C.B. Dollaway needed a miracle and, quite frankly, he didn’t get one. I was a little wary, perhaps moreso than I should have been, heading into this fight night. Machida is at the point where most fighters are rattling like an old car, with bits falling off as they roll down the road. But, Machida is that well kept classic, shined up in some collector’s garage still running like new, and as fast as anything younger. Underneath him and his shining main event performance was a fun, and fairly action filled, card. Only three fights went to decision and only one of those was boring. Good young fighters showed up, exciting vets did exciting things, and I went a rough 7-5 on picks.
Disclaimer Time: I took some known dogs on this card, just on the hopes they would shine. A couple of them did, but still lost. Long story short, none of my upset picks won, which is as good an example of any as why I don’t bet. Even when I feel like I can see the tables tilting for an upset, often times the universe has other plans, or fighters display unknown lacks and lose despite themselves. These things happen often enough, that I feel like I could drop some stupid money fairly often. But, I still like talking odds and fight picks as a way of marking fighter development in the face of pre-fight perception. I’ll be using Best Fight Odds for the odds on each fight and taking the mode for each fighter. Now, on to the fights…
Jake Collier (-175) vs. Vitor Miranda (+155) (I picked Collier, I was wrong)
- The Expectation: Jake Collier’s status as favorite had less to do with how good he’s looked regionally than it had to do with how mediocre Vitor Miranda has looked in the UFC. Collier was expected to be aggressive and decent everywhere and that should have been enough to win him this fight. And in reality, it was. And then he let Miranda get back to his feet and got KO’d by a headkick. Sometimes those are the breaks.
- Fallout for Collier: He can say he got caught and, without a doubt, he did. But, it doesn’t change the fact that everything Collier does well, is still a major point of development for him. He’s aggressive, but he’s not so dominant in any one part of his game to continuously overwhelm his opponent. He had this fight in hand, he had Miranda beat. He let Miranda off the hook and he paid for it. He’s young enough in his career that that’s not a terrible thing, but it’s something to watch as he continues to develop.
- Fallout for Miranda: This was a must win fight for Miranda. With the amount of time he’s already spent in the cage, and at his age, his UFC career is hanging on his ability to win now. The prospects of that going forward still don’t look great. Miranda was getting beat up before uncorking that kick and more polished fighters would have made him pay for it. Fortunately for him, MW doesn’t have a lot of polished talent at the bottom and at least with a win he’s got himself another chance to prove he can make a mark in the UFC.
Marcio Alexandre Jr. (+145) vs. Tim Means (-170) (I picked Means, I was right)
- The Expectation: Much like the Miranda vs. Collier fight above, this fight wasn’t so much about what a killer Tim Means is, but how limited Alexandre Jr. has looked. Adding to that, that Means hasn’t really been chinny and packs some power, and this really was his fight to lose. It took him a while to turn up the pressure, but once he did it was a very one sided fight.
- Fallout for Alexandre Jr.: He’s probably just not ready for the UFC. WW is deep enough to get him fights and winnable ones, (after all there are still some TUF China guys floating around) but Alexandre’s pre-UFC career was notable only for his can-crushing prowess. Because of that, his style is decidedly underdeveloped and the holes he has in his game are massive. He could be a fun fighter with a lot more work, but right now he’s not close.
- Fallout for Means: Tim Means has sort of positioned himself as the gatekeeper to the mid-tier. He’s even odds against most of the division, but he’s well rounded enough and dangerous enough that unpolished talent is hard pressed to beat him. This fight doesn’t really change that. Means still has the bad habit of fighting at his opponent’s pace and gave Alexandre a lot of opportunity to hang with him in the cage. That tendency alone leaves his progress somewhat limited. Still, though, he’s fun where he is.
Leandro Issa (+350) vs. Yuta Sasaki (-500) (I picked Sasaki, I was wrong)
- The Expectation: Bettors, fans, really everyone other than Fraser Coffeen were picking Yuta to win this. His debut was electric, and expectations were high. On the other side, Issa had struggled mightily with Jumabieke Tuerxun and got tapped by Russell Doane. It only seemed reasonable that Issa would engage Yuta on the ground and pay the price for it. He did, and he didn’t.
