Newman’s Take: PRIDE 3

-Again this is another card I know next to nothing about, although checking the wiki tells me it has Sakuraba vs. Newton which is meant to be a classic and NO GRACIES VS. JAPAN! Word.

PRIDE 3

06/24/98
Tokyo, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Daijiro Matsui vs Akira Shoji

This was of course prior to both guys gaining reputations as the stereotypical Japanese Tomato Can for their later fights against the likes of Murilo Ninja and the ilk. Quadros tells us Matsui is out of the same camp as Sakuraba which means he might be another pro-wrestler who can actually fight.

Fight begins and I suddenly realize that Matsui here looks like a Japanese Anthony Pettis in the face. Takedown attempt fails for Matsui and Shoji clocks him with a left, forcing him to shoot again. Shoji stuffs it and grabs a front headlock as suddenly I’m struggling to take Bas seriously. I had his Lethal Street Fighting stuff on Youtube at the weekend with my buddies, see. YOU try taking Bas seriously after hearing BANG BANG BANG, never underestimate the kick to the groin. Oh, the fight. They trade off with some strikes and go to the ground where Shoji gets the back and lands some punches. Matsui stands and ends up leaning out of the ring, taking more punches as Quadros mixes the two up. I guess the Japanese DO look alike, in a nice world where no political correctness exists. Anyway the ref brings them back in and they circle out before Matsui shoots again. Shoji hits a super-quick sprawl and takes top position in side mount. Little happens though and Matsui scrambles to his feet. Another takedown attempt follows but again Shoji sprawls and grabs a front facelock. Knee connects to the shoulder for Shoji. He also appears to be chin-butting the back, which is odd as f---. Back to the feet and Shoji lands a knee and then trips him right back down into half-guard. Beautiful transition from Shoji allows him to take the back but he’s too high and Matsui shakes him off. Shoji’s first up though and he lands a pair of soccer kicks to the body as Matsui tries to grab an ankle. Shoji decides to let him back up and they circle before clinching and Shoji gets another takedown into guard. Couple of punches to the body from Shoji but the action’s definitely slowed up now. Man I wish PRIDE would’ve had a clock on screen for these shows so you can tell how long is left. Upkick from Matsui and he escapes to his feet. They look gassed now too. Round ends as Matsui fails on a takedown.

Second round begins with a takedown to guard from Shoji. Little action from there so Shoji stands over him and leaves Matsui down in the crab position. Matsui jumps up and we’re back to standing. Bas and Quadros are treating this like an amazing fight but I dunno, it kind of sucks. I guess their standards dropped after PRIDE 2 and those Gracie horror shows. Takedown attempt from Matsui is stuffed and Shoji takes the back, but doesn’t have hooks in. Matsui does a tremendous job of spinning over and he winds up on top in Shoji’s guard. But a right hand. Quadros is marking so badly for this. I think someone’s paying him extra. Takedown attempt from Matsui is again stuffed and Shoji takes the back once more. Nothing happens from there as Matsui traps Shoji’s arm. Shoji works the right arm free to drop some punches, but they don’t seem to have much effect. Matsui spins over to guard and eats some flush punches as Shoji passes into mount. Bas sounds like he’s saying Shoji should be “kneeing the cat”, but I’m unsure what he’s meaning to say. Matsui gets half-guard back and the action slows up. Reversal from Matsui and he goes for a takedown of his own, but Shoji of course blocks it and gets a front facelock. Matsui manages to work up to his feet but ends up in the same spot again as Shoji sprawls. Round ends there.

Matsui’s corner seems to be letting him drink from a garden hose between rounds, which is odd even for PRIDE. He has a funnel of some kind at least. Third round is delayed as the ref wipes Matsui with a towel. They finally get going with a trade of punches for a moment. Neither man cleanly lands. They circle for a while before another trade leads to a Shoji takedown into full guard. Very little happens from there before Matsui muscles Shoji off as he tries to pass the guard. I just don’t get why Bas and Quadros are creaming over this stuff. Back to the feet and it’s BACK TO CIRCLING. These guys cannot punch for the life of them as they exchange some awful-looking stuff. To be fair Shoji has power though as he stuns Matsui with a crude right hook. Matsui rushes him though and tackles him to the ground in guard. Guillotine attempt by Shoji but it doesn’t look tight to me. Matsui pops his head free seconds later. Action slows down before a scramble sees them leap up, and Shoji throws a flurry that largely misses. Matsui goes down anyway and Shoji stands over him posturing. Matsui shoots again but Shoji grabs the front facelock off a sprawl as Bas advises him to knee the shoulder. Better than kneeing the cat, dude. They come back to their feet and Matsui shoots but Shoji once again sprawls, takes the back and this time he slaps both hooks in. He makes the error of crossing his feet though and Matsui tries for that footlock variant that Joe Rogan goes on about so often. Round ends in that position.

Fourth round of how many I don’t know. Ah, Bas says it’s one extra round. Well, lucky us! Head kick (!) misses for Matsui. Shoji blocks another takedown attempt and grabs the front facelock, then lets Matsui stand. Announcers are coming to the conclusion that this is definitely going to a draw. Brief, crap punching exchange breaks up the circling for a moment. Baseball slide for some reason from Matsui and he ends up in the crab while a confused Shoji stands over him. Back to the feet and Shoji clocks him with some crude power punches, then sprawls to defend the takedown. Back to the feet and Shoji lands with a flurry before sprawling again. Knees to the shoulder land for Shoji and he connects on some punches to the side of the head too. They come back up and hopefully there’s not long left. Three minutes according to Bas. Wild flurry from Shoji and he gets a slam down to guard. Shoji gets full mount but Matsui bucks and tries to get out, almost slipping out of the ring in the process. Ref calls them back up to their feet to avoid that and they circle out. Takedown attempt from Matsui is naturally defended and a scramble sees them back on their feet. Takedown from Shoji and they go flying out of the ring. Thankfully they don’t land on the floor or anything and the refs call them back inside where the fight ends.

No judges here so it’s a draw. Decision would be Shoji’s easily but it doesn’t really matter. I hated this fight, sorry. There wasn’t much action considering it was 40 minutes and when there was action it was really repetitive. It wasn’t anywhere near as offensively bad as Kimo/Severn or Gracie/Kikuta or one of those fights but it definitely stunk.

Daiju Takase vs Emmanuel Yarborough

Aw man, CLASSIC freak show stuff here as Takase is 169lbs while Yarbrough – best known for fighting Keith Hackney at UFC 3 in a ludicrous fight – is tipping the scales at 600lbs or so they say, and looking at him I believe them. Only in Japan, folks!

Fight begins and Takase literally sprints around the ring to avoid being cornered by the fat dude. Yarbrough is moving like he’s waddling through treacle. He makes a couple of swipes for Takase but can’t seem to reach him due to the speed difference. Dude makes Takase look like Ben Johnson or something. We’re about three minutes in here and nothing has happened and yet it’s still fascinating due to the size difference. Bas mentions that Yarbrough is looking gassed already, which is insane. Body punch from Takase. One of Yarbrough’s swipes almost catches Takase and he has to dodge out of the way. He’s lunging in with overhand punches now which is risky as f---. Running punch lands for Takase as Yarbrough appears to be sucking in serious wind. Looks like he might even slump himself in the corner as he’s so f-----. Alright, so this is beginning to suck now. Quadros is reduced to making Humpty Dumpty jokes and all sorts. Literally nothing is going on here. Takase does manage to land a couple of glancing punches but nothing major. Round mercifully ends there.

Second round and they pick up where they left off, with Takase almost slipping out of the ring after eating a swipe from Yarbrough. Yarbrough’s picking up the pace here but he’s going to gas any second. Sure enough he instantly slows down and is now barely able to move. This absolutely sucks. Referee gives TAKASE a warning for stalling which is pretty ridiculous. What the f--- is he supposed to do? It must be noted that when the ref stepped in Bas’s first thought was that Yarbrough needed oxygen. Takase decides to risk it all and go for a single leg off the restart, but of course the big man lands on top. Crowd go APESHIT as Takase sits up though to land some punches as he desperately tries to wriggle free. He does manage to trap an arm and then sits up to land some more punches and Yarbrough just looks DEAD. But it’s dead weight that’s holding Takase down. Takase decides to punch the legs now and then he slips free and lands punches to force the tapout.

Erm, not sure what to say here. It was watchable I guess just for the freak show factor and the comedy of the announcers but on the other hand it was literally one of the very worst fights I’ve ever seen. I’m leaning more on the side of “it sucked” just because of the sheer length of it.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Carlos Newton

This is a super-famous match for those who haven’t heard about it before and I believe it’s the one that really put Sakuraba over the top as a major star and also made a name for Newton (although he’d fought in UFC already at this point). First time I’ve seen it so I’m pretty pumped. Pre-fight Bas presents both guys with flowers and then gets on the mic to hype a possible fight in the future with Rickson Gracie, which would’ve RULED, for the record. I guess the announcing is live on this show too as Quadros seems to be on his own and then Bas rejoins him and asks how he did.

Fight begins and Sakuraba opens with a pair of low kicks. Newton shoots on a takedown but Sakuraba blocks it and they end up clinched on the ropes, then move across the ring before Sakuraba uses a sick whizzer to avoid a trip and land on top in guard. Sakuraba looks to pass and they spin around as Newton blocks, before Newton bucks his hips and Sakuraba jumps right into an armbar attempt! It look deep but Newton manages to stand and defend brilliantly, working into side mount for good measure. Sakuraba rolls over into donkey guard but Newton slips out of that and takes side mount again. Reversal from Sakuraba and now he’s on top in guard. Toehold attempt from Sakuraba but Newton avoids and gets the back before taking top position. This is AWESOME. Side mount from Newton and the crowd are applauding. Sakuraba gives his back, but then switches it into a single leg and gets back into top position. Outside of the low kicks at the beginning this is basically a pure grappling match. They spin again as Sakuraba aims to pass the guard, and then leaps over right into an armbar. Newton flips his way out though and takes top position but Sakuraba grabs a single leg as Newton rides him. Takedown from Sakuraba and he’s back in Newton’s guard. Again neither guy is throwing any strikes at all. Sakuraba decides to let Newton to his feet and tries some sort of jumping kick that glances. Takedown attempt from Newton but Sakuraba shows sick wrestling and balance and defends to take top position again. Toehold attempt from Sakuraba and it looks like he’s got it locked, but Newton somehow sits up and yanks his leg free to take Sakuraba’s back. He gets one hook in and gets the other too, but he can’t seem to control Sakuraba. Great job by Sakuraba to shake Newton off and he’s back in Carlos’ guard. He passes into side mount but Newton works to regain guard right away. Nice punch from Sakuraba surprisingly enough but he doesn’t follow it up. Newton looks for a triangle but Sakuraba slips out and looks for side mount, and they come back to their feet. Left high kick from Sakuraba is blocked. Takedown from Sakuraba on the bell. Tremendous round.

Second round and Newton catches a kick and gets a rear waistlock, using it to trip Sakuraba down. Sakuraba immediately goes for a kimura but Newton defends and keeps the waistlock before going for the hooks. Sakuraba blocks and they spin around on the ground and end up with Newton still having the back. This is perhaps the best grappling match I’ve ever seen in MMA. Good knee from Newton lands to the body but Sakuraba still seems pretty chilled. Body punch from Newton and it looks like he wants to get the hooks in but is super-wary of being reversed. Reversal from Sakuraba but Newton turns it on him and locks up the right arm with his legs in almost a crucifix. Sakuraba rolls and gives his back again. Flurry of punches from Newton and he avoids a kimura to keep the back control. He gets a hook in but Sakuraba immediately escapes and turns into Newton’s guard. These guys are so technical it’s unbelievable really. Pass from Sakuraba and he locks up an armbar, but Newton evidently has rubber limbs as he avoids it and then spins over the top to get his arm free. That was a ludicrous escape. Newton again gets the back but he still can’t get the hooks in. He decides to sit back in an attempt to get the hooks….but that allows Sakuraba to isolate the left leg, roll over right into a kneebar and FORCE THE TAPOUT!~!

Phenomenal stuff. That was probably the best extended grappling sequence I’ve ever seen in MMA, period, and I mean, I’d heard there were rumors of a gentleman’s agreement to do grappling only, but they did throw some strikes so I guess that can’t be true. Just a tremendous contest between two of the most technical fighters to ever set foot into the ring and I have new respect for both of them after watching it. This was literally like five years ahead of its time in terms of what these guys were doing when you compare them to, well, anyone else on the PRIDE roster at this point.

Gary Goodridge vs Amir Rahnavardi

Goodridge is usually good for a fun fight so you’ll never see me complaining about his presence on one of these cards. Amir for those who haven’t heard of him is a Bas Rutten student, so naturally El Guapo sounds quite pumped to see him in PRIDE. Goodridge is ludicrously huge here.

Fight begins and Amir connects on a low kick, then bulls into a clinch where he eats some solid punches and a couple of nasty knees to the body. They break off and Amir decides to clinch again, where he botches a trip and winds up on the bottom with Goodridge on top. Big right hand from Goodridge as he looks to posture up in half-guard. Flurry lands for Goodridge but Amir manages to tie him up eventually and the action slows down a bit. Couple of right hands do get through for Goodridge but they’re pretty sporadic to say the least. Goodridge tries to posture up, but in the process Amir goes for a leglock. Looks like he might have it as he goes for a kneebar, but the leg isn’t in deep enough and Goodridge manages to pull free to get back on top. Nice triangle attempt by Amir but Goodridge manages to posture free. Amir keeps his hips high and tries for it again, but winds up flipping over and Goodridge takes his back and lands a couple more punches. He rolls and Goodridge remains on top, and this time he starts yelling at Amir wildly to hit him. This is bizarre to say the least. Amir gets full guard and obliges though, but obviously he doesn’t have much power as he’s landing from the bottom. Goodridge on the other hand DOES have power, and so he postures up and drops some SLEDGEHAMMERS that knock Amir into next week. Holy s---.

Decent fight with a couple of slow points, but holy s--- what a knockout. Between this and the Taktarov knockout, Goodridge looked like a scary dude at this point in his career when he wasn’t losing to guys with a bit more skill than him. Thankfully for Amir he doesn’t go out on a spineboard like Taktarov did.

Mark Kerr vs Pedro Otavio

This was Kerr’s second fight in PRIDE following that disastrous debut against Branko Cikatic at PRIDE 2. Otavio is better known as THE PEDRO and I believe he’s remembered mainly for a fight with Gary Goodridge where Goodridge squeezed his balls. No, really. He’s a big dude actually but he has nothing on THE SPECIMEN.

We get underway and the Pedro pushes forward and avoids a couple of kicks. He throws a ton of feints, but it doesn’t help him as Kerr hits an easy takedown into the half-guard. Pedro tries to reverse out but I mean, how are you going to do that to THE SPECIMEN? Brutal punches to the body land for Kerr. Kimura attempt on the left arm from Kerr and he uses BRUTE CAVEMAN FORCE to twist it up for the stoppage. Post-fight Pedro absolutely flips out saying that he didn’t tap but dude, Kerr would’ve f------ torn that arm off had the ref not stepped in.

Kerr was terrifying at this point. Just a giant, aggressive, steroid-enhanced monster. Total squash.

Nobuhiko Takada vs Kyle Sturgeon

One look at the name ‘Nobuhiko Takada’ in MMA instantly draws suspicion and of course, a quick check of Sturgeon’s record tells us that this was his lone MMA fight. Odds on this fight being a total and utter work have to be high, then. I guess Takada needed to rebuild his credibility from somewhere after being thoroughly embarrassed by Rickson Gracie at PRIDE 1. Sturgeon is a big dude who looks mean, but that’s about it.

They circle around to begin and Sturgeon throws a kick that Takada avoids. A second one lands to the head and drops Takada but it looks suspicious. Low kick from Sturgeon but Takada fires back with one of his own. Takedown from Sturgeon into the guard but Takada reverses and they stand. I’m calling it now, this is a f------ work. Takedown from Takada into Sturgeon’s guard. Sturgeon clings on and lands some short punches while grunting and making MEAN FACES. Takada drops back for a heel hook, barely cranks it and Sturgeon TEASES THE TAP and then taps just like a pro-wrestler.

Fun enough to watch as it was quick and action packed but s---, if that was a legit fight I’m Wayne Rooney. Still, I’d rather see a work than something shitty like Kimo/Severn I guess so there is that.

-Show ends promptly there. Literally no credits even, just boom, show over.

Final Thoughts….

Well, this was far better than the previous two PRIDE shows simply by the existence of Sakuraba/Newton, which is a genuine classic that any self-respecting MMA fan needs to see. Outside of that though the rest was surprisingly okay too. Sure, Shoji/Matsui stunk and Takase/Yarbrough was freakshow nonsense, but neither fall under the umbrella of “possibly the worst fight ever” like a couple of the fights on the first two PRIDEs and then the other three fights at least have decent finishes even if they’re two squashes and a blatant work. Worth a thumbs up for Sakuraba/Newton, but skip over the first fight.

Best Fight: Sakuraba vs. Newton
Worst Fight: Shoji vs. Matsui

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi

-This was the first show of 2013 to be really hit by an injury issue, as originally the main event would’ve seen Sweden’s top fighter Alexander Gustafsson facing off with StrikeForce import Gegard Mousasi, but unfortunately Gustafsson suffered a deep cut in training and pulled out with a week to go. With little time to find a replacement Zuffa called upon the total unknown – even to hardcore fans – Ilir Latifi, and so the show went from arguably a one-match card to probably the least anticipated UFC show in recent memory.

UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi

04/06/13
Stockholm, Sweden

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Kenny Florian. Bit weird to see Goldie doing a Fuel card but no complaints from me as I’m not a hater of his and I prefer him to Jon Anik anyway.

Featherweight Fight: Akira Corrassani vs Robbie Peralta

Peralta had been slowly creeping up the ranks at 145lbs since his 2011 debut, and was looking for another win here to follow up a nice knockout of Jason Young in September, while TUF 14’s top heel Corrassani was also looking to follow up a win – in his case, a controversial decision over Andy Ogle.

Fight begins and Akira circles on the outside and throws some early leg kicks as Peralta stays in the center of the cage and looks to throw heavy shots. Good counter from Corrassani and he keeps on moving. Announcers mention that Akira’s been working with Frankie Edgar’s camp which is interesting as he’s using an Edgar-type gameplan thus far. Beautiful right hand lands for Akira and he dodges out of the way of a counter. Heavy combo from Peralta but Akira clinches to slow him down. Peralta forces him back into the cage and I never noticed before but he’s HUGE for 145lbs. Akira breaks off and pushes forward with a glancing combination. Body kick from Akira but Peralta catches the leg to deliver a knee to the body. Overhand right lands flush for Corrassani. Another one follows but doesn’t land as heavily. Akira is still moving nicely too. Peralta pushes forward with a combo but Corrassani dodges back and lands a counter. Uppercut glances for Peralta. Leg kick lands for Corrassani. One minute to go in the round and Akira shoots on a single leg. Peralta blocks it and they end up clinched, exchanging some short strikes against the fence. Good knee inside from Peralta as they muscle for position, and with seconds to go they break. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Corrassani for me as he utilized nice movement to land the better strikes.

Into the 2nd and Akira remains on his bike, before catching a low kick and clocking Peralta with a hard right hand. Peralta throws some kicks out that don’t really land and Akira connects on his own leg kick. Fans are chanting something but I can’t work out what it is. Combination lands for Akira and he circles out to avoid a big shot from Peralta. Wild hook to the body from Peralta sets up a takedown, and he gets Corrassani down for a second but the TUF vet pops right back up. Good knee inside the clinch from Akira but Peralta breaks with a right. Clipping right hand from Peralta but Akira answers with a leg kick. Combo glances for Corrassani. Good left hand lands for Peralta to end a combination. Another left wobbles Akira badly and he goes staggering back towards the fence. Big knee puts him down and he’s in trouble. Peralta pounds away looking to finish, but Akira does a tremendous job of surviving and gets to his feet in the clinch. Looks like he’s okay as Peralta knees to the legs and only manages to land some really glancing short punches. They exchange some knees from the clinch and muscle for position and now Akira drops for a takedown. He gets a double leg and takes Peralta down for a second, but Robbie pops right back up using the fence. Good knee inside from Akira. They break off and now Akira lands a HUGE OVERHAND RIGHT that wobbles Peralta! Peralta looks in trouble and tries to clinch, but he takes another right and Corrassani starts to walk him down. Crowd are going crazy now. Right hook and a left hand land for Akira and wobble Peralta again, but the round ends before he can follow it up. 10-9 Corrassani in a really close round. Would’ve gone to Peralta had he not got wobbled at the end there.

Third and final round and Akira lands a glancing combo early to back Peralta up. Brief trade follows before Peralta shrugs off a clinch. Right hand connects for Corrassani. Nice leg kick from Peralta. Overhand right glances for him too. Big combination from Akira backs him up though and he follows with a nice trip takedown into the guard. Peralta immediately rolls for a kimura on the right arm, but he’s in an awkward position pinned into the fence and he can’t get it. Corrassani pulls out and passes to half-guard, but Peralta stands. Akira manages to get his back and brings him back down, but Peralta pops up again. Trip puts him back down in guard this time. Pass into half-guard from Akira but Peralta looks like he’s going to wall-walk to his feet. Corrassani passes again though and looks for the full mount. He gets the back, but can’t get any hooks in and Peralta stands. Corrassani keeps a rear waistlock locked on and tries to trip him back down. Good job from Peralta to turn into the clinch and he lands an elbow inside. Good knees from Peralta in the clinch and he muscles Akira into the cage. Akira breaks off and forces Peralta back, and they continue to muscle for position in the clinch. Looks like Corrassani’s cut on his forehead quite badly. One minute to go and Corrassani lands a solid knee and drops for a takedown, but Peralta defends it. Knee from Peralta but he slips to his back and Corrassani settles on top in half-guard. Round ends with Akira on top. 10-9 Corrassani and I’ve got it 30-27. Good fight.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Akira Corrassani. Really impressive showing for him and evidently the move to Edgar’s camp worked as he looked like a completely different fighter from his TUF run as a crude-ish brawler, showing improved movement, footwork, takedowns, striking and ground game, as well as a smarter fight IQ as he was able to change it up in the third and take Peralta down when he started to lose standing. Guy has a bright future in the UFC if he can continue to improve at this rate for sure.

Featherweight Fight: Diego Brandao vs Pablo Garza

On paper this looked like a really exciting fight as both men are well-known for finishing opponents early and in violent fashion. Garza was coming off a win over Mark Hominick while Brandao had beaten Joey Gambino in his home country of Brazil. I was favouring Brandao just because I love his super-aggressive tendencies but it was a close one to call.

First round begins and they circle before Brandao glances with a leg kick. Nice leg kick connects clean for the TUF winner. Head kick is blocked by Brandao. Another leg kick lands for Brandao. Brandao is doing a decent job at closing the distance on the taller fighter. Double jab from Garza backs him up slightly. Combo lands for Brandao. Good leg kick from Garza into a right hand. Jumping knee misses though. Right hand into a left hook from Brandao and he tries a flying knee that doesn’t really land. They clinch and Brandao hits a big slam down into half-guard. Garza quickly gets to a full butterfly guard but Brandao postures up to drop some strikes and works to pass in the process. He gets to half-guard and appears to be setting up for an arm triangle. Garza works to defend but Brandao passes into side mount. Garza keeps squirming from the bottom, but Brandao remains in control and then he manages to lock up the arm triangle. Garza manages to survive for a few moments but it’s too tight and in the end he has to tap out.

Super-impressive performance from Diego Brandao who remains arguably the most dangerous one-round fighter in the UFC at 145lbs. Garza isn’t a tomato can by any means but Brandao blew right through him, showing more patience than he’d done in the past and a smarter gameplan to take the fight to the ground rather than stand with the lankier fighter and deal with the reach disadvantage. Probably his best performance in the UFC thus far in fact. Nice finish too.

Featherweight Fight: Conor McGregor vs Marcus Brimage

This was a prelim taped earlier in the night, with the Irishman McGregor – bringing quite a reputation with him from his days on the smaller circuit – making his UFC debut against Brimage, who had pulled off two solid upsets in 2012 by beating both Maximo Blanco and Jimy Hettes. To add to the intrigue, McGregor had basically done his best Nick Diaz impression at the weigh-in, talking loads of trash and trying to headbutt Brimage for no good reason.

Fight begins and Brimage comes out swinging, and they exchange right away. McGregor looks to be doing a nice job of dodging Brimage’s strikes, though. Leg kick does land for Brimage and he connects on a right hand. Left uppercut fires back for McGregor though and snaps Brimage’s head back. Front kick to the jaw follows but Brimage keeps wading forward. Counter left lands for McGregor and then a pair of uppercuts and a combination drop Brimage HARD and McGregor finishes him off with some super-accurate punches on the ground. Wow.

Talk about living up to the hype – whole fight took about a minute as McGregor just used Brimage’s aggression against him by countering with harder, sharper strikes and once he’d got the TUF veteran hurt it was all over. Zuffa seem to be giving this guy the huge superstar push and it’s understandable with his wild personality – I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone not named Chael talk so much trash – and if he can continue to perform like this then he’ll be a main eventer in no time. Tremendous UFC debut.

Bantamweight Fight: Brad Pickett vs Mike Easton

Like the previous one this was an exciting fight on paper, although both men hadn’t looked great in their last showings if we’re honest, in losses to Eddie Wineland and Ivan Menjivar respectively. As far as a winner went I was leaning towards Pickett as he’s just a little more talented in my opinion, but it was a close one to call for sure.

Round One begins and they clash on a pair of leg kicks to begin. Couple of jabs glance for Pickett as both men show a ton of movement early on. Couple of combinations land for Pickett. Kick from Easton is caught and Pickett gets him down for a second, but Easton reverses right away and forces Pickett into the fence. Pickett manages to turn into a clinch, and the action slows from there as Easton simply forces him back into the cage with a couple of knees. Takedown attempt from Easton but Pickett fights it off brilliantly, popping the crowd. Big elbow lands for the Brit and he follows with another that hurts Easton. Pickett takes the opportunity to switch position and force Easton into the fence. They break off and Pickett lands with a jab. Another jab connects for the Brit and he glances on an uppercut. Head kick misses for Easton. Right hand lands for Pickett. Combo backs Easton up a bit and Pickett shoots. Easton stuffs it and breaks with a knee. Head kick glances for Easton but Pickett lands with a one-two. Combo from Pickett and he avoids a counter from Easton. Right hand lands for Pickett but Easton tackles him to the ground in guard. Pickett kicks him away quickly though and pops back up with a combo. Takedown attempt from Pickett now but Easton defends for a moment before being slammed down. Easton gives his back to try to get up, but Pickett stays on him and tries to drag him back down. Easton blocks but goes down on the buzzer. Tight round but I’d go 10-9 Pickett.

Round Two and Easton lands with a nice overhand right, then follows with a leg kick. Pickett backs him up a bit with some punches and then they trade wildly in the clinch for a second before breaking off. Right hand connects for Pickett. Combo answers for Easton. Takedown attempt from Easton but Pickett blocks it. Good knee from Easton in the clinch but Pickett answers back with a pair of uppercuts. Jab into a left uppercut connects for Pickett. Combinations from both men but Pickett’s slightly getting the better of it. He’s using the jab quite nicely. Knee glances for Easton but he eats an uppercut and a couple of jabs. Takedown from Pickett but Easton pops right back up into the clinch. They exchange some shots inside the clinch and Pickett drops for a takedown and hits another slam. Easton pops right back up but Pickett stays on him like glue. Hard knee lands inside for Easton. Another one follows but Pickett lands with an uppercut. They break off and now Easton hits a takedown into guard. He passes into half-guard and looks to work on a kimura, but Pickett reverses to his feet. One minute to go and Pickett goes for a takedown but Easton stuffs it and backs him up with some punches. Pickett looks tired and Easton clinches and looks for the takedown. Pickett blocks and delivers a knee and a combination on the break. Big uppercut lands and Easton looks hurt, but he fires right back and they trade off wildly until the round ends. 10-9 Easton in another close one.

Round Three begins with a trade of punches and it’s Easton that lands a heavy left hand. Both men have slowed down a lot now and they miss with some strikes. Combination from Pickett as Easton pushes forward. Good knee to the body from Easton. Uppercut from Pickett. Body kick answers for Easton. Combinations connect for both men. Takedown attempt from Easton and he gets Pickett down, but the Brit hits a sick sweep to take top position in guard. That was beautiful. Short elbows land for Pickett and Easton looks a little stuck from his back now probably due to fatigue. Pickett passes into half-guard and he looks to pass that. Easton turns to his side and ends up giving his back, but he stands before Pickett can get the hooks in. German suplex from Pickett puts Easton back down but he pops back up. Pickett trips him down again and then grabs a front headlock in the scramble, looking for a potential guillotine which Easton avoids. One minute to go and they come back up, where they continue to exchange strikes. Right hook lands nicely for Pickett. Easton keeps coming forward but Pickett hits him with a knee to the body to slow him down. Right hook from Pickett but he eats one from Easton on the counter. Good combo from Easton but Pickett fires right back and they continue to exchange until the buzzer. Great fight. 10-9 Pickett and I think the only result is 29-28 for him.

Official scorecards have a split decision; 29-28 Easton, 30-27 Pickett and 30-27 for Brad Pickett to take the win. Well, I really have no idea how you’d have Easton winning that fight but there you go, at least the right guy won in the end. Really fun, closely fought contest with both men giving out punishment and receiving their fair share too. Difference was the third round as Pickett dominated a tired Easton on the ground, but you can’t take much away from Easton either as it was such an exciting fight. Good stuff!

Heavyweight Fight: Matt Mitrione vs Phil De Fries

This felt like an odd fight to make as I figured they’d give Mitrione a tougher fight, but I guess they wanted to throw him a bit of a bone after he stepped up to face Roy Nelson on relatively late notice in December. I couldn’t see him losing here as De Fries hadn’t exactly looked stellar to this point in his UFC run and his striking is his big weak point.

Fight begins and they come out swinging before Mitrione stuffs a takedown. Another attempt by De Fries follows but he goes down off….well, something, and Mitrione ENDS HIS NIGHT by bouncing his head off the ground with punches. I legitimately have no idea what put De Fries down there.

Replay appears to show that De Fries tried the takedown but ducked right into some sort of strike – even the slow-motion shot can’t identify it – and before he could recover, Meathead finished him off. Not much of a fight really with a really strange ending, but hey, Mitrione did what he had to do so you can’t knock him. Post-fight Mitrione talks so quickly that he has to use Chris Lytle as a translator, which is beyond ridiculous.

Lightweight Fight: Reza Madadi vs Michael Johnson

This was another prelim taped earlier in the night, with Sweden’s popular Madadi facing TUF veteran Johnson. The fight also got PERSONAL at the weigh-ins as Madadi flipped out and screamed into Johnson’s face, causing a pull-apart type deal. Always fun.

Round One and they circle before Madadi looks for a clinch. Johnson shrugs him off and they circle out. Leg kick and a right hand connect for Johnson. Right hand answers back for Madadi. Johnson shrugs off another takedown attempt. Couple of left hands connect for Johnson from the outside. Single leg attempt from Madadi but Johnson defends it really well, showing some excellent balance. Madadi manages to switch to a trip though and gets him down into full guard. Short ground-and-pound connects for Madadi and he drops back for a leglock, but Johnson manages to defend it despite a heel hook looking deep at one point. Johnson reverses out and gets into top position in Madadi’s guard, and he begins to land short ground-and-pound of his own. Oma plata attempt from Madadi and he rolls into it but ends up caught against the fence and Johnson manages to escape to get back into top position. Great grappling exchanges here. Madadi attempts a sweep, but Johnson stays on top and lands some punches and as Madadi reverses to his feet, Johnson WAYLAYS HIM WITH A RIGHT HEAD KICK! Madadi CRASHES DOWN and somehow manages to crawl for an ankle as Johnson looks to finish. Johnson lets him up and swarms with strikes, but he can’t finish the wobbled Madadi before the round ends. Wow. 10-9 Johnson.

Round Two begins and Madadi looks recovered pretty much. Johnson surprisingly comes out slowly, but he does brush off a takedown. Couple of glancing strikes connect for Johnson but Madadi gets a rear waistlock and trips him down to take the back and then full mount! Crowd are DEAFENING, really into Madadi. Big elbows and punches from Madadi and Johnson is in trouble. He tries to slip out of the back door, but Madadi remains in control in side mount where he continues to land shots. Johnson manages to escape to his feet somehow and we’re back to standing. Single leg from Madadi and he gets Johnson down into guard again. Elbows land for Madadi from inside the guard as the crowd continue to cheer and chant loudly. Triangle attempt from Johnson is avoided and Madadi passes into side mount. Johnson regains half-guard, but he continues to eat short elbows as the “REZA!” chants are quite loud now. More shots land for Madadi and this is quite the turnaround for him. Crowd seem to be singing Seven Nation Army now which is weird. Round ends with Madadi on top. 10-9 Madadi.

Round Three and Madadi quickly goes for a single leg and forces Johnson into the fence. Trip puts Johnson down but he reverses and almost takes the back before Madadi reverses THAT and gets on top in side mount. Punches land for Madadi and Johnson tries to reverse by going for a leg, but he can’t get out and Madadi continues to land. D’Arce choke attempt from Madadi and he locks it in nicely and rolls into a better position to force the tapout and send the crowd into RAPTURE.

Well, that was a hell of a fight and would’ve been a star-making performance for Madadi, but unfortunately he’s decided to become Sweden’s equivalent to Lee Murray and is now serving time for some sort of robbery involving designer handbags. Sad really. Really good fight, though!

Lightweight Fight: Ross Pearson vs Ryan Couture

Well, when his father once again bit the hand that fed him so many times and jumped ship from the UFC to Bellator, a lot of people expected Ryan Couture to simply be cut from the roster after StrikeForce closed its doors. Instead he asked Dana White to be kept on and so he was given a super-tough fight to debut in the UFC with, against the dangerous Brit Pearson, who had looked back to his best in his win over George Sotiropoulos. I was taking Pearson to win here as I’d never been overly impressed with Couture during his StrikeForce run.

