This originally wouldíve seen Ricardo Funch taking on Riddle, but the Brazilian picked up an injury going in and so Soto Ė a student of fellow New Jersey fighter Kurt Pellegrino Ė stepped in on late notice. Size difference is apparent right away here, as Sotoís a decently-sized 170lbs but Riddle is HUGE for the weight class.
Round One and it must be noted referee Keith Peterson has an AWESOME raspy voice. Soto pushes forward as Riddle backs up, taking a couple of leg kicks. Right hand lands for Riddle to slow Soto down a little. Soto closes into a clinch with a right hand, forcing Riddle into the fence, but he canít get him down with a single leg and Riddle switches position and lands an elbow to break off. Good uppercut from Riddle. They exchange leg kicks and Soto looks for a takedown, but Riddle uses a whizzer to get back to his feet and forces Soto into the fence. Good knees to the body from Riddle as he works the plum clinch. Big knee to the head and a follow-up flurry has Soto rocked, but he fires back with punches of his own and they trade off. Another takedown is stuffed by Riddle and he works Soto over with more knees from the plum clinch. Riddle is just outmuscling Soto here. Knees to the legs from Riddle as he continues to force Soto into the fence, and then he secures a takedown to guard. Man, someone really needs to tell Riddle not to lay his head on the chest of his opponent when heís in the guard, as that was partly how Nick Osipczak outworked him in their fight. Round ends there, though. 10-9 Riddle.
Second round and Soto pushes forward looking to work the jab, but Riddle answers with a body kick. Single leg attempt from Soto but Riddle stuffs it and forces him back into the cage. More knees to the legs land for Riddle before he takes Soto down to guard again. Soto lands some elbows from his back and then looks for the rubber guard as Riddle again keeps his head low. Riddle lands some short punches to the body and then works to posture up to deliver some elbow strikes. Soto stays active from his back though, landing some punches himself. Riddle attempts to pass, and then has to avoid a sweep to remain on top in the guard. Ref ought to consider a stand-up here as Riddleís not doing much from the top and Soto looks tired now. Soto gives up his back to reverse to his feet, but heís trapped in the clinch still and Riddle transitions to a rear waistlock. He looks to drag Soto down, and then gets a crotch lift back to the ground. Soto works his way up again, and this time breaks off with a hard left hook. Riddle looks a bit hurt and shoots in, but Soto botches a guillotine attempt and Riddle ends up taking the back with both hooks in. Round ends as Soto attempts to roll into the guard. Another one in the books for Riddle, 10-9.
Third and final round and Soto pushes forward but walks into a right hand that slows him in his tracks. They both swing some punches before Riddle shoots in and works a single leg, then changes his mind and lands a knee. Soto fires back with punches and then sprawls to avoid a takedown, but he canít quite get away from Riddle and winds up on his back in guard again. Rubber guard again from Soto, but Riddle pulls out...and eats a BIG UPKICK that knocks him backwards to the ground. Referee Keith Peterson calls time as Riddle was on his knees, and it looks like he mightíve gone out as he asks Peterson what happened and canít get up properly. Doctors check him over, talk with Peterson and deduct a point from Soto. Riddle still seems confused though, asking Peterson whatís going on, and thatís enough for the doctors to throw it out. DQ win for Matt Riddle.
Unfortunate ending to what was a pretty decent fight in the end. In an ideal world itís a TKO win for Greg Soto because hey, I donít see why a kick to the head of a downed opponent when youíre on your back yourself is so bad, but the rules are the rules I guess and you have to follow them.
This one looked like a potential loser-leaves-town match as both men had been soundly beaten in their UFC debuts; Hamman by Alexander Gustafsson, Wallace by Brian Stann. My pick? Wallace, basically because the guy is JACKED and is possibly the most physically intimidating guy in the whole division.
