The UFC's first foray into China is in the books and much like a trip down the dumpster-ridden alley of Chinatown's vegetable market district, it stunk. Seven consecutive decisions to lead off the card was not compensated by the two finishes at the end. If this were a movie with a good ending, half the audience would have walked out before seeing it.
Honestly, I don't know how I stayed awake through all nine fights. It's one thing to have a couple of nice back-and-forth wars that require a trip to a judges to determine who among these closely contested warriors deserve the nod. It's quite another to sit through 116 minutes of bleary-eyed anticipation, hoping something, anything, happens.
I imagine I'm not a pretty sight for my wife at the best of times, splayed in front of my computer screen, watching half-naked men pound each other. But I'm glad she couldn't see me this morning in all my groggy unwashed balls-scratching glory, zombie-like yawns shuddering from my face as sleep saliva dripped onto my pajamas, trying to form sentient thoughts in my head and remember why the unholy fuck I'm an MMA fan.
Card's report card: 4 a.m. start, seven decisions, and a main event where the combined fighters' ages exceeds the average U.S. life expectancy by a year, and you get a D.
Fight of the Night: Jon Tuck vs Tiequan Zhang (UFC gave it to Gomi versus Vegan Boy)
Knockout of the Night: Derp derp derp
Submission of the Night: Dur dur dur
Biggest Upset: Cung "One Punch" Le
Worst judge's decision: A judge giving two rounds to Motonubu Tezuka
Most boring fight: Donkey Kong Kim versus Paulo Thiago
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Prediction: Fukuda by decision
Result: Fukuda by decision
I thought this fight was going to be three rounds of Tom DeBlass diving in on Riki Fukuda and the Japanese fighter using sprawl and brawl to put the ugly on him. Didn't happen that way. The Jiu-Jitsu guy gave Fukuda a right pounding on the feet in the first two rounds, making Fukuda the one who had to dive for takedowns to win on points.
Fukuda won the fight the way he usually does: tenacity and a relentlessness that made DeBlass gas and quit. Not too surprising, considering his AKA cornerman was none other than Jon "The Blanket" Fitch. Fukuda's fourth consecutive decision inside the UFC does not bode well for his chances of moving up the pay-per-view ladder.
Although DeBlass looked better at middleweight, he gassed about halfway through the fight and wasn't able to carry his crisp striking through the three rounds he would have needed to score the W. I think it's back to Atlantic City for Tommy Boy, where cans are more up to his calibre.
Beating Tom DeBlass, a guy who lost his Light Heavyweight debut by gassing, and a guy who lost his Middleweight debut by gassing, doesn't exactly move you up the ranking chart. I kind of like the idea of Fukuda against Brad Tavares, who has a similar grinding style.
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Flyweight : John Lineker (B) versus Yasuhiro Urishitani (D)
Prediction: Lineker by decision
Result: Lineker by decision
At first I was a little perplexed by John Lineker's reserved, stalking style. He was getting baby leg jabbed early and often and I was concerned he was going to Carlos Condit his way to a points victory. As it turned out, however, the only Condit-like thing Yasuhiro Urishitani did was run for his fucking life. No, seriously, the kid literally turned and sprinted at one point.
I think there's got to be a rule implemented at some point that if you're literally fleeing from damage, as in, you turn and run away, you lose a point. I mean, I know there's really nowhere to escape in a cage, but running away midway through a fight has to be about one of the most desperate indications you're getting your shit pushed in.
Lineker fought a great fight, mixing punches to the body and head, dropping the Japanese fighter repeatedly, and nearly finishing him. If I had to criticize this fight, it would be that Lineker really didn't push his opponent to the breaking point to get the finish, and I don't think that would have taken much effort at certain points where Urishitani was in downtown San Francisco, leading the pride parade down Queer Street.
As for Urishitani being ranked the number two flyweight in the world prior to the division being created, that just goes to show you that a Japanese fighter's resume doesn't stand for much.
It seems pretty obvious that the only real opponent for Lineker is John Moraga, who put a beating on Ulysses Gomez in his UFC debut. The crazy thing about Lineker is that he has 26 pro fights but is only 22 years old. He has a really bright future ahead of him.
