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UFC: Fight Night 9 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on October 30, 2007, 9:38 AM

UFC: Fight Night 9

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They discuss the resurgence of the Lightweight division, which leads them into talking about the upcoming TUF 5 series, which is premiering after this show, and the coaches, Jens Pulver and BJ Penn, the last two Lightweights to headline a UFC show. Until now that is, as Joe Stevenson and Melvin Guillard are tonightís main event.

Lightweight Fight: Kenny Florian vs Dokonjonosuke Mishima

This was Florianís first fight after his unsuccessful title challenge against Sean Sherk, and the word is apparently that heís totally changed up his strength and conditioning training. And you can definitely tell, as heís in better shape than I can ever recall seeing him. Mishima was coming off a UFC debut loss to Joe Stevenson in little over a minute, and was looking to make a better impression here.

Florian presses forward with punches to open the first round, so Mishima clinches and gets a takedown to the guard. Florian works a high guard, so Mishima stacks up, but they scramble and Florian ends up on top. He stands for a moment, and then drops down into the guard, where he lands some punches and avoids a potential leglock attempt. Kenny ends up bringing it back to the feet, where he lands a heavy leg kick, and then Mishima misses an attempt at a spinning backfist. They clinch, before breaking off and Florian hits him with another hard leg kick and avoids a takedown to close the round.

They begin the 2nd, and Florian opens with some more good leg kicks and then a nice uppercut. Mishima begins to really show the effects of the leg kicks, so Kenny hits him with a couple more, and then Mishima slips to his back in an attempt to close the distance. Kenny drops punches down into the half-guard, where he lands some elbows before standing again. Big body kick from Florian lands, and Mishima clinches and tries a trip, but botches it and ends up mounted. Kenny lands some shots, but Mishima does a good job of getting back to half-guard, so Florian brings it back to standing. Series of VICIOUS leg kicks that hurt Mishima follow, with Florian almost leaping into them for added impact, and then Kenny ends the round with a takedown.

Third and final round, and Florian opens with a nice one-two and a big knee, before blocking a takedown. Mishima ends up on his back in guard, and Florian lands some punches as Mishima looks to roll for an oma plata. Kenny avoids it and passes to side mount, and then follows with a full mount, only for Mishima to buck his way back to full guard. Florian stands up, and Mishima misses a ridiculous wheel kick, eats a left and ends up on his back again. This time though the Japanese fighter rolls for a leglock, and catches Florian, managing to drag him down and lock in a NASTY kneebar! It looks pretty tight and for a second it looks like Kennyís about to tap, but then Mishima tries to switch position slightly for more leverage and this lets Florian gut it out and wriggle slightly free, avoiding the kneebar. Mishima tries to lock on a heel hook now, but Florian quickly escapes that and takes the full mount, before Mishima rolls and exposes his back. Few punches land and then Florian flattens him out, and applies a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Very impressive performance from Florian; he looked far better than I can ever recall there, especially standing, and to dominate an experienced veteran like Mishima for almost three rounds definitely shows a lot of skill. He almost got caught in the kneebar at the end, which wouldíve been a real shame after the first two rounds, but in the end he was able to gut it out and finish things off. Before this I never bought Florian as a true contender at 155lbs, but after this fight (and his subsequent fights) Iím sold on him. Solid opener.

-We get a plug for a show called the Wild World of Spike, which is presented by former UFC fighter Kit Cope and a comedian Iíve never heard of. The clip they show us here is the comedian getting beaten up by Rampage though, which I definitely wouldnít complain about seeing!

Heavyweight Fight: Justin McCully vs Antoni Hardonk

Originally this was supposed to be Dutch kickboxer Hardonk taking on former Heavyweight champion Frank Mir, but Mir picked up an injury training and so McCully, primarily known as one of Tito Ortizís coaches, stepped in. Iíve never seen McCully fight before but heís a BJJ black belt with a record of 7-3-2, dating back to 1997. Heís also sporting a cornrow hairdo here ala Evan Tanner, but to be fair it doesnít look as cool as it did on Evan. The hype coming in was mainly around Hardonk though, as heíd looked extremely skilled standing in his UFC debut and with training from Rickson Gracie on the ground, was supposedly not too bad there either.

Round 1 begins, and Hardonk throws out a high kick right away, but McCully bulls forward and shoves him into the fence. They muscle along the fence for a moment with McCully looking for the takedown, and after a while he gets a single leg to guard. Hardonk keeps a tight, high guard, and McCully lands some short strikes, hitting him with a few hammer fists, but generally itís pretty slow. McCully finally postures up to land some better shots, and this allows Hardonk to attempt to lock up an armbar. He gets one at a really bizarre angle, and eats punches for his efforts, but then he locks on a proper armbar and manages to roll over onto his stomach, straightening the arm out! The hold looks deep and normally I would expect a guyís arm to snap in this position, but somehow Hardonk canít get the leverage right and McCully pops out to end the round.

