RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports


By Siri Karri

What a night of fights ladies and gentlemen. I’d like to point out that with the exception of the Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story upset, I predicted the winners/method of win with remarkable accuracy. Yes, I needed that ego boost, deal with it.

Anyway, we as fans have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight, so let’s take full advantage and read the 3 biggest lessons we learned from UFC 130.

1) Brian Stann is 1 fight away from a title shot

Despite his impressive knockout over iron-jawed Chris Leben, there was a little bit of doubt in fans’ minds since it became clear after the fight that Leben had been battling flu-like symptoms which may have accounted for his loss. At UFC 130, Stann erased all doubts by convincingly out-striking and knocking out Jorge Santiago, a far more gifted striker who is a consensus top 10 middleweight in the world. He displayed terrific patience, not punching himself out after getting a knockdown in round 1. He didn’t headhunt, content to throw out hard body and leg kicks while working measured combinations until he got his next chance.

Many critics will point out that Santiago has lost his last 3 fights in the UFC by knockout, so this shouldn’t be considered anything special. But the Santiago of today is twice the fighter of 2006, and he was riding an ENORMOUS wave of momentum coming into Saturday’s fight. Stann’s knockout victory over him therefore is far more impressive than either Chris Leben’s or Alan Belcher’s.

With a dominant victory over one of the best in the world, Stann needs just one last step up in competition. Perhaps Chael Sonnen, if his ridiculous money laundering scandal and steroid tests don’t ban him from the sport for good. Closer and more sensible however is either Wanderlei Silva or Vitor Belfort should they win their next fights. Should he dominate those fighters as well, he will have every right to challenge pound for pound king Anderson Silva in what may be the best striking match in middleweight history.

2) Roy Nelson drop weight or a weight class

Ironically, Roy Nelson is running into the same problem Frank Mir did a couple years ago; he’s too damn small. While his rotund physique worked against the scrubs of The Ultimate Fighter as well as Stefan Struve, he’s found that out that he’s simply not cut out against the UFC’s best.

Against superb athletes such as Andre Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos, he was unable to keep up with their fluid footwork and blinding hand speed. And now he fought Frank Mir, a man to whom speed is as alien a concept as un-tattooed skin. Whose cardio began to fade just as fast as Nelson’s as they expended tremendous amounts of energy in clinches. So what happened?

Roy Nelson got rag dolled by the much larger Frank Mir. Every time Roy attempted to take Mir down, he looked like a squirrel clinging to the chest fur of an angry grizzly bear. Mir meanwhile could simple pick Nelson up at will and plant him on the canvas.

The “Big Country” routine with Nelson’s hilarious pot belly and mullet is funny and will always endear him to fans, but Roy Nelson needs to think about his career. If he can cut down to 240 or 230, his cardio will sky-rocket and maybe he’ll be able to catch the faster men in the division. But at only 6 feet tall, he has absolutely no answer for the size disparity that cost him so dearly against Mir. Chances are Roy needs to cut the . . . *sigh* . . . fifty five pounds needed to get into light-heavyweight if he ever wants to see his career flourish.

3) Rampage Jackson is no longer a superstar

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was a fighter who was probably one of the . . . if not THE most popular light-heavyweight fighters in the UFC. He was a gifted athlete with dynamite in both his hands, and had a magnetic personality combined with a sense of humor that made him a joy to watch both inside and outside the ring. From his famous slams in PRIDE to his jaw-dropping knockouts in the UFC, a card with Rampage was one you had to watch.

Not anymore.

Many people started to question Rampage’s commitment soon after his rise to stardom. He lost a decision victory against what many people believe was a vastly outmatched Forrest Griffin. His “revenge” knockout over aging and outmatched Wanderlei Silva received mixed reactions, as Silva had long since been a fan favorite. He then failed to knock out the glass-jawed Keith Jardine in 3 rounds and speculations began as to how seriously Rampage was taking his fitness.

But at least those 3 fights netted him Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Night, and Fight of the Night. Then, after a tremendous layoff to shoot “The A-Team”, Rampage came into a grudge match with Rashad Evans the most hyped MMA fight of all time.

Yawn-o-rama. Rashad Evans took down Rampage at will and basically dry-humped him for the majority of the fight.

He then won a narrow decision against ex-champion Lyoto Machida in what was a very tactical but ultimately boring fight. But at least Rashad and Lyoto were ex-champions, each holding spectacular highlight reel victories over fighters such as Chuck Liddell and Thiago Silva. At the VERY least we can excuse Rampage for not finishing them.

But Matt Hamill? Don’t get me wrong, Hamill is as tough as they come. There was a combination in the third round, in which Rampage hit Hamill with a hard right elbow to the temple and followed up with his signature left hook right to the point of Hamill’s chin. Hamill wasn’t even knocked down, and simply backpedaled while covering up. Not Rampage’s fault, simply a testament to Hamill’s toughness.
The fact remains, however, that he didn’t outclass an opponent that he should have. The sad part is, I believe this Rampage is a better fighter than the fan favorite of a few years ago. He is more patient, more tactical, willing to set up his punches more, and has shown far better cardio.

But Rampage can’t be Rampage without knocking people out. His howling and side-splitting trash talk all equal nil if he can’t make good on his promise to put his opponents to sleep. Rampage is still far too important to the UFC and he has now won 2 fights in a row, but the days in which Rampage could snap his fingers and get the fight he wanted are over. Until his next knockout, he has to climb the UFC ranks like everyone else.

One rung at a time.

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