This opener looked like your typical ‘loser leaves town’ match, as Forbes had only come back to the UFC as a late replacement in January and had lost that fight, while Jensen had taken a nasty beating from Mark Munoz at UFC 108 and held a 1-4 record inside the Octagon. My pick here was Forbes based on nothing else aside from me not rating Jensen very highly.
Fight begins and they throw some feeler strikes before Jensen lands a straight right that wobbles Forbes’ legs. He lunges forward again, but a BIG LEFT HAND from Jesse drops him HARD and Forbes closes in as he gets up and decks him with a left! Jensen tries to get to guard but ends up mounted before giving his back, and Forbes flattens him out and then looks for the rear naked choke. Jensen slips free though and turns into Jesse’s guard, and from there he catches a guillotine in a scramble and pulls guard and FORBES TAPS OUT!
Man, you will not find a crazier one-minute fight in the UFC than that. That’s up there with Scott Smith vs. Justin Levens for the most exciting short fight ever. I might dog on Jensen’s UFC record but the dude has balls of steel to fight through what he did here and he definitely earned himself another fight in the Octagon.
Another potential pink slip fight, both men were coming off losses in late 2009 – Riley to Ross Pearson, who shattered his nose, and Brammer to Mark Bocek in his UFC debut. Riley is always a uber-tough opponent for an up-and-comer like Brammer though, and so I figured he’d grind his way to a decision win.
Round One and Brammer comes out swinging, but Riley gets a clinch and lands some knees to the thighs. They break off and exchange some strikes, with Riley landing a nice left head kick. Good combo into the clinch from Riley and he muscles Brammer into the cage. Riley looks for a trip, landing some good knees inside, but he can’t get him off his feet. Knee from Brammer breaks off and they continue to swing some punches, but the big power ones miss. Low kick catches Brammer off balance and drops him for a second, but he bounces back up instantly and they clinch again. Right from Brammer to break. Kick from Riley lands low and Steve Mazzagatti calls time. Brammer walks it off and they restart with Brammer almost landing a flying knee. They circle off and Riley lands a high kick, but eats a right hand counter. They exchange into the clinch and that’s the round. Comfortable round for Aaron Riley, 10-9.
2nd round and Brammer catches a kick and counters with a left hand. Brammer looks a lot more relaxed in this round. Striking exchange continues and Brammer catches a leg and goes for a single, but Riley stuffs it. This is a pretty even stand-up fight thus far. Quite dull though too it must be added. Good body kick from Brammer. Clinch from Riley and he moves Brammer into the fence again, but still can’t trip him to the ground. Finally a beautiful leg sweep puts Riley on top in half-guard, but Brammer uses a kimura attempt to get back to full guard. Chopping punches to the body land for Riley and he avoids an armbar attempt and lands a good hammer fist. Back to the feet and Riley comes forward and lands a good leg kick. Few seconds to go and Riley lands another head kick, but Brammer manages to grab a rear waistlock off it and gets one standing hook in as the round ends. 10-9 Riley.
Third and final round and they exchange some kicks, with Brammer going down off a body kick. Looked more like a slip though and he pops right back up. They exchange strikes some more with a head kick landing for Riley. Takedown from Brammer and he manages to avoid a triangle before escaping to his feet. Nice leg kick from Riley. They clinch again and Riley lands a good knee before tripping Brammer down to half-guard again. Elbows to the body from Riley and he passes into side mount. Brammer scrambles and escapes to his feet, but he’s still stuck in the clinch and Riley tries to trip him down again. Good knee to break from Riley. Body kick lands for Brammer. Striking exchange continues and Riley looks to have the advantage now. Into the clinch with two minutes to go. Trip to half-guard from Riley again and he grinds his elbow into the face. He moves into side mount, but again Brammer slips to his feet. Riley forces him right back into the cage before they break with thirty seconds left. Right high kick glances for Riley and they trade some strikes to finish.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, unanimous decision for Aaron Riley. Dull fight overall though as neither guy really came close to finishing or even hurting their opponent badly. Nothing bad with it technically, but it just wasn’t exciting.
This was an interesting fight as Banha was still ranked in or around the top ten despite his loss to Rogerio Nogueira, but on paper the style of fight seemed to favour Team Quest’s French kickboxing guru Diabate, as he’s a lanky Muay Thai guy with the same southpaw style that Nogueira had used to flummox Cane. Even though Cane’s a BJJ black belt too he never tends to use his grappling, and so I ended up taking the Snake to pick him apart standing in a mild upset.
