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UFC 112: Invincible review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on July 21, 2010, 5:13 AM

UFC 112: Invincible

04/10/10
Abu Dhabi, UAE


-First Australia, now Abu Dhabi Ė I am loving the UFCís global expansion, thatís for sure. This showís got a really unique feel to it too as it was the first ever outdoor UFC show, as they actually constructed the arena purposely for it.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. And after watching a couple of Strike Force shows recently boy, are these two a godsend.

Heavyweight Fight: Jon Madsen vs Mostapha Al-Turk

Madsen was making his first post-TUF appearance here while Al-Turk was likely in the last chance saloon after losing to Cheick Kongo and Mirko Cro Cop. Pity for the guy actually because he probably wouldíve smashed Rolles Gracie had he managed to take that fight in February.

We begin and Al-Turk pushes forward as both men throw right hands that miss. Good right from Madsen puts Al-Turk on his back foot but the TUF vet doesnít really follow it up. Al-Turk begins to push forward again, but nothingís really happened yet. Another right hook wobbles Al-Turkís legs, but again Madsen doesnít follow up. Good right hand from Al-Turk. Back to circling with little action before Madsen blocks a head kick attempt. Nasty inside leg kick lands for Al-Turk, and he follows with another one. Leg kick attempt from Madsen lands low and referee Marc Goddard calls time. Mostapha recovers pretty quickly and they restart, with Al-Turk landing another leg kick. Seconds to go and they trade with a couple of punches. Appalling round; probably goes to Madsen 10-9 for the couple of right hands he landed.

Round Two and Al-Turk comes out quickly, but doesnít land and itís back to circling with little action. Both men trade right hands, but neither really lands cleanly. Surprised the crowd havenít turned on this yet because itís an awful fight thus far. Good leg kick from Al-Turk again. Overhand right blocked by Madsen. Good right lands over the top from Al-Turk and Madsen goes on the retreat slightly as the crowd chant for Mostapha! Another right lands for him but doesnít seem to have much effect. Clipping left lands for Madsen. This is like the second coming of Sanchez-Koscheck from UFC 69. Round peters out on the feet. Al-Turk landed the slightly better shots there so 10-9 to him.

Third and final round and both men miss some big swings to open. Rogan mentions that both guys are sweating like mad due to the heat which might explain why both look so lethargic I guess. Al-Turk claims a low blow but the ref is having none of it. Of course, Madsen doesnít follow up anyway. Madsen begins to put a couple of combos together, landing some decent shots albeit nothing that has Al-Turk rocked. Madsen continues to throw combos that back Al-Turk up, but he still hasnít landed cleanly. Two minutes to go now, thank god. This has just degenerated completely into a bad boxing match now. Really bad. Couple of one-twos land for Madsen with seconds on the clock, probably enough to win him the fight in fact. Hammer sounds for ten seconds to go and Madsen hits a double leg to seal things.

Judges score it a unanimous decision for Jon Madsen, 29-28 all round. Hardly an impressive win though as the fight was insanely dull; one of the worst fights youíll see all year in the UFC I would presume. Just a bad, uneventful boxing match for the most part with the odd leg kick thrown in. Worst opener in a long time.

Lightweight Fight: Paul Kelly vs Matt Veach

Both of these guys were coming off losses and were in desperate need of a win here. Despite my bias towards Kelly because heís a cool Scouse bastard, I thought Veach would pick up the win as heís the better wrestler and Kellyís game is all about the ground-and-pound.

Round One and Veach gets a takedown right away, putting Kelly on his back in half-guard. Crowd are chanting for Kelly already Ė evidently thereís a big UK contingent here. Reversal attempt from Kelly ends badly as Veach takes his back with both hooks in, flattening him out as the Scouser tries to stand. Kelly looks in trouble as Veach looks for the choke, but he tucks his chin in well to avoid. Kelly rolls to put Veach on his back, looking to roll over into the guard, but Veach shows some nice control to remain on the back. Good explosion from Kelly though and he turns into the guard of the Hughes student. Kelly looks to create some distance, and then opens up with some REALLY vicious elbows, marking Veachís face up pretty swiftly. This dude has some nasty ground-and-pound. Veach manages to hook up a kimura from the bottom though and it looks quite deep, but Kelly muscles his arm free, elbowing the body for good measure. Veach locks it up again and uses it as a sweep, but as he gets to his feet Kelly UNLOADS with a flurry and rocks his world! Veach goes down looking for a takedown, but Kelly grabs a guillotine and pulls guard, before using it to take top position. Side mount for Kelly and he opens up with some VICIOUS ELBOWS, opening a bad cut somewhere on Veachís head before Veach rolls for a takedown. Kelly stuffs it, breaks off with a knee, and then swarms on Veach with a flurry, stunning him badly before the buzzer sounds to save him. Veach is bleeding BADLY, looks like a cut over his right eye.