- Fallout for Issa: Much like Vitor Miranda above, Issa is in do or die career territory. He’s been fighting for 8 years already, he’s now in his early 30s, and he’d struggled thus far in the UFC. If he got beat by Yuta here, he could easily have been relegated to the bottom of the division. Now, with a big win, in which his striking and grappling both looked excellent, he might be able to build some momentum and work toward the top 15. He’s been too inconsistent to get a good bead on yet, but I’ll be watching his next fight closely.
- Fallout for Yuta: Hype train derailed. This wasn’t a fight Yuta was supposed to lose, although it certainly could have been considered a trap fight. Leandro Issa is a longtime fighter whose best area was supposed to be Yuta’s as well. Yuta was expected to shine, or at least win. Instead he got dominated, everywhere. His striking was ugly, his wrestling was weak, and when he got on the ground he was bullied into tapping to a neck crank. The road back to hot prospect is a long one after that loss.
Hacran Dias (-230) vs. Darren Elkins (+190) (I picked Elkins, I was wrong)
- The Expectation: The betting public obviously knew something I didn’t. Or, they just don’t like watching Darren Elkins win fights and were betting on hope. I bet on the fight ending up in the clinch, and when it was in the clinch, I thought Elkins would win that battle. I was right on the first part, but dead wrong on the second. Whenever Dias got his hands on Elkins in the first or second rounds he tooled him. By the time Elkins made anything happen it was far too late.
- Fallout for Dias: There’s a sliver of hope that Hacran Dias could actually fulfill his longtime potential and turn into a top 10 talent. It seems ridiculous, and it’s taken him a long, long time to get there, but this felt like his last chance to make something legitimate happen and he did. He’s still got the basic tools of a great athlete and he’s good enough everywhere to get in there and make a good fight with the very best in his division. But, he has to keep winning and the fact that he’s not finishing fights makes that a perilous process against the top 15.
- Fallout for Elkins: It’s not that Elkins wasn’t already a gatekeeper, but that was more a feeling than a definitive reality. This fight established that reality as fact. Hacran Dias has been an interesting Hioki-esque talent: a guy that shined on his regional scene but has fallen totally flat in the UFC. This was a solid fight that Elkins could win, instead he got beat right in his own wheelhouse. He got the fight he wanted and he lost it. That’s a firm setback, and may be a long term one.
Renato Moicano (-130) vs. Tom Niinimaki (+110) (I picked Moicano, I was right)
- The Expectation: Short notice kept the odds on this fight nice and close, for what was otherwise a favorable matchup for Moicano. He fits the profile of guys who’ve been beating Niinimaki lately to a T. It was expected that he’d be able to make that work for him here, even if the fight itself proved to be a tough one. It didn’t. Renato Moicano put a beating on the Finn and made a hell of an entrance to the UFC.
- Fallout for Moicano: I never like “big” wins for young fighters, as it makes me worry about them getting pushed too far too fast. Moicano is a great talent and almost certainly would have made our FW scouting report had he not been signed. But, if a win like this gets him pushed into a fight with someone like Maximo Blanco or Rony Jason, there’s a chance he could hit an early setback. If he can be brought along at an even speed, he’s very likely a future top 10 fighter.
- Fallout for Niinimaki: There really aren’t any fights left in the UFC for Tom Niinimaki now. I hate writing that, as I really wanted to see him succeed when he was signed, but he just isn’t competing at a high enough level. This is the fourth straight fight he’s gotten with a reasonably favorable matchup (all wrestlers and grapplers) and he’s now lost the last three straight by submission. Time comes to bear on everyone and it appears it’s bearing down on Niinimaki fast.
Igor Pokrajac (+350) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-450) (I picked Rogerio de Lima, I was right)
- The Expectation: Pokrajac was going to get stomped. He got stomped.
- Fallout for Pokrajac: I’m not sure why or how he was still in the UFC. It speaks to how shallow light heavyweight is, but with his overall UFC record dropping to 4-7 (1 NC), and with an effective 5 fight losing streak ongoing, I can’t see him being in the UFC any longer. It’s a tough break in that it looks like he felt the stoppage was early, but even still it was hard to imagine things going any other way.
- Fallout for Rogerio de Lima: He’s a light heavyweight, he’s under 30, and he’s 2-0 in the UFC. Like a rare jewel, Marcos Rogerio de Lima should be treasured. Instead he’ll probably get thrown to Jimi Manuwa or something similar. He’s got all the raw athletic tools to win big fights, but he’s still very hittable, and needs a lot of development to be competitive against really technical fighters in his division, not that there are many of those.
