Yesterday we posed five questions that would be answered over the course of the Ultimate Fight Night 20 card. See below to find out what we learned.
1. Can Nate Diaz produce an upset by bringing an end to Gray Maynard’s winning streak?
Though Diaz never looked like finishing the fight inside the distance, this was a close fight and there was always a chance that this one could have ended with a victory in his favor. In the end the judges were split on who took it, but two scored it in favor of Maynard, handing him his sixth decision victory in a row.
In my book this fight should have been a draw, with neither fighter making a definitive impact in the bout. It’s interesting to note that Fightmetric agree, rating it as a 29-29 draw under the 10-Point must system based on their stats.
2. Will it be Evan Dunham or Efrain Escudero who picks up the first loss of their careers?
In the first round it looked like it would be Dunham who was en-route to the defeat as Escudero gave another demonstration of the power in his hands by dropping him. Dunham then showed the will to win that has earned him his unbeaten record by coming back strongly in the following rounds, before finally getting the submission.
The win will undoubtedly help Dunham gain traction in the lightweight division, while, as we reported earlier, Escudero thankfully does not have a broken arm as was initially feared, and appears to be dealing well with his first loss.
3. Can Tom Lawlor find a way to stop the ‘A Train’?
He certainly gave it a good try. Personally I had went into this fight believing a submission would be Lawlor’s best chance of stopping Aaron Simpson, but in the first round it was his striking that had the ‘A Train’ in all kinds of trouble.
Despite landing with a succession of punches in the opening round, Lawlor was unable to put the final nail in Simpson’s coffin, and burned up a lot of his energy reserves in the process. That would prove costly in the final round when he appeared to be running on empty, while Simpson had found his second wind.
Though he emerged with the victory Lawlor’s performance in the first round will have shown him some holes in his game, and given his future opponents some potential clues as to approach a fight with him.
4. How good is Amir Sadollah at this stage in his career?
For a guy with just four professional fights he’s doing very well. The more I see of him the more I think of him as the welterweight version of Forrest Griffin, and I’m not just referring to their similar personalities. He’s got good cardio, he throws a mix of punches and kicks, and he’s not out of his element on the ground.
Also like Griffin he doesn’t necessarily have one-punch knockout power, there’s still a nagging feeling that his chin could be suspect, and a top of the food chain striker in the welterweight division, such as a Thiago Alves or Paul Daley for instance, would pick him apart in the stand-up department.
He is still improving as he goes along though, and hopefully the UFC will recognize that he needs to continue to be brought along gently rather than being thrown in the with some of the major names in the division.
5. Does Chris Leben still have what it takes to fight in the UFC, or will tonight be the last time we see ‘The Crippler’ in the octagon?
With his UFC career on the line Leben could have easily panicked and resorted to swinging for the fences last night as he has done in the past. Instead he showed that he was mentally prepared for the bout by avoiding Jay Silva’s dangerous striking and instead using his wrestling and taking the fight to the mat where he was able to get the better of the Brazilian for the full three rounds.
It’s a good sign for Leben, who’s standard brawling tactics will only ever get him so far in MMA as the level of competition continues to evolve. Despite being put on the undercard for this event, there’s still a lot of interest in Leben, and at 29 he could potentially have several years left in the sport if he plays his cards right.
Whether they will be spent at the highest level or in the smaller promotions remains to be seen.