Newman’s Take: UFC 158: GSP vs. Diaz

-Talk about a long time coming – this one had been building for what felt like years, or at least since the initial cancellation of the fight when Diaz wouldn’t play ball and refused to show up for press conferences. Every GSP fight these days feels like a massive deal but this in particular was HUGE, as Diaz DID show up to the press conferences and media conferences and what-not this time and built it into one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history. More on that later, though. The card was also somewhat of a showcase for the 170lbs division, with Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt underneath the title match in the main event. Exciting stuff? You betcha.

UFC 158: GSP vs. Diaz

03/16/13
Montreal, Quebec

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Bantamweight Fight: George Roop vs Reuben Duran

After two losses at 145lbs and a layoff of over a year, this drop to 135lbs seemed like the last roll of the dice for TUF 8 veteran Roop, and personally I was worried about him making the weight given he looked skeletal last time he fought at Bantamweight. Duran meanwhile also needed to win badly after being brutally KOd at the hands of Hugo Wolverine last time out.

Round One and Roop fires a front kick and a spin kick right away but doesn’t land. Roop is a fucking HUGE Bantamweight. Head kick glances for the TUF veteran. Duran has a mean look on his face but isn’t throwing much yet. Good left hook from Duran wobbles Roop but he fires back with a front kick to the body. Right hand glances for Duran. This is quite a pace. Inside leg kick from Duran. Head kick glances for Roop. Big one-two wobbles Roop’s legs but he backs up and recovers well. Left hook lands again for Duran as he seems to have his timing down for counters. Good leg kick from Roop. A second one follows but Duran catches the leg and glances on a right hand. Nice takedown from Duran and he lands on top in Roop’s guard. Action slows down as Roop seems to be posturing for a triangle but doesn’t actually go for it, but he ties Duran’s arms up enough to prevent any damage. Decent right hand gets through for Duran. Elbows from the bottom answer for Roop. Seconds remaining and Roop prevents any attempts at passing the guard and continues to land elbows. Duran’s lucky not to be cut here actually. Into half-guard for Duran but the round ends there. 10-9 Duran.

Round Two and Duran opens with an inside leg kick. Big head kick misses for Roop. Short knee lands for the TUF veteran but Duran grabs the leg and looks for the takedown. Roop defends and they end up clinched on the fence. Reversal from Roop and now he looks for the takedown and gets it, taking the back with one hook in a really slick move. It’s an awkward position though as Roop has his back to the fence and looks a bit stuck. Joe Rogan’s explanation of the position is fucking BOSS, for the record. Roop gets the second hook almost in and begins to look for the choke, but he hasn’t quite got full control of the body. Duran manages to scoot out and escapes to his feet, but Roop stays on him and looks for the takedown again. Good knee inside for Duran as he blocks the takedown. They break off and Roop connects with a head kick, but Duran takes it and looks for the takedown. Good block from Roop and they break off. One-two connects for Duran and he hits a single leg to guard. Guillotine attempt from Roop but Duran seems calm and it doesn’t look tight to me. Sure enough he gets his head free easily enough. They exchange from the guard before Roop manages to scoot back to the fence and wall-walk to his feet. Duran keeps him in the clinch and they muscle for position, exchanging some short strikes before the round ends. 10-9 Roop.

Round Three and Duran immediately goes for the takedown and gets it. Roop works his way back up to his feet but Duran stays on him like glue and pushes him into the fence. Good knee inside from Roop. Roop reverses position and begins to land some solid shots from the clinch, working Duran over nicely. Duran seems tired to me as he isn’t returning much fire at all. Takedown from Roop and he gets into half-guard. Duran works back to full guard almost immediately and he looks to use the fence to stand, but Roop works to take the back with a rear waistlock as he comes up. Trip from Roop but Duran reverses and pops back up into the clinch. Nice elbows from Roop as Duran ducks his head for a possible takedown that doesn’t come. One minute to go and the action has really slowed down. Good knee inside from Roop though and Duran is definitely the more fatigued of the two. Seconds remaining now and they separate and trade on the buzzer. 10-9 Roop and I’ve got it a close 29-28 for him.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for George Roop. Definitely the right call there. Pretty decent fight if nothing spectacular as they stayed busy for the majority of the time and it was a closely matched affair throughout.

Bantamweight Fight: TJ Dillashaw vs Issei Tamura

This one seemed like a squash on paper, with Dillashaw – who had looked incredible since coming off his TUF 14 run and had won two in a row – likely rolling right over the Japanese fighter who had lost his previous fight in one-sided fashion to Raphael Assuncao.

First round and they circle with TJ feinting with some level changes. Inside leg kick from Tamura. Right hand glances for Dillashaw. Good leg kick from TJ. Nice right hand counter from Tamura as TJ throws a combo. Takedown from TJ and he pins Tamura down by controlling the left ankle to stop him getting back up. Tamura scrambles and goes for a takedown of his own, but Dillashaw seems calm and grabs a cradle to control the Japanese fighter. Front facelock for Dillashaw and he spins to hit a knee to the body. Tamura pops back up, but TJ stays on him and forces him into the fence. Single leg from Dillashaw but Tamura works right back up. He can’t get Dillashaw off him though and the Alpha Male fighter works with some knees to the legs. TJ drags him down for a second but Tamura pops right back up. Good knee to the body from Dillashaw. Crowd begin to boo despite both men working hard in the clinch, exchanging body shots. Good elbow inside from TJ. One minute to go and referee Yves Lavigne separates them. Head kick just misses for TJ. Another one grazes Tamura’s skull. Dillashaw’s striking looks wildly improved. Axe kick misses for him and he stuffs a takedown before landing a knee to the body. Round ends there. 10-9 Dillashaw.

