I was INSANELY excited for this opener, as being a long time Gracie mark, a next-generation Gracie with proper well-rounded skills in MMA is almost the holy grail to me. Rolles Ė the son of the legendary Rolls, who had died in the 80ís in a hang gliding accident Ė would be the first Gracie to compete in the UFC since Royce fought Matt Hughes in 2006, and the word was that he had genuine skills outside of the obvious BJJ, having trained with Greg Jacksonís camp including guys like Rashad Evans. Originally he was set to face Mostapha Al-Turk, but when the Brit lost his Visa, newcomer Beltran Ė a small-ish HW with his only real win of note over Houston Alexander Ė stepped in on late notice. I think this fight had the craziest odds on gambling sites, as pretty much everyone expected Rolles to tap Beltran with ease.
We begin and Beltran pushes forward, stuffing an early takedown attempt. Rolles closes the distance quickly though and forces him into the fence, where he lands some knees to the body. Beltran continues to defend the takedown, and breaks off. Right hand into a takedown attempt from Gracie, and this time he gets a bodylock and trips Beltran down. He gets to full mount right away and Beltran is in trouble early. Beltran gives his back and Rolles immediately works for the rear naked choke, then turns back to mount. Couple of punches from Rolles and then Beltran rolls, giving his back again, but this time he wriggles and turns into Gracieís guard! Rolles keeps a tight guard and so Beltran decides to stand back up. Body kick misses for Rolles and Beltran counters, landing a right hand. Rolles throws out some strikes, but he looks a bit awkward on his feet, reminiscent of Pe De Pano in his early UFC days actually. Big right hand does land for Gracie though and leads him into another clinch. Beltran manages to break off, but takes another solid right hand and they trade some punches back into the clinch. Beltran breaks again and now Rolles looks tired. Awful takedown attempt fails miserably and Beltran refuses to enter the guard. Big swing misses for Rolles and he looks out of gas. He continues to swing, but he looks very stiff on the feet and Beltran lands a couple of counters. Rolles tries another takedown attempt with a few seconds to go, but Beltran sprawls out and lands punches to the head to finish the round. Probably Gracieís round for the early work, but he looks exhausted now.
Round Two and Beltran pushes forward right away, sprawling to avoid a takedown before punching at the head. Rolles struggles to his feet and takes a right hand, and then as he drops for a takedown Beltran lands a knee and some more punches. This time Rolles is slow to get up when Beltran calls him back to his feet. Weak takedown attempt misses and this time Gracie ends up kneeling before dropping to his back. Christ. Referee Herb Dean waves him up and he shoots again, but Beltran sprawls and begins to land punches and hammer fists, flattening Rolles out, and from there the Mexecutioner lands more shots for the stoppage. Wow.
Taking nothing away from Joey Beltran who came in and did what he had to do, this was a terrible showing from Rolles Gracie. I mean, his ground game looked good until Beltran escaped a bad position, and it was all downhill from there as his striking was crude and he just didnít have the cardio to bring the fight back to the ground. How you can gas out in like, three minutes I donít know. Horribly disappointing stuff and unsurprisingly Rolles was released from his UFC contract afterwards. Maybe Roger or Ralek can carry the Gracie name now?
Both of these men had lost at UFC 102, although Tuchschererís loss to Gabriel Gonzaga wasnít without controversy as he took a sickening kick to the groin that probably shouldíve stopped him before succumbing to strikes later on. On paper this was a close one to call and, no offense to either man, it was one of those fights I just didnít care about at all. My pick ended up being Tuchscherer.
Both men look to be in awful shape here, particularly Tuchscherer. I mean sure, aesthetics arenít everything but to come in completely flabby like this is shameful. We begin and they circle with Hague looking to keep his distance early. Tuchscherer bulls forward and forces him into the fence, looking for a takedown, but Hague defends well. Tuchscherer gets a really deep single leg but still canít get Hague down and then they break off. Hague pushes forward and they trade some punches with both men landing. Good leg kick from Tuchscherer. Another takedown attempt follows a one-two, but Hague forces him into the cage and lands a knee to the groin. Poor Tuchscherer. Ref calls time, and then they restart with Tuchscherer connecting with a right hand. Hague pushes forward some more but Tuchschererís landed the better shots thus far. Good leg kick from Hague though. High kick narrowly misses for Tuchscherer. Into the clinch and Tuchscherer muscles him into the cage, then drops for a takedown. Hague looks for a standing guillotine, but it doesnít look locked in properly and he ends up letting go. Couple of knees to the thighs from Tuchscherer, but he still canít get Hague down and ends up breaking with a knee to the head. Hague comes forward again but Tuchscherer forces him back into the fence as the buzzer sounds. Close round but it goes to Chris Tuchscherer, 10-9 on my scorecard.