First round and they circle before Couture shoots for a takedown. Pearson stuffs it, but Couture forces him back into the fence in the clinch. Trip attempt from Couture but he can’t get Ross off his feet and they muscle for position on the fence. Good knees inside from Couture but Pearson breaks with an elbow. Couture clinches again though and continues to force Pearson into the cage. Good elbow inside from Couture and he lands a couple of knees too. Pearson can’t seem to shake him off here. Takedown from Couture but Pearson pops right back up. Pearson breaks off and they finally circle out. Pearson begins to stalk forward as Couture circles around, and a head kick glances for the Brit. Front kick to the body from Couture. Spinning kick from Couture lands to the leg, strangely enough. Pearson can’t seem to find his range. Takedown attempt from Couture off a glancing knee from Pearson, but it’s stuffed and they wind up clinched. Good knees from both men and Pearson breaks with a nasty left hook. Good right to the body follows. Couture uses some kicks to keep distance and that’s the round. 10-9 Couture.

Second round and Pearson opens with a stiff jab. He begins to close Couture down and he seems to have found his range as he lands with a pair of right hands and a combination as he shrugs a takedown attempt off. Left hook wobbles Ryan and forces him to shoot, but he can’t get Pearson down. Clinch follows and Couture forces the Brit into the fence, where they exchange short punches and knees to the body. Good right hand breaks for Couture but doesn’t seem to have much effect. Pearson continues to stalk forward as Couture circles on the outside. Good right hand to the body and a short right hook sends Couture back, and another body shot follows. Leaping left hook from Pearson. Takedown attempt from Couture is blocked easily. Left to the body from Pearson. Spinning back kick and a front kick glance for Couture. Pearson answers with a left hand. Another left hook connects for the Brit. Kick from Couture is caught and Pearson sends him down and drops a right hand over the top. Good punches land on the ground and Pearson follows with a kick to the body as Couture stands. Couture might be in trouble here. BRUTAL COMBINATION has Couture badly wobbled and finally he goes down off a BIG LEFT HAND and Ross closes it out with some shots on the ground.

Couture actually did well in the beginning of the fight as he kept Pearson at bay and used the clinch wisely, but once Ross found his range in the second round it was all one-way traffic and the end felt like only a matter of time really. Fun fight and a good win for Ross Pearson – I think the move back to 155lbs from 145lbs has really helped his career as he just didn’t look right at Featherweight and yet looks back to his best now.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Gegard Mousasi vs Ilir Latifi

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction this turned out to be a massively anticlimactic main event, as nobody had heard of Latifi before and his record didn’t exactly inspire excitement. Still, a Rocky story is always somewhat fun I guess and on the plus side for me as a fan of his, it was nice to see Mousasi get a likely showcase win to debut in the UFC with. Every man and his dog was taking Gegard to win here and understandably so. Latifi walks out to the theme from Rocky – what else? – and while he’s described as a wrestler he looks more like a powerlifter, just a stocky, thick dude. Mousasi of course looks as chilled as ever.

Round One and Mousasi opens with a leg kick. Stiff jab lands for Mousasi and stops Latifi as he leans in for a takedown. Crowd are red hot for Latifi. He’s coming up short on his punches though and Mousasi continues to land jabs and leg kicks right from the bat. One-two connects for Mousasi. Mousasi throws a lot of feints and continues to land jabs both to the body and head. Takedown attempt from Latifi is stuffed and Mousasi breaks off. Latifi’s face looks marked up already from the jabs. Leg kick again from Mousasi. Beautiful jab and a straight right connect for the former DREAM champion. More jabs back Latifi up but a big right hook that glances for the Swede pops the crowd. Left hook follows but Mousasi just looks ridiculously calm and he lands with another leg kick. Mousasi’s jab is looking brilliant here. Right hand lands again for Gegard and he easily avoids a takedown. Latifi is beginning to wince as the punches are landing. Mousasi is really hanging his hands too. Total disdain for Latifi’s striking. More jabs and a leg kick and he easily avoids a haymaker. Jab snaps Latifi’s head back. More jabs follow and Latifi tells Mousasi to bring it, but he needs to actually land for it to help him. Round ends with another pair of jabs. Clear 10-9 for Mousasi.

Round Two and Mousasi picks up right where he left off, using the jab and his range to beat Latifi to the punch. Right hand connects to the body for Mousasi. Left hook lands for Latifi but Mousasi seems fine and he continues to work the jab. He’s working in the jab to the body now as well. Big right hand connects for Latifi but again Mousasi takes it and continues to push the action. Latifi’s punches for the most part are still coming up way short. Left hook lands hard for Mousasi and a leaping jab follows. Mousasi’s jab is awesome. Right hand from Mousasi and he sprawls to avoid a takedown and almost takes the back, but Latifi avoids and we’re back to standing. More jabs and a left hand and Latifi’s face is beginning to look messy. Mousasi continues to pick him apart and Latifi is beginning to look lost. Seconds remaining in the round and Mousasi isn’t letting up with the jabs. Round ends with more of the same; stiff jabs to the face. 10-9 Mousasi.

Round Three and Latifi’s right eye is near enough swollen shut. Good leg kick lands for Latifi to counter the jabs early on. Mousasi is still doing a tremendous job of dodging Latifi’s punches though and cracking him with the jab. Wheel kick misses for Latifi but it does pop the crowd. Doesn’t stop him from eating more stiff jabs though. Crowd sound a bit pissed off but I mean, it’s only because their hometown guy is being tooled rather than the fight being bad. Right hand connects for Mousasi and backs Latifi up. Latifi’s face looks like he’s been in a car wreck. Mousasi continues to mix up his strikes, landing the right cross to go with the jab now and it’s got Latifi stumbling a little. Outside leg kick connects too. Latifi tries to fire back with a right haymaker but it doesn’t land flush. Pair of jabs back Latifi up and he appears to be using the fence to work out where he is, which is worrying. Just under two minutes to go. Hard leg kick lands for Latifi but he eats a stiff jab for his efforts. Heavy combo from Mousasi. Mousasi is just picking at him now with beautiful punches from range. Seconds to go and Latifi catches a kick and gets a takedown and the crowd EXPLODE. It’s too late though and Mousasi ties him up from the guard. Couple of big punches get through for Latifi but it’s not enough and he eats an upkick as he stands to drop a right hand. Buzzer goes and that’s it. 10-9 Mousasi and it has to be a 30-27 shutout.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Gegard Mousasi. Post-fight Mousasi reveals he’s carrying a bad knee injury, which would explain his somewhat conservative gameplan, but to be honest can you blame him anyway? It was a no-win situation for him as Latifi was such an unknown and a loss would’ve been devastating to his career, but to win without taking risks like this came off as a bit underwhelming too. From a technical standpoint though this was a masterclass on how to pick apart a shorter, less experienced striker, and I can’t remember the jab being used much better than this in the UFC. I think because of his demeanour Mousasi seems to get a rep as a lazy fighter but I don’t think that’s true at all – he’s such a cold technician that he can fight in that way and still beat the majority of fighters without having to come off as crazy. I was impressed with him here at least. As for Latifi I’m sure he’ll get another go around after bailing the UFC out on short notice, and I guess with an easier opponent he may do well enough to stick around. We shall see.

-Show ends there with Mousasi and his team celebrating.

Final Thoughts….

For what was basically what you’d call a b-show, this was actually a very entertaining card. I mean granted, none of the fights really had much effect on the title pictures or anything, but not all of the shows these days can be stacked and when they’re not, the best you can hope for is a bunch of really exciting fights. Which is what we got here – Pickett/Easton, Corrassani/Peralta and the two aired prelims were really good and Pearson/Couture, Brandao/Garza and Mitrione/De Fries had nice finishes. Main event was a little underwhelming in the end but from a technical standpoint it was really fascinating to watch. Definite thumbs up for this one and it’s worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it yet.

Best Fight: Johnson vs. Madadi
Worst Fight: Mitrione vs. De Fries

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

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 f------ 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 f------ 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 f------ 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 s--- 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. F------ 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 s---, 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 F--- 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 “f--- 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

Newman’s Take: PRIDE 2

-No introduction for this one sorry as I legitimately know nothing about this event! I’ve been told it’s somewhat of a bust though so we shall see. We have two Gracie fights on tap as well as the PRIDE debut of Kazushi Sakuraba.

PRIDE 2

03/15/98
Yokahama, Japan

-Your hosts are Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten.

Royler Gracie vs Yuhi Sano

Quick Google search tells me that Sano was a pro-wrestler, so I guess he was following in the footsteps of Nobuhiko Takada in challenging a Gracie, this time the smaller Royler, who like most Gracies at this time was both undefeated and greatly feared. No clue on rounds or timing. Gracie’s giving up 50lbs according to Quadros.

Fight begins and Royler circles while Sano stretches out like he’s prepping to do some bench presses. They go into a collar-and-elbow tie-up of all things before Gracie pulls guard. Sano tries to stand but Royler pulls him right into a butterfly guard using double underhooks. Sick sweep follows and Royler is on top in Sano’s half-guard. Quick pass to full mount follows and methinks Sano might be in trouble. Sano tries a mad attempt at bucking him off and manages to get half-guard for a second before Royler passes back into side mount. Back to full mount and this time Royler stays low to avoid the Japanese fighter bucking him off. Sano uses his size to roll him anyway but Royler goes for a triangle. Sano lifts him up though and shakes him off and we’re back to standing. Sano again goes for the collar-and-elbow tie-up and again Gracie pulls guard. Sano tries to pull out, but Gracie keeps hold of him as Quadros calls Takada the Hulk Hogan of Japan. Ha. Nothing is happening here, dude. Triangle attempt is again avoided by Sano. Couple of sweep attempts are also avoided. This is basically a grappling match as I don’t think either guy has thrown a strike yet. Sweep from Gracie puts him back on top in side mount. Full mount follows again. Then back to side mount. Then back to full mount. Royler gets his right knee onto Sano’s left arm for a while but he doesn’t do anything with it. Sano might be gassed here as he isn’t really moving. Arm triangle choke is right there but Royler doesn’t seem to want to commit to it.

Announcers are now openly complaining about the fight as Royler’s not doing anything from the top and Sano isn’t doing anything from the bottom either. It isn’t Kimo/Severn yet but this does suck. Quadros asks Bas “Is this fight boring?” and Bas is like “Yes, yes it is”. Ha. Fifteen minutes gone already, good lord. Sano finally tries some sort of reversal and almost gets to guard, but Royler passes right away and gets back to side mount. Full mount unsurprisingly follows and we’re right back to square one. Sigh. Couple of strikes land for Royler now though at least. It’s knee-on-belly for Royler now but we’re still no closer to a submission. This is one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen. Reversal from Sano suddenly puts him back into top position, but it’s Royler who lands punches from the bottom as Sano just f------ kneels there. Looks like Sano might be putting himself in a triangle, but Royler doesn’t really go for it as Bas starts cracking jokes about going down on a chick. Upkick lands for Royler and finally pops the crowd. Fight slows down again though as Rickson at ringside looks more intense than either guy in the ring. Some wild shots have Sano’s nose busted up at least. Couple more good shots from Royler and Sano decides to stand out of the guard. After taking some more shots he drops back in, where he takes some more punches. Weird moment as Royler sort of swings off Sano’s arm and then allows him to stand. Ref calls time to get rid of some loose tape on Royler’s glove, and they restart with Royler in the crab position. Sano runs away for a moment and then drops back into the guard. Sweep from Royler and he easily avoids a crap guillotine attempt. Full mount follows and Sano gives his back before rolling back into the full mount. Armbar finally follows and it’s over. Thank God.

Well, that’s half an hour of my life that I’ll never get back. Sano just sucked terribly and did basically nothing outside of the odd reversal, while Royler took waaaay too long and played with his food like a kid trying to avoid eating vegetables or something. Terrible stuff.

Akira Shoji vs Juan Mott

Shoji had gone to a draw with Renzo Gracie at the previous PRIDE show which to be fair was pretty impressive for this time period. Sherdog tells me Mott currently has a record of 3-4. Google tells me via some site rating BJJ instructors that Mott is a “total fraud”. We shall see I guess.

Fight gets started and they circle with Mott throwing out some Gracie-esque short front kicks. Leg kick connects for Mott. Shoji looks pretty chilled, circling around on the outside. Couple more kicks from Mott. Takedown from Shoji and he dumps Mott down and takes full mount. Big punches rain down for Shoji and Mott gives his back. More punches land and then Shoji locks up the choke and forces the tapout.

Total squash but it was a fun one as Shoji was actually a decent fighter before he got really thrown to the wolves a bit later on in his PRIDE run. Mott unsurprisingly wasn’t very good at all.

-Kickboxing match between Ralph White and William van Roosmalen follows. I’m not play-by-playing it because, well, I’m an MMA guy not a kickboxing guy and there just isn’t the comical freakshow aspect to this one that PRIDE 1’s White vs. Cikatic fight had. Fight is alright I guess. Standard kickboxing match as van Roosmalen picks White apart and then puts him away with a knee to the body in the fourth round. Next!

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Vernon White

This was Sakuraba’s first fight in PRIDE (well, duh) and his first one following his UFC tournament win, too. Imagine how different things might be had he stayed with UFC at that point? Anyway, despite a spotty record, I believe Vernon White at this point was still pretty highly respected as one of Ken Shamrock’s top students in the Lion’s Den, so this would’ve been a pretty interesting fight.

Fight begins and Sakuraba lands a nice low kick as White pushes forward. Big left hand from White rocks Sakuraba badly, but he manages to drop for a single leg and gets White onto the ground. Leglock attempt from Sakuraba but he gives up on it and takes side mount instead. Sakuraba’s cauliflower ears are pretty epic even here. Kimura set-up from Sakuraba but White grabs his own hands together to defend. Sakuraba almost twists it up, but White pops free and explodes to his feet. Nice single leg from Sakuraba brings him right back down. White reverses and looks to escape to his feet, but Sakuraba manages to force him back down into half-guard. Pass to full mount follows and it looks like he’s considering an armbar, but he gets too high up and Vernon bucks him off and escapes to his feet. Low single leg from Sakuraba and he gets White down again and takes north/south this time. White regains guard but Sakuraba immediately spins into half-guard. Nice pass to side mount from Sakuraba and he goes after an armbar and turns belly-down. White grimaces and tries to pull his arm free but this looks deep. White stands with Sakuraba hanging off his arm, and somehow he does a tremendous job of escaping and taking Sakuraba’s back! No hooks though and Sakuraba shakes him off and takes side mount. Sakuraba stands over him for a second and then grabs a foot to attempt a possible heel hook, but gives up on it right away to go back to side mount. Knee on belly from Sakuraba but he doesn’t go for full mount for whatever reason. Instead he stands over Vernon and then goes back down after White throws some sharp upkicks. Into side mount for Sakuraba and he appears to be prepping for a kneebar, but he gives that up to look for another armbar. He rolls into it, but White again defends tremendously, escapes into top position and then takes the back. White stands and throws a big kick that Sakuraba ducks under, and seconds later he’s on his back again courtesy of a beautiful takedown to side mount. He looks to be setting up a possible submission, and then steps over to full mount, but the round ends there. Really nice round.

Second round and White clips him with a right hand early on. Action gets a bit slow before Sakuraba shoots in and plants White on his back under side mount again. Action slows down again from there and then Sakuraba easily takes full mount. White looks to roll and Sakuraba goes for the armbar, but he doesn’t have the arm deep enough in and White looks ridiculously calm in there. Sure enough Vernon escapes and takes the back with no hooks. Good punches from White to the side of the head and Sakuraba looks like he might be a bit stuck. White looks to sink the choke, but Sakuraba avoids and hits a reversal to take top position again. White manages to get to guard and it looks like he might be going for a triangle for a second, but Sakuraba avoids and settles into the guard. White pops back to his feet and Sakuraba goes for the single leg again, but a reversal from Vernon allows him to take the back. Sakuraba then goes for what would become his trademark move – the kimura – and drops and rolls for it. White manages to fight it off but Sakuraba gets the arm extended for a second, but somehow Vernon slips free and stands. Sakuraba goes right back to the rolling kimura and they end up twisted up on the mat like a pretzel. Another reversal from White though sees him take the back again. This time he gets one hook in, and he tries a choke. Sakuraba avoids though and gets back on top in guard. Into side mount for Sakuraba and Vernon rolls and gives his back, and Sakuraba looks to attack the arm again. Vernon avoids that and takes the back again, where he lands a couple of punches with no hooks. Reversal from Sakuraba and he pretty much crawls his way into a takedown attempt, but White prevents it with almost a neck crank attempt with the head trapped down and both hands locked around Saku’s arms. He gives it up for some reason though to drop some knees to the body from a front facelock. Sakuraba pops back up, but White has his back. Again Sakuraba goes for the kimura, but this time Vernon spins out and we’re back to standing. Beautiful takedown from Sakuraba and he gets into half-guard. Full mount follows. Few punches connect for Sakuraba but Vernon slides out the back door and escapes, taking the back once again. Sakuraba grabs the right ankle to pull him over, but the bell sounds there. This is actually a really good fight.

Third round and they exchange some kicks early on. Hard body kicks are blocked by both men. Sweet single leg from Sakuraba plants White on his back. Sakuraba had a ridiculously fast shot at this point. He stands over the guard of Vernon and looks to pass, getting into half-guard. Into side mount for Sakuraba and he waits for a moment before stepping over to full mount. Good punches from Sakuraba and White covers up. Looks like Sakuraba’s setting up for an armbar as his legs are really high on White’s chest. Armbar attempt as White bucks, but Sakuraba can’t quite lock it up and Vernon escapes nicely and takes the back with no hooks again. Sakuraba locks up the kimura again and rolls for it, but again White shows tremendous defensive skills to avoid. Couple of hammer fists land for White but he still doesn’t bother with the hooks. Face crank attempt from White is easily avoided by Sakuraba and he manages to roll Vernon over when he tries for the hooks, taking north/south in the process. Scramble from White but Sakuraba goes for a kimura and then turns it into an armbar as White rolls. Looks like it might be deep this time, too. He rolls again, but Sakuraba straightens out the arm to force the tapout. Nice.

Super-long fight but I actually enjoyed it a ton as it was great to see really early Sakuraba before he was ruined by fighting giant guys, and yeah, he showed absolutely tremendous skills that were way ahead of his time more than anything, with a super-fast shot, incredible grappling skills and total serenity whenever he was put into a bad position. White put up a good fight too and it made for a great technical grappling match.

Renzo Gracie vs Sanae Kikuta

We all know about Renzo of course and he was coming off his draw with Akira Shoji on the first PRIDE show here. Kikuta meanwhile had fought in some promotion called the Lumax Cup, with his lone loss coming in the Vale Tudo Japan tournament in 1996. No idea on rounds or time limits but as it’s a Gracie fight it’s bound to be a bit strange I’m sure.

We get underway and Kikuta bulls into the clinch, but Gracie works for a trip right away and forces him into the corner of the ring. Takedown from Renzo into Kikuta’s guard. Kikuta ties him up right away and nothing happens until he gets an escape to his feet. Renzo charges forward and Kikuta looks panicky and quickly grabs a clinch. Knees to the body connect for Gracie, but Kikuta tries a trip and gets it in a nice move, landing in Renzo’s half-guard. Renzo gets back to full guard and we slow down to a crawl as they lay in the guard for AGES. You know, I get the idea of the Gracie system of BJJ and self-defense and what-not and I respect it, but damnit it has no place on an MMA show. It was fun to see Royce tap dudes in the UFC because those guys stunk, but in these early PRIDE shows the Japanese guys at least knew enough to avoid rudimentary submissions and we end up with THIS RUBBISH. For f------ hours on end. Round One ends there. Quadros helpfully tells us this but doesn’t tell us how many rounds this is going for.

Second round and Kikuta throws some punches out but they look really amateurish, like he’s just started training. Excellent left hand by Gracie and Kikuta clinches, but Renzo quickly forces him into the corner of the ring. Kikuta blocks the takedown and they muscle for position with the Japanese fighter defending a trip. Knees land inside for Gracie. They break off but it’s only brief as Renzo clinches again and we’re back to Kikuta defending trips. Takedown from Kikuta puts him into Renzo’s guard as the ring announcer kindly tells us there’s five minutes to go in the round. Very little happens from the guard, unsurprisingly, as Kikuta’s got enough of a base not to be simply armbarred but not enough skill to actually do anything offensively. Finally Kikuta decides to stand free of the guard, leaving Renzo in the butt-scoot position. Ref ought to call Renzo up but he doesn’t and so Kikuta dives back into the guard, horrifying Quadros. Man, how Quadros and Bas sat through these shows without losing the will to live I do not know. More nothingness from the guard follows until the round ends. This sucks.

Third round and Kikuta sprints out into a clinch and trips Renzo down into the guard. Odds on the whole round being Renzo tapping him with rabbit punches from the bottom while Kikuta lays there seem pretty high. Next time someone says like, Ben Askren is boring, show them a fight like this. Bas says he’s speechless but what the f--- would there be to say? The announcers are the best part of this fight as they’re just openly ragging on Kikuta’s gameplan, or lack of one. And this goes on FOREVER until Kikuta somehow slips into half-guard and then decides to stand over him. Gracie won’t get up and so Kikuta dives back into the guard. Sigh. He passes into half-guard as Bas tells us this has been going now for almost 30 minutes, causing me to shudder. Gracie regains full guard and Kikuta lays there. Bas and Quadros now debate the point of these types of fights, saying it isn’t entertaining and hell, it’s not really sport either. Another painful round in the books.

Fourth round and Bas is asking Quadros how many rounds this is, almost pleading with his voice for Stephen to say just four. But it’s actually UNLIMITED ROUNDS. Takedown attempt from Renzo is blocked and we’re back into a clinch. Trip takedown from Kikuta and he actually lands a punch, stunning Quadros. But unfortunately it’s pretty much all he does as we’re back to laying in the guard. I think the shots of Rickson at ringside might be more exciting than this fight. I feel dirty typing this because I love Renzo and the guy is a legend but this is absolutely one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen. Quadros mentions that the fight would be far better if it didn’t have these unlimited rounds. Ref calls a stand-up which is odd, but apparently Kikuta got hit with some sort of illegal punch. They restart standing and maybe that was the ref’s idea? Good leg kick from Kikuta as they throw out some crude strikes to end the round.

Fifth round and Kikuta bulls into the clinch and we start just like the other rounds. This time though Renzo manages to work into a standing guillotine choke, but it doesn’t look like he can get the tap from it or anything. He pulls guard though and evidently thinks he’s got it, but Kikuta manages to get his head free for some ground-and-pound. Oh, wait, I got that wrong. He gets his head free to allow him to LAY THERE DOING NOTHING. Which goes on for the WHOLE TEN MINUTE ROUND. F--- this nonsense.

SIXTH ROUND and this fight is pushing a f------ HOUR, dude. Seriously. Bas is just f------ sick of this by this stage and rightfully so. Fight gets stopped before anything happens to fix Kikuta’s glove. They restart and Kikuta charges in for a takedown, but Renzo grabs a guillotine. He pulls guard and this time it looks deeper, and KIKUTA F------ TAPS TO SAVE US ALL. Quadros and Bas are both like THANK GOD after the fight.

Another one of the worst fights of all time then; somehow this was WORSE than Royler vs. Sano from earlier in the show. I don’t think I ever want to watch another non-Rickson Gracie vs. a non-Sakuraba Japanese fighter EVER AGAIN. Now I know why I was told to avoid these early PRIDE shows!

-Another kickboxing match follows and it’s Tasis Petridis vs. George Randolph. For those who care, Petridis wins a decision. I however don’t care so I’m skipping it entirely.

Marco Ruas vs Gary Goodridge

Goodridge’s previous fight had seen him KO Oleg Taktarov in absolutely criminal fashion; one of the most horrific knockouts I’ve ever seen, while Ruas was making his Japanese debut after winning the UFC 7 tournament and then beating up some other early UFC veterans (Steve Jennum, Pat Smith) elsewhere. I love Ruas and he’s one of my favourite early MMA pioneers, so hopefully this will be fun.

Fight begins and Goodridge swings some heavy leather that Ruas manages to avoid. Takedown attempt from Ruas but Goodridge stuffs it and hits him with a knee to the body to break off. Roundhouse kick and spinning backfist miss for Ruas. Takedown is blocked aain by Goodridge. Leg kick glances for Ruas and Goodridge narrowly misses a right hand sledgehammer. Goodridge has no form on his punches at all but holy s--- they’re powerful. Takedown attempt from Ruas basically out of desperation to avoid the haymakers, but Goodridge manages to get on top in half-guard. Ruas looks badly cut over his left eye. Big shots connect for Goodridge from the top and Ruas looks stunned. He manages to get to full guard but man Goodridge throws with some force. Action slows down a bit as Goodridge looks tired, but he does at least try to pass the guard, working into half-guard. Ruas to his credit has remained super-calm in the face of this storm from Goodridge. Gary finally decides to stand out of the guard and we restart on the feet. Ruas circles as Goodridge stalks forward, then corners Ruas with some punches, but as he rushes in his leg buckles and he slips, allowing Ruas to land a right hand and force him into the ropes. BRUTE STRENGTH from Goodridge allows him to throw Ruas to the ground, but Ruas right away goes for a heel hook and after a bit of a struggle he locks it up for the tapout.

Fun fight that wouldn’t have looked out of place in like UFC 8 and probably would’ve been one of the better fights on a card like that, too. Post-fight a young Pedro Rizzo celebrates with Ruas. Fun enough, no complaints from me here as they actually came out and fought!

Mark Kerr vs Branko Cikatic

From what I know, at this point Kerr was like the most feared man in MMA as he’d smashed up everyone he’d faced to this point, winning two UFC tournaments as well as a Vale Tudo tournament in Brazil, and his blend of brute strength, great wrestling skill and developing striking was pretty much unheard of at this point, like an evolved Mark Coleman pretty much. Cikatic for those who have forgotten was a legendarily dirty kickboxer who had landed a soccer kick and caused Ralph White to have an alien grow from his head on the first PRIDE show. Not sure how this ended up as a main event but I guess Kerr was like a marquee signing for PRIDE or something.

Ring introductions show BAS RUTTEN in Kerr’s corner. So Quadros is going solo I guess. They begin…and yet Bas is commentating? S---, that means these poor guys had to watch this show TAPED and commentate over the two Gracie matches? Kerr is roided out of his f------ mind here. They circle with no strikes thrown and Kerr shoots, but Branko fires some shots at the back of the head while gripping the ropes. Tons of referees rush in to break this up and Cikatic WON’T LET GO OF THE ROPES. They pull him off and restart and Kerr looks f------ FUMING. ROID RAGE!~! They restart and Kerr shoots again, and once again Branko grabs the ropes and begins to drop VERTICAL ELBOWS TO KERR’S SPINE. Holy f--- this guy is dirty. Refs pour in but this time Kerr’s had enough and begins to land punches to Branko too. Three guys have to pull Kerr away. This is totally out of control. Bell sounds and the fight’s thrown out. Wild stuff. Total pro-wrestling. And it’s beyond hilarious to hear Bas commentating on this while he’s also in the ring with Kerr! Decision is finally made to disqualify Branko for the second time in two shows, and they bury the hatchet and HUG IT OUT. Audience are furious. And the show ends there.

Final Thoughts….

Even for 1998 standards this was a terrible, terrible show. Sakuraba vs. White was fun enough and Goodridge vs. Ruas was decent too, but they were offset by a totally useless main event that descended into chaos and two of the worst fights I’ve ever seen in Gracie vs. Sano and Gracie vs. Kikuta. Now I understand why I was told to just start with PRIDE 10 and move on from there. Hopefully PRIDE 3 will be better but I’m not exactly getting my hopes up. High recommendation to avoid.

Best Fight: Sakuraba vs. White
Worst Fight: Gracie vs. Kikuta

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann

-Well, let’s not beat around the bush – for a Fuel TV show this card was unbelievably stacked – a title fight main event away from being a high-end PPV card, effectively. I actually thought it was weird that they’d put it on Fuel TV where the viewership is pretty low, but I guess it was more like a gift for the Japanese fans than anything else and hey, Fox must’ve been happy as the show ended up shattering the viewing records for Fuel TV anyway.

UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann

03/02/13
Saitama, Japan

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Welterweight Fight: Dong Hyun Kim vs Siyar Bahadurzada

This was a great-sounding fight on paper, although admittedly some of Kim’s fights don’t exactly come off exciting in the end. Still, any fight involving Bahadurzada gets me pumped up – dude is a violent man and had been on the shelf for almost a year prior to this after turning out Paulo Thiago’s lights with one punch. Smart pick was Kim to stifle the Killer with his ground game but I was pulling for Siyar.

Round One and they circle before Kim throws a body kick that connects with Siyar’s arm. Front kick misses for Kim. Siyar looks pretty tentative here. Into the clinch from Kim but Bahadurzada shrugs him off. Right hand glances for the Korean. Head kick is blocked by Siyar. Siyar has the right hand cocked for a counter. Head kick lands for Kim but he slips to the ground and Bahadurzada manages to escape before he’s put on his back. Right hand lands for Siyar and Kim’s right eye looks marked up. Takedown is avoided by Bahadurzada. Good left from Kim sets up the clinch and then he drops for a single leg and gets it. Siyar turns and gets half-guard but Kim immediately passes into full mount. Short punches land to the side of the head and he lands some elbows too for good measure. Looks like Kim might be looking to set up for an armbar, but he gives up on it to land some more elbows instead. Siyar gives his back and Kim gets one hook in as he stands, then slaps on the body triangle. Bahadurzada is in trouble. He manages to hold onto Kim’s right arm though and avoids the choke until the round ends. 10-9 Kim as he totally controlled Bahadurzada.

Round Two and Siyar comes out swinging, but Kim avoids the shots by circling out of range. Counter right hook does connect for Bahadurzada as Kim throws a head kick. Takedown attempt is avoided initially and then Siyar lands a right hand as they separate. Kim comes back with a double leg and lands in side mount. He’s not doing all that much but Bahadurzada can’t get out from underneath him at all. Bahadurzada turns and gives his back again, and Kim gets a hook in and lands some solid punches. He rolls through to take top position again and gets full mount. Kim’s ground game is incredibly powerful. Big elbows and punches land for Kim and Siyar is basically just holding on. Double punches begin to land for Kim and pop the crowd, but mainly he continues to land short elbow strikes. Round ends with Kim in dominant position again and I’d say it’s a 10-8, too.

Round Three and Siyar clearly needs a KO to win this one. He does glance with a right hook and backs Kim up a little, but Kim comes back with a hopping kick and an easy takedown to side mount. He looks for the mounted crucifix and then decides to switch to full mount and Bahadurzada just has no answer, looking totally lost from his back. Kim begins to work for a possible arm triangle choke, landing some knees to the body for good measure. Arm triangle looks sunk and Kim slides out to the side, but somehow the Afghan survives and so Kim slips back into full mount. He continues to look for the arm triangle, then goes back to punching away at the body. Big shots begin to land for Kim and he nails Siyar with elbow after elbow, although it doesn’t look like he’s close to a stoppage. Bahadurzada lands some hammer fists from his back, but Kim allows them and then opens up with some more heavy shots from the top. Bahadurzada manages to escape mount…but Kim gets side mount instead and then takes north/south. Siyar kicks him away, but the fight ends there. 10-8 Kim for a 30-25 (!) on my scorecard.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Dong Hyun Kim. No idea how you could give 10-9’s in each round there as Bahadurzada basically did nothing throughout outside of defending and landing the odd glancing right hand. This was one of the most one-sided bouts I can remember seeing in the UFC in some time and while some would knock Kim for being dull, why wouldn’t he fight like that if he’s against a guy who can’t regain guard from his back?

Featherweight Fight: Rani Yahya vs Mizuto Hirota

Bit of an odd fight to make the main card as I’d totally forgotten Yahya was even under UFC contract – although his last fight was a win over Josh Grispi in August. Japanese star Hirota had made the move over from StrikeForce and was dropping to 145lbs for the first time, and after remembering what he did to grappler Satoru Kitaoka in Sengoku a few years ago I was picking him to win, probably by TKO.

Round One and Yahya throws out some feints as Hirota stalks forward. Overhand right glances for Yahya but he eats a counter right for good measure. Takedown attempt from Yahya and he gets Hirota down for a second before the Japanese fighter pops back up. Yahya stays on the single leg and almost gets the back before transitioning right into an oma plata. Hirota avoids and escapes to his feet, then winds up on top himself after a brief scramble. Into half-guard for Hirota but Yahya reverses into a single leg of his own and takes top position with a beautiful sweep. He gets into half-guard and it looks like Hirota wants to stall it out. Reversal from Hirota allows him to stand, but Yahya drags him back down with a single leg and he lands some solid shots from the top. He looks to work free of the half-guard and then decides to go for a far-side kimura, but Hirota looks pretty calm. Particularly considering he’s a dude who had his arm broken by Shinya Aoki! Hirota avoids that but Yahya passes into side mount and then takes the back to end the round. Clear 10-9 for Rani Yahya.

Round Two and Yahya lands a crude overhand right. Surprisingly Hirota decides to clinch and muscles him into the fence, but when they break off Yahya hits a double leg into guard. He passes into half-guard right away and then ties up both legs, Kawajiri style. Hirota looks to use the fence to stand, but Yahya drags him away from it and continues to work from the top to pass. Arm triangle attempt from Yahya and it looks like it’s sunk in from the full mount. He can’t quite slide out into side mount though as the fence is in the way, and that pretty much keeps Hirota in the fight. Yahya can’t finish it and gives it up, but winds up in full butterfly guard. Yahya continues to work from the top with ground-and-pound as Hirota looks to use the fence to stand, but the Brazilian has a tight top game and keeps him firmly down, passing into half-guard for good measure. More of the same follows and that’s the round. 10-8 Yahya.

Round Three and they circle before Yahya drops for a single leg. Hirota avoids this time and Yahya has to get back up. He is looking a little tired. Hirota stalks forward, but he looks a bit gunshy due to the threat of the takedown. Yahya telegraphs a shot though and Hirota shrugs him off easily. Another attempt ends the same as Hirota sprawls nicely. Another takedown is avoided and Yahya is clearly gassed at this point. Another single leg attempt is more successful though and he gets Hirota down. Hirota tries to reverse and take the back, and then Yahya tries a really odd reversal like a wrestling roll-up, and off the scramble Hirota goes for a triangle choke! He switches to a triangle armbar and it looks tight, but Yahya avoids and slips out to take the back. That was a great exchange. One hook in for Yahya and he drags Hirota down. Hirota manages to shake it off and works to his feet, where he looks for a double leg of his own. He puts Yahya down, and then takes the back where he lands some solid punches to the head before standing. Flying knee misses for Hirota and Yahya dives for a takedown, but Hirota avoids it again and lands some more punches from a front facelock. Yahya looks exhaysted and in trouble, but there’s only seconds to go and he circles out. Combination from Hirota but Yahya clinches and lasts the round. 10-9 Hirota but 29-27 for Yahya overall.

