Former WEC champ Bowles had been on the shelf since breaking his hand in his title loss against Dominick Cruz, and so this was his first fight in a year as well as his UFC debut. He was faced with a man he’d already beaten before in Damacio Page, who had succumbed to a Bowles guillotine choke in 2008. Oh, and in the spirit of Alex Stiebling being the ‘Fighting Brad Pitt’, Bowles should totally be the ‘Fighting Mark Wahlberg’.
First round begins and Page comes out really swinging, putting Bowles on his back foot with a high kick and some follow-up strikes. Bowles looks calm though as Page continues to press the action. Good leg kick from Page. Flying kick just about misses. Another good leg kick connects though. Overhand right from Bowles is blocked. Leg kick lands for Page but Bowles counters with a one-two. Both men land with left hands. Uppercut from Bowles. Page looks like he’s slowing down a little now two minutes in. Big knee puts Bowles on the retreat again though. Another leg kick lands for Page. Bowles looks susceptible to the leg kicks as Dominick Cruz was able to land a ton on him, too. Good right to the body from the former champ. Another combo lands for Bowles and he wobbles Page with an uppercut. Page tries to fire back, but goes down off a caught kick and Bowles looks to capitalize with some ground-and-pound. Page gets to full guard to slow him down, but eats an elbow and then leaves his head open in a scramble. Bowles gets a guillotine and secures it, and Page passes out rather than tap.
WOW. Official time is 3:30 of the first round – EXACTLY THE SAME TIME as the first fight between the two with the exact same finish! Man, that’s almost an impossible coincidence. Bowles has SICK natural fighting instincts though for a guy with only ten fights, as Page came out fast but the moment he slowed down just slightly, Bowles sensed it and turned up the heat and a few seconds later it was over. Great opening fight.
Weird for them to show a prelim this early, but I guess Bowles-Page went quickly so hey. This was basically a must-win for both fighters as they’d both lost their last fight (against Stephan Bonnar and Tim Boetsch respectively) and aren’t big enough names to be able to lose two in a row.
Fight gets underway and they circle and exchange some early feeler strikes. Couple of leg kicks land for Brown as Pokrajac looks to work his left jab. Good right from Pokrajac causes Brown to clinch, but they break off quickly. Good combo from Igor. Brown charges forward and forces him into the fence, but he can’t get Pokrajac down and the crowd begin to boo. Left hand breaks for Brown. Two minutes to go and Pokrajac walks right into a right hand, but Brown surprisingly clinches rather than follow up. Igor defends the possible takedown and they exchange knees, before Brown breaks off. One minute to go and Pokrajac lands a right head kick that stuns Brown. He follows up with some wild swings and Brown goes for a takedown but fails. He still looks a bit shaky and Pokrajac lands a pair of right hands that drop him. Brown grabs a leg on the way down, but Pokrajac stays on top and lands some punches before coming back up and landing another combo. Brown stumbles backwards and gets dropped by a HUGE KNEE, and Igor pounds away until the buzzer sounds. Brown can’t get up though and the ref throws the fight out there, calling the TKO.
Pretty solid little fight, as Brown was winning the round until the head kick and once that landed Pokrajac just took over. Brown did seem to have been saved by the buzzer, but it was pretty clear that there was no way he was in a fit state to continue, so the ref did the right thing by stopping it. Post-fight Pokrajac calls out Tito Ortiz, but there’s no way they’re putting that one together now, sorry Igor!
-Joe Rogan interviews Jon Jones via satellite to talk about his upcoming title fight with Shogun Rua. Apparently his training is going great and he’s even lighter than usual. Nothing to see here really.
A real injury-hit fight, Sakara was initially pegged to face Maiquel Falcao here, but when the Brazilian got injured, Rafael Natal stepped in, only to get injured himself, causing Zuffa to bring in Weidman on two weeks notice. Weidman was widely seen as one of the top prospects in MMA – a stud wrestler (he beat both Phil Davis and Ryan Bader in college!) who was learning BJJ and striking under Matt Serra and Ray Longo – but the question was whether this was a step too soon for him.
