UFC: Fight Night 14 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on May 26, 2009, 10:03 AM
UFC: Fight Night 14
Las Vegas, Nevada
-This was possibly the most thrown-together UFC card since, well, the *last* time they counter-programmed (that would’ve been UFN 2 in 2005), as the whole idea behind this show was to counter the Affliction PPV that was going off on the same night. Normally Zuffa just runs replays of their own PPVs on Spike and stuff but I guess this was a special deal as the Affliction guys had REALLY pissed Dana off. So we ended up with Anderson Silva, Brandon Vera, Cain Velasquez, et al on free TV. Don’t think anyone’s going to knock that!
Bit of a grudge-ish one in the opener, as Dollaway had of course taken the ousted Taylor’s spot in the finals of TUF VII after ‘JT Money’ made the mistake of getting absolutely plastered and kicking the window out of a limo. According to Dana though he’d been in AA since the show (Alcoholics Anonymous, not Andrei Arlovski!) and had cleaned up his act, so they were bringing him back for another shot. Being a fan of CB’s I was hoping he’d put a stop to that right away.
Taylor comes out aggressively to begin the fight, but Dollaway sidesteps a takedown like a matador and then grabs a front facelock. They come back to standing inside the clinch, and muscle for position, exchanging some strikes too, with Taylor forcing CB back into the fence. Taylor is really working for the takedown here but he’s getting no success, and Dollaway ends up tripping him down, but Taylor does a good job of reversing and finally gets CB down by the fence. Dollaway quickly works back up though and sprawls out, then catches Jesse with an illegal knee. Yves Lavigne calls time and gives CB a warning, and Taylor’s fine so they restart. Taylor shoots right away but Dollaway hits a good sprawl and then gets on top, right into full mount. Taylor rolls and gives his back, and Dollaway gets an over/under and tries to put the hooks in. Taylor works to defend the choke, and then does an excellent job of escaping, almost turning into CB’s guard. Taylor works his way free and gets on top, but Dollaway comes back with a single leg attempt. They stand back up and Taylor gets him down again, into half-guard, but CB quickly works to full guard. Few good elbows and punches land for Jesse from the top, but CB kicks him off and then hits a SICK switch, taking Taylor’s back as he tries to get back on top! And from there Dollaway transitions into the Peruvian Necktie (!~!) and Taylor taps out!
Really excellent fight; most of it looked like a wrestling match as they constantly scrambled and reversed one another, but in the end Dollaway proved to be just a bit better, hitting a beautiful reversal, and the submission was one of the best I can ever recall in the Octagon – the Peruvian Necktie was the hold CB caught Rampage with on TUF in fact and I never expected him to get it in a UFC fight proper. Impressive stuff from the Doberman. As for Taylor, I expected him to get another shot, but he ended up being released after he badmouthed Rampage for his mental breakdown issue in the summer. Sigh. Some people never learn.
Two up-and-comers in this one, with Johnson coming off an explosive knockout of Tommy Speer, while Burns had upset Roan Carneiro at UFC 85, tapping him out with a triangle choke in probably one of the most stunning finishes in UFC history. Personally I had Johnson taking this one, no real reason for that pick other than the fact that I’ve always been impressed with Johnson since his debut really.
Couple of low kicks exchanged to begin the first round and then Burns swings some punches at Johnson before clinching. They exchange some knees to the body and it looks like Burns wants the takedown, but Johnson breaks off. Good left hand from Johnson but Burns answers with a heavy right and keeps coming forward. Body kick lands for Burns as they continue to exchange strikes. Kick lands low for Johnson and referee Steve Mazzagatti calls time out. Looked totally accidental. They restart and Johnson uses some head movement to avoid a shot, before taking an eye poke that clearly makes him wince. Johnson gets a takedown to guard though to stop any follow-ups. Action slows down a little as they exchange some small strikes from Burns’ guard, and like in the Carneiro fight, Burns shows a nice defensive guard. With less than a minute remaining Johnson opens up a little, but can’t do any damage and the ref calls the stand-up. Kick to the body from Johnson. Good left hand follows and Rumble looks for the takedown again, but Burns stuffs it and they end up clinched to end the round. Close round, I’d probably give it to Johnson by a hair, largely for the takedown.