Second round and Veach throws a kick, but Kelly counters with a one-two that sends him crashing down. Veach is just about done here I think. Kelly closes in swinging as Veach desperately tries to answer, but he botches a flying knee and Veach ends up on top in the guard. Thereís blood all over Kellyís chest from Veachís cut now. Scramble from Kelly but he gives his back and Veach gets both hooks in, but ends up too high on the back and Kelly shrugs him off and gets on top in the guard. More nasty elbows just destroy the face of Veach as Joe Rogan compares Kellyís elbow to a murder weapon. Herb Dean calls time to check the cut, and Veach looks so wobbly getting up you could make a case for stopping it. They decide to let it continue and Kelly goes right back to work, pounding away at the head. Veach attempts a leglock, but Kelly pulls out and ends up in half-guard, then side mount to continue the abuse. Reversal attempt from Veach, but he leaves his head out and Kelly grabs a guillotine and switches to full mount to force the inevitable tapout.

Great performance from Paul Kelly, probably the best of his career in fact. Veach started off fast but once Kelly got on top and opened up with the ground-and-pound, it turned into a one-sided beating fast. Submission was almost merciful in the end as Veach had taken such a beating at that stage. Kellyís ground-and-pound is second to none at 155lbs really and if he could hone his wrestling to a great level then he could do some serious damage I think, but right now due to the lack of that background heíll probably still struggle against the upper echelon. Fun guy to watch though.

Welterweight Fight: Damarques Johnson vs Brad Blackburn

Not a fan of either of these guys really, although I may have given Johnson a bad rep after TUF I guess. Blackburn though had looked tentative in his previous three fights with Ryo Chonan, Edgar Garcia and Amir Sadollah and generally just doesnít interest me. An exciting fight was my one hope here.

Round One gets underway and Blackburn opens with a stiff right hand. Good jab from Blackburn and he follows with a right hand and a body kick. Good right hand from Johnson pushing forward. Couple of big swings miss for Blackburn. Nice counter left lands for Damarques. Leg kick lands low for Blackburn and Johnson looks a little hurt, so Dan Miragliotta calls time. They restart and Johnson lands a nice right straight that stuns Blackburn, causing him to drop for a single leg. Damarques blocks, considering a standing kimura before backing up. Striking exchange continues and Johnson seems to have the range down now, landing on Blackburn as he comes inside. Good left hand lands for Damarques and wobbles Blackburn a little. High kick misses though and Blackburn capitalizes by getting on top in the guard. Johnson rolls for an armbar, but Blackburn manages to slip his arm free and stands. Blackburn stands over him and channels Anderson Silva by hitting a turning side kick to the leg, but Miragliotta then calls Johnson to his feet. Good one-two from Blackburn in an exchange and the round ends soon after. Good round, probably Johnsonís by a hair.

2nd round begins and both men land some strikes early on. Some nice punches land for Blackburn as he gets the better of the exchanges. Good combo from Blackburn and he follows with a head kick, but Johnson is staying in the pocket and firing right back. Pair of hard leg kicks from Blackburn. Good uppercut from Johnson, answered with a right hand from Blackburn. These guys are going blow-for-blow here, lot of action. Wild trade follows and Blackburn is definitely getting the better of it in this round. Good takedown from Blackburn and he lands in side mount. Johnson squirms, but Blackburn steps over and locks up a mounted triangle, looking to get a kimura too ala Chris Lytle. Johnson manages to slip free and turn into him though, escaping to his feet where they trade some knees in the clinch. Big slam from Blackburn puts him in side mount again where he finishes the round. 10-9 Blackburn making it even going into the third.

Into Round Three and they trade punches before Blackburn hits an ankle pick and gets a takedown into Johnsonís guard. Johnson stays active from his back and prevents any damage, before hitting a beautiful sweep right into full mount! Blackburn manages to hip escape into half-guard, then full guard though before Johnson can do anything on offense. Nice elbows from Johnson and Blackburnís cut badly. Blackburn kicks him away and explodes to his feet, but takes a left uppercut on the way up that stuns him, and Johnson follows with a BIG BODY KICK that folds the IFL veteran and causes the ref to step in!

Man, Johnson did not mess around there once he had Blackburn hurt. Literally the second he opened Blackburn up with the elbows he just turned up the heat and that was pretty much it. Really good fight, too, credit to both men. Johnson is on a nice little roll since TUF now.

Welterweight Fight: Nick Osipczak vs Rick Story

This one was an exciting fight on paper as both guys tend to bring it every time. Osipczak was coming off a tremendous win over Matt Riddle while Story had won two in a row since dropping a decision to Osipczakís fellow Londoner John Hathaway in his debut. I was favouring Osipczak here after seeing him deal with a similar fighter in Riddle in his last bout.