Official scorecards read 29-28 all round for Rani Yahya. Decent grappling-based fight if nothing outstanding, as Yahya totally bossed the first two rounds before gassing badly and almost allowing Hirota back into the fight. Would’ve been better with a finish but this was a perfectly acceptable midcard fight.

Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Hector Lombard

After Lombard crushed Rousimar Palhares in December this was the fight I was hoping they’d make for him, as I figured his style matched well with Okami’s – in a sense that I thought he’d be able to stuff Okami’s takedowns and smash him up standing, which would be a cool thing. No offense to Okami but Lombard makes for far more exciting fights at the top of the division. Fun fact – the nicknames of the fighters meant this fight was technically THUNDER VS. LIGHTNING!~! too which is unspeakably cool.

First round and Lombard stalks forward right away. Okami circles out and avoids a right hook early on. Combo glances for Lombard. Big low kick from Lombard is caught and Okami puts him on his back in guard. Quick reversal puts Lombard vertical again and he tries a trip, but Okami blocks it and they break. Couple of nice jabs land for Okami as he does a good job of keeping his distance. Lombard fires back with a right hand and a left hook. Big combo just misses for Lombard and Okami ducks under and hits a single leg to half-guard. Okami grinds away from the top without really doing much damage, but he’s controlling Lombard and the round is ticking away. Lombard looks to reverse and manages to get to his feet, but Okami keeps him clinched on the fence. 30 seconds to go now and Lombard can’t seem to break free. Good body shot does connect for him but Okami answers with a knee to the midsection. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Okami.

Second round and Lombard is dropping his hands and trying to egg Okami into trading. Okami doesn’t bite though and stays on the outside throwing the jab. Hard knee into a right hand from Okami. Couple more jabs from Okami and he seems to be beating Lombard to the punch. More jabs follow for the Japanese fighter and Lombard seems reduced to stalking forward and walking into them. Beautiful one-two snaps Lombard’s head back. Lombard comes back with a body shot. Single leg attempt from Okami and he gets Lombard down again and immediately moves into half-guard. Okami chops away with short ground-and-pound and looks to get out of the half-guard, taking full mount. Big pop from the fans for that move. Solid shots land for Okami from the mount but he can’t really open up. Round ends with him in dominant position, though. 10-9 Okami.

Third and final round and Lombard comes rushing out swinging and he lands a couple of left hands early on. Okami looks wobbled and stumbles around, and Lombard follows up with some HUGE POWER HOOKS, looking for the finish! Okami manages to back out and survives, but he still doesn’t look quite out of the woods. Clinch and a knee from Okami but he eats a big left hand. Lombard keeps on swinging and then stuffs a takedown and gets on top in half-guard. He can’t do much from there outside of some short strikes though, and Okami looks for a reversal and goes for a single leg. Lombard avoids though and takes the back to land some punches, but Okami keeps clinging onto the leg to survive. Okami ends up on his back and Lombard settles into the guard to land some more short shots, and then stands back up. Okami gets to his feet and immediately goes for a takedown, but Lombard blocks and they wind up clinched. Knee from Okami but Lombard breaks off and pushes forward. Takedown attempt by Okami is blocked and he pulls guard with about a minute to go. Lombard moves into half-guard but Okami regains full guard and manages to last out the round. 10-9 Lombard but not enough for the decision.

Judges have it 29-28 Lombard (!), 29-28 Okami and 29-28 for Okami to take the split decision. No idea how you’d score that for Lombard but whatever, right man won in the end anyway. Fight wasn’t great though as Okami stifled Lombard for two rounds as he tends to and then while Lombard came out swinging in the third he just couldn’t do enough to put Okami away. I think the drop to 170lbs will do Lombard good as he just isn’t able to be the bully in the UFC at 185lbs. Okami continues to roll but he’s in the Fitch role now where he’s never going to get another title shot, unfortunately, so he’s just a really tricky gatekeeper. Which is cool I guess – someone’s got to do it!

Lightweight Fight: Diego Sanchez vs Takanori Gomi

When this was announced as Diego’s first foray back into the Lightweight division since 2009 I really didn’t know how to feel – on one hand it sounded like an AWESOME fight to see, but on the other hand I hate to see either guy lose and with the flurry of roster cuts in the early part of 2013 I certainly didn’t want to see either man vanish from the UFC. I was taking Diego of course because I never pick against him, but I was hoping to see Gomi look good too so that his job would be safe!

Sad note for Diego – he missed weight spectacularly for this fight, coming in looking out of shape at 158lbs. Word was that he didn’t like the Japanese water or something but who knows really? To say I was worried would be an understatement!

Round One and they circle before Gomi clips Diego with a right. High kick comes back for Diego but Gomi answers with a one-two. Leg kick from Diego but Gomi lands a right to the body. Nice right connects for Gomi. Short right lands for Diego. Nice counter by Gomi as Diego comes forward. Right hand glances for Gomi but Diego catches him low with a kick. Ref calls time and they restart and Diego immediately hits a double leg and stacks up to land some punches, but Gomi quickly scrambles to his feet. Leg kick from Diego. Loud chant for Gomi. Couple of wild swings miss for Gomi. Left body kick from Sanchez. Nice right hand counter lands for Diego. Gomi is really pushing forward now. Left hand glances for the Fireball Kid. Takedown from Diego after taking a knee and he goes for a kneebar, and it looks tight. Gomi manages to slip free though and escapes to his feet again. Couple of jabs from Gomi and he follows with a hard body shot. Exchange continues with neither man really landing anything major before Diego catches a kick and gets a takedown on the buzzer. Super-close round but I’d lean towards Diego, 10-9.

Round Two and Gomi pushes forward with some jabs. Nice right to the body from Gomi and he follows with a right hook to the head. Stiff jab from Gomi. Diego looks like he’s slowed down, surprisingly enough. Takedown attempt from Diego is stuffed nicely. Body shot again from Gomi. Kick connects low for Diego and Marc Goddard calls time and warns him that he’ll take a point if he lands low again. They restart with Gomi continuing to work the jab. Leg kick from Diego. Right to the body and left hook from Gomi. Diego tries to swing back but he’s being outboxed by the Japanese star. Body kick from Diego but Gomi counters with a right hand. Uppercut glances for Sanchez. Pair of inside leg kicks connect for Gomi. Couple of kicks from Diego don’t land but back Gomi up a little. Right hook glances for Diego. Jabs from Gomi set up his right hand. Takedown is stuffed by Gomi and the standing exchange continues. Nice body kick from Diego. Another one follows. Gomi pushes in with a combo, but Diego fires right back. Flying knee misses for Diego. Round ends with a bit of a scramble for the clinch. 10-9 Gomi.

Round Three and Diego comes rushing out but he takes a couple of jabs. Gomi immediately has him circling out by using crisp punches. Nice jab from Diego. Good leg kick too. Punches miss for both men. Body shot lands for Diego. Big swings miss for Gomi. Good right connects though. Front kick glances to Gomi’s face. Stiff right lands for the Japanese star. Nice body kick into a right hand from Diego. Gomi is switching stances a ton here. Body kick from Diego. Takedown attempt follows but Gomi stuffs it again. Kick is caught by Gomi and he takes Diego down for a split second but lets him up. Right to the body and head from Gomi. Seconds left now and Diego charges in for a takedown but Gomi shrugs him off. Counter left lands for Gomi. Both men throw kicks and Diego slips down for a second but pops back up. Flurry from Diego backs Gomi up to end the round. Really close round but I’d call it 10-9 Gomi and 29-28 for him overall. Could see it either way though.

Judges have it 29-28 Sanchez, 29-28 Gomi and 29-28….for DIEGO THE DREAM SANCHEZ!~! Man, to say I was worried when that verdict came in – especially after Diego missed weight and all….whew. I think he dodged a major bullet there as the fight wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as I’d hoped either and a loss in that manner plus missing weight might’ve been trouble for him. In the end both guys seem pretty secure with the UFC which is what I wanted, but the fight was a disappointment in my eyes as neither man seemed at the top of their game. Wasn’t bad or anything but I expect more from a Diego Sanchez fight I guess.

Heavyweight Fight: Mark Hunt vs Stefan Struve

This looked like another fun fight, with the more well-rounded skills of Struve looking to match up with the concussive punching power of the New Zealander Hunt. As far as a pick this was one of those fights that really depended on who could impose their game – if the fight stayed standing then Hunt’s punching power would likely be able to smash through Struve’s somewhat questionable jaw, while if the fight hit the ground Struve had the clear advantage. I ended up picking Hunt just because I didn’t trust Struve to try to take him down.

First round and Struve opens with a head kick that Hunt blocks. Hunt closes in with a one-two and totally walks through Struve’s reach advantage. Good leg kick from Hunt. Left hook and a right to the body follow. Struve isn’t using his reach at all. Another leg kick connects for the New Zealander. Lunging left hook narrowly misses. Good right to the body from Hunt. Left from Hunt but Struve clinches and pulls guard. Beautiful sweep from Struve puts him in full mount and Hunt could be in trouble. Hunt hits a nice hip escape to half-guard though before any damage can be done. Looks like Struve might be working to set up an arm triangle, but Hunt manages to defend it and avoid. Pass to mount from Struve and he opens up with a big flurry that has Hunt covering up. Armbar attempt from Struve and he goes into a belly-down variant, but can’t get it and Hunt gets free to take top position. Good right hand from the top for Hunt. Triangle attempt from Struve but Hunt postures out and drops another right. Another armbar attempt is avoided too. Seconds to go and Struve decides to look for the sweep again, but Hunt avoids, passes into side mount and lands some punches. Round ends with Hunt in control. Close round but I’d lean slightly towards Struve for the ground work; 10-9.

Second round and Hunt pushes in and lands a short right before following with a pair of vicious left hooks that have Struve covering up. Struve manages to stay in the fight but he’s leaning back with his chin up to avoid some of these punches. Couple of jabs land for Struve but Hunt is continuing to walk through his reach. Looping left hook lands again for Hunt and he’s beginning to land more and more. Good body kick from Struve. Nice combo from Hunt. Struve just isn’t using his reach here at all. Into the clinch and Hunt hits a surprising takedown into guard. No idea why he’d do that! Struve immediately looks to set up a possible triangle, then switches off for a leglock attempt. Hunt tries to roll with it and manages to get free, but decides to settle back into the guard. Couple of short hammer fists connect for Hunt in the guard and then he passes into side mount. Reversal from Struve though and he puts Hunt on his back and takes full mount again. Nice punches from Struve and he’s looking to finish. Hunt manages to cover up though and Struve drops for an armbar, but TOTALLY botches it and that allows Hunt to take top position again. Elbows from the bottom for Struve and that’s the round. I’d go 10-9 Hunt there actually as he was all over Struve standing and didn’t get into major trouble on the ground outside of the short period when he was mounted.

Third round and Struve opens with a jab but eats a combo from Hunt ending with a body shot. Big left hook follows, lands flush, and wobbles Struve badly. Struve tries to clinch but Hunt breaks with an uppercut. Both men look gassed suddenly. They both keep swinging and both land, but Struve is still letting Hunt walk through the reach and land combos. Big head kick lands flush for Struve but Hunt eats it. Hunt drops his hands and takes some good punches, but he walks into a left hook that forces Struve back. Hunt is exhausted now but he lands a BIG RIGHT HAND that wobbles Struve badly. He stumbles back and Hunt F------ WAYLAYS HIM WITH A HUGE LEFT HOOK!~! Struve goes DOWN and Hunt walks away before Herb Dean even decides to stop it. Of course, it’s OVER.

Well, that was a really fun fight even if both guys showed their massive limitations. The big difference in the end was that Struve for some reason seemed quite happy to stand with Hunt (despite Hunt seeming willing to go to the ground!) and when you’re not using your reach in the way you probably ought to against a striker the calibre of Hunt it’s always likely to end badly. For Struve it ended REALLY badly as the final left hook actually broke his jaw in a nasty way, but hey, you pick your poison. Big win for Hunt and incredibly this was his fourth straight win in the UFC, which would’ve seemed inexplicable when he first debuted with that awful loss to Sean McCorkle!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann

When this fight was announced at 205lbs rather than 185lbs it seemed strange, as neither Wandy or Stann had fought at Light-Heavyweight since 2010, but the rumour was that Wanderlei was considering retirement after the fight and so he didn’t want to cut weight, and Stann was quite happy to oblige him. Despite Stann seeming to have more in the tank than the Brazilian legend, with the fight being in Wandy’s old stomping ground of Japan I couldn’t help but pick him to win and I ended up laying some cash on him too.

Fight begins and they circle with Stann pressing, and they TRADE WILDLY for a second before Stann looks to drop for a takedown. Silva blocks it and lands a knee, and they go SHOT FOR SHOT from inside the clinch and Wandy goes down! He pops right back up and forces Stann into the fence, where they continue to trade knees. Looks like Stann’s nose is bloodied already. They break off and Stann swings a haymaker that misses, and that causes Wandy to grin at him before they THROW DOWN WITH RECKLESS ABANDON and a right hand PUTS SILVA DOWN! He pops up and drives Stann into the fence, but they break off quickly. Another brief trade follows with both men landing. This is AWESOME. Low blow lands for Stann though and the ref has to call time to let Wandy recover. Comical moment follows as Wandy juggles his balls a few times before they restart. Stann’s nose looks F----- UP. Wanderlei seems to be looking to work the jab off the restart, and he lands a nice right hook too. Right hook connects for Stann too. Stann continues to stalk forward and he connects with a hard leg kick. WILD TRADE FOLLOWS AGAIN and this time Wanderlei goes down to a knee but POPS UP AND DROPS STANN FACE FIRST!~! Stann comes back up and FIRES RIGHT BACK to DROP SILVA HARD and he pounces into the guard looking to finish! Holy f------ s---. Silva manages to tie him up and there’s BLOOD EVERYWHERE as Stann is evidently cut bad. Round ends there. Crazy stuff. 10-9 Stann I guess. Trades were hard to PBP as they were so f------ wild!

Into the 2nd, incredibly enough, and Stann comes out stalking again. Big right hand from Stann and Wanderlei counters with one of his own. Another mad trade follows but it’s a shorter one this time as Wandy gets out of dodge. Good leg kick from Stann. Exchange continues and both look a little slower now and rightfully so. Another leg kick lands for Stann. Right haymakers narrowly miss for both men. Leg kick again lands low for Stann and Marc Goddard calls time. We get MORE BALL JIGGLING before they restart and Stann almost walks into a right haymaker. Good right hand from Silva. Stann continues to move around and lands with a glancing right hook. Head kick misses for Wandy. Leg kick from Stann. Silva looks in full counterpuncher mode now. One minute to go and Stann continues to stalk forward. Suddenly a BIG ONE-TWO lands for Wandy and STANN GOES DOWN and some punches on the ground STIFFEN HIM UP!~! Unbelievable.

Incredible fight. Total FOTYC level stuff from start to finish and the first round alone was one of the best rounds of fighting I’ve ever seen. I mean, you got the feeling that Stann could’ve come in with a smarter gameplan and tried to pick Wandy apart ala Rich Franklin, but I guess he knew the fans wanted to see a crazy old-school brawl and he decided to oblige them and these two THREW DOWN LIKE MEN. Tremendous stuff. This turned out to be Stann’s final fight as he retired a month or so back and I can’t think of a better way for him to go out really. As for Wanderlei? He probably should’ve retired after this too – one final triumph in front of his Japanese fans – but he’s chosen to continue, which in a way isn’t surprising as I’m guessing he’ll go out on his shield. Like Chuck Liddell before him, live by the sword, die by the sword. Amazing main event to end the night on the highest high possible.

-And the show ends there with a BANG.

Final Thoughts….

Up to the final two fights this was looking like a bad show, as while Yahya/Hirota was solid enough the other three fights had been really disappointing if not horrible or anything. The last two fights absolutely saved the show though, with Hunt/Struve being a lot of fun and ending in a brutal knockout and of course Wanderlei/Stann turning into one of the wildest brawls in recent memory. Those two fights alone are enough for a thumbs up – just about – but you can probably skip the first four fights.

Best Fight: Silva vs. Stann
Worst Fight: Kim vs. Bahadurzada

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

-When it was announced that StrikeForce would be closing its doors and its roster folded into the UFC, most fans figured the biggest reason for this was the rising star of Ronda Rousey and the fact that Dana White could probably see the huge amounts of money that could be made promoting her under the UFC banner. So when it was announced that her first UFC fight – and additionally, her first UFC title defense – would headline the UFC 157 PPV despite no other women’s fights taking place in the UFC previously, it was really not that much of a surprise. Bolstering the show? A Prime Time series to push the main event and help to get over Rousey’s opponent, Liz Carmouche, and also a big-time 205lbs co-main event in Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson. With all that figured, plus the historical significance of women finally fighting inside the Octagon, this felt like one of the biggest shows in recent memory.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

02/23/13
Anaheim, California

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Welterweight Fight: Nah-Shon Burrell vs Yuri Villefort

These two prospects had moved over from StrikeForce, where Villefort had lost a tight decision to Quinn Mulhern while Burrell had last been seen in a TKO loss to Chris Spang. I wasn’t really sure who to favour as I didn’t know that much about either man, but the fact that Villefort had topped Bloody Elbow’s Prospect Search in 2011 – above both Erick Silva and Gunnar Nelson – made me lean towards him. Burrell missing weight and coming in at 175lbs didn’t help his cause, either.

Round One and they circle before trading off with combos right away. Kick is caught by Villefort and he trips Burrell down and then takes the back in transition. He’s only got one hook in, though. Burrell tries to scramble free but gets caught in a deep rear naked choke. He’s in big trouble as Villefort has both hooks in now too. Good job from Burrell to avoid the choke but Villefort continues to control him from the back. He loses a hook though and that allows Burrell to escape to his feet. Spinning backfist misses for Burrell and Villefort drops to butt-scoot before standing back up. Left hook glances for Burrell. Good leg kick from Villefort. Villefort is really pushing forward here. Good low kick from Burrell and he follows with a left hand. Leg kick lands for Villefort. Nice combo from Burrell. Villefort answers with another chopping leg kick. Burrell is putting together some nice combinations though. Good left hook from Burrell to counter a right hand. Big right hand drops Villefort when he throws a kick, but as Burrell looks to follow up Yuri goes for a leglock. Burrell manages to defend, but that allows Villefort to hit a sweep and he gets on top in side mount. Explosion from Burrell allows him to get to his feet though and they WILDLY EXCHANGE with both men landing some hard shots. Round ends on the feet. Close round but I’d give it to Villefort for the closer submission attempts.

Round Two and Burrell uses a nice jab to set up some good combos, but he takes a leg kick from Villefort. Superman punch glances for Burrell. Beautiful left hook to the body into a leg kick from Villefort. He’s really landing these leg kicks nicely. Couple of combos answer for Burrell and he catches a kick and shoves Yuri down, but won’t follow into the guard. Striking exchange continues and Villefort hits him with a front kick to the face. Burrell fires right back and they trade off openly for a second. Burrell is putting together some sweet combos here. Head kick lands for Villefort and he follows with a left to the body. Good combo answers for Burrell ending in an uppercut. This is a hard one to score. Left hand lands for Burrell. Good trade-off and Villefort gets the better of it this time, really digging to the body. They clinch and exchange some knees but it’s brief and they break off. Good leg kick from Burrell. Exchange continues and Yuri lands a leg kick again but Burrell comes back with a heavy uppercut. Neither man seems to be slowing down at all here. Exchange continues right until the round ends. Another tight round but I think Burrell just about edged it, so it’s even going into the third.

Round Three and naturally both men come out ready to trade again. Another leg kick lands for Villefort and then he drops for a takedown and gets it. Burrell scrambles, but gives his back and Villefort goes for a choke without even bothering to get the hooks in. Burrell escapes though and ends up on top, but Villefort sweeps him from half-guard right away. Scramble allows Burrell to escape to his feet though, and we’re back to the stand-up exchange. Another takedown from Villefort follows and this time he looks to pass the guard. Burrell gives his back again and Yuri looks to get an over/under to put the hooks in. Burrell stands and Yuri drags him back down to attempt a heel hook, but as he does so Burrell OPENS UP and nails him with punches direct to the face. Villefort continues to look for the submission, but can’t get it and lets it go for Burrell to grab a front facelock. Guillotine attempt from Burrell but Villefort pops out and gets on top again. He gets the back again, but Burrell stands and grabs a guillotine. Yuri pops out and they wind up clinched. Yuri’s face is badly busted up but I think he’s winning this round so far. Both guys look exhausted and you can’t blame them. They break with a minute to go and Yuri shoots on a single leg again and gets a rear waistlock, but Burrell breaks free and lands a front kick to the face! Uppercut follows. Yuri is just wading forward though with no fear and he goes for a takedown and gets the rear waistlock again. He can’t get Burrell down but he does land a solid knee. Seconds remaining and they openly trade to a big pop. Great f------ fight. I’ve got it 29-28 for Yuri Villefort but I could easily see it for Burrell too.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Nah-Shon Burrell. Don’t agree with that 30-27 but the 29-28s are fair as Burrell could easily have taken the third round with that flurry when defending the leglock. At any rate this was a great opener with a ton of action and both men came out and just went for it, which is what you want to see from these lower-card fighters who are looking to make a name for themselves. Bravo, guys.

Welterweight Fight: Neil Magny vs Jon Manley

Battle of TUF 16 semi-finalists in this one and in all honesty it didn’t sound that exciting given that series pretty much sucked. Both men had looked, well, alright on the show, with Manley picking up a rare finish on that season with a guillotine choke of James Chaney. I was taking Magny to win though as I thought he’d looked slightly more impressive during the show.

Round One and they circle and throw some feeler strikes before Manley closes the distance and drops for a takedown. Magny stuffs it and lands a solid right to the body, but Manley brings him down. Good reversal from Magny and he pops back up to his feet in the clinch. Announcers sound confused as to who is who, mainly due to the similar names. Manley keeps looking for the takedown but Magny has some good defense. Action slows down a bit as Magny continues to defend the takedown. Good elbows to the body from Magny as the crowd begin to boo. Manley gets him off the fence but still can’t get him down, and he takes a couple of knees to the body too. Good knees land for Magny and now he looks for a trip. They break off instead and Magny lands with a solid right hand. Nice leg kick from Magny. Manley seems to be struggling with Magny’s reach. Bodylock from Magny and he drives Manley into the fence. They muscle for position and Magny continues to shrug off the takedown, and then they break. Seconds remaining and Magny lands with a combination. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Magny.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes before Manley goes for the takedown again. Once again Magny stuffs it for a moment but this time Manley manages to get him down into half-guard. Manley passes into side mount and he lands some short punches. Nice reversal from Magny though and he flips over into a side mount of his own. Magny gets back to his feet rather than keep position and that allows Manley to go for the takedown again, but Magny stuffs it and nails him with some knees to the midsection. Pair of elbows break for Magny and he follows with a flurry that sets up a takedown to side mount. Manley does a good job of getting half-guard and he looks for a sweep, but Magny blocks and lands some shots. Manley works to his feet and goes for a single leg, but again he can’t get Magny off his feet. Nice knees to the body from Magny. Big combination breaks for Magny and he drops for a takedown and gets it. Manley holds onto a guillotine but has to give it up quickly and he attempts a reversal, but Magny keeps his posture and ends up on top in guard. Manley rolls to his knees and takes some more punches, and it looks like he might be in trouble. Magny continues to work him over until the round ends. 10-9 Magny.

Round Three and Manley comes out swinging, but he’s throwing stiff punches that Magny avoids nicely. He lands a couple of sharp counters, too. Looks like Manley’s nose is bloodied. Magny is picking him apart here. Clinch from Magny and he hits an easy takedown into guard before posturing up to drop some bombs. He passes into side mount for a second but the cage gets in the way and it allows Manley to reclaim guard. Armbar attempt from Manley and it looks quite deep. Magny looks super-calm though and he separates Manley’s legs to remove the pressure. He continues to work to free his arm and does so, landing some punches on his way back into the guard. Good ground-and-pound from Magny and he passes into full mount and then takes the back. Manley slips out the back door though and looks for the takedown as he gets up. Magny unsurprisingly stuffs it and the referee separates them with seconds to go. Combinations land for Magny and he again avoids the majority of Manley’s shots. Fight ends with a takedown from Magny. Clear 10-9 for Neil Magny and it’s gotta be his fight.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Neil Magny. Pretty clear-cut decision as Manley couldn’t get Magny off his feet and was outgunned standing and when he was on the bottom. Good showing from Magny actually but the fight was largely unspectacular.

Welterweight Fight: Kenny Robertson vs Brock Jardine

With loads of roster cuts taking place in early 2013 this definitely felt like a loser leaves town match, as Jardine had come in as a late replacement and lost to Rick Story pretty definitively in June 2012, while Robertson had lost two UFC fights – to Mike Pierce and Aaron Simpson. Coin toss told me to take Jardine as did the rule of the Bloody Elbow Prospect Search.

Round One and they circle and exchange leg kicks early on. Robertson shoots on a single leg and gets it, but Jardine quickly synches up an arm-in guillotine and it looks tight. Robertson hops into half-guard to attempt to escape, and he manages to work his head free nicely. Couple of grinding elbows from Robertson and he slides into side mount and then takes the back when Jardine looks to scramble. Both hooks in for Robertson and he controls Brock and lands some heavy punches to the head after flattening him out. Jardin gets onto his knees and tries to roll, but Robertson stays in control and looks for the rear naked choke. Jardine manages to avoid that, but he’s still got Robertson firmly clamped to his back. He takes some more punches and then gets to his knees, but from there Robertson reaches back and grabs the left leg, and yanks it forward to force Jardine to verbally tap! Whoa.

FANTASTIC submission and it was a move I’ve never seen before in MMA – looking at it it’s like a hamstring stretcher, as Jardine’s base was being forced back by Robertson’s hips and legs while his leg was being stretched forward by the arms. Totally unique stuff and probably within the top ten submissions of all time in the UFC in my opinion. Definitely one of the most painful-looking. Must-see stuff from a guy I never ever would’ve thought would come up with it.

Lightweight Fight: Sam Stout vs Caros Fodor

This one was a UFC vs. StrikeForce special, with division stalwart Stout – coming off a loss to John Makdessi – facing new import Fodor, who had lost his most recent fight to Pat Healy. Like the previous fight this felt like a loser leaves town match, and my pick was Stout as I didn’t know all that much about Fodor but for all his faults, Stout is a very tough dude to beat.

Fight begins and Fodor wades in right away swinging, landing a hard right hand and a body shot. Stout clinches and forces him back into the cage, but Fodor quickly switches the position. They exchange knees from close range with Fodor looking really aggressive. Stout breaks off and Fodor keeps on coming forward, landing a hard right. Good right answers for Stout and Fodor goes for the clinch and then lands a takedown. Nice switch from Stout though and it allows him to take the back standing. He can’t get hooks in or anything and that allows Fodor to turn into the regular clinch. Good right hand connects for Stout. Fodor keeps on working from the clinch though with uppercuts. Good forearm shots from Stout inside before Fodor breaks. Left hand from Fodor seems to buckle Stout for a second but he recovers fast. Fodor’s aggression is insane here. Stout clinches again and forces him back into the cage, and they continue to trade off from there. Trip attempt from Fodor is blocked and Stout lands a trip of his own, getting on top in guard. Into half-guard for Stout and he looks to work into mount. Fodor tries a sweep, but Stout avoids and mounts. Hip escape from Fodor but Stout mounts again and then takes the back with one hook. He goes for an armbar, but there’s only seconds to go in the round and Fodor survives. 10-9 Stout.

Into the 2nd and Fodor walks through a right hand and clinches. Good right hand inside the clinch from Stout and they muscle for position along the fence. They break off and Fodor cracks him with a big right hand and a heavy knee to the body. They trade from the clinch again before breaking. Fodor is putting constant pressure on here, walking forward and never going back. Good combo from Stout though, left to the body and right to the head. Left hook to the body into a head kick from Stout. Both of these guys have excellent chins as they’re taking some heavy shots. Nice left hook from Fodor. Exchange continues before Fodor lands a leg kick to set up the clinch. A trip attempt is blocked and Stout muscles him into the fence. They break and Fodor lands another inside leg kick. Stiff jab from Fodor. Takedown attempt from Fodor is stuffed and Stout forces him into the fence again. Nice knees inside from Stout but Fodor takes him down to end the round. Close round but I think Fodor did enough to take it, evening things up going into the third.

Third and final round and Stout counters to the body as Fodor pushes forward and clinches. They muscle along the fence and exchange short strikes before Fodor gets a takedown. Stout pops right back up though, but takes a pair of rights from close range. Stout moves him back into the fence but Fodor breaks off again. Nice left hook from Fodor. Into the clinch again but Fodor lands a left and drops for the takedown again. He gets him down, but Stout looks for a reversal right away. He wall-walks to his feet, but Fodor stays on him and continues to look for the takedown. Nice elbow in the clinch from Stout as they muscle for position. Crowd begin to get a bit restless before Stout breaks with 1:45 to go. Good leg kick from Fodor. Combination follows and backs Stout up a little. He looks for the inside trip but Stout blocks it. Right hand connects again from Fodor but Stout trips him down and then nails him with a right as he stands. Another trade leads them to clinch again before Fodor breaks with a flurry. Stout pushes him back into the fence where they exchange, and we’re headed to the judges. I have it 29-28 for Fodor but I could see it going either way.

Judges have a split decision, 29-28 Stout, 29-28 Fodor, and 29-28 for Stout to pick up the win. Super-close fight and it was entertaining for the most part too as Fodor came out with some serious aggression and pushed a ridiculous pace throughout that Stout was totally willing to match. Fodor was actually cut following the loss which is insane to me given most people thought he won and he showed a lot in the fight too, but such is the breaks in 2013 I guess. Incredibly this was the 13th decision in 14 UFC fights for Stout!

Featherweight Fight: Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice

To me this one felt like an odd fight to make, as Bermudez had reeled off two wins since his TUF final loss to Diego Brandao and I felt he was due a step up in competition, and instead he was faced with Grice, who had beaten Leonard Garcia in his previous outing, but before that he’d been beaten by Ricardo Lamas and had never really looked like a contender in my opinion. I was taking Bermudez to win this one pretty comfortably.

Round One and they circle before Bermudez clinches and forces Grice into the fence. Grice reverses position and pins him into the cage, and they muscle for position before Bermudez reverses a trip and takes full mount! He lands some hard punches to the face and then switches to elbows and Grice is in trouble as his right arm is trapped under Dennis’ leg too. He manages to wriggle out the back door, but Bermudez grabs a front facelock as he stands. Looks like he’s going for a guillotine, but Grice picks him up and throws him to the ground to avoid it. They come back up quickly though and Grice lands some knees to the legs. They break and Grice lands a leg kick and a sharp left hook in a trade. Both men land some good shots before Dennis charges into the clinch. Big elbow and left hook from Grice break the clinch and they continue to trade off wildly. Bermudez is swinging haymakers. Brutal right hand from Bermudez and he wobbles Grice with a jab and a leg kick that sets up the clinch. Takedown attempt from the TUF finalist but Grice defends and breaks off with a combo that wobbles Dennis slightly. MASSIVE LEFT HOOK folds Bermudez badly and he’s in deep trouble. Somehow though he gets up and seems fine. Dude has a ridiculous chin. Body kick lands for Bermudez but he eats a counter right. Dennis keeps on coming though and clinches, but Grice breaks off. One-two glances for Bermudez. Spinning back kick from Grice connects to the body of Bermudez. Seconds to go and Grice lands with a combination before the round ends in the clinch. Great round. 10-9 Grice.

Round Two and Bermudez lands with a low kick as they press forward. Wild swings from Bermudez but Grice catches him with a left and sends him flying. Dennis pops back up, but he eats another clean left hook. He takes it though and goes for the takedown. Grice blocks and breaks off. Bermudez keeps rushing forward here which is dangerous. Stiff jab lands for Grice. Takedown attempt from Bermudez but Grice blocks it and looks for an anaconda choke. He can’t get it and so he releases and goes back to striking. Couple of wild haymakers from Bermudez but Grice catches a kick and goes for the takedown. Takedown from Grice and he works to take the back, getting one hook in. Bermudez stands back up though and looks to turn into him and does so, clinching against the fence. Grice looks cut on the hairline. They break off and Grice lands a low kick. Bermudez is still swinging though, but he’s eating better counters. Wild low kick into a superman punch from Bermudez and that sets up the clinch, where he lands a heavy elbow. Takedown attempt from Grice but Dennis stuffs it. Grice keeps trying it but this time Dennis blocks and lands an illegal knee, but Herb Dean ignores it for some reason. Takedown attempt from Grice is blocked again and Bermudez rolls for a guillotine to end the round. Closer round that time but still 10-9 Grice for me.

Round Three and Bermudez really pushes forward throwing punches, and he lands an overhand right to set up the clinch. BRUTAL uppercut into a combo from Bermudez and GRICE GOES DOWN HARD! Dennis pounces and looks to finish but Grice manages to tie him up in half-guard. Big shots continue to land for Bermudez though and Grice is in big trouble. Elbows from Bermudez and Grice is bleeding badly. Grice works to his feet but continues to take clean punishment. Single leg attempt from Bermudez but Grice blocks it and they remain clinched. Bermudez breaks and nails him with some more heavy shots, all landing flush and Grice looks out on his feet. BIG uppercut into a head kick and the crowd are going CRAZY as Bermudez is just throwing EVERYTHING at him. BRUTAL KNEE causes Grice to stagger backwards and it looks like Herb Dean might stop it, but he lets it go. Takedown attempt from Grice somehow but Dennis blocks, and both guys look EXHAUSTED. They exchange from there and Grice tries this crazy jumping double knee that doesn’t come off. SICK UPPERCUT into a low kick outright spins Grice around but somehow the guy fires right back and then looks for the takedown. This is a crazy round. More shots land for Bermudez as he continues to unload with all he has, and I have no idea how Grice is still up. One minute to go and the crowd are DEAFENING now. Heavy knee to the body from Dennis. More shots from Bermudez from close range but Grice breaks with a straight left. Bermudez won’t stop coming forward though and he lands a couple more rights that set up a WILD TRADE to end the fight. Tremendous stuff. I’ve got that round 10-8 for Bermudez which means a draw.