Fight begins and they circle before Wallace lands a pair of good right hooks. Takedown from Wallace into Hammanís guard but Hamman quickly kicks him off and stands. Wallace gets right back on him with a right though and then gets another takedown. Hamman scrambles to his feet, but gives his back in the process and has to defend a suplex before turning into the clinch. Hamman throws some knees inside, but Wallace breaks off and charges in with three left hooks that back Hamman up. Wallace is seriously explosive. BIG UPPERCUT snaps Hammanís head back and puts him on wobbly legs, and another right hand has him doing the FISH DANCE!~! Takedown from Wallace into the guard, but Hamman sweeps and reverses to his feet, where he lands a pair of knees in the clinch. Wallace quickly gets another takedown, but Hamman again escapes to his feet. Weird spot as Hamman practically hits a cartwheel to avoid a takedown. Hamman follows with a takedown of his own but Wallace pops right back up in the clinch. They break off and Wallace looks a little gassed, and Hamman manages to catch him with a head kick that drops him sidewards! Wallace grabs a takedown, but Hamman goes for a kimura and sneaks around the top looking to finish, but slips off and Wallace ends up on top in the guard. He tries to recover, his punches slowing right down in the guard, and Hamman pushes off to his feet. Wallace quickly throws punches and gets another takedown, but Hamman again reverses up and this time he drops Wallace forward with a left hand! Wallace desperately crawls for a single leg as Hamman tries to create distance, and with seconds remaining Hamman lands a knee that puts Wallace down and ends the round with some punches. Really close round to call. Iím going 10-9 Wallace despite the big head kick as he pushed the action a lot more and had Hamman hurt too.
Second round and Wallace looks EXHAUSTED. Hamman comes out aggressively, but throws a telegraphed body kick and Wallace catches it and slams him down. Hamman quickly reverses to his feet, but Wallace still has a clinch. This time Hamman uses a trip to get top position in half-guard, and he lands some good elbows as Wallace looks a bit stuck. Hamman tries to pass the guard and slips to mount, but gets sloppy and Wallace reverses into Hammanís guard, avoiding a triangle choke. Hamman immediately slips free to his feet, but Wallace gets another takedown. Man, Wallace is GASSED. Hamman reverses up again but somehow Wallace finds the energy to slam him down. You can hear him panting for breath at this point. They exchange from the guard before Hamman reverses into Wallaceís guard and avoids a triangle by dropping a solid elbow. Into half-guard and he pounds at the body, before standing over him to deliver some kicks to the legs. Big left hand back into the guard for Hamman and he follows with some short elbow strikes. Seconds to go and Hamman continues to grind away, dropping the elbows. Round ends there. 10-9 Hamman and I think this is his fight to lose now.
Round Three and Hamman comes out swinging, but Wallace gets a takedown. Easy reversal from Hamman puts him on top in the guard though and he continues where he left off from the second, landing some elbows. Hamman continues his ground-and-pound and although he doesnít seem to be doing much damage, Wallace looks too gassed to escape. No sooner have I said that than Wallace escapes to his feet and swings for the fences! Sloppy left body kick is caught by Wallace and he lands a left counter and follows with a decent body kick into a takedown. Hamman reverses though and hits a switch to take top position again. Into half-guard and Hamman lands a strong knee to the midsection. Referee calls a stand-up which is surprising, and Wallace lands with a left hook. Couple of good punches from Wallace have Hamman hurt, but he manages to shove Wallace down and gets on top again. More elbows now from Hamman. Wallace desperately scrambles and manages to get to his feet, then gets on top for a moment, but Hamman reverses. Wallace grabs onto a kimura and twists the arm, but he canít lock it up and Hamman delivers some knees to the body from side mount. Seconds to go and Hamman secures the Hughes crucifix to finish the round in style with some big punches. 10-9 Hamman for 29-28 Hamman overall.
Judges have it 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 for Jared Hamman. Fun fight overall even if it was horribly sloppy, as both men came out ready for war and never stopped for a second, even when they were exhausted later in the fight. Really back-and-forth stuff. Wallace came out like a house on fire, but it just showed the problems that being so heavily muscled can cause, as by the second round he had nothing left in the tank and really, a sharper fighter than Hamman wouldíve put him away I think. Still, both men probably earned themselves a couple more UFC fights with this one, and you canít complain about that.
I was excited for this one because, well, itís Toquinho and Iím a massive fan of his and have been since he debuted in the UFC. Drwal on paper was a pretty solid opponent for him, coming off a pair of impressive wins, but I figured Toquinho would be able to get him to the ground where heíd catch him with something nasty Ė possibly one of his infamous leglocks.
First round begins and they circle before Drwal throws a kick and slips to the ground. Toquinho pounces on him and quickly secures a TIGHT HEEL HOOK for the tapout, causing Drwal to SCREAM IN AGONY!~! Holy shit.
