UFC: Fight Night 18 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on September 23, 2009, 7:04 AM
UFC: Fight Night 18
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They talk about the upcoming TUF IX: Team USA vs. Team UK series, before going on to discuss the addition of WEC Welterweight Champion ĎNatural Born Killerí Carlos Condit to the UFC ranks, and his fight in tonightís main event against Martin ĎHitmaní Kampmann.
Man, talk about a tough test for Junie following his infamous stint on TUF. With the furore surrounding him coming off that show and the fact that he got so over with the crowds I actually expected UFC to baby him, but then that would probably send the wrong message to future TUFers so he was given a very tough opponent in American Top Teamís Miller, a man who had won three of his four UFC bouts, including a triangle choke submission of BJJ black belt Jorge Gurgel. Despite the trash talk from Junie claiming Cole was overrated, I fully expected Miller to school the ĎLunaticí and tap him out in the first round.
Crowd give a pretty big mixed reaction to Junie upon his ring introduction. Evidently he did get over with the fans due to his antics on the show; whether thatís a good or bad thing Iím not sure. We begin and they circle before Cole lands a push kick to the midsection. Uppercut from Miller and he goes for the plum clinch, but Junie drops for a takedown. Cole looks to lock up a kimura as Junie takes him down, but gives his back in the process and Browning gets both hooks in. It looks like Coleís still in control though due to the arm control, and they end up turning so Junie gets into Millerís guard. They come back to their feet and now Miller catches him with a lunging right hand that looks to have stunned the bad boy. Knee from Miller and then Junie drops for a takedown, but leaves his neck out and Cole secures a guillotine and pulls guard to force the tapout. As the ref pulls Miller off, he leans down and yells ďWhoís overrated now?!Ē You tell him Cole!
Post-fight Miller explains what he shouted at Browning post-fight, then challenges the winner of Juneís Spencer Fisher-Caol Uno fight for his next match-up. He dedicates the fight to the recently deceased Charles ĎMaskí Lewis of TapouT fame. Well, the whole show is dedicated to him so itís not surprising.
As I expected Cole basically clowned Junie here. Really, I donít think Browning at this stage of his career has the skill set to compete with the majority of UFCís Lightweights, and that poses a problem for them in a way as they canít really baby the guy as itíd send the wrong message to other fighters, but if they simply cut him another rival promotion might sign him up as a ratings draw. Personally Iíd just match him with anyone they want to push as a star in order to get them over bigger for beating the bad boy.
-We get a video package showing what ĎMaskí was all about and he pretty much comes off as the nicest guy youíll ever meet. ďI might not touch a million people, but if I touch that one who touches a million, thatís what itís all aboutĒ. What a way to think. Really cool stuff. RIP.
This was originally set to be a preliminary bout, but an injury to TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero removed him from the card and so Griffin got another televised bout under his belt, and really whoís going to complain about that as outside of nearly always going to decision he usually brings the goods. BJJ black belt Dos Anjos had lost in his UFC debut to Jeremy Stephens, and despite his ground skill I figured he was of a lower calibre than Tysonís most recent opponents (Sean Sherk, Marcus Aurelio, Gleison Tibau) and thus this was a good chance for Tyson to pick up his first finish since his 2006 submission over David Lee.
First round and Griffin opens with an inside leg kick. Good right hand from Tyson to put Dos Anjos on the retreat, and he follows with another. Leg kick from the Brazilian to answer. Tyson lands another good right and it looks like he has the advantage standing for sure. Striking exchange continues and Tyson is doing a really good job thus far. Straight right hand stuns Dos Anjos badly and Griffin follows with another, but then he ducks and goes for a double leg. Heís got Dos Anjos down, but why would he do that after cracking him standing like that? Griffin looks for some ground-and-pound as Dos Anjos tries to secure guard, and then Brazilian turns for the electric chair sweep before going for a leglock. Tyson tries to spin out, but his legís still in there and Dos Anjos ends up locking on a SICK calf slicer! Wow, thatís the first time Iíve ever seen that submission in UFC, actually the first time Iíve seen it in MMA in fact. Tysonís leg looks bent at a HORRIBLE angle and Dos Anjos has it on correctly too, controlling the back while turning into it. Dos Anjos cranks it, but canít get the tap, so he uses it to get on top before Griffin scrambles and gets to his feet. As he stands his left leg almost buckles from under him; clearly that hold did some damage. They circle and Griffin definitely isnít moving right. Jumping knee to the body from Dos Anjos and Griffin is trying to push forward, but his leg looks very stiff. Round ends as Tyson attempts a single leg. Good first round. Griffin had the advantage standing but the round has to go to Rafael Dos Anjos for the calf slicer as I think that was closer to a finish than it looked.
