The Athlete’s submissions: New year is here

January 4, 2013, 9:14 PM

Last Saturday was probably the first UFC pay-per-view in a while that I’ve watched from start to finish, and I really enjoyed it. I have usually missed a couple fights on a card because of travelling a lot in 2012. But this year I was at my buddy’s house and it was a great show to end the year.

I was shocked that Jamie Varner beat Melvin Guillard standing up. I thought the only shot had was to take him down. But he beat him up from bell to bell. I was also really impressed with Erik Perez, who delivered a serious beatdown. The last time I was that impressed with a relative newcomer was when John Hathaway came in and beat the crap out of Diego Sanchez. I definitely want to keep an eye out for him and see how he progresses.

The three middleweight fights proved to be pretty boring. Chris Leben said he had everything together now, and had never had a better training camp, but I guess that’s what everybody says in every pre-fight interview. That turned out not to be the case because he looked as bad as his most recent fights, if not worse. Usually when he would get tagged, it would flip a switch and he would go straight forward to knock you out. But he got tagged a number of times with 1-2 combos and had no response.

I was really surprised Alan Belcher didn’t have more to offer on his feet, and the same goes for Tim Boetsch. It seems to be the middleweight curse — the guys who people were saying can’t be denied a title shot lose. I wonder if that will happen to Michael Bisping when he fights Vitor Belfort in a couple weeks.

The main event was the complete shock to me. I guess it shouldn’t have been. Cain Velasquez was destroying guys, and only had that one loss to Junior dos Santos. Maybe I bought into all the hype about how great he was standing up.

It was funny, Cain started the fight desperate for a takedown and it was almost comical. He was shooting in from miles away, and it was pretty obvious. Then it seemed he just thought, “I’m going to beat this guy standing up, at his own game,” which is exactly what he did. Junior looked like Frankenstein after the fight.

I think it’s even more comical that a guy who gets beat that badly for five rounds, where I don’t even think he landed one substantial punch, and the first words out of his mouth are he wants a rematch. I understand the Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson fights, which were close, back and forth battles, warranting immediate rematches. But to get completely dominated bell to bell, and then ask for a rematch, it’s laughable.

The fight that stole the show though was Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller. My hats off to Lauzon for hanging in there and just showing his unbelievable toughness and tenacity to stay in the fight, even in the closing seconds of the fight, beaten and bloodied, throwing crazy submission attempts. But Miller looked great. His only losses are to Nate Diaz and Henderson, the top two in division, so I don’t think it will be long before he gets an opportunity at a title shot.

As exciting as that fight was, I wonder if Dana likes fights like that on PPV, it was so bloody. I’m curious if he thinks that’s good for business. I don’t know the answer. If you’re paying for the PPV, I guess you expect it. But my wife and my friend’s wife were like, “Oh there’s so much blood.” I was trying to tell them it’s not bad, but still it looks nasty. The fight was great, but it made a mess of the Octagon for the main event.

I’m reading that tickets sales for the Ronda Rousey main event aren’t that great. I think it’s a stretch to headline with them in the first ever female fight. Dana White so against women in UFC, but then he comes around, because Rousey is such a strong personality. But for the first women’s fight in the UFC, maybe it would have been better to be the first fight on a PPV, not the main event. I think he’ll have a hard time selling that one. The UFC had better stack that UFC 157 card on Feb. 23.

Clearly the UFC adding a women’s division with Rousey was the biggest thing that happened in 2012 in MMA as a whole. I don’t know if there were any other big things that happened other than that. People continue to talk about Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, and whether they will fight will continue to be a story until either it comes to fruition or one of those two put it to rest. I look at it like this. It’s a long journey to a far off destination. I don’t think it’s any closer today or will be in 2013 than it was at the start of 2012.

Henderson dominated his division in 2012, as did Silva and Jon Jones. We didn’t see any of Dominick Cruz due to injury. If you’re not fighting and in the headlines, you tend to fade away and people forget about you. That’s never a good thing as a champion. Meanwhile, I think the UFC has given Urijah Faber as many chances as they could at winning a title, in as many divisions. That push may fade away a little in 2013.

I think with the addition of FOX cards, it has just made the UFC product more watered down. And I don’t think there were any more or any less instances of performance-enhancing drugs in 2012 than in 2011 but it continues to be a problem, in all sports for that matter.

I think it will continue to be a problem for years and years to come. Whenever there’s a lot of ramifications and money on the outcome of a sporting event, you’re going to have athletes who will do whatever they can to get an edge.

In 2013, I expect more fighter retirements. In 2012 we saw Stephan Bonnar, Mark Hominick and Tito Ortiz call it quits, but I think we’ll continue to see that happen, as there are a number of guys who are just hanging on.

I’m looking forward to what happens with GSP and Rory MacDonald, both as a Canadian and a fight fan in general. They’re two guys at the top of welterweight division and training partners. I’m interested to see if they will be forced to split ways and train elsewhere, or forced into fighting each other.

I’m also intrigued to see what happens with Bisping. If in fact he can get past Vitor Belfort, and what happens in the fight vs. Silva he desperately asked for.

I’m also interested in seeing what Donald Cerrone does. Will he continue to kick people’s asses, and will he become a title contender in that lightweight division.

I could go on all day, but I’ll leave it there. That’s what makes the sport interesting, there are so many changing storylines.

As for me, Dana White said the UFC show in Calgary was his lowest point of the year in 2012, so I’m still holding out hope of the possibility of the UFC returning to Calgary and me being able to retire there. That would be a nice thing to look forward to in 2013.

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