Retrospective: Nover vs. Escudero

December 16, 2008

The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 is in the books. There were some serious shenanigans and tomfoolery, but there was also some fantastic fighting. One of the most impactful was the lightweight final between Nover and Escudero, so let's take a few minutes to look back and figure out why the rest of the UFC lightweights collectively just took on a telling look of concern.

A lot of people were wrong in calling this fight, including myself, but my error fell in a different place than most.

After some truly devastating victories during the tournament, the scouting report was out on Nover that he was the man to beat; a new Anderson Silva. I have to admit, when I first heard this from Dana White, I thought he had effectively lost his mind -this is where I made my biggest mistake. Nover was impressive for sure, and I couldn't deny that he had potential, but Anderson Silva? Really? I wasn't buying it. And it wasn't until I saw him lose when I realized that Dana was probably on to something.

I initially thought Phillipe's game had a few pretty big holes in it; a little careful planning and discipline could overcome anything that he brought to the table. The truth is the dude is solid. He's still young and he'll need some fine tuning, but his skill set is there and mentally, he's as tough as they come. To see him rally after taking such punishment in early rounds to win the third was remarkable.

The thing is Efrain still beat him.

I think most people will agree at this point that Nover has superior skills, but somehow he still managed to drop the most important fight of his life to the Mexico native. So how does this make sense?

Well, its one of the great facets of sports. Escudero posses something that he just proved to be more important than raw skill; he's got the ability to identify and capitalize on an opponent's weakness. Most fighters recognize that this should be an important part of their preparation, but the fact is that many people are simply not that good at it. Efrain is. And he's got the talent to support it.

These two fighters will be running amuck in the lightweight division for a long time.

Can't wait for the rematch.