Second round and Griffin looks to be moving a little better now. Dos Anjos lands a good left hand early though that almost drops the Californian. They continue to circle and strike, and now the Brazilian looks much more in this fight than he did early on. Couple of good straight rights land for Tyson. Nice knee to the body and Dos Anjos shoots, but Griffin stuffs it with ease. Good body kick from Dos Anjos. Right hook from Griffin and they trade some blows. Tysonís beginning to land some more combinations now as I think his leg is loosening up. Beautiful left hook to the body and right hand and Tyson follows with a single leg attempt. Dos Anjos goes for a standing kimura, and he uses it to twist Griffin around and break free. This guy has some seriously slick grappling. Tyson throws a couple of really wild right hands that miss. Right hand lands over the top this time and Dos Anjos looks hurt, and Tyson swarms on him with punches until Dos Anjos manages to grab a clinch. Griffin forces him into the cage and lands a knee to the leg, and they exchange from close distance inside the clinch. Tyson breaks with a beautiful combo that lands flush, but Dos Anjos looks okay and the round ends there. This is a REALLY good fight. 10-9 Griffin as he landed the better shots standing.
Third and final round and Tyson is looking back to his normal self now, pushing the pace and landing jabs into the straight right hand. Good combo from Dos Anjos but Griffin eats it right up and fires back with one of his own that puts the Brazilian on the retreat. Inside leg kick from Tyson. Good right hand puts Dos Anjos on the run again. Pair of hard inside leg kicks land for Griffin. Flying knee from Dos Anjos misses and Griffin taunts him, telling him to bring it. Nice combo from Griffin, going to the body and then following with a hook to the head. Dos Anjos looks cut on the forehead now, perhaps over the right eye in fact. Tyson is beginning to pull away here. The Brazilian tries a standing elbow strike but it doesnít land and Griffin again taunts him. Good inside leg kick again from Griffin. Head kick from Dos Anjos is blocked. They exchange combos and Dos Anjos looks cut on the bridge of his nose. One minute to go. Tyson continues to push the pace, landing another combo beginning with a left hook. Double leg attempt from Griffin but Dos Anjos drops for a kimura, but it doesnít look too deep as Griffin ends up on top and lands with some knees to the body. Dos Anjos rolls into the kimura, but Tyson slips free and he finishes the round with some ground-and-pound. Iíve got this 29-28 for Tyson Griffin.
We go to the judges and itís a unanimous decision for Tyson Griffin, all three of them scoring it 30-27. Well, I donít see how he couldíve won that first round but whatever, right decision in the end. Post-fight Rogan quizzes him about the calf slicer and Tyson tells him heís been tapped with it in training before Ė well, duh, Tyson used to train with DAVID THE SOUL ASSASSIN TERRELL!~! who is a leglock God. Apparently it didnít hurt Tyson too badly, which I donít know if I believe. Really good fight overall even if it wouldíve been more fun to see it go to the ground where Dos Anjos looks ridiculously slick. The usual Tyson Griffin fare really.
-They play a trailer for the upcoming TUF series, as per usual making it out to be the ďcraziest season yet!Ē Eh, they always do that. I didnít think it came anywhere near TUF 5 or 8 in that sense and actually Iíd rate it as the second-worst season yet (behind TUF 4) but thatís another review.
This was ĎDarthí Baderís first fight following his victorious run on TUF 8, and he was presented with a solid enough test in American Top Teamís Carmelo Marrero, returning to the UFC following a WEC stint that saw him beat Baderís teammate Steve Steinbeiss. Hard to believe this guy once beat Cheick Kongo! Anyway, with Marreroís base being wrestling, and Bader being arguably the best pure wrestler these days at 205lbs, I saw this more as a chance for Bader to perhaps show off his newly learned skills, probably standing, and take out Marrero via a TKO.