Second round and they trade some jabs before Hague counters a low kick with a right hand. Tuchscherer finally gets a takedown to half-guard, but Hague goes for a kimura. Tuchscherer works free pretty quickly and looks for some ground-and-pound, but Hague works to his feet. Tuchscherer has a guillotine but he lets it go and then breaks off. Combo from Tuchscherer lands. They circle out and both men look a little tired as Tuchscherer lands another combination. Leg kick lands for him too. Back into the clinch but they break off quickly. They begin to trade punches and Hague is looking very tired now. He keeps shoving Tuchscherer away as he steps forward, then surprisingly goes for a flying knee, but Tuchscherer gets hold of him and forces him into the fence. Tuchscherer drops for a takedown, but Hague blocks and lands a nice right hook, then follows with another one that slows Tuchscherer down. Hague really begins to push it now, landing a left hook into the clinch, where he lands a knee to the body, but the round ends there. Hague almost stole the round there but I think it still goes to Tuchscherer, giving him a 20-18 lead going into the third.
Third and final round and Hague pushes forward, but eats a combo early. Hague begins to unload though, landing a big flurry that rocks Tuchschererís world, and now Tuchscherer looks gassed. He tries a takedown, but Hague stuffs it and gets on top in side mount. Knee to the belly from Hague and then he steps to full mount and takes the back for a second. Tuchscherer slips free and looks for another takedown, but Hague sprawls out again where he lands some nice hammer fists and gets on top, winding up in guard. Big punches from the Canadian and he passes into half-guard. Full mount now from Hague and then he almost takes the back, but Tuchscherer turns out of it and goes for a takedown of his own. It looks like heís got an ankle pick, but heís too exhausted to get it and Hague lands more punches and then forces Tuchscherer onto his back in half-guard. Elbows from Hague and it looks like he could get a DíArce as Tuchscherer goes for an underhook, but instead he winds up taking the back. Tuchscherer goes out the back door, but heís too gassed to do a thing and Hague pins him back down and continues to land shots. He looks for the far-side kimura ala Matt Hughes, but then gives it up to pound him some more. 10-8 Hague as Tuchscherer gassed and did nothing, but if you give him the first two rounds thatís a 28-28 draw.
Judges have it a majority decision for Chris Tuchscherer, 29-28, 29-28 and 28-28. Crowd boo the decision wildly, but thatís the problem with the 10-point must system, as Tuchscherer eked out the first two rounds then lost the third badly, but if you judge it so a 10-9 is a close win and a 10-8 has to be real dominance, then the guy who took more of a beating can win. I had the last round a 10-8 because Tuchscherer did nothing, but really, I could see a 10-9 too as Hague never came really close to putting him away. I think really, it calls for more 10-8 and even 10-7 rounds from the judges to get rid of these sorts of results, as in a ďproperĒ fight Hague would win. Pretty sloppy fight overall.
Another top-level collegiate wrestler entering into MMA, Davis Ė nicknamed ĎMr Wonderfulí Ė had won a national championship in 2008 before beginning his fight career that October, and since then heíd reeled off four straight wins. The word on him was that his striking needed a lot of work but naturally, he had very good grappling skills. Marine Stann seemed to be a tailor-made opponent for him Ė a good striker with little in the way of a ground game, and I expected this to be a showcase for Davisí considerable skills.
First thing notable is Davisí physique Ė the guy is clearly a sick athlete but he has the most ridiculous lats Iíve ever seen in MMA, like an Olympic swimmer or something as opposed to a fighter. Fight begins and they circle, and itís pretty clear that while Davis is explosive as hell he isnít quite a refined striker. Takedown attempt from Davis and he bulls Stann into the fence, but Stann does a great job of defending and manages to get free. Front kick to the chest from Davis. Big right hand narrowly misses for Stann. Stann begins to look a little calmer now, throwing combinations, but he doesnít really land anything major. Finally Davis manages to get a takedown, landing in side mount, but Stann manages to turn into half-guard. Couple of punches land for Davis and then he looks to take the back as Stann tries to stand back up. Davis slaps both hooks in and flattens him out, and then Stann rolls to mount and looks to escape. Punches for Davis and he gets the back again, then goes back to mount where he lands more short punches. Stann gives his back again, and takes some heavy shots to end the round. 10-9 Phil Davis.
Into the 2nd and Stann comes out with a combo, but Davis avoids it well and throws a pair of body kicks that donít land clean. Decent body kick connects on a third attempt and he follows with a right hook to set up a nice takedown. Right into half-guard for Davis and he lands some punches while looking to pass. He slips into full mount for a moment, but a nice hip escape from Stann puts him back in half-guard. Itís a loose half-guard though and Davis gets to side mount easily and then uses an arm triangle tease to take full mount. Stann gives his back again and gets flattened out, where Davis lands punches before the Marine turns to full mount. Davis gets the back again and if he had devastating ground-and-pound Stann would probably be done. Punches and then back to full mount, and this time he lands some solid shots. Stann uses the fence to wall-walk and roll free, but itís only for a split-second as Davis gets a cradle and pulls him down for some BRUTAL knees to the body, ala Kevin Randleman in PRIDE. Nasty stuff. Davis uses his elbow to grind at Stann and keeps him controlled as the Marine rolls, ending the round in a front facelock. Dominant round for Davis, 10-8 this time.