Antonio dos Santos Jr. (+140) vs. Daniel Sarafian (-170) (I picked dos Santos Jr., I was wrong)
- The Expectation: Short notice and name value understandably pushed the odds in Sarafian’s favor for this fight. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine picking him as the favorite to win against most UFC caliber talent. I figured Antonio dos Santos Jr. had a pretty good chance of pulling the upset here, with his heavy handed muay thai, and he looked like he might have, until his finger tried to escape his hand.
- Fallout for dos Santos Jr.: Honestly, he’ll probably get more credit for being the kind of tough bastard that resets his own dislocated finger and wants to keep fighting than he will blowback for losing the fight. He’s still a very promising young talent with a powerful, and potentially technical style. He fought a lot of this fight like a short notice fighter, in that he was basically throwing hard and with abandon, looking to finish early. I’ll be interested to see if he looks more refined for his next time out.
- Fallout for Sarafian: Sarafian is a decidedly middle of the pack middleweight, in a division where middle of the pack is defined by guys like Rafael Natal and Andrew Craig. Getting a guy who was just looking to shoot it out on short notice, Sarafian still got hit a lot, and never really got any of his wrestling or top game going. As far as he is into his career, it just seems like he doesn’t really have an identity as a fighter, and rarely looks comfortable in the cage. He’s still got the athleticism to compete, but the big win here for him is not getting cut, rather than moving up in the division.
Mike Rhodes (+325) vs. Erick Silva (-450) (I picked Erick Silva, I was right)
- The Expectation: Mike Rhodes was going to get submitted with a quickness… Yep… that’s the whole of it.
- Fallout for Rhodes: Hopefully he can get back to the regional level with some shred of his confidence still intact, because Rhodes has the feeling of a prospect severely mismanaged. He’s basically fallen forward in the UFC, to the point where he’s getting a main card fight against a borderline top 15 fighter, on the back of two losses. Now he’s 0-3. But, he’s still green enough to go out, spend a couple years getting regional wins, and come back to the UFC a much more complete fighter. Hopefully that’s what happens now.
- Fallout for Silva: It’s not an especially meaningful win for Silva, excepting that it shows he’s still capable of beating the lowest end of 170 with ease. We know that. Now he needs some fights with rising talent. He should be the fighter that borderline top 15 guys take on to build their name. Not a fallback for top 10 talent looking for a win or an impossible beast for young guys the UFC couldn’t care less about. A fight with Hyun Gyu Lim or Ryan Laflare would be awesome.
Rashid Magomedov (-130) vs. Elias Silverio (+115) (I picked Magomedov, I was right)
- The Expectation: As tight as this fight may have been in the odds, I was really very certain that Magomedov was going to win it. Neither he, nor Silverio are known for their fight ending power, after which Silverio’s offense is built around his ability to come forward and land shots, which plays right into Magomedov’s beautiful counterstriking. Credit to Magomedov, however for getting the late finish and taking a big step forward with it.
- Fallout for Magomedov: Nobody benefited from Brian Stann’s fantastic play calling on this card more than Magomedov did. In the past I’ve heard Magomedov maligned as a boring, even ugly striker, in part just because fans and commentators tend not to know what good striking is beyond constant aggression. Magomedov’s pin-point counter style requires a good eye to pick out. Stann has that and he really set the tone for Magmoedov’s performance. Hopefully the whole thing gives him a big boost toward bigger, more interesting fights.
- Fallout for Silverio: Not just the first loss of the Brazilian’s career, but a stoppage loss as well. This one may take some time to recover from, as it wasn’t a case of getting caught, or Magomedov getting lucky, but a clear showing that between the two of them Magomedov is clearly the better fighter. Still, it’s early days in SIlverio’s career, he has time to recover, but this was a major, major setback. His chasing footwork and inconsistent power were exposed here and need to be worked on if he ever wants to make it to the top of the welterweight division.
Antonio Carlos Jr. (+127) vs. Patrick Cummins (-147) (I picked Carlos Jr., I was wrong)
- The Expectation: The line for a lot of people in this fight seemed to be, “Patrick Cummins by wrestling over BJJ.” My feeling was, that if Antonio Carlos Jr. had the athleticism to hang with Cummins in the clinch, he could possibly win this. The wrestling crowd was more right, but I don’t think I was wrong, and I’d argue that it wasn’t quite Cummins’ wrestling that won him this fight.
