Kevin Lee: Unjustified Hype

We’ve heard it before. This is the fight that Kevin Lee is finally going to put it all together and once again he failed to live up to the hype.

Lee was submitted buy UFC veteran and former champion Rafael Dos Anjos in the fourth round of Saturday nights bout.

Lee didn’t look great in the bout for as much as he talked. Lee is a classic example of talking a lot of shit and never backing it up. I keep hearing about how this was going to be his coming out party. Lee finally moved up a weight class and was destined for a breakout performance and yet again it didn’t happen.

Lee lost a lack luster decision to Al Iaquinta in December. Lee talked a big game and as usual didn’t back up what he said in the pre-fight build up. Lee’s last win came against Edson Barboza, Lee got rocked in the fight, but managed to win. Lee was also submitted by Tony Ferguson in a interim title bout. Lee has managed to lose 3 of his last 4 and was knocked out in the fight that he won. Lee’s last 4 fights have come against some of the best fighters in the divisions hes fought and he hasn’t fared well at all. Lee’s hype to this point as been totally unjustified.

At some point Lee has to start backing up what hes saying or he’s going to be a “what could have been” fighter. Lee is still only 26 years old and has a lot of potential, but just can’t put it all together. Lee’s next few fights are going to be critical for the trajectory of his career.

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The Skyscraper stands tall in win

Stefan Struve submitted Marcos Rogério de Lima with an arm triangle and earned a performance of the night bonus. After the fight Struve basically retired. Struve cited heart issues as being a main reason for his retirement.

Struve was coming off of a 3 fight losing streak. Struve’s fight with de Lima wasn’t without adversity. Struve was dropped to the canvas by a big punch within the first 15 seconds of the fight and was pounded on for the rest of the round. Struve has had many issues controlling range in his UFC career

Struve was always a very good fighter and even has TKO win over former champion Stipe Miocic. Struve has always been a great what if for me. Struve stands at 6’11 and never properly used his reach effectively in his whole career. Struve is 7 inches taller than de Lima and still managed to eat an hay maker from him that should have never landed. Struve’s career was also derailed by heart issue that he said was a main reason for his more than likely retirement. Struve holds a record of 13-9 in UFC and is only 31 years old.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Struve fight against Denis Stojnić at UFC 99. The fight ended with Struve submitting Stojnić in a pool of his own blood. It was a fight that would probably turn most people off because of the blood and violence, but for me it was just another fight that made me love the sport more than I already do. If this is the end I have to say that I always enjoyed Struve fight and wish him the best in a well-deserved retirement.

Demian Maia: A greatly exaggerated demise

Lyman Good got no offense in against Demian Maia and was choked out for his troubles at UFC fight night Fortaleza. It was a choke of the rear naked variety.

I feel like Maia’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. He was coming into the good fight with a 3-fight losing streak, but those losses were against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, rising contender Colby Covington, and future title challenger Kamaru Usman. A bit of a murderers row if you ask me. Maia lost all 3 fights by unanimous decision.

Maia recently turned 41 and is definitely on the back end of his career. Maia has been the most dangerous grappler in the UFC for over a decade. Like in the fight with Good if Maia can get his hands on you, you are most likely going to be submitted.

I don’t think Maia will ever fight for a title again after two failed attempts, but he still has a lot of staying power with his dangerous ground game. There’s no reason he can’t be a top 10 fighter for years to come. Maia has always had great cardio to pair with his exceptional ground game.

Jose Aldo: as good as he’s ever been

Jose Aldo destroyed Renato Moicano at UFC fight night Fortaleza. Aldo was surgical in his destruction of Moicano. Aldo looked as good as he’s ever been. The win over Moicano was his 2nd win in a row after losing two straight to Max Holloway.

It was easy to wonder if Aldo had fallen off after a quick loss to Conor McGregor and 2 beatdowns from Max Holloway. A dominating win of Frankie Edgar was mixed in with those losses. You have to consider that Holloway is one of the greatest featherweights of all-time and his growth over that last few years has been exponential. Not many fights have been able to make it past the power of McGregor’s straight left.

