This was originally supposed to be a rematch between Garcia and Nam Phan after their first fight ended with an unbelievably bad decision, but instead we were given a rematch of one of the best fights of 2010 when the Korean Zombie stepped in to replace the injured TUF veteran. In a similar fashion to the Garcia/Phan fight, the first Garcia/Jung one ended with a controversial decision, so a rematch was certainly welcome. Tale of the tape surprises me as I had no idea the Zombie was only 24! Good lord, that poor bastard is going to be punch-drunk before heís 30 if he continues on the same path.
Round Four, erm, One, and the crowd are pretty hot for this already. The UFC ought to go to the Pacific Northwest more often. Both men land a couple of leg kicks early and Leonard misses with a high kick. Wild overhand right misses for Garcia, but Iím sure the judges thought it landed. Overhand right does land for Garcia and he follows with a good leg kick. Right hand answers for the Zombie. Left hook connects for Garcia. High kick misses for Jung. Solid right from Garcia but Jung fires back with a combo and they trade briefly. Both men throw kicks that land glancingly. Nice jab from the Zombie. Crowd begin a Zombie chant as Garcia backs him up with a right hand. Pair of haymakers land slightly for Garcia but Jung manages a takedown and gets right into north/south. It looks like heís setting up for an armbar or possibly a kimura, but Leonard manages to slip out. He grabs a leg and looks for a takedown of his own, but Jung comes back to his feet and lands some really nice knees from a front headlock. Looked like one mightíve been questionable in terms of legality but whatever. Garcia goes down and Jung gets on top in half-guard, before passing to side mount and then full mount to land some shots. Garcia gives his back and takes some punches to end the round. I had Garcia ahead until the takedown but after that it was all Jung and he did enough to take the round. He does appear to be cut under the right eye, though.
Round Two and they exchange some strikes from the outside and neither man really lands. Couple of jabs from Leonard keep Jung on the back foot. Flying knee from Garcia but Jung counters with a right to the body. Wild swings miss for both men. Zombie backs him up a bit now and throws a couple of uppercuts and hooks but doesnít land cleanly. Flying knee from Jung clips Garcia slightly. They exchange some more punches and a big head kick misses for Jung. Good leg kick from Garcia. Couple of haymakers miss for Garcia but probably earn him points on the judgesí scorecards. Both men land knees. Leg kick from the Zombie. Good uppercut from the Zombie and Leonard backs off. They trade a little, but nothing as wild as the first bout. Uppercut into a flying knee from Jung leads into an exchange and Garcia slips to the ground off a high kick. He looks for an upkick but Jung avoids and gets on top in the guard. One minute to go and Jung postures up with some big elbow strikes. Leonard tries to scramble, but gives his back again and Jung gets both hooks in. Garcia rolls, but Jung switches to control over one leg with a triangle....and then GRABS A MOTHERFUCKING TWISTER AND GARCIA TAPS WITH SECONDS REMAINING!~!
Aw man. Thatís Submission of the Year, easy. Despite all the stuff I watch, Iíve never even seen a twister in MMA (although Iíve heard about like, two guys doing it) so to see a fighter pull it off in a major UFC bout is unbelievable. For those wondering what the hell it does, apparently itís a spinal lock, which would explain why Garcia tapped despite only seconds remaining in the round. Fight didnít live up to the wildness of the first bout but shit, this might be even MORE memorable thanks to that ending. Spectacular stuff.
-Jake Shields joins us via satellite to discuss his upcoming challenge for GSPís Welterweight Title, and he tells us that his campís been going great and namedrops Chael Sonnen and Court McGee as two guys who have been with him. On a side note the video package for the Shields-GSP fight with the Remember The Name soundtrack is probably the best one theyíve ever done, or at least second to the GSP-Koscheck one. Shields thinks the fightís going to be a war but he says heíll wear GSP down and finish him late on.
Johnson had won his last fight in very impressive fashion Ė submitting Mike Guymon with the always cool back crank Ė but this was a much tougher fight for him on paper as Amir is a guy who I think has really picked up his game recently, and his kickboxing looked on point in November against Peter Sobotta. I figured the TUF 7 winner would probably win this one by TKO. Pre-fight video package also reminds me that both Bang Ludwig and James Wilks dropped out of this fight with Amir. Totally forgot that Damarques took this on late notice!
