Well, another free UFC card is in the books, and overall it was pretty decent. Even though it was held on that stinking, festering, inbred island in Europe. The card was stacked with men with bad teeth and good martial arts, featuring 10 Brits in nine of the 11 fights. The result:
I give this card a B+, which I think is the highest grade I can give it considering the fact there were no fighters of serious consequence on it. Five finishes in the first round is a hell of a good show, and the brutality was quite enjoyable.
Before the grades, here are my own impressions of the card.
My predictions: 8 for 11
Fight of the Night: Tavares versus Watson (UFC gave it to Struve vs Miocic)
Knockout of the Night: Brad Pickett
Submission of the Night: Matt Wiman
Biggest upset: Matt Wiman
Worst judge's decision: Akira Corassani
Most boring fight: Hathaway versus Maguire
Beatdown of the night: Manuwa versus Kingsbury
Featherweight : Robbie Peralta (A) versus Jason Young (F)
My prediction: Peralta by decision
Result: Peralta by KO at 0:23 of round 1
Boy, way to get the crowd warmed up, Jason. Before English fans had even had time to find their seats and start their long-standing tradition of rowdy, drunken dumbassery, Young was already staring up at the lights. There's not a whole lot to say about the fight, really. It was over in less time than it usually takes for me to count the number of fucks I give about TUF: Season 16.
Jason Young's setback is pretty serious, since it was a quick loss and his third in four fights under the Zuffa banner. The reason he was given the opportunity was not only because he's English, but for providing good fights against Dustin Poirier and Michihiro Omigawa. But you've got to think he'll get one more chance before getting the boot back to the English MMA circuit.
Robbie Peralta, meanwhile, extends his unbeaten streak to 10 fights, and looked like he's found the power that his style had hinted at during his first two fights with the UFC.
Given the fact the Featherweight division is so thin, you've got to think that Peralta isn't too far from the top 10. The problem is that everybody is either booked or coming off a loss. What about Hacran Dias?
My prediction: Nelson by submission in round 1
Result: Nelson by submission at 3:34 of round 1
Yes, a fucking "F" for Johnson. The man is a perpetual losing machine, and he did nothing in this fight other than follow his programming. The fight basically went like this: Johnson flailed around a little, Nelson landed a double leg, dragged him down, and mounted him from behind like a pitbull on a poodle. Although Johnson wiggled a little bit, it didn't take long for the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighter to choke him out.
Gunnar Nelson looked spectacular in this fight. His karate training means he has an unorthodox style of standing with his hands down like Lyoto Machida or Steve Thompson, but unlike Wonderboy the man has a deadly ground game as well. Although I don't want to sound like I'm too hyped on this kid, it will be exciting if we get a "mini-Dragon" in the 170-pound fight division.
As for Johnson, I know he took the fight on short notice, but he looked sloppy, lazy, and came in eight pounds over the catchweight of 175-pounds. The UFC won't cut him, since he did them a huge favour, but he really should be on the chopping block. Johnson is 1-4 in the UFC in his past five fights and as borderline a UFC fighter as I can think of at 170 pounds.
He also really, really, really fucking sucks on the ground.
Oh baby, where to begin? Another exciting prospect for 170 pounds. Well, one option would be another winner on this card, taking on Che Mills, although you could argue the British fighter is higher up the ladder already. There's always Matt Riddle, who's a decent middle-tier fighter. There's also Sean Pierson, who I think would make for a great step up.
My prediction: Tavares by split decision
Result: Tavares by split decision
Truthfully, the judges were pretty incompetent on this one. Tavares won the fight handily, schooling Watson on takedowns and wrestling, and landing some brutal flurries. But this was far from one-sided, with both fighters brawling from bell to bell in what I'd say was the most exciting fight of the night and certainly the most competitive.
Watson came in wearing a really stupid gorilla mask, which I can only assume was an impression of Benson Henderson's mother, and what lay underneath wasn't much prettier. But once the props were taken off and the fight began it was a classic BANGFEST. Well done to both fighters.
If I had to criticize anything, it would be that Watson might want to take a page from Dan Hardy's book and learn how to wrestle. Him and every other British MMA fighter on the planet.
Few guys from TUF 11 have been as successful as Brad Tavares, who has just one stain on his MMA career to the A-Train. Time to step up. What's Ronny Markes doing these days? If he's too high level, Michael Kuiper just came off an impressive demolition of Jared Hamman.
Featherweight : Akira Corassani (C-) versus Andy Ogle (C)
My prediction: Ogle by TKO in round 3
Result: Corassani by split decision
A lot of people told me they could see how the judges gave this fight to Akira. To those people I say, you're a moron, please do not reproduce if you can help yourself. Ogle scored no fewer than two knockdowns in the first round, which in the 10-point must system is basically a 10-8 round. Assuming Akira won the round but Ogle scored two knockdowns, you've got to say Ogle won the first. There's kind of no other conclusion to draw. Speaking of draw, I could see it scored even, too.
The second round clearly went to fucknuts, who started finding his range and rhythm, and gave Ogle a pretty nasty beating until the Brit took him down and began dominating him on the ground. You could argue the Phantom Tapper won the second round if you negate the fact Ogle got his back, evening the score on the judge's cards. The third round was all Ogle, who took Corassani down and proceeded to hold him in a crucifix for about four minutes, sending elbows to his head.