Judges officially score it 29-28 Grice, 29-28 Bermudez and 29-28 for Dennis Bermudez to pick up the split decision. Wild, wild stuff and really that was one of those fights where neither man comes away looking like a loser as it was so back-and-forth. Bermudez in particular did an incredible job of coming back from two rounds in the hole to just throw everything at Grice in the third in an attempt to finish, and the heart that Grice showed to stay in the fight was amazing too. I’d say it was a little too sloppy to be considered a proper FOTYC or anything like that but this was a great, great fight. Hell of a brawl.

Lightweight Fight: Michael Chiesa vs Anton Kuivanen

Not the most interesting first test for a TUF winner then, as I expected Chiesa to be matched with someone higher up the ladder for his first post-reality show fight, as UFC have pretty much stopped babying them these days. Rather than a contender Chiesa was faced with Finn Kuivanen, who had beaten Mitch Clarke at UFC 149 but hadn’t shown much in a previous loss to Justin Salas. I was favouring Chiesa here by a pretty wide margin.

Round One and Chiesa’s cut his hair short and grown a HUGE BEARD which makes him look like a small Evan Tanner. Kuivanen opens with a right hand to the body. Trade of punches sees Chiesa land with a good left straight. Front kick to the body from Kuivanen and he avoids a catch attempt. Good combo from Kuivanen. Low kick but Chiesa slips to the ground for a second and eats a right hand. He’s back up right away though. Body kick glances for the TUF winner. Kuivanen seems more comfortable with the stand-up though and he continues to wing combos. Plum clinch from Chiesa but Kuivanen muscles him into the fence and breaks free. Takedown attempt from Chiesa is blocked nicely and they remain clinched. They muscle for position and then break off, and Kuivanen tags Chiesa with a nice combo that has him hurt for a second. Big flurry from Kuivanen backs the TUF winner up but he drops his hands to taunt him. Flying knee from the Finn but Chiesa catches it and tackles him to the ground. Kuivanen manages to hit a reversal though and explodes to his feet. Chiesa trips him back down but Kuivanen uses a whizzer to get back up, and the round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Kuivanen.

Round Two and they circle and miss some shots before Kuivanen wades in with a combo. Chiesa ducks under and drops for a single leg, and this time he’s persistent as hell and stays on it even when the Finn defends. He still can’t get him down though and they wind up clinched. Chiesa manages to take the back standing and almost locks up a choke from there, before using one hook to trip the Finn down and slap the other one in. Holy s--- that was a sick move. Kuivanen tries to defend but Chiesa slaps on a body triangle and locks up the choke tightly! Kuivanen tries to defend it, but he looks stuck. He manages to escape momentarily, but Chiesa suddenly locks it back up and really tightens it up for the tapout.

Excellent finish for Michael Chiesa and a good overall performance as he weathered a real storm and when he was given a slim opportunity of finishing he took it with both hands and did not mess around at all. How far he can go in the UFC I don’t know but it’ll be fun to watch him as he continues down his path. Fight was a ton of fun overall.

Heavyweight Fight: Brendan Schaub vs Lavar Johnson

When the planned Chad Mendes vs. Manny Gamburyan match was scrapped from the card I expected this to be moved to the main card, but instead I guess they figured it’d make for a strong ‘headliner’ for the FX portion. This was a tricky fight to pick, too, as on paper you’d favour Schaub as he’s a well-rounded guy while Johnson is painfully one-dimensional, but with Schaub’s chin it was impossible to count out the powerful puncher from StrikeForce.

First round and Johnson stalks forward, but Schaub waits for him to come in and drops for a takedown. He gets it and works into half-guard instantly and then looks for side mount. Johnson manages to secure a tighter half-guard though. Schaub works for a choke and then rolls into an anaconda, and it looks pretty tight, but evidently it isn’t as Johnson starts to punch him from the bottom and doesn’t come close to tapping. Eventually Schaub has to give up on it and he settles back into side mount. No clue how that wasn’t the finish. Schaub controls him and then looks again for the front choke, but this time he tries to transition into taking the back and that allows Johnson to explode to his feet. He looks to strike, but Schaub quickly clinches. Trip takedown from Johnson follows, surprisingly enough, and he works into half-guard. Schaub uses a leglock attempt to set up a nice sweep though and he gets back on top in half-guard. Crowd begin to boo a little as Schaub isn’t doing much outside of controlling Johnson really. Johnson rolls and so Schaub grabs a front facelock and then takes him right back down when he scrambles up. This time Johnson gets full guard. Round ends there. 10-9 Schaub.

Second round and Johnson slips early on which allows Schaub to clinch. Johnson starts swinging wild bombs at him from the clinch, landing to the body, and then he switches to knees to the legs. Knee-tap takedown from Schaub though and he’s in half-guard on top again. He controls him from that position and works to pass, but to be fair he’s not doing any damage whatsoever. Ref calls a stand-up with about half of the round to go, and Schaub lands with a decent right hand. Johnson swings some heavy leather but Schaub clinches and forces him into the cage. Good knee from Schaub and he tackles Johnson to the ground again. Johnson gets full guard this time and takes some short shots and the crowd are openly booing. Schaub passes into half-guard and continues to work the ground-and-pound, and Johnson just looks inept from his back. Round ends with Schaub in control. 10-9 Schaub.

Third round and Johnson pushes forward swinging wildly, but Schaub clinches. Uppercut from Johnson puts Schaub on the run, but he shoots on a single leg and works through some punches to put Lavar on his back again. Crowd are HATING THIS FIGHT. Full guard from Johnson but Schaub works him over with some short punches. Johnson’s actually busted Schaub up from his back which is pretty wild. Good shots from Schaub but Herb Dean calls a stand-up. Another takedown from Schaub follows instantly though and he gets into half-guard after almost taking the back. Schaub works to pass and gets the full mount. Johnson manages to hip escape to half-guard before taking any punishment, and it looks like Schaub might go for an arm triangle choke, but he quickly gives up. Two minutes to go. Johnson is outright trying to force Dean to stand them up now which never works. He does get to full guard though. He kicks Schaub off for a second, but in the scramble he gives his neck again and Schaub rolls for the anaconda choke. He doesn’t get it, but ends up on top in half-guard. Crowd are livid at this point. Solid elbows from Schaub from the top and he ends the round on top. Clear-cut 30-27 for Schaub whether the crowd like it or not really.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Brendan Schaub. Dull fight but with all the cuts going on in the UFC at the minute Schaub just needed to win after losing his previous two by KO and so you can’t fault his gameplan I don’t think. Johnson looked pretty awful here as he couldn’t defend the takedown at all and then post-fight he tested positive for PEDs, so unsurprisingly he was released from his contract. Definitely one to skip.

Welterweight Fight: Robbie Lawler vs Josh Koscheck

Outside of the main event I was pumped up for this fight more than anything else on the card, as I’ve been a fan of Lawler’s since 2002, as he was the first guy I ever saw KO someone in the UFC (Tiki Ghosn at UFC 40!) and I’ve been clamouring to see him back in the Octagon for AGES now. The StrikeForce merger finally made that possible and even better, he was dropping back to 170lbs where I thought he could make an immediate impact. Koscheck looked like a tough match for him due to his incredible wrestling skill, but personal bias made me take the Ruthless One by brutal knockout.

Fight begins and Koscheck pushes forward with a body kick before Lawler counters with a right hand. Faked takedown from Koscheck and it causes Lawler to slip. Real double leg follows and he puts Lawler on his back in guard. Sweep attempt from Lawler and he escapes to his feet. Koscheck grabs a front headlock though and drags him down to the ground. Another takedown attempt follows as Lawler gets to his feet. Koscheck gets him down, but again Lawler uses a butterfly guard to disrupt his base. Koscheck looks to transition to take the back and gets one hook in, then settles back on top in butterfly guard. Right hand from Koscheck lands but Lawler gets back to his feet. Koscheck continues to look for the takedown, but Lawler locks up a kimura to help to block it. Good job by Lawler to defend and he lands a pair of knees to the body and then sprawls out, forcing Koscheck onto all fours. Short punches connect from Lawler from the front facelock position and then he NAILS Kos with a hard left hand! Koscheck is in trouble and he turtles up and Lawler BOUNCES HIS HEAD OFF THE MAT WITH BRUTAL SHOTS THAT CAUSE HERB DEAN TO STOP IT!~!

Post-fight Koscheck protests the stoppage but there’s no way – Lawler was dropping BOMBS on him and he would’ve been knocked into next week had Herb not called it when he did. Awesome return to action for Lawler as he took out a top ten Welterweight in one round. I genuinely think he can be a legit contender this time around too as he’s improved his game so much since leaving the UFC previously. As for Koscheck, let’s be honest – he hasn’t looked the same since the second GSP fight and I wonder how much he has left in the tank at this point. We shall see. Great knockout at any rate.

Welterweight Fight: Court McGee vs Josh Neer

After a pair of disappointing losses to fellow TUF alumni Nick Ring and Costa Philippou in 2012, McGee was looking to re-invent himself by dropping to 170lbs here, which I found a surprising move given he looked quite big at 185lbs. His opponent Neer was coming off a bad 2012 himself, having been KOd by Mike Pyle and choked out by Justin Edwards. Close fight to call but I was leaning towards McGee, thinking Neer was a possibly shot fighter.

Round One and both men come out aggressively throwing strikes. Good right hand connects for Neer in an exchange and he channels his inner Diaz and tells Court to bring it on. Nice right lands for McGee. Couple of jabs follow for Court as Neer stalks forward. Good combo from McGee. Neer is really chasing him now. Punches land for both men in a trade and Neer looks for the plum clinch, but Court shakes him off. Nice leg kick from McGee. Overhand right misses for Neer. Combo from Court staggers Neer a little. Another one follows but Neer swings right back. Good leg kick from Neer. Combo answers for McGee. Beautiful combo to the body and head from McGee. He seems to have the much faster hands. Leg ick lands for Neer. Right hand to the body from Court and he follows with a left and a head kick that Neer just about blocks. Body kick from McGee and Neer might be hurt. Right hand to the body follows. Neer is eating punches. Another nice combination from McGee. Into the clinch and McGee lands a knee to the body and then breaks. Beautiful combination from McGee. Body kick lands for McGee and Neer is hurt but does a good job of masking the pain. Court follows up with another combo but he’s not going to the body as much as you’d think. Another body shot doubles Neer over though and this time Court follows up and the Dentist goes down. McGee stands over him to drop some punches, but he can’t quite seem to finish him off. Can’t believe he isn’t pounding at the body. Round ends with McGee taking the back, but he runs out of time before he can secure a choke. 10-8 round for McGee in my eyes as he came close to a finish.

Round Two and McGee comes out hard and lands a trio of kicks; one to the head, one to the leg and one to the body. Neer switches stance in order to protect the body, but McGee catches him in the liver again a couple more times. Kick from Neer is caught and McGee throws him down, but he pops back up. Clinch from McGee and it looks like he’s going for a takedown, but he decides against it and that allows Neer to break with an uppercut and a right hook. Good combination from Court backs him up again though. McGee is looking excellent here. Head kick glances for the TUF winner. Neer is standing right in front of him. Takedown attempt is stuffed by the Dentist. Good left hook from Neer and he backs Court up a little with some punches. Court fires back but he takes another nasty combo from Neer. Good uppercut into a short right hook from Neer and McGee looks slightly hurt and goes for a takedown. Neer grabs a front headlock to block it and lands some knees before breaking off. Good combination from McGee from close range now but Neer clips him with an uppercut and a body shot. McGee fires right back with a combo but Neer clinches and muscles him into the fence with a knee and an uppercut. They break and Neer sticks him with a jab, but eats a right hand counter from the TUF winner. Body kick from McGee. Both men land nice shots in an exchange before Neer lands to the body with a combo. Neer is really pushing forward now. Both men exchange combos that land pretty clean and Neer taunts him again. Seconds to go and McGee goes for a takedown, but Neer blocks it and they continue to trade off. Round ends on the feet. That was a hell of a round. 10-9 Neer.

Round Three and Neer opens with a nice leg kick. They trade punches again and Neer lands a right hand and a stiff jab, but eats a combo from Court. Left to the body from McGee but Neer fires back. They’re talking trash at one another now too. Takedown attempt from McGee and he drives Neer into the fence. Neer blocks and they exchange short strikes from close range with McGee really working the knees to the legs. Neer breaks free and lands with a right hook. Jab follows nicely but McGee fires back with a right. Takedown attempt from Court and this time he gets it, landing on top in guard. He stacks up to deliver some punches and then takes the back as Neer rolls. One hook in for McGee as Neer stands. Neer shrugs him off and we’re back into the clinch. Another takedown attempt from McGee follows and he manages to get Neer down after a struggle. Full guard for Neer but Court postures up to drop some ground-and-pound. Neer goes for a leglock from the bottom, but McGee avoids it and manages to take the back again in a scramble. He gets one hook in, but can’t quite sink the second one. Neer looks to roll and Court tries for the rear naked choke with one hook, but he can’t get it and Neer manages to turn to take guard. Court stays on top though and drops some more elbows and short punches. Neer stays busy from the bottom and switches his hips out for a possible armbar, but McGee keeps pounding and that’s the round. 10-9 McGee for a 29-27 I’d say.

Official scorecards read 30-27 all round for Court McGee. Really good fight actually and it would’ve been great had the whole thing been like the second round, but that would’ve been tough as the pace they put on in that round was crazy. Neer didn’t actually look shot or anything as I suspected and put on a good performance, but really McGee outworked him for the majority of the fight and looked excellent in his first fight at 170lbs. I look forward to seeing what he’s able to do at that weight although I think his lack of true athleticism will end up holding him back eventually as he’s just not that explosive even if he works incredibly hard.

Bantamweight Fight: Urijah Faber vs Ivan Menjivar

This was a major fight for the Bantamweight division, as is any fight involving Urijah Faber to be fair as the guy is seemingly unbeatable unless he’s in a title fight with one of the top fighters in the division. Making the fight more interesting was the fact that they’d fought prior to this in 2006 at 145lbs and Menjivar was actually doing very well until he was disqualified for kicking Faber while he was downed. Still, Urijah’s improved so much since then that I couldn’t see him losing this one, even if Menjivar had looked excellent since making his own UFC return in 2011.

First round gets underway and Faber walks through a pair of wild overhand rights and lands a short left. Lunging knee from Faber sets up a clinch but Menjivar hits a SICK SHOULDER THROW! Beautiful reversal from Faber immediately though and he gets on top in side mount. Tremendous job from the California Kid there. Crowd are really hot for Faber. Menjivar looks to scramble to get to half-guard and then he manages to get to full guard. Short elbows land for Faber but Menjivar turns for an armbar. Faber postures out and drops some shots from above, then lands a nasty elbow that stuns Ivan for a second. Good elbows connect for Faber. He’s working Menjivar over in brutal fashion here. Menjivar looks to roll free, then lands a nice upkick as Faber stands over him. Big crowd chant for Faber as he lunges down into the guard with a sharp elbow strike. More elbows connect for Faber. Menjivar works to kick him away, but as he scrambles Urijah hops right onto his back! Beautiful stuff. He slaps a body triangle on instantly too and then locks up the choke, and Menjivar has nowhere to go and has to tap! LEMUR CHOKE!~!

Wow. To channel Mortal Kombat for a second that was a FLAWLESS VICTORY as Faber just completely destroyed Menjivar who is no slouch. In fact I’d argue that it was Urijah’s best performance in the UFC thus far, beating out his other incredible showing against Brian Bowles in 2011. People dog on the title shots this dude gets but how can you deny him when he runs through top contenders like Menjivar like a hot knife through butter? Phenomenal stuff from the California Kid.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Lyoto Machida vs Dan Henderson

On paper this was basically a de facto #1 Contender’s match, as both men had a fair claim to that spot – Henderson had been in line for the Jon Jones fight at the doomed UFC 151 card before he blew out his knee, while Machida had been promised a shot after KOing Ryan Bader, but had then been put to the backburner after he turned that shot down at UFC 152 and Chael Sonnen muscled into the picture instead. In terms of a winner, I was leaning towards Machida as he’d dealt with Bader so easily and Henderson is a lot like Bader in terms of style, but Hendo’s experience and punching power are always the big equaliser.

Round One and both men look tentative. Low kick misses for Hendo early. Body kick glances for Lyoto. Hendo chases forward swinging but Machida dodges out of the way. Front kick glances for Machida and Hendo comes back with a glancing inside leg kick. Body kick from Lyoto. Tons of feinting from both men so far but little in the way of action. Low kick from Lyoto. Hendo comes forward but eats a left. Body kick from Machida. Henderson tries to clinch but Lyoto avoids it easily. Henderson pushes forward but Machida clips him with a counter right. Hendo has barely landed a thing in this round outside of one or two leg kicks. No sooner have I typed that than Hendo does connect on a right hand that backs Machida up. Clinch from Henderson but Machida muscles him off. Low kick sets up another clinch for Hendo but Machida takes him down and lands some big elbows to end the round. Got to be 10-9 Machida.

Round Two and Hendo comes forward but almost eats a head kick early on. Low kick glances for Hendo. Takedown attempt from Henderson but Machida stuffs it. Nice kick to the body causes Henderson to stumble as he comes forward. Machida lands with the front kick to the face after doing some hand-waving karate movements. Sorry for my ignorance! Big crowd chant for Hendo now but he can’t get a handle on Machida and he takes a couple of quick punches. Nice knee from Machida catches Hendo leaning in for a takedown. Machida’s timing is ridiculous. Good leg kick from Henderson. Heavy body kick from Machida and he shrugs off a takedown attempt. Hendo lunges in but gets caught by a right and goes down off balance, but he pops back up immediately. Clipping right hand lands for Lyoto as Hendo comes forward. Body kick from Machida. Leg kick follows. Charging right hand misses for Hendo. Machida does a good job of getting out of the way of the rush. Spinning back kick glances to Hendo’s body. Round ends with Hendo rushing forward. 10-9 Machida and Henderson is becoming frustrated.

Round Three and once again Lyoto keeps out of the way of some wild shots from Henderson. Vicious kick to the body from Machida. Nice takedown from Henderson though and he gets on top in guard. He doesn’t do much from the top, as Lyoto does a good job from the guard at controlling Hendo. Forearm shots land to the body but Hendo can’t really land much to the head. Kimura attempt from Lyoto and he uses it as a reversal to escape to his feet. Low kick lands for Lyoto. About a minute to go and Lyoto switches stances and uses more hand movements. Right hand glances for Machida. Jumping crane kick (!) glances too. Head kick does land but Hendo takes it LIKE A MAN. He can’t land on Machida though and the fight ends there. 10-10 round for me which makes it 30-28 for Machida.

Judges have it 29-28 Henderson, 29-28 Machida and 29-28 for a split decision for Lyoto Machida. Crowd boo but I really don’t know why as Machida basically picked Henderson apart here. Was it the most entertaining fight of all time? Well, no, as there wasn’t all that much action, but the people crying foul about it surprised me as it was basically your prototypical Machida fight when he doesn’t manage to finish like in say the Bader or Couture fights. Everyone knew coming in that he’s got amazing movement and timing and Henderson just wasn’t able to solve that riddle. Of course, it would’ve been hard to award him a title shot after this sort of performance too, and so the shot has gone to Alexander Gustafsson instead – a move I fully agree with as Machida already got his shot and was left lying like a corpse by Jones, so why do we need to see the rematch?

UFC World Women’s Bantamweight Title: Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche

As I mentioned in the intro, you can’t really question the historical significance of this fight – the big question going in was whether people would buy into it and whether they’d accept women’s MMA in the UFC as they had in StrikeForce over the past few years. The bigger question was of course what would happen if Rousey lost? While Carmouche had gotten herself over as a great personality (and the first openly gay fighter in UFC history too) during the PrimeTime shows, it was unmistakably Rousey’s looks, personality and fighting style that had caused Dana White to install the division in the UFC in the first place, and so it was hard to imagine the division without her at the forefront. The chances of that seemed unlikely though, as Rousey had dealt with better fighters than Carmouche in Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman with terrifying ease, and so barring a Matt Serra-like punch landing I was expecting Rousey to deliver another first-round armbar and cement herself as a bonafide UFC superstar.

Fight begins and Rousey comes charging out swinging, looking to close the distance. She takes a couple of shots on her way in but nothing serious and gets to the clinch. Ronda looks for a throw, but Carmouche avoids it and takes an uppercut. Throw attempt again and this time she gets Carmouche down. Carmouche manages to reverse though and takes the back with both hooks! Crowd go apeshit as she looks to lock up a choke with Rousey standing, and then switches to the Demian Maia neck crank! It looks like it’s in tight, but somehow Rousey manages to shake her off! Crowd are LOUD. Carmouche ends up on her back with Ronda standing over her, dropping a couple of shots. Good punches from Rousey. Carmouche looks for a leglock, but Rousey avoids and drops down into side mount. Solid punches from Rousey as she ties up the head and right arm. Carmouche keeps bucking her hips but can’t seem to get out. Full mount from Rousey and she goes for the armbar, and Carmouche tries to fight out of it but Ronda locks it down and STRAIGHTENS THE ARM FOR THE TAPOUT!~!

Awesome fight right there. Seriously, it could not have gone any better for the UFC as not only did Rousey win, but she had to FIGHT for it and by doing so well – even for a round – Carmouche got over as a semi-star too. Zuffa couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the Women’s Bantamweight division and I think Dana would’ve been seeing big dollar signs as he heard the crowd react to this and saw such a tremendous fight. Rousey is a SUPERSTAR, no doubt. And it’ll only be up for her after this, too.

-Highlight reel rolls and that’s the show, dude.

Final Thoughts….

For some reason I didn’t see this as a great show when I first watched it but I was WRONG. This is definitely show of the year-contender stuff even if it wasn’t quite as good as the very best UFC shows of all time. There was only one bad fight really – Schaub/Johnson – as I didn’t see Hendo/Machida as being as bad as most made out, and pretty much everything else was exciting, from the opening bout to the tremendous main event, with great stuff like the wild Bermudez/Grice match, Robertson’s sick hamstring stretcher, Faber’s LEMUR CHOKE!~! and a lot more in between. Thumbs way up for this one – if you didn’t see it first time around, check it out as soon as you can.

Best Fight: Bermudez vs. Grice
Worst Fight: Schaub vs. Johnson

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: PRIDE 1

-Alright, so the original plan was to continue with the UFC reviews where I left off, which meant UFC on Fuel 7 from London in February was next. Buuut plans change and drqshadow’s been pestering me for a while to do these old PRIDE shows so here we are. Basically I’ve got a bit of a confession – sure, I’m as hardcore an MMA fan as you’ll find….but I’ve never actually seen the early – pre-2000 Grand Prix – PRIDE shows. Why? Not sure really – I blame the guys who got me into MMA in the first place as I’m sure I remember them saying to start with PRIDE 10 and run from there. I could be wrong. Anyway I never got around to getting hold of the older PRIDEs until I spotted that FightDVD were selling them very cheaply last month, so I ended up picking up the double-disc sets for PRIDE 1 to 8. And here we are. Bear in mind, I know approximately squat about Japanese culture and/or Japanese pro-wrestling, and so I’ll be trying my absolute best not to come off as a racist or a bigot. Ignorance? Yeah, you might be able to accuse me of that! Here goes.

PRIDE 1

10/11/97
Tokyo, Japan

-We begin with this weird video that shows shots of Rickson Gracie (I think!) intertwined with shots of a Chinese dragon. No intro segment which is odd for me as the older PRIDE shows I’ve seen always had Quadros and Bas breaking down the card. Instead we go right into the first fight.

-Your hosts are indeed Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten. Bas’s English sounds, well, slightly shaky here I think compared to how he became later on.

Kazunari Murakami vs John Dixson

Never heard of either of these guys. Quick check of Sherdog tells me Murakami was 3-3 coming in with both a loss to and a win over Akihiro Gono which is WILD. I legitimately had no clue Gono was around in 1996. Dixson was 3-5 with losses to Igor Vovchanchyn and Dan Severn which at this point weren’t exactly bad losses. Dixson is wearing a t-shirt in the ring which is never good.

Fight begins and they bull into an early clinch before Dixson breaks and glances on a high kick. Single leg from Dixson and he lands in the guard. Looks like it’s half-guard actually. Murakami appears to be going for a sweep, but Dixson is a big dude and he avoids it. He chooses to stand and they come back up to their feet. Couple of jabs from the Japanese fighter but Dixson clinches. Big hip throw plants Dixson on his back though and from there Murakami takes a straight armbar and extends it for the tapout.

Perfectly acceptable opener around the same level as your standard midcard UFC fight of this time period I guess. Throw and armbar were nice at least.

Gary Goodridge vs Oleg Taktarov

These two were of course coming over from the UFC where they’d seen some decent success, with Taktarov winning the UFC 6 tournament and Goodridge making the finals of UFC 9. Goodridge is HUGE here, not steroid-looking huge, just like a very strong dude who pushes very heavy weights. Looking at his record this was quite a while after Oleg’s UFC run actually – right after that loss to Renzo Gracie where Renzo KOd him with an upkick.

They begin and circle around a little, with Goodridge really hanging his hands low for some reason. Nothing happens for a while before Goodridge lands a low kick but stumbles back, and Oleg quickly closes in and trades for a second. They back out and Goodridge pops Oleg with a right hand that cuts him under the left eye. Action slows right down as Goodridge continues to drop his hands. One-two misses for Goodridge. This is swiftly becoming a staring contest. A really bloody one as Oleg has this movie-esque trickle of blood coming down his face. Oleg closes in, but eats a short right hand that drops him. Another one follows and Oleg looks in trouble as he turtles up and eats some more clubbing blows. Knee to the head and Goodridge lands some wild hammer fists before Oleg rolls onto his back again. Goodridge decides to stand over him, then kicks the legs hard as Oleg can’t seem to decide what to do. Dude is still chilled though. He gets back up and goes back to circling. Lot of blood covering Oleg’s face now. Takedown attempt from Taktarov but Goodridge sprawls nicely and avoids it. Jab glances for Goodridge. Oleg attempts to clinch, but Goodridge counters with a HEAVY RIGHT HOOK and the Russian goes down face-first, totally unconscious. Wow. Goodridge adds two really cruel shots for good measure before the ref can stop him. Post-fight poor Oleg goes out on a stretcher like this is a Van Damme movie.

Man, that was a pretty vicious knockout actually. Punches on the ground were horrific as Oleg’s body was knocked across by the force of them as he was already out. Not much of a fight prior to that if I’m honest as it was a ton of staring, but who cares when you’ve got a knockout like that?

Renzo Gracie vs Akira Shoji

Comical stuff prior to the fight as Quadros is like, this is Shoji’s MMA debut….oh, actually it isn’t, he’s fought a couple of times before. No clue if someone suddenly clued him in or he just forgot, or what. He’s more accurate when he describes Renzo as one of the most feared men in martial arts, as he was unbeaten at this point and from what I know had a reputation second only to Rickson himself, as he was far more violent than his cousin Royce and had won several fights with strikes.

Fight begins and Shoji circles around as Renzo stalks forward. Renzo gets a clinch and looks for the takedown, but Shoji leans all over the ropes to avoid. Pretty blatant stalling tactic from Shoji as he keeps grabbing the ropes whenever he can. Eventually Renzo muscles him down and then takes full mount in a scramble. Looks like he might be looking for an armbar as Shoji keeps flailing his arms, but the ropes are in the way. Refs move them into the center of the ring and Renzo has the mount really tightly locked in. Shoji gives his back and Renzo lands some punches and goes for the choke, but Shoji stands with Renzo clamped to his back! Koala position reference from Quadros, word! Eventually Shoji gets desperate and DIVES OUT OF THE RING and of course there’s tons of confusion over this. Can’t believe some idiots STILL maintain the ring is better than the cage for MMA. Anyway this being Japan they decide to restart the fight standing. Good knee from Renzo and Shoji shoots into the clinch and muscles him into the ropes. They jockey for position and the ref CONSTANTLY has to mess around with the ropes to keep them off the fighters. Headbutt from Renzo which is evidently legal, and then he gets a guillotine variant but can’t quite lock it up. Commentary is hilarious as they’re barely even speaking at points. You can tell Bas is REALLY green at it actually. Renzo finally goes for the arm-in guillotine and jumps to guard to attempt the finish, but Shoji works his head free to a big pop. Gracie looks to hold him from the guard now as Shoji punches the body. Fight has now lulled into a ludicrously slow pace. Bell sounds for the end of Round One and that seems to shock Quadros, who perhaps wasn’t aware this was a multi-round fight? Who knows.

Into the 2nd and they circle and look to exchange some punches before Renzo shoots for a takedown. Shoji blocks it and so Renzo pulls guard. They exchange some punches and more headbutts from there and then Gracie looks to be setting up for an oma plata. Announcers totally no-sell that for ages by the way until it’s almost locked. Shoji manages to slip free nicely and stands over him, leaving the Brazilian in the butt-scoot position. Renzo gets back up and stalks forward as Shoji stays on the outside but doesn’t really throw much. Punches largely miss for both men but Gracie does land with a nice chopping leg kick. Shoji answers with one of his own so Renzo shoots for a takedown. Shoji defends with a sprawl and a possible guillotine pops the crowd, but he doesn’t go for it. Ref calls a “stop! Don’t move!” deal to get them out of the ropes but at this point evidently they hadn’t perfected it as it takes FOUR GUYS to move them. They restart and Renzo gets the single leg and puts Shoji on his back in guard. Renzo passes to mount and Shoji bucks, but gives his back in the process. Armbar attempt from Gracie as Shoji slips out the back door and it looks locked, but somehow the Japanese fighter slips free! Wow. Crowd are going crazy over this. Renzo stays in the butt-scoot position again and Shoji stands over him, but does nothing. We’re getting basically zero action outside of a couple of crappy kicks from Shoji here which sucks. Bell sounds to end the round and Bas is outright like, thank God for that. Ha.

Third round and unfortunately the announcers don’t mention how many rounds this is. Good leg kick from Shoji as they circle around. Body kick from Renzo answers. Renzo closes the distance and looks to clinch but Shoji shrugs him off. These guys are literally throwing one strike at a time. Shoji does land a pair of nice leg kicks though. This is becoming painful to watch and the worst part is there’s no on-screen clock so I have NO IDEA HOW LONG IS LEFT. Takedown attempt from Renzo but Shoji blocks and grabs a front facelock to land some knees to the head with Renzo in the turtle position. Ref warns Shoji for that as apparently they’re illegal. Renzo decides to pull guard anyway. He wraps Shoji up and the action slows to a crawl as Shoji lands some short punches to the body. Couple of solid knees to the tailbone land for the Japanese fighter. Renzo works for the possible oma plata again, but he actually uses it to hit a sick sweep into full mount. Shoji gives his back though…and then slips out the back door to standing. Crowd pop loudly for that and the announcers love it too. Renzo’s leg is horribly marked up from the kicks. Nothing happens for a while as Shoji makes some INTENSE FACES towards Renzo but doesn’t throw any punches. Low kick from Shoji and Renzo shoots and then pulls guard. Short punches from Shoji on the ground and Renzo kicks him away and narrowly misses an upkick. Shoji stands over him again and the bell sounds to end the round. Bas then reveals that it’s the end of the fight, too.

Judges score it….well, there are no judges I guess so it’s a draw. Decision probably would’ve been Gracie’s but whatever. There was some good action in this fight actually, but the problem was that added together it would’ve lasted for like five minutes and the whole thing was THIRTY MINUTES. Which made it a real chore to sit through. Still, I’ve seen worse fights from this period. Granted I mean Severn/Shamrock II and Gracie/Shamrock II, but the point still stands!

Koji Kitao vs Nathan Jones

You might remember Kitao from a brief UFC run where he had his nose broken by Mark Hall. He’s a sumo guy for those wondering. And yeah, you might remember Australian Nathan Jones from his brief WWE run as the COLOSSUS OF BOGGO ROAD!~! which was a character I thought had some potential until it became obvious the dude couldn’t wrestle worth a lick. He was also infamous for being detained in an airport after cracking a shoe-bomb joke from what I remember. Non-wrestling fans might recognize him from the beginning of the movie Troy, as he’s the big dude in the opening scene that Brad Pitt offs. Jones does not look anywhere near WWE shape here, that’s for sure.

We get underway and Jones springs around on the outside as Kitao stands in the center of the ring with his hands way low. Spinning crescent kick misses for Jones. Left high kick also misses and Kitao clinches. Jones grabs a front headlock but doesn’t really go for the guillotine, instead just holding the sumo. Couple of knees from Jones but Kitao grabs the leg and drops him to the ground, landing in side mount. Jones starts grunting and it sounds like he might be panicking a bit. Kitao looks to lock up an arm and gets a keylock for the tapout. Huh. Didn’t even look locked up correctly to me but I guess Kitao is a big, strong guy.

Don’t really know what to say there. Really odd fight. Nathan Jones in MMA is about as good as Nathan Jones in pro wrestling I guess. It was a curiosity fight and it didn’t last long so hey, no complaints from me really.

Branko Cikatic vs Ralph White

This is apparently a kickboxing bout according to Quadros. Cikatic was the first ever K-1 World Champion which is obviously a big achievement and he KOd Ernesto Hoost to win that title which is an even bigger achievement. A look at his record shows he fought DENNIS ALEXIO too. For those unfamiliar with that name, he’s Van Damme’s brother in Kickboxer and was a top level kickboxer in the 80’s and early 90’s. No clue about White, sorry. He’s a big intimidating-looking black dude, though.

First round (?) begins and Branko FAKES A GLOVE TOUCH TO LAND A SPIN KICK TO THE BODY! Boo! White fires back with a combo but it doesn’t land cleanly. Branko looks unbelievably calm here. Couple of jabs and a low kick from White. Chopping low kick connects for White. Nice right hand lands for Cikatic and he drops White with a left hook before NAILING HIM WITH A SOCCER KICK! In a kickboxing match, yeah. OH MY GOD says Bas and Quadros questions the legality. Well yeah.

White gets up and there’s a HUGE LUMP STICKING OUT OF HIS HEAD. Holy f------ s---. Looks like he’s growing horns like a demon or maybe there’s an alien growing under his skin or something. Announcers are cracking the same jokes as me here which is brilliant. Well, it would be, except poor Ralph White has this sick deformity coming from his head! Seriously, Quadros is coming out with all sorts of stuff here, making jokes about everything from Rocky (doing a Mickey impression) to cracks about Clearasil. The lump is GETTING BIGGER SOMEHOW as Bas discusses Branko’s filthy reputation. Ralph has about four or five doctors checking him over. The officials take forever to decide what to do as Quadros keeps on cracking jokes about Ralph starring in a horror movie. Finally they decide to DQ Cikatic and he throws a hissy fit which is ridiculous. He SOCCER KICKED A GUY IN A STAND-UP FIGHT. Branko finally apologises and that’s that.