Announcers immediately point out Cung Le in Johnson’s corner, interesting that they’d acknowledge another promotion’s champ like that.
2nd round and they exchange some strikes before Johnson stuns Burns with a knee and a right hand, sending him staggering backwards. Big knee follows and then Johnson lands a combo as Burns desperately tries to fire back, and finally Burns ends up shooting for the takedown as Johnson tries a flying knee. Johnson avoids and they end up clinched, where Johnson lands some hard knees to the body. Left hand breaks for Rumble and Burns’ eye appears to be swelling now. Couple of leg kicks are checked by Johnson. Big right hand-left hook combo lands for Rumble but Burns shrugs it off with a grin. Good chin, for sure! Exchange continues with Johnson definitely getting the better of it now, although he catches another finger in the eye. Ref warns Burns about striking with the open hand, as the exchange goes on. Big knee sends Burns backwards but he fires back with a front kick to the body and then a head kick that lands glancingly. Johnson catches a body kick though and counters with a left hook. Takedown from Johnson and they land in Burns’ guard again where Burns looks for a kimura. Johnson avoids it though and the action once again slows up. Big left from Johnson appears to have opened a cut over Burns’ left eye. Ref stands them up again though and tells Burns to keep his hand closed when he punches again. Takedown from Johnson ends the round. Johnson 10-9 again in my book, although he looks slower at this point.
Third and final round, and they exchange leg kicks to begin. Burns is the aggressor here and he lands a nice uppercut and almost catches him with a head kick too. Johnson catches a leg kick though and gets a nice takedown to Burns’ guard. Little happens there though so Mazzagatti brings them up again. Brief exchange and then bam, Johnson tackles him to guard again. Once again Burns shows a good guard and doesn’t take any damage, and the ref brings them up quickly again. This time they exchange and Burns appears to land a big uppercut that puts Johnson down, and Mazzagatti quickly calls the TKO....but on the replays it shows that the uppercut didn’t land at all, and in fact it was the left hand that landed, well, Burns’ finger poked DEEP into Johnson’s eye and caused him to fall down in pain. Replay looks really sickening actually. I don’t think it was intentional, just one of those things, but man I bet it hurt.
Fight is over so surely it’s a DQ win for Johnson....but they announce it as a TKO win for Burns. Huh? Crowd are not happy with that one. Post-fight Burns tells Joe Rogan that it was accidental, and he’s been forced to throw palm strikes with his left as he can’t close his fist due to a broken hand. Makes sense I guess but it’s a clearly dangerous technique. Johnson shows a ton of class and says that it was an accident and the fans shouldn’t boo Burns, but it was definitely the eye poke that caused him to fall down.
Weird ending to what had been a pretty solid fight. I mean, I don’t think you can blame Steve Mazzagatti for stopping the fight when he did, as all he would’ve seen was Johnson apparently go down from the uppercut for the KO, which I guess excuses the initial result as being a TKO for Burns as you have to go with the ref’s decision at the time. But why the NSAC didn’t overturn the result is beyond me – I mean the replays clearly showed the eye poke being the thing to put Johnson down, Burns himself admitted it without a problem, and worse still poor Johnson ended up needing eye surgery to re-attach his retina afterwards. What does it go down on Burns’ record as? A win by TKO (eye poke)? That’s up there with Frank Trigg beating Dennis Hallman on a low blow back in the old WFA in 2002. Decent fight but the NSAC ought to be ashamed of themselves over this.
O’Brien’s situation has to be one of the most bizarre things to happen in UFC in 2008, as he was apparently released from the company following his loss to Andrei Arlovski in March, but then re-signed to fight here. Why release the guy if you were going to bring him back anyway? It wasn’t even like Jake managed to fight in between! Regardless, this was a double edged sword for him as while he was coming back to the UFC, he was faced with the man who most regarded as *the* hottest prospect in the division in AKA’s Velasquez, who had looked frighteningly dominant in his UFC debut. Worse for O’Brien, Velasquez on paper was a superior wrestler, which didn’t bode well for a guy who really has little outside of his admittedly excellent wrestling. My pick? Velasquez by TKO.