Round One and Weidman pushes forward and misses an early head kick. He fakes a couple of shots to keep Sakara thinking, but the Italian comes back with a nice combo ending in a leg kick. Right hand glances for Weidman. Weidman pushes in for the takedown and gets the clinch, forcing Sakara into the cage. Sakara manages to break free though and they’re back to striking. Looks like Sakara’s cut over the right eye although I don’t know how. Right hand lands for Weidman. Good combination from Sakara. Single leg attempt from Weidman as Joe Rogan rips on the crowd for chanting USA. Well, when one guy is nicknamed the All-American and the other guy has ROMA tattooed on his back it’s bound to happen, dude. Weidman keeps going for the takedown as Sakara defends, and again the Italian breaks off. Weidman swings some wild punches, but Sakara is landing the better combinations here. Takedown attempt from Weidman is stuffed. Good leg kick from the newcomer though. Left hook glances for Weidman. Seconds to go and Weidman still can’t get a takedown. Round ends with Sakara really bleeding badly from the cut, but I’d still give the round to him 10-9 as he landed the better strikes.
Into the 2nd and Weidman throws a combo into a single leg and gets Sakara down. The Italian tries to kick him away but Weidman gets on top and starts to work away with elbows, cutting Sakara open in another spot. Nasty ground-and-pound. Weidman passes into side mount and there’s blood everywhere now. One camera shot actually catches Sakara visibly wincing as Weidman lands an elbow, which is rare. Weidman tries to get the mounted crucifix, but Sakara manages to avoid it. Sakara tries to scramble back to half-guard, but Weidman’s having none of that and remains in side mount. Hip escape from Sakara gets him back to half-guard, but he’s still eating some elbows. He manages to slip free though, and escapes to his feet to a big pop. Weidman grabs him though and forces him into the cage before dumping him onto his back again. Good job from Sakara to push off and escape to his feet, but he’s bleeding really badly. Ref calls time to check the cuts but the doctor cleans him up and allows him to continue. They restart and Sakara lands with a combination. Good leg kick from Weidman. They clinch and Sakara lands with a good knee to the body to break. Sakara is wearing the crimson mask. Nice body shot from Sakara. Round ends with another combination from the Italian. 10-9 for Weidman, easy round to score.
Third and final round and they exchange a couple of jabs before Sakara goes to the body with a couple of hard shots. Double leg attempt from Weidman and he gets Sakara down again and passes right into side mount. Weidman smartly moves Sakara away from the cage, and then begins to grind away with his forearm to the bloody face of the Italian. Weidman throws in the old Dan Henderson trick of covering the mouth for good measure, and continues to grind with the elbow. Sakara manages to slip a half-guard back in, but this fight is slipping away from him fast. Weidman’s base is sick, too. Ref surprisingly calls a restart with two minutes to go, don’t know what fight that guy was watching at all. Weidman shoots again though and gets the Italian down again. This time he ends up seated against the cage and looks pretty tired. Weidman drags him away from the fence and gets side mount again, where he continues to grind away. Sakara tries to scramble free, but Weidman keeps top position and it looks like he’s going to ride the fight out. Thirty seconds to go and Sakara explodes to his feet with one last effort, but Weidman pulls him down again. More punches from Weidman and the round and fight ends there. Got to be Weidman’s decision.
Judges have it 30-27 all round for Chris Weidman. This was a super-impressive showing for Weidman given he took the fight on two weeks notice and it was only his fifth professional fight and his first in the UFC against a very experienced opponent. The difference was the wrestling, obviously, as after the first round Sakara just couldn’t stop the takedown and basically got busted up. With the cuts too this was one of the bloodiest fights in recent memory. Not the greatest fight of all time but it was still pretty entertaining, and I think Weidman’s got a very bright future indeed.
-Joe Rogan interviews Mauricio Shogun via satellite to discuss his fight with Jon Jones, and claims it’s live, even though somehow the translation is already there as Shogun mouths words in Portuguese. How about that. Seriously right, why say it’s live when it clearly isn’t? It’s not like anyone would give a fuck if you admitted it’s pre-taped! Bit of a generic interview really.
A battle of great wrestlers, both men were coming off impressive wins – Dollaway with that sick guillotine choke on Joe Doerksen, and Munoz over Dollaway’s training partner and friend Aaron Simpson. Personally I was leaning towards CB though as I felt he was a little more well-rounded than Munoz.
Fight begins and Dollaway opens with a nice leg kick. They circle out before CB secures double underhooks and gets a nice takedown. Munoz looks to scramble, but Dollaway lands a heavy body shot and spins to keep top position, using a front headlock. He decides to bring the fight back up, though, and looks for another body shot. Munoz comes forward swinging, clipping CB with a right before DROPPING HIM WITH A SHORT UPPERCUT! Dollaway looks to recover but Munoz pounces and lands a couple of hammer fists and referee Mario Yamasaki steps in there.
