Bit of an odd opener here and to be honest when it was first reported I actually thought it was a troll job, given that McCorkle was more well-known for being an online trash-talker than anything (although he did have an unbeaten 9-0 record) while Hunt hadn’t won a fight since 2006 (!) over Tsuyoshi Kosaka (!) and had since lost SIX in a row. The story was apparently that the UFC somehow owed him fights from his old PRIDE deal though which makes a little more sense, but why wait so long to bring him in? At least he would’ve been semi-relevant in mid-2007 when the PRIDE buyout happened. Still, given McCorkle’s relatively low profile and rumors of Hunt training properly with American Top Team, I actually picked the kickboxer to pick up a rare win.
Fight begins and Hunt pushes forward, shrugging off a half-hearted takedown attempt before landing a glancing right hand. Another takedown attempt from McCorkle ends with him on the bottom in guard. Hunt looks to posture up, but McCorkle locks up a kimura on the left arm and really cranks on it, and Hunt can’t defend it and the ref ends up stopping things as his elbow apparently pops.
Wow, Hunt’s ground game looked spectacularly bad there; like it’d somehow regressed even from his PRIDE debut back in mid 2004. I guess UFC must legally owe him more than one fight because somehow he survived being cut after this, although his next fight is on the Australia card so perhaps that’s why he’s been kept on. McCorkle looked good I guess but it’s hard to really tell against a guy as bad on the ground as Hunt.
One of the more underwhelming UFC bouts of 2010, this one featured Canadian Grant looking to bounce back from a close loss to Johny Hendricks against the ‘Dominican Demon’ – who’s actually from Alaska! – Paulino, who had lost to Mike Pierce in his March UFC debut. Grant seemed to be the smart pick here given his UFC experience and the fact that Paulino hadn’t exactly looked great in his debut.
First round begins and they circle as Mike Goldberg fucks up and calls Grant “Burns”. Crowd begin to boo after less than a minute, before Grant grabs a clinch and uses a plum to land a couple of knees. Guillotine attempt leads TJ to drag Paulino to the ground, and he takes a ride with Paulino in the turtle position. He ends up tying the arms up with a crucifix from that position, but it doesn’t lead to much in the way of damage. Couple of hammer fists land to the head though. Scramble from Paulino almost puts Grant on his back, but TJ uses a front headlock to block and then spins onto the back, taking it with both hooks. Grant is just dominating the grappling here. He goes for an armbar, but can’t get it and manages to go back to full back control. A second armbar attempt follows, but he can’t lock it on and Paulino manages to slip free into the guard. Beautiful sweep from butterfly guard follows though and from there TJ takes the back again. He botches up though and Paulino manages to escape to his feet to end the round. Pretty one-sided round for TJ Grant.
2nd round and Julio looks to throw some jabs, but Grant catches a body kick and forces him into the fence before getting a takedown to side mount. Paulino holds onto a weak guillotine, but naturally it isn’t going to work with Grant in side mount and the Canadian easily frees himself. North/south from Grant randomly gets a big pop from the crowd, but he chooses to go back to side mount before Paulino explodes out and gets to his feet. Beautiful double leg from Grant puts him on the ground again though, and this time he lands in half-guard. Good pass into side mount from TJ and it looks like he might be setting up for a far-side kimura. Crowd boo wildly for no real reason now, and that inspires Grant to go for a sloppy armbar. He slips off and lands on his back in full guard, and right away he goes for a kimura. Paulino manages to work free, but Grant uses the fence to get to his feet. Big combo lands for Paulino as TJ gets up, but before he can follow up Grant catches a kick and trips him back down. Back to full mount for Grant and he grinds away with his elbow, but can’t finish things before the round ends, narrowly missing on an armbar attempt. 10-9 Grant.
Third and final round and Paulino looks to strike, shrugging off a knee attempt by shoving Grant to the ground. He waves him back up and then stuffs a takedown well, but Grant manages to grab hold of him and uses a front facelock to drag him down. Grant takes the back again, getting one hook, and the second one goes in as Paulino tries to scramble. Good scramble by Paulino almost gets him free, but TJ uses the front facelock to drag him down again. Once more Paulino gives his back, and as he tries to roll out he winds up on his back in half-guard. Paulino tries to work free, but eats a couple of punches for his troubles and Grant works into side mount again. Scramble from Julio gets him to his feet, but TJ dives on a kimura and then turns it into a triangle as they go down. It doesn’t look quite right though, at a weird angle, and Paulino powers free into Grant’s guard. Armbar attempt fails and TJ goes for a kimura sweep, but Paulino avoids it and stays on top. Seconds to go now but Paulino doesn’t really go for anything and Grant reverses him and takes side mount to close the fight out.