Third round and Davis comes forward and just dodges a right hand. Front kick to the body again from Davis and he looks far more comfortable on his feet now. Takedown attempt from Davis and Stann tries to stuff it, but gets slammed. Half-guard for Stann but heís pinned into the cage, and Davis avoids a kimura attempt and takes the back again. He looks for the hooks, then basically just rides him and lands some punches. Stann manages to wriggle back to half-guard, but Davis easily slips into side mount. Full mount again from Davis. He looks for a keylock, but itís too high up and he lets it go. Donít see too many people winning with keylocks these days actually. Hip escape from Stann gets him into half-guard, but Davis quickly resumes mount and lands punches before taking the back. Stann is just getting clowned on the ground. Back to the mount now and then Davis uses his elbow to grind on the face. Into side mount and then he uses a knee-on-belly to land punches before mounting. Back mount from Davis again with seconds to go. Stann defends a choke attempt and turns to mount, and then Davis steps over and almost gets an armbar on the buzzer. 10-8 Phil Davis again, giving him the win 30-25 in my book.
Unanimous decision for Phil Davis; they donít announce the scores for some reason though. This was a tremendous debut for Davis Ė even though he didnít finish the fight, he just ran through Stann with ease, absolutely dominating him on the ground with his wrestling and positioning, showing some solid BJJ skills too. If he can improve his striking Ė which is very likely, given how explosive an athlete he is Ė then the sky is the limit for this guy. I can already see him, Jon Jones and Ryan Bader as the 205lbs versions of Lesnar, Carwin and Velasquez when they first burst onto the scene in 2008 actually. Pretty entertaining, if one-sided fight.
The rumor here was that both of these men were in the last chance saloon with the UFC, which to me seemed a little unfair as Emerson Ė while not sporting the greatest record Ė almost always brings it and never has a boring fight, while Nover had shown a ton of potential on TUF 8 and his loss following that was a poor referee stoppage against Kyle Bradley. On paper this seemed likely to be an explosive kickboxing match, but I thought Nover had slightly more well-rounded skills and expected him to be able to pull out the victory.
First round begins and Emerson takes the center of the cage. They throw out some early jabs and Nover lands with a right hand. High kick attempt causes Phillipe to slip, and Emerson lands a right as he comes up that knocks him down. Looked like he was off balance rather than hurt though as he goes for a takedown, but Emerson bulls him into the cage. Good takedown from Emerson into the guard of the Filipino Assassin, where Nover looks to get a rubber guard working. Emerson isnít doing much from the top here. Nover looks to use the fence to wall-walk back to his feet, and does so, but Emerson quickly uses a single leg to get him back down. A second wall-walk attempt follows but Emerson keeps him down and lands a right hand. Suddenly Nover catches him in a guillotine and stands, using it to sweep into top position. It looks pretty tight, but Emerson shows experience and stays calm, escaping before going for a heel hook. Nover slips free and they stand, where the TUF finalist grabs another guillotine and drops to guard, but this time Emersonís got an arm in and he works free. Phillipe wall-walks back up again, but Emerson gets another takedown. Nover looks to work from the bottom as Emerson seems content just to hold him down, and he lands a pair of knees to the body as Nover stands. They stay clinched and the round ends with an exchange of knees. Tough round to score as while Emerson had the takedowns, he didnít do much with them and Noverís guillotine attempt was the best offensive move of the round. Iíll go 10-10 I think.
Round Two and Emerson opens with a couple of leg kicks. Nice body kick from Phillipe. Right hand from Emerson hurts Nover and he shoots, but Emerson stuffs it and gets on top, where he tries to drop some wild punches. He doesnít really land clean though and Nover catches him with an upkick as he dives in. Emerson passes into side mount and lands a couple of knees to the body, but Nover manages to escape to half-guard. Nover looks like heís going for an oma plata, but heís a bit too low and ends up in full guard. Emerson again is doing very little from the top. Nover looks to wriggle free and tries to use the fence to stand again, doing so in a nice escape. Emerson keeps a bodylock and looks for the takedown again, but the ref separates them. Just over a minute to go now and they trade some strikes with Nover coming forward, but as they clinch Emerson trips him back down to guard. Elbows from the bottom from Nover and this time heís more active from the guard than Emerson from the top, but the round ends with Rob landing a right hand. 10-9 Rob Emerson.
Round Three and Emerson stalks forward, but eats a body kick from Nover. Oops, wasnít a body kick, in fact it landed in the groin. Herb Dean calls time and Emerson runs it off and takes a breather. Fight restarts and Nover lands a low kick and a good knee to the body. Emerson clinches and looks to muscle him down again, but this time Nover blocks it and uses the cage to stay on his feet. Emerson drops for a double leg, but Nover continues to do a better job of defending in this round and remains standing. Good knees from Nover seem to hurt Emerson and he breaks off. They exchange some more strikes with neither man really getting the advantage, and then Emerson tackles him with a double leg again. Nover looks to scramble to his feet by the cage, but Emerson manages to keep him down. Nover grabs a guillotine again as they stand, and this time it looks very tight as Emerson crumples to the ground with Nover on top, but the TUF 5 veteran manages to hold on and gets his head free. Phillipe stays on top and then lands a big knee as they break off. Less than a minute to go now and they trade some kicks before Phillipe lands another knee to the body. Emerson shoots in againfor another double leg, and manages to get it, but Nover sprawls out and works to his feet as the round ends. Nover stole that round in like, the last ninety seconds, so I have this a 29-29 draw.
