As usual UFC Fight Night delivers. Tonight, down in the city that is still mopping up from the Super Bowl (Tampa Bay, FL for all non US residents), the UFC put on another great free show after making all of us die hards shell out for two PPVs last month.
It was a night of wall to wall action and quality finishes. In fact only one fight went to a decision and that was part of the unaired undercard. This was the type of show that really shows you the depth of the UFC and put on display some of the bright young stars coming down the pipe.
Two of those prospects, Cain Velasquez and Anthony Johnson, look like absolute studs. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing both of them showcased on PPV cards soon.
While the main event was a terrific battle, the showstopper had to be the undercard fight between Matt Grice and Matt Veach. They displayed the skill and tenacity that the UFC is looking for in all their fighters and I would expect to see both of these fresh faces in the Octagon again soon.
With that said let's get to the results and see how I faired on my picks:
Steve Bruno v. Matt Riddle: Riddle wins via unanimous decision. I was way off on this one.
Nick Catone v. Derek Downey: Catone wins via submission (keylock) in the second round. Again, I was off the mark... not a good start.
Rich Clementi v. Gleison Tibau: Tibau wins by submission (guillotine) in the first round. Wow, 0-3, this is not my week.
Jake Rosholt v. Dan Miller: Miller beats Rosholt by submission (guillotine) in the first round. 0-4... I've got nothin'.
On a side note I was kind of happy to see that Rosholt got put in his place. I saw his last fight in the WEC where he was getting all this hype and I was not impressed. This just goes to show that the UFC can be a very humbling and truthful experience.
Kurt Pellegrino v. Rob Emerson: Pellegrino wins by submission (rear naked choke) in the second round. Finally! I got the pick right but not the prediction. It's a start!
Matt Grice v. Matt Veach: One word folks: WOW! This fight HAS to win fight of the night. The stoppage was controversial I'm not denying that. In fact I was even upset.
I thought if the ref stopped the fight when he did then he should've stopped it sooner when Grice had Veach in the exact same position. Controversy aside though you have to give it up for how both guys battled.
Both guys were trading heavy leather and both guys got rocked. Veach was able to recover (with a generous and/or hypocritical opportunity from the ref) and get back into the fight. He landed a great shot that sent Veach to the mat where he was able to take him out for the TKO victory in the first round.
I got the pick wrong but actually got the prediction right - so close! Back in the red though...
Luigi Fioravanti v. Anthony Johnson: I expected this fight to be closer as I thought Luigi was a step up in competition for Johnson. However, that certainly did not turn out to be the case.
Johnson again used his superior athleticism and well rounded striking game to punish and frustrate Luigi who is a solid striker in his own right. In fact Luigi became so frustrated he even tried to shoot on Johnson which was just an exercise in futility.
Johnson eventually landed some great shots and hurt Luigi enough to win the fight by TKO in the first round. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Mac Danzig v. Josh Neer: This fight went absolutely nothing like I thought it would. I couldn't believe Danzig for most of the first round was actually out striking Neer and even hurt him, though not enough to finish him.
Danzig thoroughly frustrated Neer to the point where Neer started getting a little wild which Danzig stupidly played into but fortunately came out unscathed.
The second round though was a complete 180. Neer came out and immediately looked to take Danzig down and punish him which he did quite well. Danzig could not control Neer's posture at all and Neer was landing some vicious blows.
Danzig was able to pull a couple of nice sweeps but ultimately wasn't able to do anything once he had position. In fact the last time Danzig got top position he fell right into Neer's triangle choke that won him the fight in the second round.
This fight must have taken place in opposite world because if Danzig was outstriking Neer and Neer wins by submission it can't be any other place! In any case my record takes another hit.
On a side note though I'm not a fan of Neer at all. First off he just acts like an ass in the cage - dropping his hands and shrugging anytime nothing happens. To top it off he wouldn't touch gloves at the start of the second round. I guarantee there is no bad blood between these two so all that means is that Neer is just an a-hole. Enough said.
Cain Velasquez v. Denis Stojnic: Thank goodness this fight went exactly like I thought it would to make up for the last one! Stojnic looked totally one dimensional and was totally outclassed in this fight.
Velasquez came out with crisp Muay Thai and great head movement not allowing Stojnic to land anything of consequence. Stojnic was tough and was able to hang in until the second round before losing by TKO which is better than all the rest of Velasquez' opponents can say.
Hopefully the UFC will finally stop feeding Cain cupcakes and give him a step up in competition like maybe a Heath Herring or Junior Dos Santos. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
Joe Lauzon v. Jeremy Stephens: This fight was very compelling. Stephens tried to keep the fight standing but Lauzon was just a beast on the ground. Anytime the fight was on the feet Lauzon found a way to put Stephens on the ground asap.
From the ground Lauzon was able to control the action most of the time staying very active either looking for submissions or constantly trying to improve position. The couple times Stephens did get on top his ground and pound was very impressive. However, in the end it was Lauzon's superior grappling, his BJJ in particular, that won him the fight with an arm bar in the second round.
This was a great showing by Lauzon who is 8-1 in his last 9 fights with the one loss coming to number one contender Kenny Florian. This kid has a lot of talent and I can't wait to see him in more top line fights in the stacked lightweight division soon. Unfortunately I finished off the night with a whimper getting this pick wrong too.
This was a great night for the UFC and for fight fans but it was a terrible night for me. In fact it was a historically bad night, as in the worst night of predictions I've ever put together. It's just another sign of how unpredictable this sport really is.
I went an abysmal 3-7 with no bonus points. I was also way off on all the "... of the night" categories too (though nothing is official yet). Oh well, better luck next time I suppose. Hopefully this is just an aberration and not a burgeoning trend.
I can't complain too much though. We all got a great free night of fights that all had great finishes! Try to stay positive is my motto!
Well the MMA landscape is all quiet until two weeks from tonight when UFC 95 rolls into London. Stay tuned for my preview. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...