Judges have it 30-27 unanimous decision for TJ Grant. Pretty clear-cut win for TJ but it was dull too as he was able to control Paulino for the most part but never really came close to finishing things off.
Lightweight Fight: Waylon Lowe vs Steve Lopez
Well, I said the last fight was underwhelming but this one takes the cake, no offense to either guy, as *the* most underwhelming UFC fight of 2010. Seriously, both guys had come into the UFC as late replacements for injured fighters, neither one had looked that great in said fights and Lopez hadn’t fought in over a year. At the most I was just hoping for an exciting fight.
Fight begins and the crowd sound annoyed after like ten seconds, why I don’t know. Maybe they have a point though as we get very little action in the opening minute or so. Short right hook lands for Lowe. Couple of low kicks land for Lopez. Takedown attempt from Lowe but he shoots into a right hook that seems to hurt him. He drives through though and gets the takedown to guard. Little action from there as Lopez stays active enough from his back to prevent any ground-and-pound damage. Lowe postures up but then allows Lopez to his feet, and we’re back to square one. Low kicks again from Lopez and he lands a decent counter right too. Man, this fight is sucking so far. Takedown from Lowe with a few seconds on the clock, and he ends the round on top. Close round but I’d probably go with Lowe for the takedowns.
Round Two and it’s a horribly slow opening minute or so again. Both men seem really concerned about engaging. Couple of big swings from both men and it looks like Lopez gets the best of it with a right hand. Takedown attempt is nicely stuffed by Lopez. Leg kick from Lopez is answered by a couple of hooks from Lowe. He seems real stiff on his feet though. Takedown from Lowe but he almost lands right in a triangle. Lowe manages to slip free though and gets into side mount. Knees to the body from Lowe but they’re not devastating, and Lopez manages to turn back into full guard where he lands a couple of elbows. Round peters out inside the guard. God this is a bad fight. I have Waylon Lowe up two rounds to none, though.
Round Three begins and the announcers mention that Lopez told his corner that his hand is broken. Not sure how that happened given he’s landed about four punches in the whole fucking fight. They exchange some punches to begin, pretty tentative stuff, before Lopez throws a knee that causes him to get taken down again. Half-guard for Lopez but Lowe looks content to control him from there, getting to full mount for a second before Lopez shrimps back to half-guard. Very little happens from there as Lopez looks for a kimura to no avail. Couple of short elbows land for Lowe before Lopez escapes back to full guard. Joe Rogan begins to claim Dana and the boys would rather someone lose in an exciting fashion than win boring. Tell that to my boy Jorge Gurgel. Anyhow. Lopez is busted open BADLY off something, and there’s blood PISSING from the cut and he’s wearing the crimson mask in seconds. Herb Dean decides to stop the fight for a second to check the cut, but Lopez tells the doctor he can see and so they restart, standing too for some reason which isn’t right. Seconds to go though and Lopez throws a couple of kicks and knees, but gets taken down on the buzzer.
I’ve got this 30-27 for Waylon Lowe. Judges have it 29-28 Lowe, 29-28 Lopez (!) and 29-28 to give Waylon Lowe the split decision. Whoever scored that for Lopez should be fucking shot. I mean seriously, there is just no way the guy won the fight. No way. But whatever, this was a pretty crap fight, no other way of looking at it really. Just as underwhelming as it sounded on paper.
Originally newcomer Audinwood – sporting the nickname of ‘Awesomely Awesome’ – was set to face Aaron Riley here, but when Riley got injured, Tavares stepped in, which is a surprise given he’s usually the one dropping out with the injury! Seriously though I’m a big fan of Thiago’s and I think he could reach the top ten even if he could go on a consistent run of fights without getting injured. Despite the great nickname I figured this would be a squash in favour of the Brazilian.
Round One and Tavares takes the center of the cage as Audinwood circles around on the outside. Big right hand just misses for Thiago as he closes the distance. Beautiful double leg from Tavares pretty much puts Audinwood down, but the newcomer uses the fence and his arms to stay up. Tavares lands some punches and drags him away from the fence to plant him on his back, then lands with some good punches from the top. He passes into half-guard for a second, but Audinwood quickly gets full guard back. Audinwood uses the fence to get back up, but a BIG SLAM puts him back down to a loud pop. Full guard for Audinwood and he clocks Tavares with a nice elbow from the bottom. Tavares postures up with some hammer fists, doing some really good work, as Audinwood continually scrambles with his legs from the bottom. Looks like he’s cut on the bridge of the nose. Thiago passes into half-guard and he grabs a front headlock before transitioning to a guillotine off a scramble. Audinwood gets to his feet but the Brazilian hooks up the guillotine and jumps to guard, and the debutant taps out there.