Judges have it a unanimous decision (no scores read again) for Rob Emerson. Really close fight to call and I guess the judges wound up going with Emersonís takedowns over Noverís submission attempts, which is understandable given the Unified Rules and what usually happens in judging, but even so, this was an unlucky break for Phillipe, who indeed was released from his UFC contract. Given the nature of his two losses I donít think it was justified, but I guess 155lbs is the most loaded division in the UFC and so thereís less room for losses there. Pretty dull fight thanks to Emersonís lay-and-pray tactics.
Nova Uniaoís Torres had signed with the UFC back in 2009 and had a bit of hype behind him, but hadnít made his debut that year due to a litany of injuries. With his awesome BJJ game, solid takedowns from what Iíd seen and a big win over PRIDE veteran Luiz Azeredo, the hype on the guy seemed to be justified. Guillard meanwhile had always showed potential going back to his UFC debut in 2005, but never seemed to be able to put it all together and to me this seemed like a showcase for Torres, who I took to win by submission in the first round.
Fight gets underway and Guillard comes leaping out with a flying knee that misses and follows with a high kick that Torres blocks. Takedown from the Brazilian but Melvin quickly gets his back to the cage, looking to wall-walk up to his feet. Melvin looks surprisingly calm considering whoís on top of him actually. Torres pulls him away from the cage and works into side mount, then looks to mount, but Melvin explodes out and tries to wall-walk. Punch from Torres but Melvin scrambles and escapes to his feet. Wild punches miss for Torres but he gets a double leg to half-guard. Full mount for Torres and he takes the back for a second, but Guillard EXPLODES out and spins into the Brazilianís guard. Back to the feet now and Melvin lands a hard leg kick. Some wild swings from Torres donít catch Melvin and he gets out of range. Spinning backfist misses for Guillard. Torres wades in and lands a hard right hook, but Melvin doesnít seem hurt and he fires off a couple of jabs. Takedown from Torres and he goes through a knee to get it, dragging Melvin away from the cage into full guard. Torres works with some punches to the body, as Guillard uses the guard to tie him up. He passes to half-guard and wraps his legs around Guillardís right leg, preventing the wall-walk. Guillard finally explodes up, but eats a right hand from Torres on the way out. Guillard comes back with a left, and the round ends shortly after. Close round but Iím going with Ronys Torres, 10-9.
Hilarious scenes between rounds, as somehow Torresí cornerman drops the whole bag of ice onto the mat. Second round begins and Guillard comes charging in, missing a flying knee, but Torres comes in just as wild and looks for a takedown. Melvin twists and somehow Torres picks him up onto his shoulders (!) but rather than do an electric chair drop he tries to drop him forwards and Melvin sprawls out and avoids a slam. Good leg kick from Guillard. They exchange some strikes from range with neither man looking tired, and so far Torres has done a good job of trading strikes with Melvin. Takedown attempt from Torres but Melvin counters with a knee. This doesnít stop the Brazilian though who drives in for a double leg, and he almost lifts him for a slam but somehow Melvin muscles free and remains standing. Good body kick from Guillard. Beautiful leg kick into a right hand combo from Melvin. Torres drives in for a single leg again, but Melvin stuffs it, snaps his head back with a knee and exits with a one-two. Superman punch lands for Melvin and heís doing a better job of avoiding Torresí more wild punches now. Leg kick from Guillard but Torres catches it and looks for a takedown, transitioning to a rear waistlock. Guillard tries to flip free, but ends up on his back in guard. Reversal from Melvin puts him on top, but Torres isolates an arm, looking for a kimura. Melvin powers his way free and stays tight in the guard, and the round finishes with Melvin standing free and trying a diving punch. 10-9 Guillard. This is a really good fight actually.
Third round and this could still go either way. Guillard comes out and wings an overhand right that misses. Torres misses a wild hook of his own, then shoots, but Guillard sprawls and gets back to his feet. Nice right hook lands for Melvin. Jab follows and lands flush. Torres continues to stalk forward and they exchange punches with Torres landing a left hook. Good combo from Melvin to answer. Single leg attempt from Torres and he turns the corner and gets Melvin on his back in half-guard. It looks like heís setting up for an arm triangle, and then he moves into side mount, but Melvin squirms from his back and proves hard to control. Torres manages to keep him down though but he botches a mount attempt and allows Guillard to escape to his feet. Good jab from Melvin. Right hand but Torres comes forward and goes for another takedown, lunging in at the legs and getting Melvin to the ground again. Less than a minute to go now and Melvinís seated against the cage. Punches to the body from Torres and he tries to step over to mount, but Melvin defends well. Slam from Torres to finish the round, but suddenly Melvin spins over into full mount and lands a flurry of punches on the buzzer! Well, despite that late explosion I have that round 10-9 for Torres giving him the win 29-28. Could go either way though.
