The event is over, the fans have all left the arena and all the fighters are living it up at their after parties. UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill might be in the books but the task of sorting out what happened tonight and what’s next has just begun.
Here is a look at the televised bouts (not Facebook) and possibly what’s next for both the winners and losers:
Grove vs Boetsch:
Boetsch looked to be simply too much for Grove at 185lbs, and worked a brilliant game plan of pressure in the clinch and safe takedowns. While Grove did have several moments of smart offense, his build once again proved to be a double-edged sword in his career. While Joe Rogan seemed high on Boetsch, I don’t see him going far against similar-sized and superior opponents like Mark Munoz or Aaron Simpson.
For Grove, we may see the second TUF winner get cut from the promotion. Another option is perhaps bring in some new blood to either bolster his record or use him as a stepping stone. For Boetsch, a fight with Jorge Santiago seems fitting.
A dizzying display of grappling, Torres’ ace BJJ skills showed exactly how much Johnson has to learn in this sport. Torres used a ridiculous arsenal of sweeps and chain submissions, but Johnson’s speed and instinctive grappling saved him time and again. While the decision wasn’t a popular one, Johnson controlled position on Torres for the majority of the fight, and made a case for his potential in the next year.
Miguel Torres may have lost, but looked dazzling for the entire fight and will see his stock rise from this. For Johnson, a 125lb class would be his best fit, and I feel his next fight may prove that. Expect Johnson to draw Benavidez, Jorgensen, or another sizable grappler at the top of the division.
Brian Stann vs Jorge Santiago:
In a classic striker bout, Stann showed exactly how much composure can play into a match-up. Santiago faced a rock solid boxer in Stann and seemed afraid to pull the trigger after tasting a few leg kicks and crisp looping shots. Stann’s killer instinct and power forced Santiago into a purely defensive fight, which only gave Stann more room to unload.
Stann has continued to impress in his bouts, and looks to be ready for something big. Giving him the winner of Belfort vs Akiyama makes for a perfect fight. As for Santiago, he’s in dire need of a tune-up, but his pay grade likely won’t allow for it, and another loss will send him far off the radar.
Thiago Alves vs Rick Story:
A fight that proved to be just as ugly as I thought, Story used huge pressure and rapid hand combinations to grab a 29-28 decision. The real news here might be the chin of Story, as he ate horrific knees, head kicks and perfect inside counter punches, while continuing to soldier forward. While Story is a simple fighter to figure out, he still proves to be too much for most of the division.
A future bout for Story will likely be against the winner of Anthony Johnson vs Nate Marquardt, where I feel his limited skill set will be exposed. As for Alves, he may have a date with the winner of Chris Lytle vs Dan Hardy.
Stefan Struve vs Travis Browne:
While Dana White might talk highly of the Heavyweight division, these two did little to showcase the world-class talents of the UFC. Sloppy striking on both ends and bad game planning by Browne made this one forgettable, if not for the stunning KO at the end of the 1st round.
Browne will gain some credibility here and might have just earned a fight with Mirko Cro-cop or Pat Barry, which he could handle well or piss away as he sees fit. As for Struve, he makes for exciting fights, but his chin will always be a detriment. I think the UFC will look to keep him around by using him as a welcoming mat to the division once again.
Frank Mir vs Roy Nelson:
An embarrassing fight for Nelson, the willingly fat Heavyweight, as he was completely dominated in this fight. While Nelson’s flaws are obvious, Mir’s are far less so, and warrant discussion. The one major issue that sticks out for me is that Mir, for all his strategic genius, always falls into his opponents rhythm. Against fast Heavyweights like Valasquez or Dos Santos, Mir will burn himself out while trying to keep pace. Against slower monsters like Carwin, he’ll work at their pace and find himself physically dominated. If Mir is ever to regain the title, he’ll need serious work on this facet of his game.
Mir finds himself poised for another main event fight, but with Heavyweight talent coming up ill or injured, his future opponent remains a mystery. For Nelson, I see a mandatory weight cut in his future, as he’s proven that his gimmick doesn’t pan out in the cage. Look for him to take a long hiatus from the cage and return as a slightly less bulky Light Heavyweight.
Quinton Jackson vs Matt Hamill:
Hamill is a likable guy, but took on a nearly impossible task in this fight. This bout illustrated how different power wrestlers like Hamill and finesse wrestlers like Evans handle opponents. Jackson may be the best at countering power wrestlers in the division, next to Machida, and easily forced a stand-up bout that Hamill was not equipped for. Neither guy looked particularly good in this bout, with lackluster timing and cardio evident all around.
For Jackson, his lack of dedication to anything without dead presidents printed on it will prove to be his undoing. With a Machida rematch or a fight with the winner of Bader vs Ortiz in the works, his chances of a title shot look grim. As for Hamill, expect him to drop back to the middle ranks of the division, facing Cyrille Diabate or Luiz Cane.
(Note: Dana White disagrees with this and says Rampage if healthy will be next in line for Jon Jones)
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