UFC: Fight Night 15 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on May 26, 2009, 10:05 AM
UFC: Fight Night 15
-Show opens with a graphic dedicating the show to the late Evan Tanner. They probably should’ve done a video package in tribute or something but ah well. RIP Evan.
-Another show, another new state then! Man, Zuffa really made a push to expand in late 2008 didn’t they? In fact after Fight Night 14 in July, they didn’t return to Vegas for another FIVE shows.
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They talk about the great fighters that The Ultimate Fighter has produced, discussing the upcoming TUF 8 series that follows this show, as well as Season 5’s Nate Diaz, who headlines this show.
Hometown favourite Houston gets a monstrous pop, as would be expected. And if he wins here for once his shout of NEBRASKA IS IN THE BUILDING would make sense! Opponent Schafer had been out of the UFC for almost a year, but had won two fights on the smaller circuit before returning. General consensus was that if Houston could stop the takedown then he’d probably light up Red standing, but if Schafer got him down then Houston was toast.
They begin and right away the crowd are chanting for Houston. He closes in and lands a pair of BIG KNEES right away causing Schafer to fall to his back! Schafer goes for a leglock, but Houston pulls free and punches his way on top, until Eric gets a closed guard. Alexander stands back up, and lands a pair of nasty leg kicks. Schafer desperately bulls ahead for a takedown, but eats another knee as he drives Houston into the cage. Houston breaks and Schafer goes for another takedown, looking for a crotch lift, but Houston blocks it well and lands some shots inside the clinch. They exchange knees and then Houston breaks off. Schafer shoots again and really drives for the takedown, and this time he puts Alexander down with a double leg. Instant pass to side mount follows and Alexander looks in trouble. He gets a crucifix and tries to pound, but Houston rolls and looks to stand up! Eric grabs a guillotine though and pulls guard. Houston manages to work free, but Schafer uses it to mount him and lands some punches and elbows. Big elbows land as this looks like a repeat of the Thiago Silva fight for Houston. Alexander tries to roll but can’t go anywhere, and Schafer keeps on pounding and then finally locks up a picture-perfect arm triangle choke for the tapout. Crowd are horribly deflated by that one.
Fight went pretty much exactly how you’d expect a win for Schafer over Alexander to go, as he weathered an early storm standing, but once he got it to the ground it was total domination for ‘Red’. Only the big knees landed cleanly to be honest, as Schafer did a good job of not getting hurt, and sadly for Alexander the fight suggested he hadn’t really improved his ground game since the loss to Thiago Silva. I was surprised they kept Houston around after this actually, but he comes off as a really nice guy and he’s always got the explosive power to make a fight exciting, so I can think of worse guys they’ve kept before. Good ‘name’ win for Schafer though to return to the UFC with.
Going in I figured this could be a loser leaves town match as both men were coming off disappointing losses (to Jason Day and Demian Maia respectively) and with the UFC looking to trim the roster and neither man appearing to be heading towards a title shot any time soon, either guy was potentially in trouble with two losses on the bounce. Like Schafer-Alexander, on paper this was striker (Belcher) vs. grappler (Herman) although unlike Schafer-Alexander the striker had some grappling skill and vice versa. Coin toss told me to pick Herman if I recall correctly.
Random observation, but Belcher is wearing the shortest shorts I’ve ever seen in the UFC. Like a pair of soccer shorts from the 80’s or something. Hilarious. This dude has worn the Muay Thai skirt thing though before so odd ring attire is nothing new for him.
Round One begins and Belcher lands an accidental eye poke early and then a leg kick. Herman shoots for a takedown but Belcher stuffs it and they exchange knees from the clinch. Belcher muscles Ed into the cage and lands some sharp knees to the body, and then the ref calls the break. Nice leg kick from Belcher and a right hook as Herman comes forward. Good body kick and left hand from Belcher and then a leg kick twists Herman all the way around. Herman keeps looking for the left hook but it isn’t landing and Belcher hits a jab and a hard leg kick. Herman clinches but Belcher muscles him to the cage and works the knees again. Ref breaks them again and now Herman lands a combo. Stiff jab from Belcher follows but Herman clips him with a nice left hook and then clinches. They muscle in the clinch and Belcher lands an elbow, but Herman answers with a knee and a double leg to guard. Belcher looks to use the fence to post back to his feet, but Herman keeps him down and passes to half-guard. Herman looks to set up a D’Arce from the half-guard, and then gets his legs free, but Belcher manages to reverse to his feet to get free. Herman brings him down again with a slam, and then almost traps Belcher’s arm, before looking again for the D’Arce, but he can’t get it and Belcher reverses to his feet on the buzzer. Close round, could be anyone’s really.
