Well I have to say this card wasn’t what I expected. I was one of a minority of people who thought this card was worthy of a PPV. However, with hindsight being 20/20, I don’t believe it lived up to expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some exciting fights and a couple good finishes, but overall it wasn’t what I expected. I really expected some more exciting finishes but I think the real letdown here was Joe Silva’s match making. Styles make fights and this time I think Silva goofed on a couple match ups where the fighter’s styles basically neutralized each other.
Hats off to the guys who tried to keep the fights exciting but I think in a couple instances some fighters got dragged into a boring fight even if it wasn’t in their nature. Let’s do a brief recap of the undercard (which wasn’t shown due to having six fights on the main card) and then we’ll review the main card fights:
John Hathaway v. John Story: Hathaway wins by unanimous decision. He is now 2-0 in the UFC and hopefully we’ll get to see him start to fight some guys with UFC experience. I picked this fight right on the nose.
Denis Stojnic v. Stefan Struve: Struve wins by rear naked choke in the second round. I got the pick right but not the prediction. I was right Struve would get the fight to the ground but I gave Stojnic’s ground game too much credit. I doubt we’ll be seeing Stojnic back in the UFC.
Paul Kelly v. Rolando Delgado: Kelly gets the win by unanimous decision. I got the pick right but not the prediction. I didn’t give Rolando enough credit for his toughness to last the whole fight with Kelly.
Paul Taylor v. Peter Sobotta: Taylor picks up the win by unanimous decision. I got the pick right but not the prediction. Again, I didn’t give the loser enough credit for how tough he was to last the whole fight. It was a sad showing in front of the home country fans for one of only two German fighters on the card.
Denis Siver v. Dale Hartt: Siver picks up the win by rear naked choke in the first round. I picked this one right on the button. After a rough start to his UFC career Siver has thrown together a couple wins and this was a big one in front of his countrymen. Hartt has been completely unimpressive in his UFC career and I wouldn’t expect to see him back.
Terry Etim v. Justin Buchholz: Etim picks up the win by d’arce choke in the second round. I got the pick right but not the prediction. I totally underestimated Etim’s ground game on this one thinking Buchholz would neutralize it being a submission fighter himself. It’s back to the drawing board for Buchholz but Etim has thrown together a nice little win streak after a brief rough patch.
Marcus Davis v. Dan Hardy: This was one of the fights that did not live up the hype. Davis’ aggression played against him often looking to punish Hardy instead of making the smart decision. It often backfired on Davis causing him to be the one who took most of the punishment.
The fighters didn’t spend nearly as much time on their feet as I thought they would. Davis tried repeatedly to get the fight to mat, which was a smart tactical decision, but it just didn’t work out the way he wanted. He was very aggressive off his back but Hardy just shrugged him off and delivered some good ground and pound.
Neither fighter was ever in any serious danger but Hardy delivered the better damage and had better position most of the fight. He won a hard fought split decision which I agreed with. I got the prediction right but I picked the wrong fighter.
Davis appeared beside himself after the loss. I’m not sure if it was due to the decision or if it was just losing to Hardy. In either case he showed very little class which was a surprise coming from Davis.
This really skyrockets Hardy up the standings in the welterweight division. I would love to see him fight someone like Martin Kampmann next.
Unfortunately for Davis this is a costly set back for him since he is already 35. I’d like to see him take on someone like Brock Larson so he can get right back in the mix at 170.
Spencer Fisher v. Caol Uno: In another fight that really didn’t live up to my expectations, this was a perfect example of how styles not only make fights but can kill them. Uno knows just enough on the feet to negate Fisher’s striking and Fisher knows just enough on the ground to negate Uno’s grappling. Hence these two wound up in a stale mate for the majority of the fight.
Joe Rogan tried to play it off like it was a fascinating technical battle but really it wasn’t. Fisher did enough on his feet to earn the win by unanimous decision. I got this pick right but not the prediction.
Caol Uno was a good test for Fisher but I’d like to see him take a step up like a Sean Sherk. For Uno this was not the reintroduction he wanted. If he can’t beat Spencer Fisher there’s no reason to stay in the UFC. I don’t know how long his contract is but if I was him I’d go back to Japan where he’s enjoyed much more success.
Mike Swick v. Ben Saunders: This fight had a great finish but was underwhelming overall. Saunders, in a very unusual move, pulled Swick into his guard almost immediately. This sparked some lively smack talk which the audience was privy to since they were right next to the announce table.