Judges have it 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, unanimous decision for Melvin Guillard. Really close fight and even though I thought Torres deserved the decision it was close enough that you couldnít really say he got dicked by the judges or anything like that. Really good fight albeit not the most exciting of all time, but hey, Iíd still rather see a fight like this with two clearly skilled guys in top shape than say, Hague-Tuchscherer from earlier in the night. Look forward to seeing Guillardís next fight as heís clearly improved from his earlier days, and even though heís now been released from the UFC due to another close loss, I hope a guy as talented as Torres can make it back soon.
Wow, talk about a fall from grace Ė from winning TUF to a three-fight losing streak and being relegated to the prelims against Justin Buchholz Ė youíve got to feel for Mac Danzig I guess. This seemed to be Zuffaís way of throwing him a bone though, as while Buchholz had shown himself to be a solid fighter, Danzig appeared to have better skills in all areas and I expected him to pick up a much-needed win here.
Fight begins and they circle before Danzig rushes in with a good low kick and a short left hook. Combo from Buchholz answers, but Mac gets out of the way. Another good leg kick lands for Danzig. Buchholz continues to throw strikes and lands with a straight right hand and a front kick to the body. Takedown attempt from Mac but Buchholz stuffs it. Few kicks land for Buchholz before Danzig catches him with a right hand to lead into a brief trade. Good left hook coming forward from Mac. Danzig is beginning to put together some good combinations now. Buchholz presses forward throwing combos, but Danzig counters nicely. Another combo lands for Buchholz and they trade some bombs into the clinch before Buchholz breaks with a knee. Looks like Danzig mightíve been stunned a little there. He recovers though, pushing forward with another solid leg kick. Buchholz fires right back but Mac covers up well. This is a good round actually. They trade into the clinch where they exchange some shots, then break and Mac clips him with a right and forces him into the cage. Good elbow inside from Buchholz but Danzig answers with a knee. They break off and trade kicks to finish the round. Close one to call. Iím leaning slightly towards Mac Danzig.
Second round and Buchholz comes out with a front kick. They continue to exchange strikes before Danzig shoots on a double leg. Buchholz defends it well though and they end up clinched. They break off and both men land stiff jabs. Good combo from the TUF 6 winner. Both men putting together some good combos here. Takedown from Danzig and he lands in side mount. Mac moves for full mount and almost gets it, landing some good punches en route, but Buchholz gets half-guard. Buchholz works back to full guard and tries a kimura, but it doesnít look locked up correctly and Danzig slides into half-guard and escapes. Into side mount for Mac and this time he slides the knee across to take full mount. Buchholz rolls and gives his back, but Danzig looks a little high here and he winds up rolling for an armbar instead. Buchholz manages to slip free and winds up in Macís guard. Some good elbows land from the bottom for Danzig. Beautiful sweep from Danzig puts him in full mount, where he lands some shots just as the round ends. 10-9 Mac Danzig.
Final round and Buchholz tries a hopping kick as he pushes forward, but he takes a combo from Danzig who follows by dropping and getting another takedown. He almost takes full mount instantly, but Buchholz gets his back to the cage and manages to stand. They exchange some knees on the way out and then both men land with hard right hands that back the other up. Right hook from Buchholz into a clinch, but Danzig hits him with an uppercut inside. Danzig tries a shoulder throw but botches it, and winds up on his back in guard. Danzig stays active from his back, landing some punches and elbows as Buchholz seems content just to hold top position. Herb Dean decides to bring them back to their feet, where Danzig lands a pair of jabs and an uppercut. Follow-up combo has Buchholz stunned, but he recovers quickly and fires back. Beautiful body punch from Danzig, followed by a nice right and left and then a takedown to side mount. This is pretty much sealing the fight for the TUF winner. Full mount from Mac and then he gets the back, where he lands some solid punches as Buchholz turtles up. Buchholz manages to turn again, but heís still under the full mount and he takes some more elbows. Seconds to go and it looks like Macís got a choke locked up as Buchholz rolls, but the time runs out before he can finish. Iíve got this 30-27 for Mac Danzig.
Judges all agree; unanimous decision for Mac Danzig with scores of 29-28 all around. Pretty good fight actually as both men landed some solid shots standing, but the difference ended up being Danzigís ground game as when the fight went down, he was able to dominate pretty much. This was a nice way for him to bounce back following his three losses, but whether heíll do better when he comes up against the wrestle-boxers again I donít know as I still think theyíre a bad match for him. We shall see.
There was a surprising lack of trash-talk coming into this one considering well, itís Frank Trigg and Matt Serra, but I guess both men were concentrating more on the fight as they both had their backs to the wall coming off losses. A year beforehand I wouldíve said the bout favoured Trigg, but after seeing Serra do very well against Matt Hughes (I actually had him winning that fight) who has always been a better version of Trigg, I figured Serra could pull this one off Ė either by knockout, using his heavier hands and better boxing, or by a submission when Trigg took him down.