The fights with Holloway were more telling. It was the first time we had seen Aldo get beaten decisively and it happened twice. It would be easy to say that he had lost a piece of himself in those beatings, but he’s come back better than ever.

Aldo has recently admitted that retirement is in the near future. It’s hard to look at his last two performances and think he’s going to retire, but he’s been in the fight game since 2004 and is a veteran of over 32 fights. 15 years in the fight game is a long time.

Aldo’s win against Moicano showed me that he’s a good as he’s ever been. Losses to McGregor and Holloway aren’t going to change my mind on him being one of the greatest featherweights of all-time.

Anderson Silva stays competitive

Anderson Silva lost a unanimous decision to Israel Adesanya at UFC 234. Many people thought that Silva was going to be put in a body bag during the fight, but that didn’t happen. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Silva. Silva is definitely past his prime and doesn’t have the same granite chin that he used to, but is still not totally worn out at the same time.

The fight with Adesanya was a weird one to say the least. Silva stayed competitive for most of the fight at points and urged Adesanya to brawl with him, but Adesanya didn’t take the bait. the fights had lots of showboating. Silva tried to pull out of the Silva of old with his “Killer Bee” defense, but Adesanya wasn’t having any of it and clearly outclassed silva. This fight was kind of like a glorified sparring session if you ask me. Silva was rocked a few times and tried to brush it off. I’m not sure why Adesanya didn’t try to go for the kill.

This fight felt a lot like when Rory Macdonald fought BJ Penn. It wasn’t a one-sided as the Penn fight, but I think that Adesanya could have finished it at any time, but didn’t out of respect for Silva. Macdonald could have easily finished Penn, but he didn’t for some reason.

Silva did look respectable and showed that he can still hang, but for what? Silva is 43 years old and should consider retiring at this point. There is nothing left to prove and he should get out before it gets ugly.

Aaron Pico: caught in the crossfire

Uber-prospect Aaron Pico was brutally knocked out at Bellator 214 by Henry Corrales. Pico stunned Corrales and rushed in for the kill. Corrales was able to regain his composure. Corrales detonated a left hook on Pico’s chin that sent him falling back in a heap. Pico got caught in the crossfire of a slugfest and came out on the losing end. Hopefully, Pico’s approach will improve with more experience.

Pico came into the Corrales fight on a 4 fight win streak of brutal knockouts. Pico earned wins over Justin Linn, Shawn Krutchen, Lee Morrison, and Leandro Higo. Pico’s win over Higo was very impressive. Pico knocked out Higo who is a former LFA champion and a veteran of 23 pro fights.

I’m a huge fan of Pico’s game, but he needs a long layoff after that KO. Pico has all the talent in the world, but you have to wonder if his chin is going to be an issue. It’s even worse to be thinking that because Pico is only 22 years old. I hope that Pico leans on his great wrestling ability in his next fight, we haven’t seen much of it so far.

Ryan Bader: Champ Champ

Ryan Bader blasted Fedor with a left hook from hell and won the Bellator heavyweight tournament and the Bellator heavyweight championship at Bellator 214.

Bader stormed through the tournament with wins over King Mo and Matt Mitrione. Bader knocked out Mo in 15 seconds and mauled Matt Mitrione in a decision victory. I can’t say that in three fights that Bader was even punched and if he was it was probably once or twice in the Mitrione fight. Most people expected Bader to win the tournament, but I don’t think anyone expected this level of dominance, I can’t say I did.

Ryan Bader has proven to be worth every penny that Bellator has invested in him. Bader has been Bellator’s best free agent signing to date. Bader stated this week that he wanted to stay with Bellator MMA long term.

Bader’s departure from UFC after going 15-5 was somewhat of an afterthought, but he has really found his footing in Bellator and has built something special after becoming a two-division champion.