Second round and Dillashaw closes Tamura down and LEVELS HIM WITH A LEFT HEAD KICK!~! Series of follow-up punches stiffen him up and that’s that. God damn.

Tremendous performance from TJ Dillashaw who’s striking has improved immeasurably since his TUF days and I think he’s probably a top-ten level talent at this point. And has anyone’s stock gone up this year as much as Bang Ludwig since he took over as Team Alpha Male’s head coach? He’s taken a team of wrestlers and grapplers and turned them all into straight KILLERS with vicious striking. Frightening stuff and one of the best knockouts of the year thus far.

Welterweight Fight: Rick Story vs Quinn Mulhern

Former KOTC champion Mulhern was making his UFC debut here after a short run in StrikeForce that saw him pick up three wins in a row after an initial loss to Jason High, which really is nothing to be ashamed of. Story meanwhile was in dire need of a win after being neck cranked viciously by Demian Maia in his last appearance – his third loss in four fights. I was expecting him to use his powerful wrestling game to grind down the smaller Mulhern for the victory, though.

Fight begins and Mulhern circles on the outside ad Story takes the center of the cage. Wild swing misses for Story early but he lands a kick and then hurts Mulhern with a heavy combo. Quinn drops to guard but Story forces him back up. Story looks pretty fucking intense here. Takedown attempt from Mulhern but Story sprawls and avoids it comfortably. Right hand lands for Mulhern. Story closes him down and wades in with a combo. Story continues to walk him down despite Mulhern circling on the outside. Solid body kick from Quinn. Combination lands for Story. Big leg kick into a body punch from Story. Story is looking great here. Hard right hand connects for Mulhern in an exchange but Story walks through it and nails the body. Leg kick from Story. Decent counter lands for Mulhern and his timing is looking better now. Brutal left hand connects for Story though and it looks like it caught the eye socket as Mulhern backs up and touches his right eye while wincing. Story smells blood and closes in and from there he UNLOADS with a BRUTAL COMBINATION that folds Quinn up for a TKO.

Story looked great here, blowing right through a tough opponent with very little difficulty. Probably his best showing since the Thiago Alves fight back in 2011 in fact. Fun knockout.

Lightweight Fight: John Makdessi vs Daron Cruickshank

This was a battle of two unorthodox strikers, but if I’m honest I wasn’t that enthused as outside of that one spinning backfist, Makdessi’s never really impressed me. Cruickshank though had looked awesome in his previous bout with Henry Martinez and had shown a ton of charisma there too. I was actually picking the TUF veteran to use his ground skills to overcome Makdessi though as I still maintain the Canadian should be at 145lbs or even 135lbs.

Round One and they circle with neither man really throwing anything early on until a leg kick from Cruickshank about a minute in. Head kick glances for Makdessi. Couple of minutes in and this looks like a sparring match as they’re throwing techniques out but not really landing anything flush due to the movement of both men. Attempt at a clinch from Cruickshank is avoided. Crowd begin to boo with two minutes remaining as more of the same follows. Neither man seems to have landed flush yet. Solid jab does connect for Makdessi though. Leg kick from Cruickshank and Makdessi answers with a groin kick. Ref calls time to let Cruickshank continue. They restart and the sparring-type exchange continues. Spinning backfist glances for Makdessi. Cruickshank tries one of his own to answer. Takedown attempt by Cruickshank is stuffed. Elbow glances for the TUF veteran. Cruickshank turns totally backwards in his stance in an odd movement but nothing comes of it. Round ends there. 10-10 round for me as neither man did enough to win it convincingly.

Round Two and they begin exactly where they left off in the first. Head kick glances for Cruickshank. Side kick connects to the body for the TUF veteran too. Nice leg kick from Makdessi. Couple of jabs land for the Canadian too. Body kick glances for Cruickshank. Leg kick from Cruickshank. Nice uppercut lands too. Joe Rogan mentions Cruickshank is carrying his hands in an open fashion which is worrying as it leads to eye pokes. Good leg kick from Makdessi. Crowd don’t like this fight and neither do I to be honest. Stiff jab from Makdessi. Spinning kick to the body follows and lands nicely. Cruickshank fires back with a wheel kick and goes for the takedown but Makdessi sprawls to avoid. Good combination from Makdessi in an exchange. Striking exchange continues and to be honest it’s tricky to play-by-play as neither man is really landing anything truly significant. Head kick into a side kick lands for Cruickshank but Makdessi makes him pay with a combo. Stiff jab follows it up. Makdessi seems to have his range down now, especially with his punches. Spinning backfist into a right hand from Makdessi and Cruickshank misses with a wild flying knee to end the round. 10-9 Makdessi.

Round Three and both men open with combinations as the action basically picks up from where the second ended. This is basically a kickboxing-cum-tae kwon do-cum-sparring match. Makdessi does appear to be getting the better of it now though. Cruickshank slips to his back off a kick but Makdessi waves him right back up. Nice punches from Makdessi and Cruickshank misses a wheel kick. Takedown attempt from Cruickshank is blocked and he eats a combination on the way out. Nice punches land for Makdessi on the counter, snapping Cruickshank’s head right back with a jab. Sprawl from Makdessi to avoid a takedown and Cruickshank drops to his back to try to pull guard. Makdessi’s having none of that and he waves him right back up and continues to outbox him. Makdessi is owning him with the jab now. Spinning back kick to the body lands for the Canadian. Spinning backfist into a jab from Makdessi but Cruickshank catches him with an eye poke and the ref has to call time. Really blatant poke there too and the crowd boo when they see the replay. They restart and Makdessi really pushes forward with strikes including a hook kick. Exchange continues and Cruickshank is still throwing open hand strikes. Spinning kicks miss for Cruickshank and Makdessi pops him with the jab and another combo. Front kick to the body from Makdessi. Makdessi continues to light him up until the fight ends. 10-9 Makdessi and 30-28 overall.

