What We Learned (UFC Fight Night 33 Edition) – Mark Hunt and Bigfoot Silva Take us To Valhalla, The “Return” of Shogun Rua, Pat Barry’s Lights Out Moments and More

It was marked improvement from the TUF Finale, at least, right? 2014 is starting to finish in style with the last of the minor cards on the UFC roster. Next weekend is the Flyweight title, we get a week break, and then it’s Silva/Weidman 2 with Ronda Rousey’s second arm breaking of Meisha Tate scheduled on the undercard. As always, here’s what we learned.

Nam Phan is tough … not very good … but very tough – I like Phan. He was a nice addition to his season of TUF and so far has had a pretty solid career in the UFC. We know his ceiling now as a Pat Barry type of guy. He’s good, not great, and can stay in the UFC for a long time because he’s never dull. He’s never going to get beyond anyone in the Top 20 of the division, most likely, but he’s a nice test for nearly any fighter. Hell of a fight with Mizugaki, as well. Phan will probably stick around for a lot longer than anyone on his season of TUF because he’s a smaller, more durable version of Joe Lauzon. You can last a long time in the UFC by being just good enough to stick around if you’re insanely fun to watch on a consistent basis.

“The Ultimate Fighter 17” cast is looking sneaky good so far – A friend of mine who was close to production of that season could only tell me that the season was going to be “great” beforehand and so far TUF 17 has a really good showing in the UFC after the show. Uriah Hall still has to show up at some point, of course, but so far everyone else has looked like they belong. This has been a cast of guys who’ll probably stick around longer than most because this was a season where everyone looked like UFC caliber fighters. Dylan Andrews vs. Clint Hester was a good, close fight until Andrews’s shoulder fell out. Both guys look like they could have some long term possibilities in the UFC.

Pat Barry needs to retire – He’s never dull inside the cage or out but he keeps getting knocked out cold. As a fan I get worried about his long term health, potentially, and if he can’t make 205 he’s going to keep getting the lights turned off by giant men. There comes a point when as a fan you have to have some basic humanity for a guy, I think, and not want to see him potentially hurt himself permanently.

Ryan Bader has hit his ceiling: fringe contender – Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader was supposed to be two great prospects seperating themselves from one another at UFC 126. History showed that it was Jones ascending to the upper tier of MMA talent and Bader struggling to follow, of course, and Bader’s ceiling is permanently established now. He’s a great fighter, one of the Top 10 light heavyweights in the world, but he’s never going to contend for a title. He’s a guy who’ll probably peak out between 5-7 in the rankings and be there for a while, never defeating an elite talent for a title shot. I think he never gets to being elite but is the door man to that category; every time he has faced someone elite he’s lost. He could cross that hump but historically he hasn’t for any number of reasons. So far he’s failed the elite test thrice (Jones, Machida, Glover).

Shogun Rua isn’t back … but he’s not completely done yet – Jimmy Smith, Bellator’s commentator, put it at its most succinct.

Shogun still has power in his hands. His knees are done and he doesn’t have the gas tank anymore. That’s what’s been coming out of his camp en masse. Shogun can’t do hard cardio because his knees are destroyed, which is why he’s never in the sort of elite level shape he was one at his peak. Without that he’s never going to be able to move back into the elite unless he lands flush early regularly. Other than that guys will wait it out early and then grind him down because his gas tank is in short supply. Unless his knees miraculously heal and he regains his form … I think Shogun’s tire tread is a bit thin at this point.

I don’t care who won in the main event – That was your fight of the year folks.

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