Saturday, June 7, 2008

UFC 85 Review

This was the second event of 4 in 6 weeks for the UFC. UFC 85 was a solid show but not spectacular. There really wasn't much hype about it being in London and to be honest, with the exception of a few "Ole" chants it was hard to distinguish it from most other UFC events (they were also doing the wave at one point which was very strange). There was only one noticeable star and that was Guy Richie (who is a huge MMA fan and BJJ practitioner) and Chuck Liddell went over in a show of good faith after having to pull out of the main event with a torn hamstring. The fight card was not full of star power but it was impressive in terms of the quality of the fights. It was not spectacular but it was more solid top to bottom than many cards I've seen the UFC put on with bigger names. This was a very average event for me in terms of predictions. Let's break these puppies down:

Hardonk v. Sanchez: This was not televised although they did show the highlight reel knockout of Sanchez and described the fight as being a back and forth battle. I got the finish right (KO in the second round) but I picked the wrong guy.

Taylor v. Liaudin: This was not televised either. I did get the pick right in Taylor (who won by split decision) but my prediction was way off.

Lambert v. Cane: Again I was way off the mark here. Cane won by KO in the first round. Cane looked solid but Lambert looked pretty flat so I wouldn't really draw any conclusions about Cane from this fight.

Carneiro v. Burns: This was probably the biggest shocker of the night even though I never saw the fight. I picked the finish right by predicting submission of the night but I was way off about who would win. I couldn't believe Carneiro who is a BJJ champion got submitted (triangle choke) by a guy no one has ever heard of before. It just goes to show that you never know what can happen when you step in the cage.

Wiman v. Tavares: Again I was wrong picking Tavares. However, Wiman looked pretty good. Tavares was game and was competitive on his feet and on the ground but when they got into the second round Wiman's power standing was just too much and he got the KO.

Kampmann v. Rivera: Finally a fight I picked right on the nose. Kampmann clamped on that guillotine to finish off the hapless Rivera (on the ground at least) in the first round. Kampmann tried to stand with Rivera but soon took it the ground where he was obviously much stronger than Rivera and put him in trouble and kept him there until he could finish the fight. It was a very nice return for Kampmann who is returning from two major knee surgeries.

Werdum v. Vera: Werdum looked very strong in this fight. He is much bigger than Vera and showed more aggressiveness (no doubt coming from his new training camp the infamous Chute Boxe academy). Vera was game on his feet but when it got to the ground Vera was in big trouble and eventually the ref stopped the fight. It was a questionable call as Vera wasn't out of it but he just couldn't fight back with Werdum pounding him from a very high mount. However, I agree with Vera and Joe Rogan that I thought he should've been given a longer leash in this case. With that questionable call though my prediction was very wrong (picking Vera by decision). Werdum looks like a contender at heavyweight and I'd like to see him move up in terms of class of competition. For Vera though I'm not sure what's next. He's lost two fights in a row (granted to two quality opponents) and hasn't beaten anyone of note outside of a very rusty Frank Mir. I'm not sure he wants to drop down to a stacked 205 lb division (although he could) but I'm just not sure if he's a real competitor at heavyweight.

Marquardt v. Leites: In the fight that in my opinion should get fight of the night Marquardt and Leites went at it like animals. They both rocked each other in what was a very competitive stand up fight in the first round. After that though it was all Marquardt. He took Leites to the ground and neutralized Leites' BJJ game with brutal ground and pound. Unfortunately Marquardt had a point taken away for a very illegal knee to the head of a downed Leites and an absolutely blown call by ref Herb Dean on strikes to the back of the head that cost him another point. Because of this and Leites' knockdown of Marquardt in the first round Leites actually won the fight by split decision because of the 2 point deduction. It was a very unfortunate end to an otherwise spectacular fight. However, because of the blown call by the ref I'm scratching this result from my prediction count.

Swick v. Davis: This fight was very technical but not very exciting which is the exact opposite of how I thought it would go. I thought these guys would really trade and let their hands go. Instead Swick used his superior wrestling to control Davis and take him down and pound him. Swick never got close to stopping Davis on the ground but was very effective and opened up a couple cuts (one of which was really nasty). I picked the right fighter in Swick who won a unanimous decision but I didn't come close to the prediction of KO of the night in round 1.

Bisping v. Day: Finally we see the emergence of the middleweight Michael Bisping. His last fight was impressive but he looked a little uncomfortable at 185. Even though this fight wasn't against top competition it was certainly the best Michael Bisping any of us has seen (Joe Rogan and even Bisping himself agreed). He literally dominated Day from the time the bell rang until the ref had stop the ass whopping. Bisping beat him standing up and then took it to the ground where he beat up Day some more. I'm not sure Day ever got a shot off. Bisping is not a contender at 185 yet but he is definitely on the radar now. And finally I get another fight right picking Bisping by KO in round 1.

Hughes v. Alves: Alves couldn't make weight for this fight due to an ankle injury that prevented him from working out to shed weight. Fortunately after so many issues with this card already Hughes accepted the fight (and 15% or so of Alves' purse). It really wasn't much of a fight. Alves take down defense looked good and the one time Hughes got Alves on the ground he couldn't get anything done against Alves' guard. On their feet Alves was a beast just pummeling Hughes before finally knocking him out with a beautiful flying knee. Alves looks absolutely huge for 170 and I'm not sure many people could deal with his size and strength (not to mention his great skills). He is definitely the next in line after Jon Fitch at a title shot. Although after the fight Alves pulled a GSP and begged for a title shot (which Dana White didn't find very amusing) which I thought was contrived and unnecessary. He deserves the title shot based on his merit in the cage. I should've gone with my first instinct on this fight which was Alves by KO in round 1 but I was very close picking him by KO in the 2nd simply because I thought Hughes was tougher.

That pretty much wraps things up from London although I'm still torn about who should get KO of the night Alves or Wiman but I guess we'll just have to wait and see when the bonuses are awarded. All in all I did okay but 5-5 won't win any fantasy leagues. I think I'll be just as happy as Dana White to get this card behind me. I'll just have to try and live up to my first two sets of predictions in two weeks when the TUF 7 finale goes down. Be sure to look out for that once the final 2 win their fights in the coming weeks. Also, as always tune in for my TUF recap on Thursday. Until then,

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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