We begin and Story quickly pushes forward and drives in with a double leg, dumping Osipczak onto his back in guard. Nick immediately looks to tie Story up, but Story has him pinned into the fence and he avoids an upkick and passes into side mount. Osipczak quickly gets back to a butterfly guard, but he takes a couple of solid elbows from the American. Osipczak really tries to elevate him off, but Storyís base is excellent and he remains on top. Action slows a little though so Marc Goddard calls a stand-up. Story swings for the fences and goes for another takedown, but he botches it and this time Nick almost takes the back. He slips off though, and this allows Story to turn into him and get another takedown to half-guard. Nick quickly scrambles back to full guard as Story looks to grind away with his elbows. Nick manages to kick him away, and then avoids an attempt at the Jacare diving backfist into the guard. One minute to go and Story continues to feed him elbows and punches. Suddenly Osipczak rolls into an armbar attempt, but Story manages to slip his arm free, obviously taking advantage of the heat and the slippery conditions. More elbows from Story end the round. 10-9 for Story.

Between rounds Dean Amasinger tells Osipczak that Storyís gassing horribly, which does seem to be the case as heís taking some deep breaths coming into the 2nd. Good leg kick from Nick to open the round. Story shoots in and gets a nice takedown to side mount, but Nick quickly scoots into half-guard before he can do any damage. Full guard now from Nick and Storyís definitely a lot less active in this round. Osipczak manages to kick him off, then the ref calls him to his feet. Nice body kick from Osipczak off the restart, and this time he stuffs a takedown well. Story keeps coming though and forces Nick into the cage, but Osipczak shows some more defense and switches position, forcing Story into the fence. Ref calls a clean break and Storyís definitely gassed now. Good high kick and right hand from Nick and he stuffs another takedown and winds up in the clinch. Story avoids a trip attempt and ends up with his back to the cage, where he takes a knee to the body. Story switches and drops for another takedown, but Nick blocks again and the ref breaks them once more. Story quickly clinches, but this time Osipczak hits a takedown and winds up in side mount. Story looks for a reversal, and they get back to their feet where Osipczak lands with a knee. Story grabs a clinch, and the round ends there. 10-9 Osipczak in a very close round there.

Third and final round and this could definitely go either way. Both men come out aggressively, but itís Osipczak who looks fresher and lands with a low kick and a superman punch. Story grabs a clinch, but Osipczak drops for a takedown and gets it. Story grabs a guillotine on the way down and closes the guard, but Nick looks fine to me as his arm is in and he appears to be resting it out, waiting for Storyís arms to gas. Sure enough Nick works his head free and he lands with a pair of short elbows before Story explodes to his feet and looks for a takedown of his own. Osipczak defends, and they muscle for position along the fence with Osipczak continuing to stuff the takedown. Ref calls a break and Nick lands with a nice body kick. Story pushes forward into the clinch again, taking a knee to the body en route to attempting another takedown, but once again Nick stuffs it. Nick breaks with an elbow before Story comes forward and manages to get a big takedown to guard, but Osipczak kicks him off and the ref calls the Brit to his feet. Story comes forward, but walks into a BIG RIGHT KNEE from Osipczak that stuns him, and Nick follows with a series of them from the plum clinch before Story desperately goes for a single leg. Another knee lands for Nick inside the clinch as Story looks to punch the body, and thatís the fight. Really tough round to score but I think Osipczak stole it with the big knees at the end.

Judges have it a split decision, 29-28 Story, 29-28 Osipczak, and 29-28 for Rick Story. Well, Iíd have gone the other way but to be fair it was razor-close and I donít think Nick loses anything in the decision anyway as it was a great fight overall. Turned into a real war of attrition in the end and I think both men have bright futures at 170lbs if they can work on the holes in their games Ė Storyís cardio and striking, and Osipczakís wrestling. Good stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Phil Davis vs Alexander Gustafsson

I was surprised theyíd throw these two in together as I had them pegged as two of the better LHW prospects, but such is life in the UFC. With Davis being a stud wrestler and Gustafsson being, well, European, I figured weíd see Davis win a smothering decision. Physically these two couldnít look more different, as Gustafsson is a bulky guy with the physique of an average dude who trains in the gym a few times a week, while Davis looks like an Olympic super-athlete. Davis is also wearing neon pink trunks here, making Rich Franklinís and even Bret Hartís old gear look manly!