2nd round and Belcher presses forward looking to strike. A heavy left hook looks to have Herman stunned, and now Belcher begins to really work the left jab, snapping Herman’s head back a couple of times. Good left hook counter by Herman though and then he lands with a right elbow too. Belcher comes back with two body shots, and then a BIG RIGHT HAND sends Herman wobbling back into the fence! Herman looks rocked bad but Belcher clinches to follow, and then breaks off with a sharp elbow. Herman is beginning to look a little tired now and is swinging wild as Belcher picks him off with the jab and leg kicks. He slips on a body kick though and Herman ends up on top in guard. He passes to half-guard quickly and keeps Belcher down with good control, until he tries to pass and allows Belcher to scramble up. Herman breaks off with knees, but Belcher presses the action again and works some straight punches. Beautiful superman punch lands for Belcher with seconds remaining and he avoids Herman’s flurry to end the round.
Third and final round and this could go either way, it’s so close. Herman shoots in early, but Belcher sprawls to avoid it and begins to work the jab again. He lands a couple of leg kicks too, much to the annoyance of his cornerman Rich Clementi who apparently told him not to kick as it leaves him open to be taken down. Herman closes the distance and looks for a takedown, but Belcher shrugs it off and reverses the clinch to push Herman into the fence. Ref breaks them pretty quickly and Herman is still swinging, but Belcher’s straighter punches are landing better and he even showboats a little, dropping his hands before throwing a spinning backfist. Herman goes for the takedown to counter that, but Belcher sprawls and does a good job of defending it. Herman manages to keep working and gets him down in half-guard though, and he tries to pin Belcher’s arm while working to pass. Couple of punches land for Herman but Belcher reverses to his feet, and then lands a high kick! Herman looks tired now, but he keeps pressing forward and gets another takedown to guard. This time he hops over to full mount and now Belcher looks in a bit of trouble, but there’s seconds remaining on the clock and the fight ends with Herman raining punches from the mount.
Really close fight that you could make an argument for either man winning. I think I’d probably go with Herman for the late domination on the ground myself. Judges have it 29-28 Belcher, 29-28 Herman, and 29-28 giving Belcher the split decision! Crowd don’t seem happy with that but hey, it was a close fight! Fight was decent enough if nothing outstanding, as both men showed flashes of brilliance now and then but also showed a few signs of sloppiness, which I guess is why they’re not contending for the title just yet. Both young guys though so they could improve yet.
-They show a clip of the upcoming TUF 8 first episode, with Junie Browning saying what separates him from the other fighters on the show is that he can actually fight, while opponent Jose Aguilar compares himself to Hitler and Napoleon. The hell? The guy actually made Junie sound like a perfectly decent human being, which is scary.
Intriguing Lightweight clash, this one, as Danzig had looked very good against Mark Bocek in his first trip to 155lbs in the UFC in April, while Guida had rebounded from the loss to Roger Huerta with a stoppage over Samy Schiavo in the same month. Personally I’d never really taken to Danzig as a top-level guy and figured Guida’s hyperactive style would be enough to take the fight to the TUF VI winner and give the Carpenter the win.
Guida gets a pretty big pop from the crowd, much larger than Danzig’s. He’s one of those guys who’s really built himself up as a bit of a cult favourite actually, as Zuffa haven’t really pushed him as a major star and yet he’s over with all of the crowds.
Round One gets underway and Danzig appears to be the aggressor early, pushing forward with strikes as the crowd start up a big “GUIDA!” chant. Couple of nice leg kicks land for Guida. Guida shoots for a takedown off a knee attempt from Danzig, but Mac does a good job of defending it and remains on his feet. They end up clinched by the fence before Danzig breaks with a combo. Nice right hand lands for Danzig, snapping Guida’s head back, but Clay looks fine. Danzig lands a leg kick and then follows up with a flurry, but gets overzealous and Guida grabs him for a big takedown! Crowd explode for that one. Danzig gets full guard and looks to lock up a kimura as Guida moves him toward the fence, but this allows Danzig to post back up to his feet. Guida picks him right back up though and delivers a BIG SLAM down to the guard. Again Danzig uses the fence to stand, but Guida picks him right up and slams him down again. Looks like Danzig’s going for an oma plata now, but Guida avoids easily and lands some punches to the body and head. Danzig works to his feet again though, but Guida stays on him like glue to end the round. Guida’s round for the takedowns I would say, 10-9.
