by Mark Lorenzana
(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2011.)
– If you don’t like Frankie Edgar, fair enough. It’s your opinion, anyway. But you’d have to be an idiot not to admire the guy’s heart, will to win, and fighting spirit. Just like in their first fight, Edgar got tagged early by Gray Maynard’s vicious strikes and was visibly hurt and in trouble. In fact, by the end of the first round, Edgar already appeared to be suffering from a broken nose. So what does the guy do? He sucks it all up, fights on, and knocks out his opponent cold. That’s what he did. That’s what champions do. Not to take away anything from Edgar’s win, though, but he was helped in large part by Maynard’s reluctance to let his hands go. I understand that Maynard wanted to avoid what happened in their last fight where, after putting Edgar on Queer Street, he went all out on his offense and gassed out. But I think Maynard may have been a little too gun-shy from the second round onward until the end of the fight when he got knocked the fuck out, and that proved to be his undoing. Maynard could have ended the fight in the second round if he just pounced on Edgar—fighting aggressively doesn’t mean fighting stupidly, and one can be effective by utilizing controlled aggression and not wasting punches. Anyway, so far, the two fighters have fought each other three times already: the first fight went to Maynard via unanimous decision, the second fight was ruled a draw, and now this recent knockout win by Edgar. So that’s one win apiece, one loss apiece, and one draw apiece. Will there be a rematch? I hope so. All three fights so far have all been barnburners and both guys seem to love kicking each other’s ass.
– Kenny Florian’s title-whoring didn’t pay off as Jose Aldo held on to win by unanimous decision to keep his UFC featherweight title. Florian actually started his career as a middleweight then went down to welterweight, lightweight, and now the recent cut to go down to 145. Worry not, Kenny, there’s still the bantamweight division. You can always cut off an arm and challenge Dominick Cruz for his belt. If that still doesn’t work, cut off the other arm so you can compete at 125, the flyweight division. (You just have to figure out a way to win by just throwing kicks.) Dana White said that the new UFC weight class is expected to debut next year. Good luck, Kenny! After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, go down in weight.
– “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,” says Chael Sonnen in the post-fight interview after submitting Brian Stann. Silva, who was at the arena watching the fights (and who was seated next to a grinning Sir Charles Barkley) just smiled when Sonnen said this. Sonnen wasn’t satisfied, and added, “If I beat you, you leave the middleweight division. If you beat me, I’ll leave the UFC forever.” He then stormed out of the Octagon. Frankly, I can’t wait to see if Sonnen can do the same thing that he did to Silva in their last fight, where he repeatedly overpowered the Brazilian and gave him hell for five rounds before Silva was able to submit Sonnen late in the fifth round. Sonnen has so far been the toughest opponent that Silva has faced inside the Octagon. Problem is, Sonnen’s excellent performance against Silva may have been tainted by the fact that the post-fight drug tests showed that Sonnen had elevated testosterone levels, possibly because of performance-enhancing drugs. This led to Sonnen’s subsequent suspension, which is why it took him more than a year to step back into the Octagon. I can’t wait for those two to square off again and see if Sonnen will really stick to his word to leave the UFC forever if and when he loses to Silva.
– So here’s the thing: the Donnie Nietes-Ramon Garcia Hirales fight was very close and could have gone either way. I scored it 115-113 for Nietes, giving him rounds one, two, three, four, five, six and eleven. After the sixth round, Nietes started gassing out , and that’s why he wasn’t throwing as much punches as he should have. Nietes said that it might have been the inactivity or that he overtrained or both that caused him to gas out. In any case, there are a lot of people out there that are crying about the Mexican being robbed, and I feel for the guy, of course. He came to enemy territory to defend his title and went home without it. What’s curious to me was that it was only the Filipino judge, Danrex Tapdasan, who had the score most reflective of the fight that transpired: he had it 115-113 Nietes, same as my unofficial scorecards. The two foreign judges, Lisa Giampa and Carlos Ortiz Jr., had it 118-110 and 117-111 respectively. I mean, what fucking fight were those guys watching? Well, that’s boxing for you. I just hope Nietes grants Garcia Hirales a rematch soon to settle the score and they fight, preferably, on neutral territory like the United States. Or better yet, in hostile territory again for Nietes, in Mexico. I also just hope that Donnie gets better conditioning training for his future fights, so he can be more effective. This actually wasn’t the first fight that he showed signs of gassing out; in the past, he has shown similar conditioning problems. That said, congratulations to the two-division champ, our very own Donnie “Ahas” Nietes. Mabuhay ka, Donnie!
– Just like his ALA stablemate Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista, A. J. “Bazooka” Banal is a favorite target by Internet trolls who park at boxing forums and find pleasure in bashing Banal and finding fault in his every move. They call him a bum and a loser whenever they have a chance, and they belittle his achievements. Well, I don’t know if they can find fault in A. J.’s performance last Sunday against his Mexican opponent, Mario Briones; but I personally think it was an impressive win by the Cebuano boxer. He showed improved conditioning, he was sharp on both offense and defense, and he wasn’t in a hurry to knock the guy out—he was focused and stuck to a game plan. As a result, Banal won by a wide unanimous decision and dealt Briones the first loss of his career. Who knows? If Banal continues to improve, maybe he will eventually get that long-awaited rematch against the only fighter who has ever dealt him a loss (and a stoppage loss at that)—Panamanian Rafael Concepcion.
– Rafael Marquez is the younger brother of Juan Manuel Marquez (duh). Note that we use the word younger here relatively—Juan Manuel, at thirty-eight, is actually older than Rafael by two years. In terms of career, Juan Manuel has also fought a lot more fights and boxed more rounds than his younger brother, but judging from the latter’s fight against WBC super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka, it seems that Rafael has logged a lot more mileage than his older brother. Rafael didn’t throw enough punches, and Nishioka was able to hit him at will. When a fighter ages, the first things that he loses are his speed and reflexes. And in the lower weights, losing your speed and reflexes puts you at a very huge disadvantage. Besides, Marquez’s four grueling fights against fellow Mexican Israel Vazquez took a lot from him. I don’t know if Rafael is contemplating retirement (I think he should be, but then again, I take a look at both Erik Morales and Jorge Arce, and I think twice), but perhaps it would be a good idea for him to sit down and take a look at his long and illustrious career. It was a great run, and if the former champion and future hall of famer decides to hang up his gloves soon, every hardcore boxing fan worth his or her salt should thank Rafael Marquez for the unforgettable fights and, more importantly, for giving so much to this oftentimes unforgiving sport.