All the UFC Nashville Von Flue chokes, nepotism, and PK Subban praise you need for your Swanson vs. Lobov analysis.
UFC Fight Night 108 was the card everyone lamented for pitting Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov to begin with. A fight that only garnered traction because Lobov was a Conor McGregor bottle of Purell, and Lobov said Cub didn’t physically own a scrotum. Or so the many interlocking narratives went.
Thankfully some of it wasn’t true. Only most of it (obviously not the part about Cub’s balls though). But within the nepotism and minimum wages, UFN 108 gave fans a solid main event scrap that revealed the best in each fighter. Or in this case, the best both fighters had to offer at this point in their respective careers.
A lot of good things happened. Like Brandon Moreno and Bryan Barberena. A lot of bad things happened too. Like Mike Perry’s tattoos and Cindy Dandois’ boxing. These things happen in MMA, but thankfully, so do plenty of other things.
Live look at Cub Swanson’s bag of tricks. pic.twitter.com/hdMXmeWkS6
— Eric Jackman (@NewYorkRic) April 23, 2017
The best part of Cub’s win over Lobov had nothing to do with winning a fight that could earn him bigger matchups, because it won’t. It had nothing to do with Lobov turning in a “breakout performance” that Swanson had to dig deep to overcome like old bull versus young bull stuff. Because it wasn’t.
No. It was because Cub did entertaining things on the feet like usual. Whether the random displays of restrained capoeira, or the beautiful jab-lead roundhouse combination, Cub was doing Cub things and we all clapped in approval.
However, he’s one fight removed from his blistering win over Doo Ho Choi. And Swanson is just not the same fighter. It was clear from round one that Swanson remains a talented gatekeeper on a slow, but defined decline. This is obviously not Diego we’re talking, and Cub’s next fight will be worth watching. But I wouldn’t be holding my breath about waiting for the winner of Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo. No offense, Cub.
But did Artem Lobov bring his hammer? #UFCNashville pic.twitter.com/Sa9KgAXtfo
— Mike Dyce (@mikedyce) April 23, 2017
I see a lot of credit being given to Lobov. It was a breakout performance requiring Cub to adapt that countered the notion that Lobov was in the main event “simply because” of Conor McGregor.
And indeed, Lobov deserves credit. Not only because he’s a skilled MMA fighter who belongs in the UFC, but because that beach hammer is the most MMA thing we have, just behind Face the Pain.
But Lobov merely performed above a standard of expectations set low against a talented gatekeeper on the decline in a fight he was handed to by Dana in a stocking stuffer. Pointing out his performance as a counter to nepotism, as if Dana’s support role in the ridiculous Conor vs. Maywether fight doesn’t imply the Baldfather will boldly promote where no promoter has promoted is simply ad hoc logic at its most fallacious.
I don’t mean to take away from a good performance. Lobov did a solid job of countering Cub’s predictable right hand (his only punch for two rounds) and kept the leg kicks active early on when he was at his most dangerous. It was enough to earn him a statistical gold medal compared to Cub’s previous opponents.
But when performance is so tied to prologue, in this case a prologue about bitches and balls, well then dear MMA, you leave me no choice but to comment about how we got here, and where we’re headed. Luckily for Lobov, while he was clearly the inferior fighter, he was also, clearly a UFC fighter. Given the Cindy Dandois boxing we witnessed earlier, this is not the condescending statement you might think it is.
Hey @ufc go fuck yourself
— Al Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) April 23, 2017
If you’re wondering what the context of this tweet is, it’s because Mike Perry, of “niggawemadeit” fame, earned the famous $50,000 bonus for his one hitter quitter winner. So Al went the diplomatic route, and called the UFC out.
On a night when everyone and their favorite second cousins were asking for bonuses and fancy new contracts, this felt like a fitting punctuation. A lot like Nim Chimpsky: cute on the surface, disturbing at the root. Chimpsky, for those who either don’t know or haven’t seen the good documentary, was the chimp that famously tried to be human. Or at least as human as New York yuppie scientists willing to breastfeed a monkey and get it stoned can approximate “humanity”. Though the experiment was a failure as a science project, it was interesting for philosophical reasons.
Which reminds me, I’m supposed to be writing about Al. How can anyone find these postfight speeches about “making it rain” and “50 G’s baby!” cute, or amusing? These are, for all intents and purposes, cries for help. Geared Al didn’t cry for help initially. He just reminded everyone that if you’re selling a house, don’t forget to call the UFC’s resident real estate agent.