Opening round and Diabate opens with a leg kick. They throw some big punches, with Cane the aggressor, but he eats another leg kick. Diabate’s hanging his hands pretty low here. Good left hand lands for him though. Cane comes forward and drops him with a BIG LEFT, and suddenly the Frenchman looks to be in trouble! Cane drops into the guard, but Diabate holds on and manages to recover, then looks for a reversal and puts Cane on his back. They scramble back to their feet quickly though and Cane forces him into the fence. Cane looks for a takedown, but the Snake avoids it and remains on his feet. Diabate breaks with a knee, and as Cane comes forward the Snake lands a beautiful left-right combo. Cane swings again, but eats another combination followed by a knee. Big left hand wobbles his legs and Diabate follows with a right hook that drops him! Few punches on the ground follow and that’s that.
Very impressive showing from Cyrille Diabate in his UFC debut, putting away a tough guy in style. In a similar way to his fight with Nogueira, Cane just couldn’t deal with the southpaw style and with Diabate being a pretty high class striker, outside of the one shot that dropped him the whole fight played perfectly into the Snake’s hands. Should be interesting to see what Diabate does next, and for Cane I think its back to the drawing board, hopefully to learn some defense against a left hand.
Originally this would’ve seen Guillard taking on Thiago Tavares in a fight that seems to have been cancelled now more times than any other random midcard UFC fight in history, but the Brazilian got hurt and so wrestler Lowe, who was eliminated prior to entering the house on TUF 9, stepped in. That seemed to be a bad idea as Guillard had looked great in his previous fight against Ronys Torres and so I picked Melvin to win by knockout.
We get underway and they circle before Lowe throws an overhand left and lunges for a takedown, only for Melvin to dodge out of the way like a matador. Single leg attempt from Waylon and he lifts Melvin right up, but somehow Melvin remains on his feet. Lowe keeps trying and finally manages to sweep the far leg from under him, but Guillard pops right back up. Lowe forces him into the cage and drops for an ankle pick, then looks for the single leg again, but Guillard counters with a big knee. Lowe continues to look for the takedown, but Melvin hits the Urijah Faber jumping knee. Lowe just can’t get Melvin off his feet here. Good knee again and Lowe drops for a single, but takes some punches and hammer fists to the head. Lowe finally breaks off, and Melvin comes forward with a combo. Good leg kick from Melvin as Lowe comes forward. Lowe shoots again, but this time Melvin sprawls back and follows with a VICIOUS KNEE TO THE GUT, and that folds Lowe up for the finish. Beautiful stuff.
Overall, probably the best performance in Melvin Guillard’s UFC career, as not only did he show his usual explosive striking, but he displayed excellent takedown defense against a more than capable wrestler, and fought smart, not putting himself into positions where Lowe could drag him to the ground and control him. Looks like the move to Greg Jackson’s camp is really paying off for him, and that means we might finally see him live up to his potential.
Interesting to see a TUF winner on the undercard, but I guess this was a ‘Live on Spike’ undercard so it makes more sense. Escudero was looking to bounce back from a tough loss at the hands of the red-hot Evan Dunham, and I figured he’d be able to do just that against Dan Lauzon, who had been abandoned by his trainer and his own brother (!) prior to this fight after apparently being lazy in training. Sucks for him.
Fight gets underway and they exchange some early strikes, with Escudero landing a good one-two to counter a right hand. Slow fight thus far. Right hand and a knee land for Escudero and he forces Lauzon into the fence and drops for a single leg, but Lauzon defends it nicely and manages to stay on his feet. Efrain breaks and goes on the offensive, landing a trio of big knees and a right hand before dropping for a takedown again. Lauzon continues to defend it and then breaks free. They exchange some more strikes with neither man really gaining an advantage, and with a minute to go the crowd begin to boo a little. Couple more decent shots land for Efrain. Low kick catches Lauzon in the groin but he chooses to fight on. More strikes thrown to little effect and the round ends there. Dull round that goes to Escudero, 10-9.
2nd round and Lauzon tries to pump a jab which is largely ineffective. Three right hands lead into a flurry for Escudero and he really opens up, grabbing the plum clinch to deliver a couple of knees. Lauzon covers up along the fence but some of the shots get through, but Escudero decides to back up rather than punch himself out. Takedown attempt from Lauzon but Efrain stuffs it and uses a front facelock to avoid, and they wind up clinched on the fence. Efrain breaks off and Lauzon is breathing heavily now, I guess confirming his brother’s fears coming in. Couple of jabs and leg kicks land for Efrain. Efrain continues to walk him down and opens up with another pair of good knees before Lauzon shoves him away. Uppercut into the clinch from Escudero and Lauzon looks like he’s running on empty. Leg kick puts Lauzon down but it looked more like he went down on purpose, and Efrain refuses to follow him and calls him back to his feet. Seconds remaining in the round and Escudero chases him down with some more punches to finish. 10-9 Escudero and this is his fight to lose.