Fight begins and Amir lands with a pair of inside leg kicks. Johnson tries to swing back and ends up in side mount as Sadollah throws an ill-advised high kick. Amir manages to turn though and escapes to his feet. Leg kick lands but apparently it hit the groin as referee Mario Yamasaki calls time. Johnson recovers very fast and they restart, exchanging strikes with Sadollah really working the leg kicks. Another kick is caught by Johnson though and this time he ends up on top in guard. Amir uses a butterfly guard and looks for a possible triangle, but Johnson passes to half-guard. Amir quickly gets back to full guard but Damarques lands with a couple of short elbows. Amir tries a triangle again so Johnson decides to bring the fight back up, where he lands a right as Sadollah steps in. They exchange some more strikes and Johnson goes down for a second off a right, although it looked like he was more off-balance than anything else. He pops right back up into the clinch and looks for a takedown, but Amir defends it and they muscle along the fence. Good knee inside from Amir, but Damarques answers with a short right elbow. Good takedown from Johnson but Sadollah instantly scrambles back to his feet. He gets a takedown of his own, down into Johnsonís guard, where he works with some ground-and-pound until the round ends. Probably Johnsonís round by a hair but he looks tired going into the second.
2nd round and they exchange shots right away with both men landing. They clinch and Johnson lands a knee to the midsection, but Amir fires back with a hard one to the head and then follows with a combination that lands flush and stuns Damarques. Johnson tries to fire back but he gets the worst of it and heís sporting a bloody nose. Big right hand backs Damarques up and he looks in trouble now. He swings back though, but Amir blocks them. Amir keeps coming forward and landing shots and now Johnson looks totally out of steam. Right hand causes him to slide back and then he manages to grab the clinch, but Amir knees the body and sprawls to stuff a takedown. Knees to the body from Sadollah and he gets on top in half-guard. Big elbows from Amir and Johnson is definitely up the creek without a paddle. He tries to scramble but Amir smells blood and really goes to town before taking full mount for a second. Johnson rolls, but continues to take shots before staggering up into the clinch. Heís got heart, you canít fault him there. Amir slams him right back down and passes to mount, where he grabs the right arm and ties it up to allow free elbows to the face. Johnson decides to tap out there and I donít think you can blame him.
Amir looked awesome in the second round in that fight, but Iím not sure how much of that you can blame on Damarques taking the fight on short notice and gassing, as he was doing much better in the first round and then clearly slowed down. Still, Amirís killer instinct was really impressive here as once he sensed that Johnson was slowing down he really turned up the heat with a vicious finish. Good fight overall.
-GSP now joins Rogan for his interview and like Jake Shields earlier he tells us his training is going great and heís been trying out some new stuff too. He also says Shields is his most dangerous opponent yet (he says that every time!) and he thinks he has an edge because heís more well-rounded. Textbook GSP interview really.
After he was knocked out by Carlos Condit in October I expected the UFC to match Hardy with an easier opponent as heís one of their UK poster boys and I didnít think theyíd want him to be on a three-fight losing streak, but instead he was faced with Rumble Ė one of the largest, most dangerous men at 170lbs even if heíd been on the shelf for well over a year at this point. Despite that I was taking Hardy to win, admittedly though through British bias. Youíve got to worry about Johnsonís weight-cut anyway though as the word is that he cuts up to 50lbs (!) to get to 170lbs.
First round begins and they circle, both men looking a bit tentative early on. Suddenly a BIG LEFT HIGH KICK from Rumble drops Hardy, and Johnson quickly closes in looking to finish! Hardy looks recovered quickly and looks for a takedown, but Johnson controls him with a front facelock and they stand. Johnson gets a bodylock and then gets Hardy back down into full guard. Hardy looks for the rubber guard, but he canít quite lock it in. Johnson looks HUGE compared to Hardy, it must be said. Solid ground-and-pound from Rumble. Two minutes to go in the round and Rumble uses a can opener, but he canít pass Hardyís guard and the Brit tries a triangle. Johnson postures out and then looks to pass, but Hardy tries for a kimura. Johnson works into half-guard to defend and then powers out, keeping top position. Hardy looks like he might be setting up for a sweep, but Johnsonís base is too good despite the Outlaw regaining full guard. Seconds to go and the round ends. 10-9 Anthony Johnson despite Hardy showing a pretty solid guard.