O’Brien comes forward aggressively to begin and swings some punches into a clinch, and both men look for the takedown but it’s Cain who comes out on top, using a whizzer to put Jake on his back by the fence. Velasquez ends up in side mount as O’Brien tries to hold on, and then goes for a single leg. Sprawl by Velasquez and he spins around back into side mount, and from there he works into the Hughes crucifix position and begins to BOMB AWAY on Jake’s head, landing punch after punch after punch. O’Brien tries to roll but he eats TONS of unanswered punches and Mario Yamasaki stops it there. Good lord.
Replays make it look even nastier; possibly like O’Brien went out a couple of times and got woken back up by more punches. Incredibly dominant showing for Velasquez, especially when you consider that O’Brien had tooled Heath Herring and given Andrei Arlovski a ton of problems in their fight, and Cain just blew right through him like he was nothing. The guy is a beast and really though he probably needs a bit more ring time under his belt, I can easily see him being the top HW in the world by 2010 and that’s including Fedor too, the guy just looks *so* good.
-UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre joins us from Montreal via satellite to talk about his upcoming title defense against Jon Fitch, saying every fight, he’s a better version of himself, and he’ll be able to succeed where he failed before and defend his title this time.
This was Franca’s return to UFC action following around a year away, as he’d been suspended following his positive steroid test after the Sean Sherk fight. Not the easiest comeback fight either as he was faced with Edgar, a guy who had beaten both Spencer Fisher and Tyson Griffin before suffering his first loss to Gray Maynard a couple of months beforehand. I believe this fight was actually scheduled for UFC 87 before being moved to this card when it was put together.
They get underway and Edgar catches a kick and gets a quick takedown, dropping some punches over the top into the guard. Some nice short elbows land for Edgar and then he stands above Franca and drops some punches through the guard. Edgar continues to work him over from the guard, and his corner warns him that Franca is trying to lull him in. Sure enough Hermes gets an armbar literally from nowhere, and it looks deep, but Edgar does an excellent job of pulling free and he ends up back on top in the guard. Few more elbows land for Frankie and then he stands and this time Franca lands an upkick and gets to his feet. Nice knee from Franca and then they exchange punches, but Edgar avoids his deadly clubbing right hand and tackles him to the ground again. Franca gets full guard and looks for another armbar, but Edgar avoids and works him over with some more elbow, marking up Franca’s face now. Round ends in Franca’s guard and goes definitively to Edgar, 10-9.
Round Two, and Franca opens with a big leg kick. He lands another but Edgar comes forward with a quick combination, showing some nice hand speed. Takedown from Edgar off another kick and they end up in Franca’s guard again, where Edgar really lands some nice ground-and-pound, bloodying up Franca’s nose and swelling his eyes up. Franca manages to keep full guard, but he’s not controlling the posture and Edgar continues to work him over from the top. Edgar stands over him again and lands a kick to the legs, and then drops punches back down into the guard. Franca rolls, giving his back, and Edgar lands some heavy punches to the head from an over/under position until Franca rolls back to guard. Good job from Edgar to avoid a possible kneebar there too. Scramble allows Franca to get back to his feet, but his wild swings miss and Edgar clips him with a glancing head kick. Takedown to half-guard follows by Edgar and Franca’s face is looking swollen now. Round ends in Franca’s guard again. Another round in the books for Edgar as he’s just outworking Franca in this one.
Third and final round, and Edgar eats a heavy uppercut early and his takedown is stuffed. He looks okay though and throws a couple of kicks, before taking a knee off another failed takedown attempt. Edgar keeps coming though and then lands a body kick. Nice knee from Franca but this time Frankie catches it and gets him down, avoiding a roll for a leg on the way down. Franca tries to scramble, but eats some knees to the body while on his hands and knees, and then a glancing head kick as they stand. Nice trip takedown from Edgar to side mount but right away Franca scrambles to full guard. Edgar avoids the submission attempts and works from the guard, and then catches Franca with a heavy knee to the body as he stands back up. Edgar tries to drag him down with a front facelock and ends up using a cradle to pull him down instead, where he knees to the body some more. Franca stands but it’s momentary as Edgar takes him right back down to the guard. Franca tries to use an armbar to sweep, but again Edgar manages to avoid it and gets back into top position. Scramble brings them back to their feet, and Franca lands some punches and a brutal knee that cuts Edgar open, but Frankie manages to take him down again and the fight ends in the guard.