Third and final round and Escudero lands a leg kick early. Lauzon answers with one of his own, but catches Efrain in the groin and Josh Rosenthal calls time. They restart and Efrain hits him with a couple more low kicks. Not sure why Efrain isn’t being more aggressive here. Good combo finally lands but he follows by forcing Lauzon into the cage. They break off again and once more Escudero hits three knees ending with a jumping one. Head kick misses for Escudero as the action slows down again. Side kick misses too. Crowd begin to boo as Escudero bounces around a bit. Pair of heavy kicks land to the groin and on the second one Rosenthal calls time again and decides to take a point away this time. Bit harsh but it’s not going to affect the result anyway. They restart with seconds to go and finally both men decide to go for broke, trading wildly until the buzzer sounds. Why couldn’t they have done that before? 9-9 round with the point deduction so I have this 29-27 for Escudero.
Unanimous decision for Efrain Escudero, 29-27 all round. Bit of a dull fight outside of a few bright spots for Efrain, as Lauzon looked tired after the first round and didn’t offer much in the way of offense, while Escudero fought well but didn’t really open up completely and look for the finish.
Another TUF winner on the prelims? Sacrilege! This was a pretty solid fight on paper actually, as Dong is basically the big dark horse at 170lbs and could probably be considered an outside title contender if he could put a run of fights together – not wins, but fighting more often, as this was his first outing since UFC 100 (!) while Sadollah had beaten Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn after a disappointing loss to Johny Hendricks. Pretty much a striker vs. grappler clash too, with Sadollah looking to use his Muay Thai against Dong’s sick judo skills.
First round begins and Sadollah circles on the outside and lands a good leg kick. Good single leg from Dong and he puts Amir on his back in half-guard, quickly slipping out of a half-hearted guillotine. Dong works to pass the guard while setting up a potential arm triangle, but he can’t get free and Amir works into full guard. Good job from Amir here to neutralise any offense from the top. Dong works free into half-guard, but Sadollah quickly scrambles to full guard. Couple of elbows land for Dong but nothing overly nasty. Another guard pass attempt is blocked by Amir, who almost hits a sweep. Dong moves into half-guard, landing some elbows as Amir looks to escape to his feet. About a minute to go and Amir scrambles, almost getting to his feet, but Dong takes his back and gets one hook in. Sadollah defends to avoid the other one, but eats some punches before the Korean slides both hooks in and looks to set up for an armbar. Amir tries to shake him off, but Dong remains on his back until the round ends. 10-9 Dong.
Into the 2nd and Sadollah looks to set up some strikes, but he can’t get anything off and Dong quickly gets a single leg and drags him down to guard again. Beautiful pass puts Dong in side mount, and he looks to isolate an arm, but again he doesn’t land much in the way of offense. An attempt at the Hughes crucifix allows Amir to escape to his feet and land a knee, but Dong stays on him and forces him into the cage, looking to take him down again. Dong drags him down and goes for the back again, hanging on him as Sadollah works back to his feet. Good takedown from Dong and he lands in the guard again. Dong moves into half-guard, but there’s still very little being done from the position. Weird position now as Dong pulls Amir’s left arm across his face to trap it and deliver some unanswered punches. He moves into side mount for good measure, but Amir quickly hip escapes to half-guard. Full mount from Dong and he lands some punches before continuing to land as Amir gives his back on the buzzer. 10-9 Dong and I don’t see him losing this fight.
Round Three and Dong wastes very little time and gets him on his back in guard again. Amir ties him up from the bottom, possibly looking to stall for the stand-up, but Steve Mazzagatti refuses to oblige and little happens from the position. More of the same follows until Dong botches an attempt at taking the back and allows Sadollah to escape to his feet. Amir pushes forward looking to strike, and avoids a single leg this time, but he can’t land anything and a flying knee attempt allows Dong to take him down. He explodes back to his feet, but can’t land the big shot and in fact the best two punches land for Dong. Amir comes back with a right hand and comes in swinging, but he can’t finish Dong off and the Korean forces a clinch to end the fight.
Judges all score it 30-27 for Dong Hyun Kim. Strong, dominant performance from the Korean but due to Amir’s solid guard work it wasn’t an entertaining fight as the TUF winner neutralized all of his offense and took very little damage, meaning we effectively got a positional war for the full fifteen minutes. Still, Dong is a tough opponent for anyone in the division if he can stay healthy and I look forward to seeing who they match him with next.
