So I had to watch this card on Fight Pass the next day because stupid TSN puts this on the channel that people have to make special orders for. TV/cable packages in Canada are a fuckin’ joke, but that’s a subject for another article.
The good thing about watching it on Fight Pass the next day is it goes by much quicker as you’re skipping the cage intros and bad heavyweight fights. Here are some initial thoughts on the fights I watched:
Louis Smolka vs. Ben Nguyen
Jesus Christ, way too many shots taken by everyone’s favourite Redditor. Also, it’s hard to blow smoke up Louis’ grappling, Ben was operating at like .75 speed for a while, and then like 0.5 speed. But I thought Smolka was legit before, this fight proved that he can dominate and finish a tough guy with decent skills. His grappling is very smooth, good transitions and he’s good at thinking ahead, though he does take a lot of risks .Stepping in, even on short notice, against Reis would be a good move. He didn’t seem to take too much damage in this fight either.
Kyle Noke vs. Keita Nakamura
The commentary sucked during this fight. Anik/Florian were missing so many things, like Nak’s defense. and the way he walked forward to find the rhythm and win. They acted like he was getting rocked and was ready to fall at any moment. Only at the end of the fight did they even acknowledge that he was moving forward, though they still didn’t acknowledge his defense. He was able to figure out Noke’s rhythm and start connecting with big bombs, they caught on late to that and were clueless the whole fight. Anik kept saying these kicks landed from Noke, but many were obviously caught by Nak. K-Nak landed the more powerful punches on the feet and they didn’t seem to acknowledge the significance of those strikes at all. There were so many dumb things they said I didn’t feel like writing them all down.
When Kenny said, “he doesn’t quite have the defensive skills to deal with Kyle Noke,” I rolled my eyes so hard I actually hurt my neck.
The end was sick; to have the grappling ability that K-Nak has and can implement on a dude that he already hurt with serious power, that’s a dangerous fighter right there. They kept calling it a comeback win and saying he ate some huge shots UGH okay I’ll stop.
Noke probably feels awful for tapping with a second left in the round, poor bloke.
Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata
I don’t know why Ferguson didn’t try to wrestle more. That head kick from Lando was fuckin’ fresh. Rarely see people mix wrestling and head kicks like that. I saw that replay like four times, Lando guided Tony’s head into his shin and timed it beautifully. I knew as soon as I saw some of his previous fights that he had the goods. He has to figure out some head movement, though he does move his head with the shot. Still, he ate some big ones like the superman punch that started the finish.
His grappling looks rudimentary as well. Not in terms of the takedowns but the mat grappling. I kinda figured after he did some dumb stuff with his leg in that footlock battle in the first that he would probably end up getting caught. Tony’s d’arce choke is one of the best P4P MMA submissions in the business.
I love this kid’s attitude though, that cockiness cost him a bit in this fight. But that confidence is what caused him to almost beat a guy in the running for ‘best lightweight in the world’.
That first round is one of the best rounds ever. I just saw this fight though, is that hyperbole? Anyway, I love both of their attitudes. Great future for Lando, and Tony is about to make the most of the present.
Lando maybe dropping to 145 and fighting Conor though BAH GAWD.
Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker
Michael McDonald was a guy that got lots of hype back in the day because he was young and ‘well-rounded’, similar to Rory. But he always seemed a bit uncoordinated and unnatural to me. Not a great athlete, he tries too hard to be technical if that makes sense, seems stiff and robotic. I always thought he was overrated because those lower weight classes evolved so fast that all of a sudden a lot of guys had well rounded skills, and some specialists were really fuckin’ good at that specialty and good enough to defend everything else. McDonald seemed a step behind in comparison. He always seemed to be hyped as a future contender, yet he’s only a year younger than Lineker with nearly ten years of professional fight training/rehab under his belt.
I accidentally saw that the fight was only a few minutes before I started it, so then I became quite sure that Lineker would stop those USA chants early.
And then in a couple of minutes I was not surprised at all that he did. Lineker has such a babyface. Combined with him fighting a man with a much larger frame, it’s so fucking funny watching him throw these big shots and run into the pocket. It’s like a cartoon to see this tiny bowling ball roll forward destroying the natural 135er. Bam Bam is a very appropriate nickname for Lineker. The knockout should have been called after that last winging hammer. Again, I like Herb but this one seemed to have 5 unnecessary punches at the end.
I’ve seen a few people already hype up a Cruz matchup, and that’s understandable. But I’d like to appreciate this moment first. Yeah, I expected John to deliver a few kill shots to finish the fight. But he still had to go in there and do it, and he did everything he was supposed to against a tough, well-rounded fighter.
Regarding a potential fight with the champ, Lineker’s thing is not speed, it’s reflexes. He doesn’t run unless he’s trying to find you in which case he’ll abruptly stop and plant his feet. He’s a pocket rocket. Cruz dances around guys with that kind of footwork, sure. But Lineker has the timing to catch Cruz, and is used to eating a shot in order to deliver one of his own. When Cruz lunges in to throw a punch, he won’t always be able to dart out in time. Fighting a guy with Lineker’s power, that’s a scary proposition. How much Cruz would be willing to use his wrestling is a big x-factor, but we’ll talk more in-depth if the fight ever happens. Cruz would be a big favourite, but Lineker’s chances shouldn’t be discounted.
It’s sick that this WEC announcer gotta announce this WEC fight though. Brings back the memories. I think I might watch an episode from the original Tapout reality show (seriously guys, it was fuckin’ good).
Oh yeah, I forgot that I watched the Yahya fight since I’m a big Yahya mark, here are my thoughts on that:
Rani Yahya vs. Matthew Lopez
I was impressed with the guts of Lopez to play on the mat with Rani. He was tired and his defensive lapse cost him at the end, he’s young and he’ll learn. But Yahya has probably tapped guys with that top arm triangle in training a thousand times at least so no shame in that. Why do they keep calling him Ronny? I watched his debut Zuffa fight against Hominick, can’t believe that was nine years ago. They butchered his name then too. Worth watching if you haven’t, no spoilers.
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