Dustin Hazelett file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
We live in a world full of rubs, ranging from inadequate Pop Tart supplies to cats that never let anyone sleep past 6:30 a.m. OK, this might be getting too personal.
MMA has its own rubs and few approach the plight of prelim fighters. They almost uniformly make significantly less money than their main card counterparts, and only a small percentage of fans end up seeing their fights.
In an attempt to give them some shine and get my good deed for the decade out of the way early, here are some prelim all-stars and a few non-stars from UFC 117 “Silva vs. Sonnen” last Saturday at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.:
‘The Horror,’ Oh, ‘The Horror’
Dustin Hazelett’s all-galaxy Brazilian jiu-jitsu game was supposed to be a serious test for Rick Story. Instead, the fight featured Story testing the structural integrity of Hazelett’s body with a relentless torrent of punishment that extended well into the latter’s supposed safe haven on the mat.
Yes, Story beat up on Hazelett, but it was the manner in which he did so that was so impressive. “The Horror” employed an exceptionally intelligent game plan that neutralized Hazelett’s grappling, as he engaged him on the floor from dominant positions.
Really, the fight was all about Story’s demoralizing body punches and, as we should all know by now, any man who brings the rib-roasting flavor to MMA is worth watching.
Mr. Wonderful: Most Accurate Nickname Award
Taking a clean sweep of the scorecards in the UFC may not be a rarity, but doing so while completely shutting down your opponent’s entire offense must not be ignored.
Phil Davis turned the trick against Rodney Wallace and, in doing so, made the fight look more like a glorified sparring session than anything else. Better yet, Davis has been given the chance to gradually develop in much the same manner as Jon Jones, which means this will only be the beginning for the Penn State wrestling legend.
Who Davis fights next does not matter, as long as he continues to face quality opponents who can give him a good workout. It seems almost absurd to say that about a 7-0 prospect with barely two years worth of MMA training, but the there are not many fighters in the 205-pound class who can give Davis a fight; the number will only get smaller.
‘The Spaniard’ Misses His Armada
Going into his fight with Johny Hendricks, Charlie Brenneman was regarded by many as an undefeated fighter due to the abysmal judging that cost him an earlier bout with John Howard. Hendricks disavowed the Pennsylvania native’s cheering section of that notion with a second-round TKO win.
Hendricks moved to 4-0 in the UFC, including wins over Amir Sadollah and T.J. Grant, and the time has come for the UFC recognize what it has and give him some main card shine. An unapologetic heel during his collegiate wrestling career, Hendricks can liven up any event with his flapping gums and punishing fists.
Besides, the UFC has a serious lack of bearded stars, and Hendricks could be the man to usher in a new era for the promotion.
Cheap Shots, Quick Thoughts
Christian Morecraft: After whipping on Stefan Struve for a round, Morecraft got collapsed in an exchange that basically came down to hand-eye coordination. Some more work with the focus mitts needs to be on the menu if he wants to stick around in the UFC.
Charlie Brenneman: Even in defeat, “The Spaniard” showed some serious game before getting a little too bold about exchanging with Hendricks. At bare minimum, he becomes another solid mid-level welterweight and, in a division stacked with Supermen, there can be no shame in that.
Ben Saunders: Instead of talking smack to your opponents when they put you on the mat, it might be a good idea to learn some takedown defense and avoid that awkwardness altogether. Is there anything more annoying than a fighter with substandard wrestling skills complaining about being taken down?
Tim Boetsch: Keep on rockin’ in the beard world.