Trigg has grown a full head of hair for this fight which just looks wrong. Some guys are just supposed to be bald. Frank Trigg is one of them.
Round One gets underway and Serra looks to land his right hand to the body early on. Trigg throws a combo of his own, but he doesnít land cleanly and Serra keeps pushing forward, landing a low kick. Another shot lands to the body for Serra. Serra is really working the body well here, some of the best body work Iíve seen in a long time. Another shot to the body lands as Trigg comes forward, and this time Serra follows over the top with a BIG RIGHT HAND that drops Trigg hard! Serra quickly follows up with some punches that bounce Triggís head off the ground and thatís all she wrote.
Awesome shot for the knockout Ė Serra really does have some seriously heavy hands. He might be 35 now but I think he can still make some impact on the upper echelon of 170lbs if he actually fights with a little more frequency, based on the Matt Hughes fight and then this knockout. I mean, thereís plenty of good fights for him there Ė Koscheck, Hardy, Condit, Kampmann, Swick Ė Welterweight is the most stacked division in the UFC and itíd be nice to have Serraís name amongst them as opposed to a guy who fights like maybe once a year now. This was up there with the GSP win as one of the biggest in Serraís career.
We hadnít really seen a grappler face Maia since his win over Jason MacDonald in August 2008, so this fight was interesting to me to see whether Miller would try to fight fire with fire like MacDonald had or attempt to keep the fight standing instead. Maia was coming off his devastating loss to Nate Marquardt, but this was a fight that on paper, favoured him hugely as Miller isnít really a great striker, and so I thought the Brazilian could take it by submission after an entertaining grappling war.
We get underway and they throw out some feeler strikes early with neither man really landing. Maia pushes forward and they exchange some punches before the Brazilian looks for the takedown. Miller works to defend it with his back to the cage, and takes a good knee to the body. Miller manages to break off and Maia narrowly misses a head kick. Nice leg kick from Miller. Good body kick from Maia and he follows with a double leg, but Miller kicks him off and scrambles right back up. Knee lands to the groin in a clinch though and the ref calls time to let Miller recover. They restart and Miller comes forward swinging, but doesnít land cleanly. This is degenerating into a bad kickboxing match. Into the clinch and Maia manages to trip him down with a foot sweep, but Miller scrambles up again. Decent combo from Maia and the round ends shortly after. Demian Maiaís round by a hair.
Into the 2nd and the striking exchange continues. Maiaís not doing a bad job at all here but itís pretty clear that neither guy is a legit striker as we havenít seen much land cleanly yet. If anything, Demian is surprisingly landing the better shots. Pair of good left hands land for Maia and he follows with a nice left hook over the top. Body shot from Miller. Crowd begin to get restless with the striking and this fight is crying out for a really sick grappling exchange. Maia actually lands some jabs and at this point I think Miller would be better off looking for a takedown or something. Round peters out on the feet. This is dull as hell.
Final round and Miller comes out looking to push the pace, but weíre still in the realm of bad kickboxing. Into the clinch and Maia muscles him into the fence, but they break pretty quickly. Short right hand appears to land for Miller and Maia goes down, but it looked like he mightíve been trying to pull guard and he pops forward quickly with a single leg and drags Miller down to guard. Miller gets his back to the fence and takes some punches, but he manages to stand up again and breaks free. Takedown attempt from Maia but Miller sprawls initially, only to go down on a second attempt. Miller scrambles from his back, trying to keep guard, but Maia gets into half-guard and softens him up with some short punches. Demian gets into side mount for a split-second but a quick escape gets Miller back to butterfly guard. Crowd shower the age with boos now but this is better than the second round at least. Miller actually goes for a triangle and good for him, but Maia stands free. Seconds to go and they exchange from the guard to finish.
I have this firmly for Demian Maia and the judges agree, handing him the victory. This wasnít a good fight by any means though Ė Miller was looking to fight the smart fight and keep it standing, but really, once Maia turned out to have improved his striking to a level where he could actually outpoint Miller on the feet, it was probably a better idea for him to just go for the ground game and go out on his sword like Jason MacDonald did as opposed to putting on a dull kickboxing affair like we got. Thereís nothing worse, in my mind, than seeing two grapplers fight badly on their feet like this one. Really boring stuff.
After dispatching of one AKA Welterweight (Josh Koscheck) in his UFC debut and then losing to another one (Jon Fitch) via a tough decision, Brazilian Thiago was faced with the third here in Swick, who was looking to bounce back from his disappointing loss to Paul Daley. A lot of the questions surrounding Thiago had been answered by his fight with Jacob Volkmann in November Ė very heavy hands but rudimentary skills standing, a very solid ground game with good takedowns and positional awareness Ė but to me he was still the underdog in this one as Swick has skills in all areas and also has an underrated top game in my opinion. I thought heíd probably use the same gameplan he did against Marcus Davis here, and take Thiago down for a ground-and-pound decision.
