Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Thiago Alves made a huge mistake and paid the price. But he also made the fight more fun.
One of the reasons we love MMA is the feeling that a fight is never over. If a football game is 28-7 with a minute left in the fourth quarter we know which team is going to win. But in MMA there's always a chance, until the fight ends.
Thiago Alves found that out the hard way on Friday night.
In a 15-minute fight that he was winning for 14 minutes, Alves found a way to lose to Martin Kampmann at UFC on FX 2. Alves had already won the first two rounds of the fight and was cruising through the third on his way to what should have been a unanimous decision victory, when he did something inexplicable: While battering Kampmann against the cage, he ducked down and went for a takedown. Kampmann saw an opening, reversed the position and put Alves in a mounted guillotine choke, forcing a stunned Alves to tap.
That was a terrible tactical mistake by Alves, but I kind of love him for it: I understand the fighters who fight safe and fight smart and are perfectly content to win a decision, but I love the fighters who do more than that, who put themselves on the line for every minute of every fight and try to finish until the final horn sounds, and Alves fought like one of those guys on Friday night.
So was it dumb for Alves to go for that takedown in the final minute of the third and final round? Yes, it was. He had the fight won and gave it away by taking a chance he didn't need to take, reminiscent of the New York Giants fumbling a handoff when all they had to do was take a knee in The Miracle at the Meadowlands. But the day fighters stop taking chances they don't need to take is the day MMA becomes a lot less fun. I'm glad Alves fought the way he fought.
But Kampmann is more glad. He looked as surprised as anyone after the fight, as if he knew Alves had handed him a gift-wrapped victory.
UFC on FX Notes
-- If T.J. Waldburger gets with a good striking coach and really develops a good stand-up game, he's going to be one hell of a mixed martial artist. Waldburger, who submitted Jake Hecht with a beautiful arm bar, is now 12-0 in his MMA career in fights decided by submission -- but only 1-5 in fights decided by knockout or TKO. He's purely a grappler who hasn't developed as a striker at all, but he's only 23 years old and has plenty of time to turn himself into a complete fighter. He's already got a great ground game.
-- Kyle Noke turned in what looked like a lousy effort in his unanimous decision loss to Andrew Craig, but there may have been some extenuating circumstances. Noke had a great opportunity to finish Craig in the first round and then completely collapsed in the second and third rounds as Craig dominated him. After the fight, however, UFC President Dana White said that Noke blew out his knee in the first round and continued to tough it out through the second and third rounds anyway.
UFC on FX Quotes
--"Obviously the guy's got a good beard, and I'm not joking about that."--Ray Longo, in Constantinos Philippou's corner after the first round. Leave it to Longo to try to make his fighter chuckle between rounds, with a reference both to Court McGee's facial hair and his ability to take a punch.
--"He's a very, very, tough cat. I expected a war and I got it. He's tough as hell." -- Steven Siler after beating Cole Miller. Siler and Miller expressed some ill will toward each other before the fight, but it's funny how 15 minutes of beating the crap out of each other can make that ill will disappear. Siler previously beat Cole's brother Micah Miller, and when asked who he'd like to fight next he said, "Hopefully not another Miller."
--"I think my ego just wanted to be at heavyweight but athletically I need to be at light heavyweight. I'm strong, I'm fit, I'm competitive and no one is going to out-muscle me in this division."--Anthony Perosh, after beating Nick Penner. No one thought much of Perosh when he returned to the UFC in 2010 and dropped to 0-3 inside the Octagon with a loss to Mirko Cro Cop, but since then he's gone 3-0 with three finishes. The 39-year-old Perosh isn't ever going to be a Top 10 light heavyweight, but give him credit for doing a lot more inside the Octagon than anyone expected.
It's too bad the controversial draw for Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall overshadowed the fact that the judges had a good night on the undercard. The 29-28 unanimous decisions for Steven Siler, Andrew Craig and Constantinos Philippou were exactly right. The judging was good on this card, and it shouldn't have been tarnished by the commission's mistake in tabulating the Johnson-McCall scores.
The UFC didn't make the first fight of the night, Shawn Jordan vs. Oli Thompson, available to watch live on Facebook or anywhere else. It did eventually air delayed on FUEL, but the UFC dropped the ball on not offering it live. It's 2012. Sports fans expect to be able to watch all their sports live. Every UFC fight should be available live somehow, whether it's Facebook, FUEL, FX, Fox or pay-per-view.
Daniel Pineda is now 2-0 in the UFC after his sensational submission victory over Mackens Semerzier. The 26-year-old Pineda submitted Pat Schilling in the first round of his UFC debut in January, meaning he's already won twice in the Octagon in 2012, and it only took him a total of 3 minutes, 42 seconds to win both fights.
Nick Penner built up an 11-1 record fighting for small promotions prior to making his UFC debut against Anthony Perosh, but Penner clearly didn't belong in the Octagon. Perosh pummeled Penner for 4 minutes, 59 seconds before the referee mercifully stopped the fight just as the horn was sounding to end the first round. It'll be back to the regional circuit for Penner.
Fight I Want to See Next
Ian McCall vs. Demetrious Johnson. I didn't agree with the draw -- I had McCall winning 29-27, with a 10-8 third round -- but I'm perfectly happy seeing these two go at it again. They put on a great show.
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