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First and foremost, the WEC show on Sunday night was absolutely amazing. I strongly encourage anyone who has not watched its entirety to leave this page open while finding a way to watch the show. I can wait…
That said, Luke Thomas at Bloody Elbow has written a fine piece addressing the vocal element that is proclaiming that the broken hand explains Faber’s loss. My opinion is that Mike Brown explains Faber’s loss. In a bout where limits were pushed for both fighters (Brown’s cardio, Faber’s hand, Brown’s control on the ground, etc.) there are too many variable to lay responsibility wholly on just one. Brown came out with a clear plan to pace himself, fight a low risk strategy, look for opportunities to assert himself, and utilize his physical stature to his advantage. I’d also note that he appears to be superior technically standing, on the ground, and in the clinch. Faber came out with a strategy to keep a high pace testing Brown’s stamina, fight his usual unconventional style, and be more patient than normal before trying spinning elbows and other lower percentage attacks.
One factor that struck me in the first round was that Faber started out very well, he was totally unpredictable mixing kicks and punches, and his movement seemed to neutralize Brown. As the round wore on, Faber’s confidence grew considerably. His success and the confidence that followed it seemed to lead into him going riskier and riskier. His disciplined strategy started to fade, and a few winging exchanges later….broken hand. This broken hand limited his striking game the rest of the fight lessening his chances for victory.
Mike Brown fought patiently, and “stalked” the cage very well. He had some weaker moments, but I was impressed with his ability to get back to his home position. I was also bothered with Faber’s ground game in the fight, he seems to have no aversion to giving up his back whatsoever. That said, Brown never capitalized on it more than scoring points and with ground and pound.
I am kind of excited about this loss for Faber. I get the feeling that we will see a new “Faber 2.0″ emerge after this fight much like GSP did after his loss to Serra.