We get underway and they circle before Bader ducks a shot and hits a powerful takedown. Immediately he works to pass the guard, and gets right into half-guard with a nice pass. Bader looks like heís setting up a far-side kimura, slipping into side mount in the process, and then Marrero manages to turn into him and ends up in a front facelock. Sheer strength from Bader forces Marrero back down into the guard and Bader again works to pass. Into side mount for Bader and he gets the Hughes crucifix for a moment before spinning around into an armbar! Whoa. It looks like heís got it locked in, but Marrero manages to roll to avoid it and works to pull his arm free. Good defensive job and he gets into Baderís guard from it. Bader ties him up from the bottom to prevent any damage. Marrero stands but Bader pops up to his feet. Good leg kick from Bader and then he catches one from Marrero and hits an easy takedown to guard. Into side mount again right away. Baderís guard passing here is looking tremendous. He controls Marrero from the top and lands a couple of good right hands, before Marrero manages to scramble up, taking a right hand in the process. They briefly exchange some strikes before Bader goes for a single and drives Marrero into the fence, switching to a double leg to put the ATT product on the ground in half-guard. Couple of elbows land for Bader as Marrero ties him up to prevent real damage, and the round closes out with Bader standing. Easy round to score, 10-9 for Ryan Bader.
Into the 2nd and they exchange some feeler strikes with Marrero landing a couple of jabs, and Bader answering with a couple of leg kicks. Marrero ducks for a takedown but Bader blocks it with a front facelock and drags him down, possibly looking to set up for a DíArce choke. Bader ends up forcing him onto his back in a butterfly guard. Couple of punches land for Darth Bader as he passes into half-guard and then takes the back, without hooks in though. Punches land to the side of Marreroís head as he tries to work back to his feet. Bader keeps him down for a moment and then grabs a rear waistlock as Marrero gets up, and forces him back down into half-guard. Crowd are beginning to get restless but Bader is owning this guy. Full guard now for Marrero but Bader works into half-guard again. Short elbows land for the TUF winner and he works into full mount. Marrero bucks and due to the cage Bader ends up being shaken off, but he gets right back on top in the guard. Bader looks for an arm triangle inside the guard, but he canít get it and gives it up pretty quickly. Round ends with Bader on top again. 10-9 for Bader.
Third and final round and Bader blocks a head kick in the first few seconds. Good leg kick from Marrero. Marrero tries to establish his jab, but Bader throws a right and quickly transitions to a single leg to guard. Baderís takedowns really are something to behold. Into half-guard for Bader and it looks like heís setting up the arm triangle again. Bader tries to get free of the guard and indeed he passes into side mount, but Marrero slips his arm free. Bader steps over to mount and then takes the back, but loses his hooks and instead controls Marrero with an over/under. Marrero rolls, but winds up on his back in guard. Marrero is doing a good job of protecting himself here, but he just canít get up from underneath Bader. Ref calls the stand-up and Marrero pumps out the jab again, and this time he manages to avoid a takedown. Marrero clinches but Bader quickly breaks and then shoots again, driving Marrero into the cage. Marrero defends initially but ends up seated, and Bader lands a knee to the chest and then pulls him down with a front facelock. Marrero decides to go to guard, and remains there taking punches as he rolls for a kneebar to close the fight out.
Easy fight to score and all three judges have it 30-27 for Ryan ĎDarthí Bader. Post-fight Bader tells Joe Rogan he thinks he performed decently, but didnít feel he quite fought to his potential and shouldíve transitioned a little better.
Personally I felt this was an excellent showing for Bader; the first round was especially impressive as he dominated Marrero and almost got the submission with the armbar, and while the second and third rounds were a little slower, it transpired that heíd actually torn his MCL in the first round which basically excuses him there. Overall heís still a work in progress but based on how heís progressing thus far Iíll stick my neck out and say that Baderís *the* top prospect in the world at 205lbs and I canít wait to see how heís improved for his next fight.
-Joe Rogan is joined by Chuck Liddell via satellite to discuss his preparations for the upcoming fight with Mauricio ĎShoguní Rua at UFC 97. Heís been working with Howard Davis Jr. and American Top Team, which is interesting. Pretty coherent interview for Liddell actually!
