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UFC: Fight Night 23: Fight For The Troops 2 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on June 27, 2011, 4:21 AM

UFC: Fight Night 23 - Fight For The Troops 2

Fort Hood, Texas

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. We open with Goldberg explaining about the premise of the show Ė to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund, same as the 2008 Fight For The Troops show. Really cool of them to do such a thing and I wish the army of moronic Zuffa haters would take things like this into account more often.

Lightweight Fight: Matt Wiman vs Cole Miller

Pretty good fight to begin things, as Miller had beaten Ross Pearson in his last outing and had looked fantastic in doing so, while Wiman had beaten Shane Nelson and Mac Danzig, the latter an admittedly controversial fight where the ref had made an early stoppage. My pick here was Miller as he finally seemed to be living up to his potential. Fun fact Ė this couldíve been the semi-final of TUF 5 had Wiman beaten Manny Gamburyan and Miller beaten Joe Lauzon.

Round One gets started and Wiman stalks forward right away and throws some early strikes out. Good combo by Wiman and they clinch up, before Cole breaks and lands a combo of his own. Wiman clinches again and forces him into the cage, before they break again and continue to exchange. Good combo from Wiman ending in a glancing head kick. He follows with another and they clinch up briefly again before breaking. Wiman is being REALLY aggressive here. Good leg kick lands for him. Nice right hand from Wiman into the clinch, and they muscle along the fence before Wiman breaks off. Good knee from Miller from the plum, but Wiman forces his way out. Wiman continues to push forward with combos and heís backing Miller up. Miller fires back with a couple of knees and then looks for a flying triangle, but Wiman avoids it and drops some heavy shots down into the guard. Miller goes for a leg, but Wiman avoids it and remains on top, landing shots. One minute to go and Miller attempts some sort of sweep, but Wiman blocks it and keeps on pounding him. Really good shots from Wiman including a double Mongolian chop, and he finishes the round in control. Round goes to Wiman for the aggressiveness and his ground-and-pound, 10-9.

Round Two and Wiman pushes the action again, but this time tries to dive on a guillotine. Miller reverses and gets on top, but Wiman scrambles to his feet and lands a knee on the way out. Big knee from Miller but Wiman grabs a leg and tosses him to the ground, getting back into top position. Big shots from Wiman punish Cole before he tries to reverse out, but Wiman stops that by grabbing a front facelock. He takes top position in half-guard, but Miller uses a sweep attempt to escape to his feet. Good leg kick from Wiman and he follows with a combo into the clinch. They break but Wiman comes forward with some big hooks and then drops Miller with a knee, following with some more vicious ground-and-pound from the half-guard. This is the best Iíve ever seen Wiman look I think. Miller manages to get back to full guard, but Wiman postures up to pass and drops some more elbows. Miller gets full guard again, but Wiman nails him with an elbow and then uses the Mongolian chop to set up some BRUTAL shots. Miller is getting smashed here. Seconds remaining in the round and Wiman stacks him up and lands some more ground-and-pound to take the round. 10-9 Wiman.

Round Three and Wiman chases him across the cage with strikes, backing Cole up. Couple of heavy shots land for Wiman as Miller tries to fire back. Wiman forces him into the cage, but Miller breaks with a hard knee to the gut. Wiman comes back with more aggressive strikes, and then grabs a guillotine as Miller looks for the takedown. Wiman gets into top position with the guillotine still on, then releases it and looks content to stay on top in half-guard. Wiman stands over the guard and drops some more heavy shots, then just overpowers him as Miller tries to reverse. Wimanís ground-and-pound looks fantastic. Cole tries to wrap up Wimanís leg but heís having none of that and he continues to land shots. Less than a minute to go but Wiman doesnít look like slowing up at all, continuing to nail Miller with punches and elbows before taking the back. It looks for a second like heís going for an armbar, then he just decides to OPEN UP with some massive shots until the buzzer goes. Clear 10-9 for Wiman and itís a 30-27 shutout in my eyes.

Judges all agree, going 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Wiman. Donít see how you could give Miller a round there but whatever. This was a fantastic performance from Wiman as he pushed a torrid pace, took the fight to Miller in all areas and didnít slow up for one second. His ground-and-pound was especially vicious and Miller was never allowed to get off his back foot. One-sided fight but it was fun because of how aggressive Wiman was.