Judges have it 29-28 all round for John Makdessi. Fight started off really dull as neither man could find his range and it resembled a high-level sparring match with flashy techniques, but once Makdessi managed to work the jab into his arsenal about halfway through the second round it became more fun as he took over. Not one of my favourite fights personally as I’m into stuff where it’s all kickboxing, but it wasn’t horrible or anything in the end.

Welterweight Fight: Jordan Mein vs Dan Miller

Another StrikeForce import, Mein was quite an exciting one too as he’d won four fights there with only one loss – to Tyron Woodley which is no shame – and in that run he’d beaten the likes of Marius Zaromskis and Cyborg Santos (the male one of course) in impressive fashion. Miller meanwhile was making his second appearance at 170lbs after taking out Ricardo Funch in June 2012. This was a tough fight to pick but from what I remember I was leaning towards Miller just due to his experience.

Fight begins and Mein dodges an early combo. Both men look to gauge the distance and throw some punches out before Mein lands with a nice jab. Counter left glances for the Canadian as Miller pushes forward. Beautiful double leg from Miller puts Mein on his back in a butterfly guard. Miller works to pass and then goes right into an armbar in a SICK TRANSITION, and it looks all but locked up as the arm gets totally extended. Somehow though Mein hangs in there and hits a wild escape by stepping over and slipping free to his feet. Crowd EXPLODE for that. Miller joins him standing and pushes forward with a hard right hand that connects to the jaw. Leg kick follows. Mein pushes forward though and clocks him with an elbow. Glancing combo from Miller and he follows with a hard body kick. Beautiful leg kick from Miller. He looks more marked up than Mein though. Couple of counters glance for Mein as Miller comes forward. Just over a minute to go and Mein DROPS HIM WITH A BIG LEFT! Miller looks hurt, but Mein waves him right back up rather than dive into the guard. Miller actually looks recovered quickly, but he eats a solid right hook. He tries to fire back, but Mein closes the distance and snaps his head back with a jab. Hard combo lands for Mein. Miller looks in trouble and Mein UNLOADS ON HIM with a vicious combo that sends him down, and from there he just DESTROYS MILLER WITH ELBOWS for the stoppage. Jesus.

Ending was incredibly vicious; very few guys in MMA have that sort of finishing killer instinct but evidently Mein has it in spades as once he hurt Miller with that first left hand he just picked his shots patiently and when it was time for the kill he went absolutely batshit on poor Miller, who if we’re honest was winning the fight until about four minutes in! Super entertaining fight and a tremendous UFC debut for Jordan Mein. You don’t get much better than that in fact.

Featherweight Fight: Darren Elkins vs Antonio Carvalho

This one felt somewhat unfairly overlooked actually, as Elkins – an unlikely contender – was looking for his fifth straight win at 145lbs after overcoming Steven Siler and Diego Brandao in 2012, while Carvalho had picked up two wins of his own over solid opposition in Daniel Pineda and Rodrigo Damm. Close one to call but I was leaning towards Elkins with his grinding style.

Round One begins and Elkins lands with a body shot and grabs a clinch. Carvalho breaks and lands a glancing left hook. Takedown attempt from Elkins and he drives Carvalho into the fence, but Pato defends nicely and shrugs him off. Left hook connects again for Carvalho. He’s landing it nicely on the counter as Elkins pushes forward. Right hand glances over the top for Elkins. Left hook again from Carvalho. Single leg attempt by Elkins is blocked but he forces Carvalho into the clinch. Good knee from Elkins but Carvalho switches position and then breaks. Big head kick misses for Pato. Good right hook lands for Elkins and Carvalho looks slightly wobbled. Big combo drops Carvalho but as he bounces back up, referee Yves Lavigne steps in and stops the fight. Ugh.

Replay shows Carvalho was clearly hurt but wasn’t out by any means, and he was actually on his feet covering up as Lavigne stepped in. Awful stoppage. I mean, sure, Elkins did a great job at unloading on Carvalho but when a dude is standing and covering up you probably shouldn’t stop the fight. With that said, refereeing isn’t exactly an easy job and I guess sometimes it’s better safe than sorry. Premature ending to what was shaping up to be a possibly excellent fight.

Welterweight Fight: Patrick Cote vs Bobby Voelker

Initially this would’ve seen a rematch between Cote and Alessio Sakara after their controversial November fight, but Sakara pulled out with another injury – dude ought to be nicknamed Mr. Glass! – and so Cote chose instead to drop to 170lbs to face StrikeForce newcomer Voelker. With Cote looking in the best shape of his life and Voelker more of a crude brawler, I figured this would be a return to form for the Predator.

Round One and they trade punches from the off and the crowd are absolutely PUMPED for Cote. Good combinations from both men and both have hard chins as they just take the shots with no problem. Nice one-two from Cote backs Voelker up and he looks like he might be in trouble. Into the clinch and Voelker looks for a takedown, but Cote blocks it as the fans begin a loud chant for him. Short right hands land inside for Cote as they muscle for position on the fence. They break off and Cote glances on a right hand as he throws some combos. Good movement from Cote to avoid Voelker’s punches. Big right hand misses for Voelker and Cote nods to acknowledge it. Good leg kick and a body shot from Cote. Clinch from Voelker but Cote trips him down for a second. They pop back up and Voelker manages the takedown this time into Cote’s guard. Armbar attempt from Cote but he takes some shots in the process and Voelker pulls his arm free. Cote keeps looking for it and stays active from his back, but Voelker seems calm and avoids it. Couple of hammer fists get through for Voelker but Cote lands some elbows from his back. Oma plata attempt is avoided by Voelker. Seconds remaining in the round and Cote looks for a sweep, but Voelker blocks it and remains on top. Another loud chant for Cote begins as he shifts his hips again, but the round ends with Voelker on top. 10-9 Cote in my book.

