The UFC visited Georgia for UFC Fight Night 35, featuring some high level Middlewieght and Bantamweight action, so let’s get to thoughts on last night’s fights.
- Luke Rockhold showed why he was a champion in Strikeforce as he quickly and efficiently broke down Costas Philippou with accurate and measured striking. Rockhold was a good striker during his Championship run and always had excellent kicks, but he took a step forward in this fight and appears to be an elite Middleweight.
- Brad Tavares pulled the trigger just enough to get the win over Lorenz Larkin in a fight that was not especially noteworthy. Good win for Tavares where he flexed a bit more grappling than he had in previous fights.
- T.J. Dillashaw looked absolutely fantastic. He was stringing together combinations with a silky smooth ease, naturally cutting and could be contending for a title by the end the of 2014. Again Team Alpha Male continues to have benefited immensely from the coaching prowess Duane Ludwig, and it really seems his influence cannot be overstated at this point.
- Mike Easton remains an excellent physical talent with good skills in the different aspects of fighting. But he also continues to struggle to actually fit those skills together into an MMA skill set that isn’t just clinching fighters against the fence. His overall skill set is less than the sum of its parts and in Dillashaw, Easton ran head long into the opposite and paid a heavy price.
- Yoel Romero struggled a bit with Derek Brunson before coming charging back to get the TKO win in the third round. Romero has run off three straight wins in the UFC, but his defensive wrestling has been very average. While shocking that an Olympic Wrestler is struggling mightily to stop takedowns, he is far from the first internationally elite wrestling to struggle with MMA wrestling. Dan Henderson had similar issues with stopping takedowns, and much like Henderson, Romero is developing serious power in his striking. His torrent of elbows to the body to end of the fight were a wonderful bit of ground striking and shows that Romero does have a knack for this sport.
- Romero also joined another famous wrestler in Kevin Randleman in UFC history, as it appeared Romero may have defecated in his pants during the fight. Randleman and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia both pooped their pants in the cage, though both were battling illness at the time.
- John Moraga won his fight in the technical sense, but his stock should drop heavily after this fight. His boxing remains very good, but his other skills has not really followed suit. His grappling has a long way to go and Dustin Ortiz showed himself to be a much more game fighter than many, including myself, gave him credit for.
- Cole Miller has his problems, but he is one of the best when it comes from switching from offensive striking to murder mode grappling. When he has opponents hurt, Miller is able to transition to highly aggressive submission attacks, giving his victim almost no time to recover.
Three fighters scored upsets on the prelims that really set them up as prospects to watch moving froward:
- Elias Silverio showed off excellent control of distance and command of timing against Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Silverio has excellent striking and is very good at dictating how the fight progresses and could be a very good fighter at Lightweight.
- Beneil Dariush landed a straight left hand that rocked Charlie Brenneman, and then Dariush showed a measured attack to finish the fight. With his developing power combined with his ground grappling perigee makes Dariush at fighter to watch at Lightweight.
- The other upset was Louis Smolka taking the woodshed to Alptekin Ozkilic with accurate striking and fun scrambles on the mat. This was very entertaining fight in which Ozkilic slowed down badly late in the fight as Smolka seemed to get stronger.
Here’s Kid Nate’s review of the card:
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