UFC 84 easily tops all of the shows in recent memory and that is saying something.
There are two main things any student of the game should take away from the show and those things are as follows. (This blog will only discuss the major fights.)
BJ Penn vs Sean Sherk
Firstly stay out of whatever weight class in which BJ Penn fights. His Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is certainly better than yours, especially in the MMA realm. Also his stand up is better than yours. It was certainly better than Sean Sherk's on the 24th. I picked Penn to win it but I thought he would win it on the ground with the BJJ. I thought this because I thought Sherk would win the take down war and then have to fight to keep Penn off his back until they stood back up or Sherk got choked out. However Sherk had an interesting plan and that was to wear Penn out with the stand up before begining to take BJ down and working his ground and pound. (Sherk tried very early to take Penn down, could not, and ate several punches and a vicious knee to his gut for his troubles.) It wasn't that Sherk's strategy was necessarily bad its just that he wasn't the guy best suited to use it. Penn's stand up is crisp, accurate and destructive. Penn's punches soon had Sherk cut up in at least four places, two bad cuts under the eyes (one of which Penn managed to target over and over again with a stiff right hand). Penn got the better of nearly every punching exchange and with less than twenty seconds to go in the third, ended a very game Sherk's night with a three punch combo followed by a flying knee.
This brings me to my second point that all MMA fighters must note. Throw your jab. Penn wrecked Sherk all because of the jab. It caused Sherk to stand much farther away, thus ending any serious take down attempt. That alone really cost Sherk the entire fight. It is notoriously hard to topple Penn even from the clinch, having to shoot from a mile away gives Penn too much time to stop the take down. From that point Sherk was caught in a stand up fight. (This was part of his plan anyway but as I said it wasn't a plan that fit him very well.) The jab is the tool that many fighters in the UFC seem to completely ignore. You can almost predict when another UFC fighter, Chuck Liddell is going to win by whether or not he respects an opponent enough to utilize his jab. Randy Couture uses it to great effect. The reason it is so important is because whether you are looking to throw more punchs, or crash into the clinch or go straight to a take down, the jab covers your up your bad intentions.
Keep that in mind.
Lyoto Machida vs Tito Ortiz
This went exactly as I predicted. Lyoto's stand up, and elusiveness were just to much for the one dimensional Tito, who could not cut off the ring or trick Lyoto into a stand up war. Tito has one of the best ground and pound games in the business but his ability to get some one down seems to be slipping. The reason for this is probably because it is getting harder and harder to shoot, from a distance, for the single or double leg on today's MMA fighters. Randy Couture and GSP are probably the most successful with wrestling takedowns in MMA and the reason is that they effect takedowns from the clinch, or dirty boxing positions. Anyway Lyoto, who owned the octagon for almost the entire fight, almost lost it in the last 30 seconds when attempting a little ground and pound of his own by falling into what looked like a fight ending triangle choke. But Lyoto trains with Nogueira and managed to slip away from the triangle and pick up another win.
Wanderlie Silva vs Keith "the dean of mean" Jardine.
Okay, I didn't expect for Wand to walk away with the win in this. But I did call the strategy he would need perfectly. Jardine, I told anyone who would listen, was an awkward, jumpy fighter who was hard to read. He has these strange jerking ticks and unorthodox punches. He is a counter puncher's worst nightmare because of this un-orthodoxy. Just ask Chuck Liddell if you don't believe me. So, I said to anyone would listen to me, Wand just has to throw. Don't wait for "the dean of mean" lead, land and do it again.
However Wand gets timid in the octagon and hasn't had much success in the UFC. I was worried he'd fight like nervous Wand and not like the guy who handed Quinton "Rampage" Jackson two of the most violent losses of his career. So I supected that Jardine would take the fight. However....
Wand, did what I wanted him to do, which was throw first and, as it happens, last. Wand was all smiles some thirty-eight seconds after the opening bell, as a prone Jardine was left to wonder what had just happened to his shot at "Rampage" Jackson. Does Jackson want another shot at Wand? Only time will tell.