And yes, his fight was brilliant. But it was a bittersweet brilliance. This would have been a terrible stylistic matchup for Diego even in his prime. Now he’s two turntables without a microphone, and it’s just kind of depressing to watch. Less depressing to watch is Iaquinta walk to his own beat. I hope he sticks around because he’s got plenty to offer this sport.
Pezao is an experienced pro fighter. Why do you drape your arm over neck of someone on top in half? Only way a Von Flue works. Amateur hour.
— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) April 23, 2017
Ovince Saint Preux kind of went out there and did what he always does; throw sporadic strikes with reckless abandon, grapple situationally, and either get blasted for his efforts, and pull off something inadvertently amazing. Saturday offered the latter. I don’t know that a Von Flue choke can ever be called a “great submission” so much as it is the rare move in which inadequacy begets brilliance.
Eddie Wineland out there trying to hit John Dodson like… #UFCNashville pic.twitter.com/XHw8QWH9Dk
— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) April 23, 2017
Wineland and Dodson put on one of the least interesting fights of the evening. Dodson has never had especially great cardio, so this helps explain why he doesn’t “sell out” trying to knock guys out despite having precisely the power to do that at a moment’s notice. I find it hard to blame both guys, preferring instead to blame matchmaking. It’s pure round hole, square peg stuff. Wineland is a robotic nominal counter puncher, and Dodson is a sporadic left hand peacemaker. This fight was never gonna be a slugfest. Dodson didn’t earn a lot of goodwill, especially since he’s supposed to be making a name for himself in the division, but a win’s a win, and it wasn’t half as embarrassing as some of the stuff on Saturday’s card.
Don’t Call it a Scrum-Jack
@JoeLauzon Thanks for the fight man it was a close one hope we get those 50G’s!! I could do with it. Ur a legend and it was a privilege to fight u.
— Steven Ray (@StevenRayMMA) April 23, 2017
Joe Lauzon has always been a front runner, but in recent years he was able to somewhat contain himself from overexpending. This time he did neither, dominating the first round with his usual grappling pedigree. Except Ray just fought a brilliant rounds 2 and 3. While there might be some debate, Ray kept his poise and his wits, and kept the fight where Lauzon has always been most vulnerable; on the feet. Ray took expert advantage, and even earned that six figure contra, I mean, 50G’s(!) in the process.
- Hockey nerdgasm/rant alert: it was great to see Nashville’s PK Subban in the crowd. PK used to play for Montreal, but they ran the brash but awesome black hockey superstar out of town through trade because PK was too “different” (hey hey #problematic police, Montreal GM’s words, not mine). Plus his former head coach called him out on a play that wasn’t actually his fault, which sort of indicts the state of coaching at the NHL “level”, even though Subban is a great by any and all measures. Sorry, MMA fans. I know you didn’t come here for this, but Montreal just get knocked out of the playoffs, and Nashville is a serious contender after beating the media darling Chicago Balckhawks in a sweep, which makes the schadenfreude all the sweeter.
- You had one job, Jake Ellenberger.
- Where the hell did Brandon Moreno come from? Yea I know, I saw the Smolka fight too. But he’s rarely spoken of in the context of his talents, and more for his unexpected results. Dustin Ortiz is a legit fighter, even in the grappling department (Ortiz’s fight against Zach Makovsky is one of the favorites in recent years) and Moreno swept him like nothing. His striking needs some polish, but it’s already at a level where it can be a difference maker. This was a breakout performance. And yet here he was, stuck on the preliminary card where one of the main eventers belonged.
- Jessica Penne is a massively more talented fighter than her current 0-3 winless streak suggests. That was a tough loss too, as I had it a draw on first watch. Taylor didn’t seem to land as much on first watch, and Penne was sneaking in counters. Neither fighter did enough to win (which is when my Draw antennae usually goes up), but credit to Taylor, who looked much improved.
- The less said about Cindy Dandois’ striking, the better. Her punches held all the assembled conviction of a Pump it Up Slide Brawl. I think I had her winning too (!). Davis got absolutely nothing going, but I guess even the judges couldn’t reward Dandois’ attempts.
- Bonus Tweet! Re: Barberena vs. Proctor:
So… this, but with a super violent KO on the end of it. I dig it. #UFCNashville pic.twitter.com/Jxq1PUlPQ2
— Phil Mackenzie (@EvilGregJackson) April 22, 2017
- Speaking of Phil, if you missed his Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov artwork, don’t:
Why did I make this. What is wrong with me.
Also… did I make Artem’s arms… too long?!https://t.co/GPT8Kyu0Q1
w/ @DavidCastilloAC pic.twitter.com/Q9WZkYwqoL
— Phil Mackenzie (@EvilGregJackson) April 22, 2017