Post-fight Drwal is writhing in pain, making some horrible, horrible noises and the announcers immediately figure his ACLís been shredded. Joe Rogan then decides that Toquinho held onto the submission for too long and starts ranting and raving about how he was ďyanking for four or five secondsĒ after Drwal tapped....which is all well and good except heís watching a SLOW MOTION REPLAY. Ridiculously though, the New Jersey Athletic Commission actually suspended Palhares for 90 days for not releasing the submission quickly enough. Sorry, and Iím sure this sounds insensitive towards Drwal, but thatís bullshit.
First off, the rules of the Octagon state that you release a submission when the ref tells you to, not when you feel a tap. Weíve seen a number of times in the past where a fighter has released a sub after a tap and the ref hadnít spotted it, making the fight continue, and of course for a guy like Toquinho, whose head coach is Murilo Bustamante, itís bound to be something thatís drilled into him in training after what happened in Muriloís fight with Matt Lindland. Secondly if anyone was to blame here it was referee Kevin Mulhall, who shouldíve done his homework, figured that Toquinho was a leglock expert, and hovered over them as soon as the fight hit the ground. He didnít, and instead it was his lateness that caused Palhares to hold the submission for longer. Rewatch Toquinhoís fight with Lucio Linhares with the same heel hook finish and youíll see he releases right away. Why? Because the ref in that fight Ė Greg Franklin Ė was right over them to stop it. I find it unbelievable that so many fans could be disgusted with Toquinho when it was refereeing incompetence that got Drwal hurt, not malice from the Brazilian.
Anyway Ė excellent win for Toquinho in very quick fashion and for me this guy is one of the most dangerous men out there at 185lbs, and I suspect heíll be in the title hunt soon Ė particularly if he can beat Nate Marquardt in August.
This was one of those odd weight jumps that I never saw coming, as Almeida never looked like a small 185lbs to me and hadnít been physically overpowered there, and yet he chose to drop to 170lbs. The weigh-in looked awful for him too as he looked totally drained. Being an Almeida fan I still took him to win, but the possibility for a Brown victory was definitely there as heís a gritty guy who would take advantage of something like Almeida being tired from the weight cut.
First round begins and Brown comes out firing strikes right away, putting Almeida on his back foot. Takedown attempt from Almeida and he drives Brown into the fence in a clinch. He manages to get Brown down with a trip, trying desperately to keep him down, but Brown uses a whizzer to sneak his leg free and looks to wall-walk up to his feet. Another trip brings him back down, but again Brown works and wall-walks up to standing. He uses his elbow to try to make some space, but Almeida keeps him pressed against the cage and continues to work for the takedown. Referee Dan Miragliotta calls the break and Brown rushes forward, but Almeida immediately ducks for a takedown and drives him into the fence again. Couple of good shots inside the clinch from Almeida but Brown continues to avoid the takedown well. Good combo from Almeida but he still canít get Brown off his feet, and the round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Almeida as he had Brown on the defensive throughout.
Round Two and Brown rushes out again, landing a leg kick, but Almeida drops and gets a takedown. Brown scoots back to the cage and wall-walks up to his feet again, but Almeida hits a nice trip again and this time lands in side mount. Brown again manages to escape to his feet though. They muscle for position along the fence with Almeida landing some short punches inside, but the ref breaks them again. Brown pushes forward, but walks into a big right hand to counter a kick and Almeida gets him down and lands an elbow. Brown looks to scoot to the fence, but this time Almeida passes to mount and then takes the back. Big elbows from Almeida and Brown is cut now, but he still tries to escape to his feet. Almeida has one hook in though and he works a body triangle. Brown is in deep trouble and Almeida locks up the rear naked choke for the tapout.
That was a tremendous performance from Ricardo Almeida as Brown was basically outclassed from start to finish, never having any offense and although he did well defensively, once Almeida got a dominant position it was OVER. Big Dog could definitely be a contender at 170lbs as Brown isnít an easy opponent and yet he ran right through him in this one.
Odd situation around this one Ė Diaz was moving up to 170lbs basically because he was struggling to make 155lbs, which is understandable...except Markham came in at 177lbs looking HUGE, and Diaz ended up taking the fight anyway. Prior to that I was picking Diaz comfortably, with his huge advantage on the ground, but the fact that Markham had such a size advantage definitely made it a tougher one to pick.
Fight begins and Diaz pushes forward, throwing his quick combinations while avoiding a couple of bombs from Markham. Good left hand from Diaz lands. Head kick misses for Markham and Diaz looks for a clinch, but Markham escapes. Diaz continues to push forward and lands a left hand into a leg kick. Pair of strong rights land for Nate and put Markham on the back foot. Another combo has Markham stunned and forces him to cover up, and then a knee drops him to all fours. Diaz takes the back and gets one hook in, then slaps the second one in and transitions to a body triangle. Markham works to defend, but Diaz peppers him with punches and then flattens him out, landing some HARD SHOTS for the stoppage.
