I haven’t been able to do separate reviews of every event through time restrictions. So where a load of events come together I plan to just do a wrap up to cover them all. And what a couple of weeks it has been! There have been some big goings on in the world of MMA and the hardest part for me has to be where to start!
UFC 137 headlined with Penn Vs. Diaz. This fight was a replacement for the originally tabled GSP Vs. Condit, but GSP pulled out through injury. The fight itself was almost a carbon copy of all of Diaz’s recent bouts and his relentless pace was evidenced through continual flurries and body shots against the cage. Penn looked lacklustre and he couldn’t seem to get his head into the fight. Diaz won a dominant decision and Penn made a brief emotional speech stating he was retiring in the post-fight interview with Rogan.
Penn, for me, is a fighting genius with amazing credentials. I think that he now struggles to motivate himself to fight, and his training is therefore not as demanding as it should be. Although he is fighting up a category, he comes in looking soft, and anyone who is serious about fighting up usually fills that weight with usable muscle. He has always stated that he dislikes strength training and I think this has left him trailing behind in the power stakes. To be a successful fighter now, you have to have the whole package, and strength and conditioning is a vital part of today’s MMA climate. It certainly doesn’t help that he was fighting a cardio machine in the form of Diaz, but he knew that already coming into the fight. He should have been properly prepared.
He has admitted after the fight that his fight prep was not as good as it should have been and that his heart is not in fighting at the moment. He has taken some much needed time off to be with his family, but he’ll be back. It will be interesting to see how and to who, he returns. Will it be the old Penn, hungry and technically amazing, or will it be a high quality journeyman who is very difficult to finish? Only time will tell.
Other fights of note on that card were Cerrone Vs. Siver, with Cerrone putting on another very impressive display of striking against another impressive striker. He was surgical, and destroyed Siver. Great things await Cerrone, he’s a certain contender. Vera took a decision win over Marshall in his return bout, Kongo took a comfortable decision win against Mitrione, and ‘Big Country’ Nelson took a TKO victory over Cro Cop in the third round of their bout.
GSP has stated that he wants to fight Diaz, so UFC 143 in Vegas has that fight tentatively scheduled, along with Condit Vs. Koscheck. I have faith in GSP, but it will be a great fight and one that has been on the cards for over a year. Diaz’s body shots and striking style are something that GSP hasn’t had to deal with before, but a strong wrestling show (Diaz Kryptonite) from GSP should see him safely through it.
UFC 138 featured Munoz and Leben and was held in Birmingham. It was good to see a host of British fighters put on such a good show, and there were several that really stood out. The headline bout was a war as you would expect, with Leben withstanding some serious shots whilst still ploughing forward. Munoz looked technically impressive, with destructive GnP reminiscent of his training partner Urijah Faber. Leben looked overpowered and took a cut that eventually ended the bout at the end of the second when his corner threw the towel in.
The real stand outs came from the prelims and undercard. Terry Etim from Team Kaobon in Liverpool made his much anticipated return and put in a very impressive display that saw him take a decisive victory in only 17 seconds with a trademark guillotine. He faces Edson Barboza – an undefeated striker – at UFC 142 in Brazil. Che Mills also looked dangerous. His pin point striking finished Chris Cope in only 40 seconds and earned him a knockout of the night bonus for his efforts. The real star for me though, was John Maguire. He fights out of Tsunami gym and is originally from traveller background. He came in with a 16-3 record and put on a grappling clinic, winning by decision against Justin Edwards. There was a lot of hype surrounding him after the fight as it was thought he showed a really well rounded skill set from clinch to floor. Only time will tell as they line up future fights for him.
This mini review wouldn’t be complete if I did not mention Pickett Vs Barao. Pickett did a very ‘English’ walk in with Chas and Dave playing for his music, whilst he read a newspaper with a set of braces and a trilby. It was a brilliant little twist and really got the crowd going. Now normally Pickett is as game as they come, but Barao shut him down everywhere and choked him out via RNC after a barrage of accurate and powerful striking. Barao is riding a 27 bout win streak (yes that’s right, 27!) and he has surely got to be in line for a title shot soon against Cruz. He’s the number one training partner for Aldo, and that says a lot.
All in all it was a brilliant card that aired for free. There was little to no hype around the fights, but the fighters pulled through and every single UK fighter came to mix it up. After the card there was acclaim across the forums and web for the fights, and it just proves that America is not the only place where MMA is growing.
The first ever live FOX card featured a main bout of Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez, with many supporting bouts aired on Facebook. This was a momentous evening for MMA, and ratings peaked around the 8.8 million mark for the fight. The fight lasted a grand total 1 minute and 4 seconds, as Velasquez took a big fight hand to the left hand side of his face/neck and immediately dropped. The ref stopped the fight shortly after.
There has been much debate as to what was thought of the fact that the biggest platform for MMA ever showcased an extremely short fight, but the fact remains that ‘joe-public’ always want to see explosive knock outs. In this respect, it delivered big. Dana has done so much for MMA, and he has to be given credit for launching the promotion into the average person’s living room, instead of perpetuating pay-per-view events. He couldn’t control the fight, and has come under criticism for the length of the fight once it had aired. I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about; with Sonnen/Munoz paired up for the next bout on the 28th of January they have guaranteed fireworks! I also agree with Dana when he has said that he’s not sure the world is ready for a Shogun/Hendo war.
An unsung hero on this card, was the Guida Vs. Henderson bout. It showcased Henderson’s skills against an accomplished wrestler in Guida. I think Henderson has all the skills to beat Edgar, and he isn’t a bully like Maynard. He will fight technically, and I can see him taking the belt on February the 26th at UFC 144. Definitely one to watch.