Into the 2nd and now Guida pushes forward as they exchange some strikes early with little effect. Nice right hand and front kick to the face land for Danzig, but Guida grabs the leg and lands a right of his own, and then chases Mac across the cage and gets a takedown! Danzig stands pretty much right away, but again Guida stays right on him until Danzig manages some separation and backs up. Few punches land for both men and then Guida shoots and gets Mac down again. Danzig does a good job of working back to his feet again, and backs up. Nice one-two from Danzig follows. Couple of hooks land for Guida and he tackles Danzig down again, but once more Mac manages to scramble back up. Few good punches land for Mac, but he throws a knee that Guida catches and he goes for the takedown again. Danzig is really struggling to keep this off the ground, and this time he gives his back. Guida gets double underhooks and suplexes Danzig to the ground, and from there he gets one hook in. Danzig manages to roll and Guida ends up on top in half-guard, where he drops some elbows until the round ends. Closer round but Guida’s pace is taking the fight from Danzig I think.
Guida looks scary fresh coming into the third round, naturally. And Danzig’s corner is FUMING at him between rounds, yelling at him to pull it together. Guida tries to close the distance right away, but Danzig avoids a clinch and tries to strike. Odd kick attempt allows Guida to go for a single though, and he drives Mac into the cage and continues to look for the takedown. Danzig reverses position and they exchange in the clinch before Danzig breaks off, and from there he lands a heavy leg kick and goes for his own takedown. Danzig gets him down and then decides to give up position to go for a kimura, and it looks deep, but Guida manages to free his arm and ends up taking Danzig’s back! Guida lands some knees as Danzig works to turn into him, but Guida gets him down again. Guida passes to half-guard and then looks to take the back again as Danzig tries to stand, even getting a full nelson for a second, before dragging him down again. Danzig is visibly frustrated at this point. He manages to work to his feet, but Clay stays on him and is just relentless, looking for another takedown. Danzig drops for the kimura attempt again, but Guida pulls the arm free and ends the fight with a flurry.
Pretty clear cut decision for Guida I suspect. Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 all for Clay Guida. Not the most exciting fight for Guida’s standards actually but he was just all over Danzig like a bad rash throughout, never let Mac settle and just pushed the pace with his wrestling to grind out the decision. Not a bad fight though – it’s Clay Guida! – but it looked like this time he chose to go mainly for the win rather than the exciting fight. Big win for Guida over the TUF winner.
-UFC President Dana White joins Joe Rogan to announce the upcoming Fight For The Troops UFN card on December 10th to raise money for soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injury. No word on the fights on the card here, but the premise behind the show was a really great one.
When this main event was put together I was pretty excited as I’m a fan of both guys. Neer had made a return to the Octagon following some time away and had been impressive against Din Thomas, beating on the veteran for three straight rounds, but Diaz had been on a roll of his own, subbing Rob Emerson, Corey Hill, and Gray Maynard before beating Manny Gamburyan to take the TUF V crown, and since then he’d also subbed Junior Assuncao, Alvin Robinson, and Kurt Pellegrino. My feeling was that Neer would need to keep this standing to win, but with Diaz being no slouch on the feet, the fight would probably end with a late submission from Diaz. I think I picked a triangle in the second round actually.
Diaz actually looks bigger in terms of muscle than I’ve seen him before, I’m thinking he hit the weights a little more after Pellegrino muscled him around a bit. Good move for him as he was mad skinny before.
No touch of gloves here. Nice inside leg kick from Neer and he throws some punches into a clinch. Neer moves him into the cage and then surprises us with a slam down to side mount. Didn’t expect him to take this one to the ground like that. Diaz instantly looks to reverse but Neer locks up a D’Arce choke and forces Nate onto his back, but Diaz turns and Neer goes into a guillotine instead. They scramble and Neer takes the back, landing a big suplex as Diaz stands, but Diaz again reverses to his feet. Diaz looks for a kimura as Neer stands behind him and tries to take the back, and then Neer frees his arm. Diaz manages to turn into him but Neer forces him into the cage again. Now Diaz drops for a single and they hit the ground, but Neer scrambles and they come back up in the clinch. They break off and Neer lands with a left hook, but Diaz doesn’t seem fazed and backs out before clinching again. Diaz breaks and works a nice combo to the body and head, and then they end up clinched again exchanging shots in there. Diaz is beginning to work his peppering combos now, looking exactly like big brother Nick. Neer stalks forward into a clinch, but Nate delivers a HUGE judo trip to put him on his back in side mount! Beautiful stuff. Neer scrambles to a butterfly guard, but Nate works back to half-guard and looks to free his legs and pass. Neer looks like he’s going for a heel hook, but Nate stands free and drops a right for good measure. Diaz stands over him and drops some good punches into the guard, and then steps over for a kneebar before twisting to take the back! Neer scrambles free though and the round ends with Diaz on top in side mount. Awesome first round.