Fantastic performance from Nate Diaz, perhaps the best in his UFC career thus far in fact. His punches looked to have far more power at 170lbs compared to at 155lbs, and he lit up a very good striker in Markham here. Rory just looked unable to deal with the combinations and the pace Diaz pushed, and it was no surprise that he ended up wilting under the pressure. Canít wait to see Diaz against the upper echelon of the division now.
This was an interesting fight on paper as New Jersey native Miller usually has the edge in the grappling realm, but Bocek, being an extremely accomplished BJJ player, probably had him trumped in that area. Both men were on three-fight win streaks too, meaning the winner could catapult themselves closer to the title picture. I figured Miller was probably a bit too well-rounded for Bocek though and took him for the victory.
Round One gets underway and they throw some feeler strikes before Bocek shoots for a takedown, driving Miller into the fence. Jim works to defend it as Bocek switches to a single, but he canít get Miller down and Miller decides to go for a guillotine and drops onto his back. Bocek pops out quickly though and then grabs a guillotine of his own as Jim sits up. Miller looks fine and ends up crouched next to the fence before standing. Good knee to the body from Bocek, answered by one from Miller. Miller exits with a knee and a right hand, then follows with a leg kick. Nice right from Bocek into another takedown attempt and this time he gets Jim on his back in a half-butterfly guard. Miller works into the rubber guard and rolls for an oma plata, but Bocek quickly slips free. Bocek passes into half-guard as Miller looks to work for a kimura, and it looks like heís got it as he wrenches it up behind Bocekís back and uses it to sweep into top position! Bocek looks in deep trouble and it looks like heís about to tap, but he reconsiders and then manages to work his arm free. That was close. Miller on top in the guard now and Bocek has a small cut on his forehead as Miller rears up for some ground-and-pound. Seconds to go and the round ends with Jim Miller on top. Close round but Iíd score it for Miller based on the near submission, 10-9.
Round Two and Miller comes out pushing the action, but Bocek shoots and gets a nice slam to guard. Miller immediately goes for the rubber guard, but Bocek works to half-guard quickly and then passes into side mount. Nice stuff from the Canadian. Hip escape from Jim puts him back in half-guard, then full guard, but Bocek remains on top and he postures up to deliver a right hand from above. Miller has blood running into his mouth now but it might be from Bocekís head. Arm triangle attempt from Bocek but Miller defends well and scrambles back to guard. Sudden heel hook attempt from Miller causes Bocek to spin, but he remains on top as he escapes. Blood is definitely coming from Bocekís head. He manages to work to full mount and drops some elbows before Miller gives the back, and now the New Jersey native looks in trouble. Body triangle from Bocek and then he traps the right arm ala BJ Penn to work for the choke. Almost 1:30 remaining too, long time for Bocek to attempt a finish. Miller shows some tremendous defenses to avoid the submission and with seconds remaining Miller gets to his feet and tries the Alan Belcher trick, dumping Bocek onto his head! Bocek remains clamped to the back though and the round ends there. 10-9 Bocek.
Between rounds Millerís cornerman is FURIOUS, turning the air blue with some choice advice. That was like one big bleep, dude.
Third and final round of what has been an excellent grappling match. Good uppercut from Miller stepping forward but Bocek fires back with a body kick. Miller does look the much more refined striker though. Bocek shoots again but this time Miller shows a good sprawl and escapes. Left hand lands for Miller. Striking exchange continues and Bocek looks much slower than in the earlier rounds. Another takedown attempt follows but again Miller stuffs it and this time he locks up a guillotine and delivers a couple of knees before releasing. Now Miller drops for a takedown, but Bocek scrambles and returns the favour, looking for a double leg. Bocek finally manages to get Miller down and takes the back, but Jim explodes to his feet and then they hit the ground with Miller looking to hit a switch. Bocek works into top position and stands holding a front facelock, and with seconds to go he completes a takedown. Miller reverses quickly though and looks for his own takedown, and they end up scrambling with Miller taking the back with both hooks in right at the end. Razor-close round and I honestly think Iíd judge it 10-10 giving us a draw. Miller did get the lone dominant position right at the end though so hey.