Calling this weird would be the understatement of the century, seriously. It’s must-see if only for the freakishness of the lump coming from poor Ralph White’s head and for the bizarre and hilarious commentary of the whole thing. I’m lost for words here, honestly.

Dan Severn vs Kimo Leopoldo

Like Goodridge and Taktarov these pair had obviously made their name in the UFC, although both men had fought elsewhere since. Severn looks in really good shape for this fight and Kimo is his usual intimidating self. I’m guessing Severn would’ve been the favourite here as Kimo has always seemed more hype than substance to me.

Fight begins and they exchange some punches early on before settling into a circling pattern. Decent right lands for Severn as Kimo pushes forward. Kimo is swinging some really wild hooks here. Takedown attempt from Severn and he forces Kimo into the corner of the ring. Kimo defends and they spin around a couple of times before breaking off. Wild right hook glances for Kimo. This striking exchange is awful. Left hook connects for Kimo and forces Severn back. They continue to circle with little action before Kimo avoids a half-hearted takedown attempt. Haymaker right misses for Kimo. Severn appears to be throwing slaps almost. Really horrible exchange comes for a second before they break off. Low kick from Kimo. Terrible striking continues. Couple more leg kicks land for Kimo. He’s dropping his hands totally and swinging wild haymakers that keep missing. Ankle pick from Severn and Kimo goes down for a second before popping up. Blatant low blow from Kimo but the ref ignores it for some reason. Bas suddenly realizes that Severn looks like Freddie Mercury. More bad striking follows as the announcers come to the conclusion that there’s too much respect between the two. Bas outright says he’s getting frustrated. This is getting worse by the second.

Severn connects on a right hand but it doesn’t do much. Finally Severn goes for the takedown but Kimo does a very good job of defending it. I’m legitimately struggling to stay awake watching this now. Granted I’m tired but god damn. I don’t know how to play-by-play this really as there’s so little action, it’s like the shoddiest kickboxing match you’ve ever seen. Pair of body kicks from Kimo. Both guys look exhausted. Kimo tries a flurry but it doesn’t land clean and so we’re back to throwing the odd haymaker and staring. Kimo’s cut somehow and I have no idea how it happened. Normally I’d be bothered about that and rewind to find out but there’s NO WAY I’m doing that here. Severn lands with a right hand and the announcers are amazed. Takedown is blocked by Kimo. Kimo appears to be getting the better of these exchanges but I mean, it’s not like he’s landing a ton. AWFUL flurry from Severn backs Kimo up for a second but it doesn’t last long. Finally Severn catches a kick and gets Kimo down, but he falls through the ropes and the ref decides to restart them standing. Urgh. Quadros calls it a “marathon of inactivity”. Amen! You know a fight is bad when the commentators are doing nothing but cracking sarcastic jokes. Worst bit is that I have NO IDEA how long is left. Could be a f------ year or anything. Lame punching exchange continues between longer portions of DANGEROUS STARING. Single leg from Severn but Kimo sprawls out to avoid and grabs a front facelock. Naturally he lets go and they pop back to their feet, DISGUSTING Bas who is all like JESUS CHRIST. At least it’s funny at this point. More crap striking follows. Severn starts to push the pace but he’s still throwing his terrible slapping punches. He manages to bull Kimo into the corner and goes for the takedown, but can’t get it and slaps him around instead like his name is Chris Brown. Takedown FINALLY from Severn and he gets side mount where he lands some shots. Few knees from Severn and I wonder why the hell he didn’t do this earlier? Bell sounds there and we’re done, thank the lord.

Fight is called a draw and well, I guess that’s fair as neither man warranted the win. This was a horrible, HORRIBLE fight and it felt like the longest 30 minutes ever. I’d compare it to Shamrock/Severn II or Shamrock/Gracie II in fact. Which is the worst? That’d involve me rewatching them and I’m not doing that in a million years. My head hurts.

Rickson Gracie vs Nobuhiko Takada

This was the fight that the whole PRIDE promotion was built around putting on – top Japanese shoot-style pro-wrestler Takada stepping up to face the most feared member of the Gracie family, Rickson. There’s a longer backstory that involves one of Takada’s students (Yoji Anjoh) getting the hell beaten out of him by Rickson in a dojo, but I’m not that hot on that type of history and you’re better off searching for Jonathan Snowden’s (or someone of that ilk) explanation on it. Needless to say Rickson looks like a bad dude. We get full national anthems pre-fight here which almost makes up for the Kimo/Severn debacle as the Brazilian one is a great piece of music.

Fight begins and Takada circles on the outside as Rickson stands dead in the center of the ring with his hands pretty low. Gracie just looks totally unfazed by anything Takada might do. Right hand glances for Rickson. Low kick answers for Takada but doesn’t land cleanly. Rickson manages to close the distance and forces Takada into the corner of the ring, where he grabs the ropes to stop a takedown. Ref calls a break which is shady. They restart and Rickson throws a couple of jabbing-type kicks at Takada before going for the takedown. Takada actually defends and lands a knee to the head, but Rickson isn’t affected and he hits a HUGE SLAM and lands in side mount. Full mount follows immediately and Takada is in deep trouble. He tries to hold on for dear life, but Rickson breaks free and lands some shots to the body. Takada looks lost from his back. Armbar from Rickson and he extends it comfortably to force the merciful tapout.

Well, there can be no doubt that Rickson Gracie looked like a total killer there. Got to question the opposition of course as Takada well, sucks, but hey, he didn’t play with his food and he got Takada out of there quickly and probably got paid a fat cheque, so what does it matter? It is, however, a real pity that we never got to see him step up and fight Sakuraba when Saku was on his Gracie killing run as that would’ve been an INCREDIBLE fight.

-Show ends abruptly with Rickson celebrating in the ring.

Final Thoughts….

I’m not really sure what to say here. By today’s standards, or by the standards that PRIDE would eventually reach in the early 00’s, this show undoubtedly stinks. But really, it isn’t fair to judge it against a later PRIDE show or one of today’s UFC cards. Remember this was 1997 and MMA was still largely a spectacle rather than a sport. With that said though, even by 1997 standards this was not a good show. You expect cards full of crude squashes in that era and while this had a couple of those (the opener, Goodridge/Taktarov, Kitao/Jones) it also has two of the worst fights I’ve ever seen in Renzo/Shoji and particularly Kimo/Severn which is a strong contender for worst MMA fight of all time. It’s super-interesting to see Rickson Gracie in action and as the first PRIDE show it’s worth a look for historical reasons alone, but don’t go into it expecting greatness. And if you value your sanity, skip over Kimo/Severn. Mild recommendation. (Note – I won’t be giving star ratings to these old PRIDE cards as it isn’t fair to compare them to modern stuff I don’t think)

Best Fight: Gracie vs. Takada
Worst Fight: Kimo vs. Severn

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

-This year’s Superbowl UFC show was typically stacked from top to bottom – not only with three awesome fights at the top of the card (Aldo vs. Edgar, Evans vs. Nogueira and Overeem vs. Bigfoot) but with the added intrigue of two of the world’s top three Flyweights clashing AND a number of StrikeForce imports making their UFC debuts. I was as hyped for this one as I was for any recent UFC show – mainly for the Return of the Reem though, gotta admit it!

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

02/02/13
Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Bantamweight Fight: Francisco Rivera vs Edwin Figueroa

Would’ve sworn that these two had already fought, but evidently not. Figueroa had been on the shelf for a year after his controversial win over Bruce Leroy at UFC 143, while Rivera had seen his UFC 149 win over Roland Delorme overturned due to a positive drug test. No real pick from me here if I’m honest as both guys are pretty much on the same level.

Round One and Rivera opens with a leg kick. Figueroa has grown a big beard for this fight and both men look really similar. Couple more kicks connect for Rivera. Wild combo lands for Figueroa and he follows with a body kick. Rivera fires back but he looks a little stunned. Exchange continues with a front kick to the body from Rivera. Big left hook drops Rivera and Figueroa pounces, but Rivera locks him up in full guard quickly. Triangle attempt from Rivera but Figueroa postures free and they stand. Body kick from Rivera but Figueroa connects on a jab. Good combos land for both men. Nice uppercut from Rivera. These guys are swinging. Big left hook lands for Figueroa again. Rivera decides to change things up after that and takes him down into guard. Easy pass into side mount from Rivera and he does a good job of avoiding half-guard. Figueroa rolls and gives his neck, but then manages to stand before Rivera can go for a choke. Couple of kicks land for Rivera but Figueroa’s countering nicely with the jab. Head kick glances for Rivera. Couple of punches land inside and then Rivera trips him down into guard. Seconds to go and Rivera drops some solid punches over the top, then avoids some wild upkicks. Axe kick misses for Rivera and that’s the round. I’d call it 10-9 Figueroa for the knockdown.

Round Two and Rivera lands a pair of hard leg kicks from the off. He’s moving around a little better now throwing out some more feints. Big overhand right misses for Figueroa. Jab connects for Rivera. Low kick is countered by Figueroa and he puts Rivera down, but Rivera immediately looks for a triangle from his back. Figueroa avoids and settles into the guard with some short ground-and-pound. Good shots from the top from Figueroa as Rivera looks to use an underhook and the fence to stand. He gets up and breaks free, then pushes forward with a leg kick. Body kick connects for Rivera. Figueroa looks a little tired now and he’s winging haymakers. Good combo from Rivera. Another combo lands and Rivera easily avoids the wild counters. Couple of leg kicks land for Rivera and he continues to stalk forward. Figueroa looks GASSED. Big right hand connects for Rivera. Figueroa fires back with a wild one-two. Good combo from Rivera backs Figueroa up. Exchange continues and a pair of right hands have Figueroa stunned. He swings right back, but Rivera’s eating him up with combinations now and a hard right buckles his legs badly. Big combo follows and Figueroa is ROCKED LIKE A HURRICANE and I have no clue how he’s still on his feet. Rivera keeps on swinging and a pair of HUGE RIGHT HAYMAKERS send Figueroa crashing down, and referee Kim Winslow calls it there. Awesome finish.

Really fun opener; Figueroa was in control with his power shots in the first round, but he tired out badly and once he was reduced to swinging haymakers, Rivera’s more disciplined striking cut him to shreds, finishing with a real knockout for the highlight reels. Love it!

Bantamweight Fight: Dustin Kimura vs Chico Camus

Team Roufusport’s Camus had debuted successfully at UFC 150 against Dustin Pague and had looked pretty impressive, and he was faced with another debutant here in the young Hawaiian Kimura, who might have the coolest name in MMA. Despite Kimura’s 9-0 record I was picking Camus because I’d never seen the newcomer before and none of his opponents stood out to me.

Fight begins and they circle before Camus lands with a hard right hand. Into the clinch and Camus hits a takedown to guard. Triangle attempt by Kimura as the announcers make the obvious joke about him winning via kimura. Camus manages to posture out nicely. Another attempt follows but Camus continues to defend. He’s doing very little from the top, though. Rubber guard attempt into an oma plata from Kimura and it looks quite deep. Camus rolls out, but winds up on the bottom. He immediately looks to kick Kimura, but gives his back in a scramble and Kimura immediately takes the back with one hook. Good escape from Camus and he’s on top again in full guard. Rubber guard attempt again from Kimura but he can’t get it. Camus remains on top but he still isn’t doing all that much. Kimura attempt (!) from Kimura but Camus avoids. Rubber guard again follows but Camus postures out. Seconds to go and it looks like Camus is content to ride the round out on top. Armbar attempt from Kimura but Camus avoids and lands a pair of hammer fists on the buzzer. Kimura won that round from the bottom I’d say, 10-9.

Into the 2nd and Camus opens with a nice leg kick. Couple more shots glance for Camus as Kimura circles on the outside. Couple more kicks land for Camus and Kimura isn’t doing much at all here really outside of circling. Counter right connects for Camus. Pair of rights glance for Kimura. Into the clinch and Camus muscles him into the fence, where he works him over a little with some short punches. Takedown follows and he lands in Kimura’s guard. Sweep attempt from Kimura and then he tries a triangle, but Camus does a good job to avoid. Armbar looks locked though but again Camus shows some good defense to avoid. Looks like Kimura might have a triangle, but the round ends before he can seal the deal. 10-9 Camus.

Third round and Camus opens with a right hand that lands. Low kick connects for Camus. Single leg attempt from Camus but this time Kimura defends it and they end up clinched. Camus looks for a takedown, but Kimura continues to defend and then breaks off. Right hand from Camus. Single leg attempt but Kimura hits a SICK REVERSAL and somehow ends up in full mount! Camus gives his back and from there Kimura controls him with both hooks and locks up a rear naked choke for the tapout.

For a guy I’d never heard of Kimura looked really, REALLY slick on the ground and totally outworked Camus every time they went down. Not sure why Camus kept looking for the takedown when he was getting owned on the ground, but more fool him I guess. Big win for Dustin Kimura in his UFC debut and I look forward to seeing him fight again.

Lightweight Fight: Isaac Vallie-Flagg vs Yves Edwards

This was actually a bit of a history-making fight, as Vallie-Flagg was the first StrikeForce fighter making the move into the UFC following that promotion being folded. He was given a tough test in veteran Edwards – who had looked excellent in KOing Jeremy Stephens in December – and despite winning his two StrikeForce bouts I figured this might be a step too far for him. By the way, there’s NO WAY I’m constantly typing Vallie-Flagg, so he’s going to be known as IVF in my play-by-play. Nothing to do with fertilisation or eggs or anything, bro.

Round One and IVF pushes forward swinging right away. Kick to the body connects but Edwards answers with an uppercut. IVF continues to push the pace, landing a couple of front kicks to the body and backing Yves up. Combination glances for Edwards and he follows with a body shot, but Isaac continues to push forward with a hard right hand. Good knee into the clinch from IVF but Yves breaks and lands a head kick on the way out. Nice low kick from Yves drops Isaac to a knee for a second. Isaac comes back by landing some shots from close range before Yves backs out. Nice right hand lands for IVF. Superman punch misses but sets up a clinch for IVF, and they exchange from inside with short shots landing for both. Back out and IVF lands with an uppercut. Good leg kick into a body kick from Yves and he defends a single leg with a jumping knee. IVF manages to muscle him into the fence, but little happens from there and they break off. Leg kick from Edwards but IVF chases forward with punches before clinching to close the round out. Close round but I’d lean slightly to IVF as he was the aggressor.

Round Two and IVF pushes forward with the right hand again and looks to close distance. Body kick from Edwards is caught and IVF forces him into the fence. They exchange along the fence before breaking off. Left hand glances for Yves. Spinning backfist misses for IVF. Nice knee to the body from the clinch from Yves but Isaac works him with a combination before breaking off. Nice jab connects for Yves but IVF keeps coming forward. Good punches from both men. IVF muscles him back into the fence, but Yves quickly reverses position and drops for a takedown. IVF defends it, but Edwards gets a single leg trip and gets him down into half-guard. Edwards works to pass and gets into side mount. Full mount now for Yves with a minute and half remaining. IVF gives his back and Edwards gets both hooks in to control him. IVF defends the choke, but its Edwards that remains in dominant position to end the round. 10-9 Edwards to even things up.

Round Three and IVF pushes forward with a push kick to the body. Leg kick answers for Yves. Good right hand from IVF as he comes forward and he’s backing Yves up with punches. Edwards fires back with some sharp counters though and narrowly misses with a head kick. IVF continues to really push the pace, but he eats a vicious knee from Yves from close range. Into the clinch and Isaac forces Yves into the fence, where they exchange from close range. They break off and continue to exchange, and this is a really, really even fight. Good front kick into a right hand from IVF but Edwards fires some counters right back. Knee and another right connect for Isaac. Takedown attempt from Edwards but Vallie-Flagg defends it well. Into the clinch and IVF lands with some solid elbow strikes. They break and IVF continues to land, hitting Yves cleanly with a combo as the veteran seems to be slowing down badly now. Back into the clinch and Yves is blatantly gassed. They break off and IVF continues to land clean combinations, really beginning to pull away now. Back into the clinch and he forces Edwards into the fence, before they break and exchange to the buzzer. IVF won that round in the last two and a half minutes and I think it’s his fight.

Judges have it 29-28 IVF, 29-28 Edwards and 29-28 for Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Word. Close fight and really it probably came down to that razor-close first round, but the right guy won as IVF was clearly pushing the pace in the third round and totally broke Yves down with his pace. Very surprising result in my eyes as I guess I totally underestimated Isaac’s talents. Fun stuff too as Isaac never stopped coming forward and was super-aggressive from start to finish.

Lightweight Fight: Bobby Green vs Jacob Volkmann

Another StrikeForce import, Green had reeled off four wins on the bounce in the promotion before making the move to the UFC. The ever-controversial, Obama-hating Volkmann meanwhile had bounced back from a loss to Paul Sass by actually finishing an opponent (Shane Roller) in a bit of a shocker. I was pulling for Green here although it seemed like a tough match for him, because let’s be frank, who wants to see Volkmann win?

First round and Green pushes forward as Volkmann throws out some kicks. Few feeler strikes from Green and it looks like he’s ready to stuff the takedown. Good kick to the body from Green. Takedown attempt from Volkmann and he gets on a single leg. Green does a good job of defending but Volkmann switches to a rear waistlock and trips him down. Green manages to get to half-guard quickly though. Green tries to reverse out but Volkmann remains in control in top position, blanketing the StrikeForce import. Explosion from Green allows him to get to full guard, but Volkmann remains on top and he stands and looks like he’s going for a Boston crab (!) before stacking him against the fence. Green manages to kick him away for a moment but Volkmann gets right back on him and takes the back in the scramble. Body triangle from Volkmann and he’s in firm control here. Seconds remaining and it looks like Volkmann’s going to end the round with back control. 10-9 Volkmann.

Second round begins with a nice leg kick from Green. Volkmann hits a takedown, but Green manages to pop back up. Another sprawl follows but Volkmann grabs a guillotine and forces him into the clinch. Green gets his head free and they muscle on the fence before breaking. Takedown attempt again from Volkmann but Green shakes him off nicely. Volkmann goes onto his back and Green drops a solid right hand into the guard. Solid elbows from Green and he’s doing a good job from top position. Into half-guard now and Green continues to grind on him with elbows. Really nice shots connect for Green and he continues to work, doing far more damage than Volkmann did in the opening round. Absolutely BAFFLING stand-up from referee Kim Winslow has the crowd booing like crazy and disgusts Joe Rogan too. Green taunts Volkmann and then lands some nice punches including a right to the body. Takedown from Volkmann though and he gets the back again as Green pops back up. Volkmann pulls him down and gets the body triangle again, working for the choke. Seconds remaining and it looks like Green will survive, but Volkmann ends the round in dominant position. Still, 10-9 Green for his work on top.

Third round and Green pops Volkmann with a pair of right hands early on and backs him up. Takedown attempt from Volkmann is stuffed and Green lands with a good knee. Left hand lands for Green but Volkmann counters with a low blow and Kim Winslow has to call time. Green takes about a minute to recover and they restart. Good inside leg kick from Green and he avoids having his leg caught. Into the clinch and Green lands a hard knee and then trips Volkmann down nicely. Into north/south for Green and he grabs a headlock as Volkmann tries to reverse. Volkmann manages to get to half-guard but Green stays on top and begins to grind with elbows. Good reversal from Volkmann, but Green avoids a takedown and gets to his feet to a big pop. Good body shot from Green. Takedown attempt from Volkmann is stuffed by Green and Volkmann is looking tired now. Takedown from Volkmann but Green hits an instant reversal and gets to his feet. Volkmann manages to scramble and take the back standing though and he pulls Green down and gets one hook in. Green gets rid of the hook and tries to wriggle free, and somehow manages to turn into full mount! Crowd EXPLODE as Green really opens up with some HUGE SHOTS and then he slams Volkmann down as he clings on, GSP-style! Volkmann looks exhausted and beaten down, and he gives his back and that allows Green to SINK THE CHOKE AND TAP HIM OUT!~!

Best Jacob Volkmann fight in FOREVER mainly because Green was able to overcome the adversity, prevent Volkmann’s gameplan and punish him en route to choking him out, even after a bizarre stand-up from the referee in the 2nd. So not really down to Volkmann but hey! Pretty much a star-making performance from Green and I can’t wait to see him fight again. Post-fight we also see a replay of him hitting a f------ SWANTON BOMB into the Octagon prior to the fight, which is INSANE.

Welterweight Fight: Tyron Woodley vs Jay Hieron

Woodley was the StrikeForce fighter I was most excited to see debut in the UFC on this card, as despite a bit of a dull reputation I’ve been a fan of his for some time and I was expecting him to make some serious noise at 170lbs in the Octagon. Opponent Hieron had made an unsuccessful return to the UFC in a boring loss to Jake Ellenberger and I couldn’t see this one going much better, as Woodley is a better striker and wrestler in my opinion.

Fight begins and both men press with low stances, before Woodley suddenly EXPLODES FORWARD WITH A HUGE RIGHT HAND! Hieron FOLDS and Tyron pounces with some more shots, then KNOCKS HIM DEAD as he rolls to his back. Holy s---.

Post-fight Woodley leaps around flexing his lats like he’s doing the world’s best impression of Houston Alexander. Scary, scary knockout and it was awesome to see Woodley live up to his potential here. He’s lost since in a dull showing to Jake Shields but I still think he’s got the skills to end up as a title contender at 170lbs, and this definitely showed why. Phenomenal UFC debut.

Lightweight Fight: Evan Dunham vs Gleison Tibau

This was a really intriguing fight actually and one that was being largely overlooked for some reason. Dunham – despite a loss to TJ Grant in his last fight – is a guy who still has the potential to break into the top ten in my opinion, while Tibau is basically the best gatekeeper in the world at 155lbs as he beats everyone but the real tip-top fighters. This was a super-tough fight to pick and I couldn’t really decide a winner.

Round One begins with Dunham circling on the outside as Tibau stalks forward. Both men throw out some feeler shots before Dunham lands with a sharp combo after about 30 seconds. Left hand glances over the top for Tibau. Good left from Dunham. Tibau fires back and they trade wildly with both men landing. Big left hook from Tibau backs Dunham up and he follows with a takedown. Dunham scrambles but Tibau locks up a guillotine and drops to guard to tighten it before flipping into top position, but Dunham gets to half-guard and slips his head free. Sweep attempt from Dunham but Tibau avoids and it looks like he might be going for a D’Arce. Instead he takes a front facelock with Dunham on his knees. Evan looks to work to his feet, and does so, forcing the Brazilian into the fence in the clinch. They muscle for position and exchange some knees inside, before Dunham breaks with a right. Body kick is blocked by Tibau. Pair of right jabs connect for the Brazilian. Good knee from close range lands for him too, but Dunham comes back with a one-two. Left hand lands for Tibau. Takedown attempt from Dunham but Tibau stuffs it and they wind up in the clinch again. Dunham keeps trying for the takedown but he can’t get the larger man down, and the round ends with the fighters exchanging knees. Close round; 10-10 in fact as neither man really had a major advantage.

Round Two and both men press and exchange some punches early on. Big swings miss for Tibau and Dunham catches him with a right hook. Takedown attempt by Tibau is avoided. Leg kick lands for the Brazilian. Dunham catches him again on the counter nicely with a one-two. Another one follows and Dunham then avoids a combo from Tibau. Good left connects for Tibau in an exchange. Takedown attempt from Dunham and he gets Tibau down for a second before the Brazilian pops back up into the clinch. They muscle for position in the clinch before Dunham breaks. Good right jab from Dunham. Takedown attempt is blocked by Dunham. Stiff jab lands for Dunham. Takedown attempt follows but Tibau muscles him right off. One minute to go in the round and a straight left glances for Dunham. Exchange sees Dunham land the better punches. Right hook follows. Tibau has definitely slowed down a lot now in terms of his output. Another left hand connects for Dunham. Tibau’s swinging haymakers but Dunham is avoiding them nicely. Beautiful combination lands for Dunham ending in an uppercut. Tibau swings back and the round ends there. 10-9 Dunham.

Round Three and Dunham comes right out and catches him with some strikes. Tibau swings wildly but can’t land. Takedown from Tibau and he looks for a guillotine off the scramble, but he can’t get it and Dunham forces him back into the fence with a right to the body. They break off and Tibau is clearly winded as he’s eating long punches from Dunham and just swinging wild haymakers back. Takedown attempt from Dunham is stuffed and Tibau comes back with a solid left hand. Dunham continues to work him with the jab though and Tibau is absolutely gassed. He does manage to stuff a takedown, though. Takedown attempt from Tibau after Dunham lands a jab, but he can’t get Evan down. They break off with half of the round remaining. Heavy combination lands for Evan. Another Tibau takedown is stuffed too. Tibau is just swinging wildly. Takedown attempt from Dunham is stuffed though. Big knee from the clinch connects for Dunham and he follows up with a couple more stiff jabs. Hard one-two from Dunham. Tibau is looking marked up now but he’s doing well to take these shots. Another takedown is stuffed by Tibau but Dunham connects on him from the clinch and then breaks. Dunham is really picking the Brazilian apart here. Couple of step-in elbows connect for Dunham. Big knee from Dunham rocks Tibau and he looks to follow up, but can’t finish him before the end of the fight. 10-9 Dunham and I have this 30-28 for him.

Judges call it a split decision; 29-28 Dunham, 29-28 Tibau and 29-28 for Dunham. No idea how you’d score that for Tibau as Dunham clearly took the last two rounds. Right man won in the end though. Difference here was basically the fact that Tibau couldn’t handle the pace that Dunham put on him in the last two rounds – the word was that he’d had a bad weight cut that had drained him – and Evan just pulled away in the final round by striking with the cleaner shots from the outside and stuffing the takedowns, even if he was unable to land a takedown of his own. Decent if forgettable fight but nice to see Dunham back on track as I’m always a fan of his.

Flyweight Fight: Joseph Benavidez vs Ian McCall

Awesome opener here with the consensus #2 Flyweight in the world taking on the #3, which is always pretty rare. The styles seemed to favour Benavidez who is a little bit faster and probably a slightly better wrestler, but I was hoping that Uncle Creepy could pull it out as I still think he got dicked by the judges in his first fight with Mighty Mouse, plus he has the world’s coolest moustache, duh.

First round and they exchange low kicks before Uncle Creepy goes for a takedown. Benavidez shows some excellent defense and scrambles free before landing with a right on the break. These guys are moving seriously fast. Good left hook from McCall to counter a body kick. Hard body kick follows for Uncle Creepy. Kick lands low for Benavidez but McCall decides to carry on. Knee to the body from Uncle Creepy. Good right from Benavidez in a trade and he follows with a low kick. Nice combination from Benavidez wobbles McCall’s legs and he looks to follow it up, but Uncle Creepy gets out of the way. Another knee lands low for Benavidez and this time referee Steve Mazzagatti calls time. They restart and McCall lands with a leg kick. Benavidez pushes forward again and lands with another combo. His striking is looking great so far. Counter right lands for McCall in an exchange but he takes a body kick and a hard right hand. Leg kick follows and lands hard for Benavidez. Hard body kick from Uncle Creepy catches Benavidez coming in. He lands with an elbow too but takes a right hand counter from Benavidez. Combination lands for McCall. This has been a great round. Seconds to go and they trade off with McCall landing the best shot; a hard right hook. Looks like Benavidez might have a small cut on his head. Another exchange ends the round. 10-9 Benavidez in a close one.

Second round and Benavidez opens with a leg kick. McCall looks to move out of the way but takes a body kick. Head kick glances for McCall. Right hook follows. Nice counter right lands for McCall as Benavidez charges in. Overhand right answers for Benavidez. Low kick from McCall. Wild swings miss for Benavidez and then they exchange with both landing glancing shots. Big combo misses for Uncle Creepy. Uppercut from Benavidez sets up a clinch and they head into the fence and muscle for position. Knees inside land for Benavidez before he breaks off. Couple of solid kicks land for McCall. Big swings miss for both men. They clinch up briefly but McCall quickly breaks. Good counter right from McCall. Takedown attempt is botched by Benavidez and McCall takes top position and drops some nasty hammer fists as he looks to secure a sweep. McCall steps over though and takes back mount with both hooks! Benavidez shakes him off, but McCall lands some more shots from a rear waistlock before Benavidez stands. Good knees inside from Uncle Creepy and the round ends shortly after. 10-9 McCall.

Third round and Benavidez closes in and NAILS McCall with a huge right hand! McCall takes it and they trade off before Uncle Creepy goes for a takedown. Benavidez blocks with a sharp elbow and then exits with a knee. Benavidez is really pushing the action now. Low kicks from both men but McCall goes down, and when he pops up Benavidez forces him into the clinch and then exits with a pair of shots. Superman punch misses for Benavidez. Exchange continues and Benavidez seems to have slightly better timing as he’s landing more shots. Body kick and a straight left from the Alpha Male fighter. Takedown from Uncle Creepy to a big pop and he passes into side mount, but Benavidez scrambles and escapes to his feet right away. Nice inside leg kick from Benavidez. Right hand connects on the way out for Benavidez. Both men land with low kicks. Takedown attempt is avoided by Benavidez who continues to do a good job of catching McCall and then exiting. Combination from Benavidez with a minute to go. McCall comes back with a right to the body. Hard body kick from Benavidez. Takedown by McCall is avoided. Another right hand lands for Benavidez. Fight ends shortly after. 10-9 Benavidez for a 29-28 in my opinion.

Judges have it 29-28 all round for Joseph Benavidez in what turned out to be a simple fight to score, actually. Good fight overall if not outstanding or anything, as both men put on a good show, but Benavidez was juuuust slightly better standing and McCall couldn’t keep him grounded for long enough to pick up the win. With the improvements he’s made to his stand-up under Duane Bang Ludwig I actually think he could win a rematch with Mighty Mouse for the title and I think that’s a fight we’ll probably see soon enough.

Welterweight Fight: Demian Maia vs Jon Fitch

After both of these men had looked phenomenal at UFC 153 – Fitch putting on his best post-GSP showing to defeat hot prospect Erick Silva; Maia neck cranking Rick Story inside a round – they were immediately rumoured to be fighting each other next and sure enough, it came to pass here. Despite fears of Maia being unable to take Fitch down, I ended up laying some cash on the Brazilian as a pretty decent underdog bet.

Fight begins and Maia shoots instantly and drives Fitch into the fence. Fitch looks to defend, but Maia trips him down and looks to pass right away, taking the back! He gets both hooks in and hops onto the back as Fitch stands up, then goes into a body triangle and lands some punches. Maia works for the choke and it looks for a second like he’s got it, but Fitch manages to avoid it. He continues to attempt it, but Fitch continues to defend too, and he’s still standing with the Brazilian clamped to his back. Crowd begin to boo but really Maia is in a dominant position. Maia lets go and then tries to trip Fitch to the ground, and manages it, slapping the hooks back in. Fitch stands back up so this time Maia lets go of the hooks and goes for a suplex. Fitch uses the fence to block, but Maia pulls him down anyway and lands some knees from behind. Both hooks in again for Maia and he looks to sink the choke. Body triangle again and Maia lands some elbows to the side of the head, but Fitch keeps a solid base and doesn’t allow the Brazilian to flatten him out. Maia remains in firm control though and lands some more solid punches to the side of the head and the body, and the round ends there. I’d call that 10-8 for Maia actually as Fitch did nothing but defend for the whole round.

Into the 2nd and Fitch comes out striking, throwing some kicks and landing a good leg kick, then a right hand and a glancing head kick. Maia shoots on a single leg though and gets him down again. He looks to pass as Fitch desperately tries to keep some sort of guard and then manages to escape to his feet in a scramble. Maia closes the distance again though and forces him into the fence where he drags him down and takes the back once more. One hook in for Maia and he’s working for the choke again with an over/under. Second hook is in and Maia is in total control. Looks like he might be switching out for an armbar, but he never goes for it and instead lands some punches while working for the choke. Neck crank attempt from Maia and it looks dangerous, but Fitch does a tremendous job of peeling the arms off. Maia has a full body triangle in now and he continues to work for the choke and he’s got Fitch flat on the ground too. Maia attempts to flip him around so he’s on top, but Fitch manages to avoid that and continues to avoid the choke too. Less than a minute to go and Maia isn’t really close to a finish but he’s still dominating Fitch. Round ends with Maia still clamped to Fitch’s back. 10-9 Maia.

Third and final round and Fitch needs a finish, which basically means he’s in trouble! He comes out with a big head kick, but Maia ducks it and grabs hold of him instantly, forcing him into the cage and getting a rear waistlock. He gets one hook in and looks to trip Fitc down again, but Fitch defends. Maia switches to a single leg and then continues to work to get him down, but this time Fitch manages to defend. He can’t get Maia off him though and the Brazilian drags him down and takes the back AGAIN with both hooks. Fitch tries to scramble and shake him off, doing a tremendous job of escaping to his feet. Maia shoots again though right away and drives him back before going for a single leg. Fitch defends it, and then goes for a high-elbow guillotine, which forces Maia to his own back, but the Brazilian slips his head free and gets half-guard. He looks for a reversal and hits it immediately, getting to his feet and forcing Fitch into the fence. Rear waistlock again for Maia and he continues to try for the takedown. Fitch manages to defend and break free, but Maia hits a single leg instantly off the break. This time he gets it and takes the back. Both hooks in for Maia again and Fitch looks frustrated now and waves his arms at referee Kim Winslow. LOL at JON FITCH complaining about stalling. Maia locks up the body triangle and lands punches and then finishes in full mount. 10-9 Maia and 30-26 overall in a pretty big upset.

And naturally it’s a unanimous decision for Demian Maia, 30-27 all round. Absolute domination from start to finish for Maia as he was able to take Fitch down far more easily than anyone could’ve expected, and on the ground he did everything but finish really, as Fitch was way out of his depth with a legit world-class BJJ grappler who could take a dominant position. Huge win for Maia to move into title contention and in a surprising move it signalled the end for Fitch’s UFC career, as he was released after the loss in a move that drew the fury of tons of online fans (Zuffa have since been proven somewhat right – Fitch lost his next fight in one-sided fashion to Josh Burkman…). Personally I won’t miss him that much as he never showed any progression after losing to GSP and was doing little more than logjamming the division until he started losing recently. Fight wouldn’t normally have been entertaining but to see Fitch basically get Fitch’d himself was admittedly fun. And it won me money, so who am I to complain?

