PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 22, 2014

David Estrada column: UFC Fight Night 36 short on thrills

David Estrada
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The last MMA column in The News recounted the Super Bowl weekend UFC 169 event

and how, like the Super Bowl, it was not the most thrilling by far. A

record-setting ten out of the twelve bouts on the card went to judges’

decision. Fans enjoy the emphatic submission or knockout finish to a bout and

that occurred only twice at UFC 169.

    In an uncanny coincidence the following UFC event, UFC Fight Night 36, was a

exact carbon copy of UFC 169:

    • It tied for most number of decisions with ten out of twelve bouts.

    • All seven undercard bouts went to decision.

    • Only two out of the five bouts on the main card ended with a finish (one KO,

one TKO at UFC 169; one submission, one TKO at UFC FN 36).

    • UFC 169 broke the record for longest-lasting UFC event at two hours 51

minutes. UFC FN 36 broke that record at two hours and 53 minutes.

    What is causing this recent shift towards decision-laden UFC events? Has mixed

martial arts evolved to the point where parity has been met?

    MMA is the ultimate chess match. Perhaps fighters' offense and defense has advanced to

the point of being more prone to reach a stalemate. Has the ever-increasing

number of UFC events held each year, and larger pool of fighters led to this

phenomenon? Are fighters fighting not to lose rather than to win as a game plan

to move up in the rankings?

    Or is it simply just a coincidence that has occurred for no rhyme or reason?

    Like believers and detractors of global warming being or not being part of the

natural ebb and flow of climate change, and there being man-made contributors to

it, so is the debate on what is causing the recent increase in fighters not

being able to stop each other.

    Time will tell. Back-to-back MMA events are too small of a sample size to

determine if it’s a long-term trend. Looking at more events going forward may

provide answers to these questions. Whatever the case, it should be easier to

determine than the decades, centuries and millennia needed to definitively

understand climate change.

    UFC 171, slated for March 15 in Dallas, has taken shape and the fight card has

been finalized. Dallasite Johny Hendricks will have home court advantage as he

faces MMA veteran Robbie Lawler for Georges “Rush” St-Pierre’s vacated UFC

welterweight title.

    In fact, the entire card is welterweight-filled with many top fighters in that

weight class fighting for contention.

    Former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and former Strikeforce

welterweight challenger Tyron Woodley will go head-to-head in the co-main event.

Former Strikeforce middleweight champion now UFC welterweight Jake Shields will

face-off against former Bellator middleweight champion now UFC welterweight

Hector Lombard.

    Southeast Texas fans may remember Lombard for his emphatic

knockout of Nate Marquardt at UFC 166 Houston last fall.

    Lastly, to round out what has become a welterweight showcase in Dallas, the

Ultimate Fighter 17 champion, Kelvin Gastelum, will square off against the

ever-dangerous Rick Story. People will remember Gastelum as the man who stopped

Port Neches-Groves alum Brian Melancon last summer at UFC Fight Night 27 giving

Melancon his only UFC loss after a successful UFC victory that enlivened Golden

Triangle MMA fans.

    I will be on hand to cover the UFC 171 event, providing a more in-depth

preview and recap of the showdowns up in Big D.

    David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com