Post-fight Dollaway tries to claim a premature stoppage as the crowd boo and seem to agree, but the replay shows that he went limp on the second hammer fist, but then woke back up right away. I’d say justified stoppage, myself. Good win for Munoz but I think you’ve got to question Dollaway’s tactics in a way, as he had Munoz down and chose to stand more than anything, and when you’re against a guy that packs the power that Munoz does I’d say it’s not worth the risk to trade. Nice knockout, though.
Another prelim, this was Roller’s debut in the UFC after a solid stint in the WEC that ended with him choking out the former champ Jamie Varner. Uncharacteristically for Tavares, this was his second fight in six months after an impressive win at UFC 119 over Pat Audinwood.
Round One and holy fuck does Tavares look stacked. Roller fires out some jabs, but Tavares keeps his guard high and keeps his distance. Overhand right glances off Roller’s head. Good leg kick from Thiago. Tavares begins to take over with combinations, landing jabs and a couple of body shots before Roller catches him with a lunging kick to the midsection. Beautiful combo stuns Roller badly and Tavares swarms on him with a head kick and another flurry of punches. Pair of body shots land for Thiago and he’s lighting Roller up now. Roller tries to fire back, but his punches just aren’t as clean as the Brazilian’s. Nice leg kick lands for Thiago. Roller finally decides to use his wrestling, but Tavares shrugs off the takedown attempt. Seconds to go and Roller really starts swinging, but he can’t land anything and decides to clinch instead. Knee lands for Roller and it looked like it hit the groin to me, but Thiago doesn’t complain and that’s the round. 10-9 Tavares.
Round Two and they circle with Roller throwing some jabs, but he takes a right hand from the Brazilian. Leg kick follows for Thiago. Takedown from Tavares off a kick, but Roller immediately works his way back to his feet. They muscle for position in the clinch and Tavares looks like the stronger man before they break off. Roller comes forward with a pair of jabs and suddenly WAYLAYS TAVARES WITH A BRUTAL RIGHT HAND!~! Holy shit.
Man. Perfect fight to demonstrate that anything can happen in MMA, as Roller was getting OWNED by Tavares in the stand-up and looked unbelievably crude in his striking and then wham, he lands an absolutely PERFECT right hand literally out of nowhere and kills Thiago dead. Great comeback and one of the most vicious knockouts in some time.
Well, everyone knows I’m practically Diego’s biggest fan so naturally I was pumped for this one, as he’d looked back to his classic best against Paulo Thiago and had somehow become EVEN MORE crazy afterwards, changing his nickname from ‘The Nightmare’ to ‘The Dream’. Kampmann’s awesome response in the pre-fight video? “He can dream all he wants when I put him to sleep”. On paper this was a tremendous fight and the winner would likely throw their name into the hat of title contenders later in the year. Naturally I was taking Diego.
Entrances for this fight are AWESOME, as I’m always a fan of Kampmann’s Three Six Mafia Rocky Balboa theme, but Diego obviously outdoes him by coming out to fucking LA BAMBA and STILL manages to look menacing as hell, seemingly spitting out the lyrics at the beginning of the song. DIEGO THE DREAM SANCHEZ!~!
Round One and they circle before Diego clinches briefly and lands a knee on the way out. Good left hand from Kampmann. Wild combo from Sanchez just about misses. Kampmann lands a nice straight right before Diego looks for the takedown. Kampmann does an excellent job of defending though and exits with a knee. Diego comes forward but walks into a straight right that drops him, and he immediately dives on a leg to look to recover. Kampmann blocks it and nails him with a knee to the face, using a front headlock to control Diego. Diego tries the single leg again, but Kampmann hops around nicely and manages to avoid. Couple more punches land for Kampmann and Diego’s face looks a mess already. Big knee lands for Kampmann as Diego goes for a takedown and the Dane stuffs it again. Kampmann is basically beating Diego to the punch. Stiff right hand lands right on the button and Kampmann avoids another takedown. Looks like its Diego’s lip that’s busted up. Good shot to the body from Diego. Another straight right lands for Kampmann. Diego is bleeding all over the place. Takedown attempt from Diego but again Kampmann defends it and manages to shrug it off with a knee. Seconds to go and Kampmann lands another right hand. Diego doesn’t look fazed though. 10-9 Kampmann, however.