McCully clinches right away to open the 2nd, and shoves him right into the fence. Hardonk lands a decent knee inside, but McCully keeps forcing him backwards and then gets the takedown to guard. McCully lands some elbows and punches in the guard, nothing too major and heís leaving his arm WAY open for a submission, but Hardonk doesnít attempt anything now. Joe Rogan helpfully points out that if Hardonk were fighting Tito Ortiz, his face would look like hamburger meat, and if McCully were fighting Frank Mir, leaving his arm out like that would probably lead to Mir tearing it off. Pity neither of those fights are happening and weíre left with this snooze-fest then. McCully stands to attempt a guard pass, but ends up back in the guard where he lands some more elbows, finally doing a little damage as Hardonkís face is cut. Hardonk tries to wriggle from the bottom, but stays stuck firmly on his back, eating short punches for the remainder of the round.

Third and final round, and Hardonk opens with one of his vaunted leg kicks, but McCully quickly clinches. Hardonk tries to push away, landing a few knees and a good combination of punches, but ends up being taken down again where we get more of the same pedestrian ground-and-pound. Finally McCully passes to side mount, but itís not for long as he ends up right back in the guard, and the punching continues until the fight ends.

Judges score it unanimously for McCully, but man, what a terrible fight that was. Neither man showed much really, with Hardonkís great stand-up being completely taken out of the equation thanks to his total lack of takedown defense, and on the ground all McCully showed was pedestrian ground-and-pound from inside the guard, while leaving himself wide open for armbars, which is pretty surprising for a BJJ black belt. Honestly once Mir pulled out this shouldíve been moved to the prelims, I would say.

-Joe Rogan joins Jens Pulver and BJ Penn in the crowd, sitting firmly between them as the bad blood is clearly brewing at this stage. They both talk a little about TUF 5, with hints about how the show went as Pulver says heíd gladly coach again while Penn says he definitely wouldnít. We end with Pulver promising to knock Pennís teeth out, while Penn claims heís going to break Pulverís left arm. Honestly one of the best UFC interview segments I can recall seeing.

Lightweight Fight: Kurt Pellegrino vs Nate Mohr

This was a prelim from earlier in the night, with Mohr stepping in as a late replacement for Brazilian Vale Tudo veteran Wander Braga, who was forced out with Visa issues. Pellegrino was coming off a win over Junior Assuncao and was looking to cement himself as a possible contender in the Lightweight division with another win here.

Round 1, and both men press forward, with Mohr clipping Kurt with a nice one-two as Pellegrino leans for a takedown attempt. Mohr lands another quick combo into the clinch, but Pellegrino uses the position to get a takedown to half-guard, and he passes to side mount in quick fashion. Full mount follows, but only for a moment as Mohr scrambles back to half-guard. Kurt lands some elbows from there, and gets into side mount again, but once more Mohr scrambles and gets his guard back. This time Pellegrino stands and drops back for an ankle lock, and before Mohr can escape he rolls right into it and forces the tapout.

Post-fight Pellegrino celebrates with some breakdancing, and itís a good thing his grappling is better than his dancing, thatís all Iíll say. Solid enough performance from Pellegrino with a nice finish, even if Mohr looked a little overmatched probably due to taking the fight so late.

Lightweight Fight: Joe Stevenson vs Melvin Guillard

I was anticipating this fight just as much as any other thus far in 2007, to be honest, as Stevensonís a personal favourite of mine and a guy who I think could definitely be a top title contender at 155lbs, while Guillard is less skilled overall, but is still really explosive and pretty much never has a boring fight. The bad blood was running pretty deep coming in too, as Melvin had accused Stevenson of using HGH, a completely unsubstantiated claim I should add, and had generally talked trash about his opponent. Pre-fight Guillard refuses to touch gloves, too.

We get underway, and Stevenson comes forward, Guillard tries to throw a combo, but Joe lands a straight left that knocks Melvin down for a split second! Melvin pops up and tries to swing, but Stevenson easily avoids and gets the takedown, before standing to look to grab a leg. Melvin avoids and scrambles to his feet, but leaves his neck wide open and Joe grabs it and secures a TIGHT guillotine choke, forcing the tapout at just 27 seconds!

A total humbling. Not only did Stevenson force Guillard to tap in under 30 seconds, but he also landed the only significant shot of the fight standing, dropping Melvin with a punch, which has to be pretty embarrassing for a guy who claims to be one of the best strikers in the division. Worse still for Guillard, he tested positive for cocaine in the post-fight drug test and ended up being suspended for eight months. A very impressive win for Stevenson in unbelievably quick fashion, but really it was an anticlimactic fight as most people, myself included, were expecting a really explosive war from these two.

-And we end with some discussion of the upcoming UFC 69 card.

Final Thoughts....

Iím really in two minds about this one, as on one hand, Florian-Mishima was a really entertaining fight and while the main event lasted less than 30 seconds, it was as convincing a win for Stevenson as they come. On the other hand though, McCully-Hardonk absolutely stunk, and in terms of providing us with a great fight the main event was a huge anticlimax. Overall Iíll say thumbs in the middle, leaning down, unless youíre a huge Joe Daddy fan.

Coming Soon....

UFC: 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, Fight Nights 10-11, and the TUF IV Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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