I was anticipating this match just as much as any of 2009 thus far to be honest, as the Welterweight division is absolutely packed with young, talented up-and-comers and these two are two of the very best out there. Kampmann was coming off his first win at 170lbs over Alexandre Barros, but heíd always looked great at 185lbs and really his only problem there had been his size. Condit meanwhile was making his long-awaited UFC debut after the WEC folded their 170lbs division, and to say it was a welcome move for him would be an understatement. No offense to Brock Larson (who Condit had already beaten) but following him the next two challengers in WEC wouldíve most likely been Johny Hendricks or Danillo Villefort, and while those guys are very talented, theyíre largely inexperienced and at this stage in his career Condit needs to be fighting the best.
As far as a pick goes, I was pretty torn. Kampmannís always pushed as this major-league striker, the Danish kickboxing champion, but when you actually watch his fights, heís only ever gotten in trouble standing and wins most of them with submissions. Condit meanwhile is usually pushed as a ground fighter, but heís got sick standing skills and the biggest challenge heíd had in WEC (vs. Hiromitsu Miura) had largely come on the mat. So really it was a pick-em wherever the fight went. In the end after much deliberation (and a lot of personal bias!) I decided to go with Condit, after a close fight, late in the third round with a TKO or submission.
As always Conditís entrance and ring introduction are THE AWESOME, as we basically see him transform from a mild-mannered dude to the NATURAL BORN KILLER in the space of like two minutes. The king of mean-mugging, this guy. Both guys get a healthy crowd pop form the Nashville fans.
First round begins and they exchange some early feeler strikes before Condit lands a right to the body to set up a clinch. They muscle for position and then Kampmann gets a nice takedown, forcing Condit to the mat. Kampmann lands in side mount and then locks up a guillotine, and Carlos looks in trouble, but he smartly spins out of Kampmannís guard to alleviate it a little and pops out into side mount. Elbow by Condit and then he grabs a guillotine as Kampmann sits up. Half-guard from Kampmann and he pushes off and stands, taking a right on the way up. Condit forces him into the cage and they muscle for position in the clinch before Condit trips him down to half-guard. Condit works to pass but Kampmann hits a nice reversal and turns into him, ending up in Conditís guard. Good job of defending by Condit as Kampmann looks to pin him into the cage, and then the Dane drops back for a heel hook. Condit rolls to avoid it and looks to pop his leg free, doing so and reversing into top position in Kampmannís half-guard. Butterfly guard from Kampmann now and he looks to push away, but Condit stays on top and drops a right hand down for good measure. Elbow from Condit opens a cut under Kampmannís left eye, and as the Dane works to get to his feet, Condit NAILS him with a HUGE KNEE STRIKE and follows with a vicious standing elbow! Kampmann looks pretty bloody now. Good combo to the body from Condit but Kampmann doesnít look rocked or anything. They exchange again with Condit landing a nice kick to the body. Seconds remaining and Condit lands a glancing head kick and a flying knee, but Kampmann clinches and muscles him to the ground. They scramble and now Kampmann grabs another guillotine and it looks pretty damn tight, but the buzzer sounds to save Condit. Unbelievably close round and it was a great one too, but Iím scoring it 10-9 for Carlos Condit as the grappling was largely even while Condit clearly landed the more damaging shots standing.
Round Two and both men exchange some crisp combos into the clinch. Trip attempt from Condit but Kampmann blocks it well and looks to muscle Carlos down, putting him on his back in guard. They exchange a few elbows and then Kampmann stacks up to drop some strikes down on the former WEC champ. Good job defensively by Condit to avoid damage though. Kampmann stands and Condit clips him with an upkick and then pushes off to his feet. They clinch but Condit breaks with an elbow, only to take a right hook on his way out. Another exchange follows before Kampmann backs up, and Condit follows with a flying knee and Kampmann clinches. Condit breaks with the elbow again and then lands a right hook into a left high kick that glances off Kampmannís shoulder. BIG FRONT KICK snaps the Daneís head back, and Carlos follows with a straight right! Takedown from Condit and he lands in Kampmannís guard and pins him into the cage. Kampmann kicks him right off and stands, and Condit comes back with a combo to the body, which Kampmann answers with a knee. Elbow strike separates for Condit and boy is Kampmannís face a bloody mess now. Nice combo from the Dane though ending in two uppercuts. Condit looks for the takedown and gets it again, but Kampmann grabs the guillotine once more and really strains at it. Conditís got an arm in though and he works free, then hops onto the Daneís back as he rolls! Both hooks in for Condit and he locks up the choke, but Kampmann manages to slip free! Condit tries to get it again but this time Kampmann escapes and winds up in Conditís guard. This fight RULES. Kampmann stacks up again but has to avoid upkicks and ends up dropping into the guard, and the round ends there. This is a seriously close fight but again Iím scoring the round for Condit by a hair, as he did more damage standing again and like the first round the grappling was largely even. So I have it 20-18 for Condit going into the final round.