All three judges have it 29-28 for Jim Miller. I guess they did take the last little positional flurry into account. That was the first time Iíve watched that fight since it happened and I totally slept on how good it was, one of the best grappling-based fights I can recall in a long time. Third round petered out a bit but the first and second were awesome. Bocek did well but Miller has really developed into a genuine contender now and could make a run for the title in 2011 I think.
This one was thrown together on very late notice as initially, Fitch was booked to face Thiago Alves in a rematch of their 2006 fight, with Saunders facing Jake Ellenberger, but when Alves was removed from the card when doctors found some issues with a brain scan, Saunders immediately called Joe Silva and offered to take the Fitch fight. I guess it was low risk, high reward for him, as a loss to the second-best guy in the world is hardly something to be ashamed of, while a win probably guaranteed him a title shot. Being probably the biggest Saunders fanboy in the world I took Ben to win with a barrage of knees.
We begin and both men land low kicks early. Saunders clinches and looks for his plum, but Fitch quickly pummels under and they end up clinched against the fence. Bodylock from Fitch and he looks to muscle Ben to the ground, finally dragging him down. Saunders uses a butterfly guard to tie Fitch up, but Fitch looks to pass and lands some short, chopping punches. Good elbows from Fitch as he moves into half-guard. Saunders works the butterfly hooks back in and then locks up a closed guard, but Fitch remains on top grinding on him. Crowd are being real patient with this as itís hardly been a barnburner thus far. Ben gets his legs up high to attempt a triangle or an armbar, but Fitch avoids and continues to work. Good hammer fist from Fitch as Saunders uses his legs to push away from the cage. Couple of solid upkicks land for Saunders as Fitch postures up over him, but they donít seem to do much damage as the round ends with Fitch chopping away at the body. 10-9 Fitch.
Into the 2nd and Fitch lands a couple of kicks early on. Couple of strikes miss for Saunders and then Fitch clinches and looks for the takedown again. Good defense from Ben to stay vertical, but Fitch stays on him and brings him down to guard. And itís back to where we left off in Round One as Fitch continues to grind on Killa B, using short punches and elbows. Saunders tries to kick him away, but Fitch is relentless and continues to work. Crowd begin to boo as Fitch chops with some elbows. Fitch into half-guard now. Saunders doesnít really look to be in any danger here but he has no answer for the top control and ground-and-pound of Fitch. Dan Miragliotta decides to stand them with a minute to go, and Saunders comes charging in, but Fitch grabs a clinch, takes a knee and then muscles Ben back into the fence. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Fitch.
Third and final round and Fitch opens with a good straight right and then locks up the clinch. Uppercut from Fitch breaks off but Saunders doesnít look hurt. Fitch closes him down again and goes for the takedown, and this time Ben looks for a standing kimura. Good elbow to the side of the head from Saunders but Fitch slips his arm free and forces Ben into the cage. Crowd are booing again now as Fitch lands some knees inside. Miragliotta calls a clean break again but itís Fitch who lands with a combo en route to another clinch off the restart. Single leg attempt from Fitch as Saunders looks for the kimura again, but the AKA fighter slips free and takes a rear waistlock. Fitch grabs a standing arm triangle and then breaks with a right hand. Low kick from Saunders, but Fitch counters with a punch and trips Saunders down to half-guard. Ben works to full guard and ties him up, but Fitch postures up and delivers some more solid ground-and-pound. One minute to go and Fitch moves into half-guard to land some more shots. Looks like thereís a small cut opened on Benís face somewhere, and with seconds to go Fitch finishes with a flurry of elbows. Got to be a 30-27 shutout for Fitch.
Judges indeed score it 30-27 all round for Jon Fitch in another customary grinding win. Disappointing for Ben Saunders, but really it wasnít so much that he looked out of his depth, more that he was just unable to put together any offense against a superior fighter. For Fitch though again, it wasnít the most entertaining performance, and for a guy looking for another title shot this sort of showing isnít going to cut it, especially given how GSP kicked his ass the first time. For me he needs to show heís improved and in the fights since the GSP loss he hasnít really done that. I mean finishing fights isnít everything, but youíre looking at June 2007 as the last time Fitch managed it which isnít great really. Very dull fight overall.
With the loss of Saunders-Ellenberger this was bumped onto the main card, a chance for New Jersey native Pellegrino to win in front of his home fans against Brazilian Camoes, who had looked pretty solid in his draw with Caol Uno, but didnít seem to have enough to deal with Batman. I took Pellegrino via decision.
