Many said welterweights Matt Riddle and Chris Clements didn't deserve to be on the UFC 149 main card last night (July 21, 2012), but both fierce competitors put forth a scrap that actually was the best of the five pay-per-view fights.
Riddle had a bad recent habit of avoiding the smart strategy and instead simply standing and brawling with opponents, but that was not the case last night.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season seven veteran instead smartly focused on his wrestling against the heavy-handed Canadian striker Chris Clements, but that wasn't all.
He also went home with a $65,000 "Submission of the Night" bonus.
So how did Riddle drag Clements into "Deep Waters" and drown him? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Matt Riddle vs. Chris Clements UFC 149 post-fight review and analysis.
Early on, Riddle smartly decided not to just stand in front of Clements and trade strikes. Instead, he used his strikes to lure "The Menace" into a false sense of security before shooting in and taking him down.
What was odd was the fact that even though he had him on the ground, Riddle chose to stand back up and give Clements another chance. Surprisingly, it worked because Riddle crushed Clements with a beautiful kick to the liver that folded Clements in half but unfortunately, the referee was not paying attention and thought the Team Tompkins fighter had been given a low blow.
After briefly recovering, Clements did not truly regain his aggression until the third round and by then, it was too late. Riddle continued to take him down and smother him on the canvas, letting him up after taking top position or feeling he couldn't get a finish quickly enough.
Finally, in the third round, Clements turned it on knowing he was down two rounds and Riddle responded by locking in a very impressive standing arm triangle. It was tight and Riddle realized he could finish the fight so he tripped Clements and dropped to the canvas, landing in side control where he forced the Canadian to tap.
For Chris Clements, this was simply a case of facing a superior wrestler who actually fought smartly. He was game on the feet, but once he allowed Riddle to impose his will, he was done for. He had no answer for Riddle's offensive grappling attack and it felt like the submission was only a matter of time. At 36 years old, it's not like he's suddenly going to become a sprawling machine so I assume the UFC will instead match him up against fighters who will be willing to stand and bang.
For Matt Riddle, that time working with Robert Drysdale and some of the guys in Las Vegas is clearly paying off. This was the smartest he's fought in years. He's actually got good size and wrestling at welterweight but he never used it. Hopefully this nice bonus and the overall positive result will get him to continue to use all of his tools instead of becoming the wrestling version of Jorge Gurgel. It was nice to see what other skills he possesses. If he continues down this path, he could actually make the jump out of the lower reaches of the division.
Riddle called out Dan Hardy in the post-fight press conference but I doubt that happens since Hardy is already booked. Potential opponents include fellow UFC 149 main card winner James Head, Dan Miller or Matt Brown.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with Riddle's performance, particularly that exciting finish? Do you still think this fight didn't deserve to be on the main card?