Round Two and Cote opens with a chopping leg kick. Big uppercut connects for Cote and he follows with a combo. Voelker just takes it somehow. Sharp right hand from Cote. Good leg kick answers for Voelker. Punches connect for both men. Good leg kick from Voelker. Combination lands for Cote. Leg kick follows. Voelker backs him up with a rush and grabs the clinch along the fence. Cote reverses position quickly and pins Voelker into the cage. Beautiful combo from Cote and he opens up as he breaks off. Uppercut follows. Deep breath from Cote as if he can’t believe Voelker can take this. Combo from Voelker answers back and forces Cote onto the fence, and Voelker follows by clinching. Good body shot from Voelker. Cote turns the position around and breaks off. Superman punch ala GSP from Cote. Big knee from Voelker and he follows with another one to set up the clinch. Takedown attempt now from Cote but Voelker defends and cracks him with a knee to the chest. Good flurry breaks for Cote. Body kick follows up but Voelker lands a heavy knee that stuns him for a second. Right hand over the top follows. Cote looks busted up. Clinch from Voelker but Cote switches position again. Good throw from Voelker but Cote pops right back up. Seconds remaining on the clock. They break off and Voelker lands a left, but Cote fires right back with a combo and a takedown to end the round. 10-9 Cote.

Round Three and they trade punches right away with Voelker hurting Cote badly with a combo. Looked like a big left hand that wobbled him. Cote clinches and goes for a single leg, but Voelker blocks and they end up clinched on the fence. Good knee inside from Voelker and they separate. Flying knee glances for Cote. Voelker pushes forward with more punches. Single leg attempt from Cote is stuffed and they wind up clinched again. Good knee to the body again from Voelker. Good elbow breaks the clinch for Cote. Voelker lands another combo that hurts him though and follows with a hard knee. Takedown attempt from Cote is stuffed again and they end up clinched once more. Nice trip takedown from Voelker and he gets on top in full guard where he begins to open up with some solid punches and hammer fists. Cote turns his hips for an armbar but he eats a ton of hammer fists for his troubles. Cote tries to reverse, but Voelker grabs him in a front facelock and uses it to keep him firmly grounded. He works almost to his feet but Voelker drags him right back down and continues to land shots. Triangle attempt from Cote but Voelker frees himself and takes side mount for good measure. Cote rolls out onto all fours, but he can’t get up and Voelker continues to pound on him. Back to the feet now and Cote looks tired, leaning on Voelker in the clinch. One minute to go and Voelker takes him back down into full guard. More ground-and-pound follows and Cote can’t seem to escape. Into half-guard for Voelker and he continues to land shots until the round ends. 10-9 Voelker and a great comeback – in PRIDE rules he probably wins – but I’d still call this 29-28 for Patrick Cote.

Judges officially have it as 29-28 all round for Patrick Cote. I know some people online had this for Voelker and sure he came away looking like more of a winner, but I think the judges got it right if you score it round by round as Cote did just enough to take the first two before Voelker swept the third. Pretty fun fight actually if not exactly spectacular, but I don’t see Cote becoming a legit contender at 170lbs based on this unfortunately.

Lightweight Fight: Mike Ricci vs Colin Fletcher

This to me was an odd choice for a main card opener; I know Zuffa likes to showcase their TUF prospects as fans usually know them, but the shoddy ratings for the seasons that these two had come from (TUF 16 and The Smashes, respectively) meant that to most fans they were pretty much unknowns. In terms of how they matched up it looked like a tough fight for the British ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher as Ricci had shown well-rounded skills throughout his TUF run while Fletcher had shown issues with takedowns and ground control in his loss to Norman Parke, but naturally I was pulling for the Brit over the metrosexual Canadian.

First round begins and both men look quite tentative early on and exchange some strikes from the outside. Good body kick from Fletcher. One-two connects for Ricci but he takes a counter from Freakshow. Body kick again lands for Freakshow. Good left hand from Ricci but he eats another kick to the body. Inside leg kick from Ricci. Straight left connects for Ricci again. Fletcher throws a combo that misses but forces Ricci to back up. Body kick from Ricci and he lands a straight left to counter a low kick. Spinning back kick glances to the midsection of the Brit. Leg kick answers for Freakshow. Leg kick from Ricci. Spinning….something misses for Fletcher. Couple more slow kicks from Ricci. This isn’t exactly the best round. Front kick to the body connects for Ricci. Body kick follows. Kick lands low for Fletcher and the ref calls time. They restart and Ricci connects on a right hook. Right hook from Fletcher and he catches a leg and goes for the takedown, but Ricci stuffs it and that’s the round. Call it 10-10 as neither man did enough to take it.

Second round and both men throw combos to open, but it’s Ricci who lands hardest with a head kick and he follows with a takedown to guard. Good shots from Ricci connect as he postures up to pass, moving into side mount. Fletcher turns himself into the ultra-rare donkey guard, but Ricci works free of that and takes the back. Fletcher gets to his feet but he’s taking some hard punches here. He turns into the clinch and looks for the takedown, but Ricci defends it and muscles the Brit into the cage. Fletcher is definitely looking worse for wear here. Good right hand from Fletcher breaks off. Body kick lands for Ricci. Both men glance on some strikes before Fletcher lands solid with a knee to the body. Head kick lands for Ricci but he takes a leg kick in return. Left hand from Freakshow. Fletcher is badly busted up. Left hand lands hard for Ricci. Front kick to the body follows. Crowd begin to boo as I guess not enough is going on. Either that or Josh Koscheck just arrived. Leg kick from Ricci. Spinning backfist glances for Freakshow. Wheel kick misses by a mile. Round peters out standing. 10-9 Ricci.