UFC 139’s main bout was Dan Henderson Vs. Mauricio Rua. There was much talk of the Pride old guard reuniting for this fight, with both having had significant Pride legacies. Strangely, the battle that raged during the bout was very ‘Pride-esque’ with it travelling back and forth until the final round where Rua dominated. Rua took mount four times in the 5th round and put some nasty GnP to good effect despite some serious fatigue. Henderson had won the first three rounds however, and despite the one sided beating in the final round, he won the decision.
Neither fighter could be criticised for not going for the finish, but there was plenty of debate about who was the eventual victor. Rua really did win the ‘fight.’ He hung in through the initial beating and came through to dominate an exhausted Henderson. Many commentators have since said that the last round was a 10-8 round, which would make the fight a draw; the first three rounds going to Henderson, the last two to Rua with a 10-8 round in the fifth. Henderson however won the ‘decision’ and this has eventual re-match written all over it.
The other bout of note was Wanderlei Silva Vs. Cung Lee. I thought this was a great fight, and a good example of the clash of styles really increasing the entertainment value. It’s also good to see high level Tae Kwon Do in the cage, and Cung really does show the efficacy that good kicking can bring (a lot like Makdessi). Eventually he was destroyed by very patient Silva knees. There was none of the ‘blitz with hitz’ from Wanderlei this time round, and he showed what a good fighter he can be. UFC 139 certainly was return of the Pride faithful.
Other fights on the card saw Faber destroy Bowles who was on an impressive win streak. He will face Cruz again as it was a number 1 contender bout. Kampmann eked out a very solid decision against the unimpressive Rick Story, and Bonnar put in an impressive show of wrestling a jiu jitsu to subdue Kingsbury. If you haven’t watched a card for a while, I highly recommend this one. Some great fights, with a good tempo, and some fitting controversy.
Other MMA News
On the same night as Rua Vs. Henderson, another epic war was taking place on Bellator. Eddie Alvarez was fighting Mike Chandler for the lightweight title. Alvarez was on a 7 fight win streak and Chandler was on a 8 fight win streak prior to meeting up. Bellator use a slightly different set up to the UFC, and use tournaments to decide the number one contender. An 8 man selection tournament airs with a title shot for the winner. Chandler had put on impressive displays previously and had been a Div 1 wrestler so he was a tough opponent for Alvarez.
The fight was another forwards and back affair with blood pouring from cuts on both opponents. Alvarez looked out of sorts in the first round and got pinned with good wrestling and pounded by Chandler’s striking. In the second and third rounds Alvarez came to life, the third round being a bad round for Chandler who got cut up and looked done. Chandler showed character however and came out with heart in the fourth round, taking a relatively convincing win via RNC at around the 3 minute mark. No doubt Alvarez will want a re-match, the only question is course how that comes about. Will Bjorn Rebney enforce the tournament structure and make him earn it, or will he allow the immediate rematch because the fight was close…
Hector Lombard continued his 19 fight win streak with a further win against Trevor Prangley in the 2nd round. He is an ex judo Olympian and does have some decent wins on his record. He is on the Bellator books though, and as a champ he is subject to the champion’s clause that makes it impossible to leave the promotion. It is yet to be seen whether he becomes coveted by the UFC, although Alvarez has never been openly chased by them. I think the reason for this is that the UFC middleweight and lightweight divisions are stacked anyway, all the legal drama that would come with a signing of Lombard or Alvarez probably wasn’t worth the trouble to throw another top 10 fighter into the mix. Although I rate both fighters, I don’t think either are UFC champ material.
The last fight I want to mention is the Rousey Vs Budd fight on Strikeforce Challengers. The promotion continues to flounder with the latest event hitting a season low for ratings, but Rousey is certainly on the up, and she wanted to add to her arm trophy cabinet. Rousey had won all of her previous three pro bouts by armbar within the first minute of the first round. She’s another judo ex Olympian and genuinely looks incredibly impressive. Not only did she add another submission in the first minute of the first round, but she clearly broke Budd’s arm. Budd, looked to fake tap initially, so Rousey flipped her over and then reversed her, pushing her hips through and completed an arm breaking submission that will be the stuff of highlight reels for years to come. Check it out, the fight is short, but sweet.
Strikeforce 57 airs on December 17th. The card is headlined by Melendez Vs. Masvidal. I have Melendez in this one. He’s a talented fighter and will definitely end up fighting in the UFC. Also confirmed on that card are Cyborg (Santos) and KJ Noons so the card looks to be entertaining. Jardine is also a possible to fight but as of yet the card is still unconfimed.
UFC 140 airs on December the 10th and the main fight is Jones Vs. Machida. I can’t wait for this fight. I am a massive fans of both fighters because they both bring something different to the cage. I would like to say that Machida unlocks the Jones puzzle and handles his distance, but unfortunately I don’t think this will be the case and Machida will be picked to bit and then wrestled into a GnP nightmare as all other opponents have before him.
Both of the Nog brothers fight on this card too, so there will be some excellent MMA guard work on show. They are up against Mir and Ortiz so essentially it’s stacked with top names. I’m also looking forward to the enigmatic Ebersole and the slug fest that promises to light the card up between Hominick and the Korean Zombie. Unfortunately, Hominick is far more clinical than his last two opponents and I think this will be a quick one.
I won’t say too much about UFC 141, but it airs on December the 30th and features the heavyweight contender bout between Lesnar and Overeem. Also on that card is Diaz Vs. Cerrone, Fitch Vs. Hendricks, and a stacked prelim card too. Hopefully I will manage to get another write up on here before then but needless to say, the main fight will be explosive!
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