Heavyweight Fight: Alistair Overeem vs Antonio Silva

This was obviously the fight I was most excited for on the card, given I’m a total fanboy for Ubereem and had been counting down the days till his return ever since his suspension in April 2012. I fully expected him to be put into a title match right away but I guess the UFC were a bit wary after what happened before and decided against it. Opponent Bigfoot was coming off his first UFC win – a big knockout of Travis Browne – but I couldn’t see him being able to handle the speed, power and more technical striking of the Reem – even if Alistair looked *slightly* smaller here than he had for the Brock Lesnar fight in December 2011.

Round One and Overeem looks pretty chilled, dropping his hands a bit before landing with a lunging left. Left hook to the body from the Reem and he clinches and forces Bigfoot into the fence. Knee to the body from Reem but they break quickly. Jab into an uppercut from Overeem and he follows by clinching and forcing Silva back into the cage. They break and Overeem cracks him with an overhand right and a knee to the body before clinching again. Couple of knees land inside for Overeem and they break off. Reem is really hanging his hands here though. Takedown attempt from Bigfoot but Overeem stuffs it and turns him around with a knee to the body. They exchange shots to the body from inside; Overeem using knees and Bigfoot chopping with punches. A break follows and Silva lands a kick to the body, but Reem fires back with a combo ending with a trademark knee to the body. Left hook glances for the Dutchman and he follows with a leg kick. He’s just dodging the punches of Bigfoot by leaning back, too. Leg kick does connect for the Brazilian. Back to the clinch and Reem knees the legs a few times before exiting. Big right is slipped by Overeem who counters with an uppercut and clinches to land a knee to the body as the round ends. 10-9 Overeem but nothing hugely outstanding in the round.

Round Two and Bigfoot opens with a nice leg kick. Reem comes back with a jab. Another leg kick is checked by the Dutchman and he lands with a heavy right before clinching and throwing the Brazilian to the ground, down into side mount. Good elbows from the bottom for Bigfoot and he manages to get guard, but Overeem connects with some shots to the body. Reem continues to work him over from the top and then stands over him for a few moments before dropping back into the guard to avoid some upkicks. Big hammer fist lands for Overeem. Bigfoot to his credit still looks calm though and throws some more elbows from his back. Bigfoot seems to be shifting his hips for a possible submission but Overeem easily avoids that and remains in control. Solid shots land for Overeem and he keeps Bigfoot firmly planted on his back. Into half-guard for a second but Bigfoot quickly regains full guard. Overeem decides to stand, so referee Herb Dean calls Bigfoot up to join him and the Brazilian immediately shows some urgency, pushing forward but eating a jab. He does land though with an uppercut and a heavy knee. Crowd are going crazy as Bigfoot keeps pushing forward and looks for the plum clinch, but Overeem shoves him away to end the round. 10-9 Overeem.

Round Three and Overeem clinches immediately and lands a knee to the body, but Bigfoot muscles him off and lands a quick combo and a glancing head kick. Big right hand from Bigfoot and Reem tries to clinch for a knee, but Bigfoot shrugs him off and catches him FLUSH with a pair of rights to the temple! Overeem is STAGGERED and Bigfoot OPENS UP WITH A COMBO! HUGE UPPERCUTS AND A MACHINE GUN COMBINATION DROPS THE REEM AND IT’S OVER! Holy s---. Post-fight Bigfoot tries to go after him again and has to literally be dragged away by Herb Dean. Jesus Christ. Crowd go MENTAL.

Insane upset right there. Overeem seemed in firm control for the first two rounds but even then he looked too comfortable in there and kept dropping his hands and eventually it caught up with him. The combination Bigfoot threw to finish things was incredible for a guy of his size, with hand speed reminiscent of stuff like Belfort on Telligman, Baroni on Menne or Liddell on Ortiz in their first fight. Post-fight Joe Rogan keeps saying that “you have to respect EVERYONE” and he’s right. Overeem unfortunately, as much as I hate to admit it, paid the price for his own hubris in this fight. One of the most memorable knockouts in recent memory even if I didn’t enjoy it as a Ubereem fan.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Rashad Evans vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Despite some rumors that he was going to drop to 185lbs to look for a fight with Anderson Silva, Rashad was instead matched with Lil’ Nog in an interesting fight here as he looked to bounce back from his loss to former friend Jon Jones. Nogueira had been on the shelf since his December 2011 win over Tito Ortiz, and the styles seemed to favour Rashad – the slightly faster man with better wrestling, and of course Nog had struggled with the wrestling of Ryan Bader and Phil Davis – but I actually ended up putting money on the Brazilian as I didn’t think he should’ve been such a huge underdog!

First round begins and both men look tentative to begin, gauging the distance by reaching and doing little else really for the first minute. Body kick glances for Evans. Left hook misses for Nogueira. Almost two minutes gone now and basically nothing has happened but feinting. Big kick is blocked by Nogueira. Jab connects for Nog. Another straight right follows and then a straight left. Rashad looks fine but all he’s doing is feinting. No clue what this gameplan is all about. Left hand lands for Nogueira again. Rashad continues to bounce in and out and Nogueira lands the right jab and the straight left a couple more times but little else. Pair of heavy right hooks finally connect for Rashad but Nogueira seems fine. Body kick glances for Rashad. Takedown follows but Nogueira immediately pops back up, taking a couple of punches on the way. They wind up clinched but break swiftly. Right hand glances for Evans and the round ends with a blocked head kick from the former champ. That was a downright terrible round. 10-9 Nogueira by a hair.

Second round begins with some jabs from Nogueira. Straight left glances as Rashad just moves out of the way. Inside leg kick from Rashad. Flurry is blocked by Nogueira. Combination from Nog. All Rashad seems to be doing for the most part is just trying to deflect the jab with his left hand. Straight left connects for the Brazilian. Single leg attempt from Rashad is easily blocked. Nogueira continues to look for the jab and Evans continues to deflect the jab and feint. Crowd begin to boo with about two minutes left in the round, unsurprisingly. Heavy right hook from Rashad but it doesn’t have much effect. Jab from Nogueira. Takedown from Rashad and this time it’s successful, but only for a split second as Nogueira pops up and delivers a combo. Right hand lands on the counter for Rashad and stuns Nogueira for a second but he recovers fast and quickly gets back to throwing the straight left. Seconds to go and we get more of the same. Head kick glances for Rashad to end the round. Good lord this is an awful fight. 10-9 Nogueira.

Third and final round and evidently Rashad hasn’t changed his gameplan as he’s still catching and parrying the jab and doing little else. Jab does get through for Nogueira. Body kick glances for Nogueira. This is a ridiculous showing from Rashad. Never seen him this passive even in his early days post-TUF. Good jab lands flush for Nogueira. He’s not doing all that much either though to be honest. Eye poke connects for Rashad and referee Yves Lavigne has to call time. They restart once Nogueira is recovered and it’s more of the same before Nog lands a straight left. Even Joe Rogan is calling this ridiculous now. Rushing right hands are avoided by the Brazilian. Couple of kicks glance for Nogueira and he lands with a left hand inside too. Rashad unsurprisingly has little to answer with. Takedown is avoided by Nogueira. And we just get more of the same for the final minute as the fight peters out. Really patient crowd here as they would’ve been justified in booing this crap out of the building. 10-9 Nogueira for a 30-27 in my eyes.

Judges’ scorecards read 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Let’s not beat around the bush though – this fight SUCKED. Nogueira might’ve come away with a win, but really he won because Rashad Evans practically did nothing but parry jabs for fifteen minutes while he landed a couple more jabs and straight left hands. No clue if Rashad was sick or injured or something coming in but I mean, this was his worst performance in the UFC period discounting his loss to Machida. Horrible fight all-round and one of the worst semi-mains in recent memory.

UFC World Featherweight Title: Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar

Zuffa were marketing this as a ‘SuperFight’ as it was the Featherweight Champion against the former Lightweight Champion, but in all honesty it didn’t feel that way because well, it’s Frankie Edgar and for whatever reason it’s hard to get fired up for his fights. Still, it was certainly an interesting fight, as Edgar had always looked small for 155lbs and it seemed like it’d be an easy cut for him to make 145lbs, and Aldo really hadn’t fought anyone as accomplished as him before. With that said though, I still thought Aldo would come away with a victory – Edgar’s main weapon at 155lbs had been his speed and movement and I figured that advantage would vanish as he moved down in weight and faced faster guys.

Round One and a crowd chant for Frankie erupts as he circles on the outside with Aldo taking the center of the cage. Low kick connects early for Aldo. Crowd now begin to chant for Aldo as Edgar continues to move around to look to strike and then get out. Couple of nice jabs from the Brazilian keep Edgar at bay. Straight right lands cleanly for Aldo and has Frankie a little hurt. Looks like he might have a bloody nose too. They continue to circle and Aldo lands again with the jab. Edgar is getting timed perfectly here. He tries to close Aldo down, but the Brazilian’s movement looks excellent. Nice counter right connects for the champion and a pair of jabs follow. Another jab lands beautifully and he follows with a right hand before getting out of range. Hard leg kick from Aldo. Combination glances but another leg kick lands hard. Round ends with a left high kick that Edgar just about blocks. 10-9 Aldo.

Round Two and Aldo continues to jab and move out of the way of Edgar’s shots. Right hand connects nicely for Aldo. Edgar just can’t seem to catch him at the minute. More jabs follow. Edgar comes back with a leg kick of his own and a semi-takedown attempt that Aldo shrugs off easily. Beautifully timed right hand from Aldo. Single leg attempt from Edgar is stuffed. VICIOUS leg kick buckles Frankie’s left leg in badly. Combination misses for the challenger and his leg is marked up horribly. Another one follows and Edgar goes down for a split second. He gets back up but he’s struggling to catch Aldo. Another leg kick lands with a little less force this time. Big overhand right misses for Edgar and Aldo lands with a jumping knee. Edgar manages to get a clinch, but Aldo shrugs him off. One minute to go and Aldo lands another leg kick, but this time Edgar catches it and tackles him to the ground after landing a right! Big crowd pop but Aldo springs right back up. More stiff jabs from Aldo snap the challenger’s head back. Round ends on the feet with another jab. 10-9 Aldo.

Round Three and Edgar catches a kick and hits a takedown, but Aldo springs right back up like a cat. Straight right lands for Aldo as Edgar goes forwards. Edgar is being more aggressive in this round though even if he isn’t landing significantly. Both men miss in an exchange. Glancing right hand from Edgar. Aldo comes back with a NASTY front kick that snaps Frankie’s head right back! Edgar’s chin is ridiculous as he just takes it. Looks like his nose is busted up though. He presses forward with punches to his credit, but walks into a left hook from Aldo. Solid right hand from Frankie. Combo into a head kick follow but Aldo seems unaffected. Couple more jabs from Aldo and he circles on the outside. Good leg kick from Frankie as he backs Aldo up a little. He’s definitely the aggressor in this round. Another leg kick connects for Edgar. Left hook answers for Aldo. Nice right hand from Edgar and he catches a kick and glances on a head kick of his own. Hard right hook from Edgar to end a combo. Leg kick glances for Aldo and Frankie goes for the takedown, but Aldo easily shrugs him off. Good right hand from Edgar in an exchange. Inside leg kick lands for Frankie. Crowd are chanting for Frankie but he eats a jab. Solid low kick ends the round for Edgar. Edgar was pushing the action more in that round but I’d still score it for Aldo as his shots did more damage, so I’ve got it 30-27 for Aldo going into the fourth.

Round Four and Frankie’s face is looking busted up now. He opens with a glancing one-two that backs Aldo up a little and he follows with a leg kick. Spinning back kick to the body from Aldo. Edgar is doing a good job with his movement so far in this round though. Good right hand connects for the challenger. He pushes forward but a high kick only glances. Couple of jabs from Aldo. Edgar backs him up with some flurries and then misses a spin kick of his own. Takedown is avoided by Aldo but he eats a flurry coming off the fence. Bit chant for Frankie now as he continues to back the champ up with punches. Left hook from Edgar. Takedown attempt from Frankie and this time he grabs a rear waistlock and dumps Aldo to the ground! The champ pops back up, but Edgar stays on him and lands some knees to the legs from the rear waistlock position. Crowd are LOUD now, totally into this fight. Aldo is really trying hard to stay on his feet. Edgar decides to separate with about a minute to go and lands a leg kick. Takedown attempt is avoided by Aldo who then glances on a jumping knee as Edgar comes forward. Round ends shortly after. Close round but I’d call it 10-9 Edgar as he pushed the action, got a big takedown and didn’t take as much damage.

Round Five and I still think Frankie’s got to finish to pull this one out. Duelling crowd chants early as both men glance on some early strikes. Leg kick from Edgar. Right hand to the body follows. Stiff jab from Aldo. Another one follows to counter a low kick. Edgar pushes forward through a jab and goes for a takedown but Aldo avoids it. Right hand over the top for Frankie and he backs Aldo up a little. Spin kick glances for Edgar. Left hand counter lands for Aldo as Edgar pushes forward. Takedown attempt by Edgar but Aldo shrugs him off. Edgar is really pushing the pace in this round. Two leg kicks land for Frankie. Jabs land for Aldo. Edgar’s left eye is f----- up pretty badly. He manages to clinch and force Aldo into the fence but the Brazilian quickly breaks. Knee lands for Frankie on the way out though and he follows with a combo. Leg kick from Edgar but he takes a counter right. Big combo from Aldo slows Edgar down a little. One minute to go now. Nice one-two from Edgar. Hard right hand from Aldo to counter a low kick. Counter left hook lands for Aldo to answer a combo. Stiff jab follows. Couple of counters from Aldo as he stays just out of range. Seconds to go and Aldo sticks him with a right. CAGE-SPRINGING SUPERMAN PUNCH!~! connects flush for Aldo and that’s the fight. Close round but I’d give it to Aldo giving him a 49-46 victory. That final punch was incredible.

Judges have it 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 all for Jose Aldo to retain the title. Crowd seem to be mainly booing that verdict but I think the right man won for sure, regardless of Joe Rogan’s somewhat biased commentary, no offense to Joe! Post-fight Aldo puts Edgar over as a tough opponent and does confirm that he stopped using his leg kicks for fear of being taken down, which is super-interesting. Joe Rogan then pesters him about a possible move to 155lbs, to which Aldo says even though the weight cut sucks he still prefers to fight at 145lbs. So there you go! Edgar then says it was a close fight, but he keeps putting himself in these situations so it is what it is. Truer words have never been spoken!

Couple of things here, then. First off this was a really good fight – not a classic or anything and not one you’d want to rewatch time and time again like say, Aldo’s fight with Mark Hominick or one of Frankie’s fights with Gray Maynard, but it was certainly good. The difference was, as I suspected, the speed, as Edgar’s usual advantage in that department didn’t seem to be there in this fight and Aldo was able to dictate the striking in the first three rounds and did a ton of damage and by the time Edgar basically willed himself back into the fight in the fourth, it was too little, too late. Secondly, I think at this point people are actually overlooking Aldo in the pound-for-pound stakes – UFC.com suddenly has Jon Jones as #1 over GSP after Anderson Silva’s loss and while you could make a fair argument for Jones or GSP I think Aldo has to be up there too – it’s easy to forget he’s defended his belt six times now, which is more than anyone else not named GSP or Anderson Silva, and he’s also knocked off a former 155lbs champion and a former top contender at 155lbs in Kenny Florian. Sure, he hasn’t looked as dominant since coming into the UFC but he’s still been winning, which is what matters! Personally I see him as up there with the very top fighters in the sport for sure.

-Highlight reel rolls to end the night.

Final Thoughts….

Tough show to judge, this one. On one hand, there was only one fight that I’d say was truly bad – Evans vs. Nogueira, unfortunately – but really the rest – while perfectly acceptable – wasn’t all that memorable outside of Bigfoot’s wild KO of Overeem and Woodley’s brutal knockout of Hieron. I mean sure, fights like Benavidez/McCall, Aldo/Edgar and Tibau/Dunham were good, but they’re not the sort of fights you’d go back and rewatch and I think that’s the telling thing here. It’s worth a recommendation, but it’s not a truly blowaway show and I’d be surprised if it cracks the top five best UFC PPVs of the year.

Best Fight: Aldo vs. Edgar
Worst Fight: Nogueira vs. Evans

Overall Rating: ***

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
[email protected]
The Oratory
TJR Sports

Newman’s Take: UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

-Fittingly for perhaps the most injury-cursed year in UFC history, the final card of 2012 barely resembled what was initially planned – outside of the main event, the rematch between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight title, that is. The original co-main of Forrest Griffin vs. Phil Davis was scrapped when Forrest blew out his knee, and two other main card bouts – Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch and Gray Maynard vs. Joe Lauzon – ended up being changed; Costa Philippou replacing Weidman and Jim Miller replacing Maynard. On a plus note though, the card did gain an exciting-sounding Lightweight fight in Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard (moved from the TUF Finale after Varner was “violently sick” backstage) and it was still one of the better sounding ones of the year on paper with loads of intriguing fights.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

12/29/12
Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Joe Rogan. Who could forget that this was the show that lost Mike Goldberg due to sickness, and spawned loads of dodgy rumours about Goldie being a pill addict in rehab and all sorts?

Flyweight Fight: John Moraga vs Chris Cariaso

Moraga had made a successful UFC debut in August, viciously knocking out grappling expert Ulysses Cruz, while Cariaso had moved to 125lbs in May after a solid run at 135lbs, and defeated Josh Ferguson in his first fight at the weight. My pick here was Moraga for no good reason really.

Notable observation – Cariaso, despite having fought at 135lbs for most of his career, doesn’t even look big or shredded at 125lbs. Moraga looks bigger in fact.

Round One and Cariaso opens with a sharp leg kick. Head kick is blocked by Moraga. Brief exchange sees both men land with glancing blows. Right to the body from Moraga and he follows with a sharp right and a head kick as Cariaso freezes up for a second. Cariaso looks okay though and circles out. Good leg kick from Cariaso but he takes a counter right from Moraga. Beautiful takedown from Moraga but he allows Cariaso up right away. Good counter left from Moraga as Cariaso comes forward. Head kick answers for Cariaso and Moraga just about gets his arm up to block. Takedown attempt from Cariaso but Moraga stuffs it and forces him into the fence. They break off and Cariaso glances with the high kick again. Body kick does connect, though. Another one follows as Moraga stalks forward. Good left counter by Moraga as he tries it again. Right hand lands to the body for Moraga. Good left hook follows. Good combo answers for Cariaso. Exchange continues until the round ends with a nice combination from Cariaso. Close round but I’d lean towards Moraga.

Round Two and they exchange with Cariaso trying to land a couple of flurries. He continues to throw the left kick, too. Right hand connects to the body for Moraga. Head kick glances for him too. Head kick answers for Cariaso. He’s beginning to back Moraga up a bit more in this round. Clinch from Cariaso and they muscle for position. Moraga forces him into the fence, where they exchange knees. Heavy elbow and knee break off for Moraga, but Cariaso fires back with a combo. Moraga grabs him to attempt the uber-rare standing arm triangle but Cariaso escapes and goes for the high kick again. Moraga blocks and lands a left hand counter. Good leg kick from Cariaso. Nice body kick from Cariaso but Moraga catches the leg and counters with a leg kick. Left head kick lands flush for Cariaso but Moraga takes it. Leg kick follows for Cariaso. Cariaso keeps on flurrying, but Moraga manages to grab him and throws him to the ground. Cariaso immediately looks to pull him into guard for a triangle attempt, but Moraga stands up and leans over him. Back up and the action has slowed down a bit now. Head kick is blocked again by Moraga. Clinch from Cariaso and he manages to hit a trip into Moraga’s guard with seconds remaining. Elbow lands for Cariaso and that’s the round. 10-9 Cariaso.

Round Three and this is anyone’s fight. They circle and Cariaso throws the left high kick again and then avoids one from Moraga. Moraga comes back with a good combination and stuffs a takedown attempt. Another combo lands for Moraga and he backs Cariaso up. Cariaso looks for a takedown, but leaves his head open and Moraga grabs onto a guillotine, then switches it up to a front choke variant and forces Cariaso down to his knees with his back to the cage, and Cariaso has to tap out there.

Beautiful submission from John Moraga and it was enough to secure him a title shot, which surprised me but I guess 125lbs is a small division. Fight was so-so as they never really went at it with a crazy pace, but it had a nice finish at least.

Featherweight Fight: Max Holloway vs Leonard Garcia

Originally this would’ve seen Garcia taking on Cody McKenzie in what actually sounded to me like a winnable fight for him, but when Cody dropped with an injury, young prospect Holloway stepped in, fresh off a phenomenal win over Justin Lawrence in August. With Holloway’s game being based around a sharp striking game I figured he’d be able to outpoint the wilder Garcia and most likely send him packing from the UFC.

First round and they circle with Holloway clearly looking to use his kicks to maintain distance from the shorter Garcia. Good leg kick lands for Garcia, though. Holloway continues to kick although he hasn’t landed anything flush yet. Spinning kick lands to the body for Holloway. Nice combo from Holloway and he drops Garcia with a left, but Leonard pops right up. Spinning back kick to the body from Holloway and then he backs up rather than flurry further. More kicks follow and Garcia can’t seem to close him down. Chopping leg kick from Holloway. Big right hand misses for Garcia but he does force Holloway backwards. Leg kick connects for him too. Left to the body from Garcia. Nice counter combo from Holloway ending with a short left hook. Big combination answers for Leonard. Right hook follows and wobbles Holloway’s legs, and sure enough he wades in swinging haymakers, but can’t catch Holloway cleanly again. One-two lands for Garcia. Nice spinning back kick to the body from Holloway. Wild punches miss for Garcia but he does land a jab. Left hook tags Garcia in an exchange. This has been a great round. Combo lands for Holloway and a spinning back kick follows. Garcia’s got a bit of a bloody nose. Clinch and Garcia lands a series of rights and a straight left. Combo puts Max on the run, but he fires back with a right hook to end the round. Garcia misses a wheel kick on the buzzer. 10-9 Holloway but Garcia did look good too.

Second round and they trade some glancing strikes with Holloway throwing some big kicks that Leonard just about avoids. Couple of jabs from Garcia back the young gun up a bit. Beautiful combo from Holloway snaps Garcia’s head back. Wild hooks glance for Garcia. Left to the body follows by a chopping leg kick from Holloway but Garcia counters with a crazy hook and a body kick. Left from Garcia but Holloway comes back with a leg kick. Takedown attempt from Garcia after a Holloway leg kick and he dumps Max to the ground in full guard. Nice reversal from Holloway and he’s back on his feet. They break off and Garcia lands a heavy leg kick. Exchange sees both men land with right hands. Wild hooks from Garcia but he does connect on a body shot. Garcia is beginning to draw Holloway into a bit of a brawl here which probably isn’t a good idea for him. Garcia is beginning to swing wild now but Holloway looks a bit tired and his movement isn’t as good as it was in the first. Big looping left tags Holloway and forces him to clinch, but Leonard breaks quickly. Both guys are swinging now. Round ends with an exchange from the clinch, both men landing. 10-9 Garcia and he’s dragging Holloway into his world now.

Third round and the exchange continues before Holloway manages to dodge a swing and land a nice leg kick. He’s moving a little better again now as Garcia chases forward. Heavy knee lands for Holloway. Wild combination connects for Garcia. Holloway lands a couple of counters and there’s a lot of blood coming from Garcia’s nose now. Huge spinning backfist misses for Garcia and Holloway comes back with a spinning back kick to the body. Nasty left to the body from Garcia and he doubles up on it. Big combo follows and Holloway is backing up big time now. Leonard is just walking through Holloway’s counters now and throwing BOMBS. Crowd are way into this as Holloway decides to fight fire with fire and swings right back, landing with a heavy right hand. Garcia keeps on wading in though and then drops for a surprising takedown attempt. He gets it and Holloway ends up in guard, but goes for a kimura. Leonard avoids and passes into half-guard. Scramble from Holloway allows him to his feet but he eats a knee on the break. Holloway is looking exhausted and bloodied. Good leg kick lands for him but Garcia comes back with one of his own and a right cross. Big uppercut glances for Leonard. Holloway comes back with a combo and they brawl wildly for a second again. This is becoming a great fight. BIG SHOTS land for both men in a crazy trade. Both guys are gassed big time now. They clinch and continue to exchange from there before breaking off. Both men seem to have lost the sting in their punches now due to tiredness but they’re STILL SWINGING. Takedown from Garcia but Holloway looks for a triangle. Garcia postures out and lands a short powerbomb (!) and that’s the fight. I think I have this 29-28 Leonard Garcia!

Judges score it 29-28 Holloway, 29-28 Garcia and 29-28….for Max Holloway to take the split decision. Damn, you know what? I actually think Leonard Garcia got dicked by the judges there and I NEVER thought in a million years that I’d type that. Instant karma gonna get you I guess! Awesome fight though as they started with a technical kickboxing exchange and then it just degenerated into the type of wild brawl that Garcia loves, and that’s when he started to take over really as Holloway gassed, probably due to taking the bout on short notice. Regardless of the dodgy decision this was great.

Heavyweight Fight: Todd Duffee vs Phil De Fries

Believe it or not, outside of the main event this was the fight that had me most hyped on this card, basically because I’ve been a total fanboy of Duffee’s since prior to his UFC debut and after his weird release in 2010 I’ve been desperate to see him back in the big leagues. Two years and only two fights (a loss to Alistair Overeem and a KO of Neil Grove) and he was back, taking on British grappler De Fries as a replacement for Matt Mitrione. Naturally I was picking Duffee here as not only did he sound like a bad match for De Fries, but I mean, he’s TODDDUFFEE!~!

Fight begins and Duffee walks right out and drops De Fries with a leg kick before opening up with a flurry as the Brit gets up. Big knees land and De Fries is in trouble right away. He manages to slow Todd up a bit by clinching, and then goes for a takedown and gets it. Duffee immediately scrambles and looks to get to his feet, but as he does, De Fries lands on him with some big right hands! Duffee manages to get up, but they’re still in the clinch. De Fries continues to look for the takedown but Duffee manages to shake him off and force the Brit into the fence. They break off and Duffee glances on a one-two. De Fries comes forward but eats a heavy uppercut and stumbles back, and Duffee follows with a HUGE RIGHT HOOK! BIG FLURRY follows and sends De Fries crashing down, and that’ll do it.

Man, that was a wildly exciting fight and Duffee actually weathered a bit of a storm before turning De Fries’ lights out with some absolutely ruthless punching power. I still maintain the guy can be a contender at Heavyweight and I’m so, so glad he’s back in the UFC where he belongs, even if he’s been injured since this fight. Phenomenal knockout.

Lightweight Fight: Myles Jury vs Michael Johnson

Battle of TUFers here with Season 13 and 15’s Jury taking on Season 12’s runner-up in Johnson. I wasn’t sure who to pick to be honest as Jury hadn’t really had a chance to show much in the UFC to this point although he had a great reputation prior to entering the promotion, while Johnson had seemed hit-and-miss throughout his UFC tenure. I ended up going with Johnson basically because he’d managed to beat Tony Ferguson (albeit a one-armed El Cucuy) and I really rate Tony highly.

Round One and they circle and throw out some feeler strikes to begin, looking to find their range. Leg kick connects for Johnson and Jury almost catches it. Crowd begin to get a bit annoyed as we’re about 90 seconds in with very little action thus far. Finally Jury hits a nice level change and double legs Johnson to the ground, landing in half-guard. Jury passes into full mount, but Johnson immediately hip escapes back to half-guard. Beautiful job from Jury though as he spins to take the back and then begins to land punches from half-guard. He works for the mount again and gets it, and from there he begins to land some BOMBS and Johnson looks in deep trouble. You could consider stopping this even as Johnson isn’t really defending intelligently. He does manage to regain half-guard though which slows down Jury’s assault. More punches connect for Jury though and he throws in some short elbows now for good measure. Johnson is getting OWNED. One minute to go and Jury looks like he might be setting up a kimura on the right arm. Johnson manages to avoid it, but he can’t get out from underneath Jury who drops some more elbows and gets to full mount again. BIG SHOTS land for Jury and Johnson desperately tries to cover up. He gives the back and Jury locks up a choke, but the buzzer sounds before he can finish. 10-8 for Myles Jury.

Round Two and Johnson comes out with a bit more urgency, but Jury avoids his range and circles on the outside nicely. High kick glances for Jury. Left hand glances for Johnson. Head kick lands for Jury. Jury is doing a great job of just about staying out of range of Johnson’s strikes. Leg kick lands for Johnson. Jury fires back with a head kick that Johnson blocks. Jury catches a kick and turns it into a single leg, dropping Johnson onto his back in guard. Johnson tries to just hold on and stall from his back as Jury works to pass, posturing up to drop a couple of heavy elbows. Jury is looking like a beast here, doing plenty of damage even inside Johnson’s guard. More ground-and-pound follows and the round ends soon after. 10-9 Jury but still a dominant round.

Round Three and Johnson comes out swinging, throwing some hard left hooks at Jury before stuffing a low single leg. Couple of punches glance but Jury proves to be a tricky target to hit, and he closes the distance into the clinch, forcing Johnson into the fence. Beautiful trip takedown follows and Jury’s back on top in half-guard. Looks like he might have a possible arm triangle as he works to pass, but the fence gets in the way a bit. He does manage to move into side mount, though. He looks for a kimura, but can’t quite trap the arm and ends up in half-guard again. Jury is passing like a knife through butter though, landing elbows as he does so. Johnson just can’t do a thing with this guy. Elbows connect for Jury and he’s practically got full mount now. More punches connect as Johnson can only cover up. Jury continues his assault while trying to pass, but Johnson does manage to retain half-guard at least. Less than a minute to go now and Jury just keeps on pounding. Big shots connect for Jury before Johnson manages to just about get to his feet on the buzzer. 10-8 Jury and I’ve got this 30-25 for him.

Official scorecards read 30-27 all round for Myles Jury. Incredible that he didn’t get at least one 10-8 but whatever, no problem. This was a stellar performance from Jury and a real eye-opener to me as while Johnson isn’t top ten or anything he’s a perfectly capable, UFC-calibre fighter and he got TOOLED from start to finish there; Jury never allowed him to do a thing standing due to his range and footwork and on the ground he thoroughly whitewashed him. At just 24 this guy could definitely develop into a legit contender and he’s certainly one to watch.

Lightweight Fight: Jamie Varner vs Melvin Guillard

As I mentioned earlier this one was initially scheduled for the TUF 16 Finale, but got moved to this card when Varner got sick. For what it’s worth Guillard had come right out and said he thought Varner was ducking him, which gave the fight a bit of a personal slant (and was a bit silly too; if he were ducking why would he take the fight like two weeks later?) for good measure. I was taking Melvin because I thought he’d be able to stuff Varner’s takedown and catch him standing.

Fight begins and they circle with Melvin landing a couple of early leg kicks. Varner comes back with one of his own and just avoids a counter right from Guillard. Crowd begin to boo a little as Guillard picks at him with a couple more shots before Varner glances on a haymaker right hand and forces him to back up. Clinch is avoided by Melvin. Melvin connects on a jab and another leg kick. Really heavy leg kick connects for Guillard and he avoids a right hand. Body kick follows. Varner is fighting really passively so far. Left hand glances for Guillard. Another leg kick connects too. Good combo from Varner with about 1:20 remaining but Melvin seems fine. Left hand sets up a takedown attempt for Varner but Melvin stuffs it nicely. Jab and another leg kick land for Melvin and they seem to be beginning to take their toll now. Varner comes right back with a combination though and then drops Melvin for a second with a left hook! He pops up and Varner keeps on flurrying, then manages to take Melvin down and almost secure a guillotine. Super-close round but I think Varner took it right at the end there. 10-9 Varner.

Into the 2nd and Varner clips him with an early right hand. Hard leg kick from Melvin but Varner glances on a counter right. Double leg from Varner and he gets Melvin down on his back, stretching out the left leg with his own legs to keep him firmly grounded. Good punches from Varner and he takes the back in a scramble, but Melvin hits a sick move and throws him right over his shoulder! Varner spins and goes for a single leg, but this time Guillard locks up a guillotine. He releases it as they stand and separates with a hard knee. Big right cross glances for Varner. Leg kick from Guillard answers. Head kick follows but Varner takes it and flurries on him. Melvin avoids the brunt of it though and lands with another leg kick and a jab. Really good combination connects for Varner and backs Melvin up, but he fires back with an uppercut. Varner is beginning to land on him again here. Takedown follows and he plants Melvin on his back next to the fence. This time Varner practically passes to mount, but Melvin still has his back to the cage and he looks to use it to escape. He gets to his feet but Varner stays on him and breaks with a combo. Couple of good jabs and a leg kick land for Guillard. HARD right hand comes over the top from Varner and cracks Melvin but he takes it well. Hard body kick from Melvin but Varner lands with a kick to the groin at the same time. Ref quickly calls time as Varner stops to apologise anyway. They restart quite quickly though and Varner swings some combinations, but Guillard avoids and lands a body kick. Leg kick follows. Round ends with Melvin landing a counter jumping knee to the body. Competitive round there. I’d lean towards Guillard I think but you could go either way really.

Third and final round of what has been a really entertaining fight. Flying knee opens up for Guillard but doesn’t land flush. Big kick follows and Varner grabs the leg for a single, but Melvin shows sick balance to avoid. Jabs from Melvin but Varner clocks him with a counter right and then shoots and manages to get him down this time. Melvin winds up seated against the fence and he takes some solid shots from Varner from the top. Looks like he might be setting up for a submission and sure enough he goes for the Peruvian necktie, but Melvin slips out and takes top position in guard for the first time in the fight. Varner’s shin looks cut badly somehow. Melvin moves into half-guard and lands some short punches, but Varner escapes to his feet. Knee to the body lands for Melvin; answered by a right hand from Varner. They separate and then Varner tackles him to the ground again. He works Melvin over with some short punches from the guard, before Melvin explodes up to his feet using the fence. Varner grabs a rear waistlock but loses it and they separate. Two minutes to go now and both guys look a little tired. Nice double leg from Varner plants Melvin on his back once more. Short hammer fists from Varner before Melvin tries an armbar, and when Varner avoids Melvin hits a reversal into side mount! Varner escapes to his knees and Melvin tries to hold a headlock, but a sick switch from Varner allows him to get back on top in the guard. Nice punches from Varner now but Melvin kicks him away and stands. Seconds remaining now and Melvin comes in swinging with a pair of wild hooks but doesn’t land cleanly. Takedown attempt from Varner but he runs right into a hard knee to the body, and Guillard follows with some solid punches. Varner responds by SCOOPING HIM UP AND HITTING THE SHEAMUS WHITE NOISE!~! WORRRRRD! Melvin lands on his head but turns THAT into a f------ leg scissor choke, but the buzzer sounds before anything else crazy can follow. Incredible ending. I have this 29-28 for Jamie Varner.