Saunders continually tried to keep Swick close to him either in the clinch or on the ground. Swick proved why, blasting Saunders away in the second round for the TKO victory. I got the pick right but was one round too late on the prediction.
Saunders was just over matched on his feet and apparently even he knew it. Swick was simply too fast and too strong even with Saunders’ length and size.
If you ask me Swick is probably one win away from a title shot and I’d love to see him face the winner of the Fitch v. Thiago fight or the loser of the St. Pierre v. Alves fight for that opportunity. For Saunders it’s back to the drawing board but I think this is one of those losses that will ultimately wind up being a positive experience for him in the long run.
Mirko Cro Cop v. Mustapha Al-turk: This fight went exactly as everyone predicted with Cro Cop getting the TKO victory in the first round. I picked this one right on the nose.
It was a bitter sweet end as Cro Cop hunted him down the entire round but couldn’t put him away until Al-turk got caught by an unintentional eye poke which allowed Cro Cop to get on top of him and finish the fight. I’m not sure what’s next for Cro Cop since he only had a one fight deal but hopefully we’ll see him back in the UFC soon. For Al-turk another loss almost guarantees his exit from the UFC.
Cain Velasquez v. Cheick Kongo: This fight was the craziest fight of the night by far. Velasquez got dropped by two brutal punches early in the first round but he was able to get the takedown on Kongo. He rode Kongo the entire round landing some good ground and pound and almost finishing him with a rear naked choke.
It was like deja vu in the second round as Velasquez got hurt again early by a Kongo punch but again was able to get the takedown. He continued to ride Kongo the entire round and deliver some more good ground and pound.
Both fighters were visibly tired by the third round which lead to a more competitive round. Velasquez didn’t even bother trying to stand and immediately went for the takedown. Kongo did a better job stuffing his shots and getting back to his feet when on the mat but ultimately he was overmatched in the grappling department.
Velasquez delivered more ground and pound to earn himself a unanimous decision victory. I got the pick right on the button again. This fight opened up big questions about both fighters though.
You have to question Velasquez’ striking now. Yes he’s powerful but a great technical striker like Kongo could pick him apart. Fortunately at the top of the heap at heavyweight there aren’t any guys like Kongo. However, he could be in serious trouble against a guy who could outwrestle him and may be a better striker i.e. Couture, Lesnar, and Carwin.
For Kongo it’s the same old question. Can he ever get his grappling good enough to not get dumped head first on the mat or be good enough to pose a threat to someone once he is on his back? The answer is looking like no which will forever keep him from the top of the heap at heavyweight. Because everyone at the top of the heap is a great grappler whether it be wrestling or jiu-jitsu.
Kongo is going to have to start over but for Velasquez this opens up a world of opportunity for him. I’d like to see him take on the loser of the Couture v. Nogueira match as the UFC is grooming him slower than Carwin.
Rich Franklin v. Wanderlei Silva: This will probably win fight of the night by default but it probably couldn’t touch some other fights of the night. It was also very disappointing as I think everyone expected a KO in this fight. But Both of these guys really went at it for all three rounds and that’s all you can really ask for.
The first round was mostly controlled by Franklin who had the better technical striking and also was able to get some top position on Silva. The second round was totally different as Silva finally found some room to work inside and caught Franklin a couple times and had him rocked. Unfortunately he couldn’t put him away.
In the third round Franklin was the more effective striker landing the better blows. Silva started going for broke but Franklin wisely took him down securing the round for him. Franklin picks up the unanimous decision victory. I got the pick right but not the prediction.
This was a big win for Franklin who needed a win like this to prove that he can hang at 205. For Silva it’s another disappointing loss but at least this time he put on a real show for the fans and he wasn’t KO’d either. What this means for him at 185 I don’t know.
I know Dana White and co. were trying to hype a fight between him and Anderson Silva had he beaten Franklin but now that’s not in the cards. It will be interesting to see who Silva’s first opponent is at 185 as that will be very telling of where the UFC thinks Silva is at in his career.
All in all this was an underwhelming show with only a few bright spots. One of them being my absolutely crazy record tonight as I went an absolutely unconscious 11-1 plus four bonus points for getting predictions right. If only I could do this every time out!
Alright that’s it for now folks. Stay tuned for my Ultimate Fighter Nine Finale preview and as always No News Barred every Weds. on InsideFights. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...