Didn’t expect to see Diego back at 170lbs, that’s for sure, but I guess he lost so devastatingly to BJ Penn that his title aspirations were totally on the backburner, and so why not move back to Welterweight (where technically he had more success anyway)? His first opponent? Rising British fighter John Hathaway (whose strong win over Rick Story in his second UFC fight looks more and more impressive by the day, it must be added...) who brought a 13-0 record into the cage. Despite Hathaway’s clear talent I figured Diego would be too much for him, and expected a classic Diego fight filled with scrambles that would see him walk away with the decision.
Fight begins and Sanchez comes forward with punches into a takedown attempt, forcing Hathaway into the fence. Hathaway stuffs the takedown well, showing some tremendous strength by grabbing the wrists to block. Hathaway manages to turn it around and lands a big elbow, but Diego gets him down for a split-second before he pops back up. This time Hathaway breaks off. Leg kick from Hathaway and he lands a decent counter as Diego comes forward. Good straight right lands for the Brit, using his reach advantage. Diego looks to shoot, but dives right into a BIG KNEE that drops him, and Hathaway pounces, looking to finish! Diego is in trouble here as Hathaway pounds away from the guard, landing some nasty elbows to the face. Diego manages to recover enough to hold on and survive, but he continues to take elbows to the head and body. Good left hand from the top lands for the Brit. Hammer fists now from Hathaway as Diego tries to scramble from his back, but he takes some nasty ground-and-pound. Diego’s face is all marked up now. More elbows from Hathaway and he continues to work Diego over for the remainder of the round. Wow. Not quite enough for a 10-8 in my book, but a lopsided round for John Hathaway.
Second round and Hathaway begins with a leg kick and a stiff right hand. High kick narrowly misses. Left hand lands for Hathaway as he’s really using his reach to his advantage. Right hand lands over the top for Diego though. Another good right lands for Hathaway. Left lands for Diego as Hathaway steps in. Hathaway is continuing to outland Diego constantly though. Takedown from Diego, but Hathaway quickly posts back up to his feet using the cage. Diego really works hard for the takedown, but Hathaway looks too strong and he forces his way up and stuffs a further attempt. Elbow from Hathaway breaks off. Good right hand lands for the Brit. Another right lands hard. Diego just can’t seem to deal with the size and reach of Hathaway. Diego sporting a bloody nose now. Big right land lands and wobbles Diego’s legs. Head kick lands glancingly. Flurry from Diego but it doesn’t really land clean. Right hand lands again for Hathaway and he ends the round with a knee and another right. 10-9 Hathaway.
Third and final round and it looks like Diego needs a finish. Hathaway pushes forward and looks to pick up where he left off in the second. Good combination from Sanchez, landing a right and a left. Flurry from Diego misses. Good three-punch combo to answer from Hathaway. Takedown attempt from Sanchez is stuffed and Hathaway breaks off with a knee. Good jab from the Brit. Exchange follows with both men landing. Takedown attempt from Diego again, but he just can’t get Hathaway off his feet and the Brit drives Diego into the fence and breaks with a right hand. Nice jab and a straight right for Hathaway. Diego steps in but walks right into a hard right hand. Beautiful double-jab combo into a high kick lands for Hathaway. Diego chases forward swinging but can’t get anything going and he eats another right from Hathaway. Clinch from Hathaway now and he drags Diego down for a moment and lands a shot, but Sanchez scrambles back up. More punches landing for Hathaway. Diego tries the takedown again, but gets thrown aside and eats some more shots as the fight ends. Real eye opener.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-26 and 30-27 for John Hathaway. Big upset win for him as it looked like Diego just couldn’t deal with his size and reach advantage and couldn’t get anything going from the beginning, particularly after he was dropped with the knee. Whether it’s more a sign of Hathaway being a genuine top-ten level contender or Diego not being able to cope with the move back up to 170lbs is something we’ll find out in the future, especially in Diego’s next fight given he’s facing Paulo Thiago. Personally though I’m buying Hathaway as the real deal, particularly given he also outgrappled Rick Story in their fight. You could probably argue a top-ten ranking for him actually. Pretty entertaining fight even if it was disappointing as a big Diego fan.
I guess Zuffa were lucky that Rampage vs. Rashad was such a huge fight, as the co-main event was initially Lil’ Nog vs. Forrest Griffin, but when Forrest dropped with injury the only replacement they could get was Jason Brilz, who, while a tough guy, is unheralded and doesn’t really have the personality to sell a fight either, no offense. I think everyone and his dog was picking Nogueira here.