Third round of what has been a disappointing fight so far. They exchange a bunch of glancing kicks early on before Fletcher looks for a single leg. Ricci stuffs it and Fletcher forces him into the fence and really drives for a double leg, but he can’t get Ricci down and they wind up clinched. Crowd boo loudly now as they muscle for position along the fence. Standing guillotine attempt from Fletcher is easily avoided. Good left hand and elbow break off for Ricci. They exchange some more strikes with neither man really landing big, Best shot is a straight left from Ricci. Good combo from Ricci backs up Fletcher but doesn’t really hurt him. Takedown attempt from Ricci and he easily trips Fletcher down, right into side mount. Fletcher regains half-guard, but Ricci begins to grind on him with some hard punches. Crowd finally pop as Ricci passes the guard and then takes the back with both hooks. Fletcher manages to defend the choke, but he’s going to lose this round like that. Ricci tries an armbar but Fletcher slips out and gets on top, but the round ends as he lands some hammer fists. 10-9 Ricci and 30-28 for him overall on my scorecard.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Mike Ricci. Really dull fight though as neither man looked like a possible contender or anything and even in victory Ricci wasn’t exactly impressive. Why they chose this as a main card opener I don’t know. I mean I’ve seen worse fights but this was definitely one of the most forgettable of the year so far even if it wasn’t actively terrible.

Middleweight Fight: Chris Camozzi vs Nick Ring

This was another baffling main card choice in my opinion, especially when you had guys like Elkins, Cote, Story and Miller on the prelims. It was a battle of two TUF 11 veterans but to be fair neither had set the world alight in their previous fights even if they were carrying wins into this fight. Despite Ring only going 1-1 in his last two while Camozzi had won his previous three, I was taking the more well-rounded Canadian Ring to pull off the victory, most likely via decision.

Round One and they begin by exchanging some leg kicks. Decent right hand connects for Camozzi but Ring seems fine. Good exchange sees both men land. One-two lands for Ring on the way forward. Inside leg kick and a jab to the body land for Ring but he’s dropping his hands for some reason here. Jab lands for Camozzi. Knee catches Ring leaning in but he fires back with a right hand. Big overhand left lands for Camozzi. Combination lands for Camozzi as he catches Ring with his hands down again. Ring is pot-shotting from the outside for the most part. Nice snapping jab from Ring but he eats a combo from his TUF castmate. Combination again from Camozzi after they exchange leg kicks. Sizeable “boring” chant begins now and I’d agree unfortunately. Right hook from Camozzi. Seconds to go and they continue the striking exchange. Left hook from Ring. Good knee inside lands for Ring to end the round. Erm, 10-10?

Round Two and Ring opens with a leg kick. Knee from Camozzi. Ring is at least being the aggressor here but this fight sucks. Pair of left hands land for Ring. Right to the body follows. Camozzi looks marked up and he’s eating the cleaner punches in this round. Nice counter left lands for Ring, but Camozzi cracks him with an overhand left that causes Ring to shoot. Camozzi blocks it with a possible guillotine attempt and they break off. And now Ring goes back to potshotting from the outside. Spinning backfist misses for Camozzi. Trio of stiff jabs land for Camozzi but Ring clocks him on the counter. Good leg kick from Camozzi. Big knee lands for Camozzi as he manages to catch him with the plum. Right hook lands for Ring. Double jab from Camozzi. Decent knee for Camozzi but Ring catches him with another combo from the outside. Crowd are loudly booing now. Remind me why this is main card and Miller/Mein wasn’t? 10-9 Ring I guess. Garbage round.

Round Three and Camozzi lands a decent right hand in the exchange. Good combination answers for Ring. Neither man seems to want to take this to the ground. Ring continues to jab the body. Left hook connects for Camozzi and he lands a couple of stiff jabs too. Leg kick answers for Ring. Counter left from Camozzi and he gets a clinch and looks to drag Ring down from a rear waistlock. Good knees land for Camozzi but Ring manages to break off. Exchange continues and Camozzi seems to be taking over now. Not that it makes the fight any better, sadly. Nice left hook from Camozzi. Body shots connect for both men. Takedown attempt by Ring is easily stuffed. Ring looks gassed. Stiff jab from Camozzi. One minute to go. Goldberg mentions that if it were a five rounder, Camozzi would probably win. Good lord, can you imagine this going five rounds? Camozzi continues to land on Ring now as he’s slowed down markedly. Another “boring” chant starts up as the fight just about ends. 10-9 Camozzi and I’d call it a 29-29 draw. Terrible fight.

Judges call it a split decision, 29-28 Camozzi, 29-28 Ring and 29-28 Camozzi. Eh, the crowd silence says it all when Camozzi’s announced the winner. This just did not warrant a main card spot at all; I mean I’ve seen Camozzi have exciting fights before but Ring just came in with an odd gameplan and it made for a really, really dull fifteen minutes to watch. Frustrating stuff especially when you consider people were expected to pay for this while stuff like Elkins/Carvalho was shown for free.

Welterweight Fight: Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt

Initially this would’ve seen Ellenberger facing Johny Hendricks in a likely #1 Contender’s match, but when Rory MacDonald dropped out of the Condit fight and Hendricks moved up, in stepped Marquardt – even though Dana had promised he’d never be back after his whole testosterone controversy in 2011! – fresh off losing his StrikeForce title to Tarec Saffiedine and looking to make himself relevant at 170lbs again. Tough fight to pick but I thought Nate could pick Ellenberger apart and gas him out en route to a decision or late stoppage.