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Prediction: Caceres by submission in round 2
Result: Careres by split decision
I don't know what the Communist Party judges were smoking cageside, but there was no reason to give Tezuka a round, let alone two for one judge. Although Caceres didn't fight very well, it's hard to understand what, exactly, Tezuka did out there to justify being given anything other kudos for his frightening S&M mask.
Yes, Tezuka had Caceres in a weird kind of side-control in round one that was interrupted by the referee. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the Joe Vedepo versus Mike Bernhard fight in Bellator last night, where both fighters were sort of stuck against the cage for four minutes before Vedepo finally used his shin to choke him out.
Let's face it, if the ref hadn't separated them there, Tezuka would still be there right now, rubbing and nestling his chin against Caceres' hairless and nubile chest.
The other two rounds were clearly and obviously Bruce Leeroy's. I mean, although Tezuka went for the takedown with all the gusto of a dog looking for a leg to hump, he had nothing even when it went there. Nothing. Literally nothing.
Although I've been high on Bruce Leeroy recently, this fight was weird. Throwing a Haduken is cool and all but he should have mopped the floor with a guy fighting on 11 days notice. A fight that intrigues me is against Canadian fighter Mitch Gagnon.
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Bantamweight : Takeya Mizugaki (A) versus Jeff Hougland (D)
Prediction: Mizugaki by decision
Result: Mizugaki by decision
This fight was clearly beatdown of the night. Although one judge cageside scored it 30-25, I only gave the first round a 10-8. But what a round it was. Mizugaki dropped some brutal ground and pound on Hougland in the first, basically breaking him early, and establishing that not only that he couldn't be taken down, but that he'd put Hougland on his back any time he felt like it.
And Mizugaki felt like it a lot. Using a body clinch, he slid Hougland onto his back like Pepe Le Pew dipping the cat who had the hilariously unfortunate circumstance of having her back painted with a white stripe so that the skunk thought she was a girl skunk and began chasing her around in a kind of semi-uncomfortable stalker rapist mode across Europe... but I clearly digress.
Mizugaki is top of the bantamweight food chain, a gatekeeper for the elite of the 135-division, and he was fighting in pretty much the same time zone as he's used to. Hougland, meanwhile, has the proud career distinction of getting knocked the fuck out by Gilbert Melendez in the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion's second career fight.
Nobody seems to know what to make of Takeya Mizugaki. At times dominant, at other times confusingly mediocre, it's make or break for the 28-year-old in the 135-pound division. I like the idea of Raphael Assuncao. Both are old school WEC vets and Assuncao actually fought on two cards headlined by Mizugaki. I also like Brad Pickett, considering that would be a BANGFEST.
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Lightweight : Jon Tuck (B+) versus Tiequan Zhang (B)
Prediction: Tuck by submission in round 1
Result: Tuck by decision
Although five decisions in a row sucks, this was easily fight of the night. The first round was an exciting back-and-forth grappling war, in which Zhang showed impressive submission defense despite getting dominated on the ground by the 2010 Abu Dhabi open lightweight division gold champion.
Tuck looked very good out there, for all of about two rounds. By the end of the second, however, the oversized lightweight was clearly tired, and Zhang landed some heavy blows to put in a respectable showing. This fight had a good brawl on the feet and fun transitions and battles on the ground.
Although Zhang looked decent, let's face it: he was fighting a guy who couldn't make The Ultimate Fighter 15 squad. He clearly doesn't belong in the UFC. It's time to cut him loose.
Man, your guess is as good as mine. Zhang was moving up from Featherweight so he was unranked at 155. I don't know, some TUF scrub from season 15 might be cool. Give him a rematch against Al Iaquinta.
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Prediction: Danzig by submission in round 2
Result: Gomi by decision
Although I couldn't be happier that Takanori Gomi made me look like I'm an idiot, let's face it, Mac Danzig shat the bed. He did nothing to win the fight other than put his ugly fucking mug into Gomi's fist. He didn't go for enough takedowns, he tried to win a kickboxing fight, and he didn't capitalize on the opportunities he got.
A word of advice, dude. Lose the vagina and eat a fucking burger. If you don't have the strength to outwrestle Gomi, you've got zero future in the lightweight division. I'm not sure how much weight Danzig cuts (I think he's been a lightweight his entire career except during TUF) but maybe he can go down one more weight class.