Round Three and Condit looks for the flying knee to the body, but Kampmann clinches. Kampmann takes an inadvertent poke in the eye and the ref calls time to let him recover. Doctors check him over and everything but heís fine to continue. Good combo from Condit ending with a body kick. Clinch from Kampmann and they muscle for position before Kampmann drops and takes him down to the guard. Condit keeps himself active from the bottom, but Kampmann does a good job of controlling him as he squirms, using a couple of short elbows too. He tries to pass, but Condit is slippery as hell and manages to keep guard. Good shots from Kampmann from the top though as he stacks up. Condit comes back with a couple of elbows from the bottom. Another nice right hand lands for the Hitman though. Condit is constantly shifting his hips from the bottom, but Kampmannís keeping top position well. A scramble allows Condit to his feet momentarily, but Kampmann drags him back down and takes top position in the guard again. Couple of upkicks land for Condit as Kampmann stands, but the Dane drops a couple of good punches to answer. Carlos looks to be rolling for a kimura, but he canít quite lock it up and ends up giving it up as Kampmann passes to half-guard. Condit gets full guard back in and thereís just a minute to go now. Good right hand from Kampmann from the top. Condit rolls for a heel hook though and this allows him to escape to his feet. Right hook to the body from Condit but a body kick is caught and Kampmann looks to trip him down, but Condit rolls for a kneebar instead. Kampmann defends it and ends up on top in half-guard, and it looks like heís trying to set up an arm triangle, but Condit scrambles back to full guard. Condit looks to escape to his feet using the cage and does so, and he goes for a guillotine, pulling guard, but the buzzer sounds. Great, great fight. Final round goes to Martin Kampmann pretty comfortably as he kept top position for the majority, which means I have it 29-28 for Condit overall. Kampmann finished stronger though so that could weigh heavily for the judges, and this could definitely go either way.
Judges have it a split decision, 29-28 Kampmann, 29-28 Condit, and 29-28 for Martin Kampmann to take the victory. Crowd boo the decision but thatís not fair at all really as it was a very close fight to score and although I wouldíve gone for Condit you could easily make a fair argument for Kampmann taking it. Post-fight Kampmann tells Joe Rogan that he thought he had the fight won with the early guillotine, but he puts Condit over as a tough guy and then says he was seeing double late in the fight.
This really was a phenomenal fight, with both guys displaying excellent striking and grappling, reversals and counters, and really I donít think you can ask for more in a fight. It wasnít like a Griffin-Bonnar or anything in terms of being a crazy war, but as far as a pure technical fight goes I canít recall many better inside the UFC Octagon. For me regardless of the decision going the wrong way in my opinion, this is the Fight of the Year thus far. Hats off to both fighters.
-And we end the show there, segueing into TUF 9.
Man, has 2009 been a strong year for UFCís free-tv shows or what? This one was no exception as not only did we get what I would consider the FOTY thus far in the main event with Condit-Kampmann, but we also got the very solid Griffin-Dos Anjos fight and a fun match with Miller against Browning. Iíve got Bader-Marrero down here as the ĎWorst Fightí but that doesnít mean it was bad or anything Ė the first round in fact was very good Ė itís more a testament to how good the other three televised fights on the card are that it gets that distinction. Overall we couldíve done with one more finish on the card as opposed to three decisions, but thatíd really be nitpicking and when you get a possible FOTY on the card how can you complain? Two thumbs up.
Best Fight: Condit-Kampmann
Worst Fight: Bader-Marrero
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 97-103, Fight Night 19, TUF IX Finale.
King of the Cage: Various shows