Davis circles round the outside as the round begins, and he quickly wastes no time in shooting in on a single leg. Gustafsson does a very good job of defending it, using the cage to his advantage, but Davis keeps on driving forward. For a European guy Gustafsson has some really good takedown defense actually, as Davis hasnít come close to getting him down yet, despite landing some knees to the quads. Beautiful stuff from Gustafsson and he almost gets Davis down himself, but naturally for such a gifted wrestler Davis defends it excellently. Davis hits a switch and finally gets Gustafsson down, grabbing a front facelock, and it looks like he might be going for a guillotine or maybe a DíArce. Punches to the body from Davis but the Swede manages to escape for a second, only for Davis to take the back. Good punches to the side of the head from Davis but Gustafsson pops out the back door and gets to his feet! Awkward looking kick from Davis and he shoots again, but Gustafsson sprawls to avoid. Davis stays on him though and manages to get him down to half-guard, where he feeds him some punches and elbows. Gustafsson tries to turn, but leaves his head free and suddenly Davis locks up a BEAUTIFUL anaconda choke and rolls into it to force the tapout!

That was a slick, slick submission, especially as there was only seconds to go in the round when he hit it. Amazing grappling from Phil Davis. You can tell the guy is still very green, as to be fair it wasnít so much good wrestling from Gustafsson that allowed him to defend the takedowns, it was that Davis wasnít setting them up with strikes properly, but hey, heís got years to learn and hopefully the UFC treat him with kid gloves as heís a canít miss prospect and they really need to avoid throwing him to the wolves too early. Gustafsson acquitted himself decently here but what can you do against a stud athlete like Davis really?

Middleweight Fight: Mark Munoz vs Kendall Grove

Cool match here, as Munoz had looked fantastic against Ryan Jensen and was due a step up, while Grove had submitted a similar fighter in Jake Rosholt in his last fight. The difference here I thought would be Munozís clubbing power, and with Groveís dodgy chin thatís always a worry.

First round begins and they circle with Grove looking to keep his distance. Munoz pushes forward and shoots though, getting a strong takedown to guard. Big right over the top from Munoz, but Grove pops up quickly and avoids a wild right hand. Munoz comes forward again, but this time he walks into a BIG UPPERCUT from Kendall and folds! Munoz looks in deep trouble and desperately goes for a leg as Grove pounds at the head. Good defense from Grove and he looks for the jumping knee with one leg already up, ala Urijah Faber. Munoz keeps going for the single leg, but Grove continues to avoid it and drops some hard hammer fists, looking to finish him off. Tremendous heart from Munoz to even survive this and he manages to grab Kendall and force him into the cage again. Munoz keeps trying the takedown, but this time he canít get Grove off his feet, and the ref breaks them up. Takedown attempt from Munoz again, but he still looks wobbly and Grove sprawls out and almost locks up an anaconda choke. Munoz slips free though, and as they come back to their feet he starts swinging for the fences, landing with a right and a hard left! He shoots again, but this time Grove locks up a tight guillotine and rolls into it, flipping into mount! This looks tight and Kendall switches to the power guillotine from the mount, but Munoz manages to gut it out and escapes. Munoz is pretty much crawling for an ankle pick now as Grove continues to club at the head, then looks to set up a front choke. He locks up the guillotine again and gets on top, but Munoz escapes on the buzzer. Great first round, but Grove came close to finishing by TKO and submission, so Iím going 10-8.

Second round and Munoz walks right into the uppercut again, but this time Munoz swings right back and they trade wildly! Munoz shoots, but dives right into a CRUSHING KNEE from Grove and Kendall capitalizes by taking the back with both hooks in! Grove tries to float off to the side to go for an armbar, but Munoz forces himself free and winds up on top, and now itís TIME FOR PAIN as Munoz opens up with the ground-and-pound before standing over him to drop some more bombs. Kendall manages to tie him up a little, but Munoz begins to land with some BIG POWER SHOTS to the body and head. Grove is in trouble here. Munoz stands over him and lands a big right over the top again, but the action slows down for a moment and the referee warns them. Munoz stands over him again, and this time he throws a HUGE RIGHT over the top that hurts Grove. Kendall begins to cover up for dear life, but Munoz goes POSTAL with the ground-and-pound, bombing away until the referee calls the stoppage!

Amazing fight. Low-end FOTYC even. Munoz was in deep, deep trouble in the first round, almost being put away three times, and even early in the second he was looking doomed with the big knee and having his back taken, but once he got on top and opened up with the ground-and-pound, good lord. The guy just has savage power from the top and Grove really had no chance once he allowed Munoz to bomb on him. Tremendous win for the Filipino and the heart he showed to gut the first round out was truly exceptional, too.

Lightweight Fight: Rafael Dos Anjos vs Terry Etim

Scouser Etim was looking for his fifth win in a row here, after submitting grappler Shannon Gugerty in November with a sick guillotine. For me this seemed like a good fight for him as while the wrestleboxers like Griffin and Sherk would provide serious problems, Dos Anjos seemed not quite as good standing and lacks the takedowns to put Terry on his back. I figured weíd see Etim score another TKO here and get his name out there as a genuine contender.

