Wow! I have to say I was really impressed by last night. I really didn't think those fights were going to be as good as advertised but I was dead wrong. Every fight had an interesting aspect to it that kept me tied to my seat all night. Let's get right into the breakdowns.
Let's first start with the two fights that weren't aired. I went 1-1 on these. I didn't get the Hill v. Buchholz fight right at all picking Hill to win by TKO in round 2 (Buchholz won by submission in round 2). However I hit the Gonzaga v. McCully fight right on the head predicting a submission in the first round for Gonzaga.
Next let's look at the fight that was aired on UFC.com, Gurgel v. Miller. I was really surprised. For two guys who are so good on the ground they both seemed to want to stand and trade. Gurgel does have a history of this but I suppose Miller stayed on his feet because he was worried about being on the ground with Gurgel. However, Miller proved to be better on the ground laying down some good ground and pound in round 2 and really stifling Gurgel's ground and pound in round 3 before catching him in a great triangle choke. Gurgel I'm sure is a top notch grappler but he just isn't a very strong MMA fighter. He seems to be too focused on entertainment and not on winning so he loses himself in these fights and gets caught far too often. I give a lot of respect to Miller for catching a BJJ black belt in a triangle choke and he looks much improved after his loss to Jeremy Stephens. I think we'll be seeing more of him real soon. As for Gurgel, he'll hang around to fill out under cards but I've given up on seeing him ever transition to being a real contender at 155. Unfortunately I was wrong here too picking Gurgel in a decision but you can't win them all.
The next fight between Guillard and Siver went all of 36 seconds. I predicted the winner correctly here but not the outcome, although I was close, picking Guillard by TKO in round 2 instead of round 1. Guillard has to prove he's grown up in and out of the cage. This was a step in the right direction. Everyone knows he's aggressive and a very powerful striker so this win came as no surprise. However, if he's matured outside of the cage hopefully we'll get a chance to see him prove that he's been working on his ground game as much as he says he has.
The Griffin v. Aurelio fight went exactly as I predicted with Griffin winning by decision. Aurelio really could not get Griffin to the ground and took a beating standing. When he did get Griffin to the ground once or twice he still took a beating on bottom. Griffin looks very good at 155 and outside of his loss to another impressive fighter in Frankie Edgar he is making a strong case for a title shot.
The Koscheck v. Lytle fight also went exactly as I predicted with Koscheck winning by decision. It was a pretty brutal fight with Koscheck taking down Lytle and elbowing him to a pulp. He opened two bad cuts on Lytle (Joe Rogan referred to one of them as a goat's vagina... what??) that made him bleed like a stuck pig. It was getting pretty gross and I'm surprised the ref and/or the doctor didn't stop the fight. But since they didn't I was pretty impressed with Koscheck. His stand up still looked solid and he showed everyone how powerful and dangerous he still is on top on the ground. I wasn't impressed with his stalemate at the end of the fight to ensure the victory as Lytle was throwing bombs but I guess I can't blame him. I know he isn't the most exciting fighter but if Koscheck keeps winning, the UFC has no choice but to give him a title shot soon (however it may be longer than I anticipated because after Fitch comes the Sanchez/Alves winner and apparently Dana White is seriously considering a GSP v. Penn rematch). Lytle again is someones stepping stone but Lytle has a place in the UFC for exactly these kinds of fights as long as he throws in a win here or there.
I picked the right winner in the Stevenson v. Tibau match but not the right outcome. I was very impressed with Stevenson. I know they're both really good on the ground which is why I expected a stalemate but Stevenson caught Tibau with an arm in guillotine choke which is amazing considering Tibau's BJJ background. Stevenson didn't look dominant but he is definitely on his way back up the ladder. Tibau didn't look too impressive but I doubt he's done in the UFC just yet.
The Cote v. Almeida fight was very underwhelming and far and away the most disappointing fight of the night. I really expected fireworks from Cote after his past three fights which is why I picked him to win by KO in round 1. However, he really fought cautiously and with good reason because Almeida took him down easily in the first and second round. Cote did well protecting himself on the ground and scrambling well to get back to his feet. Cote certainly had the better of the fight on the feet. Almeida didn't look very comfortable there but he didn't seem to do much when he got the fight to the ground either which is surprising. I think that's the only reason Cote won the fight by decision. I wasn't impressed with either of them and I think both are a LONG way from a title shot which is why I knew this fight was bull**** as a co-main event that Dana White kept hyping as a number 1 contender fight. Yushin Okami is the only fighter at 185 in the UFC I could give a title shot to right now. At least I picked the winner correctly if not the outcome.
The Jackson v. Griffin fight is a contender for fight of the year in my opinion. This fight had me on the edge of my seat for all five rounds. This fight was so back and forth. Jackson hit Forrest with two tough shots that rocked him in the first round. Forrest's leg kicks chopped down Jackson in round 2 where Forrest mauled him for the whole round. In round 3 Griffin really did well to stick and move but Jackson looked more dangerous with his powerful strikes. In round 4 Jackson finally got Griffin to the ground and landed a little damage but almost got caught in a triangle and an omaplata. In round 5 they both just traded with Jackson looking for the knockout and Griffin looking to just win the round. This fight was so competitive and so close. I knew this fight would be a total war that would go the distance. Both fighters are too good and too tough and although some people didn't like the decision I thought it was incredibly fair. I did pick Jackson to win but I'm so happy for Forrest I couldn't care less that I was wrong. Jackson was a great champ and proved his worth with wins over Liddell and Henderson but now with Griffin beating Rua and Jackson he definitely deserves his top spot at 205. Forrest may not be as charismatic as Jackson (but really, who is?) but he is the people's champ. He came from nothing and is all heart and effort. Don't get me wrong, he is obviously very talented to beat two guys as good as Rua and Jackson but he doesn't have their raw ability by a long shot but he turns what he has into more than anyone else does. He doesn't just max out his ability he multiplies it. I can't wait to see how the light heavyweight division shakes out now. Machida, Jackson, and Liddell are all lining up for a title shot and Rua, Sokoudjou, and Silva are all working their way there. The next 12 months are shaping up to be the best year for light heavyweights in any organization ever. I can't wait!
With all that said this was a night, that much like Forrest Griffin, maximized its potential and outperformed what many were predicting. Overall I had a great night going 6-2 with 5 bonus points on getting the outcome of the fight right and picking fight of the night correctly. I didn't pick the submission (Miller) or KO (Guillard) of the night but I did pick the fight of the night (Griffin v. Jackson obviously). Stay tuned as I'm updating my division rankings momentarily and coming up in the next couple weeks will be my preview of the Affliction card, the UFC Fight Night card, and my updated P4P rankings. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...