormier, Cormier wants Barry. Heavyweight Matt Mitrione turned down a replacement fight against Strikeforce grand prix champion Daniel Cormier, according to Dana White. Left without an opponent, Cormier publicly challenged Pat Barry on Twitter.
Hardy takes hometown win. Nottingham native Dan Hardy showcased improved wrestling to capture a unanimous decision victory over Amir Sadollah in Saturday night's co-main event. (Video.) Hardy later acknowledged that the old, free-swinging version of him is gone, and he will be fighting smarter in the future.
Pickett crushes Jabouin. British bantamweight Brad Pickett lived up to his "One Punch" nickname, knocking out Yves Jabouin with a picture-perfect right uppercut on the main card of UFC on FUEL 5. (Video.) The win was Pickett's second straight in the UFC.
White talks Bisping-Silva, no longer badmouthing Jackson. When asked about bringing a championship fight to Europe, UFC President Dana White responded by saying Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping held in the U.K. "would be awesome." White also went on to reveal that he will no longer publicly rip Greg Jackson due to a deal he struck with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Evans turned down Teixeira. By his own admission, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans turned down a short-notice fight against Glover Teixeira at UFC 153 because, "I only had three weeks to fight and I haven't been training. I was like, ‘no way, not with that notice in Brazil.'"
In case you slept in over the weekend, didn't get FUEL TV, or just plain feel like revisiting a violently fun card, we've got Saturday's full event recap to check out.
Stefan Struve's second-round knockout may have been impressive, but his emotional post-fight interview was easily the most dramatic moment of the night.
This clip has absolutely nothing to do with UFC on FUEL 5. But it's awesome anyway.
Prebek is back, and this time the Diaz brothers are the target of his unique brand of parody.
Apparently, this is a real thing. Seriously, folks. I know this because I watched, like, seven different tryout videos for some reason.
Kyle Kingsbury (@Kingsbu) September 29, 2012
DC vs. HD?
I know alot of u fans may not realize but I don't walk around ready 2 fight. No one does. In this sport it takes at least 8wks 2 b ready!— Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) September 30, 2012
I will fight anybody with the proper notice.. But after 8yrs with the UFC & being one of their top earners. Y would I take a bad fight?!— Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) September 30, 2012
Bad fight meaning not being in shape. Losing is hard enough but I will never serve myself up! If I'm haven't been training I won't fight!— Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) September 30, 2012
Fighting another person is much harder than most ppl think & if im not training it takes time 2 get ready. There r no easy fights!— Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) September 30, 2012
SHE'S A DANGEROUS ONE
Pat Miletich (@patmiletich) September 29, 2012
I wanna see Struve vs Shaq #UFC— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) September 29, 2012
Thanks everybody for the messages, happy with the win! Thanks @smiocic for a great and hard fight, you rock brother!— Stefan Struve (@StefanStruve) September 30, 2012
Shit happens. Didn't work out for me tonight. I will use this to get better. Can't wait for the next one. Hope you guys enjoyed the fight.— Stipe Miocic (@smiocic) September 30, 2012
Thanks everyone. Tough fight and a tough opponent. @amirmma took some of my best shots and kept coming. Respect to him.— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) September 30, 2012
Watched my fight back from last night, I nearly fell asleep watching & I feel worse now again sorry people but I didn't turn up to fight!!— John Maguire (@MaguireTheOne) September 30, 2012
My LCL popped during the fist takedown. I'm not sure what to say here guys. Thanks for the support.— Duane Ludwig (@DUANEBANGCOM) September 30, 2012
I'm so sorry everyone got caught happens in MMA will be stronger I promise 1st loss is hard for me now!— Paul Sass (@Paul_Sass) September 29, 2012
Respect to my opponent @kingsbu very good fight sir. Hope u heal up well mate. Oss— jimi manuwa (@POSTERBOYJM) September 30, 2012
Oh well I lost a close fight even if I do think I won. I am just glad that the fans and @danawhite were happy.— Andy Ogle (@thelittleaxe) September 29, 2012
Yes I got my ass whipped. Yess it was 7 days . No excuses. Love you all who support me— DaMarques Johnson (@DaMarques_UFC) September 30, 2012
POST-FIGHT LEGO MARATHON?
Announced over the weekend (Friday, September 28, 2012 - Sunday, September 30, 2012):
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from Motmaitre, who writes: The Grappler Chronicles: Dominant Sides in Grappling. A Ronda Rousey Case Study.
In my Karate career, I learned to disregard the notion of having a dominant side. In keeping with the philosophy of Karate-do as an unending path to self-improvement, I considered it a lifelong duty to make my naturally weaker left limbs equal in strength and dexterity to their right counterparts. For every 100 kicks I did with my right leg, I did 150 with my left. There were strategic reasons to pursue ambidexterity as well: it enabled me to confuse opponents by switching stances, and literally doubled my offensive options. Then I decided to take up grappling to complete my skill set, and immediately encountered a dilemma.
As I drilled self-taught Judo throws at home, I naturally worked both sides equally. It seemed a natural extension of my Karate philosophy. Then I attended my first Judo class, and this ideal was challenged. While working with a helpful blue belt, he asked me which grip I favored (in Judo, the way you grip your opponent depends on whether you prefer to throw with your left or right side dominant). I said I was fine with either side. He said I had to choose one. I asked if I couldn't do both? He said no- everybody chooses one, masters it and sticks with it.
I was a little crestfallen about this, but I could see the advantages in focusing on just one side. After all, I am the advocate of being a formidable master of just a few techniques, instead of being mediocre at many. Perhaps drilling the hell out of just one side was better than confusing my brain with too many options. But before I decided, I fired up my laptop and consulted The High Oracle of the Google. Google knows all things, and would set me aright.
Google did not disappoint. It revealed to me this excellent research paper on the use of dominant sides in Judo. In summary, the research findings were that most ordinary Judoka indeed favored throwing with just one side of their body. However, high-level elite Judoka used both sides almost 50/50. This gave them double the range of offensive options and made their game more difficult to plan against. That settled the debate for me. In whatever I do, I aspire to the highest standards. Ambidextrous throwing it would be.
But then, something gave me pause. In my grappling research, I had watched every single one of Ronda Rousey'sfights. I had them all in memory. And a little subconscious data mining prompted this sudden epiphany: I was certain that Ronda executed all her throws with her left side. My brain replayed all her fights, and every throw I recalled was left-handed. Could this be true, or was my mind playing tricks on me? I decided to check. I took every single one of her MMA fights, as a statistically valid sample, and the results were fascinating.
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