UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare has come and gone, and it was…exciting? There was a lot to like, and some things that disappointed. Let’s take a look at specifics:
Props: Erick Silva
I tell you one thing about Erick Silva: the guy is hell on wheels in the 1st Round. If you can get out of that 1st Round with him, you can probably win. If you can’t, you’re going to sleep. The guy is vicious, and unfortunately for Josh Koscheck—one of the all-time great UFC villains—he was unable to get out of that 1st Round. I’d love to see Silva do a little better about staying in the fight after that first five minutes, but it’s hard to complain about a guy who doesn’t look for decision wins.
Slops: Josh Koscheck
This fight will hopefully be the last fight of Koscheck’s career. His last five fights have resulted in 0 wins, and four of those losses have been stoppages. At 37, that’s no way to be. He always brings the noise, and he always gives it 100%, but I don’t think he’s still got what it takes to compete with the very best. And if you don’t need the money (Koscheck drives a bright red Ferrari around so hopefully he doesn’t), then why put yourself through the punishment?
Props: Demian Maia
Maia looked great in the first 4 rounds. Did a fantastic job of implementing his strengths (getting the fight to the ground and completely controlling LaFlare) while trying to hide his weaknesses (anyone remember when this happened?). This Main Event was all about seeing whether LaFlare had what it took to compete with the bigger names in the Welterweight Division, and Maia sent the poor guy home with a whole lot to think about. I expected to have more takedown defense for LaFlare, but even if he had it was clear that Maia has put in a lot of effort on his wrestling.
Slops: Demian Maia
But Maia won the fight in fairly dominant fashion! Why would I give him some slops? Well, because he looked absolutely abysmal in the last round. That fight looked like it would have resulted in an easy 50-45 glorious victory over an unbeaten prospect to show that an old dog can still hunt. Instead, Maia limped to victory and almost gave away a fight he had completely locked up. If you’re the Main Event, I don’t want to see that stuff. Especially if you’ve been a high-profile member of the UFC as long as Maia has.
Slops: Ryan LaFlare
There aren’t too many one-trick ponies in the upper echelons of the UFC these days, but Maia kind of knocks on that door. He’s truly fantastic on the ground, and has done tremendous work to make his wrestling good enough to nail those takedowns and get the fight to the ground. But his standup is lacking and it always has been. Who knows, maybe Maia’s takedown game is just superb (it looked great on Saturday). But I would have liked to see LaFlare really hammer home the standup advantage and work on his takedown defense. For a (formerly) unbeaten prospect, I didn’t really get to see LaFlare do anything until the last round when he was making offensive strides but was clearly gassed out. I know they tried to hype him up for the Main Event, but I’d like to see more out of him next time.
Props: Godofredo Castro
Castro landed a nice flying triangle in Round 1 against Andre “Touchy” Fili (one of the Top 5 best nicknames in the UFC currently). He saw the opportunity very early to go in for the kill against a tough guy and just went for it. I was very impressed, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Props: Submission Games in General
On the Main Card that housed six fights, four of them ended with submissions and one of them involved Maia’s fantastic groundwork. Just a really fantastic night of grappling overall that was fun to watch, highlighted by the Gilbert Burns/Alex Oliveira bout. Sometimes grappling is awkward; it just looks like a pair of muscular people cuddling kinda maliciously. But when both parties are constantly attempting offensive submissions, it’s really fun stuff.
Props: Josh Koscheck
I know I gave him some slops earlier because he had a disappointing performance, but if this is it for Koscheck he deserves a lot of praise for his role in the UFC. Really, only Chael Sonnen has been a better “heel” for the organization, and from all the interviews I’ve seen it’s pretty clear that he’s just a great, WWE-esque actor who can ham it up for the cameras. But with Koscheck, he does seem to be a bit of a dick. And instead of being super uncomfortable and awkward about it, Koscheck had no problem using that to his advantage and building up a lot of promotional presence being the bully to GSP’s nice guy on the TUF show (As well as pretty much every other performance in the promotion). And he was great at it. Not many are these days. I didn’t root for you to win that often, Mr. Koscheck. But I damn near always tuned in. Thanks for making me want to.
Slops: Eduardo Herdy
During one of the preliminary bouts, Lightweight Leandro Silva had Drew Dober in a super weak guillotine. Dober was on the verge of breaking it and moving on with the fight, possibly in a better position. Except that for no reason, referee Eduardo Herdy stopped the fight because I guess he thought the guillotine sunk in? I dunno. It was very strange and I agree with UFC President Dana White when he eloquently referred to the stoppage as “complete bull****.”
It’s rough enough for these guys when these kinds of dubious referee stoppages hurt the big name guys. But for these lesser known fighters scraping by trying to make a name for themselves on the prelims? These kinds of things can demolish careers before they even really get going.
I hope this fight gets turned into a No Contest. Silva didn’t deserve that win, and Dober didn’t deserve the loss. But thankfully the UFC recognized it and paid Dober his win bonus. Reffing fights is tough. But we as spectators—and more importantly those fighters whose careers can be heavily influenced by bad officiating—deserve better.
The UFC put on a pretty fun fight card all things considered; competing with one of the biggest sports weeks in the American calendar (March Madness) is basically a recipe for disaster, but they put on an exciting night with lots of finishes. Here’s hoping the next event (that has much more star power) can be as competitive.