Nice win for Tavares and he looked the best he’s done in a long time here, probably since his 2007 fight with Tyson Griffin in fact. At only 25 I can still see him making a run towards the top of the division, so hopefully he can stay healthy for a while now!
Alright, you’ll have to excuse any bias here but I can’t stand Mitrione. Probably my most hated character ever on TUF in fact and his retarded grin is like, the most annoying thing in the UFC right now. Nothing against Beltran either, but the winner of this fight in my mind would probably be the worst fighter to ever go on a three-fight winning streak in the modern day UFC. To say I was pulling for the Mexecutioner was an understatement.
Round One begins and Mitrione closes in swinging right away. Beltran takes a big head kick but shows a good chin and manages to recover quickly and move out. Good counter right from Beltran as Mitrione swings again. Crowd are pretty hot for Mitrione here as he’s an Indianapolis guy. Nice leg kick from Mitrione. He’s beating Beltran to the punch here. Wild trade and Beltran lands cleanly this time, wobbling Meathead, and he closes in swinging. Big shots from Beltran but Mitrione shows some toughness and holds on despite taking some vicious body punches. Beltran drops for a takedown and gets it, landing in Mitrione’s guard. Looks like Beltran is cut and he’s bleeding over Mitrione’s chest. Triangle attempt from Mitrione but it’s sloppy and Beltran easily avoids it. Ground-and-pound follows from Joey as the crowd begin a “MEATHEAD” chant. Beltran passes into side mount for a moment before Mitrione moves back to guard. Beltran continues to look to pass, and gets into north/south this time. Good elbows to the body from Beltran before Mitrione tries another sloppy triangle. Seconds to go and Beltran remains in control from side mount. 10-9 Beltran.
Into the 2nd and Mitrione pushes forward with a sloppy head kick that Beltran blocks. Nice leg kick lands for Meathead though. They trade wild punches again with Beltran getting inside to look for another takedown, but this time Mitrione works to defend it. Good job of escaping from Mitrione and he exits with a right hook. Mitrione continues to push forward, but Beltran draws him into another wild trade and they exchange punches. These dudes are SWINGING. Heavy right-left lands for Mitrione and buckles Beltran’s legs, but the guy has a chin of iron and he survives, then comes right back and tags Mitrione with some big shots of his own! This is a pretty wild brawl. Takedown attempt from Beltran is blocked and they trade again with Mitrione landing some big shots. Herb Dean calls time as the action slows to cut some loose tape from Beltran’s glove, and they restart with Mitrione looking a little more settled now. Again Beltran drags him into a crazy brawl though and both men land punches before Beltran goes for the takedown. This is like a bar fight to be honest. Mitrione blocks the takedown again and with seconds to go he breaks off and lands a glancing head kick to end the round. Close round but I’d go 10-9 Mitrione.
Holy shit Mitrione’s got Big Cat Erikson in his corner, not seen that guy in a LONG time. Third round and that bastard Mitrione’s got the annoying grin on his face again. Beltran comes out swinging and Mitrione obliges, landing some solid counters as Beltran throws. Good combo from Mitrione ending in a glancing head kick, but Beltran will not go away and he keeps on swinging. Mitrione looks light on his feet and lands some combos from the outside, and with 2:30 remaining it looks like Beltran’s slowing down a lot now, not swinging back as much as he was earlier. Good left hand from Mitrione puts Beltran firmly on the back foot. Mitrione is taking over this fight now. For the third round in fact he’s doing very well, just landing on Beltran and dodging the counters. With seconds to go though Beltran finally catches him and then looks for a takedown, but Mitrione stuffs it and the fight ends in a trade coming out of the clinch. I’ve got this 29-28 Matt Mitrione.
Judges scorecards read 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 for Mitrione. Solid performance from him and he did look improved in some areas, but he still showed too much of a penchant for sloppy brawling and unlike some people I’m not buying him as this hot prospect at all. Fun fight even if it was horribly crude at points.
Interesting fight here I thought as Doerksen had picked up a rare UFC win in April over Tom Lawlor, while Dollaway appeared to finally be living up to some of his pre-TUF hype by looking very good in a win over Goran Reljic in February. My pick here was Dollaway based on his superior wrestling, but to see Doerksen come away with a submission wouldn’t have surprised me.
