A word of thanks for all who read and responded to yesterday’s article regarding the Jones vs. Gustafsson classic at UFC 165. A reader from the Underground Forum described it as “the first intelligent post I’ve seen on the fight.” Another, on our Facebook page dubbed it “best written column on Caged Insider….ever.” I’m pretty humbled by those comments.

There were others who thought I was nuts, but I’ll take the good with the bad. I appreciate you folks too. Thanks for reading.

A look around the web has at least some fans re-thinking their original thoughts about the bout after re-watching it. Others are just a little tired of talking it out. That’s cool. So, one way or another, we’ll see a return to normality.

But hey, normality is boring.

So, about War Machine.

Since last Tuesday’s article War Machine: Why Too Much Crazy is a Bad Thing was also pretty well received, I thought I’d give a second look at War’s bout Friday night at Bellator 100. Bellator doesn’t always get the spotlight, and I’d like to have some small part in changing that. Likewise, War’s actual in-cage activity gets overshadowed a lot. So, here goes.

War Machine was fighting in the quarterfinals of Bellator MMA Season Nine Welterweight Tournament against Vaughn Anderson. Anderson, a Canadian based out of China, was making his North American debut after years toiling in obscurity in Asian MMA. His performance against War seemed a good measuring stick for the region’s development.

How did War look?

In the cage, the first thing I noticed was War Machine’s banner which included among his sponsors, the musician “Collie Buddz.” I had no idea that Bahamian Buddz, who had at least one solid dancehall track a few years back, was even a fan of MMA. A for originality on that one.

More importantly, I noticed that War was being cornered by Baret “The Finisher” Yoshida. I knew they worked together before and it’s good to see them together again. As I wrote last week, I’ve always had hopes for War and this is an encouraging sign. A for preparedness.

Shortly after opening bell, War shoots for a takedown, forcing Anderson to his back, head against the cage. Seconds later, War passes to half guard with a quick, explosive step. A few more seconds, and he’s passed through to side control — pressuring well and shooting right over. Nice. Next, knee on belly – a rare position in MMA, then a modified scarf hold and a transition to the back.

Vaughn was able to re-position to the guard, but a big right hand was followed to another transition — back to knee-on-belly again and into mount. Anderson did little here, but he survived a pretty graceful jiu-jitsu attack on the part of War.

War scored another double leg takedown to begin the second. Anderson defended the pass better, but War adjusted — taking a page out of Fedor’s book (and I mean that literally – it’s p.191 of Fedor’s instructional) by swinging an overhand right to fall right into a guard pass. He quickly moved into a front side crucifix, a la the win against Blas Avena, and landed some nasty punches. And then, another transition – as Anderson maneuvered out of the position, War moved to his back, settled in his hooks, and slowly worked for the choke.

That choke came after some solid punching, and Anderson went limp at 4:02 of the second.

Color me impressed. Again. An A in jiu-jitsu.

So, straight A’s across the board, against improved competition. But can War keep up these transitions, and even transition into challenging the Bellator MMA elite in the semifinals?

I guess we’ll see. But this report card would seem a great sign.