Fight begins and both men look pretty tentative as they circle around. Little action in the first minute. Good knee to the body from Nogueira as Brilz leans in for a takedown attempt. Leg kick follows for Nog and he avoids a takedown. Another knee lands to the body. Leg kick is caught and Brilz gets a takedown, but Nogueira gets full guard. Brilz looks to pass, avoiding a triangle attempt in the process, and he makes it into half-guard. Sweep from Nogueira allows him to escape the bottom position, but Brilz grabs a guillotine and uses it to transition to the back. Decent punches from Brilz before Nog rolls into half-guard. Cradle sweep attempt from Nogueira but Brilz hooks the leg with his own and uses the position to land some punches. Nogueira escapes that and gets a rear waistlock as they come to their feet, tripping Brilz down. Punches from Nogueira as he has the back, but Brilz slips free and they end up back on their feet. Brilz looking to close the distance, and he ducks a left and goes for a single leg, but Nogueira stuffs it and breaks off. Seconds to go, and a couple of solid punches land for Lil’ Nog. Close round to score but the grappling was largely even and the striking favoured Nogueira slightly, so I’d go 10-9 Nogueira.
Round Two and Brilz circles before throwing a leg kick into a single leg. He gets it, but Nogueira goes for a guillotine. Brilz pops his head free after a slight struggle and advances into half-guard. Nice sweep from Nogueira, but now he lands in a guillotine and this looks pretty tight. Brilz sweeps into top position and then rolls into half-guard, and Nogueira looks in deep trouble as it looks for a second like Yves Lavigne’s going to stop it! They roll through a few times, but Brilz ends up letting go and winding up on top in half-guard again. Nogueira tries to sweep again, but Brilz shows some good base and hits him with a good elbow. Another guillotine attempt follows for Brilz to counter a sweep, but this time Nog gets to side mount and pops right out. Brilz scrambles and ends up in a front facelock, and it looks like Nogueira’s prepping for an anaconda choke. Brilz escapes though and gets back to his feet. Nogueira presses forward, but Brilz gets a single leg and forces him into the cage. They break quickly and Brilz lands some good shots in an exchange. Takedown attempt is avoided nicely from Nogueira. Both men looking tired now. Good right from Brilz in an exchange. Big knee from Nogueira and he avoids a single leg. BIG TRADE follows and Brilz tags him with some strong punches! Crowd go wild as Nogueira begins to back up, and the round ends there. Round has to go to Jason Brilz for the punches and the guillotine attempt, so this is razor-close going into the third.
Final round and Nog throws out some jabs before Brilz gets a single leg. Nogueira grabs a guillotine, but Brilz pops out and gets into half-guard. Awesome sweep from Nogueira puts him into top position though and he lands some punches from half-guard before Brilz looks to escape to his feet. He gets up, but Nogueira lands some punches on the way out. Single leg from Brilz and he drives Nog into the cage, but Nogueira forces him to all fours and lands punches as Brilz tries an ankle pick. Nogueira works free and lands a knee to the body as Brilz looks very tired. Takedown attempt from Brilz, but Nogueira sprawls and looks to use an over/under to go for a D’Arce. He can’t quite lock it in though and ends up letting go, and they come back to their feet. Good knee to the body from Nogueira as Brilz leans for a takedown. Single leg from Brilz again, but Nogueira hits a reversal and goes for a crucifix armbar! Nogueira uses the trapped arms to land some punches, but Brilz manages to roll free and gets on top in guard! Into half-guard again, but Nogueira hits another sweep and lands in side mount. Brilz tries to scramble free, but Nogueira stays on top in half-guard and finishes the round with some ground-and-pound. Nogueira’s round so it basically depends how you scored the first. I’d have it 29-28 for Nogueira, just about.
We’re going to the judges and it’s a split decision, 29-28 Brilz, 29-28 Nogueira, and 29-28....for Rogerio Nogueira! Crowd boo the decision but I think it was the correct one even if the fight was unbelievably close. Honestly a lot of people claimed Brilz was robbed here and while you could make an argument for him winning, it wasn’t like a Shogun-Machida style decision and I think it was more like, people expected Brilz to get whitewashed and then when he didn’t, it came off like he was winning clearly when he really wasn’t. Still, he definitely proved his worth as a very underrated fighter while Nogueira showed some definite problems with dealing with a strong wrestler. Whoever you had winning though, there’s no denying this was one hell of a fight with some really spectacular technical grappling exchanges.
There was a ton of hype surrounding Duffee after his record-setting win over Tim Hague and tons of tales of his gym exploits, but due to injuries he hadn’t actually fought since that August victory. His opponent Russow hadn’t fought since the same card either, where he took a far less spectacular decision win over Justin McCully. My pick, naturally, was Duffee with another brutal knockout. On a side note, the difference in physique between these two is hilarious, as Duffee is built like a fucking Greek God while Russow looks in terrible, terrible shape, almost Roy Nelson levels. Joe Rogan compares them to a ‘before and after’ photo shoot and that’s about right.