First round gets started and Camoes goes for a single leg early, then transitions to take the back with a rear waistlock. Kurt quickly turns into him and they end up clinched against the fence. Good arm-drag takedown from Camoes and he lands some wild hammer fists before taking the back with both hooks. Pellegrino stands and Camoes stays on the back in the infamous Lemur Position, looking for the choke. Camoes lands some good punches to the head and has Pellegrino in a lot of trouble here. Looks like he has the choke sunk, but Pellegrino shows some impressive defense to avoid. Suddenly Kurt decides to dive forward, planting Camoes head-first into the mat! Um, surely thatís an illegal spike? Perhaps not. Pellegrino takes Camoes back now, and then turns into full mount, but a hip escape puts Camoes back in half-guard. Camoes gets full guard and goes for a triangle before transitioning to an oma plata, but Pellegrino escapes and takes top position again. Side mount now for Kurt and he lands a good elbow from there. Camoes goes for a DíArce choke from the bottom (!), but Kurt works his head free and they scramble back into the Brazilianís guard. Elbows from Pellegrino and he works into half-guard. Looks like he might be going for the Hughes-style far-side kimura, but instead he decides to drop some more elbows until the round ends. 10-9 Pellegrino despite the dodgy position early on.
Second round begins and they exchange low kicks before Pellegrino stuffs a takedown and gets on top, working to pass the guard instantly. Pellegrino spins onto the back off a scramble, but Camoes slips free and gets to his feet. Takedown from Kurt puts him on top in half-guard but Camoes quickly gets to full guard. Nasty elbows land for Kurt as Camoes tries to tie him up, and he works into half-guard again. Full mount for Kurt now and he begins to grin wildly. Vicious punches from Pellegrino land cleanly before Camoes gives his back, using it to hip escape to half-guard. Camoes looks like heís wilting and Kurt prevents a scramble by using some excellent wrestling, and as the Brazilian uses the fence to stand he eats some knees. Camoes tries to get a takedown off one, but Kurt gets on top again and manages to take the back. This time Camoes looks in trouble and Kurt locks up a tight rear naked choke for the tapout.
Very good performance from Kurt Pellegrino to overcome some early problems, as he outworked Camoes and just forced him to fold in the end. I think a title run is probably just a bit beyond Kurt at this point as he remains a slight step behind the very elite guys in the division, but heís definitely a fun guy to watch, thatís for sure. One point of contention though was the head spike Ė itís illegal according to the rules and they really need to define it better for the referees because itís becoming more common and could get someone seriously hurt in the future.
Why the Interim Title again? No idea, given that theyíd already announced Brock Lesnar was back and ready to face the winner in July. Blah. Still, great fight on paper, with the unbeaten Carwin returning after a year out to face Mir, who had bulked himself up to 265lbs, destroyed Cheick Kongo in December, and somehow came into this one looking more physically imposing than his opponent! Given how spectacular Mir had looked against Kongo as well as taking Carwinís layoff into consideration, I actually bucked my own trend and picked Mir to win this one by early submission. One thing was for certain though and thatís that this was not going five rounds! Side note, the video package for this one is FANTASTIC despite the lack of bad blood, and Iím of the opinion now that Mir is the best promo in MMA, bar none.
Fight begins and they circle tentatively before Carwin counters a short flurry by looking for a takedown. He forces Mir back into the fence as Frank defends the takedown, taking some short punches as he does so. Two minutes gone now which makes it one of the longest fights in Carwinís career! Ref calls a break and they restart, with both men swinging punches but neither landing. Into the clinch again and Carwin presses Mir into the cage, where they muscle for position. Suddenly Carwin lands a left hand and follows with some BRUTAL UPPERCUTS that buckle Mirís legs and drop him to the ground! Holy SHIT. Carwin continues to club away as Mir looks out, then somehow grabs an arm, probably out of instinct more than anything. Carwin keeps on punching though and finally Mir ends up flat on his stomach taking VICIOUS BOMBS until he goes out.
Unbelievable finish as it was as if someone just flipped a switch inside Carwin and then boom, he exploded all over Mir with some insanely heavy shots and sealed the deal. Carwin might have the most punching power in the whole division, if not all of MMA. We have seen since that he might be lacking in some other areas, but thatís another article.