Round two and Diaz stalks forward with some punches into the clinch. Takedown from Neer but Diaz looks to reverse right away, scrambling around and getting a takedown of his own. Neer gets full guard and pushes off the fence, but Diaz steps over for a kneebar and uses it to pass. He ends up standing over Neer and the Dentist lands an upkick, but Diaz drops back into the guard only for Neer to go for an oma plata. Diaz gets free of that and lands some punches from the top, but Neer pops back up to his feet. Suplex from Neer brings Diaz down and Neer takes the back and hops on with both hooks in as Diaz stands. Diaz drops down and Neer goes for the choke, and then tries to mount as Nate rolls, but Diaz manages to get full guard and throws up a triangle! Neer postures up out of that and stands over him, kicking at the legs, but when he drops back down Diaz looks for the triangle again. Diaz sits up and goes for a single leg, but Neer stuffs it and keeps top position in the guard. Ax stomp attempt from Neer but Diaz grabs the leg and rolls, only for Neer to get a rear waistlock as he stands. Punches from Neer but Nate is back up to his feet in the clinch and he opens up with a nice combo from close range. Good elbow from Neer inside the clinch as they muscle for position, and then Diaz blocks a slam. Diaz lands with a right hook on the buzzer. This is a close fight actually.
Final round and Diaz opens up with some combos early and then grabs the clinch, forcing Neer into the cage. He drops for a takedown but Neer twists him around and gets a rear waistlock, but this time he can’t suplex Nate down. Diaz turns into him and gets him down in half-guard, but Neer scrambles and goes for a leg. Diaz ends up standing over him and then uses the step-over to pass the guard, but the Dentist quickly scrambles back to guard. Diaz stands over him for a moment and drops some punches, and then goes back down into the guard. Neer goes for an oma plata, but Nate steps over and gets out of it. Neer scrambles to his feet but Diaz gets right on him in the clinch and then drops down and takes Neer’s back as Josh goes for the takedown. Diaz gets both hooks in and then attempts to turn to full mount, with Neer squirming underneath. Neer manages to roll into guard and goes for an oma plata again, but like before Diaz stands out and then goes back into the guard. Some punches land for Diaz but Neer goes for the oma plata, and this time Diaz steps over and transitions to an armbar! Neer escapes though and gets his back momentarily, but Diaz reverse out of that and drops for a double leg. Takedown from Diaz again but Neer escapes to his knees and lands a bodyshot. They come back to standing and Diaz hits the judo throw and winds up on top in side mount. Nate throws a flurry and Neer scrambles again and then the buzzer sounds to end the fight.
Really great fight, very close too as neither guy did that much damage and it was basically one extended scramble, but I’d have Diaz ahead by a hair as he seemed in more control in the grappling portions and got the better positions throughout the fight. Judges have it 29-28 Neer, 29-28 Diaz, and 29-28 for Diaz giving Nate the split decision. Neer actually looks shocked that a judge would score it for him, but it was a very close fight.
Post-fight Diaz puts Neer over hugely, saying he’s a far better fighter than the BJJ black belts he’s been fighting before. Was that a knock at Pellegrino I wonder?
As I said the fight was basically one long scramble, and I’d call it a very low-end FOTYC which probably would’ve been even higher in those stakes if someone had managed to do any serious damage with their strikes. Still, it was fun as hell throughout and had some serious reversals and position changes. And another good win for Diaz too who was on a great run in this period. Awesome 2008 in general for that guy.
-And we end there as Goldberg segues into TUF 8.
This was the definition of a middling show, as nothing was outright bad and the fights were decent for what they were, but nothing outside of Neer-Diaz really stood out and Belcher-Herman and Guida-Danzig got a little tiresome in places. Still, the opener was fun and Neer-Diaz was a really great grappling-based fight, so for a four-fight show it’s worth a look at least. Not amazing, not great, UFN 15 was just...there really. Thumbs firmly in the middle.
Best Fight: Neer-Diaz
Worst Fight: Belcher-Herman
Overall Rating: **1/2
UFC: 89-97, Fight Nights 16-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 31, Bushido 10-13 and the Openweight Grand Prix.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.