Sunday, June 8, 2008

Questions after the weekend

Where does Matt Hughes goes from here?

Well, the obvious answer is to the doctor to get that knee checked out. He walked out of the cage on his own, but it sure looked like Hughes did some internal damage when he fell awkwardly at the end of the fight. It looked to me like the flying knee from Alves landed more on his shoulder/chest, and it was the knee injury that dropped him down.

That being said, Alves was handling Hughes pretty easily throughout the fight (more on Alves next), and it's a legit question to ask how much Hughes has left in the tank. He hasn't looked good in a fight in a long time - as in since he fought Royce Gracie. BJ Penn was schooling him for two rounds before he gassed, GSP has dismantled him twice with little difficulty, he looked sloppy in taking a decision from Chris Lytle and now this latest defeat. It's obvious that he'll stick around for at least the Serra grudge match, but I don't think you can any longer pencil in Hughes as the victor in that one.

The biggest problem may not be age or injury for Hughes though. It may be that since leaving trainer Pat Militech behind and opening his school that Hughes has lost the guiding force he's needed to be succesful. His game plans in his last few fights have been less then stellar, and his obvious shots on Alves looked like something you would have seen 5 years ago in MMA. With no set up, his shots were weak to say the least.

Now, Hughes may have a good bit left and Saturday wasn't indiciative of where he's at because...

How much credit can you give Alves?

Yes he won, and yes he finished the best welterweight champion ever, but does that really count when you're a middleweight?

Hughes probably weighed at least 175 stepping into the cage and, seeing as he looked bigger than Michael Bisping did earlier, I'd say Alves was at least 185. That kind of size/power advantage could very well have been the difference in his stuffing shots and tying up Hughes from the bottom.

It could very well be that Alves would have won the fight if he had made weight, but the fact that he didn't makes every question about his performance a legitimate one, and it's his fault that they are.

And his requesting of a title shot? I certainly hope he doesn't get one, as he should at least make weight in the fight prior to a title shot. I'd like to see him in with a top contender like Josh Koscheck or the loser of GSP/Fitch before getting a title shot.

Where do the middleweights go from here?

Rumors have started to pop up that Anderson Silva will be vacating the middleweight title and moving up to 205. I'll talk more about that if it comes to fruitiion, but let's just say it opens up a world of GREAT fights.

But if he does leave, where does that leave the 185lb division?

Even without Silva, the division is really talented at the top end. Ritch Franklin, Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Thales Leites, Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping have all looked good against everyone not Silva, and with him gone from the division, all have to be considered title threats.

The UFC appears to abhor tournaments, but a 4 or 8 man tournament spread over 2 or 3 shows really would be enjoyable. It probably won't happen due to the injury concerns, but it doesn't change the fact that if Silva leaves 185 just might become one of the most hotly contested divisions in the sport.

A surprising new contender at 155

Myself - and a lot of others - gave Matt Wiman next to no chance against Thiago Tavares, but he sure made us eat our words.

Wiman looked great against a tough opponent, and the work he's put into his jiu jitsu and stand up was evident. He looked so much more impressive than he ever has in the UFC that it's hard to believe he's the same fighter.

He may not be in BJ Penn's class, but Wiman served notice that he may be able to handle the best in the division. If he keeps improving at this rate, he just may be able to challenge Penn with a few more fights.

Personally, I'm running through a Nate Diaz/Wiman fight in my head and wondering how much fun that would be.

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