Round One and they circle with little action before Thiago catches him glancingly with a head kick. Swick looks very tentative here. Couple of combos miss for him. Very nice inside leg kick from Thiago buckles the AKA fighter. Swick comes back with a right hand that puts Paulo on the retreat. Another nice leg kick from Thiago lands hard, putting Swick on the defensive. This is like, one strike and out for both men thus far. Swick seems to be finding it hard to pull the trigger. Thiago gets out of the way of another combo. Crowd are getting pretty restless again likely because this is similar to Maia-Miller thus far. Less than a minute to go and Swick gets a takedown to guard, obviously looking to steal the round. Round ends there but I think Thiago landed the better shots standing so Iím giving the round to him 10-9, takedown or no takedown.
Round Two and Swick picks up the pace as both men throw out some strikes. Nice body kick from Thiago. Wild overhand right misses for Swick. Good right lands for Swick and backs Thiago up, but as he closes in to follow up Thiago counters with a WILD LEFT HOOK that drops him! Swick lands hard and then looks to grab an underhook to stand, but Thiago uses it to LOCK UP THE DíARCE and CHOKES SWICK UNCONSCIOUS!~!
Damn. So I guess Paulo Thiago is for real! His striking looked improved here but in the end it was still his wild power shots that put Swick down, and once the fight hit the ground and Thiago saw an opportunity, he put Swick to sleep with the choke. Really hot finish to what was a relatively dull fight up to that point, but it got Thiago over hugely with the crowd and I can definitely see this guy challenging for the title in the next eighteen months as he seems to be dangerous from all areas and has already knocked off two top-ten guys now in Koscheck and Swick.
The winner of this one was promised a Middleweight Title shot and Iíll be frank and say I couldnít see any other result here than Marquardt getting his hand raised. I have nothing against Sonnen as a person but up to this point his fighting skills hadnít really impressed me Ė sure, heís a world-class wrestler but he never truly rounded out his game and had a tendency to make silly mistakes, and really his biggest win (Yushin Okami) came because he matched stylistically well with the Japanese fighter. Marquardt meanwhile had shown brutal striking, solid wrestling and a very good submission game too, both offensively and defensively, and seemed to be on a mission to earn a rematch with Anderson Silva. I expected a competitive fight due to Sonnenís sheer toughness, but in the end I figured Marquardt would probably catch him in a guillotine or something for the win.
We begin and Sonnen pushes the pace immediately, coming forward and forcing a clinch. Nate breaks off and they exchange some punches, and then Sonnen hits a double leg to guard. Marquardt locks up an arm-in guillotine and looks for the squeeze, but Sonnen slips his head free and goes to work with punches immediately. Good elbows from Sonnen as Marquardt looks to tie him up. Sonnen lands with some really great ground-and-pound, hitting Nate with some heavy elbows and punches. Nate manages to kick him off and explodes to his feet, but he takes a risk and tries a flying knee and Sonnen eats it and takes him down again, bloodying him up this time with punches and elbows. Sonnen is landing some really nasty shots here and he isnít letting Marquardt rest for a second. Nate tries to scramble from his back but itís just not happening and the round finishes with Sonnen working from the top. Dominant round for Chael Sonnen, 10-9.
Second round and Sonnen shoots in right away and puts Marquardt on his back with a double leg. Nate ties him up again, but Sonnen keeps on working and feeds him some more elbows. Kimura attempt from Marquardt but Sonnen works his way free with some elbows to the body and winds up in half-guard. Butterfly guard from Marquardt but Sonnen continues to pound on him. Marquardt scrambles from the bottom and manages to land a slashing elbow that opens up a bad cut somewhere on Sonnenís head, and blood starts to POUR out everywhere, mostly over Marquardt as Sonnen continues his onslaught. Sonnen stands to attempt a pass and Nate rolls for a kneebar, but Chael pops free and takes the back with a rear waistlock. Good lord thereís a lot of blood here. Marquardt throws some back elbows ala Roger Huerta, trying to open the cut further and the crowd are going INSANE now as Sonnen continues to punch as well. Sonnen cradles the arm to prevent the elbow strikes and maintains position, then goes back to landing punches. This is one of the bloodiest fights Iíve seen in a long time. Scramble allows Marquardt to escape to his feet, but Sonnen wastes no time in getting on him and takes him down to guard again. Big elbows from Sonnen from the half-guard and he ends the round by punishing Nate with more ground-and-pound. Awesome round but itís Sonnenís again despite the gory cut. Looks like itís right in the hairline.
Third and final round and Marquardt likely needs to stop Sonnen to win now. Round begins and Marquardt tries a takedown of his own, but Sonnen stuffs it and then gets Nate on his back again in guard. More ground-and-pound from Sonnen and he hasnít come close to making one of his customary mistakes in leaving his arm or neck open yet. Never seen Marquardt get beaten up like this before. Scramble almost puts Nate on his feet but Sonnen stays behind him and grabs a rear waistlock. Knees to the hamstrings from Sonnen and then he drags Nate to the ground again. Marquardt rolls but ends up on the bottom in half-guard again. Sonnen continues to land punches from the top and the most impressive thing is that he hasnít slowed down for a second yet. Marquardt manages a reversal and gets to his feet, and this time as Sonnen goes for the double leg Nate cracks him with a knee and then locks up a DEEP GUILLOTINE! Holy crap. Crowd explode as Marquardt SQUEEZES and Sonnen grits his teeth and starts to turn red! This could be it. Somehow though Sonnen guts it out, and manages to work his head free! Wow. Nate manages to scramble up again, and this time he gets a reversal and winds up on top in north/south! Marquardt considers a knee to the head and then stops himself as itíd be illegal, and he looks so exhausted that he canít do much in the way of offense. Seconds to go now and Nate finally explodes from the top and lands some big shots to finish the round. Great fight.