First round and both men come out quite tentatively and circle around without really throwing much. Leg kick from Ellenberger but Marquardt answers with one of his own. Inside leg kick follows for Nate. Head kick is blocked by Ellenberger. Pair of rights from Marquardt have Ellenberger on the run and he follows with a head kick, but Jake recovers and lands a left hook that backs Nate up. Inside leg kick from Marquardt. Side kick follows. Another leg kick connects nicely. Marquardt looks to be cut around his right eye. Couple more kicks land for him. Ellenberger begins to close him down and suddenly lands a LEFT HAYMAKER OUT OF NOWHERE! Brutal right hand follows and NATE IS DOWN! VICIOUS PUNCHES follow that and put him to sleep. Jesus Christ.

Looked like Nate was en route to picking Ellenberger apart actually, but you cannot sleep on Jake’s power and as soon as he landed Marquardt was DONE, face-down unconscious. Fun stuff with a great finish and hey, Jake Ellenberger just saved this show!

Welterweight Fight: Johny Hendricks vs Carlos Condit

As I previously mentioned this would originally have seen Condit rematching Rory MacDonald but when Rory dropped (yet again) Hendricks was moved up to what was clearly a fight to decide the next title challenger. When you get a fight like this I don’t think there’s much point in trying to work out who’s going to win – it’s better to sit back and enjoy – and although I love Condit and he’s one of my favourite fighters to watch, I was pulling for Hendricks to win as he’s the fresher fight for GSP.

CRAZY STAREDOWN pre-fight with both guys looking ready for WAR.

Round One and it must be added that the crowd are AMPED, treating both guys like legit top stars. Hendricks pushes forward early as Condit circles, and right away Johny catches him with the big left and swarms. Condit manages to back up to avoid though and gets out of the way. BIG COMBO from Hendricks has Condit hurt and covering up, but Carlos fires right back with a pair of knees from the plum. Big takedown from Hendricks and then he decides to let Carlos up. Head kick glances for Condit. Condit looks to use some kicks to keep his distance, but he takes a glancing left hook. Hopping knee from Condit pops the crowd but Hendricks comes wading in with some haymakers and then drops for another takedown and gets it, ending up in Condit’s half-guard. Condit wraps up an arm to reverse to his feet, but Hendricks grabs a rear waistlock. Scramble from Condit and he drags Hendricks down into an armbar attempt, then goes to full guard. More action in the first two minutes of this fight than in Ricci/Fletcher and Ring/Camozzi put together. Good elbows from the bottom for Condit but Hendricks postures up to stay out of real danger and he lands some solid shots from the top. Hendricks comes back to his feet and Condit joins him to a loud cheer. Leg kick from Condit and he doubles up on it. Big uppercut misses for Hendricks but he gets a slam and ragdolls Condit down. Condit pops back up and Hendricks drives him into the cage and drags him back down. Condit scrambles and looks to roll, but Hendricks controls him and grabs a front headlock. Hendricks is a phenomenal wrestler. Condit gets to his feet but takes some knees before breaking and landing a front kick. Head kick glances for Condit and he tries a flying knee that backs Hendricks up, but Johny fires back with a BRUTAL LEFT HAND that stuns him and that leads into a FIREFIGHT with both men landing! Holy shit this is awesome. Hendricks drops for the takedown but Condit reverses using a kimura and takes the back! Both hooks in and he hops up into the lemur position, but Hendricks shakes off the hooks and they separate. Seconds to go and Hendricks lands the left but goes down off something, and they trade before Hendricks takes him down on the buzzer. Awesome. 10-9 Hendricks by a hair.

Round Two and Condit opens with a head kick that Hendricks just about blocks. Hendricks is just winging the left hand wildly. Big right connects for Hendricks but Condit fires back with a jumping knee and that leads into another trade before they back up. Jab lands for Condit and a head kick glances. Leg kick from Condit but Hendricks counters with a left to the body and then gets a takedown. Kimura attempt by Condit is avoided and Johny is in half-guard. Condit does a good job of getting back to a full butterfly guard and works back to his feet, and they separate. Good right hand connects for Condit and he follows with a leg kick and a front kick. Nasty left hand from Hendricks puts him on the run though and he swarms, forcing Condit back. Takedown attempt from Hendricks and he dumps Carlos onto his back again. Kimura attempt allows Condit back to his feet, but Hendricks stays on him. Big knees break for Condit though and he follows up with a combo. This is such an awesome fight. Big body shot from Condit but Hendricks forces him back with a pair of haymakers. Condit comes back with a one-two and a lunging knee but Hendricks grabs him and slams him right down into half-guard. Again Condit looks to wrap up the right arm, but Hendricks avoids it and keeps control from the top position. Reversal from Condit and he gets to his feet, breaking away from a rear waistlock in the process. Right hook from Condit and he backs Hendricks up a bit now. Odd punch to the leg lands for Hendricks. Condit backs him up a bit again and throws a big front kick, but Hendricks avoids it and gets another takedown. Condit again does a good job of getting up, but Hendricks gets him right back down. Condit escapes to his feet right before the round ends. 10-9 Hendricks in another close round.

Round Three and Condit again opens with a head kick and dodges the big left hand. Hendricks backs him up with a kick of his own, but he takes a nice leg kick. Right hand from Condit as he comes forward. Single leg attempt from Hendricks and he gets it but Condit immediately tries for a switch. Hendricks avoids and keeps him down, but Condit scoots back towards the fence. Hendricks does a good job of pulling him away and pinning him down, and so Condit goes to throwing elbows from his back. Sweep attempt from Condit but he eats some elbows for his troubles before getting to full guard. Condit keeps attacking from his back but Hendricks matches him now with some short, effective ground-and-pound. Kimura attempt from Condit and he uses it to escape to his feet and open up with a combo. Hendricks fires right back with a series of hard left hands that push Condit back. Big head kick from Condit misses and Hendricks grabs a rear waistlock. Condit turns into him and Hendricks stays on him, looking for another takedown. He gets it, dumping Condit onto his back once more, but Condit continues to hit him from his back. Two minutes remaining and Hendricks stands over him and lets him up. Leg kick lands for Condit. Big right hook from Condit snaps Hendricks’ head back, but he grabs a rear waistlock to slow the Natural Born Killer down. Condit separates and throws another combo, but Hendricks tackles him to the ground again. Lot of blood seems to be coming from Hendricks’ face now, leaking all over Condit’s body. Condit continues to attack from his back and he escapes to his feet. Big combo again from Condit and Hendricks seems in trouble, but he fires back and goes for another takedown. Condit wraps up an arm in an attempt to avoid, but Hendricks drags him down with seconds to go and gets side mount. Condit spins out and gets to his feet, and OPENS UP and we trade off until the buzzer. Fucking A. I’d give the round to Condit actually as Hendricks didn’t do much with his takedowns, but overall it’s 29-28 to Johny Hendricks I’d say.

