... something nice.
Suck My Sunshine: The Bright Sides of UFC 131
There's a difference between obsequious cheerleading and illustrating the positive side of things, just like there is with cruelly berating someone and lending constructive criticism. The difference is, in the world of MMA, voicing the cons far outweighs acknowledging the pros.
So, to fill that niche in the market, I bring you "Suck My Sunshine", where I will simply highlight some of the wholesome moments in our beloved world of face punching. Quite humbly, I'll start by patting myself on the back for the graphic above, which is basically the greatest artwork mankind has ever created.
From UFC 131, in reverse chronological order, I'll point out some encouraging facets of a fight, improvements from a fighter, or just something ... good. I know it sounds totally bizarre and off the wall, but let's try it.
1. Shane Carwin
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that many analysts and media outlets pinned a big question mark on Carwin's conditioning and heart going into his bout with Junior dos Santos.
There was nothing cemented further than the admirable spirit and fierce determination of Shane Carwin in Saturday's main event. He trudged on through the remaining ten minutes after enduring merciless punishment from dos Santos in the opening round. Carwin demonstrated that he didn't have a five-minute expiration date, embracing the diversity by brawling valiantly to the first third-round and decision of his career.
Let's also keep in mind that Carwin has tackled exactly four top-tier opponents in all of his fourteen fights, and is relatively inexperienced and still acclimating to the harsh environment of MMA's elite level. This was a promising step forward for Carwin as a fighter despite the result.
Exactly one other heavyweight survived to a decision against the brick-fisted dos Santos after absorbing a three round torrent of leather, and that was Roy Nelson, who has a reputation for his resilience and ability to take a vicious beating. Carwin now has only two losses on his record: one to then-top heavyweight Brock Lesnar, who Carwin mauled to a near stoppage in a dominant first round, and the other to the prime contender and top ranked heavyweight Junior dos Santos.
Dropping a full weight class for the first time and fighting with a steady pace for three rounds is always a good sign, so I'll give KenFlo a nod for that right away. Now, think about the expectations and pressure surrounding Florian for this fight, which was almost a lose/lose scenario. After being a perennial contender at lightweight and one of the most reputable names in the UFC, many had him pegged as the next big challenge for Jose Aldo as soon as his introduction to the weight class was announced.
One of Florian's biggest advantages at lightweight was his startling quickness and agility; a plus that will significantly dwindle against the mighty mouses at featherweight. Along with the new weight class must come better realization of his new strengths and weaknesses, which Florian has plenty of time to map out.
As far as Nunes, not too long ago, Florian was paddling Takanori Gomi's head around with his jab. "The Fireball Kid" was one of the most outrageously volatile strikers the sport -- much less the lightweight division -- has ever witnessed. Nunes not only went toe-to-toe with Florian, but wobbled him a few times with seriously enhanced stand-up, shook off a good number of takedowns while landing a few of his own.
I have trouble buying that Florian's precise striking somehow regressed. Therefore, one could conclude that Diego Nunes, who was controlled by L.C. Davis and might have had more trouble standing with Mike Brown and Raphael Assuncao, is accelerating his credibility by tightening up his weak spots quickly and efficiently.
I thought Joe Rogan summed this up accordingly: A ridiculously decorated sport grappler that many felt was "mostly one-dimensional" dazed and cornered Munoz with sizzling blasts of kickboxing, and was arguably more effective standing than on the ground. We're talking about a guy whose striking went from "icky" to "I guess it doesn't hurt my eyes, at least" to "well I'll be damned" to "egads, Munoz is doing the stanky leg!" His progression in the last few years has been phenomenal, and this is another cat with just seventeen fights who's been facing premiere fighters for only two years.
Conversely, D1 All American Mark Munoz took Maia down and didn't get submitted, and won many of the sequences on the ground. Considering Maia's past performances and scalding submission acumen, that's a triumph in itself. He also won the fight. Not bad for a fairly green wrestler with four years and thirteen fights in MMA.
FULL HAPPINESS HERE