Into the 2nd and Hardy fires out some jabs, but Rumble closes the distance and hits a double leg to guard. So much for this being a slugfest! Crowd begin to boo as Hardy looks for an oma plata, but Johnson shrugs it off. LOL as Joe Rogan starts on a rant about New York not sanctioning MMA, saying that thereís now only three states that donít sanction it, one has no athletic commission and one is New York. Ha. Hardy looks for the kimura again but Johnson just looks too strong. At the least though, Hardy is stopping any major ground-and-pound by trying the submission. Punches to the body land for Rumble but theyíre not doing much damage. Couple of big elbows do get through though as Hardy lets go of the kimura. 1:30 remaining and Johnson begins to land with some better shots, and Dan just doesnít look like heís going to be able to escape from the bottom. Ref stands them up with about 30 seconds to go, but Rumble shoots again. Hardy manages to defend it this time, but Johnson drags him down right before the buzzer. Clear 10-9 round for Johnson again.
Third and final round and Johnson throws the left high kick and Hardy avoids and shoots, but Johnson quickly reverses that and gets on top in guard again. Hardy immediately tries the kimura once more, but again Rumble is too physically strong and he pulls free. Another kimura attempt follows but fails. Hardy tries to get back up using the fence, but Johnson pulls his legs from under him as the crowd get more frustrated. Hardy gives his back and manages to stand, but holy shit, Rumble just dwarfs him. Johnson exits with a head kick and a sharp right hand. Another takedown follows and this time Rumble takes the back with both hooks. He goes for the rear naked choke, but Hardy manages to escape. Body triangle from Johnson and he lands punches, going to the head and the body. Hardy just looks stuck here. Johnson continues to control him with the body triangle, and then looks for an arm triangle as Hardy turns into full mount. Rumble slips out and goes to side mount to look to finish the choke, but somehow Hardy survives, showing his trademark ridiculous submission defense. Rumble turns it into a neck crank ala Mark Coleman against Dan Severn and REALLY cranks on it, screaming with the strain, but of course Dan refuses to tap and so Rumble ends the round with some punches. Got to be a 30-27 shutout for Anthony Johnson.
Judges indeed score it 30-27 all round for Anthony ĎRumbleí Johnson. Well, the crowd didnít like this one at all, and admittedly it wasnít as good a fight as I was expecting, but it wasnít *that* horrible, and while a lot of people slammed Johnson for his tactics I donít see how you can fault a guy for fighting the smart fight. If heíd stood and traded with Hardy then heíd have had like a 50% chance of winning, but by taking the fight to the ground he had a clear advantage with his size, strength and wrestling advantage. I donít see how you can hold that against a fighter and especially coming off a long layoff, this was a big win for him. As for Hardy, he obviously still needs to work on his takedown defense, but I donít think losses to GSP, Carlos Condit and Johnson make you a shitty fighter or anything and heís still better than most of the Welterweights in the world and still deserves a UFC spot in my opinion at least.
Originally the main event here wouldíve seen Lilí Nog facing Tito Ortiz in one of those top UFC fighters vs. top ex-PRIDE fighters in one of those matches that everyone loves, but Tito cut himself in training and was forced to withdraw, and hot prospect Phil Davis ended up stepping in to replace him. While I felt a lot of people were sort-of overrating Davis coming in Ė he isnít Jon Jones, no offense Ė I still thought this was a winnable fight for him, as Nogueiraís big wrestling as evidenced in his fight with Ryan Bader is his wrestling game, and obviously Davis is perhaps the best wrestler at 205lbs. This was still a MASSIVE test for him though, especially when you consider that his toughest opponent up to this point was probably Tim Boetsch.
Round One begins and Davis circles on the outside and throws a couple of kicks early, including a head kick that misses. Good head kick does land cleanly for Mr Wonderful but Nogueira takes it like a man. Solid right hook lands for Nogueira and Davis decides to shoot, forcing Nog into the fence. Nogueira works to defend it, but Davis lands some knees to the legs for good measure before they break off. Big left hand misses for Nogueira as Davis continues to fire kicks, then goes for the double leg. Nogueira again does a good job of defending though and they break off. Big high kick is blocked by Nogueira. Another takedown attempt follows from Davis but is stuffed by Nogueira. Nogueiraís wrestling has really improved. Good right hand from Nog. Left hand lands glancingly too. Head kick is countered by a right hand from Nogueira and Davis slips off balance for a moment. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Nogueira again despite him falling over for a split-second. Low kick is caught by Nog and he lands with a straight left. Another right hand catches Davis and he shoots, but Nogueira avoids it again. This has been a great round for Nogueira. Round ends on the feet; advantage Nog. 10-9 Nogueira.
