The UFC put on a great show for their first trip to Australia. Based on the fans' response it looks as if it might become a yearly trip much the way England and Montreal have. There were some interesting developments coming out of this card so let's break down the results:
Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:
This fight was short and sweet (unless you're "Big Nog"). Velasquez came out and showed up Nogueira in the striking game where he is no slouch. Velasquez simply beat Nogueira to the punch every time landing a quick KO in the first round.
I have to admit that as good as Velasquez looked I'm still not convinced he deserves a shot at the title right away. I would really like to see him fight the loser of the Shane Carwin vs Frank Mir fight for the next shot at the title. However, I will say that every time we see Velasquez he just gets better and better and I haven't seen a more complete athlete in the heavyweight division possibly ever.
So congratulations to Velasquez and for Big Nog it's back to the drawing board once again. Whoever Joe Silva matches Big Nog up against for his next bout it should be very interesting to see where the UFC feels Nogueira is at this point in his career.
Wanderlei Silva vs Michael Bisping:
This fight had fight of the night written all over it but even though it didn't live up to the hype it was still very entertaining. Silva kept saying how he was going back to "the old Wanderlei", essentially throwing wild hay makers all over the place. While he used that aggression in strategically controlled spurts he actually looked a lot calmer than he usually does.
Whether or not that is because he is getting smarter or just getting older I don't know. But no matter the reason it is a much smarter approach that worked to his advantage in this fight.
Right off the bat you could tell neither fighter wanted to get into crazy exchanges and they both looked like they were "sticking to the game plan." Unfortunately for Bisping he was never able to capitalize on the feet or after his take downs. Silva had an answer for everything.
Anytime Bisping took Silva down he got right back up and Silva was more aggressive and inflicted the most damage on the feet. All this gave Silva the nod for a unanimous decision victory that I agreed with 100%. And being a Silva fan I was very happy to see him on the winning side once again.
This has to be a very frustrating loss for Bisping after such a great showing against Denis Kang. For Silva this has to feel very vindicating after some tough losses in the UFC especially when the fights went to decision. It will be very interesting to see who these guys get paired up with next.
Joe Stevenson vs George Sotiropoulos:
This was simply all George all the time. Stevenson foolishly went to the ground in the first round and got his butt whipped (outside of a nice up kick). The second and third rounds were more even.
Even so, George out scrambled Stevenson, neutralized him on the ground, and was simply too long and rangy for him on the feet. Even though I thought the third round could have gone Stevenson's way, George earned the well deserved unanimous decision in front of his countrymen.
This immediately puts George into serious consideration as a contender at 155. For Stevenson this has to be a very bitter pill and really knocks him down a peg.
Keith Jardine vs Ryan Bader:
In another case of young talent besting the old guard Bader came out and really took it to Jardine. Everyone, including myself, expected Bader to use his wrestling much more than he did. He simply stuck to the game plan and it paid off big time.
Bader kept his chin tucked, his hands high, and never got rattled by Jardine's herky jerky style. He just kept throwing bombs knowing that if one of them connected the fight was over. He finally connected in round three and finished him off with an impressive KO.
Jardine has officially become the gatekeeper at 205 and Bader introduced himself to the top echelon of the division. If he can get his striking technique to catch up to his power and continue to impose his will on people with his wrestling he could become very dangerous in the shark tank that is the light heavyweight division.
Mirko "Cro Cop" vs Anthony Perosh:
I'm not going to beat around the bush here. Cro Cop still looks old to me. Granted he put this guy away at the end of the second round but only due to a TKO on a cut. Cro Cop is still too slow to make any impact against the top echelon heavyweights no matter how good his striking is technically.
This fight will keep Cro Cop around for a little while but I honestly wouldn't know what to do with him if I was Joe Silva. Do you keep feeding him tomato cans or do you actually try to move him up the ladder? As for Perosh at least he got a chance to fight in front of his home town fans even if it wasn't a success.
Stephan Bonnar vs Krzysztof Soszynski:
Soszynski came out and just took the fight right to Bonnar. He clipped him a few times and was clearly the more powerful striker. Eventually the beating just caught up to Bonnar and he was cut so badly the doctor called the fight in the third round on a TKO.
Bonnar really needed this win and I'm not sure he's sticking around the UFC much longer. For Soszynski this is a huge rebound win after a very disappointing result against Brandon Vera.
Chris Lytle vs Brian Foster:
Like I said, Lytle just doesn't lose to guys like this. Foster looked good on the feet and looked way more athletic and powerful than Lytle. But unfortunately he made a mistake on the mat and Lytle capitalized putting Foster away with a knee bar in the first round that apparently caused serious damage to Foster.
This was a great win for Lytle but it was a double whammy for Foster. Foster looked really good in his last fight so to not only lose but now to be seriously injured is just a serious blow to his UFC career.
CB Dolloway vs Goran Reljic:
Dolloway took care of business earning a unanimous decision victory. This was a tough first fight back for Reljic having been out almost two years but hopefully he shook some rust off and will only get better in his next performance.
Jame Te-Huna vs Igor Pokrajac:
Te-Huna gets a big TKO victory in the third round. I'm not sure Pokrajac has much of a future in the UFC.
Fight of the night went to Stevenson vs Sotiropoulos which I think was very deserving based on what I saw. Submission of the night went to Chris Lytle by default even though it was a good one. And KO of the night went to Velasquez even with a little competition from Bader.
My big take away from this night was that some of the young talent in the UFC is finally starting to bubble up and take over the old guard. Fighters like Velasquez and Bader specifically are finally starting to fill the shoes that some of the legends of the sport have occupied for so long. Even though it's tough to see fighters like Big Nog get blasted it's good to know the future of the sport is in good hands with fighters like these.