Fight gets underway and Etim stalks forward, landing an early leg kick. Flurry of punches misses for Dos Anjos. They exchange some low kicks and then a head kick by Etim is blocked. Dos Anjos shoots for a takedown, but Etim clamps on an arm-in guillotine and pulls guard. It looks pretty tight and he synches it in correctly rather than leaning back, but Dos Anjos looks calm and seems content to wait it out until Etimís arms tire. Sure enough, the Brazilian slowly works his hand inside and manages to pop free. Etim looks for an armbar, but this allows Dos Anjos to pass the guard nicely, and from there he drops some knees to the body. Ref Marc Goddard steps in inexplicably though, claiming Dos Anjos has attacked the spine, and calls a stand-up. Didnít look like he was hitting the spine, but whatever. They restart and Dos Anjos lands a left hand into a clinch, where he lands some short knees to the body. Takedown from Etim but Dos Anjos looks for a heel hook. Etim stays calm and stacks up, then spins out nicely, landing on top in the guard. They exchange some short strikes inside the guard with Etim working some hammer fists, but Dos Anjos looks to roll for a kneebar. Etim defends though and the time runs out. Close round, probably 10-9 Etim for the choke attempt Iíd say.

Into the 2nd and Etim stalks forward, but Dos Anjos lands the first leg kick of the round. Etim fires one back and follows with a glancing spinning back kick. Dos Anjos looks to clinch, but eats a knee that wobbles his legs momentarily. Big takedown follows though and the Brazilian lands on top in side mount. Good control from Dos Anjos as he grinds his elbow into the face. Dos Anjos looks for full mount, and almost gets it, but Etim manages to slip into half-guard. Dos Anjos uses a neck crank to escape back into side mount though and then drops some good shots with the elbow. Full mount now for Dos Anjos but Etim immediately escapes to half-guard. Beautiful pass puts Dos Anjos back in side mount though and it looks like he might be prepping for a choke. More elbows land as Dos Anjos considers going for the Jeff Monson choke, then transitions into a kimura attempt from north/south. Etim defends, but Dos Anjos switches it to a straight armbar and extends it, and despite Etim almost stepping over to escape, itís too deep and it forces the tapout.

Beautiful jiu-jitsu for the submission there, picture-perfect stuff. Etim did well, but Dos Anjos is a high-level black belt on the ground and he was just a step ahead of the Scouser once he got into top position. Dos Anjos has become a really interesting guy to watch actually and I think heíll give Clay Guida more trouble than some people might think in their fight. Etim I expect will bounce back from this better than ever, as he always seems to do. Really good technical fight overall.

Welterweight Fight: Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie

Any fight involving a Gracie has me hyped, and this was no exception as despite Renzo being the wrong side of 40 these days, heís still the most proven Gracie in modern MMA and looked to be in tremendous shape coming into his UFC debut. Hughes meanwhile seems to have settled into the position of a legend who takes ďdreamĒ matches as opposed to a gatekeeper, which is a role I like for him. Safe bet here seemed to be Hughes by decision, although I was pulling for Renzo.

First round begins and both men throw out some feeler strikes that donít really land. Leg kick lands for Hughes. Good left hand from Renzo as Hughes steps in. Renzo looking to land the big shot, and he catches Hughes again with a one-two. Hughes closes the distance and forces him into the fence, but Renzo breaks off. Gracie looks to strike again, but Hughes again grabs a clinch and muscles him into the fence. Crowd firmly behind Renzo. They break off again and both men throw some jabs before Hughes connects with a leg kick. Right hand lands for Hughes in an exchange but Renzo shrugs off a clinch. Leg kick from Hughes. Superman punch misses for the former champ. Left hook from Gracie and a front kick to the midsection follows. Round ends standing. Better than Madsen-Al-Turk, but only by a hair. 10-9 Gracie because he just about landed the better shots I think.

Second round and Renzo opens with a double jab. Pair of good leg kicks land for Hughes and appear to be taking their toll now. Hughes clinches and lands a knee to the body, but Renzo breaks off. Combo misses for Renzo and Hughes locks up a deep bodylock, but Renzo reverses the takedown and escapes to his feet. Another good leg kick lands for Hughes. And another one. These are definitely hurting Renzo now. Crowd getting restless halfway into the round. One-two blocked by Hughes. Leg kick lands for Renzo, but Hughes answers with a left hook. Double jab and a leg kick from Hughes. Minute to go and the crowd are openly booing the lack of action now. Another leg kick lands for Hughes and almost buckles Renzo. Who would ever have envisioned Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie having a sub-par kickboxing match? Takedown attempt from Renzo but Hughes blocks and lands some shots to the body to end the round. 10-9 Hughes in a dull one.