Fight begins and Duffee comes out quickly and tags him with some early punches. Big uppercut rocks Russow and another one drops him, and he desperately tries to grab hold of Todd as he looks for the finish. Duffee stuffs the takedown and continues to bomb on Russow, who evidently has a hell of a chin as he’s already taken some brutal shots. Pair of stiff jabs snap Russow’s head back. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Duffee. Big right hook lands for Todd. Another takedown is avoided and Duffee opens up with another combination that wobbles Russow. This guy has a ludicrous chin. This is a difficult fight to play-by-play actually as Duffee is just teeing off on Russow constantly with seemingly little effect! Russow looks so out of his depth standing though it’s not even funny. Huge uppercut wobbles Russow’s legs, but he’s still standing. This is like Sylvia vs. Cabbage or Velasquez vs. Stojnic or something. High kick lands for Duffee and the round ends soon after. Insanely one-sided round, 10-8 for Todd Duffee.
Second round and Duffee opens up with another massive uppercut that somehow Russow eats right up. Duffee continues to tee off with very little in the way of an answer from Russow. Todd’s pace has clearly slowed down though, but I guess it’s bound to given the amount of shots he threw in the first round. Right hand grazes off the top of Duffee’s head, pretty much the first shot Russow’s landed in the fight. Duffee looks much slower now, but he easily stuffs a single leg attempt. Combo lands for Duffee with less power than earlier. Stiff jab snaps Russow’s head back though. Crowd beginning to get a little restless now. Overhand right misses for Russow and Duffee counters with an uppercut. Thirty seconds to go and inexplicably it looks like Russow’s going to make it to the third round. Duffee’s punches have lost a lot of their steam, and the round ends. 10-9 Duffee.
Round Three and Duffee opens with a pair of uppercuts, but Russow keeps coming forward. Russow charges in looking for a takedown, but Duffee easily avoids it. Duffee’s still outlanding him but he’s taking some deep breaths now and he definitely looks tired. Combination from Duffee puts Russow on his back foot but it’s looking less and less like he’s going to be able to put him away now. 2:30 to go and suddenly Russow lands a BIG RIGHT OUT OF NOWHERE AND PUTS DUFFEE DOWN! HOLY SHIT.
Crowd are going crazy while Rogan and Goldberg are outright marking out on commentary, unbelievable stuff. Replay shows he landed two right hands directly on the temple that turned Duffee’s lights out. Probably the wildest comeback I’ve seen in the UFC as even in Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell, those guys were exchanging pretty evenly while here Russow was just taking a beating and hadn’t landed a thing before the KO. I saw this compared to the episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a boxer and has a gameplan of allowing the opponent to hit him until they gas because his chin is so hard, and then KO them late, and that’s pretty much dead on. Don’t see Russow amounting to much in the HW division but hey, at least he has this highlight reel for his career. As for Duffee, I figured this would just be a learning experience for him as he was winning literally every second of the fight until the KO, but he’s since been released from the UFC, apparently due to attitude problems. Hopefully he’ll sort his head out and return in the future as I still think he’s a top prospect and could make noise in the future. Fight slowed down a little late on but the knockout made it really memorable in the end.
Pretty good matchmaking here with both men being just outside of the title contention zone and both wanting to break into that area. On paper the styles seemed to favour Bisping, as he was the better striker and his wrestling has improved enough to where he could avoid Miller’s takedowns, but there was still the chance that the former IFL champ could catch him on the ground, and it made for an interesting clash.
Pre-fight staredown is INSANE as they pretty much end up headbutting one another. Did not expect that from these two! Round One and Bisping looks to circle on the outside and pick his shots, but Miller lands the first good blow, a straight left hand. Kick catches Bisping low and Steve Mazzagatti calls time, but he recovers quickly and they restart. Right hand glances off the top of Miller’s head. Both men throwing punches but neither one’s landed anything significant yet. Good right hand finally lands for Bisping. Uppercut from Miller to counter a right from Bisping. Right hand lands for Bisping. Quick combo from Bisping. Leg kick from Miller. Good counter left from Bisping and he follows with a one-two. Pair of solid jabs land for Bisping and Miller fires back with a leg kick. Exchange and both men connect. Bisping beginning to keep Miller on the end of his punches now. Nice right hand snaps Miller’s head back. No takedown attempts from Miller thus far. Nice combo from Bisping to counter as Miller steps in. Bisping ends the round with some jabs. 10-9 Bisping.