Easy one to score in my book – 30-27 for Edgar, and the judges agree with that. Good fight for the most part as the pace was pretty high and Edgar actually did a lot of damage with his ground-and-pound as opposed to just improving position like Sean Sherk did on Franca. Edgar looked excellent here, just outworking Franca from start to finish and never let him rest for a second. Really strong win for him, especially coming back from a loss.
Fun fact – before Anderson Silva stepped into the main event, the Zuffa brass apparently wanted the main to be Vera dropping to 205lbs to face Wanderlei Silva in what would’ve been a hell of a fight. In the end though that didn’t go ahead, though Vera DID drop to a more natural 205lbs anyway, and was faced with IFL veteran Reese Andy, a wrestling-based guy who’s biggest wins were probably Justin Levens and Kryzstof Sozynski. Actually it should be noted that a number of IFL veterans (Andy, Rory Markham, Brad Blackburn, Andre Gusmao, the Miller brothers, Matt Horwich, Mike Massenzio, Danillo Villefort, Wagnney Fabiano) ended up under the Zuffa banner around this time, as the promotion pretty much collapsed. Anyway back to the fight, I was expecting big things from Vera at LHW, and figured he’d stop Andy with ease here. So odd to see Vera with the size advantage!
Round 1 and Vera opens with a head kick right away. Andy looks for the takedown though and gets it, bringing Vera down by the cage, but right away Vera works his way back up into the clinch. Plum clinch by Vera and he breaks away with a knee. Vera stalks forward, but Andy ducks a head kick. Low kick misses for Andy and Vera lands one of his own that puts the IFL veteran down! Vera calls him back up though and continues to push forward, easily shrugging off a takedown attempt. Vera throws a combo into the clinch and Andy pushes him into the cage, where he lands some small shots to the leg. Big knee from Vera though and then he gets a beautiful takedown to side mount. He does little from the position outside of controlling Andy though, and eventually Andy kicks him away and stands. Vera chases with strikes again and then sprawls back to avoid a takedown, grabbing a front headlock, and the fight ends as he releases it. Easy round for Vera but it wasn’t the most exciting one either.
2nd round begins with an exchange of leg kicks, and Vera clearly gets the better of that. Andy avoids a takedown and they end up clinched exchanging knees, before Vera hits a nice trip takedown and gets the back. Andy stands back up, or he tries to, but Vera stays on top and puts one hook in. Andy manages to turn into him and gets half-guard, and then works for an ankle pick. Vera avoids it but it allows Andy to stand. Andy tries some strikes but his stand-up is clearly pretty rudimentary and Vera doesn’t look worried in the slightest. Right hand does land for Andy but Vera fires back with a pair of lefts. Crowd begin to get restless as little happens until Andy closes distance and gets the clinch again. Big knee and head kick from Vera and he tries a standing choke, but Andy turns back into the clinch and eats another knee to the body. They break off and little happens again. Vera is landing the better shots, but his aggression is seemingly non-existent for some reason. Round peters out on the feet. 10-9 Vera but this is a dull, dull fight thus far.
Into the 3rd and Vera seems content to counterstrike, as the announcers mention that Vera might’ve screwed up with the weight cut as he looks a bit tired now. Andy tries desperately for the takedown, but Vera stuffs it again and they end up clinched as the crowd go from chanting “BRANDON” to booing. They exchange strikes in the clinch, but referee Steve Mazzagatti separates them and it’s more of the same with Vera countering Andy’s crude strikes. They clinch again and exchange inside before breaking once more. Into another clinch and little happens again. They end up circling back out and Andy chases him down, but doesn’t land much of note as Vera gets a clinch and a knee to the body. Plum clinch from Vera and he lands a good pair of knees to the face, but just doesn’t follow them up and now the announcers are outright blaming the weight cut for this. They’re just going in and out of the clinch here and nothing is happening at all. Vera is winning the fight, but he’s showing no aggression. Fight ends with Vera landing some knees from the clinch.
I’ve got this 30-27 Vera but this was not a convincing performance from him at all. Judges all score it the same, unanimous decision for Vera.
