Sunday, November 16, 2008

UFC 91 Review

What an amazing night! This has to be the best card the UFC has put on the entire year. Not only that but I might step up and say this was the greatest show I've ever seen top to bottom. Every fight, let me repeat this, EVERY FIGHT ended in a spectacular finish including the one fight that went to a decision considering it won fight of the night. Not only that but because almost every fight was finished they had time to show every fight on the PPV! Nine fights for the price of five! It doesn't get much better than that folks. This card was amazing and will not be forgotten for a long time. It will be interesting to see how the PPV buys came in but the UFC already knows they drew the 4th largest gate ever and if they got as many PPV buys as they projected it would make it the largest MMA PPV event ever in the US. What can you say to all that except wow! Let see how the fights broke down and how I did last night:

Matt Brown v. Ryan Thomas: Thomas looked better on the feet and in the takedown in the first round. However, once it got to the ground Brown looked incredibly dangerous locking onto an armbar and guillotine choke which Thomas was able to survive. Thomas again looks good on the feet but for whatever reason decides to take Brown down again and this time pays dearly as Brown finally catches the arm bar for good and wins the fight by submission. This fight definitely didn't go like I expected but it was an impressive showing for Brown on the ground against a talented ground fighter in Thomas.

Mark Bocek v. Alvin Robinson: This fight was a BJJ fan's wet dream. The first round was full of crazy scrambles with both guys gaining top position at some point but Bocek made the most of it almost sinking in a D'arce choke before the round ended. Robinson came out in the second looking to stand but Bocek takes him down easily looking dominant in top position quickly moving to mount and locking onto a D'arce, guillotine, and omaplata before it's all said and done. Alvin was fortunate to escape that round with all his limbs in tact. The third round saw Bocek take down Robinson again and again quickly gain the mount landing tough punches before Robinson gives up his back and ultimately the rear naked choke giving Bocek the win. Again, this fight did not go as I expected but if you're looking for a challenger at 155 Bocek has to be seriously considered now at least based on his ground skills. They are sick!

Jeremy Stephens v. Rafael Dos Anjos: The first round was a back and forth battle. Stephens looked good standing until Rafael was finally able to take him down. Dos Anjos has a tough time keeping control as Stephens almost catches a guillotine but right at the end of the round Dos Anjos almost catches Stephens in an omaplata that looked really tight but Stepehns was able to survive the round. The next round didn't go quite so well for Dos Anjos as Stephens looks great on the feet and Dos Anjos lands a takedown but can't do much with it and Stephens ends the round hammering Dos Anjos on the ground. The third round didn't last long as Stephens winds up a windmill uppercut the somehow Dos Anjos didn't see coming and in one of the best highlight knockouts ever Stephens KOs Dos Anjos with the uppercut. Finally I picked a winner but didn't get the prediction.

Aaron Riley v. Jorge Gurgel: They both come out swinging but Gurgel actually seems to be winning the round by staying out of brawling situations and landing some great kicks to the body. The second round is different as Gurgel starts going back to old habits and forgets his leg kicks and starts getting picked apart by Riley. Gurgel lands a last second takedown but it's not enough. The third round picks up where the second left off. Both guys are exhausted and Riley keeps picking Gurgel apart. Gurgel tries a couple takedowns in vain but Riley ultimately wins the unanimous decision. It was close but if Gurgel wants to stick around the UFC he better start incorporating his ground game into these fights. Winning fight of the night every time doesn't mean jack when you're continuously on the losing end. I got the pick and prediction right here.

Demian Maia v. Nate Quarry: Maia takes the fight down quickly and smoothly moves right into mount as Quarry has no ground game he immediately gives up his back and Maia swooped in for the kill sinking in a rear naked choke before the crowd even had time to sit down. It was a very impressive win for Maia. I picked this one right on the nose too.