They get underway and circle off before Dollaway lands a jab. Body kick lands for CB but Doerksen takes him down off it. They scramble back up and Doerksen looks for the takedown again, but this time Dollaway grabs an arm-in guillotine and drops to guard. Doerksen postures up inside the guillotine and looks fine, but it looks like CB isn’t really squeezing as he’s more content to just hold the position. Doerksen keeps working to free himself and manages to flip out of the guard, but in doing so he leaves his neck open and Dollaway grabs the guillotine proper, and from there they go into a WILD SCRAMBLE, rolling around like lizards or something before Dollaway ends up with a mounted guillotine to force the tapout!
Wow, that was one of the best submission wins I’ve seen in a long time. Not only did CB show ridiculous scrambling skills to be able to lock up the choke after rolling like five times, but he also showed maturity beyond his experience to hold the initial guillotine for as long as he did without gassing his arms in trying to finish it off prematurely. I’ve never understood the hate on Dollaway from some people and to me he’s one of the top prospects at 185lbs; judging by this he might be on his way to fulfilling some of that potential. Tremendous win.
This one was set up when Guillard called out Stephens after his May win over Waylon Lowe, which is a bit odd as normally mid-level guys tend to tell Joe Rogan they’ll just fight “whoever UFC decides is next”, but hey, it saves Joe Silva a job I guess! On paper this seemed to be guaranteed fireworks as both men are explosive strikers with a ton of power.
Fight begins and Stephens dodges a big overhand right and drops Melvin with a counter right away! Whoa. Melvin pops back up instantly though and throws a knee to create some distance. Looks like he’s fine. Guillard stays firmly on the outside now and throws some front kicks before landing a swift combo and getting out of the way. Overhand right glances for Guillard and they both land low kicks. Good left hand from Melvin and he quickly dodges the counter. Stephens is swinging but Melvin’s speed is making him very difficult to hit. Good right hand lands for Guillard. Nice combo from him and he gets right out again before Jeremy can answer. Big swing misses for Stephens and Guillard counters with a right hand. Nice low kick from Stephens. Another one lands to answer a right hand. Seconds to go and Guillard lands a combo and then proves a hard target to hit again. Close round but outside of the first shot Stephens didn’t land much. 10-9 Guillard.
2nd round and Stephens opens with a heavy leg kick. Nice left hand from Melvin. One-two follows and catches Stephens a little off balance. Body kick lands for Melvin. Overhand right and running body kick put Stephens on his back foot and they clinch for a moment before Jeremy shrugs him off. Melvin is dropping his hands every time he backs out but Stephens just can’t catch him. Good punches from the outside from Guillard. Crowd are booing a little now but this is smart gameplanning from Guillard. Good leg kick from Stephens. Guillard continues to get the better of the punching exchanges though. Kick lands low for Stephens and collapses Melvin. Ref calls time for him to recover as the replay shows it was the toes that seemed to catch him. They restart and Melvin lands a nice overhand right and then avoids the follow-ups. Melvin just seems to be moving on a quicker plane than Stephens. Jeremy tries to draw him into a trade, but no dice. Nice leg kick from Stephens but he eats a left hook. Good leg kick again from Stephens, answered by one from Guillard. Round ends there. Close round again. 10-9 Guillard by a hair.
3rd round and Melvin opens with some swift punches again before Stephens lands a leg kick. The leg kicks seem to be the most successful thing Stephens has thrown here. Crowd really begin to boo now for some reason. Takedown from Stephens is stuffed by Melvin. Good left hand catches Guillard stepping in. Jab lands for Melvin and Stephens is still struggling to catch him. Good leg kick though. Good jabs and a body kick land for Melvin. Crowd seem really angry with Guillard’s Machida-esque gameplan now. One minute to go and Stephens connects with a couple of shots, landing a nice body shot, but he misses with a wild flying knee to follow up. Stephens really pushing the pace now. Good leg kicks from Stephens. Seconds to go though and Stephens walks into a couple of sharp counters. I’d probably give that round to Stephens but again it was close. Fight could go either way.
We’re going to the judges and it’s a split decision, 29-28 Stephens, 29-28 Guillard and 30-27 for Melvin Guillard. I think the right man probably won here, but only just. Crowd didn’t like it and it wasn’t nearly as explosive a fight as you’d have hoped going in, but the new more technical, calculating Melvin Guillard seems more effective in terms of actually winning than the old wild one so good for him. Judging on recent events he may well be able to put himself into title contention if he continues on this path.
With a win over Tyson Griffin in June, Dunham had positioned himself on the cusp of the top ten at 155lbs and coming into this one he was arguably the UFC’s top prospect at the weight. Sherk on the other hand hadn’t fought since his surprising May 2009 loss to Frankie Edgar – although that loss suddenly doesn’t look as bad with what Frankie’s accomplished since, meaning that Sherk’s four losses have all been to current or former UFC champions – and this was his chance to get his name back into the list of contenders.