Judges officially call it 29-28 all round for Johny Hendricks. Really in a fight like this there’s no loser though – both men brought so much fire into the cage that they were able to display the best of all their abilities, and I think both men came away looking like bigger stars than they did going in. Absolutely tremendous stuff from start to finish and it’s easily a high-end FOTYC if not the best fight of the year (it’s either this or Jones/Gustafsson for me at the minute…). Difference basically was Hendricks landing a ton of clubbing blows early on and Condit not being able to stop the takedown, but I mean, it’s neither here nor there really as Condit looked amazing anyway due to his sheer will to win. Bravo to both men as Hendricks continues his meteoric rise and Condit continues to be arguably the most exciting man to watch in all of MMA. Post-fight Hendricks calls out GSP and shit, you have to be pumped for it.

UFC World Welterweight Title: Georges St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz

Alright, let’s be honest – even though Diaz had lost to Carlos Condit and had supposedly “retired”, and despite Johny Hendricks’ incredible run of top wins, this was the fight that everyone REALLY wanted to see at 170lbs, as Diaz had talked so much trash about GSP and had promised to give him a “real fight” and so on. And GSP had seemingly lost his cool for once and Dana White was talking about him being in a “dark place” and so the biggest grudge match in the UFC since Silva vs. Sonnen at least was built. Even when Diaz strangely tried to claim that there was no grudge and Zuffa were just making it sound like that to sell shows (“wolf tickets”) it still felt like one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Of course, I couldn’t see any result other than GSP winning – I figured he’d use his ground game and takedowns to work Diaz over, as after all, Diaz has never beaten a top-level wrestler – but I certainly couldn’t wait to see it.

Round One and GSP opens up with a leg kick and a jab. Diaz throws some punches but GSP tackles him to the ground in full guard. Crowd are red-hot for GSP. Good elbow from the champion as Diaz tries to tie him up from the bottom. Couple more punches get through for GSP as he doesn’t seem to be having any issues with Diaz’s guard. Diaz rolls and gives his back, but GSP doesn’t put any hooks in and just lands some punches to the head instead. Diaz scrambles and attempts his own takedown but GSP sprawls out to avoid and then spins to take the back again. He’s clearly done his homework too by not putting the hooks in as that’s a position that Diaz reverses everyone from. More punches land for St-Pierre and he continues to use a bodylock to control the challenger. Mount attempt from GSP but Diaz manages to get half-guard and then full butterfly guard back. Nice heavy elbows connect for St-Pierre and he works the body with punches too. Diaz gives his back again and GSP continues to control him and refuses to let him roll. Punches land for the champ at the same time as he drags Diaz away from the fence to stop him getting up. Diaz works up to his feet but takes some knees to the body and GSP drags him right back down. One hook in this time for GSP and the crowd are now chanting FUCK YOU DIAZ. More punches land for Georges but Diaz pops back up. GSP keeps him close with a bodylock and looks for another takedown, slamming Diaz right onto his head with seconds to go. Round ends with GSP landing some punches. That round was all St-Pierre; clear 10-9 for the champ.

Round Two and both men throw some kicks as Diaz looks to stay at distance. Big head kick misses for GSP. Diaz backs him up a bit with punches bit doesn’t land anything and then GSP hits an easy takedown to guard with no resistance. This time Diaz tries the old-school Royce Gracie heel kicks to the kidneys, but GSP postures up to land some short elbows .Big right hand connects for GSP as he stacks up before dropping back down into the guard. Diaz tries to spin around but St-Pierre has none of that and drops a vicious knee to the body as the challenger turtles up. More punches land for GSP as Nick covers up. Diaz is being owned here. He can’t get to his feet either as GSP seems so much physically stronger. One hook in for GSP but Diaz rolls into his guard, only to eat some more really heavy elbows. Diaz gives his back again, but it’s not doing him any good at all as he’s just taking more punches. He gets to his feet but Georges drags him right back down and holds a front headlock this time. Knees to the body from GSP but Diaz slips free and stands, eating a right on his way out. One minute to go and Diaz taunts the champ but eats a jab and a superman punch for his efforts. Nice superman punch connects for GSP to counter a left from Diaz. Spinning kick misses for Diaz. Round ends with a GSP superman jab and referee Yves Lavigne has to restrain Diaz when the buzzer sounds. 10-9 GSP again.