-We get a satellite interview with Vitor Belfort to talk about his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 126, and Vitor says heís looking forward to the fight and training has gone well. I love, by the way, how UFC managed to push Vitor as a dangerous challenger with footage that was mainly years old! Truly great marketing.

Heavyweight Fight: Pat Barry vs Joey Beltran

This was Barryís first foray back into the cage following his myriad of injuries after the loss to Cro Cop, and on paper it seemed to be the perfect match for him, as Beltran is a tough brawler but doesnít really have great skills, while Pat is one of the better kickboxers in the division. Smart pick was Barry by TKO.

Fight begins and they circle before Beltran takes a right hand en route to the clinch. Little action follows as both men seem content to just force the other into the fence, before Beltran drops to attempt a single leg. Barry works to block it, and Beltran begins to knee the leg and use foot stomps to soften him up. Ref decides to call a clean break and Barry lands one of his leg kicks off the restart. Wild flurry backs Barry up but nothing really lands for the Mexecutioner. Hard leg kick lands for Barry with picture-perfect technique. Beltranís leg already looks a bit wobbly. Wild swings from Beltran and he lands a couple before grabbing the clinch. Beltran does some solid work from close range, landing good knees to the legs. Beltran again tries to take him down, but then lands an inadvertent knee to the groin and Mario Yamasaki calls time. They restart after Barry recovers, but the round ends before anything can happen. Slow round and I think Beltran probably took it 10-9.

2nd round and Barry opens with a vicious leg kick that almost spins Joey around completely. Holy shit does he kick hard. Beltran comes back with one of his own, but the effect isnít close really. Left high kick stuns Beltran a bit and forces him to really push forward, but Barry seems to have his timing down now and he lands another leg kick. Another one follows and Beltran is visibly slowing down. Wild punches back Pat up into the cage though and Beltran grabs the clinch. Beltran gets a bodylock and tries to get him down, but Barry reverses back to his feet. Mario Yamasaki separates them again and Barry pushes in with jabs and an inside leg kick. Beltran comes back swinging, but Barry hurts him with another kick. Another one has him limping and a head kick stuns him. Barry is really picking it up now. Right hand and leg kick seem to have Joey in trouble but heís hanging tough. Another leg kick and uppercut from Barry and he avoids the swings that follow from Beltran. Seconds to go in the round and Beltran swings some wild shots, but Barry shoves him off. Round ends with a Beltran flurry. 10-9 Barry in a much better round for him.

3rd round and they circle before Barry lands a glancing left high kick. Beltran tries to answer but he just doesnít have the snap in his strikes. Big head kick from Barry but Beltran walks through it somehow. Another leg kick lands for Barry and Beltran is limping now. Wild hooks from Beltran and he lands to the body as Barry ends up forced into the fence. Barry canít keep letting Joey push him into the fence like this. Good uppercuts from Beltran and he walks through a leg kick to force Barry back into the cage after Pat shoves him off. Good combo from Beltran bloodies Barry up, and he grabs a kick as Barry shoves him away and forces him back into the cage. Beltran is stealing this fight in my opinion. More short punches land for Beltran but Mario Yamasaki calls the break. Series of brutal leg kicks land for Barry after the restart and Beltran finally looks hurt bad and staggers backwards limping. Ref calls time though as apparently Joey took an eye poke. Replay confirms it, total accident though. Doctor checks Beltran over and heís good to go, but Barry hurts him badly with some more leg kicks and finally Joey goes down, unable to hold his weight up. Joey manages to grab half-guard in an attempt to survive, and Barry punches the injured leg for good measure. Full mount (!) for Barry but he decides to stand. Beltran struggles back to his feet, and Barry nails him with a right high kick and follows with a brutal right to the body. Beltran tries his best to swing, but gets dropped by two more leg kicks on the buzzer and collapses post-fight. Barry pretty much took the fight with the last couple of minutes.

Judges have it a unanimous decision for Pat Barry, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. Sort of slow in points as Beltran was able to dictate the pace for a lot of the fight and dragged Barry into a crude clinch war, but once Pat did get some distance and got off with the leg kicks it was clear that he was the superior striker. Closer fight than I was expecting though as Beltran showed some tremendous heart and tenacity and Barry wasnít quite as aggressive as he couldíve been.

Featherweight Fight: Mark Hominick vs George Roop

After Josh Grispi had lost at UFC 125, the word coming into this was that Hominick would probably be granted a title shot against Jose Aldo if he could win, as heíd reeled off four wins on the bounce beforehand. Personally Iím not a fan of that sort of matchmaking as poor Roop was promised nothing should he win, but then I was expecting Hominick to smash him anyway so it is what it is.