Judges officially score it 30-27 Varner, 30-27 Guillard (!) and 30-27 for Jamie Varner to pick up the split decision. Well, the judge who scored it 30-27 for Guillard needs his f------ eyes testing and should never judge again – I mean, you could potentially argue 29-28 for Guillard as the first two rounds were sort-of close but the third was clearly Varner’s and to suggest otherwise would be ludicrous. Right man got the nod anyway thankfully. Fight started slowly but warmed up and became an excellent fight by the end with as crazy an ending as I can remember seeing in 2012. He might not win them all but I could happily watch Guillard fight all day and so I hope he’s always got a spot in the UFC.

Bantamweight Fight: Erik Perez vs Byron Bloodworth

After a successful (if controversial) UFC debut in June and a subsequent highlight reel KO of Ken Stone at UFC 150, the word was that Zuffa wanted to push Perez as a star to the Latino crowd, as he wears a Luchador mask to the Octagon and stuff like that. That would probably explain why he was matched with Bloodworth here, a guy who had come in as a late replacement for a fight in October 2011 and hadn’t fought since. Looked like a squash on paper.

Round One and El Goyito comes out swinging, and Bloodworth obliges and returns fire. Clinch from Perez and he lands some knees to the body before forcing Byron into the fence. Crowd are chanting loudly for Perez – I’m guessing they’re the Latino crowd here to see Cain Velasquez. More knees to the body follow for Perez. Bloodworth reverses position though and lands some knees of his own. Perez switches it back and continues to work from inside the clinch. BIG KNEE to the body folds Bloodworth and he goes down, and Perez quickly follows with some bombs as Byron manages to secure guard. Perez continues to drop punches and elbows though as Bloodworth tries desperately to tie him up. More shots land for El Goyito and he’s working the body now as well. Big elbows connect for Perez and Bloodworth looks like he’s in trouble. Big shot cuts Bloodworth open and Perez continues to pound away until he turns onto his side. Referee Kim Winslow’s seen enough there and that’s that.

Impressive win for Erik Perez but realistically Bloodworth probably wasn’t quite UFC level so how he’ll do against top level opposition is still a question mark. Dude is a good prospect to watch though and you certainly cannot fault his aggression as he’s been the predator in all three of his UFC fights now. Entertaining stoppage. Post-fight Perez cuts his promo with Joe Rogan in his lucha mask to really get the crowd behind him. If he can keep winning he’s a big star for sure.

Bantamweight Fight: Eddie Wineland vs Brad Pickett

This one probably should’ve made the main card in place of Leben/Brunson but I guess UFC like to have a really good fight as the ‘main’ on the televised prelims and so this was it. On paper this sounded like a genuinely awesome fight between two top ten Bantamweights, and the word was that the winner could be in line for a title shot or at least a title eliminator in their next fight. British bias made me pick Brad, duh.

Round One and Pickett opens with a low leg kick as they circle around. Both men throw out some feeler strikes and Pickett keeps ducking down to throw a left hook. He walks right into a sharp counter from Wineland though. Good right hand from Wineland. Left hand connects for Pickett. Another right counter cracks Pickett coming forward. Big right hook glances for Pickett. Nice right hook lands clean this time for Pickett and he follows in with a combo, but Wineland counters with a NASTY right uppercut into a right hook that drops the Brit to a knee! Another right connects but Pickett seems okay and fires back with some punches of his own. Leg kick from Pickett. Good right to the body from Wineland. Exchange continues and again Wineland catches Pickett with a vicious counter and drops him, but the Brit pops right back up. Pickett has a sick chin. He’s looking marked up though. Takedown attempt from Pickett and he drives Wineland into the fence, but Eddie does a good job of stuffing it and circles out. Pickett continues to be the aggressor, but he’s continually walking into sharper, cleaner counters from Wineland. Good right does connect over the top for the Brit though and he follows with one to the body. Round ends with another nice exchange. Good opening round. 10-9 Wineland.

Round Two and they pick up right where they left off, with Pickett coming in with some jabs and a sweet left hook. Wineland tags him again with a counter right though. He seems to have his timing down a little better than Pickett’s in this fight. Another hard counter lands for Wineland but this time Pickett lands a counter of his own. Left hook from Wineland. This is basically a boxing match which is pretty rare to see in the UFC. Neither man seems to be thinking takedown. Combo glances for Wineland and Pickett lands with a right to the body. Pickett finally changes things up with a leg kick. Crowd begin to get restless for no good reason about halfway through the round which doesn’t make sense as these guys are clearly working hard. HEAVY exchange sees both men show they have great chins as both land with hard shots. Stats appear to give Wineland a slight advantage which I’d agree with. Sharp right connects for Wineland. He’s doing a good job of slipping Pickett’s punches. Good left hook catches the Brit coming forward. Pickett answers with a left hook of his own. Looks like Wineland’s cut over his right eye. Round ends with a pair of hard rights from Pickett, answered by one from Wineland. 10-9 Wineland.

Round Three and Pickett lands a nice left hand coming forward. Pickett appears to have a cut on his chest which is odd. He pushes forward but still can’t get a handle on Wineland who is still using his movement to move out of range and land counters on the Brit. Good leg kick from Pickett. Pair of sharp right counters land for Wineland. Right hand connects for Pickett. Really hard leg kick lands and buckles Wineland’s left leg. Some jabs land for Pickett and bloody Wineland’s nose, but Wineland stays on his bike and looks to continue to counter. Nice counter right lands for Wineland and he catches a kick to land another counter. Big exchange but both men only glance with big punches. Left hook from Pickett. Exchange continues and Brad lands with a left to the body. One minute to go and Pickett really starts swinging, clipping Wineland with a left hook but not really hurting him. Wineland continues to counter but he hasn’t landed as heavily as he did in the earlier rounds. Round ends with a combination from Pickett. Closer round but even if you give that to Pickett it’s a win for Wineland regardless in my eyes.

Judges score it 30-27 Wineland, 29-28 Pickett and 30-27 for Eddie Wineland to pick up the decision. Definitely the right call and I’m unsure how you’d score that fight for Pickett to be honest unless you REALLY value aggression without doing much damage. Fun fight for the most part although it was a little frustrating to see neither man change up the gameplan – particularly Pickett when it became clear he was being largely outboxed. Big win for Wineland though as I thought Pickett would be the better striker and I was proven wrong.

Middleweight Fight: Derek Brunson vs Chris Leben

Leben was coming back from a year-long drug suspension here and was initially pegged to fight wrestler-brawler Karlos Vemola, but when the Czech got injured StrikeForce import Brunson stepped in, moving over to the UFC about a month earlier than the promotion closed its doors. With Brunson being a one-dimensional wrestler who had been KOd by Jacare in his previous outing, I was taking Leben despite the worries about his health.

First round begins with Leben pressing forward as Brunson throws some strikes to gauge the distance. Leben catches a kick and clinches, but Brunson manages to trip him down into full guard. Leben stays active from his back, but Brunson stacks up to pass and gets into half-guard for a second. Good job from Leben to regain full guard but he takes a couple of elbows from the StrikeForce import. Triangle attempt from Leben but Brunson shakes free and passes into half-guard. Again though Leben recovers full guard. Short punches and elbows from Brunson and again he avoids a triangle to pass into side mount. Leben catches him in half-guard as he tries to mount, but Brunson does a good job of sliding into full mount and he tries an arm triangle. Leben avoids, but Brunson remains in control and lands some nice elbows before Leben catches him in half-guard. Joe Rogan is so much on Leben’s nuts here it’s ridiculous as Brunson is easily winning this fight right now. He continues to land some short punches and elbows before Leben gets back to full guard. Really good ground-and-pound from Brunson now before Leben manages to use the fence to escape to his feet. Brunson stays on him though before Leben breaks with a knee to end the round. 10-9 Brunson.

Second round and Brunson’s looking a bit tired. Leben pushes forward and swings the left hand but Brunson stays out of range. Takedown attempt from Brunson but Leben defends initially. Brunson forces him back into the fence though and looks for a trip, landing some knees to the body for good measure. Brunson tries to muscle Leben to the ground, but Leben does a good job of defending and he breaks off. Leben pushes in with strikes but a low double leg from Brunson plants him on the ground in full guard. Brunson appears to be exhausted. Leben lands a couple of elbows from his back and works to his feet, and easily avoids a guillotine attempt from Brunson. Leben comes forward again and connects on an uppercut as Brunson whiffs on a left hand. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Leben. Pair of leg kicks from Leben. Leben continues to come forward but he takes a one-two from Brunson. Leg kick answers. Nice left hand from Brunson. Leben is looking tired here too. Takedown attempt from Brunson and he forces Leben back into the fence once more. Leben stuffs it though and they separate. This fight is looking pretty bad now. Sloppy, tired exchange follows with Leben pushing forward but not really landing clean. Another takedown attempt from Brunson follows but Leben stuffs it again. They wind up clinched on the fence with seconds to go before breaking. Crowd are booing now as Brunson lands a left hook to end the round. Awful. 10-9 Brunson I guess but the round stunk.

Third round begins with some more slow strikes as Leben pushes forward. Left uppercut glances for Brunson and he follows with a double leg attempt, but Leben stuffs it and separates with an elbow. These guys just have no steam in their punches at all. Takedown from Brunson and he gets it this time into half-guard .Leben immediately looks to escape from the bottom and then gets to full guard. Leben works to escape to his feet, but Joe Rogan sums it up by saying he looks like he’s walking in sand. Couple of leg kicks and lefts from Leben but Brunson just circles out. This is f------ awful. Sloppy exchange continues and Brunson is just backpedalling for the most part here. Leben stuffs another takedown and the fight continues to run in slow motion. Crowd are raining down with boos now and quite rightly so. Left hand does connect for Leben but he seems to have zero power in his punches. One minute to go and he does swing, but Brunson tackles him to the ground in full guard. Nothing happens from there and an illegal upkick connects for Leben and gains him a warning. Slow punches again from Leben but he can’t do much and that’s that, thank God. 10-9 Brunson in a dire little fight.

Judges all score it 29-28 for Derek Brunson, but let’s be frank, this fight absolutely stunk the joint out and didn’t belong on PPV by any stretch of the imagination, not when you’ve got Pickett vs. Wineland and Varner vs. Guillard on the prelims. Terrible decision by someone right there. Let’s not speak of this crap again.

Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Alan Belcher

This one was a rematch from both men’s UFC debut back at UFC 62 in August 2006. Back then Okami had used his clinch game and grappling to control Belcher to a decision but this time I was going the other way, especially after seeing Okami get KOd by Tim Boetsch and get tagged by Buddy Roberts before TKOing him and seeing Belcher absolutely smash Toquinho in his previous fight in May.

Round One and Belcher bounces around on the outside looking to strike, landing a couple of glancing blows. Okami comes back with a couple of straight lefts, but Belcher stays out of range. Body kick misses for Belcher and Okami counters with a jab that knocks him down, but obviously he was off balance. Okami follows by clinching and forcing him into the fence. Good knee to the body from Okami and he continues to control Belcher on the fence. Crowd begin to boo before Okami botches a trip and Belcher wins up on top, where he looks for a guillotine. He drops to full guard, but loses the choke and switches to attempt the rubber guard. Okami postures out and settles in on top. He passes into half-guard and then works into side mount, and you can hear Belcher breathing pretty heavily from underneath. Belcher tries to squirm free, but Okami keeps him down and looks to take the back as the round ends. 10-9 Okami.

Round Two and Belcher throws a couple of kicks, looking surprisingly chilled. Okami wastes no time in clinching and forces him right into the fence. Trip takedown from Okami but Belcher lands on top and again looks for the guillotine and pulls guard. Okami escapes and once more he’s on top in half-guard. Okami continues to control him with some steady ground-and-pound, and to be frank this is pretty dull. He passes into side mount and Belcher just looks lost from his back. Ref calls a questionable stand-up with Okami in a dominant position, and Belcher lands with a right hand and tries a head kick that misses. Okami walks through an exchange though and goes for a single leg. Belcher defends, but Okami transitions to a rear waistlock and drags him to the ground. Belcher turns into half-guard, and things slow down from there so the ref calls another stand-up. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Okami.

Round Three and Belcher rushes in and Okami almost gets another takedown, but this time Belcher avoids and then tags him with a right on an exchange, knocking him down for a second before Okami pops right back up. Okami fires back with the left hand a few times and backs Belcher up again, and once again he clinches and forces him into the fence. Trip follows but again Belcher lands on top, this time in full mount! Okami stands and Belcher takes the back in an odd position, almost clinging on like a koala. Okami shakes him off and now Belcher grabs a standing guillotine, then drops to guard to attempt the finish, but it doesn’t look tight to me and Okami seems fine. He pops out and he’s on top in guard again. Into half-guard quickly and Okami continues to smother him with forearms and short punches. Full mount follows and he’s in firm control. Punches land for Okami but he doesn’t seem bothered about finishing. He takes the back when Belcher rolls though, and looks to flatten him out. Belcher manages to hold on despite taking punches and that’s it. 10-9 Okami and a total shutout overall for him.

Judges all agree; 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Yushin Okami. Fight was basically the same as their fight in 2006 as Belcher couldn’t do anything with Okami’s clinch and ground control and never came close to using his explosive striking game. The first time around it was dull and unfortunately, this one followed the same pattern. Not exactly the best fight to follow the even worse Leben/Brunson mess.

Middleweight Fight: Constantinos Philippou vs Tim Boetsch

When Weidman dropped from this fight Philippou was as good a replacement as they could’ve gotten basically, as he’d been on a tear of his own – picking up four wins in a row over solid opposition – and the time was certainly right for him to make the step up in competition. Despite Boetsch’s pair of huge wins (over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard) this was my choice for an upset on the card, as I just couldn’t quite buy Boetsch as a legit top five talent and I think his wrestling’s a little understated, and if he couldn’t get Philippou down then I thought he’d be outgunned standing for sure as Costa has a great boxing game.

First round and Boetsch pushes forward, closes the distance and forces Costa into the fence. Knee to the body from Boetsch and he looks like he’s going for the takedown. Good knees inside from Boetsch and he drops low for a single, but Philippou shows some good defence. Boetsch manages to get him down, but Costa immediately wall-walks up to his feet. They exchange some knees and the crowd begin to boo a little before Philippou lands a knee to the body to separate. Front kick to the body from Boetsch. Inside leg kick from Boetsch and he avoids a combination from Philippou. Nice overhand right lands for Costa, set up by a left to the body. Leg kick into a combo from Boetsch but he walks into a heavy right uppercut. Boetsch manages to clinch though and forces Costa into the fence. This time Philippou separates quickly, but Boetsch follows with a takedown to guard. Boetsch grinds on him from the top, but a quick stand-up from referee Kim Winslow follows. Good body kick from Philippou and he opens up with a combo that has Boetsch backing up. Boetsch looks okay though and comes forward with a front kick to the face that drops Costa for a second, and that’s the round. 10-9 Boetsch.

Into the 2nd and the announcers are saying they think Boetsch is injured somehow although they’re not sure how. They exchange punches and Boetsch shakes his hand out right away as it becomes clear that he’s probably broken his hand and that’s the issue. Clinch from Boetsch and he forces Costa into the fence. They break off and Boetsch manages to close in with a pair of right hooks, then lands a nice knee before separating. Boetsch looks like he’s cut badly on the forehead from something, as there’s blood pouring down his face now. Nice right hand connects for Philippou. Joe Rogan claims it was an accidental headbutt that caused the cut. Boetsch’s right hand is clearly jacked. Takedown attempt from Boetsch but Philippou stuffs it and separates. Good combo from Costa and Boetsch is bleeding badly. Accidental eye poke from Philippou and the ref calls time to let Boetsch recover. They restart and Philippou walks through a front kick to land a right hand. Philippou is the clear aggressor now and he avoids a clinch, but does take the front kick to the body. Takedown attempt from Boetsch is stuffed and he’s beginning to look tired. Another takedown is avoided by Philippou and this time Boetsch pulls guard. Costa gets into half-guard and lands some elbows and punches, but Boetsch gets to full guard. He’s bleeding really badly. Big punches connect for Philippou and Boetsch is having a really hard time of it. Into half-guard and he continues to pound away. Round ends with Philippou on top. 10-9 Philippou to even things up.

Third and final round and Boetsch is apparently having a hard time seeing due to the blood too. Low single attempt but Philippou sprawls to avoid and drops into the guard, landing some heavy punches while Boetsch tries to tie him up. Philippou lets him up and Boetsch shoots again, but again Costa sprawls, lands some punches to the head, and then stands. Boetsch is cut up in another spot now and he’s sporting the crimson mask. He takes a while to get to his feet too and he looks wobbly. Combo from Philippou and then Boetsch shoots and pulls half-guard again. Philippou immediately begins to drop some bombs, then stands. Boetsch’s face is a MESS. He shoots again but Philippou again stuffs it and drops some punches and hammer fists and this time the referee calls the fight.

Big win for Costa Philippou even if it was a bit of a weird one due to Boetsch’s cuts and broken hand. Still, he had a job to do and he did it and managed to put away an extremely tough guy, so big kudos to him. This one actually helped the 185lbs logjam in a lot of ways as it knocked Boetsch out of contention and Philippou was outright saying himself that he’s not near a title shot yet, leaving a bit more room at the top. Still, he’s a possible contender in 2014 I think if he can continue to develop. Not a bad fight at all but it hardly lit the crowd back up after the previous two stunk out the building.

Lightweight Fight: Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon

As I mentioned in the intro this initially would’ve seen Lauzon facing the toughest test in his career to date in Gray Maynard, but instead, well, he ended up facing the toughest test of his career anyway in Jim Miller who is only a slight step below Maynard in the great scheme of things. I figured it’d be an exciting fight, as all fights involving these two are, but I thought Miller would come away with his hand raised in the end due to a slight advantage basically everywhere.

Round One and both come out swinging combinations but it’s Miller that seems to be getting the better of the exchange early. Good leg kick sets up a heavy combo from Miller. Knee from the clinch for Jim but Lauzon breaks with an uppercut. Left hand connects for Miller. Good leg kick again sets up a VICIOUS COMBO from Miller and he opens up with some heavy punches and elbow strikes from close range. Left hand lands again for Miller and he follows with a body kick. Combination of left uppercuts and right hooks from Miller have Lauzon backing up, but he swings right back. Miller continues on the offensive though and lands with another flurry. Lauzon pushes forward but a big left connects for Miller and he follows with a knee and another series of slashing elbows and uppercuts. Lauzon looks busted wide open and badly hurt and so Miller goes for a standing arm triangle, but Lauzon breaks free. There’s a TON of blood coming from Lauzon’s face though and referee Yves Lavigne calls time to get him checked out once they separate. Lauzon also looks a bit wobbled. Doctor says he’s fine so they restart and Miller cracks him with another combo, so Lauzon goes for the takedown but Miller stuffs it. Head kick lands for Miller and he follows with some more elbow strikes and knees, but Lauzon fires back and forces him to back up a bit. Lauzon pushes in with a knee to slow him down a little, but he opens up again with another combo. Lauzon’s face is a horror movie. Another combo from Miller and he’s got Lauzon’s blood all over his upper body now. Right hand lands for Lauzon but Miller continues to crack him with the better strikes. Hard left hand wobbles Lauzon badly and he stumbles, but manages to cover up and fire back as Miller tries to finish. This is an incredible round. Round ends with both men swinging to a big pop. 10-9 Miller.

Cut is visible between rounds; it’s a large gash over Lauzon’s right eye.

Round Two and Miller pushes forward right away and lands a big combo to counter an inside leg kick. Lauzon to his credit just won’t stop coming forward. Takedown from Miller and he lands in Lauzon’s guard. This is one of the bloodiest fights I’ve ever seen. Big elbows land for Miller and Lauzon is gushing blood like a fire hydrant again. He tries to reverse and get to his feet, but Miller keeps him down and passes into half-guard. Looks like he’s working to pass that too, pushing down on the leg of Lauzon with his foot. Lauzon does a good job of blocking, but Miller eventually passes and mounts. Good job from Lauzon to quickly get back to half-guard, but Miller is still on top of him applying pressure with some elbows. He gets Lauzon’s right arm trapped with his legs to drop some more elbows. The amount of blood is pretty disgusting now. Miller tries a D’Arce choke, but Lauzon escapes and now he reverses to get on top in Miller’s guard! Big crowd pop for that. Ref calls time again to check over Lauzon’s cut and then decides he needs some scissors. This seems to take an AGE but it’s to cut some loose tape from Lauzon’s glove. They restart in the same position on the ground and Miller goes to rubber guard, but Lauzon stands and drops him with a short slam to break it off. Miller keeps it locked up though but then has to release to avoid Lauzon passing the guard. Into half-guard for Lauzon and he drops a couple of elbows before Miller looks to scramble back to guard. Lauzon continues to grind on him and then drops back for a heel hook, but Miller slips his leg free. Lauzon switches to a D’Arce attempt as Miller goes for the takedown, but the round ends there. 10-9 Miller but Lauzon was really game throughout, especially at the end of the round. Awesome fight.

Round Three and Miller drops Lauzon early with a hard inside leg kick. Lauzon fires right back with a kick to the body. They trade off with punches and both men land combinations. Looks like Miller might be a bit gassed. Lauzon lands with a good left to the body, but Miller drops him with another inside leg kick and he stays on his back trying to entice Miller into the guard. He’s having none of it and waves Lauzon up. Striking exchange continues and Miller gets the best of it with a combo but Lauzon is like the terminator and he WON’T STOP COMING FORWARD. They’re basically going shot-for-shot at this point too. Three minutes to go and Miller lands the inside leg kick again. Hard knee to the body from Lauzon and Miller clearly backs up. Big combo from Lauzon but Miller fires right back. This is AWESOME. Miller’s cut now under his left eye but he lands with another combination. Left hook into a pair of elbows from Miller. Both men look tired now. Low kick connects for Miller. Good right from close range lands for Lauzon and he continues to press forward. One minute to go and Miller connects with a left hand and another slashing elbow. Knee to the body from Lauzon. Crowd are going ballistic here. They trade off wildly before Lauzon goes for the RYO CHONAN DIVING SCISSOR HEEL HOOK!~! Looks like he might have an ankle lock instead as Miller goes down, but he manages to slide free. Lauzon grabs a guillotine in the scramble and goes for it, but the buzzer sounds there. Phenomenal stuff. I’ve got it 30-27 for Miller but holy s--- did Lauzon put up a hell of a fight.

Official scorecards are 29-28 all round for Jim Miller. This was, however, one of those rare fights where neither guy comes off looking like a loser, as they went to WAR for fifteen minutes and left it all in the cage. I legitimately have no idea how Lauzon survived the onslaught Miller brought in the first round and he’s got to be one of the toughest guys in all of MMA to be able to deal with a beating like the one he took in those five minutes, particularly with a cut as bad as that. This was an incredible fight, high-end FOTYC in fact and somehow it topped Lauzon’s OTHER FOTYC with Jamie Varner in August. Guy is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC even if he isn’t a legit title contender.

UFC World Heavyweight Title: unior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez

Despite both men only having fought once since their first, fateful meeting in November 2011, this rematch was immediately signed following Velasquez’s slaughter of Antonio Silva and JDS’s knockout of Frank Mir in May. No complaints from me as at this point it was pretty clear that these were the two best Heavyweights in the world – especially with the only other possible contender (Alistair Overeem) on the shelf due to a drug suspension. Although JDS had turned Cain’s lights out quickly in the first match I was actually going with Velasquez to regain his title here, mainly because I thought the knee injury he had in that first match really hampered his movement and he’d be able to impose his grappling game on JDS more in this fight. Undoubtedly though this was one of the biggest fights of 2012.

Staredown is pretty intense and the crowd are LOUD, obviously buying into this fight big time.

Round One and Cain immediately presses forward throwing punches before grabbing a single leg. Dos Santos goes down but pops right back up, but a bodylock from Cain allows him to bring him back down. JDS hits a reversal though and explodes back to his feet. Another wild takedown attempt from Cain from way on the outside is avoided. Cain keeps pushing the pace though, backing JDS up with punches and landing a glancing left. High kick misses for the challenger. JDS glances on a right hand but Cain hits him with a straight left and keeps pushing forward. Big chant for JDS as he lands a jab and a right before avoiding a takedown. Good leg kick from Cain to counter a right to the body. Good right from Cain and he drops for another takedown but again JDS defends. Good left hook to the body from Dos Santos. Cain comes back with a hard right. The pace Cain is pushing here is pretty crazy. Jab connects for the challenger. Couple more jabs follow. Takedown attempt is avoided but JDS appears to be breathing heavily. He’s trying to counter but the pressure Cain’s putting on him is pretty crazy. Knee to the body from Cain and he follows with a body kick. Jabs land for both men. Cain clinches and forces him into the fence, landing some short punches inside, before JDS breaks off. Good right hand from Cain and he follows with a leg kick. He just isn’t letting JDS settle at all. Big left hook from Cain and JDS has to grab him for a clinch. Left hook to the body and head break and JDS is clearly struggling to cope with the pace. BRUTAL RIGHT CROSS from Cain sends Junior DOWN HARD and he’s in deep trouble! Big shots follow but somehow JDS gets up. Cain drags him right back down and continues to pound him from the back mount with one hook. Dos Santos is almost done here. More punches from Cain and Herb Dean is taking a close look. He gets up but Cain forces him right back down and keeps on punishing him. JDS can’t get up at all here. More punches from the challenger but JDS does just enough to survive the round. That was a massacre. 10-8 Cain Velasquez and JDS can barely wobble over to his corner.

Round Two and Dos Santos is gasping for breath coming out of his corner. Cain wades right in with a HUGE COMBO and then drops for a takedown and slams the champion to the ground. JDS gives his back and turtles up, but Cain just rides him and continues to land punches. JDS tries to get half-guard but he’s taking more shots from there and Cain spins in the scramble to stay in firm control. They come back to their feet but Cain stays on him and hits a double leg to plant him back down. Crowd are absolutely deafening. JDS ends up flat on his stomach with Cain controlling him, and the challenger lands more punches. JDS works his way to his feet and manages a clinch, but Cain breaks off and comes in with another combination. JDS is wobbled and backpedalling. Single leg from Cain and he gets JDS down once more to land more punches. Big hammer fists connect to the side of JDS’s head and he can’t get up at all. More punches from Cain as JDS manages to fight back to his feet, but he takes a knee to the body and then a heavy left from the clinch. Another outside trip plants him back down and into half-guard. Elbows from Velasquez and JDS’s face is a mess. Full mount attempt from Cain but JDS reverses, only for Velasquez to go into an armbar attempt! JDS somehow manages to slip his arm out and get on top, but Cain pops back up and nails him with a right cross. JDS manages to defend the takedown this time, but he can’t get Cain off him and the challenger lands more shots from inside the clinch. Hard one-two from Cain as he breaks the clinch for a second. Another big combination follows. JDS tries to fire back but he’s got no snap in his punches. Again he reaches the end of the round, but again it was absolute domination from Cain Velasquez; 10-8 again in my eyes in fact as Junior literally did nothing but defend.

Round Three and Junior is almost unrecognizable facially now. Cain walks right into an uppercut, but it has no effect and he keeps pushing in with combinations. Another uppercut glances for the champion and he lands to the body too, but Cain lands a low single leg and plants him onto the ground by the fence. JDS does a good job of getting up, but Cain stays on him and works him over in the clinch. Low single leg attempt from the challenger, but JDS defends it this time. Junior manages to separate and takes a HUGE breath, but Cain closes the gap right away. Good left inside from Junior and he breaks again. Left to the body follows for the challenger but Cain comes in with a left jab and a big right cross that snaps Dos Santos’ head back. He grabs a clinch, but Cain lands some more shots from inside. Hard left hand inside from Junior but Cain replies with an elbow and drops for a takedown. JDS avoids, but Cain comes back in with a left uppercut. Big shots to the body from Cain and they break. Left to the body from JDS. Another clinch from Cain follows but JDS breaks with a big knee this time. Cain comes right back though and absolutely LEATHERS him with a combo, snapping his head all over the place. JDS has an incredible chin to take this punishment. Body kick from Cain and he continues to push the pace and walk the Brazilian down. Big combo lands inside for the challenger. Junior actually switches position and goes for a takedown, but Cain trips him down with a whizzer. JDS gets back up, but he’s exhausted and can’t stop Cain from clinching again. Brutal combo from Cain ending in a right hook. JDS can barely keep his hands up now. They break with seconds to go and a huge right hand just misses for JDS. Uppercut does land but Cain walks through it. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Velasquez.

Round Four and it’s amazing JDS has made it this far really. Cain comes in with a single leg but can’t get it and JDS clips him with an odd back elbow. Head kick glances for Cain and he keeps on coming. Big right hand into a leg kick from the challenger. JDS is beginning to clip him with some punches now but he’s seemingly got no power. Clinch again from Cain and he lands some short punches but JDS breaks with a left to the body. Cain continues to wade forward and JDS is winging punches from his waist now. Takedown from Cain but JDS pops back up. Knee to the body from Cain, answered by an elbow from JDS. Big right cross from Cain on the break and he goes for a single leg. JDS stuffs it, and manages to reverse position and force Cain into the fence. Haymaker misses from JDS on the break and Cain drops for a low single leg and gets it this time, putting him down in half-guard. JDS turns onto his side to attempt to get up, but he takes some shots for his troubles. Back up and back into the clinch and JDS’s face is absolutely mangled. Body punch into an uppercut from Cain and he has JDS on the run with a pair of hard rights. Back elbow from Junior answers but Cain just leans on him again. This is an incredible performance from Cain Velasquez. They break off with two minutes remaining and Cain lands a stiff jab and continues with the relentless pressure. Junior has the heart of a lion though to be still in this fight. Cain continues to work him over from the clinch, but Junior breaks with a right. Uppercut connects as Cain comes forward, but it seems to have no effect as the challenger clinches again and then drops for a single leg. JDS manages to stuff it well, and lands a left to the body. Left hook from Cain and he clinches to end the round. 10-9 Velasquez.

Round Five and after the first, who would’ve thought it would get this far? Dos Santos is a gutsy fighter for sure. Dude looks absolutely exhausted and spent in his corner though. Pair of jabs from Cain set up a takedown attempt and JDS gets warned for grabbing the fence as he blocks. They end up clinched and Cain drops for a single leg and drags him down. JDS pops back up, and then lands a left to the body, but Cain gets on him again before breaking with a right. Left jab from Cain and Junior is swinging wildly now. Single leg attempt from the challenger but JDS blocks and lands a couple of uppercuts inside. Cain breaks off and eats a big right hand from the champ, who then manages to defend a big takedown attempt. Cain just does not stop coming forward though and he lands with a pair of right hands to set up a clinch. The Brazilian contingent is deafening with the CIGANO chants now as he breaks off. Into the clinch again and this time JDS reverses position and breaks off. Single leg from Cain though and he trips JDS down. Punches from Cain and he ties up an arm and then gets on top in half-guard. Elbows and punches from Velasquez and finally he seems to be slowing down slightly. Junior tries to get to his feet, but gives his back and Cain keeps hold of a rear waistlock when he stands. JDS turns into him in the clinch, and Velasquez continues to pressure him with short punches before dropping for another single leg. Junior blocks it and lands with an uppercut, but he can’t get Cain off him at all. Less than a minute to go and a BIG RIGHT HEAD KICK wobbles Dos Santos badly, and Cain follows with a hard right hook. Dos Santos has a phenomenal chin. Cain continues to smother him with punches from the clinch, and the fight ends there. 10-9 Velasquez for a lopsided 50-43 in my eyes. Unbelievable.

Official scores are 50-45, 50-43 and 50-44 for the NEW UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World, Cain Velasquez.

Well, what can you say? That was perhaps the most dominant performance in a Heavyweight title fight in MMA history. The thing that won the fight for Cain more than anything was the sheer amount of pressure he put on Dos Santos, as he came out and set an insane pace from the off that never allowed JDS to get comfortable for a second, even before he’d been truly hurt. Once the big right hand landed in the first round the fight was realistically over and it was only Dos Santos’ ridiculous chin and sheer heart that kept him in the fight. Cain actually reminded me a lot of Fedor Emelianenko here, particularly in the fight he had in 2005 with Cro Cop, as it was the pace and pressure that Fedor used to put on fighters that caused them to break more than anything else. For me Cain really is like the new Fedor and I think he could surpass the Russian’s legacy in the future if he stays on the same path. Fight admittedly became somewhat repetitive towards the end but I was still in awe of Velasquez and so I certainly didn’t become bored by it at all. One of the most memorable UFC main events of 2012.

-Highlight reel rolls and that’s it for another great year for the UFC.

Final Thoughts….

This is a bit of a tough show to sum up really, as while the card did have a lot of good fights (mainly on the prelims), it was severely let down by two absolute stinkers in Leben/Brunson and Okami/Belcher and really Philippou/Boetsch wasn’t great either, so it took the unbelievable Miller/Lauzon to save the show. Buuuut despite the main card leaving a sour taste for some due to those first three fights, two bad fights and two slow ones (Moraga/Cariaso wasn’t great either) doesn’t make for a bad show, not when you’ve got Miller/Lauzon (high-end FOTYC), Varner/Guillard, Velasquez/JDS, Wineland/Pickett and explosive knockouts from Duffee and Perez on tap. Some more finishes and different card placement would’ve made this one of the best shows of the year, but as it is it’s still worth a look. Thumbs up.

Best Fight: Miller vs. Lauzon
Worst Fight: Brunson vs. Leben

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
For more of my work head to TJR Sports or
The Oratory.
[email protected]

Newman’s Take: UFC on FX 6: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson

-This show was also doubling as the finale for the TUF: The Smashes series, which pitted Team UK against Team Australia and ran alongside the US’s Season 16. Thankfully they didn’t try to sell this one as a PPV as they’d done with UFC 147! Interesting point – despite three of the four finalists ending up as UKers, the series was actually pushed more to the Australian market, and it just turned out that their talent pool isn’t quite there yet. Hopefully it will be in the future because it’d be cool to see the sport continue to grow all over the world. This was a decent enough card on paper actually with some of the TUF cast but also legit contenders like Hector Lombard, Rousimar Palhares and Chad Mendes featuring.