Third round and Hughes begins with the leg kick again. Still no sign of any ground work from two of the best ground fighters in MMA history. Another leg kick lands for Hughes. Uppercut to the body lands as Renzo steps in. Big right hook backs Renzo up but Hughes doesnít follow in. Leg kick again from Hughes. Nice uppercut from close quarters and Hughes grabs a clinch. They muscle inside the clinch and it looks like Hughes is setting up a plum clinch, but instead he lands a right and an uppercut that stun Gracie. Renzo looks to be in trouble now and a leg kick and another right have him wobbled. Renzo tries to answer, but he looks exhausted now and is beginning to resemble Mark Coleman in the third round of last yearís fight with Shogun. Leg kick drops Renzo hard, but Hughes refuses to follow him into the guard and instead helps him to his feet! Ha, wow. Fight resumes and another leg kick decks Renzo. Herb Dean calls him to his feet again Ė no help from Hughes this time though. Renzo keeps swinging, but more leg kicks and punches have him rocked again and heís running on sheer heart now. Combo drops him but Hughes waits for him to get up again. More leg kicks buckle Renzo again and finally Hughes picks his punches and decks him with a big combo for the stoppage.

Well, I guess Hughes finally got that standing knockout heís been after for years. This wasnít a great fight though Ė first round was bad kickboxing, second round was slightly better and by the third round Renzo was hurt and exhausted and basically became target practice for Hughes. Good win on paper for Hughes I guess but Renzo is way past his prime at this stage and I donít think you can take much stock into it. Disappointing stuff overall as I was hoping to see them go at it on the ground, and instead we got a fight only just better than Madsen vs. Al-Turk.

UFC World Lightweight Title: BJ Penn vs Frank Edgar

Online fans complained about Edgar challenging Penn, I guess because he didnít look capable of beating him, but come on, outside of Gray Maynard (who regardless of his wins is still green-ish) there was nobody more qualified, thanks to Frankieís wins over Tyson Griffin and Sean Sherk, and as for the fans who love the Japanese-based guys, what do Eddie Alvarez and Tatsuya Kawajiri do better than or differently to Edgar? The answer is nothing, of course. Even so, this seemed like a nightmare match for Frankie, with BJ having better boxing, better BJJ and sick takedown defense. My pick was Penn via second-round rear naked choke.

Interesting note but Penn doesnít quite look in as good shape as he did against Sanchez and Florian, and his left knee is wrapped up. Maybe an existing injury coming in?

First round begins and we get a loud BJ chant even before theyíve engaged. Penn immediately takes the center of the cage as Edgar circles around, looking to stick and move. Leg kick from Frankie and he avoids a counter from BJ. Left hand lands for Penn as Edgar steps in. Both men land jabs. Edgar still firmly on his bike. Leg kick lands again for Frankie. Few uppercuts land for Penn as Edgar comes in close. High kick is blocked by BJ. Edgar continues to dance around, but Penn lands with a combination as he steps in. Nice counter left hook from Penn. Jab follows, but Frankie comes back with a combo. Another good counter left from Penn and he shrugs off a takedown attempt. Round ends shortly after. Close round but I think Penn landed the better shots by a hair, so 10-9 for the champ. Surprisingly though he is cut under his left eye.

Second round and thereís little action in the opening minute aside from Joe Rogan cracking me up by talking about Pennís trainer Jason Parillo, sounding like heís saying Jason Derulo. Imagine that guy in BJís corner? Edgar walks into a hard left hand, then decides to shoot, but Penn stuffs it and lands an uppercut on the way out. Edgar continues to move around on the outside, but Penn is landing more shots now, seemingly having found his range. Nice combo from BJ from close quarters. Trip attempt from Edgar fails. Good exchange sees both men land. Left hook from Penn. Combo from Penn again but this time Edgar lands a counter right. Nice leg kick from Edgar. Takedown attempt and Frankie actually succeeds, but Penn pops right back up and lands on the way out. Round ends with a brief exchange. Another close one but I think Penn definitely outlanded the challenger. Iíve got Penn 20-18 up now.

Third round and Frankie circles around before darting in to land a quick combo. Penn looks to use his jab some more, but Frankieís doing a good job staying just out of range. Good combination from Penn as Edgar steps in though. Stiff jab lands for the champ. Couple of counters land for Penn but donít seem to have much effect. Good combination from Edgar. And another one. Double jab from Edgar. Superman punch lands for the challenger and he looks to follow with a single leg, but BJ stuffs it. Big left hook narrowly misses for Penn. Short left hook from Frankie lands. Takedown attempt into a body kick follows for the challenger. Heís beginning to steal this round. Big shot from Penn but Edgar ducks and looks for the takedown. BJ stuffs it and breaks with a knee. Round ends with a combo from Edgar before he gets on his bike again. I think Edgar took that round, so itís 29-28 to Penn going into the fourth now.