- Fallout for Carlos Jr.: Instead, it was Antonio Carlos Jr.’s mind numbingly stupid gameplan. Time and again, Carlos Jr. showed that he had the raw athletic ability to hang with Cummins, be it in the clinch, or on the feet, on the outside. But, he wasted most of those opportunities trying to out-wrestle Cummins, which he was never going to do. Carlos Jr. initiated a lot of the clinch battles in this fight. And when he got the chance to work from range, went for low percentage, energy consuming strikes. He let Cummins walk all over him, and Cummins was more than happy to oblige. He’s headed to MW now, and I don’t doubt he can win there, but he needs to work on his fight IQ.
- Fallout for Cummins: That’s not to suggest that Patrick Cummins didn’t win this fight. He very much did, but rather that Patrick Cummins knows what he wants to do in the cage, and his game is designed for him to do it. Carlos Jr. looks like he’s searching when he’s in the fight, and if the opportunity isn’t there, he’s not creating it. Still, it’s a big win for Cummins as a fighter in a division where every win gets you closer to the rankings and big fights.
Renan Barao (-1000) vs. Mitch Gagnon (+625) (I picked Barao, I was right)
- The Expectation: I can’t tell people I expected Gagnon to do as well as he did. I picked him to get subbed in round 1. But, in hindsight I wish I had told people to expect this kind of performance. Gagnon has been a good fighter in the UFC, and he’s far enough along in his career that he needs to be getting good, big fights. He still lost his bout with Barao, and had it gone to the judges still would have lost, but he’s an athletic, powerful fighter in his prime. It’s not that surprising that he didn’t get run over.
- Fallout for Barao: To that point, I’m not nearly as down on Barao as many fans and pundits seem to be. He looked as fast as ever, his chin was still on point, and he eventually wore Gagnon down and beat him up. Barao hasn’t evolved seriously in a while. And when that happens, (and especially when you’re champ) fighters start molding game plans for how to beat you. They get to see what people have made work against you and make their own plans on how to do it better. Barao faced all that and still got the stoppage win as his same old self. That’s not a bad thing.
- Fallout for Gagnon: In a just world, this pushes Gagnon well into the top 15 and gets him some more big fights. He’s been around for a while, but has been on an incredibly slow development pace, since he can’t get a visa for the US. Because of that, his career has been a bit artificially stalled. This was a big opportunity for him to get his name out there and possibly get a huge win. He didn’t get the win, but hopefully he got enough name recognition to make him relevant.
CB Dollaway (+600) vs. Lyoto Machida (-900) (I picked Machida, I was right)
- The Expectation: I really had no good expectations for this fight. I was sure Dollaway was going to lose, probably getting KO’d while rushing forward. But, nagging doubts about aging fighters were pecking away at me. Not to the point that I thought Machida would lose, but to the point that I wasn’t really sure how he’d look. Whether he’d be his usual, masterful self, or a slightly diminished version. In hindsight, masterful hardly does him justice.
- Fallout for Dollaway: Sorry Clarence, but the potential of you scraping into the top 5 is probably a bit of a pipe dream at this point. He really looked like he’d been putting together a nice run lately, but Machida snuffed it like he was a fly straying too close to a rolled up newspaper. That’s not to say he can’t go out and win fights. He’s still a solid top 15 guy, but the chances of him getting an upset win or two and working his way further up the ranks seem increasingly remote.
- Fallout for Machida: He’s still one of the very best fighters in the world. Forget middleweight, just fighters. So few men are able to do the things Machida is still doing with as many years as he’s put behind him in MMA. He’s had his ups and downs, but things are clicking better than ever and letting him deliver some of the best bouts and most dominant performances of his career. I get that some people are quick to say “We all knew Machida was this good. Stop being so gushy.” But shit, enjoy yourselves a little. Machida is the kind of talent that deserves our awe and amazement and I’m more than happy to feel a bit overwhelmed every time he delivers something like this.
Those are my collected thoughts on UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Dollaway. As always, so much of what I wrote seems obvious now, but that’s the benefit of hindsight. We now have a couple week’s break to look forward to, and when I come back I expect to be talking about the amazing thing that is Jon Jones’ LHW title reign. Until then!
This week’s quote via the film Prince of Darkness
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