Fight begins and Hominick pushes forward as Roop looks to stay on the outside and use his reach to throw strikes. Good leg kick from Roop but Hominick keeps coming forward and he decks Roop with the first straight right he throws pretty much. Hominick allows Roop back to his feet and lands a left hook before shrugging off a takedown attempt. Roop tries to strike back with a couple of kicks, but Hominick connects with another left hook. Big right hand and a follow-up left have Roop wobbled, but still he tries to swing back. Another left hook drops him though and one more on the ground forces referee Don Turnage to step in.

In a shocking scene post-fight though the ref doesnít help the obviously hurt Roop to his corner or anything, instead just walking away....and so Roop stands up zombie-like and staggers towards Hominick thinking the fight is still on, forcing Hominick to have to grab and hug him to keep him on his feet. Well, that was HILARIOUS to watch, but dangerous too Ė no idea what the ref was thinking there! Fight went basically how I expected though as Hominick was by far the better kickboxer and he wasted no time in lighting Roop up. Very impressive showing from him and indeed, enough to earn a title shot at UFC 129.

-And now itís time for an interview with Anderson Silva, who actually speaks in pretty coherent English! Well, for some of the interview. Some is translated, making a mockery of the claim that the interview is ďliveĒ. Basically your regular pre-fight interview.

Heavyweight Fight: Matt Mitrione vs Tim Hague

Alright, Iíll be honest and say I didnít get this fight at all. I mean, Mitrione had beaten Joey Beltran in September and Hague had already lost to Beltran and hadnít exactly looked great in his previous UFC run, so why match him with a guy like Mitrione? Meathead fans would argue that Mitrione is a ďprospectĒ and thus needs to be matched carefully, but I disagree Ė outside of power and athleticism Iíve never seen anything in the guy and I think someone like Cheick Kongo for instance would smack him around. No offense of course.

First round and they circle before Mitrione lands a nice couple of leg kicks. Hague throws a couple of kicks of his own, then goes for a single leg, but Mitrione manages to defend it well. Mitrione grabs a front facelock to defend, then breaks with a left. Good leg kick from Mitrione, answered by one from Hague. Short left hand puts Hague down but heís right back up. He still looks a bit wobbly though and Meathead lands a short right and another leg kick. Head kick narrowly misses, but a straight left drops Hague and Mitrione pounces and finishes him on the ground.

Good showing from Meathead, but Joe Rogan saying heís a future top contender is insane Ė he hasnít fought a UFC calibre opponent yet outside of Beltran and that fight was super-close! I mean no offense to Hague, but heís a big, slow guy with a questionable chin. I think he gets wiped when he fights a proper top-level HW. Still, I guess heís beaten who theyíve put in front of him so far and you canít knock that. KO was at least fun to watch.

Lightweight Fight: Melvin Guillard vs Evan Dunham

Originally this was supposed to be Dunham Ė fresh off being fucked by the judges in his war with Sean Sherk Ė facing Kenny Florian, but Kenny pulled out with injury and Guillard, whoíd been on quite an impressive run himself, stepped in. I was favouring Dunham here basically because heíd shown more tools and Iím wary of picking Guillard as heís always found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (see his fights with Rich Clementi and Josh Neer) in the past, but this was a fantastic fight on paper, it must be said.

Fight gets started and Dunham opens with a body kick. Big right answers for Guillard and has Dunham diving for a single leg. Melvin blocks and lands some hammer fists, and then shows some sick defense, hopping on one leg while doing the splits before defending a suplex too. Dunham finally gets him down, but Melvin gets his back to the cage and looks calm, then explodes up to his feet, landing a series of right hands as Dunham attempts a single leg. Dunham gives up on the takedown and backs up, and they circle off before Melvin lands a one-two. Jumping kick misses though. Dunham pushes forward, but a BIG ONE-TWO folds him and he looks in big trouble. He looks for the takedown but eats an uppercut, and Melvin begins to land more hammer fists as Dunham clings onto his leg. Two VICIOUS UPPERCUTS rock his world again and Melvin follows with a big knee that sends him wobbling along the fence. Two more knees and thatís all she wrote. Good lord.