Going into the round Pennís corner are telling him to take the fight to the ground. Fourth begins and Edgar continues to dance around before Penn stuffs a takedown. Swift jab from Frankie. Edgar actually backs him up now, avoiding some jabs before landing a body kick. Takedown attempt from Edgar is blocked. Leg kick from the challenger. Head kick misses though. Good jab from BJ. Edgar comes inside and lands a right, but Penn counters with a left. Frankie is still moving incredibly well given what round it is. One-two from Edgar before Penn looks to counter with the left. Nice counter right from BJ and he follows with a stiff jab. Frankie chases him down but almost eats a right for his troubles. Frankie ends the round with a nice left hook. Very close round there. Edgar was the aggressor though and both men landed their fair share, so Iím going with the challenger. Next round wins it, then, on my card.

Fifth and final round. Edgar starts fast with a combo. Right hand follows and lands glancingly. Penn with a left hook but Edgar hits a double leg and gets him down! Penn immediately pops back up though. Announcers think itís the first time heís been taken down since the first Pulver fight, but I think Uno mightíve done it too at UFC 41. Anyway. Frankie continues to bounce around. Head kick misses for the challenger. Hard leg kick lands for BJ. Good right hand too as Edgar has a takedown stuffed. Double jab from Frankie. Nice right hand lands for Edgar. High kick misses for Penn. Body-head combo from Frankie but Penn stuffs the follow-up takedown. Good leg kick from the challenger. Big right hands miss for both men. Jab lands for Edgar. Body kick follows. Snapping right hand from BJ. Seconds on the clock now. Big combo to end the round for Penn going into a clinch. I think Edgar took that round and incredibly, that gives him the fight 48-47 in my book. Could easily go the other way though.

Judges have it a unanimous decision, 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46....for the NEW UFC Lightweight Champion, Frankie Edgar! Unbelievable.

Well, first off, donít know what the judge who scored it 50-45 was smoking as thereís no way Edgar took the first or second and really, the fight couldíve gone either way. That aside, amazing performance from Frankie as he never stopped moving, showed some tremendous boxing skill as well as cardio, and stole the fight from Penn in the later rounds. Not to take anything away from Frankie and Penn hasnít mentioned anything, but personally I suspect Penn was injured coming in, probably the left knee, as not only did he not look in quite as good shape, but he made no attempt to take the fight to the ground even when his corner told him to. I guess weíll see when they have their rematch next month. Overall this was a pretty decent fight, but obviously months on it loses a bit of its intrigue as live, the big question was first whether Frankie could hang in there, and that was followed by amazement when you realized the guy might actually win. So on a rewatch itís not quite as good. Not horrible or anything though, of course. And easily one of the biggest upsets of 2010 thus far.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia

This was initially supposed to be Silva vs. Vitor Belfort for the title, but Vitor got hurt, so credit to UFC for getting a viable challenger Ė one who had beaten the next contender, Chael Sonnen, already. Iíd said for a long time that Silvaís kryptonite would be BJJ, but despite Maia being the best pure BJJ guy in the UFC he just doesnít have the takedowns to get a guy like Anderson down, and with that in mind I envisioned another highlight reel finish for the Spider.

During the entrances the announcers are talking about Silva possibly dropping to 170lbs to face GSP should he win this fight, but personally I figured that was just hot air as I donít see Anderson, in his mid/late thirties, being able to cut back down to 170lbs when he walks around well over 200lbs at this point.

We begin and Silva circles round nonchalantly, hands down every now and then. Nothing landing at all in the first minute. Nothing being thrown in fact from either man. Silvaís first strike? The jabbing kick to the knee that he used in the Leites fight. Hard leg kick from the champion spins Maia around. Maia looks a little unsure what to do. Silva dancing around. Spinning back kick to the body. Weird stuff follows as Anderson starts dropping to a knee right in front of Maia. Silvaís hands are by his waist now. Right hand lands for him and Maia drops for a takedown, but Anderson easily avoids it. Pair of leg kicks follow for the champion. More dancing around and then another leg kick follows. Lunging right hand clocks Maia flush. Wild taunting now before Maia has a takedown stuffed. Silva closes in and a flying kick drops the challenger. Maia stays on his back but Andersonís having none of the guard and then he starts to kick the hands, risking an illegal blow to the head if he misses. Ref brings Maia up and Silva stands still with his hands by his waist, then starts miming like heís playing a guitar before landing a right to end the round. 10-8 Silva as Maia did absolutely nothing and looked lost in there.