Round Three and the crowd are still red hot. Head kick glances for GSP but Diaz pushes forward taunting. Stiff jab snaps Diaz’s head back but a head kick is blocked. Another jab lands flush. So much for Diaz being a better boxer. Left hook connects for GSP. Left hand glances for Diaz in answer. Takedown attempt by GSP is actually stuffed, nice job from Diaz. A second attempt is successful though and Diaz is on his back in guard again. Punches from GSP and again Diaz gives his back. He tries to crawl to his feet with GSP hanging on him, and does manage to stand. GSP lets him go and we’re back standing. Front kick glances for GSP. Double jab into a right from GSP and he shoots but Diaz blocks again. More jabs get through but Diaz answers with a wide right hook to the body. Leg kick from GSP. Diaz answers with a pair of his own. Stiff jab again snaps Diaz’s head back. GSP is beating Diaz to the punch. Spinning kicks miss for both men by miles. Good one-two from GSP. Diaz is coming up short on his combos. Takedown attempt from GSP and he drives Diaz into the cage, but the challenger manages to defend and remain on his feet. Beautiful lunging right hand connects for St-Pierre. Diaz tries to taunt and jab and then he finally manages to put together a couple of combinations, backing the champion up and marking up his face. A takedown stops him in his tracks though with about thirty seconds to go. Good shots from GSP and Diaz once again gives his back, but he can’t get up before the round ends. GSP ends on top and Diaz decides to take a cheap shot after the buzzer. That’s shitty. Yves Lavigne tells him if he does it again he’ll be DQ’d. Diaz had more success in that round and it was a ton of fun, but it’s still GSP’s round as he largely outboxed Diaz as well as hitting the takedowns. 10-9 GSP.

Round Four and St-Pierre lands a pair of stiff jabs in the opening seconds. Good leg kick frm St-Pierre too. Diaz just can’t seem to walk GSP down like he does everyone else. Right hook does connect for Diaz and he manages to stuff a takedown, but he eats a pair of jabs anyway. Both men exchange combinations and then Diaz defends a single leg. Diaz has improved his wrestling a lot judging on this. Combo from Diaz and GSP looks a little tired, failing on another takedown. He closes Diaz down into the cage and they exchange punches to the body and some knees too. Good uppercut inside from Diaz but GSP fires right back. Knees to the body connect for Diaz too. Beautiful combo from Diaz breaks off. Diaz looks a bit tired too as he’s walking with his hands completely down. Left hook lands for St-Pierre. Stiff jab follows. Takedown from the champ and he’s on top yet again. St-Pierre passes into half-guard and Diaz gives his back again in order to stand, but St-Pierre stays right on him with a rear waistlock and slams him back to the ground, landing in side mount this time. Diaz wraps up the left arm for a kimura attempt but GSP slips free. Back up for Diaz but he can’t shake GSP off him. This time he tries to dive for the kimura, but it doesn’t work and GSP winds up on top in half-guard. Diaz again turns his back and takes some punches on his way back to his feet. He drops for a submission attempt of some kind, not sure quite what, but can’t get it and the round ends there. 10-9 GSP.

Round Five and Diaz throws a head kick early on that GSP deflects. He’s still coming up short with a lot of his punches, but he does connect on a left. Good jab from St-Pierre and he goes for the takedown but Diaz defends it and they wind up clinched. Good knee from GSP but Diaz forces him into the fence. They exchange knees from inside and muscle for position before breaking off. Jab from GSP. Big head kick sees Diaz slip to the ground and GSP pounces and lands some punches with the challenger in the turtle position. Diaz drops back for a kimura again but he can’t get it and GSP continues to land punches before going for the hooks. Diaz rolls and he slips out, but St-Pierre keeps top position and keeps on punching. Two minutes to go and GSP drops a knee to the body, but Diaz scrambles and escapes to his feet. Kicks from Diaz back GSP up a bit but he looks fine and wades forward into the clinch. Good knees inside from Diaz and a combo to the body too, but GSP muscles him back as Joe Rogan tries to claim he can’t understand the “fuck you Diaz” chants, ha. They break with a minute to go and exchange jabs before GSP hits a double leg down into half-guard. Big pop for that one. Diaz regains full guard but GSP cracks him with an elbow and works the body with short punches. Diaz punches from his back but he can’t get up and GSP finishes the fight with a flurry. 10-9 GSP and it’s a 50-45 shutout in my eyes.

Official scorecards read 50-45 all round for GSP to retain the UFC World Welterweight Title. Well, as if there was any doubt. The usual haters came out in force and claimed this fight was boring and stuff, but I don’t see it at all myself – sure, it wasn’t Condit vs. Hendricks and for that matter it wasn’t as exciting a fight as GSP’s previous one with Condit, but I thought it was a good one to watch. While Diaz didn’t bring the fight to GSP like he promised he still had his moments – particularly in the third round when it looked like GSP was beginning to tire – but the problem he had was that he could never really get into range to open up due to GSP’s takedowns. On the ground his strategy of giving his back and rolling didn’t work either as GSP had clearly done his homework and knew what Nick was trying, and so he was onto a loser from the beginning really. For his part this was another masterful showing from GSP as he mixed in his takedowns and boxing brilliantly for the first three rounds, and even when he was clearly tired in the later rounds (apparently he was sick coming in) he was still able to largely outland and outgrapple Diaz, showing that regardless of the trash talk, he’s still pound-for-pound the best fighter on the planet. DVD cuts it but post-fight Diaz ended up “retiring” again due to the loss but I fully expect he’ll be back at some point in 2014. Up next for GSP? Johny Hendricks of course in a few weeks and I cannot wait.

-Show ends there on a high note for the Canadian fans.

Final Thoughts….

Take away Fletcher/Ricci and Camozzi/Ring and this would’ve been a tremendous show, as Condit/Hendricks delivered in spades and I liked Ellenberger/Marquardt and GSP/Diaz a lot too, but those two fights slowed down the momentum of a solid prelim card SO MUCH that it’s hard to call it a great card, unfortunately. Had UFC been smarter and main carded say, Cote/Voelker and Miller/Mein and it’s a contender for show of the year from a main card standpoint, but as it is I think it’s worth a thumbs up – just skip over those two crappy fights.

Best Fight: Hendricks vs. Condit
Worst Fight: Ring vs. Camozzi

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports