Note - I had this posted last night but SB Nation has a glitch in the system where it won't publish something if you take too long composing it. I don't know why, but it erased most of my post so I had to rewrite it just now and while I was doing that I had to make copies because it almost did it again. Hence the weird title in the navigation bar. Anyway, enjoy:
Bra-fucking-vo, UFC. When you're off, as you were for UFC 149, you're really off. But when you're on, you're really on.UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs Vera gave us everything, with eight finishes, including spectacular knockouts and submissions, and a pair of fights of the year.
Although there weren't any real surprises, some guys who weren't expected to show up really demonstrated some heart and courage. And now that it's over we know who's going to be Jon Jones next victim after Dan Henderson is choked out at UFC 151. Enter the Dragon, Lyoto Machida, who knocked out TUF scrub Ryan Bader.
My pick: Moraga by decision
Reality: Moraga by KO at 3:46 of round 1
I was fully prepared to pick "Useless" Gomez based on the hype surrounding the hometown fighter. Until I heard him talk about Justin Bieber being his favourite singer. At that point it wouldn't matter if he was as good as GSP, my immediate reaction was:
I'm glad I made the switch. Moraga came out putting the leather to Gomez, fighting off takedowns repeatedly, and landing some big shots. Anyone who says the Flyweights aren't exciting or don't have power should take note. Johnny aint fuckin playin.
My pick: Omigawa by decision
Reality: Gamburyan by decision
This was probably one of the weaker fights on the card, but it was still fairly entertaining. I had Michihiro winning the first round, before dropping the next two to the superior wrestling of Karo Parisyan's midget cousin. Neither fighter looked very good out there, and Omigawa repeatedly tagged Manny but seemed to have very bad timing in his decisions to clinch when he should have gone for the finish.
Admittedly, Manny hit the Japanese fighter with everything except a fucking bazooka, but his chin held up very well, and if anything I felt like he was winning the exchanges on the feet. Sadly, like many people from the land of tentacle rape, he was held down by a superior American wrestler and won the decision on the judge's scorecards 29-28 29-28 and 30-27.
I think it may be too late for Michihiro to turn his career around at the age of 36, which is a shame because anybody with a chin like that should be given a lot of leeway. But I can't see the UFC keeping a guy around who loses every single fight he's in by decision.
Philip DeFries (B) vs Oli Thompson (D)
My pick: DeFries by decision
Reality: DeFries by Rear Naked Choke submission at 4:16 of round 2
The only thing good about British fighter Oli Thompson is that he's slightly tougher than he is ugly. Getting outstruck by Philip DeFries demonstrated just how horrible his standup is, and that as Britain's strongest man he's able to take a pretty good beating. Still, I doubt Winston Churchill would approve.
An amusing moment occurred in the first round when Joe Rogan had just finished saying that DeFries has no power to worry about when the submission fighter dropped Oli on his shitter. Although the beard survived the onslaught he never fully recovered and eventually gave it up like dress on prom night.
Rani Yahya (A) vs Josh Grispi (D)
My pick: Yahya by decision
Reality: Yahya by North-South Choke submission at 3:15 of round 1
You've got to give it up for Yahya. Yeah, yeah, we all know Yahya is going to take it to the ground, but can you stop him? Grispi had to have known that was the case, but he still couldn't keep it on the feet for very long. The manner in which Yahya choked out Grispi was impressive as well. It reminded me of a boa constrictor slowly and patiently choking a gazelle before swallowing him whole.
As for Josh, what can you say about this choker? A man who was supposed to face pound-for-pound nightmare Jose Aldo for the Featherweight Championship, it doesn't look like Grispi could finish a fetus right now. In this situation it might be best to give him the axe and send him to the minor leagues. Here's the amazing thing though. Grispi has been fighting since 2006 and he's only 23! Cut the kid, let him win a few fights to build his confidence and then see if he's made some adjustments.
Wagner Prado (-) vs Phil Davis (-)
My pick: Davis by decision
Reality: No decision after accidental eye poke
Can't really assign a letter grade after 1:28 of relative inaction. Basically what happened is Davis made no attempts at a takedown, got hit a few times in the face, which he didn't like one bit, and while backing up against the cage to an aggressive Prado stalking him, he flailed his fingers forward, skullfucking Prado.
Prado was given a timeout and the referee Luis Cobain, who seemed to have about fourteen brain cells to rub together, called in some quack doctor who asked the Brazilian in English if he could see. Prado replied that he couldn't, either because he didn't understand the question or because he didn't understand the ramifications of his answer, and the asshole doctor called the fight right there and then.
Realizing what had happened, Prado began screaming like he'd just found out the entire Denver Broncos had fucked his mother and didn't know who his real dad is. For a second I thought he was going to James Thompson the referee and begin rampaging through the cage. Fortunately, the Hulk calmed down long enough to accept reality.
Here's the funny thing though. Kick a guy square in the fun bags and he gets five minutes to squeal like a pig on national television and adjust his gibblets while doing groin thrusts at the camera. But penetrate pupils and the guy gets 15 seconds to decide whether he can see straight before the fight is called. Fucktarded? I think yes.
Nam Phan (B) vs Cole Miller (C)
My pick: Phan by decision
Reality: Phan by split decision
Boy this was a close one. I had Phan winning rounds one and three and Fight Metric pretty much agrees with that one, with Miller winning the second round pretty easily. As soon as these two were matched up I knew it was trouble for the lanky Miller. Cole's never really reached his potential following the TUF Season 5 and his futility continued last night against superior boxer Nam Phan.
The problem is that Miller is a great jujitsu fighter and he does well against guys who are weak in that area, but Miller never tried to get it to the ground. Even if he had, Phan is a pretty accomplished black belt there, which may explain why that didn't happen. Still, it's almost as though Miller relished the idea of being the striking underdog and tried to prove something.
He did outstrike Phan in the second round, using his jab and range to keep the Alpha Male newbie at bay, but ultimately Phan showed his relentless pace can still win fights against guys with arguably more skill.
Sig bet punishment
letstalkmma, to be worn until Aug. 18: "Dear Abby, I feel my boyfriend and I are drifting apart. My boyfriend Cole Miller was balls deep in my shitter last night but he never even had the goddamned common courtesy to give me a reach around."
Mike Swick (B) vs DaMarques Johnson (B+)
My pick: Swick by KO round 2
Reality: Swick by KO at 1:20 of round 2
Although people are crowing about how great Swick is now that he's back, I was unimpressed. Johnson, arguably the UFC's worst welterweight, gave Swick all he could handle in the first round, mounting and back mounting him like a pony. Barely surviving the opening stanza, Swick then landed a beautiful piece of chin music, dropping Johnson on his can before delivering a fight-ending blow jumping into his guard, ala Lyoto Machida vs Thiago Silva.
Congratulations to Swick for coming back after taking a century off from injuries, but the ring rust was pretty bad. Still, he's an exciting fighter who really brawls and I do love that style. As for Johnson, kudos for standing and banging with a guy who was at one time considered one of the top five welterweights in the UFC. Although it didn't pay off, he earned some respect for surviving a round with Swick.
Joe Lauzon (A+) vs Jamie Varner (A)
My pick: Varner by KO round 2
Reality: Lauzon by Triangle Choke submission at 2:44 of round 3
What a beautiful little barnburner this was. Varner hit Lauzon with some heavy shots, then Lauzon took his back, then Varner recovered and dropped him, then Lauzon had him in trouble, and back and forth like that it went the entire time. It could easily have been fight of the year, but personally I give that one to the main event.
The weird thing is that the same half-wits who were criticizing Shogun for a lack of cardio in the main event were strangely silent on the fact Varner gassed about two minutes into the first round in this one. Still, it didn't stop him from putting on a great show. And considering he took the fight on short notice it's hard to really criticize the guy too much.
I think Varner's back, personally. With a full camp he's shown he has some of the nastiest power in the lightweight division and could be a threat to anybody. As for Lauzon, he's very durable, and lethal on his back, probably second only to Nate Diaz or Paul Sass when it comes to the danger of getting into his guard. A thoroughly enjoyable fight.
Lyoto Machida (A-) vs Ryan Bader (F)
My pick: Machida by KO round 1
Reality: Machida by KO at 1:32 of round 2
Although Lyoto Machida looked good in his fight, he did that same thing he usually does for the first five minutes that can make him a frustrating fighter to watch: nothing. Relying on counter punching is how Machida gets brutal knockouts, just ask Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva. And now Ryan Bader.
As for the TUF scrub, he looked pretty much like this:
Bader has this slow, pathetic, plodding style and his movements are pretty telegraphed. It was during one of those telegraphed moves that he got knocked out. Machida is also extremely difficult to take down, which Bader found out to his chagrin.
Still, Machida has nothing for Jones, since the champion showed during their fight he can reach him anytime he wants with his range without ever putting himself into a stupid situation like Bader. I think Machida might last beyond the second round this time, but the result will be the same. Death by Jones.
Mauricio Rua (B-) vs Brandon Vera (A)
My pick: Rua by KO in round 2
Reality: Rua by TKO at 4:09 of round 4
Wow, what an awesome, sloppy, brawling, beauty of a fight. Easily in my top five fights of the year and maybe even the best of 2012. Look, I know a lot of people don't like Rua's lack of cardio and consider this a poor performance. But Rua, like the honey badger, don't give a rat fuck about your consideration of his cardio or his potential or his technique. He goes in brawling, throwing punches to knock a motherfucker out. And usually he does.
Rua laid an absolute smackdown on Vera for four rounds last night before finally crumpling the fighter as he seemingly went to adjust his mouthpiece. It was a beautiful display of balls-to-the-motherfucking-wall fighting. No energy being spared, no careful circling, no boring waiting like Machida. Just walk up to Vera and punch that ugly fuck right in the chops. Awesome.
As for Vera, nobody gave him a chance in this fight and I was pretty impressed with his performance. He fought back admirably, surviving some brutal shots that put Hendo on queer street, and actually had Rua in some bad spots. It showed that Vera probably doesn't deserve to get cut just yet.
I still think Shogun is the number two fighter at light heavyweight and the best chance to dethrone the champ, though probably not a very good one. He may have lost to Hendo on points but he "broke" the fighter in the fifth round of their fight, with his relentless slobbering brawling style. Hendo was all but completely finished. This kind of style is really difficult to deal with and whether you like it or not it's beaten pretty much everybody he's faced.
Shogun is one of those rare treats for fight fans, a true warrior and genuine bad ass motherfucker.
So that's it. Next fight card, Bendo defends his title. See you kids next Saturday. Or in the comments.