You have to do more than wrestle if you want to be successful in MMA. That’s not much of a secret to the hardcore MMA fan that knows how many fighters have garnered success in the sport when they had the ability to show their skills in multiple martial arts. Everybody knows it’s called mixed martial arts for a reason.
This is why the career of Corey Anderson, winner of the 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter, hasn’t exactly been as impressive as some people expected it to be.
Ever since beating Matt Van Buren impressively via TKO just over a minute into the first round to become the TUF 19 winner, Anderson has had a lot of lackluster performances. Most fighters who come out of the TUF house tend to do a pretty good job of improving with each fight, but, as UFC commentator Brian Stann said during Anderson’s latest fight, winning the reality show doesn’t exactly have as much meaning as it used to.
After beating Van Buren, Anderson won his next fight via unanimous decision at UFC 181. However, he followed up the win with a loss to Strikeforce veteran Gian Villante at UFC on Fox 15. While it was an exciting bout that earned “Fight of the Night” honors, Anderson seemed to be overmatched by the more seasoned New York native.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s next four fights were decisions, even if he did go 3-1. Yes, a majority of those decisions were wins — and not exactly bad performances — but it was just not enough to put Anderson’s name on the map and create a real buzz.
Finally, the Illinois native apparently got some motivational words from his own father, who told Anderson he wanted the fighter to get more angry and aggressive. This should push Anderson to have more impressive performances.
It’s worked so far. Anderson’s last fight, where he took on heavy-hitting Sean O’Connell at UFC Fight Night 102, was one of his best showings as a UFC fighter. Not only did he manhandle O’Connell with his wrestling, but he finished him in brutal fashion in the second round, which should definitely put the light heavyweight division on notice for the future.
If Anderson can exhibit the same killer mentality he did in his last fight, then the more success he can have moving forward. To echo Stann’s point about fighters coming out of the TUF house, it’s not enough to just win the tournament. A fighter really has to go out there and put on performances that show improvement in a short period. When a fighter is young and just starting in the biggest MMA organization in the world, steady improvement is good, but sometimes it’s not enough. A fighter has to be able to improve with every fight and add something new to each performance.
Anderson managed to learn something from some of his more underwhelming fights. If he can keep doing what he did in Albany, N.Y., then he’s going to be on his way to a promising career as an MMA fighter and, more importantly, in the UFC for years to come.