Sunday, February 22, 2009

UFC 95 Review

Another free show delivers for the UFC! Last night was an incredible night folks. This card wasn't racked with stars like UFC 92 but the fights all delivered.

Only two fights went the distance and one of them won fight of the night. Almost every other fight didn't even make it past the first round! It was an incredible night of action the packed London crowd was treated to.

While there were no titles on the line there were a lot of important developments. Diego Sanchez made a successful debut in the light weight division. Marquardt and Maia are legitimate contenders at middleweight.

The middleweight division as a whole, long considered the weakest division in the UFC, has been significantly bolstered within the last year. The additions of Leites, Maia, Henderson, and Palhares have been huge for the floundering division. Also, the resurgence of Marquardt, Cote, and Bisping has been a huge help as well.

Dan Hardy is successfully being turned into the next Michael Bisping after a strong performance last night. And in the biggest upset in the UFC since Junior Dos Santos KO'd Fabricio Werdum back in October - Josh Koscheck was KO'd by the BJJ artist Paulo Thiago.

What a great night! If you didn't tune in boy did you miss out! With that said let's check and see how my picks worked out:

Troy Mandaloniz v. Paul Kelly: The one fight that wasn't shown on the card went exactly like I predicted with Kelly earning the unanimous decision.

Mike Ciesnolevicz v. Neil Grove: This fight did not go the way I thought it would. Mike did take the fight to the mat but instead of controlling the much larger Grove he locked in a wicked heel hook for the submission victory in the first round. I got this pick right but not the prediction.

By the way did anyone catch Kenny Florian's demonstration of the heel hook on MMA Live this week? This was a perfect example of if you don't tap immediately your knee will get shredded. It was obvious after the fight that Grove had serious damage done to his knee before he even felt it to tap out.

Per Eklund v. Evan Dunham: Eklund was the more aggressive fighter and the more technically sound striker. Unfortunately Dunham has dynamite in his hands and dropped Eklund to end the fight by TKO in the first round. I was wrong on this one.

Junior Dos Santos v. Stefan Struve: I was kind of surprised to see Dos Santos take a step down in competition and move to the under card after his last performance. However, he took care of business easily getting another quick TKO in the first round. I called this one right on the nose.

Brian Cobb v. Terry Etim: Cobb had no answer for Etim's superior striking. Cobb got the fight to the mat a couple times but could do absolutely nothing there. Etim ended it quickly in the second round winning by TKO.

I got the pick right but not the prediction. Also, did anyone else catch Joe Rogan comparing Etim to Anderson Silva? No offense Joe but you've been smoking too much weed buddy.

Josh Koscheck v. Paulo Thiago: This fight once again proves that if you take your opponent lightly and don't respect the 4 oz gloves you will get caught and you will lose.

After Koscheck's destruction of Yoshida and then being matched up with a no name he came into this fight too cocky. Yes Thiago was billed as a BJJ fighter and up until the KO of Koscheck he had done nothing to show he had any striking skills.

Unfortunately for Kos it only took one well timed uppercut to stop the fight. Thiago wins by KO in the first round. I got this pick wrong along with the rest of the world.

Demian Maia v. Chael Sonnen: This was how the fight Sonnen had against Paulo Filho should have looked. Maia struck with him only to get inside and get the take down. Sonnen's wrestling kept him on his feet for only so long.

Maia scored a beautiful Judo trip and immediately moved into mount where he smoothly sunk in the triangle choke and ended the fight by submission in the first round.

Everyone can talk about how Maia is one dimensional. But until someone can prove to me that the one dimension can be stopped the disrespect about Maia needs to go away. He is the best functional BJJ fighter in MMA and he should be given the respect he deserves along with a title shot.

I got the pick right but not the prediction.

Nate Marquardt v. Wilson Gouveia: In one of the few fights that went more than one round Marquardt put on quite a show. Marquardt was better in all phases of the game but he stood out in his stand up. He delivered great and varied strikes while creating angles and staying out of harm's way for most of the fight.

Gouveia eventually gassed like everyone thought he would (though I gave him too little credit for making it to the third round) and Marquardt caught him with a great knee that sent him tumbling and got him the TKO victory in the third round. I got the pick right but not the prediction.

Dan Hardy v. Rory Markham: This fight went exactly like I thought it would. The hometown hero came in and took care of business with his superior technical striking and showed that he has a little power in his hands too delivering the KO in the first round. I picked this one right on the button too.

Diego Sanchez v. Joe Stevenson: Diego came out and executed his game plan perfectly. He stood and out struck Joe with a more versatile attack. He stayed away from Stevenson's strong suits which is having Stevenson on top and staying away from his guillotine.

However, for everyone who rode me about picking Stevenson none of you gave him enough credit. Stevenson hung in there all three rounds and toughed it out against a very tough fighter who most people picked to walk all over Stevenson. Stevenson may not have won but he definitely built up his reputation after a poor showing against Kenny Florian.

I got this pick wrong.

I had a very solid night going 7-3 with three bonus points for picking the finishes. Fight of the night went to Stevenson v. Sanchez. KO of the night went to Paulo Thiago. Submission of the night went to Demian Maia.

This was a great night for the UFC and for fight fans both in London and across the globe. I'm looking forward to UFC 96 (even though I'll have to pay for this one) but up first is WEC 39 next Sunday. Stay tuned for my preview as well as my monthly fighter rankings. Until then,

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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