It was the best of MMA weekends, it was the worst of MMA weekends. From absurdly bad Bellator stoppages to fun UFC fight announcements, let's recap the weekend's top and bottom.
Worst Referee Stoppage in Quite Some Time: Jerry Poe, Koreshkov vs. Zaromskis
Jerry Poe is an interesting referee. He hasn't reffed a ton of big fights in big events, but he's not completely inexperienced at that level either. In fact, his stoppage of the Andreas Spang vs. Brian Rogers bout at Bellator 66 was quite good. Still, he didn't catch an alleged groin kick at WEC 47. And it'd be a euphemism to say his stoppage of Friday's welterweight contest between Andrey Koreshkov and Marius Zaromskis was late.
Watch the video above for yourself (fast forward to roughly 6:55). I count approximately nine punches that are basically gratuitous, but I'm also being generous with acceptable levels of post-KO punishment.
What's noteworthy is Poe said the groin kick he missed at WEC 47 happened because he didn't see it. Yet, watch his positioning for Friday's stoppage. He's got about as good a look on a downed fighter eating shots as you're going to get.
I get that refereeing is a zero-tolerance job. Even good referees are going to be inconsistent at times. But those referees who largely work the regional shows often seem to have poor instincts or are unaccustomed for elite talent capable of dishing out extreme levels of punishment quickly. It's often said the speed of the NFL game relative to college is what trips up ascending quarterbacks. I'd say there's something analogous going on here as well with referees.
Very Intriguing Bellator Tournament Final: Lyman Good vs. Andrey Korseshkov
The bright spot from Bellator 78 is what we ended up with when the night was over: an extremely interesting welterweight final between Lyman Good and Andrey Koreshkov. Good has been a Bellator fixture almost since the beginning and is a very good fighter with good experience, but has a more meat and potatoes skill set. Koreshkov looks to have the wind at his back and a blistering striking attack, but still lacks enough wins over relevant, proven fighters to say he's the next big thing. For either fighter, this match represents an important win and not just because it's a tournament final. The contrast in their styles also promises to create tense moments for either fighter in what should be a very hard fought contest. I'm not the biggest proponent of the Bellator tournament model, but here's a great example of getting arguably the best possible match-up and doing so with fun, relevant progression.
Most Reliable Announced Match-Up for Quick Action: Shane del Rosario vs. Pat Barry
The finale for 'The Ultimate Fighter' 16 should be a hoot. Between the coaches in Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson doing battle, we now have another heavyweight clash: del Rosario vs. Pat Barry. I'm not sure how much it really means, although for del Rosario a win here is important for climbing up the division. And to be sure, both fighters are talents (del Rosario being more well-rounded). But as technical as both can be at times, Barry also has a tendency to 'brawl it up' against other strikers. Del Rosario will likely have to deal with a ton of pressure from Barry and Barry will try to be proactive enough to not give del Rosario any chance of taking the bout to the ground. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but it'll probably be wild, ugly and downright fun.
Best Finish of the Weekend: Suresh Chavan vs. Motirul Rahaman
I'm not going to pretend I watch the Super Fight League (SFL) and neither should you. That isn't to say there isn't anything redeeming about it, but I traffic among the hardest of the hardcore MMA fandom. The only ones who watch SFL are those who received editorial assignments to do so.
As you can see in the gif above, Friday's event produced something of value: a strange bulldog/north-south choke combination with a hint of neck crank to glue the entire thing together. Suresh Chavan lands an excellent head toss on Motirul Rahaman, but never relinquish the grip. It's not quite proper placement of either a bulldog or north-south choke, but appears to borrow some of the grip and placement of each respectively to get the job done. For gifs of the entire event, Bloody Elbow has you covered.
Most Bizarre MMA Story: Dana White vs. The Palms
The UFC has done a lot of business in The Palms casino in Las Vegas. You'll recall many of the finale cards for 'The Ultimate Fighter' have taken place at The Pearl theater there. That's why when the casino slashed UFC President Dana White's credit line there by 50 percent, he decided to yank all UFC business from the casino (according to the Las Vegas Review Journal).
Listen, people are allowed to spend their disposable income as they see fit. It's their money. They earned it. They can do with it what they want. But isn't it fair to ask in a moment like this why Strikeforce fighters don't get win bonuses and waiters in steak restaurants in the Palms do? When you're tipping guys who take your filet mignon orders larger sums of money than you're paying cage fighters for exemplary performances, isn't it possible to suggest there may be some kind of imbalance going on?
Biggest Obstacle to Progress: Hurricane Sandy
I live in Washington, D.C. and unless weather forecasters (who are admittedly prone to exaggeration) are trolling us, it's supposed to get really real sometime this evening. If you live in New Jersey, Delaware or New York, it's already crucial out there. Heck, the storm has already affected us as we had to delay The MMA Hour until Wednesday. I don't have any particular words of wisdom, but I'll just say it's good we had a weekend off of major MMA so we could all focus on storm preparation. To everyone out there on the East Coast affected by this storm, do your best to stay dry and safe. Fingers crossed for you/us all.