The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC Fight Night 70 Fallout

Lyoto Machida 3Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 70 in Hollywood, Florida #1 Fountain of Youth– Most 38-year old fighters are just trying to earn a couple extra paychecks prior to retiring; Yoel Romero on the other hand seems to be just getting started. Since a 2011 knockout loss to Rafael Cavalcante, the Cuban born Romero has been on a tear. He’s won six straight bouts in the UFC, five of them coming by knockout. His ability is astonishing given his age and his relative lack of fight experience (eleven professional fights). A 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist in freestyle wrestling, most would think Romero would be a classic wrestler winning fights from top control. It’s been far from that for Romero. In fact, Romero has only used his wrestling skill set in small doses in the UFC. It’s been his work in the standup game that has catapulted him to inside the top five in the UFC’s middleweight division. His combination of heavy hands and athleticism are extremely rare resulting in recent finishes of top 10 middleweights Tim Kennedy and Lyoto Machida. While it’s unclear how long Romero can continue to fight at this level, he’s showing older fighters that it is possible to improve in one’s late thirties. Expect Romero to fight Jacare Souza in a number one contender fight later this year. #2 The Dragon’s Regression – After a long career, it’s apparent that Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is starting to regress. The 37 year old fighter made a living of elusive movements and being perhaps the cleanest striker in the entire sport.  Machida’s vulnerability began as he began facing the best talents in the middleweight division. He took significant damage in his five round loss to Chris Weidman in July 2014. It seems it was that fight that started to show some of the regression. In April, Luke Rockhold scored early testing the durability of Machida. Once he was able to get the fight to the mat, Machida was in all sorts of trouble.  In his fight on Saturday with Romero, it was a similar situation. Once Romero figured out Machida’s movement, he began to land with some regularity. As soon as the fight went to the canvas, Romero pounced and ended it very quickly. Machida’s ability to handle a physical fight simply isn’t there at this stage of his career. His ability to defend on the ground is a real liability. After a couple vicious stoppage losses, Machida is no longer a contender for the championship. With a title no longer in reach, will “The Dragon” continue fighting? #3 Drop in Weight Makes All the Difference – Two fighters on the Fight Night 70 card made lasting impacts by showing that a drop in weightclass was the right decision. TUF Brazil Heavyweight Champion Antonio Carlos Jr. made the drop all the way to middleweight for Saturday’s fight with Eddie Gordon. The cut in weight went well and the size difference in the Octagon was apparent. Gordon, usually a solid wrestler, was taken down with regularity by Carlos Jr. The Brazilian proved to be the better striker, wrestler, and submission fighter in this bout. It was complete one way traffic and the type of dominant performance that could see him face a top 15 middleweight in his next matchup. In an aging division, the 25 year old is one to watch. In the co-main event, Lorenz Larkin continues his career resurgence since dropping to welterweight. Larkin’s hand speed at welterweight is astonishing and makes him a viable threat to top 10 level competition. His opponent, Santiago Ponzinibbio, was certainly game in this matchup taking significant damage both via leg kicks and punches. Once Larkin stunned Ponzinibbio, he was able to swarm him forcing the referee to the stop the fight. Like Carlos Jr., Larkin is seeing a real advantage at a lower weight class and has a real opportunity to be a contender at welterweight. #4 Buy or Sell – Time to play a quick buy or sell with the other winners on Saturday’s PPV card. Hacran Dias: SELL. His offensive wrestling is well above average for the weight class, but his standup skill set is behind others at his level in the division. Combine that fact with poor conditioning nearly losing every third round he’s in, makes it difficult to win fights with regularity. Leandro Silva: SELL. Physically imposing for 155 pounds, but fight IQ is rather poor. Gives up position in the grappling exchanges too easily. Striking simply not good enough to win fights on the feet. One of those fighters that looks solid in a highlight clip, nowhere near as good in reality. Thiago Santos. BUY. The Brazilian born striker is on the rise in the middleweight division. Yes, his ground game has question marks, but he’s dynamic on the feet and has very good length for the weight class. He’s an entertaining fighter and likely will continue to be scheduled in matchups that favor his action style. #5 Short Notice Fights / Visas – Several fighters that were scheduled to appear on this fight card were unable to compete due to visa issues. The UFC was forced to scramble a couple weeks before the card to put together some new bouts. To do that, several fighters fought at different weight classes as the weight cut would have been too difficult on short notice. That made for some sloppy preliminary fights where guys struggled with conditioning in later rounds and losing dominant positions. Moving forward, the UFC needs to do a better job managing visas. With more talented fighters around the globe combined with more events held in different countries, the visa process is an important one to setup matchups and preserve fight cards.  

Written by Brian Hemminger

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