Michael DiSanto checks in with his thoughts on the recent UFC on FUEL TV 3 event...
JUNG “COWBOYS” UP, BIG TIME
Chan Sung Jung was a huge underdog heading into his main event bout with Dustin Poirier. That was an understandable situation. After all, this is the same guy who lost three of his last four bouts before coming to the UFC.
Since that time, however, Jung has been nothing short of a monster. Three UFC fights. Three wins. Each occurred inside the distance. Each won a post-fight award.
“The Korean Zombie” has gone from from wondering if he would have a job much longer to legitimately talking about his UFC championship aspirations. Not a bad restart to his featherweight career.
I’ve got to be honest. I don’t know what has changed for Jung since joining the UFC. He certainly hasn’t taken a step backward in quality of opponents. His three previous losses came courtesy of Manasori Kanehara, Leonard Garcia and George Roop. His three UFC wins came against Garcia, Mark Hominick and now Poirier. Nothing against Kanehara and Roop, both of whom are very talented fighters, but Hominick and Poirier are a step up, not a step backward. Yet, Jung raised his game to meet the challenge.
We are certainly premature in beginning to break down a potential bout with featherweight ruler Jose Aldo, since the champion is currently preoccupied preparing for a title defense against Erik Koch on July 21. But let’s have some fun anyway. Aldo will truly turn Jung into a Zombie on the feet – an unconscious zombie. Jung certainly appears to enjoy an edge over the champion on the ground. I’m more convinced of that notion after watching him control Poirier on the mat. The question, however, will be whether Jung can actually take Aldo to the canvas and keep him there for any material length of time. That is easier said than done.
SADOLLAH FAILS TO IMPRESS, BUT KEEPS ON KEEPIN’ ON
Amir Sadollah is an affable fighter. His self-deprecating personality is very reminiscent of Forrest Griffin, a man most of the fight world adores. His effort on Tuesday night, however, was not at all reminiscent of the former UFC champion. That isn’t all Sadollah’s fault. It takes two to truly create what Joe Rogan has described as a beautiful ballet of violence, and Jorge Lopez was more interested in grinding than taking risks. The same can be said for Sadollah.
Let’s face it. Not every fight is going to be thrilling. Styles make fights, and these guys didn’t make for the most explosive matchup. But it seemed to me that both men were embracing a bit of the “fighting not to lose” approach.
Sleepy or not, a win is a win. Sadollah righted the ship after losing his last bout. He will now look to continue his on-the-job learning in the UFC. People often forget that this guy has fought all of his professional fights in the Octagon.
Sadollah is now a veteran of 10 professional bouts. That isn’t much in the way of total career experience, but it is enough for him to be considered a legitimate UFC veteran at this point. Not an overly experienced one, but a veteran nonetheless.
I think it is time for Sadollah to step up his game to see what he is truly made of. We need to know whether he is going to be just another welterweight, or if this guy has legitimate top-of-the-heap staying power. I’m not sure where I think he will ultimately net out. But it is time to find out.
CERRONE RETURNS TO HIS FORMER TACTICAL SELF
Donald Cerrone is one of the most decorated post-fight award guys in the UFC. He fights with an all-action, come-forward style. Jeremy Stephens is a walking bucket of C-4. Mix those two together and their fight should have been an epic war.
It was epic, all right. But it wasn’t an epic war. It was an epic beatdown courtesy of the “Cowboy.”
Cerrone completely neutralized Stephens’ power, using his legs to control the distance and exact damage. Kicks to the legs. Kicks to the body. Kicks to the head. And, of course, flying knees. He mixed in punches to complete the systematic undressing of an exceedingly dangerous striker. But the fight was controlled first and foremost by Cerrone’s legs.
Stephens valiantly tried to devolve the action into a knockdown, drag-out slugfest. But he had no answer for Cerrone’s legs. He kept wildly swinging away from well outside of effective punching range to no avail. Cerrone completely controlled him by setting the distance and then putting on a technical striking clinic. It was clear very early that the fight was going to be a one-sided affair, and Cowboy never lost focus for the full 15 minutes. It was a stark contrast to his last performance, where Cerrone was the recipient of a similarly thorough beatdown thanks to Nate Diaz.
If Cerrone can dispatch with the emotion that led him astray against Diaz and remain focused on beating opponents with technique, this guy could find his way to the top of the 155-lb kingdom. Cerrone asked for a fight with Anthony Pettis next. I think that is just what the doctor ordered to help separate one of those two from the current pack of championship contenders.
HAPPY FILTHY BIRTHDAY!
Tom Lawlor was in the midst of a rough patch entering his bout with Jason MacDonald, having lost three of his last four bouts. A fourth loss in five fights could have been disastrous for his short-term job security. It suffices to say, “Filthy” Tom was facing a lot of pressure heading into Tuesday night’s bout.
Yet, the former collegiate wrestler was able to ignore the intense pressure and put forth a career-best performance in the television walkout bout. His knockout win over MacDonald was something was a thing of beauty. Not only was he a serious underdog in the standup arena, in my opinion, but MacDonald was a guy who hadn’t been truly knocked out – I don’t mean stopped by strikes; I mean knocked unconscious – ever in his career. And Lawlor hadn’t scored a knockout win in nearly five years.
I’d call that a career-best performance, one that occurred on his 29th birthday. It isn’t one that will put him into contention just yet. But it is one that he will be telling his kids and grandkids about for decades to come. And it is one heck of a birthday present.