This will be my first fanpost so it could turn out to be a terrible read but I had to get a few things off my chance. This weekend has displayed the best and worst of fighting in my opinion and unfortunately it was an embarrassing time to be a fan of the UFC and the sport of MMA in general. Saturday 5 December was a stacked day of fights, with the conclusion of the K-1 GP, a WBA Light Welterweight title defense in England and the finale of the Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights season. Personally I was very impressed by the boxing and K-1 cards on offer but at times left feeling angry and embarrassed by what was one of the biggest robberies in the history of the sport and by one of the worst fights that I have ever seen.
I went to the Amir Khan-Dmitry Salita card at Newcastle and it was a cracking night of fights with a brilliant atmosphere and was well worth the money, so I'll be trying to get tickets for the next big card in the north of England. There were some decent showings on the undercard from top British prospects including an Olympic gold medallist James DeGale, as well as an exciting co-main event between undefeated British lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell and the dangerous Breidis Prescott, in whichMitchell got the unanimous decision by outboxing the Colombian. This sets up Mitchell for a WBO title fight, against Juan Manuel Marquez unless he vacates the belt to fight Ricky Hatton as expected, in which case Mitchell will fight the interim champion for the vacant belt. The main event, for the WBA Light Welterweight title pitted arguably pound 4 pound Britain's best fighter in Amir Khan defending his title against the Ukranian born American raised mandatory contender Dmitriy Salita. I was expecting a close fight and a decent test for Khan before he cracks the American market but boy was I wrong, Khan knocked down his overmatched opponent with a beautiful left, right hook combination in the first 10 seconds and from then on it was one way traffic as Khan sensed the kill and destroyed Salita, knocking him down another 2 times before the ref stopped the fight in under 80 seconds. Huge win for Khan, he looks a different class now that Freddie Roach is his trainer and next up for him is helping the pound for pound king Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao prepare for the fight of the century against Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. Personally, I'd put Khan on the undercard of this show as it'll keep both Manny and Amir focused and in top shape, plus it's a great way to get a top British prospect noticed in the US by having him compete on the biggest boxing event of all time and it'll help stack the card up. With Khan, Haye and Froch as our world champions and Mitchell set to fight for a world title as well, it's a great time for British boxing, add a Hatton-Marquez superfight and it's set to be a great 2010 for the sport in this country.
The K-1 grand prix was a quality show, unfortunately we don't get decent K-1 coverage over here so I had to make do with youtube (thanks for the links Alpha) but I've still seen the majority of the fights. I'm shocked that Semmy Schilt won the whole thing, I didn't think that he had much of a chance in all honesty and 1st round KO wins over Jerome LeBanner, Remy Bonjasky and Badr Hari make him a very worthy albeit surprising winner. I had Remy, Hari and Alistair as the pre-tournament favourites and I was expecting a rematch of 2008's final. The card was stacked with big names and even though I'm far from a big supporter of K-1 I was still very impressed by the fights that I caught and it proved how good a GP tournament can be, there's no way that the best fighters would all compete in an elimination tournament in MMA or boxing these days so it's a credit to K-1 and the athletes involved that they put on such big, stacked and exciting cards every year. Also, just like any sports event in Japan, it was a great spectacle and once again the Western promoters in combat sports could learn a thing or to from Japanese events in how to make a show seem special by having better stages and entrances, nothing can beat a Japanese event visually.
Now onto the UFC and I've honestly never been more embarrassed to call myself a fan of mixed martial arts. I was really looking forward to the Jon Jones-Matt Hamill fight and this should have been Bones' step-up to the mainstream. However, due to a bizarre rule and dreadful officiating he got cheated out of his dominant KO win over Hamill and now has a loss on his record. No matter what you think of the elbow i.e. whether it was illegal or not, it is indisputable that Hamill took far too much punishment, he was mounted for a long time and was taking several huge elbows without adequately defending himself, yet the moronic Mazzagatti let the fight continue. The elbow ruling needs sorting out quickly because it's laughable that one type of elbow is legal whilst another isn't, as Rogan said the different techniques of elbow strikes make no difference. Plus it's pathetic that Bones wasn't given any warning that he was disqualified and found out with the rest of us when Bruce Buffer announced it. Even worse, the elbow itself wasn't what caused the stoppage to the fight, as Hamill couldn't continue because of a shoulder injury.
The other appalling moment from that show was the debacle known as Kimbo Slice-Houston Alexander, it was easily the worst fight of the year and proved why neither man should be competing on a televised UFC show. Quite simply, neither of them are good enough. Houston refused to engage in the first world, doing some strange side-stepping dance around the octagon while Kimbo looked at him, throwing the occassional leg kick. In the second Kimbo showed some improved grappling by utilising his strength advantage to throw Houston around, but considering Alexander's non-existent takedown defence and skills off his back it's not that big of an achievement to take him down and get a dominant position. The final takedown, where Kimbo fell headfirst and Houston fell on top of him into mount summed up the whole fight for me. In the final round Houston finally landed some meaningful offense, dropping Kimbo with a nice leg kick, though strangely he stood still and watched Kimbo struggle to his feet, and landed a nice punch that rocked Kimbo before the end. I had the fight as a draw, giving the first to Houston for being the only one to land anything, the second a 10-8 to Kimbo for dominating and almost finishing the fight and the third a 10-9 to Houston for dropping Kimbo with a leg kick and hurting him at the end. Both guys showed inaccurate striking, mediocre and at times non-existent grappling and appalling cardio, it was a truly shocking fight and it serves the UFC right for putting on this freakshow. Kimbo may have gotten the decision (I don't know how anyone could score it 30-27 though) but there were no winners in that fight and the biggest losers were the fans for getting conned into watching that rubbish.
There were some positives, Roy Nelson once again proved the critics wrong by knocking out a very game Brendan Schaub. I was impressed once again by Brendan's ability to get back to his feet from a disadvantageous position off his back against a much bigger man and a superior grappler, but once it got there Nelson once again displayed great power and caught Schaub, knocking him out cold. Great to see Big Country get the contract after all of the unnecessary bashing that he took from Dana and fans alike, whilst Brendan will be back and has the potential to be a good fighter, he just needs to work on his wrestling and boxing defense.
Great win for Frankie Edgar as well, Veach gave him a tough fight and hit some beautiful slams, but Edgar was able to get back to his feet quickly and in the end was simply too well rounded for Veach, catching him with a sick punch to drop him then finishing the fight quickly on the ground, using superior grappling skills to take Grice's back, ground and pound on him then catch him in a very nice RNC. Hopefully Frankie will get a more meaningful fight ranking wise, he shouldn't accept anything less than a top 5 opponent next time and who knows, a Nate Diaz win over Gray Maynard could propel him to a title fight.