Weíre going to the scorecards and I think Chael Sonnen has to take this. Judges all score it 30-27 for Sonnen in a shutout decision. Well, I always said that if Sonnen could stop making silly mistakes and leaving himself open for submissions then heíd be a very dangerous guy indeed, and hey, heís left it late in his career but suddenly heís started doing just that, and wham, heís now the #1 contender. For Marquardt, heíd never fought a world-class wrestler before but I figured training with Rashad Evans, Georges St-Pierre and Shane Carwin would prepare him for it, but obviously not. He had no answer for Sonnenís wrestling, ground-and-pound, and the sheer amount of pressure he put on, and despite showing some tremendous heart to almost choke Chael out in the final round and cut him wide open in the second, he was largely dominated in this one. Great fight though purely because of the pace Sonnen set and the fact that Marquardt never gave up for a second. I doubt Sonnen gives Anderson Silva much of a challenge but hey, stranger things have happened.
This was a bit of an underwhelming main event considering the last few Superbowl Saturday UFC shows, but a lot of fighters were injured and I guess Hall-of-Famer vs. Hall-of-Famer does have a certain appeal to it, especially one that was first supposed to happen twelve years ago. Twelve years! Plus, any fight these days involving Mark Coleman has car-wreck intrigue and his last two Ė against Stephan Bonnar and Mauricio Shogun Ė had been perversely entertaining. There was just no way you could pick him to beat Randy though, despite Couture looking pretty awful against Brandon Vera in November, and the obvious result here was Randy weathering an early storm before Coleman gassed and succumbed to a submission or TKO.
We begin and the crowd are pretty amped for this, it must be said. Some good, stiff jabs land for Couture early and Coleman looks a bit tentative. Right hand lands cleanly for Couture. Big chant for Randy as he continues to throw strikes, but Coleman catches him with a right hook that forces him to back up a little. More jabs from Couture as Coleman tries to answer with some of his own. Pair of hard right hands rock Colemanís world and he looks on wobbly legs, and Couture follows by grabbing the plum clinch for some knees. Couple more right hands stun the Hammer and he ends up pressed into the fence in the clinch. Randy begins to work him over with his dirty boxing, landing some heavy uppercuts, and a beautiful left elbow from close range. Randy is just clowning Coleman here. Big uppercuts stun Coleman badly and heís struggling to do anything now. I would say this is ďvintage Randy CoutureĒ but people seem to hate that term these days so Iíll refrain. Round ends with Randy abusing Coleman in the clinch. 10-9 Couture, easy round to score.
Round Two and they exchange jabs again, advantage Couture. Left hook from Randy buckles Colemanís legs and Randy follows by clinching him and getting an easy takedown, right into full mount! Crowd explode as Randy punches away and then Coleman turns his back and Couture gets both hooks in! Punches from Couture and then he locks up the rear naked choke, and Coleman decides to pass out rather than tap.
Total domination from Randy Couture but it wasnít like, a great performance from him or anything because Coleman just looked totally lost in there and did practically nothing. I mean, the gameplan for Coleman shouldíve been similar to Chael Sonnenís against Marquardt Ė just get him down with a double leg and beat him up Ė and yet the Hammer didnít even shoot one takedown Ė he just stood and ate jabs from Randy before getting abused in the clinch, taken down and choked out. I think heís most likely done in MMA now and I hope for his sake thatís the case. As for Couture, this was far better than his fight against Brandon Vera, but then it was against a far easier opponent. Next up for him is apparently James Toney, which really ought to be another very easy win for the Natural, and whether thatíll lead to yet another title shot is a point of contention. Iím sure the army of Randy marks enjoyed this but it was one of the worst UFC main events in a long time as it was more like Couture against a heavy bag, no offense to Coleman.
-And we roll the credits with a highlight reel to end the show.
A lot of people were down on this card coming in and while I didnít think it was too bad on paper, in execution this was one of the weakest UFCs in recent memory. Sonnen-Marquardt was a hell of a fight and thereís other solid stuff on the card (namely Guillard-Torres and Danzig-Buchholz), but itís a looong show with only two hot finishes Ė one of which came after a dull-ish fight (Thiago-Swick) Ė and really dull fights like Emerson-Nover and Miller-Maia alongside a poor main event between Couture and Coleman make this a show to miss. Thumbs down.
Best Fight: Sonnen-Marquardt
Worst Fight: Maia-Miller
Overall Rating: **1/2
UFC: 110-113, Fight Night 21, Versus 1
King of the Cage: Various shows