We get underway and Sherk takes the center of the cage as Dunham circles on the outside. Nice leg kick from Sherk early though. Sherk slowly cuts off the cage and drops for a single leg, driving Dunham back into the fence. BIG SLAM follows but Dunham grabs a guillotine on the way down and it looks tight. Sherk is in trouble here and he turns red, but he manages to work his head free and winds up in half-guard. Evan works a butterfly guard back in, but takes a couple of short shots. Into half-guard again for Sherk and he continues to grind away. Good job from Dunham at working back to his feet, but Sherk lands an uppercut and continues to push him into the fence. Nice knee from Sherk and he drops for another takedown, slamming Dunham down again. Into half-guard again but Dunham scrambles and Sherk grabs a front facelock. Dunham stands and keeps his hands on the ground to avoid knees, but Sherk goes for another takedown. Dunham grabs the guillotine again though and this time it looks even tighter, and he twists Sherk into a HORRIBLE position almost into Jeff Monson’s north/south choke! Mike Goldberg actually yells that it’s over, but Sherk isn’t tapping despite going a nasty shade of red, and he slips free so Dunham tries to take his back. Sherk manages to explode free and gets on top, and from there he drops a VICIOUS elbow that busts Dunham wide open, blood spurting out of his head like a faucet. Dunham scrambles to avoid the onslaught as Sherk lives up to his nickname, acting like a shark with blood in the water. Ref calls time as Sherk gets a front headlock to check on the cut. It’s a bad cut, right above the right eye, but doesn’t affect the vision so the doctor lets it continue. Round ends before anything can happen. Close round due to the guillotine but I think Sherk did more damage so I’d go with him 10-9.
Round Two begins and Dunham stuffs a half-shot right away. Sherk drives him into the fence again though and drops for a single, switching to a double leg, but Dunham gets the guillotine again and drops to look to finish it. It looks for a second like Sherk’s gone limp, but somehow he works free and manages to take Dunham’s back! That was pretty wild. Dunham gets to his feet and Sherk knees the legs before Evan turns into him. Takedown attempt again from Sherk but Dunham gets ANOTHER guillotine and uses it to almost take the back this time. Scramble follows and Sherk goes for the single again, but this time Dunham’s doing a tremendous job of blocking. Left hand breaks for Sherk and he comes in relentless for the takedown, but Dunham drops for yet another guillotine. It’s ineffective this time though and they come up with Sherk holding a front facelock. Evan manages to break free and with two minutes remaining he looks to strike. Good punches from Sherk to counter a combo but Dunham comes back with some long punches of his own to keep Sherk at bay. Nice one-two from Dunham and he avoids the counter and lands with a knee. High kick lands glancingly for Dunham. Less than a minute to go and another kick glances off Sherk’s dome. Dunham is beginning to open up now and Sherk seems in trouble. Good left hand from Dunham. BIG knee kands and Dunham follows with some sharp strikes to close out the round. 10-9 Dunham as he outstruck Sherk and came close with the guillotine twice.
Round Three and the crowd are really into this one. Dunham comes out SWINGING and a BIG HIGH KICK drops Sherk right away! He pops back up but he looks wobbly and a takedown attempt is unsuccessful. Sherk keeps driving forward though and manages to get a clinch to slow Dunham down. Dunham manages to stuff the takedown, landing some elbows to the side of the head for good measure, but Sherk keeps going and gets him down. Evan reverses up pretty quickly but Sherk’s still on him like glue. Dunham defends with some more elbows and then frees himself. Big pop for that. Good combination from Dunham and Sherk looks in trouble again. Head kick into another combo from Evan. Sherk is trying to swing back but his arms are too short to deal with the reach. He goes for the takedown again though and forces Evan back into the fence. Dunham goes for the guillotine again and this time he uses it to land a sharp knee that separates them. 1:30 to go and Dunham gets the better of another striking exchange. Dunham really begins to land on him again and a HUGE KNEE seems to have Sherk wobbled! The former champ tries to fire back but he’s getting beaten up standing. Seconds to go and they trade off in the clinch with Dunham continuing to land. Got to be 29-28 Evan Dunham.
Judges though have it a split decision, 29-28 Sherk, 29-28 Dunham, and 29-28 for Sean Sherk to get the win. Crowd sound disgusted and quite rightfully so – there’s no way Sherk won that fight, sorry. I mean sure, he won the first with the big elbow and his takedowns, but in the second round all the takedowns led to was near-submissions for Dunham, and on the feet Sherk was getting killed. The third was pretty much a carbon copy of the second, except Dunham got a knockdown, so how the hell does it go to Sherk? Awful, awful judging. To me this was a win for Dunham and I think any fan with half a brain would agree. To take nothing away from Sherk though, this was a fantastic fight, one of my favourite of 2010 in fact, and with a better judging decision I might’ve considered it a low end FOTYC. Bravo to both men but the judges can go fuck themselves.