For those reading on the BLOG OF DOOM!~! you can find more of my work on The Oratory and TJR Sports if you want to check it out. With the sleazy shill out of the way…

UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson

12/14/12
Gold Coast, Queensland

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Cody Donovan vs Nick Penner

Canadian Penner had made an unsuccessful UFC debut on the previous Aussie show in March, losing to local favourite Anthony Perosh, so this was his chance to bounce back. Initially pegged to face debutant Eddie Mendez, instead he ended up against another debutant in Donovan, fighting out of the Grudge Team and taking the fight on short notice. Side note but the old WEC ring announcer Joe Martinez is doing this show instead of Bruce Buffer and it’s WEIRD AS HELL although he’s a perfectly decent announcer!

Round One and Penner takes the centre of the cage with Donovan circling on the outside. Takedown attempt by Donovan and he muscles Penner into the fence. Penner quickly reverses position though and they jockey for the dominant position. Crowd are SILENT here. Knee breaks for Donovan. Donovan comes charging in, but Penner counters nicely with a right hook that drops him! Penner pounces looking for the finish, but Donovan looks recovered and quickly gets full guard. Armbar attempt by Donovan but Penner avoids it. Donovan transitions into a triangle though, but Penner postures out and they’re back on their feet. Looks like Penner’s cut under his left eye. Donovan charges in but again Penner counters on him with a hard right. Donovan still doesn’t get the message though, and this time he wades right into a HUGE RIGHT UPPERCUT that folds him. He looks just about done as Penner follows him down into half-guard, but evidently Donovan’s got a solid chin as he manages to tie Penner up to recover. Weird bit of refereeing as Marc Goddard stops the action for, well, lord only knows what, but then lets them continue from the same position. Couple of punches from Penner but a leglock attempt forces him to stand and Donovan joins him. Leg kick from Donovan and he wades into the clinch, but decides to break with a knee. Looks like Penner took a low blow in there somewhere too and the ref calls time. They restart and Donovan shoots for a takedown and gets it this time, dragging Penner down into half-guard. Donovan works to pass but Penner reverses to his feet, and suddenly they trade wildly from close range and it looks like Penner might be rocked. BIG LEFT HOOK from Donovan drops him HARD and he quickly follows up with some punches over the top that knock him silly! Wow.

That was a really fun fight, actually. If it were between two bigger names people would’ve been raving about it I think but as it was two unknowns it literally got no props at all. Well, I’ll give it props here at least. Good comeback win for Donovan too who showed a good chin even if his striking defence looked questionable.

Lightweight Fight: Mike Wilkinson vs Brendan Loughnane

These two UKers had been teammates on the Smashes and seemed to get along well, which usually either makes for a shitty fight or a really awesome one, so I was hoping for the latter! As far as the match-up went it looked pretty even on paper, but bias towards Manchester as opposed to well, wherever Wilkinson is from, made me take Loughnane.

Round One and they press forward with Loughnane landing a couple of early leg kicks. Really nice left inside leg kick connects hard for the Mancunian. Wilkinson finally answers with one of his own. Couple of punches are exchanged and Wilkinson fires off with a fast one-two. Side kick to the chest from Loughnane and he follows with another inside leg kick. Wilkinson is coming up short on a lot of his punches so far. He does manage to glance on a right after a flurry though and then shoots in for a takedown, planting Loughnane on his back in guard. Wilkinson begins to work with some short elbows as Loughnane looks to tie him up. Loughnane begins to land some elbows of his own from his back, but Wilkinson is clearly getting the better offense in now. Good job from Loughnane to suddenly explode to his feet, but Wilkinson keeps him pushed against the cage with some knees to the legs. They break off and Loughnane connects on a hard right hand. Couple more good leg kicks from Loughnane and he stuffs a takedown. Head kick is just about blocked by Wilkinson. Good leg kick again and Brendan follows with a flying knee, but eats a couple of punches on the buzzer. Tight round but despite the takedown I’d go 10-9 Loughnane as he clearly got the better of the stand-up.

Round Two and Loughnane goes right back to the inside leg kick and then avoids a rush from Wilkinson. Right hand connects for Loughnane but he misses a side kick. Takedown attempt is avoided nicely by Loughnane too, but Wilkinson connects on an overhand right and they go into a WILD TRADE that sees Wilkinson land the better shots. He follows by going for the takedown, but Loughnane blocks by landing some elbows to the head while defending the single leg. They break off and Loughnane lands with a nice left uppercut. Looks like Wilkinson is cut over his right eye. Inside leg kicks land for both men. Good jab from Loughnane. Inside leg kick follows. Wilkinson continues to push forward but he’s finding it hard getting inside Loughnane’s reach. Head kick glances for Loughnane. Good right to the body from Wilkinson. One-two follows. Loughnane is sporting a bloody nose now as both men connect on some jabs. Good left from Wilkinson sets up a takedown attempt, but again Loughnane defends it well. Exchange continues and Wilkinson is landing more now because he’s managing to back Loughnane up towards the fence. Left hook to the head and the body land for Loughnane and he follows with a big knee to the body. Wilkinson fires right back though, popping the crowd. Big right hand lands for Loughnane but Wilkinson walks through it and grabs a rear waistlock. Loughnane looks for the Sakuraba kimura, and then he breaks free and lands a flurry to end the round. 10-9 Loughnane.

Round Three and Loughnane’s eye is all busted up now too. They trade off right away with both men landing some big combinations, but Wilkinson takes an eye poke and the ref has to step in. Wilkinson decides he’s fine to continue and they restart, with Loughnane hitting him with a one-two right away. Left hand answers for Wilkinson nicely. Good leg kick and a left hand from Loughnane. Wilkinson shoots for the takedown again and it looks like he’s got it, but Loughnane shows some excellent defense to remain standing. They break free and Wilkinson lands with the overhand right, then ties up for a trip attempt. Loughnane avoids it but takes a knee on the way out. This is a really good fight. Combination connects for Wilkinson and sets up a single leg, but again he can’t get Wilkinson down despite landing with a solid knee to the body. Loughnane switches position and tries for a takedown of his own, landing a knee flush to the face for good measure, but Wilkinson won’t go down. Two minutes to go and Loughnane’s still got Wilkinson against the fence. Short left hook breaks for Wilkinson, but Loughnane follows up by dropping him with a right hand! Wilkinson manages to survive and gets to half-guard, but he takes a hard elbow to the side of the head on his way to escaping to his feet. Wilkinson looks for the takedown again, but Loughnane avoids it and cracks him with a flying knee. Wilkinson answers right back with a combo, and that causes Loughnane to go for the takedown. Good knee from Loughnane but he can’t get Wilkinson off his feet. They break with seconds remaining, and trade off openly until the buzzer sounds. Wild stuff. Closer fight than the score would suggest but I’d call it 30-27 for Brendan Loughnane.

Judges somehow go the other way, and it’s 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Mike Wilkinson. Do not get that at ALL, sorry. I mean it was a close fight, but I thought every round Loughnane did just about enough to take it. Bogus decision in my eyes and it’s sad to see Loughnane get released from his UFC contract due to poor judging. Really good fight however as both men left it all in the Octagon and went for it, and that’s all you can ask for really.

Welterweight Fight: Ben Alloway vs Manny Rodriguez

Weird to see the matches between the TUF cast as UKer vs. UKer and Aussie vs. Aussie, but I guess it landed like that due to Zuffa only keeping the semi-finalists on. These two were the Aussies who had won on the show, and both men had shown pretty decent skills to be fair – Rodriguez hadn’t actually lost as he was eliminated via injury in fact. I was still taking Alloway though just because he seemed like a chill dude on the show.

Big crowd pop for Alloway as he’s actually fighting out of Gold Coast.

Fight begins and immediately Rodriguez shoots on a takedown. Alloway tries to stuff it but Manny manages to get him down into full guard. Triangle attempt is avoided and Rodriguez works into half-guard. Alloway looks to use the fence to stand, but he winds up giving his back in the process and Rodriguez uses a rear waistlock to bring him back down. Alloway gets to half-guard but Rodriguez works to pass and eventually works into side mount before taking the back with one hook. Second hook appears to be in too and Rodriguez looks for the rear naked choke, but Alloway defends it well. Short punches land for Rodriguez to soften him up, but he loses a hook and it allows Benny to stand. Rodriguez drags him back down with the rear waistlock, but loses the hooks in a scramble and it allows Alloway to escape up to his feet in the clinch. Good pop for that. Benny turns the position around and lands with a knee, then separates. Good trade sees Alloway connect on a left hook and a leg kick. Another left hook lands for Benny and then a kick lands low, but as Rodriguez goes down the ref steps in and waves off the fight! Crowd are in shock as he explains to Rodriguez that he didn’t see the low blow so he’s called the fight off….but then after some discussion with some suit at cageside he allows it to go on. Okay then. They restart and both men come out swinging. Left hook lands for Rodriguez. Body kick answers for Alloway and then he KNOCKS RODRIGUEZ SILLY WITH A FRONT KICK TO THE FACE!~!

Holy s---. That was one of the best knockouts of 2012. Looked like Rodriguez was ducking in for a takedown and just leaned right into it; totally devastating finish for Benny Alloway and an impressive showing for him too as he weathered a tricky storm to come through for the win. I can see him settling into a gatekeeper position in the UFC for a while yet which is good for him as he seems like a great guy. Really fun fight between the two Aussies and the ending should make highlight reels for years to come.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Pierce vs Seth Baczynski

I don’t like Pierce’s style, but you could make an argument that he’s the most underrated 170lber in the world, when you consider he’s only lost in the UFC to Fitch, Hendricks and Koscheck and all were close decisions. Baczynski is another guy who you could say is underrated though as he’d come back to the UFC after a drop to 170lbs and had reeled off six wins in a row there, including four in the UFC and one outside over top prospect Alex Garcia. So definitely an interesting fight on paper even if Pierce’s style would likely make it a bit dull to actually watch.

Round One and it looks like Baczynski has quite a large size advantage. It looks like he wants to stay on the outside, but Pierce wastes no time in closing the distance and he hits a double leg to guard. Baczynski immediately starts to box the ears from his back, and uses his posture to prevent Pierce from doing much from the top. Pierce moves him towards the fence surprisingly, and that allows Seth to turn on his side to attempt to stand, but Pierce keeps him pushed against the fence. Baczynski looks to break free but Pierce drops for the takedown and drags him right back down. Seth works back up again and we’re back to the clinch. They break free and Seth tries to throw some combinations, but comes up a little short. Big head kick misses for him. Pierce looks to close the distance and catches him with a left hook, but Seth avoids the clinch. Body kick from Baczynski is caught and Pierce follows with the takedown. He begins to punch the legs as Seth looks to stand back up, and Pierce also traps the leg to prevent him escaping. Couple of solid hammer fists land to the head for Baczynski but he seems stuck. Big slam from Pierce plants him firmly on his back in guard. Elbows land for Seth from his back, but he also takes some short ones to the grill from Pierce at the same time. Looks like his right eye might be a bit marked up too. Pierce ends the round on top and takes it on my scorecard quite clearly; 10-9.

Round Two and Baczynski pushes forward with some combinations, but Pierce grabs a single leg and manages to hit another slam into half-guard. He again triangles one of the legs to prevent Seth from standing, and begins to land some short punches from the top as Baczynski tries to fire back. Seth manages to stand, but Pierce stays right on him and refuses to let up. Good job from Baczynski to get some separation and he lands a solid right hand and then just misses a flying knee. Pierce catches another body kick and goes for the single, but Baczynski grabs a guillotine which forces Pierce to break off. Front kick lands to the body for Seth. Right hand connects for Pierce though and he lands another takedown. Good job from Baczynski to stand right away but Pierce keeps him pressed into the cage. Short elbows land for Seth in the clinch and he manages to reverse position. He breaks off and throws a combo, but Pierce answers right back with a right hand. Big right hook glances for Baczynski. Pierce wades into the clinch though and hurts him with some uppercuts, then follows with a left that has Seth wobbled. He manages to clinch to land a knee and a nice overhand elbow, but misses on a flying knee and he ends up on his back. Pierce drops down into the guard and avoids a triangle attempt to work into half-guard. Elbows from Pierce and the round ends there. Another round in the books for Mike Pierce although it was closer this time.

Round Three and Pierce swings his way into the clinch, although he takes a knee coming in. Single leg attempt from Pierce but Seth manages to defend it and break free. Head kick glances for Baczynski and he follows with a knee and a series of jabs. Good knee to the head from Seth and he follows with a shot to the body. He’s really swinging now. Pair of knees have Pierce covering up and his face looks in a bad way too. Seth keeps coming with combinations, and lands a good knee to the body and a pair of hooks. Pierce has a solid chin as some of these have landed flush. Seth is backing Pierce up at least. Good knee to the body, but Pierce manages to clinch. Baczynski breaks free, but Pierce hits a single leg and lands in guard. Baczynski immediately starts to hit him in the ears again, but Pierce seems content to grind away with short elbows and punches from the top anyway. Action slows down with a minute to go so the ref calls a restart, but Pierce grabs Seth before he can land any strikes and drives him into the fence. Takedown follows and Baczynski ends up in full guard. Ground and pound for Pierce and the fight ends soon after. Close round that you could perhaps argue for Baczynski, but either way it’s Pierce’s fight.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Mike Pierce. Not the most entertaining fight to watch as it was your typical Mike Pierce fight, filled to the brim with clinching and not much going on when the fight hit the ground, but eh, it’s effective I guess. Still, I don’t see much room for complaint when he isn’t on the main card when he’s fighting like this.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Joey Beltran vs Igor Pokrajac

This was Beltran’s second run at 205lbs after a July loss to James Te Huna, and with a questionable UFC record at best he was dying for a win. Pokrajac meanwhile had been on a solid run before being armbarred by Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 152, so this was a potentially do or die situation for him, too. I was just hoping for an exciting fight personally.

First round and they exchange wild punches right away before Beltran uses a whizzer to force Pokrajac into the fence. Beltran does some really good work from the clinch, landing tons of punches to the body as well as some short uppercuts too. Knees land as well for Beltran as Pokrajac doesn’t seem to have much of an answer. Wild combination from Beltran as he shows some surprisingly fast hand speed, and then he drops for a double leg, but Pokrajac blocks it. Another good combination lands for Beltran from close range. Beltran follows with another combo and he isn’t giving Pokrajac any room to breathe at all here. Not literally of course otherwise the fight would be done. Really good shots to the body from Beltran and he follows with some big uppercuts, but suddenly a right hand from Pokrajac stuns him and now HE comes alive, trying to take the back before landing a knee. He winds up forcing Beltran back into the fence, landing some knees to the body, but Beltran fires back with uppercuts and then they trade on the buzzer. 10-9 Beltran. Fun round.

Second round and Beltran comes out swinging but walks into an early counter. Good leg kick lands for Pokrajac and then they trade for a moment. Combo from Pokrajac sets up another CRAZY EXCHANGE and Pokrajac gets the better of it this time before going for a takedown. Beltran stuffs it though and they end up clinched. Good elbow inside from Pokrajac. Beltran turns him around though and he begins to hammer the body again. Beltran’s clinch work has been excellent in this fight. Action slows down for a while before Beltran lands a punch to the groin of Pokrajac. Ref calls time as it was a blatant shot and allows Pokrajac to recover. They restart with about a minute to go and Pokrajac lands some solid counters to Beltran’s punches, but the Mexecutioner comes back with a great combo and then REALLY opens up with a flurry ending with a series of knees to the body. Beltran is outstriking Pokrajac here. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Beltran.

Third round and Pokrajac cracks Beltran early on with a one-two. Into the clinch again but Beltran quickly forces Pokrajac back into the fence after reversing position. Pokrajac returns the favour and they continue to muscle for position. Beltran uses the left underhook to reverse once more but can’t do much with it and they separate. Good left counter lands for Beltran and Pokrajac taunts him by dropping his hands! He begins to land with some heavy right hands to back Beltran up, but Beltran fires right back with some punches of his own that land flush and snap Igor’s head back. These guys have ridiculous chins. Pokrajac forces him back into the fence again but they separate quickly. Head kick misses for Pokrajac and he walks into a left hand. Beltran forces him back into the fence, and they muscle for position while exchanging some short blows. Pokrajac breaks for a moment but Beltran stays on him like glue and continues to work. Front headlock from Beltran and he uses it to land some hard knees, before Igor breaks to get back to a regular clinch. They break with seconds to go and trade some more bombs, and the fight ends there. Got to go with Joey Beltran.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Joey Beltran in what was probably his most impressive UFC showing to date. Of course the lustre came off when he got busted for steroids in the post-fight drug test, which always sucks. Fight was a fun if sloppy brawl.

Featherweight Fight: Chad Mendes vs Yaotzin Meza

This would initially have seen the consensus #2 145lber Mendes taking on possibly the top prospect in the division in Hacran Dias, but the Brazilian picked up an injury late on and was replaced by the unknown Meza, apparently a training partner of Lightweight champ Benson Henderson. Obvious pick here was Mendes as this looked like a squash to be realistic.

First round begins and Mendes opens with a low leg kick as Meza circles around. A second leg kick lands and Meza looks a little tentative. Leg kick glances for Meza. Overhand right narrowly misses for Mendes and it’s clear that Meza is keeping his chin way too high. Leg kick lands for Mendes. Wild left hook misses for Meza. Mendes connects on a left to the body and again just about misses an overhand right. He keeps pushing forward though and a third attempt at the overhand right LANDS WITH AUTHORITY and Meza goes DOWN AND OUT. That was a seriously nasty shot.

Well, I said I was expecting a squash and that’s what happened, but I mean, credit where it’s due, in his WEC days Mendes might’ve gone to decision with a guy like Meza but now he’s crushing him in like a minute with strikes. Dude looks better all the time and I can definitely see him working his way back up to another shot at Jose Aldo if he continues like this.

Middleweight Fight: Hector Lombard vs Rousimar Palhares

This to me was the real main event of the show – two of the highest regarded (as well as the most ludicrously muscled) 185lbers in the world facing off with the winner likely moving on into the title picture despite both men suffering disappointing losses in their previous fights. Although I’m a huge fan of Toquinho’s, I was actually picking Lombard here as his hard-hitting style complete with great takedown defense sounded like a bad match for the Brazilian leglock king.

Round One and Lombard pushes forward right away, but Toquinho lands a huge leg kick on him early. Lombard keeps coming forward and avoids an attempt at the clinch. Good leg kick again from Palhares. Big right hook misses for Lombard. Another leg kick lands for Toquinho and he almost catches Hector coming in with a knee too. Lombard keeps stalking forward though and this time a right hand counter to the leg kick drops the Brazilian. Palhares gets back up, and he seems fine. Leg kick from Toquinho but Lombard catches him with a body kick and a left hook. Front kick from Toquinho but Lombard lands the left again and the Brazilian looks a little wobbled. Toquinho backs up, but a BIG FLURRY from Lombard sends him crashing down! Jesus, I didn’t even catch which exact shot put him down there. Big shots land for Lombard as Palhares gets to guard and clings on for dear life, which is a surprising sight to see. Lombard decides to stand back up, and Palhares still looks a bit foggy. Right hand wobbles him again and then another flurry ending with the left hand sends him down once more, and this time some punches on the ground KNOCK HIM UNCONSCIOUS.

Lombard looked AWESOME there although the match-up, as I mentioned earlier, definitely favoured him. Still, this was the Hector Lombard everyone expected to see at UFC 149 and if he’d done this to Tim Boetsch he would’ve been looking at a title shot and some serious money. But hey, hindsight and all. In an unfortunate note, not only did Toquinho get KOd badly here but he also tested positive for ‘elevated testosterone levels’ in the post-fight drug test and he’s been under suspension since. Damnit I think he just has naturally high testosterone! Anyway, this was an unbelievably explosive KO to watch.

The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes: Lightweight Finals: Norman Parke vs colin Fletcher

Both of these two fighters came from Team UK, although they’re technically from different countries as Parke is from Northern Ireland. Parke had made his way to the finals by using a strong wrestling game with good ground-and-pound, but ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher was coming in more as the favourite as he’d used his long reach and good kickboxing – as well as a wily ground game – to get to this point, with his most impressive showing being a weird sub of Richie Vaculik with a keylock from the back (!). My pick was Fletcher based on him seeming to have the most potential. He comes out here wearing a creepy clown mask – dude is one of the weirdest looking fighters in UFC history for sure and really deserves the Freakshow nickname.

Round One and Fletcher stays on the outside, but Parke uses a left hook to close the distance and grabs a clinch. Fletcher tries to set up for a big knee, but he can’t get it and Parke forces him into the fence. Takedown attempt from Parke and he gets Freakshow onto his back, but Fletcher immediately pops back up. Parke stays on him and looks to get him back down, but Fletcher gets underhooks to block it. Nice takedown from Parke and he lands on top in half-guard. Fletcher tries to scramble free, but Parke keeps him down and looks to advance position. Looks like Freakshow’s going for a kimura on the left arm. He transitions from that into a sort-of armbar attempt, but gives up on it due to being in half-guard basically. Parke remains on top and keeps trying to pass, but he isn’t really doing much in the way of damage. With two minutes to go he opens up with a couple of hard, short elbows. Into side mount and then north/south for Parke, but Fletcher looks to spin out. Parke’s top control is really good though as he prevents that, then traps an arm between his legs to enable him to drop some elbows. Scramble by Fletcher and he almost gives his back, but finds himself on top in side mount when Parke slips. Round ends with a few strikes from Fletcher. 10-9 Parke.

Round Two and Fletcher opens with a series of good leg kicks, but Parke circles out of distance and then goes for a knee-tap takedown. Fletcher blocks it but decides to stay in the clinch to look for knees, and that allows Parke to work for a trip and get him down again. Side mount for Parke but Fletcher rolls for a leglock. Good job by Parke to avoid it and he’s back into side mount. He takes north/south again and it looks like he might be setting up for a kimura, but Fletcher turns into him to avoid. Guillotine attempt from Parke and he gets on top, but Fletcher gets half-guard to avoid. Parke lets go and passes into full mount, and then he takes the back after dropping a couple of elbows. Looks like he might have a body triangle for good measure. Rear naked choke looks locked up, but Fletcher hits a beautiful escape and gets to his feet. Combination connects for Fletcher and he’s landing some nice leg kicks, but Parke manages to get in with a nice left hand too. Big knee misses for Freakshow. One minute to go and they exchange leg kicks. Good combination connects for Parke. Fletcher really shouldn’t be letting him get inside the reach. One-two lands again for Parke. Takedown follows and that’s the round. 10-9 Parke.

Round Three and they hug before beginning. Fletcher comes out with a leg kick but almost eats a big left hook. Wild trade sees Parke land a hard one-two. Fletcher really pushes forward with some leg kicks, but he’s still letting Parke get inside and the Irishman connects with a left hand. Nice left uppercut lands for Parke too. Spinning backfist misses for Fletcher and he slips to the ground for a second then bounces right back up. Good left hand by Parke again. Fletcher just looks gunshy for some reason. Combo from Fletcher but Parke counters with a sharp one-two. Left hand connects flush for Parke but Fletcher takes it. Combination lands again for Fletcher but Parke seems unfazed. Left uppercut connects for Parke as Fletcher steps in. Elbow lands for Fletcher but he eats a hard body shot for his efforts. Good combo from Freakshow, left to the body and right to the head. Fletcher really turns it on with some jabs and another combo and the crowd are way into this now. Good knee from Freakshow coming forward. He might be running out of time though as there’s only about a minute to go. Right uppercut glances for Parke. Spinning backfist is blocked by the Irishman. Body kick from Fletcher. Big left hand follows but Parke hits a takedown and then drags him back to the ground when he escapes to his feet. Fletcher tries to reverse, but gives his back instead and that might’ve sealed the deal for Parke. Fletcher manages to stand and turn into him, but the fight ends shortly after. 10-9 Fletcher but I think it’s Parke’s decision.

Judges score it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 all for Stormin’ Norman Parke. Definitely the right decision based on two really dominant opening rounds and really even though Fletcher did better in the third round he never had Parke in trouble and the Irishman landed almost as many good shots himself. This fight surprised me as I never expected Parke to be able to stamp his ground game on Freakshow like that but he did it pretty comfortably, and even on the feet Fletcher seemed a bit gunshy and never really opened up or used his reach how you’d expect. Good showing from Parke though and he’s young enough to carve out a niche for himself in the UFC for a while yet.

Welterweight Fight: Robert Whittaker vs Brad Scott

Lone Australian finalist Whittaker had probably been the most impressive of anyone on the cast, as he’d viciously finished both of his opponents en route to the final, showing not just KO power, but more importantly an absolute killer instinct. He was my pick to win this fight despite Brit Scott having come out on top in the best fight of the whole season – his semi-final war with Ben Alloway.

First round begins and Scott pushes forward with some jabs and a leg kick as Whitaker lunges in a couple of times with a big left hook. Scott comes up short with some punches before clinching and forcing Whittaker into the fence. They muscle for position and exchange some short strikes and some knees from the clinch, before Whittaker manages to break free. Good left hook coming forward from Whittaker and he follows with a right to the body. Counter left hand connects for the Aussie too. Scott pushes forward but almost walks into a big combo. Head kick just misses for Whittaker. Good jab by Scott, but Whittaker fires back with a leg kick. Right hand misses for Whittaker and Scott forces him into the fence, but the Aussie breaks free quickly. Left-right combo from Scott but he leaves himself too open and Whittaker counters with a BIG COMBO that ends in a left that sends the Brit to the canvas! Whittaker charges in looking for the finish, and he drops some bombs but Scott manages to survive and gets his back to the fence to stand, taking a big knee along the way. Scott comes back with a combo of his own and backs Whittaker up a bit now, but he seems a little wobbled still. Left high kick connects for Whittaker but Scott manages to get to the clinch. Whittaker breaks free, and then lands a big combination showing incredible hand speed to counter Scott coming forward. Good knee answers back for Scott but Whittaker catches him again to end the round. 10-9 Whittaker mainly for the knockdown.

Second round and Whittaker lands an early right hook, but Scott fires back with a combo and then uses a flurry to back Whittaker into the cage. Takedown attempt is blocked though and the Aussie breaks free. Good body kick from Scott. Another combo from Whittaker ends with the right and stuns Scott, but he shows a good chin and seems fine. Nice jab from the Brit. Kick goes low and connects with Scott’s groin and the ref has to call time. They restart and Scott throws a pair of left hooks, then dodges a big combo from the Aussie. Big head kick misses for Whittaker and Scott grabs a plum clinch to land some knees, then manages to take the back and trip the Aussie down. He’s got the back with no hooks. One hook is in for the Brit and he works for the other while softening Whittaker up with some punches to the side of the head. Whittaker manages to shake the hook off, but he’s taking some pretty heavy blows here. Short knees land to the body as well but it doesn’t look like Scott’s going for the hooks again. Finally though he manages to slip them in and it looks like he’s working for the choke. Whittaker tries desperately to scramble out and almost does, but Scott’s got some good control. He loses a hook though and that allows the Aussie to explode right to his feet. Scott stays clinched though and lands a solid uppercut while pushing Whittaker into the fence. They break off and Scott lands a combo that Whittaker answers with a left hook. Into the clinch again and Scott lands a couple of knees, but Whittaker breaks with an uppercut. Head kick glances for Whittaker and Scott fires back with an uppercut on the buzzer. 10-9 Scott to even things up and this is anyone’s fight.

Third and final round and Whittaker clips him with a glancing left hook right away. Scott fires back with a good left of his own and they’re exchanging punches right in the center of the cage. Flurry from Whittaker backs Scott up again but this time he covers up and doesn’t seem to be hurt by it. Good left hand from Whittaker on the counter and that does slow Scott down. Stiff jab fires back for Scott. He looks for the clinch but Whittaker shrugs him right off. Good body kick follows. Stiff jab lands for Scott and he follows with a right hook that lands cleanly. Whittaker still seems to be landing the better shots in this round though and he backs Scott up with punches, but the Brit counters with a hard left hook that stops him in his tracks for a second. Both men keep on trading but Whittaker is stepping in with some nice elbow strikes now too. Body kick connects for Scott but he eats a big left counter from Whittaker. Exchange continues and they’re almost going shot-for-shot here. Big combo into a head kick for Whittaker that backs Scott up, and he follows with another combo. He’s just about beginning to pull away now. One minute to go though and Scott is still swinging back. Beautiful elbow strike into a body kick land for Whittaker though and Scott looks bloodied up. Big flurry from Whittaker backs the Brit up and looks to have him stunned, but Scott is tough as hell and stays in the fight. MASSIVE elbow from Whittaker connects and the fight ends with both men swinging wild. Awesome round. I’ve got it 10-9 Whittaker for a 29-28 overall.

Judges all agree with me and it’s 29-28 all round for Robert Whittaker to take the Smashes tournament. This was a hell of a fight in the end; well matched, with both men getting in a fair amount of shots and really until Whittaker started to pull away in the last minute of the fight it was anyone’s fight. These guys threw caution to the wind and went for it, and it made for an excellent fight. And at 21 (Whittaker) and 23 (Scott) I think both men probably have a bright future ahead of them in the UFC, too.

Lightweight Fight: George Sotiropoulos vs Ross Pearson

This was a rivalry that didn’t really ignite until the Smashes tapings, as while they didn’t seem to start off on bad terms, a lot of things happened during the reality show that really made for a mutual dislike, particularly on the part of Pearson, who seemed to be an easy-going guy who was riled up pretty badly by Sotiropoulos. The word was that George had been tricky to work with, and – although it’s never been mentioned by the UFC – he’d tried to pick a fight with some of Pearson’s coaching staff and had been knocked out by one of them in retribution. Only rumours of course! Anyway, I was picking Pearson to come out with the win, not only because he’s a Brit but because the match seemed to favour him as George had shown a very questionable chin in his last few fights.

Fight begins and they circle with Pearson slipping a punch from George and landing a left hand early on. Pearson’s boxing is looking slick here even in the opening minute. Inside leg kick lands for Pearson. Sotiropoulos is firing out some jabs but not really landing. Good counter right from Pearson buckles George’s legs badly and he’s on ROLLER SKATES!~! Pearson follows up with some big punches as Sotiropoulos slides around like a drunk on ice, but somehow remains standing, mainly by trying to grab the Brit. Good knee to the body from Pearson but George manages to force him into the cage, going desperately for a takedown. Pearson stuffs it as Florian on commentary makes reference to the FISH DANCE!~! Ross breaks off and Sotiropoulos still looks wobbly. Overhand right lands hard for Pearson and he follows with a head kick. George is still really shaky. He manages to hang in there though as Pearson slows up a little. He slips a jab beautifully though and lands a left hand. Leg kick drops George but Pearson forces him back to his feet. Another straight left sets up a big right hook for the Brit and again Sotiropoulos looks wobbled. He uses a front kick to the chest to keep distance though and follows with his first decent shot of the night in an uppercut. Left hook connects for Pearson and he follows with a left to the body. Single leg attempt from Sotiropoulos and he switches to a double, managing to get Pearson down. Pearson manages to get up, but he messes up in the process and George hops onto the back with both hooks! Crowd are way into this now. Pearson stands with George on his back and the Aussie desperately looks to synch in the rear naked choke, but he can’t lock it up and Ross DIVES FORWARD TO SHAKE HIM OFF! Awesome. Round ends with George on top. 10-9 Pearson for the knockdown, but George was certainly fighting back at the end. Excellent round.

Into the 2nd and Pearson opens with a straight left and then avoids a Sotiropoulos combo. George just looks too slow on his feet to catch the Brit standing here. Good counter to the body from Ross. Another one connects to the same spot. Pearson is really pressing forward here. Decent jab lands for Sotiropoulos though. Action slows down a lot but the left to the body connects for Pearson again. Jabs land for both men. Brief clinch is broken by George and he snaps Pearson’s head back with a jab. Pearson seems to be just walking straight forward now which is allowing Sotiropoulos to land on him finally. Head kick glances for the Aussie. Beautiful right to the body from Pearson and he follows with a straight left. Flurry from Sotiropoulos returns fire, but he gets dropped HARD by a left hook. He gets back up but again he looks wobbly as hell. Takedown attempt is stuffed by the Brit who lands a knee for good measure. Pearson is back to slipping the punches now and countering well as he was early on. Left hook connects again for the Brit. Leg kick from Pearson but he slips and it allows George to rush him with punches and go for the takedown. Pearson stuffs it and lands a knee to the body, then breaks with an elbow before the round ends. 10-9 Pearson.

Third round and Pearson CRACKS HIM WITH A BRUTAL COUNTER LEFT HOOK! Sotiropoulos stumbles for a second and then goes crashing down face-first, and Ross pounces looking for the finish. George manages to kick him away and stand, but Pearson quickly closes him down again and forces him to dive for the takedown. Pearson stuffs it and stands, then nails George to the body with a hard right hook. Straight left follows and the Aussie is on rubber legs. Pair of hard jabs follow as Pearson walks him down, and then a big right hook FOLDS HIM UP. This time he goes down and covers up and one shot does enough to force the ref to step in.

Fun fight in the end as Sotiropoulos showed heart at least, but realistically even from the first minute he was wildly outgunned by Pearson standing, as the Brit’s movement and combinations were light years beyond Sotiropoulos’ more simple boxing game and he just couldn’t get Ross to the ground enough times to really capitalise on his grappling advantage. Big win for Pearson to return to 155lbs with and he looked much more healthy and dynamic at that weight than he did at 145lbs, so he’s certainly best staying there. Unhappy ending for the Australian fans but as a Brit this was awesome to watch!

-Aaaand we cut there with no highlight reel or wrap-up segment. Weird for an official DVD to do that but whatever, doesn’t especially matter.

Final Thoughts….

This was a far better show than I remembered, actually. Sure, there was nothing earth-shattering on the card and realistically the only fight to affect a title picture was Lombard vs. Palhares, but none of the fights truly sucked (even Pierce/Baczynski was perfectly watchable MMA) and everyone on the card from the opening fight to the main event came to throw down and really went for it in their fight. And really, what else can you ask for? Thumbs up for this one.

Best Fight: Whittaker vs. Scott
Worst Fight: Pierce vs. Baczynski

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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