Into the 2nd and Diego goes for an early single leg but Kampmann hops free. Diego shoots again and drives him into the fence, landing a knee to the leg for good measure, but Kampmann blocks the takedown. Diego exits this time with an elbow. Couple of jabs and straight punches land for Kampmann, but Diego seems to be swinging back more now. Jesus is he badly cut though. Another takedown attempt follows but Kampmann manages to defend it again. Uppercut breaks for Kampmann. Another shot from Diego but Kampmann still manages to stay on his feet. Suddenly though Kampmann appears to be cut as well during an exchange and Diego SENSES BLOOD and comes forward swinging, stunning the Dane with a flurry! Kampmann looks badly wobbled and has to retreat, and now he’s pretty bloody as well. Single leg from Diego but Kampmann sprawls to avoid. Big head kick misses for Diego. Diego pushes the action now and another flurry lands, albeit not as successfully as the last one. Kampmann fires out some more jabs in answer. Good right hand from Diego. Low single misses for Diego but he ends the round with a big flurry that wobbles Kampmann, only for the Dane to come back by shoving Diego to the ground on the buzzer. Awesome round, but I’d score it for Diego as he was the aggressor, and had Kampmann hurt twice with his flurries despite taking a few more shots.
Third and final round and suddenly this is anyone’s fight. Diego comes out looking to draw him into a trade again and lands with a right hook early on. Kampmann looks to use his jab and the straight punches again, but Diego catches him with a right to the body and then dives on a single leg. Good defence from Kampmann once more and he lands a good knee to break. Good counter right lands for Kampmann as Diego comes forward. Diego looks for the flurry again but this time Kampmann gets outta dodge. Takedown attempt from Diego but again Kampmann stuffs it and exits with an odd kick to the leg. Well, I guess he couldn’t knee to the head as Diego’s hand was down. Good combo from Diego gets Kampmann on the retreat. Takedown attempt again and he drives Kampmann into the fence and slams him down finally! Big pop for that. He lands in side mount and gets the back as Kampmann scrambles, but slips off and the Dane escapes to his feet. Kampmann comes forward but takes a one-two. He seems to be keeping Diego at bay a bit with the jab though. 1:30 remaining and Diego starts swinging again, but Kampmann counters with a stiff right. Diego walks right through it though. One minute to go and Diego OPENS UP and lands with another flurry. Kampmann ends up with his back to the cage taking shots again, but manages to create some distance with a knee. Diego’s face looks horror movie-esque but I’ve got him ahead in this round. Seconds to go and Diego looks to chase him down, and the fight comes to an end. Great, great fight. I have it 29-28 Diego Sanchez despite him looking like he’s been in a car wreck.
Judges scorecards read 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, unanimous decision......for DIEGO THE DREAM SANCHEZ. Well, this one caused a TON of controversy as a lot of fans argued that Kampmann should’ve won based on the fact that he busted Diego up so badly and landed more clean punches throughout, but I disagree after watching it tons of times now – Kampmann clearly took the first round, but the most significant parts of rounds two and three were Diego’s flurries, Diego was the clear aggressor, and he certainly came closer to finishing the fight in my opinion. I mean sure, his face was fucked up, but if you judged fights by cosmetic damage then a guy who never cuts like BJ Penn would never lose while a Forrest Griffin type would probably never win. In the end, this was Kampmann’s fight to lose after the first round and I think he lost it by allowing Diego to drag him into a dogfight and not being quite aggressive enough. That’s just the way I saw it, sorry Kampmann fans and Diego haters! Regardless, you have to give it up to both men as this was a fucking AWESOME fight, a low-end Fight of the Year Candidate in my book.
-Show ends with a plug for UFC 128 and the highlight reel, after a little wrap-up from Goldberg and Rogan.
A low-end Fight of the Year Candidate in the main event and a bunch of really fun fights with some amazing finishes up and down the card, what’s not to love? Easy thumbs up for one of the best free TV shows the UFC has ever put on.
Best Fight: Sanchez-Kampmann
Worst Fight: Weidman-Sakara
Overall Rating: ****1/2
UFC: 128-132, Fight Night 24, Versus 4
Strike Force: Overeem vs. Werdum
King of the Cage: Various shows