Now that the dust has settled on UFC on FOX 4, it's time for measured, analytical observations derived from the data gleaned from watching a bunch of high-level fighters try to take each other's heads off. Wait, did I say "measured, analytical observations"? Ha. I've been told my post-fight stuff is best described as "jibba-jabba", so maybe you should be the judge.
- When it came down to trying to "impress" their way into a shot at the UFC light-heavyweight belt, former champ Lyoto Machida sure did it with his slick KO of TUF winner Ryan Bader. You know who did the exact opposite of "impress"? Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Sure, Brandon Vera fought hard and fought better than we've seen him do in ages, but Shogun looked nothing like the guy that wrecked Forrest Griffin and Machida in their rematch. If anything, Shogun looked… old. All those wars have taken their toll.
[Kevin Iole: Machida stands out, earns title shot at UFC on Fox 4]
- Where does Bader go from here? A definitive loss to Tito Ortiz and now to Machida has put him firmly in the realm of "I Shall Never Be Champ". Should Bader consign himself to be the official gatekeeper of the 205-pound weight class? He's tough, skilled and dangerous, he's just not there yet in terms of challenger for the belt, and it's possible he'll never get there.
- Two judges had it at one round apiece for Joe Lauzon and Jamie Varner going into the third round of their fight, while one judge had Rounds One and Two for Varner. What that means is, if Lauzon had never gotten that submission, but kept up the intensity, he would've likely taken the split decision. What THAT means is that even on short notice, Varner was able to deliver the goods against a pretty damn decent opponent. There will always be a place for Lauzon in the Octagon, as evidenced by the obscene amount of Fight of the Night dough he's gotten over the years; however, there's a spot there for Varner, too. Whatever corner he's turned in his career seems to have made him someone worth paying attention to.
- I said before that Mike Swick scoffed at the concept of "ring rust" with his performance against Damarques Johnson, and I still stand by that statement. In fact, I'd hazard to guess that Swick's next venture into the cage will be even more impressive, as he will be even further re-acclimated to competition. In other words, yo, Swick's next opponent — watch out!
- Cole Miller is now 0-2 as a featherweight, but I thought he gave Nam Phan a heck of a fight. He just fought someone who was probably slightly better than him on the ground (jiu-jitsu black belt vs. brown belt), and who was definitely more seasoned with their hands. Miller should give the 145-pound weight class another shot. That insane height and reach advantage has got to pay off eventually.
- Whatever was holding Josh Grispi back is still there, preventing him from realizing the potential we'd seen when he was rocketing up the ranks. With the loss to Rani Yahya — in a bout that hardly seemed competitive — Grispi should be sent back to the minor leagues to iron out what's wrong. He's got all the talent in the world, he's just not pulling the trigger.
- Oli Thompson looked perfect for the next Bellator heavyweight tournament. I hope they can find him a slot in it.
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