Post-fight Dana presents Carwin with the Interim belt and then Lesnar himself comes in to do a promo spot, saying that the belt he has is real while Carwinís is make-believe. Carwin, as always trying to avoid trash talk, says that he agrees with Brock. Ha. If Carwin wasnít such a monster then his fight with Brock wouldnít have been half as big a deal, but well, he IS a monster so itís a mute point really. As for this fight, it was the usual scary performance from Carwin and for Mir, you wonder where he goes from here after coming up short again. Heís got years ahead of him though so hopefully he remains as motivated as he was here.
Annoyingly, most hardcore fans were disappointed with this one, feeling that somehow, Hardy hadnít ďearnedĒ a title shot. Well, itís not like they randomly gave it to him Ė with wins over Marcus Davis, Mike Swick and Akihiro Gono he was clearly a top ten contender Ė and to be fair, I donít think that it was a backlash to him being British either as I saw similar comments about Swick when it looked like he was going to get a shot at GSP. Look, what you have to remember is that GSP beat up the likes of Fitch, Penn and Alves so badly that thereís no money in rematches for those guys, and so he *has* to fight lesser contenders like Hardy, and probably the likes of Condit, Kampmann, et al in the future. Anyhow, despite nobody really giving Hardy a chance outside of a flash KO, the Prime Time series they did at least made the fight feel like a big deal, and as itís a GSP fight I was mad pumped as always.
First round begins and Hardy circles on the outside looking to strike, but GSP hits an early double leg and passes right into half-guard. Crowd are loudly chanting for GSP already as Hardy manages to escape to full guard and then moves into the rubber guard. St-Pierreís having none of that and he quickly works into half-guard again. Side mount now for GSP and Hardy tries to roll, but gives his back in the process and Rush gets both hooks in. Hardy looks calm and tries to roll into GSPís guard, but St-Pierre almost moves into an armbar attempt. Hardy slips free of that and escapes to his feet, but GSP grabs hold of him again and gets another takedown to guard. Into half-guard quickly but GSP isnít really opening up with strikes here as it looks like heís concentrating on position. Sure enough he works into full mount and grapevines the legs for good measure. Hardy attempts to explode free, but gives his back and GSP hits a beautiful transition into an armbar! Fight looks to be over as the arm is fully extended....but somehow Hardy holds on and slips free, escaping to his feet, where GSP lands a superman punch to end the round! Wow. No clue how Hardy didnít tap there. Easy round for GSP, 10-9.
Second round and Hardy looks to set up the left hook, but he canít pull the trigger and GSP shoots on a single and drives him into the mat, landing in half-guard. He looks to pass to mount again and slips into side mount, and from there he peppers the body with shots while controlling the Brit. Looks like heís going for the Hughes crucifix, but Hardy gives his back instead and GSP hops on with one hook. Hardy shakes him off, but gives his arm in the process. Hardy works through that though and ends up on top in GSPís guard. Quick escape allows GSP to his feet, and he throws a side kick to the body that doesnít really land cleanly. High kick is blocked by GSP and he follows by landing a stiff right hand that causes Hardy to smile. Superman punch from GSP and he follows with a double leg, dumping the challenger to the ground again. Full guard for Hardy, but he takes a couple of shots from there as GSP ends the round in control again. Two rounds in the books for the champ.
Into Round Three, and GSP instantly ducks a hook from the Brit and takes him down to half-guard again. GSP looks to work some punches this time, but Hardyís defensive game is pretty good and he manages to avoid any damage, escaping into full guard for good measure. GSP postures up in the guard to try to drop some bombs, but Hardy continues to defend well. Good right hand from St-Pierre. Couple of short, hard elbows follow. Hardy is one of those guys though that doesnít show much cosmetic damage, and he seems okay. GSP passes into half-guard for a moment before the challenger hits a hip escape to full guard. The champion postures up again, and Hardy tries to throw up a triangle, but GSP shrugs it off and passes to side mount. GSP looks to isolate the left arm for a kimura, and then considers spinning into an armbar, but Hardy manages to free his arm and remains underneath the side mount. Beautiful escape from Hardy allows him to his feet, but itís literally for a split second as GSP grabs a single and brings him right back down, where he passes to side mount again. GSP takes the back again with seconds to go, but he ends up a little too high and Hardy works to shake him off. GSP manages to turn that into a leglock attempt though, which he uses to sweep into top position on the buzzer. GSP has to be up 30-27 here, no doubt in my mind.