As for Gomi, he looked pretty good out there. Cautious but aggressive, he peppered Danzig with punches all night long. For a guy I thought is pretty close to retiring, taking out Danzig effortlessly is pretty impressive. That was enjoyable to see.
I think someone suggested it during the live chat, but it would be fun to see Gomi fight Sam Stout, but he's booked against Makdessi next week so we'll see who wins that one. There's nobody else right now unless you go way up the food chain and put him against Gleison Tibau. I think we all know how that one would wind up, but I said the same thing about Danzig.
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Prediction: Kim by decision
Result: Kim by decision
And now, fighting in the Fitcherweight division, the pound-for-pound best Fitcher might not be Fitch. Donkey Kong Kim did his best impression of the blanket this morning, humping the Brazilian for three agonizingly boring minutes. You could see Paulo break early and often, completely dominated by Kim's constant groin thrusting into his leg.
You gotta feel bad for Thiago. He came into the UFC and did very well, but made the mistake of knocking out Josh Koscheck and getting a reputation as an elite member of the Welterweight division. He's been the whipping boy ever since, getting his ass handed to him by the top 20 of the weight class repeatedly. I haven't seen a guy look that dejected after a fight since... well, actually, Erick Silva looked the same way after Jon Fitch Fitched him.
As for Kim, the man is straight up dull. With his last five wins all coming by way of decision, this is another guy you just don't want to see on your pay-per-view. And for the record, I think Nate Diaz was about a minute away from breaking Kim in their fight.
The wrestlerape division is stacked with talent. I'd love to see Kim try his bullshit against John Hathaway. Mike Pyle was successful, but he's the only one so far. Alternately, Siyar Bahadurzada is another guy who's been looking for a fight since Christ was resurrected, and he also beat Paulo Thiago like a redheaded stepchild.
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Prediction: Silva by KO in round 1
Result: Silva by submission in round 3
I make no secret of my man crush on Brazilian badass Thiago Silva. When he scored a third round comeback submission I jumped to my feet, exhausted as I was, clapping my hands together and screaming like a little bitch.
I'll be honest. I didn't think Nedkov was going to be as good as he was. He hit Silva with some huge shots, and I was surprised Silva didn't take him down early and often. Surviving that late second round knockdown was also huge, because it was probably a hair away from a KO.
But clearly Nedkov needs to do fewer arm curls, shoot less juice, and work the treadmill a little more. He gassed out badly at the end of the second and basically quit early in the third. Although credit goes to Silva, it was more a case of Nedkov pulling a Shane Carwin and shitting the bed.
The thought of Thiago Silva versus Jimi Manuwa makes my balls shudder with pleasure. Oh God, yes. Just let me bang, bro. Just let me bang. Also interesting is Vinny Magalhaes, who's coming off an armbar win in September. There's also James Te Huna. So many bangfests to choose from.
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The windows are open, but nobody's home.
Prediction: Franklin by TKO in round 2
Result: Le by KO in round 1
It's amazing to think that Rich Franklin was the dominant middleweight champion of the world just over a half decade ago. That Franklin would have destroyed Cung Le in short order. This one threw a baby leg jab and got knocked the fuck out like few people have ever been knocked out. In fact, he looked a lot like Chuck Liddell when Franklin put him down. Dead to the world.
Time to retire, Rich. You've got nothing left to prove except that your chin's gone to glass. Getting knocked the fuck out by a 40-year-old cripple whose best previous win was against a bloated welterweight is embarrassing. You're done, son. Don't make me a sadder panda, especially since you're such a nice guy, and I feel sorry for you.
As for Le, it's hard to say what to do with the guy. He clearly has something left to give, if only that thing is retiring glassy-jawed former champions. Although that idea didn't work out so good against Wanderlei Silva.
It's weird, because although Rich has been inactive at 185, you'd have to rate him fairly high in the division as a former champion. I think this is a wait-and-see, as Le will probably need to heal his injury up now.
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That's it. I'll probably do a bigger write-up for GSP versus The Natural Born Yellowbellied Running Coward later this week.