Post-fight Vera admits that it wasn’t an exciting fight, and then affirms Rogan’s suspicions that the weight cut affected him more than he was expecting. Fight was atrocious, just a horribly frustrating fifteen minutes as it looked like Vera could’ve put Andy away at any point but he just never really pulled the trigger for some reason, be it the weight cut or the pressure to just get a win no matter what the quality of fight. Easily the worst fight Vera’s had in his UFC tenure and that’s counting the Tim Sylvia fight too.
Outside of counter-programming Affliction, the other goal of this show was seemingly to get Anderson Silva over as a megastar and they pretty much managed that as his reaction here from the crowd is definitely bigger than it’s been in the past. The idea was that he was stepping up in weight in order to “prove” his pound-for-pound supremacy, despite the guy he was stepping up to fight – James Irvin – being more of a mid-level guy as opposed to a top contender or anything. Irvin was at least coming off a win, over Houston Alexander. Silva though seemed to have taken to 205lbs with relative ease looking at his physique, and the smart money was clearly on the Spider.
Touch of gloves gets us started and Silva circles off calmly, looking to gauge the distance and feel Irvin out. Irvin walks forward and throws a leg kick...but Silva catches it and NAILS him with a right hand that drops him! Few more shots on the ground have Irvin stiff as a board and that’s all she wrote.
Brutal stuff as per the usual for Anderson Silva. Literally took him about a minute to kill Irvin dead and it took him just one shot standing and four or five on the ground to do it. Irvin just wasn’t given a chance to do a thing to Silva, and despite the Sandman not really being a top ten guy or anything this was another impressive highlight reel finish for the Spider. Guess the move to 205lbs didn’t harm him in any way. Fight accomplished just what Zuffa wanted in that it got Silva over as a megastar and also as the pound-for-pound top guy in the sport to the casual fans.
Post-fight Silva (through his translator of course) says that he enjoyed fighting at 205lbs and although his main responsibility is defending the Middleweight Title, he wants to be involved in the biggest fights possible and if they’re at 205lbs then so be it. Amazing how laid back this guy is considering the violence he brings inside the cage. Big pop for Silva at the end as he uses a bit of English and I wonder how much bigger a star he could be if he were fluent in it.
They show a prelim from earlier in the night now, featuring IFL veteran Markham – fighting out of the Miletich camp – against Brodie Farber who really I don’t know all that much about. I’d been hearing about Markham for YEARS though despite never seeing him fight, apparently he put on a FOTYC with Pat Healy in 2007, so I was pretty excited to see him finally debut in the UFC. Random observation time – Farber’s head resembles a skull. Or John Malkovich perhaps. And Markham for whatever reason reminds me of a young Tommy Lee Jones. Battle of the Hollywood stars!
Round One and they get at it right away, exchanging strikes with Farber tagging him with some early punches. Nice leg kick from Farber and he follows it with some more punches. Big right hand clips Markham and Farber follows with another as he appears to have gotten his eye in. Combo answers for Markham but Farber fires right back with some crisp punches that tag Markham and put him on the retreat. Farber continues to chase forward, but out of nowhere Markham ENDS HIS LIFE WITH A SICK HEAD KICK!~!
Holy God. That was a sick, SICK shot and easily one of the best knockouts of the year, probably top five if not top three. Best head kick finish since Gonzaga-Cro Cop I would say. Farber was literally out on impact as you could see his legs fold from under him as he went down like a corpse. Uber-exciting fight with one of the best finishes in recent memory, and a hell of a debut for Markham.
-And we end with a highlight package, main highlights being the Dollaway and Silva finishes, duh.
The terrible Vera-Andy fight nonwithstanding this was another very good free show from the UFC. We got highlight reel finishes in Silva-Irvin and Markham-Farber, a pair of good fights in Johnson-Burns (although the finish stunk) and Edgar-Franca, and an excellent fight in Dollaway-Taylor that I’d call the fight of the night. Velasquez-O’Brien was a total squash but it was an unexpected one, like the way GSP used to suddenly kill guys dead when he was on his way up the ladder in like 2004-2005, so I’m not complaining about that either. For a show that was thrown together purely to counteract a rival PPV, this was excellent. Thumbs way up.
Best Fight: Dollaway-Taylor
Worst Fight: Vera-Andy
Overall Rating: ***3/4
UFC: 87-97, Fight Nights 15-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, and the Openweight Grand Prix.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.