When they announced this fight I was pretty surprised as it was a combination I didn’t expect Joe Silva to put back together after their first awful fight at the TUF 4 Finale, but then both men have changed their games a lot since then, especially Lytle who’s gone from a safety-first guy to a fighter who just throws caution to the wind these days. Despite Lytle’s hometown advantage I was going with Serra here for no reason other than I like Serra more.
Fight begins and the crowd chant for Lytle instantly. Both men come out swinging, with Serra going to the body, and right away this looks like it’s going to be a wild brawl. Punches land for both men but neither’s really landed flush yet. Serra pushes forward with some hooks but Lytle covers up and looks fine. Looks like Serra’s cut already too. Both guys continue swinging and Serra almost lands the GSP-killing hook to the back of the head. This is a hard round to score but Lytle’s getting the better of the exchanges by a hair I think. Seconds to go and Serra’s face is definitely marked up on the left side. Two big right hands land pretty clean for Lytle but Serra comes back firing bombs. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Lytle in a round more full of action than my play-by-play might suggest!
Into the 2nd and they pick up right where they left off by swinging bombs at one another. Right hook drops Serra to a knee, but he pops right back up and fights fire with fire, tagging Lytle with a combo of his own! Action slows for a second as both men recover and then Lytle continues to land with the right hook. Big combo lands for Lytle and has Serra hurt for a second although he keeps swinging back. This has literally been a boxing match with MMA gloves thus far which is pretty crazy. Beautiful combination has Serra’s legs stiff for a second, but he recovers fast and comes back with a right hook to the body. Lytle is getting the better of things now though for sure. Big trade and both men eat heavy shots. These dudes have chins of fucking iron. CRAZY swings from Lytle knock Serra around for a second but somehow he keeps wading in. Series of uppercuts hurt him bad though but he’s still standing. Just over a minute to go and the action finally slows a little. Another right hand connects for Lytle and he follows with a hard combo. Serra is in trouble and Lytle looks to finish, swinging wild, but Serra survives and finally throws a kick! Round ends with – what else? – a punching exchange. 10-9 Lytle.
Third round and it looks like Serra’s left eye is beginning to close. Good hook to the body from Serra early on. Lytle continues to push forward though and swings more punches. He slips on the way in and Serra comes forward thinking he’s hurt, but he eats a big right on the way in. Takedown attempt follows for Serra but it’s stuffed easily. Leg kick from Serra. He looks exhausted though. Lytle lands some more shots and he’s comfortably outlanding Serra at this point. Leg kick from Serra is countered by a hard right from Lytle. Two minutes to go and another leg kick lands for Serra but he takes a right on the counter again. Big left hook tags Serra and wobbles his legs for a second, but his chin remains strong. Superman punch misses for Serra and Lytle answers with more hooks. Spinning backfist misses for Serra. Heavy combo lands for Lytle as Serra desperately looks to swing back. Lytle is just catching him constantly now. Round ends with Serra trying to chase him down. Big pop for the finish as both men hug in the center of the cage.
I have this 30-27 for Chris Lytle and the judges all agree, giving him the unanimous decision. Well, that won’t win any awards for finesse as they basically stood and traded nothing but punches for three rounds, but it was a lot of fun. A boxing match like that was always going to favour Lytle though and why Serra didn’t try for more takedowns I don’t know. I guess he was just looking for an entertaining fight though and hey, it worked. Enjoyable brawl if one-dimensional.
To me at least this was the real main event on this show, as I’m a huge fan of Bader’s and this was his toughest test to date following his February KO win over Keith Jardine. Nogueira had won his first two fights in the UFC over Luiz Cane and Jason Brilz, but in the Brilz fight he hadn’t really looked all that great and had some real issues dealing with Brilz’s wrestling. With that in mind I was giving Bader a firm advantage, but undoubtedly he’d need to be at his best to take out Lil’ Nog.
