The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC 188 Fallout

Cejudo.0.0Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC 188 in Mexico City, Mexico. #1 Heavyweight’s New Kingpin – The return of Cain Velasquez and his first ever fight in Mexico City were the headlines leading into UFC 188, but it was the dominant victory by Fabricio Werdum that took all the headlines after Saturday’s big fight card. The 37 year old Brazilian from Porto Alegre showed once again how much he has improved in the last couple years. His striking has improved leaps and bounds at Kings MMA under the guidance of Rafael Cordiero. His ability to land his jab with regularity caused the Mexican-American heavyweight all sorts of problems. Werdum acclimated himself well to the altitude in Mexico City by arriving over a month before the fight and adjusting himself to the conditions. As others struggled with the thin air, Werdum embraced it outlasting Velasquez. It was a remarkable performance by Werdum. Combining this win with victories over Travis Browne, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Noguiera, Alistair Overeem, and Antonio Silva, one can make the argument that Fabricio Werdum has one of the best, if not the best resume in the history of the division. Werdum’s ability to strike at range, excellent cardio, and a ruthless ground game make him a champion that will be difficult to beat. #2 Where it Wrong for Cain – Heading into UFC 188, the overwhelming majority of the MMA Community viewed Cain Velasquez as the undisputed heavyweight champion despite Werdum holding the interim title. From the start, it appeared it wouldn’t be easy for Velasquez. Werdum was able to land consistently on the champion with his jab. A big mistake Velasquez may have made was not engaging on the ground with Werdum. Yes, Werdum is very dangerous with submissions, but Cain scored takedowns, but was unwilling to work any ground and pound to inflict damage or tire out Werdum. This allowed Werdum time to recover and continue fighting the type of fight he wanted to have. Perhaps the biggest mistake Velasquez made was not respecting the altitude of Mexico City. Werdum was in Mexico City for over a month leading into the fight. On the flip side, Velasquez was there for just two weeks. For a fighter who prided himself on conditioning, he really struggled with the thin air and looked out conditioned by the older Brazilian. On top of all that, Velasquez hadn’t fought in nearly two years. Ring rust was certainly possible. All of these things spelled out the most disappointing night in Velasquez’ career. It will be interesting to see whether the UFC puts Velasquez right back in a rematch or lets him get a warm up fight before he has to challenge for the title again. #3 Mexico’s Rising Star – While Cain Velasquez is certainly an accomplished fighter, he’s an American with an American wrestling pedigree. A Mexican born and bred star is something that we have not seen inside the octagon. Saturday’s PPV card, perhaps gave us a glimpse at the UFC’s first Mexican born star. Yair Rodriguez has improved drastically since his time on TUF. The lanky featherweight tournament winner on TUF Latin America was certainly one of the more talented fighters on the show, but his performance against American Top Team’s Charles Rosa went way beyond that. It’s clear that Rodriguez has been influenced by his time training at Jackson’s MMA. His unorthodox style of striking is eerily reminiscent to that of Jon Jones. His long lanky limbs allow him the opportunity to emulate Jones. The type of kicks and elbow strikes combined with being a well above average athletic talent make for the ability to follow in the footsteps of MMA’s best fighter. At just 22 years of age, Rodriguez is still very green, but the stunning improvement from just his last fight leads me to believe he has a high ceiling in this sport. With another UFC card coming to Mexico later in the year, Rodriguez should be given the chance to co-main event the card and showcase his skill set. #4 Buy or Sell – Time to play a quick buy or sell with the other winners on Saturday’s PPV card. Eddie Alvarez: SELL. Alvarez did walk away with a split decision win over Gilbert Melendez. That in and of itself is magnificent given that he broke his nose and orbital in the first round of that fight. The remaining two rounds of that fight saw Alvarez score a couple takedowns, but really very little happened in the final 10 minutes. Based on the 10-9 scoring system, round one and the final two rounds are scored equally despite the significant difference in damage in those bouts. Alvarez won the bout on will and determination and that should be commended. With that said, Alvarez is a fringe top five fighter in the division, but I simply don’t see him being able to beat the truly top fighters in the division who are more well-rounded strikers or much more accomplished grapplers. Kelvin Gastelum: BUY. Once Gastelum figures out his weight cutting strategy, he could be a contender at either middleweight or welterweight. At welterweight, Gastelum can compete right away. When he faced one of the division’s top fighters in Tyron Woodley, he walked away a loser in a close split decision. His combination of speed and strength are tough to match in that division. At middleweight, speed is the name of the game. His hand and foot speed is better than nearly every fighter in the division. Combine his solid wrestling and transition game and he’s a threat in one of the sport’s oldest divisions. Tecia Torres. SELL. The American Top Team fighter is in a tough spot. She’s proven she can out strike deficient strikers and outwrestle fighters with poor takedown defense. Still, she’s one of the smallest fighters in the division. She was already out grappled by Carla Esparza and Randa Markos on TUF. Strikers like the champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas will use their length to out strike Torres. “Tiny” is certainly talented, but it’s tough to see her having the size and skill set to challenge the division’s elite. #5 Cejudo Status Update – The 2008 55 Kg Olympic Champion in Freestyle wrestling extended his unbeaten run to start his MMA career to nine with a unanimous decision win over Chico Camus. Heading into this fight, Cejudo was considered perhaps the fighter with the best chance of one day dethroning Demetrious Johnson. While Cejudo did get the job done here, talks have cooled on him as a serious threat to Johnson. Cejudo did struggle scoring takedowns against Camus. It wasn’t until the third round when Cejudo began to have success with bringing Camus to the canvas. The Roufusport fighter defended extremely well in the first two rounds forcing the bout on the feet. If Cejudo is to have success against Mighty Mouse, he will need to find a way to hold him down for large portions of the fight. Another problem is that Cejudo complained again of a bad weight cut due to a stomach bug days before the fight. It appears that nearly every fight, Cejudo has some sort of excuse as he’s not at 100%. In order to beat one of the top fighters in the sport, Cejudo will need to be at 100%. Anything less and he’ll just be another victim of Mighty Mouse.

Written by Brian Hemminger

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