Fourth round and neither man is looking tired at all. Instant takedown from GSP and he lands in half-guard. Hardy gives his back as GSP passes, and then gets to his feet, but St-Pierre drags him right back down. Knee to the body from Georges and he hangs onto the back as Hardy tries to grab his leg. Hardy ends up on top for a second, but GSP quickly muscles him off and takes top position in guard again. Couple of good right hands land for GSP as he stacks Hardy up, then passes into side mount with ease. GSP lands some punches to the head and then looks to isolate the left arm. He drops some elbows and then grabs a kimura as Hardy tries to escape, and this is DEEP as GSP has his legs around the head and Hardyís arm is cranked right behind his back! NO IDEA how heís not tapping here as the arm is at a SICK angle. Somehow though Hardy holds on and slips free! Wow. I guess GSP didnít want to snap the arm. The champ is still in side mount though and it looks like weíre headed for the fifth round. Hardy regains half-guard but with seconds remaining GSP spins for a kneebar. Hardy defends and thatís the round. Iím actually going 10-8 there because Hardy was completely dominated and almost submitted, so itís 40-35 for St-Pierre at this point.
Fifth and final round and Hardy does come out throwing some shots, but he eats a jab from GSP before the champ shoots in and takes a single leg, dumping him on his back in guard. Hardy gets his legs up for a triangle but GSP shrugs it off and passes into side mount, and again he steps over the head to look to isolate an arm. Hardy clings on and then rolls, but GSP controls him and gets the back again, dropping a knee to the body. St-Pierre plants him on his back in half-guard again and then hooks the leg, looking to possibly prep a kneebar. Instead he grabs the arm and looks for a straight armbar ala Matt Hughes on Royce Gracie, but he wonít tap to that either so GSP gives it up and goes for a keylock. Hardy manages to get out of that too but heís underneath side mount now. Hardy still squirms and tries to get out, but he just canít deal with the grappling strength of GSP. He does regain half-guard, but GSP gets the kimura again only for the challenger to slip free. Less than a minute to go now and GSP lands knees to the body from side mount and continues to look for the kimura. Hardy manages to scramble to his feet, but GSP slams him right back down, landing in the guard with some elbows and punches to the body. Seconds on the clock to go and he drops back for an Achilles lock, but the buzzer sounds to end the fight. I have this 50-44 for St-Pierre, completely one-sided, dominant performance.
Judges have it 50-43, 50-44 and 50-45 for Georges St-Pierre. That means by my calculation (unless youíre an idiot who gives Koscheck the first round of their fight...) heís now won 26 straight rounds inside the Octagon, which is unheard of and just supports my opinion that heís the best pound-for-pound fighter walking the planet right now.
Post-fight GSP says he couldnít believe Hardy didnít tap, and it was as if he were made of rubber. He admits he made some technical mistakes though and doesnít seem happy with the performance overall, saying he wanted to take the fight to the ground, but Hardy turned out to be better than he first thought, and then he apologises to the fans for not finishing. Hardy then says it was an honor to fight GSP and he knows exactly why heís the champion. As for not tapping, Dan simply says that thereís no quit in him and heíll never give up. True Brit.
Well, fans criticised GSP for not finishing Hardy, but come on Ė Iíd wager that 90% of fighters wouldíve tapped to the armbar and particularly the kimura, and it was more a testament to Hardyís heart and will rather than a poor showing from GSP that meant it went the distance. Admittedly it wasnít GSPís most explosive showing Ė I guess he was concentrating on position and submission as opposed to ground-and-pound as Hardyís known for being able to take punishment Ė but if you can appreciate the skill of the champ on the ground then you wouldíve enjoyed it as I did. To call this lay-and-pray, for instance, is absolutely retarded. The bottom line? GSP is still THE MAN.
-Highlight reel follows and thatís all folks.
For some reason this show seemed to get a bit of a bad rap with people when it happened, probably because the Fitch-Saunders fight was so slow and GSP-Hardy wasnít the greatest main event in the world. But I liked it a lot Ė as a GSP fanboy the main event wasnít dull and outside of that, all the prelims were excellent, Bocek-Miller was as good a grappling-based fight as I can remember recently and Carwin-Mir was an unbelievably explosive fight with a wild finish. Itís not the best UFC ever and if youíre not as into GSP as I am then the main event wonít be great, but UFC 111 is still worth an easy thumbs up.
Best Fight: Miller-Bocek
Worst Fight: Fitch-Saunders
Overall Rating: ***3/4
UFC: 112-116, Fight Night 21
Strike Force: Fedor vs. Werdum
King of the Cage: Various shows