Must be pointed out that Nogueira looks more heavily muscled here than he did for the Brilz fight, obviously to attempt to counteract Bader’s brute strength and wrestling advantage. First round gets underway and Bader looks to close the distance as Nogueira throws out some punches. Good left from Lil’ Nog. Bader continues to press the action though and both men miss big punches. Nice one-two from Nogueira, answered by a right hand from Bader. Right hand from Bader closes the distance, and he drops for a takedown and puts Nog on his back. Bader postures up and delivers some HUGE GROUND-AND-POUND, bouncing Nogueira’s head off the mat like Fedor did to his brother some seven years before. Nogueira survives and manages to tie him up in the guard, but Bader feeds him some short elbows. Good shots to the body from Darth Bader before Lil’ Nog scrambles to his feet and separates. Nog pushes forward and lands a solid body kick, getting out of the way before Bader can grab it. He closes in, but Bader shoots, only for Nog to stuff it nicely. Right hand catches Bader off balance but he comes back with a takedown. Nogueira reverses to his feet and pushes with punches on the buzzer. 10-9 Ryan Bader.
Second round and Bader stalks forward but takes a body kick from the Brazilian. Left hand follows. Good left from Bader to answer. Lunging right hook misses for Bader. Good left from Nogueira again, answered by a right from Bader. Pair of right hands glance off Nogueira’s jaw. Takedown from Bader is stuffed. Action has slowed up a lot now. Right hand lands for Bader. Takedown follows and he lands in Nogueira’s guard. Bader tries to posture up but Nogueira pushes off and escapes to his feet. 1:30 to go in this round and Nogueira pushes forward and stuffs another takedown attempt. Big knee from Nogueira leads to a Bader takedown, and as Nog bounces back up Bader just ragdolls him into the fence and lands a glancing right hand. Good left hand from Nogueira but Bader clinches and forces him into the fence. Break from Nog and he goes for a knee, but Bader tries a takedown. Good defence from Nog though and he avoids. Combo from Nogueira but he walks into a pair of solid right hooks from Bader before the Chuck Liddell Overhand Special misses for the TUF winner. Round ends there. Close round but I’d go 10-9 Bader again.
Round Three and they circle and throw out some punches that largely miss. Right hand glances for Bader but he takes an eye poke off a counter left and the ref calls time to let him recover. He’s fine and they restart, and Bader lands a body kick. Takedown is stuffed by Lil’ Nog. Trade of punches follows with both men landing, but Nogueira is pushing forward and he stuffs a pair of takedowns too. Nogueira pushes into the clinch and muscles Bader into the cage with a knee, but the TUF winner breaks. Good combo from Nogueira and he blocks another takedown. Big double leg succeeds for Bader though as he catches a knee and dumps the Brazilian. Nogueira explodes to his feet, and Bader muscles him into the fence but can’t get him back down. Nogueira continues to push forward with a knee to the belly and some punches. Bader looks to be a little tired now. Left hand lands for Nog. Good right hand from Bader stepping forward but Nogueira keeps on stalking. Nothing’s landed quite flush for him yet though. Combo from Bader puts him on his back foot for a moment. Right hands land for both men. Nice combination from Bader ends in a left hand. Big swings land for Bader but Nogueira takes them like a man. They trade and Nogueira lands a heavy left that wobbles Bader, but he grins and sticks his tongue out before dropping for a takedown. Nogueira stuffs it and pushes forward swinging, but on a knee attempt Bader tackles him to the ground and lands in half-guard. Less than a minute left in the fight and if Bader can ride this out the fight is his. Very little ground-and-pound from Bader but it doesn’t look like Nog is getting up. Fight ends there. You could go either way for the final round, I’d probably go with Nogueira in fact, but even that makes it 29-28 for Bader overall.
Judges have it 30-27 all around for Ryan Darth Bader. Massive win for the wrestler but it wasn’t the most entertaining fight of all time as neither man really came close to finishing. Bader did what he had to do to win – landed just enough takedowns, did enough ground-and-pound and landed just as many significant strikes on the feet, but it wasn’t a flawless performance and he looked very tired in the third round. Nogueira surprisingly stuffed a lot of his takedowns, but he just couldn’t do enough to outwork Bader and that was largely the difference. Nothing technically wrong with the fight but it wasn’t the most exciting of all time, particularly given how explosive Bader had looked in some of his previous outings.
Originally this would’ve seen a rematch of Mir’s fight with Rodrigo Nogueira, but Nog got injured again coming in and so Cro Cop stepped in on relatively late notice to take the fight. Despite not being the most attractive main event of 2010, I was still pretty excited just because it was one of the top PRIDE guys from the mid-00’s against one of the top UFC guys of the same time period. Basically because I rarely pick Mir and still have a certain love for Mirko from his PRIDE days, I ended up taking Cro Cop via knockout. After all, “Mirko” = “Mir KO”, does it not?
Mir looks slightly smaller here than he did for the Shane Carwin fight in March where he had to cut to get to 265lbs, but he’s still a lot bigger than Mirko – 253lbs to Cro Cop’s 227lbs. Crowd seem pretty torn as although Mir gets more noise, there’s some clear boos for him too.