Gabriel Gonzaga v. Josh Hendricks: Gonzaga just comes out firing on all pistons landing body shots, knees, and finally a huge right that sent Hendricks to the mat before Gonzaga finishes the fight on the ground. Granted Hendricks isn't the cream of the crop but Gonzaga has looked like he should against sub par competition. Hopefully we'll see Gonzaga in a more marquee match up soon. I got the pick right but not the prediction.

Dustin Hazelett v. Tamdan McCrory: Both guys come out firing which is not how Hazelett wants this fight to go considering McCrory is killing Hazelett's leg and landing some good shots to the head as well. Hazelett does the smart thing and pulls guard where he knows he can win and immediately moves into an omaplata. McCrory escapes but can't get his arm out of the hold and Hazelett turns it into a reverse arm bar to secure the win. This win has to set up Hazelett to start fighting some of the big dogs at welterweight to see if he has what it takes to get a title shot. I got the pick right and was so close to getting the prediction (one round off) but no cigar.

Kenny Florian v. Joe Stevenson: Stevenson shoots out of the gate landing some good shots that sent Florian back peddling and Stevenson gets the take down but Kenny escapes. Kenny gets a take down of his own and immediately moves into mount (which couldn't have made whoever gave Stevenson his black belt last weekend very happy) and immediately starts dropping bombs until Stevenson gives up his back and Florian eventually sinks in the rear naked choke for the win. This fight sets up a BJ Penn v. Kenny Florian fight for the lightweight title after BJ fights GSP in January. Florian decided to call out BJ who was in the audience except this time BJ decided to stay in his seat (as opposed to last time when Sean Sherk called him out and BJ went racing into the ring). That should be a great fight whenever it takes place. I got the pick right here but not the prediction.

Randy Couture v. Brock Lesnar: Randy comes out and immediately goes to his strength which is the clinch to avoid Lesnar's reach advantage and to make Lesnar carry his weight. However, the plan backfires since Lesnar is so strong he shoves Randy around and takes him down fairly easily. He didn't score much damage and Randy even reversed it for a little while before Lesnar took Randy down again. It wasn't a dominating round but Lesnar looked good. the second round was much different. The second round was all about the stand up with both guys landing some solid shots but it it obvious who has the advantage in the power game. Eventually Lesnar lands a huge shot behind Randy's ear (which next to the jaw is the best place to land a finishing blow) which sent Randy crashing to the mat where Lesnar finished the fight after what seemed like a hundred hammer punches. Lesnar becomes the new UFC heavyweight champion in only his 4th MMA fight and going 1-1 in the UFC up to this point. It was pretty obvious though that this was the passing of the torch. Hopefully Randy won't retire and this loss will only light his fire to compete (most likely back at 205). Lesnar on the other hand has really gotten himself into deep water now. Now he faces the winner of the Frank Mir v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fight. Lesnar claims he wants the rematch with Mir but no matter who he fights he's at a distinct BJJ disadvantage. Then he faces a long line of challengers in rising starts Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin (who is probably the only guy that can match Lesnar's size/power), and returning contender Gonzaga. Not to mention whoever loses the Mir v. Nogueira fight should never be counted out either. Lesnar looked good but the question is can he get better quick enough to keep up with suddenly all the talent that seems to be in this division. It will be an interesting question over the next 6-12 months. Ultimately I picked this fight incorrectly but my caveat was correct.

Like I said this card was absolutely amazing and it will be hard for the UFC to repeat anything like this any time soon. They have two smaller cards before their last PPV of the year. But I'm not going to mince words. Ultimate 2008 looks stacked as well so who knows, maybe the UFC does have on last trick up its sleeve this year. I went 6-3 plus two bonus points for getting the predictions right. Fight of the night like I mentioned went to Gurgel v. Riley. KO of the night obviously went to Stepehns. And submission of the night went to Dustin Hazelett. The next big card isn't until early December when Miguel Torres defends his WEC Bantamweight title. Stay tuned for my TUF wrap up this week and until next time,

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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