The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC Fight Night 56 Fallout

Mauricio RuaTheMMA-Analysis co-host Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 56 in Uberlandia, Brazil. #5 Much Anticipated Debut – Of the dozens of fighters to debut in the UFC in 2014, there may not be one appearance I anticipated more than that of Brazilian Thomas Almeida. The former Legacy FC bantamweight champion entered the octagon with an unblemished record with a series of highlight reel knockouts. The Chute Boxe trained fighter was matched gritty Iowa wrestler Tim Gorman. While Gorman doesn’t have great technical striking, he’s an extremely durable fighter with decent power and a good wrestling game. It was a solid test for Almeida’s debut fight. On Saturday night, Almeida and Gorman put together one of the best fights of the night. The talented Brazilian landed 120 significant strikes in the bout (41 more than anyone else who fought in Uberlandia that night). The incredible part is that Almeida’s output increased from 32 in Round 1 to 43 in Round 2 to 45 in the final round. Almeida’s volume and accuracy (55% landed) make him a fantastic prospect moving forward. One thing he will need to improve on his striking defense. Almeida took quite a bit of punishment in the fight with Gorman and he bruises fairly easily. That could come back to haunt him as begins to face tougher competition. With that said, an impressive debut for the Brazilian and a blue chip prospect that Brazilians can look forward to watching for years to come.   #4 The Fight That Never Happened – The most important fight on the schedule for UFC Fight Night 56 was the one that never took place. The likely number one contender bout between Brazilian John Lineker and American Ian McCall was going to be a barn burner. Lineker has some of the heaviest hands in the division looking to knockout his opponents with every punch. On the flip side, McCall is a crafty veteran with some of the best footwork, speed, striking technique, and wrestling in the entire division. It was an interesting contest and one most MMA fans were looking forward to. Unfortunately, McCall had a viral infection and had to back out of the fight less than 24 hours before the event. With the fight not taking place, it leaves the state of the flyweight division in uncertainty. Jon Dodson is still recovering from surgery, Benavidez has lost to Demetrious Johnson twice already, and now there’s no clear cut contender for Johnson’s title. Perhaps this is a good time for Mighty Mouse to take an extended vacation to let the division sort itself out. #3 The Heat is On – While no one expected UFC Fight Night 56 to have the same level of fireworks as the finish laden card in Sydney, Australia the night before, it certainly was a fairly pedestrian event. One reason for that was the lack of air conditioning in the venue. A recurring theme to the UFC’s venture into Brazil is the hot temperatures inside arenas. This isn’t the first time that fighters have had to fight in venues with temperatures rising to 90 degrees. Not only is this uncomfortable to spectators, but hot temperatures take their toll on fighters and leads to exhaustion. The UFC wants every fight to be fast paced and action packed. Lackluster fights do to sweltering temperatures goes against that mantra. If the UFC wants great Fight Night cards in Brazil, it needs to hold them in first class venues. Part of the reason the UFC has only had moderate success in Brazil is that it is forcing events into venues that aren’t equipped for a high level sporting event. If the UFC wants to increase its success in South America’s largest country, it needs to stick to using only world class venues. #2 You Down with OSP? – Ovince St. Preux is a fighter that many had high hopes for when the Strikeforce migration to the UFC took place a couple years ago. The 31 year old St. Preux is a big, athletic fighter with both a striking and submission game. His ability to finish fights in various ways made him one to watch out for in a division with a void in talent. Entering his bout with Shogun Rua, St. Preux was 4-1 in the UFC including a win over Ryan Jimmo. In his first attempt at a step up in competition, St. Preux was competitive against Ryan Bader, but ultimately Bader’s wrestling ability gave the Arizona St. product the nod. When Jimi Manuwa got injured, St. Preux jumped at the chance at another “step up” fight against Rua. This time, St. Preux rose to the occasion scoring the biggest win of his career in shocking fashion knocking out the former champion in less than a minute. It was the fastest anyone has ever knocked out the legendary Shogun in his entire career. In terms of victories, it was the biggest win of the weekend for any fighter on the UFC roster as it’s the signature level win necessary to build a contender. OSP has cemented himself as a top 10 fighter in the light heavyweight division for the next couple years. Expect him to get a marquee opponent in early 2015. #1 The End of a Legend – Since Jon Jones dethroned Mauricio “Shogun” Rua of the light heavyweight to begin in his lengthy title reign, it has been a difficult run for the legendary Brazilian fighter. In the 7 bouts after losing his title, Shogun is a modest 3-4. Furthermore, Shogun is 1-3 in his last four bouts with three losses by stoppage. For a fighter that is still only 32 years old, he really seems to be showing his wear and tear. Shogun has been in some real wars, including two with Dan Henderson, in just the last couple of the years.  It is this style of fighting that has wore down Shogun. With the loss to St. Preux, that was Shogun’s last chance to build a case as a contender. Coming of back to back knockout losses to fringe top 10 fighters in Henderson and St. Preux, there really isn’t much opportunity for Shogun to ever contend again for the title. The smartest thing for him to do is what he’s actually going to be doing in early 2015; start coaching. He will be one of the coaches on TUF Brazil and that gives him a good chance to push himself as an ambassador of the sport in his native country. Shogun’s fighting style has made him a legend of the sport. With nothing left to prove, he needs to focus on what developing a career outside of the octagon. Going back into the cage with a powerful striker like Jimi Manuwa or Glover Teixeira would do more harm than good at this point in his career. Hopefully, Shogun begins thinking about life after MMA before he accrues permanent damage.

Written by Jay Primetown

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