Round Two and Davis throws a powerful right high kick that Nogueira just about blocks. Left hand connects for Nog again. Good high kick from Davis and he ducks the counter this time. Kick is caught by Nogueira and a counter knocks Davis off balance slightly. Davis fires back with a body kick. Nogueira is really looking for the left hand here, stalking forward constantly. Good high kick sets up a takedown attempt but Nogueira stuffs it again. I am so impressed with Nogís wrestling here. Left hand and a rare left kick land for Nogueira. Good leg kick from Davis. Body kick follows and then Davis ducks under a shot and hits a low single, finally getting Nogueira down. The Brazilian kicks him off for a moment but Davis gets back on top and lands a couple of punches. Nogueira looks to use wrist control and tries to kick him away again, but as he manages it Davis grabs his legs and looks to drag him back down. He gets the back with one hook, but Nog stands back up. Davis tries to pull him down and manages it despite Nogueira clearly grabbing the fence, garnering a warning from Herb Dean. Some good ground-and-pound follows for Davis, landing over the top and then reaching underneath to deliver some more shots. Really good punches land for Davis and he starts smashing the body with knees as the round ends. Well, it took him a long time but once he got the fight down, Davis did some very good work and landed a lot of shots, so Iíd go 10-9 Davis by a hair. Close round, though.
Round Three and both men land with right hands early on. Davis circles out and tries a flying knee that doesnít really land cleanly. High kick glances off Nogueiraís arm. Single leg attempt follows and he gets Nogueira down in half-guard. Davis postures up and looks for a better position as Nogueira throws some shots from the bottom. Davis almost mounts, but misses the position and Nogueira spins free, but itís only temporary as Mr Wonderful grabs him and drags him back to the ground, taking his back in the process. Nogueira does a good job to roll back to guard, but Davis lands with a couple of decent punches from the top. He passes to half-guard again and lands with a pair of elbows, but Nog hits a sweep and escapes to his feet. Nogueira stalks forward, catching a kick and landing a glancing left, but Davis drops for a single. Good defense again from Nogueira though, but Davis sets up another takedown with a kick and gets it, putting Nogueira down in half-guard. He tries to pass, landing some body shots, and Nogueiraís looking tired now. One minute to go and Nogueira works back to a loose full guard, but Davis remains on top. Seconds to go and Nogueiraís grip is allowing him to avoid any ground-and-pound, but he needs to do something offensive. Davis ends the round by posturing up to land a couple of rights. 10-9 Davis so I have it 29-28 for him, but it could easily go the other way depending on how you saw the second round.
Judges scorecards read 30-27 all round for Phil Davis. Man, thatís bad judging in a way as I donít see how you could give Davis the first round even if the right guy probably won the fight. This was a great technical match though, as Nogueira had a lot of success early on by blocking the takedowns, but once Davis switched to the single leg and did get him down he took over and the difference was that Nog just couldnít put together any meaningful offense from the bottom. Judging on this Davis is still a work in progress, but this was a huge win for him, no doubt. Personally though I donít think he was ready for the Rashad Evans fight and itís probably a blessing in disguise that he had to pull out of it. Iíd probably give him someone like Vladimir Matyushenko next and continue to build him slowly, but itís more likely that heíll face a title contender. Hopefully it goes well for him because he seems like a very likeable guy. As for Nogueira, in the UFC with all of the power wrestlers, as sad as it may seem I donít see him as much more than a very good gatekeeper to the elite level these days, but I guess a couple of strong wins could get him back into the title hunt. At any rate I thought this was a great main event.
-Highlight reel ends the show and thatís that.
Well, we only got four fights which is always a bit of a downer, but three of them were really good at least and it wasnít like Hardy-Johnson truly stunk or anything. The twister alone makes this a must-see show but Sadollah-Johnson and Davis-Nogueira were a lot of fun too so itís an easy thumbs up for UFN 24.
Best Fight: Jung-Garcia
Worst Fight: Johnson-Hardy
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 129-133, Versus 4
Strike Force: Fedor vs. Henderson
King of the Cage: Various shows