Round Two and Silva starts really clowning around, throwing jabs and the jabbing kick to the leg from an odd telegraphed stance like Road Dogg used to back in the WWF in the 90ís. Maia is firmly on his back foot now and he looks worried. Pair of right hands and a leg kick have Maia diving for a leg, but Silvaís right outta dodge. Now Silva plays Prince Naseem, dropping his hands with his chin sticking out. Maia hasnít landed a thing yet. Takedown is easily stuffed and Silva kicks the hand again. Referee stands Maia up and he misses with another takedown. Another takedown misses by a mile and now Silvaís outright taunting him, shouting at him in Portuguese while slapping himself. Right hand from Silva and then he continues with the abusive taunting. Maia finally gets angry and throws some shots, but Silva dodges them with his hands by his waist. This is getting ridiculous now though as Silvaís just playing with his food. Crowd booing now. Another takedown is easily avoided. More taunting from Silva. Leg kick and a right hand backs Maia up. Silvaís accuracy is ridiculous as everything he throws seems to land flush. Round ends and itís another 10-8 in my book, but Silva really ought to think about putting him away now.

Third round and Maia opens with a left hand. His face is a mess now. Jabbing leg kick from Silva and he continues to dance around. More leg kicks but little else from the champion. Spinning back kick to the body. Maia swings wildly but misses, and now Silva closes in with some strikes before stuffing a takedown. Jab and a one-two from Silva but this is getting frustrating as you get the feeling Silva could put him away but is choosing not to. Left hand lands for Maia but Silva ignores it and lands a body kick. Takedown is stuffed with ease again. Seconds to go and Silva staggers around like heís drunk for a second. What the hell is he doing? Round ends there. 10-9 Silva but this is getting silly. Mike Goldberg sums it up by saying heís proven his point, now itís time to finish the fight.

Round Four and zilch happens for the first minute or so, as Silva dodges around on the outside without even throwing a thing really. Maia is desperately swinging to no avail. Front kick to the body from Anderson. Silva looks like he canít be bothered any more which is ludicrous. Crowd begin to chant for Maia, which is incredible. Silva starts wrist-turning and then kicks the leg. Crowd chanting for GSP now. Word! Referee Dan Miragliotta seems a bit annoyed now too as Silva continues to dance around. Maia now stops and tells Silva to do something, and of course Silva responds.....by taunting. For fuckís sake. Round ends with Silva circling. Garbage, absolute garbage. Can you go 0-0 for a round? No? Iíd say 10-9 Maia then because at least he tried to fight.

Fifth round and Maiaís left eye is swollen shut. He at least tries to push the action though, as Silva once again gets on his bike and dances around on the outside. Anderson throws a couple of kicks, but little else. Maia actually manages to land with a flurry and shoots, but Silva quickly gets out of the way. More shots land for Maia and he goes for a takedown and swings punches from his knees, but Silvaís having none of it. Maia has heart, Iíll give him that. Spinning kick to the body from Silva. Crowd chanting for Maia wildly. Silva continues to refuse to engage, and then Maia finally grabs a leg, but he canít get Silva down and is forced to stand. One minute to go and Maia continues to swing as Silva just avoids him. Finally Dan Miragliottaís seen enough and he calls time and warns Anderson that heíll take a point away if he continues to run. Silva pretty much ignores him though and continues to dance around until the round ends, with Maia chasing him. Crowd are disgusted. This is Silvaís fight but itís hardly a win he can be proud of.

Judges score it unanimously for Anderson Silva although they donít announce the scores. Dana White is so disgusted that he refuses to present Anderson with the belt, instead giving it to his manager Ed Soares to strap on him instead.

Overall, this was as shameful a performance as I can ever remember seeing in the UFC. Not only did Silva disrespect Demian Maia, but he disrespected the UFC, the Middleweight Title, and all the fans who paid good money to travel to Abu Dhabi to watch the show. I mean, the story was that Maia had apparently offended him with some comments prior to the fight, but if thatís the case and he felt disrespected, you know, youíre in MMA Ė the one sport where you can respond to disrespect by beating the shit out of the guy who said the offensive stuff. If Silva had wanted to send a message to Maia then he shouldíve beaten the shit out of him like he did to Rich Franklin or Forrest Griffin, finishing him in a round Ė not clowning around and taunting him before refusing to engage. Maia tried but this was garbage and totally turned me off Anderson Silva, even if he is one of the greatest fighters to ever step into the cage.

-Highlight reel ends what turned into quite a frustrating night.

Final Thoughts....

Awful Jon Madsen fight notwithstanding, this was looking like a surefire contender for the best show of the year up to Etim-Dos Anjos really, with all of the fights being exciting, particularly Grove-Munoz, Osipczak-Story and Kelly-Veach. But Hughes-Gracie was unbelievably slow, a bad kickboxing match for the most part, Edgar-Penn was alright but loses a lot of itís appeal once thereís no intrigue over whether Frankie can hang in there, and the less said about Silva-Maia, the better Ė itís the most frustrating five-rounder Iíve seen since, well, Silva-Leites and maybe ever. Overall this isnít one of the worst shows of all time or anything, but the three main events do bring it down tremendously. Thumbs in the middle, just about.

Best Fight: Munoz-Grove
Worst Fight: Silva-Maia

Overall Rating: **3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 113-116
DREAM: 15
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com



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