Totally one-sided beatdown, surprisingly enough. That was by far the most impressive performance of Melvin Guillardís UFC career, as he came in and used his speed, explosiveness, and a much-improved takedown defense to just slaughter a genuine top class opponent. I mean when you consider what Dunham had done to the likes of Efrain Escudero, Sean Sherk and Tyson Griffin, to see Melvin run right through him like that is pretty insane. With Greg Jackson and his masterful coaching behind his huge levels of athleticism and natural talent, at 27 he might be just about reaching his peak and I think heís a title contender now. Weíve really seen him mature in the Octagon since he arrived in 2005.

Lightweight Fight: Yves Edwards vs Cody McKenzie

Before the afore-mentioned injury to Florian, Yves was slated to face Guillard in what Rampage would call a BLACK ON BLACK CRIME FIGHT!~! but instead he was faced with TUF 12ís master of the guillotine instead. Naturally I was pulling for Cody, who has grown a completely bizarre pointed beard here and looks like the dude from V For Vendetta. Really.

Round One and Cody comes out swinging before shooting on a takedown. Yves tries to stuff it but Cody gets hold of his legs and manages to get him down, sort of. Edwards immediately tries to post up the fence, and manages to get back up into the clinch. Edwards breaks off and lands a combo before Cody shoots and looks to roll into an ankle pick. Man, this dude is relentless. Yves manages to show some sick balance and lands a punch to the jaw as Cody grabs his wrist in an odd move. They separate and Cody misses a wheel kick as Yves really hasnít settled into a rhythm yet. Leg kick and a nice combination land for Yves as Codyís pace slows a little. Takedown attempt from McKenzie but Edwards sprawls and stuffs it. Big knee narrowly misses for Yves. Good combo lands for him. Joe Rogan compares Codyís stand-up style to a drunkard, which probably isnít good. He grabs a clinch though and then decides to drop to guard, but he botches it and Yves ends up in a super-high full mount. Cody slides through though and tries to get a body triangle from behind in a real odd move. Edwards manages to spin out, though. Really stiff combo lands for Cody and he shoots again, then tries to slide into half-guard as Yves stuffs it. He turns it into a takedown attempt though but Yves slips free again. Uppercut lands for Yves to end the round. Close round to call due to the aggression of McKenzie, but most of it didnít work so Iíll go 10-9 Yves.

Second round and Yves sets up a nice combo with some jabs. Big strikes have Cody rocked a little but he recovers quickly. Big head kick narrowly misses for Edwards and Cody looks in trouble. Massive combination hurts Cody and has him on the run as Yves seems to have found his range. Cody swings wild with a spinning elbow that misses. Good leg kick from Edwards. Takedown attempt from Cody and he tries to turn the corner, then manages to drag him down with a single leg. Yves stands, but gives his back and McKenzie pulls him down with one hook in. He tries to manoeuvre into mount, then ends up in side mount. Yves manages to lock down on a leg though so itís not quite full side mount. Cody lands some solid shots though and then drags Yves back down as he stands. He gets a body triangle now and it looks for a second like heís got the choke, but Yves manages to defend it. Big punches from McKenzie as the crowd chant wildly for him. Yves does a good job of pulling himself free, but Cody drags him right back down. He only has one hook this time though and Yves looks like he might get free. Yves manages to pull free and takes side mount, then full mount himself! Whoa. Good punches from Yves and Cody gives his back, and Yves immediately locks up the rear naked choke! Holy shit. Cody tries to hang on, but thereís still thirty seconds remaining and the ref has to step in as Cody passes out.

Well, that second round was incredible, and what a turnaround for Yves Edwards after being dominated on the ground for the major part of the round by McKenzie. The difference basically was that Cody couldnít finish Yves with his dominant position but when Yves got a dominant position on him he locked the choke up right away. Super-entertaining fight and both guys deserve a fucking big bonus Iíd say.

-Highlight reel ends the night, hopefully after raising a lot of money for the troops.

Final Thoughts....

This wasnít quite as great as the last Fight For The Troops show, but it was still a good show, as we only got one semi-slow fight in Barry-Beltran and then a bunch of cool finishes, the best one of course being Guillardís absolute smashing of Evan Dunham. Best fight surprisingly was the prelim between Edwards and McKenzie, but Miller-Wiman came close and you canít forget George Roop and his Zombie Walk. Two thumbs up.

Best Fight: Edwards-McKenzie
Worst Fight: Barry-Beltran

Overall Rating: ****

Coming Soon....

UFC: 126-131, Fight Night 24, Versus 3
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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