UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs Manuwa Review
As my long-time co-host, short-time writing colleague and all-time whiner Mike Fagan is currently on vacation, I will be taking the reins for this iteration of MMA Owl’s post-event coverage. This is likely fortuitous, because my temporarily absent compatriot would likely have to eat some crow regarding his pessimism towards Fight Pass and all that it entails over the last couple of months.
Come to think of it, it’s actually a massive shame he isn’t here to do this. Shame on you, Mike Fagan.
- Our long national nightmare – I’m speaking, of course, of the absurdly high decision rate among preliminary UFC bouts that are only watched by weirdos – is showing signs of abating as of this afternoon (that’s right, Greenwich Mean Time, I don’t care what you say). Three of the card’s five “dark matches” ended in finishes, with Louis Gaudinot and Ilir Latifi’s quick submission victories sandwiching yet another impressive stoppage victory by Luke Barnatt. The Brit has gone undefeated since his time on The Ultimate Fighter under Chael Sonnen’s tutelage and, at 6’6, represents a height in the middleweight division that echoes the long-forgotten days of Kendall Grove. He’s also 25 and has only eight fights; I hope I can sneak in calling him a “prospect” before Mike Fagan sends him to a Sleepshop.
- You’d be hard pressed to find a more fervent advocate of Zuffa than I am, but there’s simply no excuse for Fight Pass requiring action from a user to move from the preliminary stream to the main card stream. There’s absolutely no reason for multiple links/url addresses for the same stream; no reason to go to intermission between the prelims and the main and require viewers to follow along. The entire card was on Fight Pass: make it one link and let us sit back and relax without having to check an online program of the fight schedule.
- Are there any Icelandic readers out there? If so, would it be possible for me to solicit your opinion? As an American, I have been saturated in a culture where emotion, and the demonstration of it, reign supreme – the ability to gesticulate and emphasize is rewarded, the lack thereof punished, here like in few places around the world. Perhaps this is a result of the lack of totalitarian/theocratic governments in our past, allowing for a greater freedom of expression without the need to hide emotion, seditious or otherwise. What I’m asking is this: is Iceland an island of creepily efficient killing machines, or is Gunnar Nelson an exception? I’m going to have nightmares about that mount. It was like a barnacle on the hull of a ship.
- I feel bad about what I said about Zuffa earlier. I’m sorry, baby. Let’s make up. Here: I LOVE your new commentary booth. While British voices are infinitely easier to tune out than us boorish Americans, I found myself time and time again specifically paying attention to what the booth was saying, and for hours, I had nothing about which to complain. Dan Hardy blew me away – he was an absolute revelation in the booth, and his comfort with post-fight interviews will only increase over time (and as he interviews bigger and better names). Pro wrestling has Jerry “The King” Lawler, a legitimate veteran of the sport that then put in decades of quality (depending on who you ask) work explaining the sport to a new generation. Perhaps Hardy, if his stellar performance today is any indication, can be MMA’s version of Lawler.
- It’s time to stop making “these guys don’t even have Wikipedia pages!” jokes in the wake of Neil Seery’s excellent performance against Brad Pickett. A 13-9 regional fighter, Seery was the beneficiary of a social media campaign (and UFC contract) when Pickett’s original opponent pulled out due to injury, and he made the most of the opportunity, making for an exciting brawl. One Punch, in fact, was reduced to grappling at certain junctions, and Seery was then able to get the fight off of the ground relatively quickly. Despite losing, Seery will undoubtedly be back in the UFC when they return to Ireland, and this fight should be shown to every UFC newcomer that is interested in what kind of performances will guarantee them an invitation to return.
- Oh, Melvin Guillard. You can picture me saying that, can’t you? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself as you sigh, look at the floor, curse under your breath and feel the empty spot in your pocket where the money you used to bet on Guillard used to be. Oh, Melvin. That spot in my pocket isn’t getting filled anytime soon, is it? Despite the evolution in your takedown defense, your undeniable power, your precision, your speed, your fast twitch muscle… sigh. Maybe Rich Clementi was right. Michael Johnson looked good (particularly his long-range body kick), but sigh. Goddammit, Melvin Guillard.
- Jimi Manuwa acquitted himself fairly well against Alexander Gustafsson in the first round, showcasing the formerly popular but now largely archaic “insane strength” submission defense that used to make Sean Sherk largely unbeatable in UFC Undisputed. This, however, didn’t last long; Gustafsson’s wrestling, while admittedly less than technically grand, found a much more willing host in Manuwa than it did in Jon Jones, and the mere threat of the 6’5 Swede’s advances left Manuwa open to the penultimate knee that all but ended the bout. The Mauler’s fight was tremendous; the Mauler’s celebration was tremendous; the Mauler’s post-fight interview was tremendous (and extra kudos to Dan Hardy, whose Octagon jitters may have contributed to his positive decision to let Alex have the microphone). Yes, they should have just made the rematch, but assuming no injuries (and a speedy dispatching of Glover Teixeira by Jon Jones), this was as well as the alternative matchmaking scheme could have hoped to have gone.
- Jon Jones better not fuck this up.