Charlie Brenneman learned firsthand at UFC Live 6 about the fleeting nature of momentum in MMA.
It took Brenneman just a bit more than 24 hours to vault himself into the welterweight conversation in June, when he stepped in on short notice for the ousted Nate Marquardt and upset Rick Story via unanimous decision at UFC Live 5. Suddenly, Story was out of the immediate title picture and out of favor, while Brenneman was in. Just another victory or two against increasingly difficult opponents and the Holidaysburg, Penn., native would be knocking on the door of the top 10 and within striking distance of a shot at 170-pound gold against Georges St. Pierre.
Saturday night in Washington, D.C., it took just two minutes, 49 seconds for all that momentum to clatter off the rails. Brenneman looked out of his depth against the mammoth Anthony Johnson, as Johnson returned from six months of inactivity to cruise to a first round high-kick KO victory.
There has been some grumbling about the stoppage, as Brenneman was still clearly conscious when referee Mario Yamasaki called a halt to the action after witnessing him crumple to the canvas at the end of Johnson’s foot. The stoppage may well have only saved Brenneman more punishment, however, as he already appeared stunned by a hard shot from Johnson during a scramble and accepted the final blow with his hands down near his waist as he attempted to find his balance.
Regardless of the nature of the stoppage, there can be little debate about the rest of the fight. Brenneman just wasn’t able to muster much offense, as Johnson easily fended off his increasingly desperate-looking takedown attempts and bullied the smaller man on the ground, pushing his head into the mat and punishing him with alternating shots to the body and the head.
In the wake of the loss, Brenneman’s status as a welterweight contender will no doubt be a topic of some debate. Surely, there will be those who think he was over-hyped after he trumped Story in a bout where neither guy had much time at all to prepare for the specifics. There will be others who will contend that Brenneman simply fell victim to a nightmarish matchup against the bigger, more powerful opponent, who seemed to have the fight won as soon as he foiled Brenneman’s wrestling. The truth is likely somewhere in between.
Certainly, Brenneman’s career is far from derailed. Even with the defeat, he has still won nine of his last 11, is just 30 years old and trains with one of the sport’s most highly regarded camps, New Jersey’s AMA Fight Club. One loss to Johnson on what will likely prove to be one of the UFC’s least-watched shows of 2011 won’t make or break him.
Brenneman now simply finds himself in the same, unenviable position he forced on Story four months ago. He’s no longer one of the welterweight division’s hottest tickets. For a time he’ll be out of sight and out of mind for many fans. Like Story, it’ll take a few more wins to get the momentum back on his side.