Second round and Bisping looks to establish the jab again. Miller lands a couple of inside leg kicks and both men miss some punches. Bisping begins to walk him down, landing a good right hand counter and a hard left to follow. Right to the temple from Bisping. Miller continues to work the inside leg kick. Miller sporting a bloody nose now. Left high kick lands for Bisping quite nicely, but Miller takes it and answers with a leg kick. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Bisping. Big overhand right from Bisping stuns Miller but he recovers quickly. Another good right hand lands for Bisping who looks much more comfortable and confident now. Bisping is landing the right hand over and over. More punches land for Bisping as Miller tries to fire back with little success, and that’s the round. Big round for Michael Bisping and I have him up 20-18 here.
Round Three and Miller comes out aggressively, but Bisping stays on his toes and lands punches right away to tag him. Big right from Miller puts Bisping on wobbly legs though, and Miller tries to follow up only to eat a big right from the Brit. Good stiff jab from Bisping. Head kick is blocked by Miller. Miller continues to push forward but why he isn’t shooting for takedowns I don’t know. Right lands to the body of Bisping. Bisping throws a combo but finally Miller tackles him and gets him on his back in guard. Miller looks for some punches, but Bisping uses the cage to get to his feet and breaks off. Good work from Bisping. Shot to the body from Miller but Bisping answers back with a right hand. Miller’s face is really marked up. Both men landing decent shots but nothing overly damaging. Good right from Bisping with a minute to go. Takedown attempt from Miller but Bisping defends well and gets his back to the fence before breaking off with a short right hook. Seconds remaining and Miler really looks to push forward, but Bisping stays out of range and fires back with some nice combinations before the buzzer sounds. I have this 30-27 for Bisping.
Judges agree and it’s a unanimous decision for Michael Bisping, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Decent fight if a little unspectacular as neither man really came close to finishing it off, even if Bisping landed some really sweet shots. Good win for Bisping to bounce back from his disappointing loss to Wanderlei Silva, and love him or hate him you have to see him in or around the top ten at this point I think. As for Miller you’ve got to question his gameplan a little I think as even if he struggled with takedowns when he went for them, surely it would’ve been smarter to shoot early rather than go into a stand-up fight where you’re pretty much outgunned from the beginning.
What can you say about this one? For starters, it was easily the best feud between two fighters since Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz and perhaps even surpassed that the moment Rashad outright called Rampage an ‘Uncle Tom’, of all things. Despite the casual fans seemingly siding with Rampage, I was firmly behind Rashad as TUF 10 turned me off Rampage’s personality altogether. In terms of a pick, it was a tough one, as while Rashad had speed and explosiveness on his side and I could see him picking the slower Rampage off standing, Rampage has a granite chin and one-hit power and Rashad’s chin hadn’t looked great in his previous fights. I figured the wrestling would be cancelled out as both guys are excellent in that area, and so I ended up taking Rashad after seeing Rampage look not in the best of shape during the Primetime series to build the fight. Make no mistake about it, this was *the* must-see fight of 2010 thus far.
Lead-in video package for this is incredible, naturally. And the crowd are fully behind Rampage in the introductions. Staredown, as you’d expect, is AWESOME. Right up there with Silva-Arona, Hughes-Trigg, Jardine-Silva and Frye-Shamrock.
And here we go! Rampage comes forward as Rashad bounces around....but suddenly Rashad lands a BIG JACKHAMMER RIGHT AND SENDS RAMPAGE REELING!~! Crowd EXPLODE as Rashad charges forward, but he decides to go for the takedown and ends up in the clinch. Rampage defends the takedown and looks like he’s recovered, but he can’t seem to break off. Couple of body punches land for Rashad and he drops for the takedown again, but Rampage continues to block. They continue to muscle for position before Herb Dean decides he’s seen enough and calls a clean break. Rashad bounces around on the outside again, then uses a combination BEAUTIFULLY to set up a takedown, planting Rampage firmly on his back in side mount! Rampage manages to scramble into half-guard, but he takes a couple of punches as he tries to escape. Big right hand from Rashad as Rampage works to his feet, and they end up clinched against the fence again with 1:30 remaining. Again Rampage can’t shake Evans off, and it looks like he’s breathing slightly heavy already. Herb Dean calls another clean break with seconds remaining, and again Rashad bounces on the outside before shooting for a takedown. Rampage stuffs it this time, and swings some wild shots that miss right before the buzzer. Big round for Rashad Evans, 10-9.