Fight begins and they circle and throw out some short feeler strikes, neither man landing. Big chant for Cro Cop early on. Leg kick into a right hand from Mir and he charges in for the takedown, but Cro Cop stuffs it and they end up clinched against the fence. Knee from Mirko lands to the groin and Herb Dean steps in to call time. Looked pretty nasty as it goes. Cro Cop is such a nice guy that he’s actually asking Mir if he’s alright while he’s laying down trying to get some air in. They restart and Mir looks for a pair of right hooks that Cro Cop dodges. Mirko hasn’t done much at all thus far. They continue to circle and a right high kick just misses for Cro Cop. Takedown attempt from Mir and he lands a knee to the body as Cro Cop stuffs it. Good elbow inside from Mir and they end up pressed against the cage again. Cro Cop works to shrug him off, and we’re back to circling. Combo from Mir into the clinch again and he forces Cro Cop back with some short punches inside. This is a really difficult round to score because neither man has done much. Good knee inside the clinch from Mir though. Herb decides to separate them and Mir throws some punches that miss. Good leg kick from Mirko to answer. Mir rushes back into the clinch and forces Cro Cop back again, and the round ends there. I suppose you’d go 10-9 Mir as he did slightly more.
2nd round and Cro Cop throws a heavy left hook that Mir blocks. Very little action in the early part of the round. Mir gets a bodylock and tries to muscle him down, but Cro Cop defends and they end up clinched on the fence again. Herb Dean separates them again as the action lulls, and Joe Rogan compares the fight to a sparring match. That isn’t good. They push into the clinch again and like before it’s horribly devoid of action. They muscle for position for a bit but don’t even seem to be doing much with that and Herb calls the break again. One minute to go and Cro Cop throws a glancing leg kick. Left high kick of doom misses by far and that’s the round. Crowd are pissed off big time. 10-9 Mir again for slightly more aggression I guess.
Third and final round. Tentative beginning again and the crowd are FURIOUS. Brief clinch is broken quickly by Mirko. Outside trip misses for Mir but Mirko can’t capitalize. Left hand misses for Cro Cop. Rogan mentions that this is not the Cro Cop who KOd Vovchanchyn and Wanderlei. Well, that Mirko died when Gonzaga kicked him in the head, dude. Mir clinches again and Rogan is begging him to pull guard or something, but instead he muscles Mirko into the cage where they seem to be having a conversation. Huh. This is a really weird fight. Time for Herb to separate them and there’s less than two minutes to go. Man, there’s just so little happening here. Mir bulls back into the clinch but Cro Cop breaks quickly. Cro Cop comes lunging in, but Mir grabs the head and DELIVERS A HUGE KNEE that drops him, and a punch on the ground stiffens him up. OUT OF NOWHERE!~!
Well, if that had happened in the first round then everyone would’ve been talking about it for the rest of the year. As it was, it barely saved what was a truly awful fight that had a serious lack of aggression and anything memorable at all. Still, beautiful shot by Mir. It’s odd too because you’ve got to respect both guys hugely – Mir because regardless of when he did it, his resume now has wins over Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop which puts him up there with the very best Heavyweights of all time, and when you put it into context that three of those wins came after what should’ve been a career-ending motorcycle accident, it’s even more impressive. As for Cro Cop, let’s be honest, realistically he’s been done since the Gonzaga head kick in 2007, and yet he’s still in the UFC fighting (mostly) the top HWs in the world and some dangerous up-and-comers, and even after this debacle he’s taking on Brendan Schaub next. You have to admire that in a way. Fight stunk though, sorry guys. Would’ve been the worst main event of 2010 was it not for the God-awful Silva-Maia fight in April.
-Highlight reel ends our night, not the best debut for Indiana.
I don’t think this was the worst Zuffa UFC PPV of all time like some people claimed, purely because any show with a fight as good as Dunham-Sherk could never be that bad, but let’s be fair, this wasn’t the best effort of 2010. The afore-mentioned Dunham-Sherk was great and Lytle-Serra, Mitrione-Beltran and Doerksen-Dollaway were the high points, but the rest of the card ranged from somewhat slow (Bader-Nogueira, Stephens-Guillard, Grant-Paulino) to downright awful (Lowe-Lopez, Mir-Cro Cop) and Dunham-Sherk isn’t quite enough for a recommendation on its own. Thumbs down for this one.
Best Fight: Dunham-Sherk
Worst Fight: Lowe-Lopez
Overall Rating: **1/4
UFC: 120-126, Fight Night 23
Strike Force: Diaz vs. Cyborg, Fedor vs. Silva
King of the Cage: Various shows