Into the 2nd and they circle around as the crowd bust out a loud chant for Rampage. Combo from Rashad and he avoids an answer from Rampage to get into the clinch, forcing him into the cage again. They exchange some knees to the body and legs, and Rashad leans down for the takedown but again Rampage blocks. Uppercut from Rampage breaks off. Rashad stays low on the outside and again uses his boxing to set up a takedown attempt, but this time Rampage stuffs it and they wind up against the cage once more. Rashad continues to knee at the legs until Herb Dean breaks them up. Rashad looks really relaxed here, bouncing around and looking to throw Rampage off his game. Rampage hasn’t really landed anything in these exchanges yet. Left hand lands for Rashad and he’s out of the way before Rampage’s counter comes close. The speed difference here is amazing. Uppercut lands for Rashad to set up a clinch and he forces Rampage into the fence. Takedown attempt from Rashad and he transitions to the back standing, but Rampage turns into him and that’s the round. 10-9 Rashad and Rampage needs a finish now.
Third and final round and Rampage desperately tries to close him down. Rashad tries a takedown, but Rampage stuffs it and almost lands a right on the way out. Rampage manages to back Rashad up a little, and as Rashad shoots for a takedown Rampage stuffs it and LANDS A BIG RIGHT UPPERCUT! Rashad goes down and Rampage POUNCES, looking to finish! Rashad looks to be in trouble, but manages to hold on and survive, getting a loose half-guard and tying Rampage up. Crowd going insane. Rashad manages to scoot out and gets to his feet, but Rampage keeps hold of a single leg. Rashad breaks off, but he still looks a bit wobbly. Rampage looks too tired to chase him down though, obviously having expended a lot of gas looking for the finish. Lunging right hook is blocked by Rampage, but Rashad’s legs look recovered now. Two minutes to go and Rashad circles on the outside, ducks under a shot and hits a beautiful double leg down to guard. Looks like Rampage let his opportunity slip away. Rashad traps the arm and begins to pay Rampage back, landing some solid punches with Rampage’s head wedged into the cage, before passing into side mount. Rampage gives his back on all fours, then stands, but he takes some uppercuts before Rashad turns the corner and brings him down again. Rampage gets half-guard and looks to work to his feet, but he takes some more shots on his way up, and the fight ends with Rampage breaking the clinch. Close round to score and you could go either way, but regardless this is Rashad’s fight.
We’re going to the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision for Rashad Evans, 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27. Crowd loudly cheer the decision, obviously recognizing that the right man won. Of course, poor Rashad gets some boos during his interview. He tells Joe Rogan he didn’t technically have a gameplan, but he was looking to stick to his strengths and exploit Rampage’s weaknesses. He says Rampage slowed down as the fight went on, but he was badly hurt in the third round before admitting it was a huge relief to finally get the win. Rampage meanwhile admits he’s disappointed, he tried his best but Rashad was the better man. Classy stuff after all the trash talk.
Some fans were disappointed with this fight but personally I enjoyed it immensely – both men got their shots in and while it wasn’t Frye-Takayama - which I think was what those fans that were disappointed were expecting – it certainly wasn’t something like Koscheck-Sanchez or the like. The story of the fight in the end was the speed advantage of Rashad, as he was too elusive for Rampage to catch and when Rampage did hit him, he was too tired by that point to really capitalize. Rashad looked better than ever here; sharp on his feet, explosive with his wrestling, and the most impressive thing to me was the way he used his striking to set up his takedowns, particularly the double-leg in the first round. Now Shogun’s got the title I think there’s a definite chance Rashad could regain the belt as he matches up far better with Rua than he does with Machida, but that’s another fight. In the end? Screw the haters, this was one of the most memorable fights of 2010 and in recent memory for that matter.
-Highlight reel closes the show out including a mention of Matt Hughes’ induction into the UFC Hall of Fame, which really should’ve been an extra on the DVD or something but is nowhere to be found sadly.
UFC 114’s a bit of a difficult show to judge, actually. I mean, sure, it’s a looong show with a lot of fights going the distance, which normally I don’t enjoy that much, but then again the fights on the undercard that did have finishes were really exciting, and some of the longer fights like Sanchez-Hathaway and Brilz-Nogueira were excellent, while Duffee-Russow’s dull moments were offset by a violent first round and an amazing finish. There are some dull fights – namely Dong-Sadollah, Riley-Brammer and Bisping-Miller – but overall thanks to the main event, this is definitely a memorable show. It’s not UFC 84 or anything like that, but it certainly isn’t UFC 33 either. Thumbs up.
Best Fight: Nogueira-Brilz
Worst Fight: Dong-Sadollah
Overall Rating: ***3/4
UFC: 115-118, Fight Night 22
Strike Force: Houston
King of the Cage: Various shows