A good judge would probably give Ogle all three rounds, for 30-27. A mediocre judge might have given Akira the first or second round. But only an incompetent dumb fuck could possibly give Akira the first and second rounds, and hence the fight. That's pretty brutal.
Don't give even half a fuck. Cut them both.
My prediction: Manuwa by KO in round 1
Reality: Manuwa by doctor TKO in round 2
For those who say Kingsbury was going to finish Manuwa in the third, just shut the fuck up. Seriously, you're embarrassing yourself. You must be the same jerkoffs who thought Fedor Emelianenko was going to come in the third round and defeat Big Foot Silva after giving the Fat Emperor an ass pounding not seen since the Middle Ages.
Listen: Manuwa beat the living fuck out of Kingsbury. He broke his skull, he fucked it up. In plain English, Manuwa skull fucked Kingsbury. Are we clear? I don't want to hear any nonsense about Manuwa gassing or how he was going to lose.
Manuwa clearly has a problem with his ground game. That's understood. But the beating he put on Kyle Kingsbury was some of the most brutal shit I've ever seen in MMA. If the referee had stopped the fight in the first round I'd have had no problem whatsoever. When you consider how Nanny Hen Dean jumped in to save Miocic in the main event, the fight could easily have been stopped late in the first when Kingsbury was covering up and cringing like a fetus.
Ok, so Manuwa is a monster and will knock a motherfucker out, but seems to have a poor ground game. Perfect. Let's feed him to Vinny Magalhaes. Both just fought. Both seemed to come out relatively unscathed. Let's see whether Manuwa can put Vinny to sleep, or whether he gets his arm broken. A more exciting possibility, however, is to see how he does against James Te Huna. Friggin BANGFEST, anyone?
Welterweight : Che Mills (A) versus Bang Ludwig (F)
My prediction: Mills by TKO in round 2
Result: Mills by TKO (injury) at 2:28 of round 1
Does Ludwig deserve an "F" because he got a boo-boo? Is it really fair? Fuck fair. Ludwig fell down, went boom, and acted like he'd taken an arrow to the knee. He was getting dominated anyway. Mills fought a good fight, using his aggressive striking to close the distance and take Ludwig down at will. If the injury hadn't happened, Mills was putting a beating on him anyway.
It looks like Bang is done. The 34-year-old is now 2-5 in the UFC and has lost three in a row. His only wins in the UFC came against Amir Sadollah, who should also get punted, and Nick Osipczak, who isn't in the UFC anymore. All three of his recent losses came in the first round. Buh-bye.
Che Mills went from Chris Cope to friggin Rory MacDonald to Bang Ludwig. Shit, amazing, shit. Let's find a nice balance now. He doesn't need to fight a top 10 guy. He needs a steady improvement, like a Seth Baczynski. Also perfectly acceptable would be Dan Hardy. Actually, Hardy might make the most sense, although I don't know if the UFC wants to pit two British fighters together outside of Britain. The truth is there are tons of mid-tier welterweight challenges for Mills.
Welterweight : John Hathaway (C+) versus John Maguire (D)
My prediction: Hathaway by TKO in round 3
Result: Hathaway by decision
Although I think Hathaway is one of the best prospects at 170, the kid simply can't finish a fight to save his life. Call it Jon Fitch syndrome, but seven consecutive times to the judge's scorecards isn't exactly making me excited to see him fight again. He's technically sound but it looks like the guy is cruising out there. Where's the fucking urgency? Where's the murderous rage?
Hathaway hasn't finished somebody inside the cage since the year 2009 was still recovering from its New Year's hangover party. That's a long time. How long? Mark fucking Coleman and Jeremy Horn were still on the pay-per-view. Dude, finish somebody. Please.
As for Gypsy Fuck-jitsu or whatever he calls it, John Maguire was garbage out there. Slow, useless, and unimaginative, he made Diego Sanchez's loss to Hathaway look like fireworks. He did nothing on the feet, nothing on the ground. In short, he did nothing. Maybe he should take that pink belt off and learn how to fight properly.
Hard to get excited here. But shit, let's test this fucker and force him to finish or be finished. Mike Pyle already beat him, but what about new Welterweight Kyle Noke? Alternately, give him upset-maker James Head, who also dropped from 185. If you really want to see a finish, let's give Siyar Bahadurzada a friggin fight already. Guy gets a spectacular KO in April and he's been sitting around for half a year.
My prediction: Sass by submission in round 2
Result: Wiman by submission at 3:48 of round 1
That has to be one of the most unexpected results since Frank Mir broke Big Nog's arm. Oh, you expected Matt Wiman to go in there and submit undefeated submission specialist Paul Sass? Uh, fuck thee off, thou twatwaffle.
Although I have to give Paul Sass an "F" for pulling a Jimy Hettes and a Stipe Miocic, he was doing ok until he got careless. He scored a quick takedown on Wiman, and followed it up with a series of submission attempts. It was a semi-exciting fight until it looked like Sass started pulling a Brian Ebersole and sticking his limbs and neck in the guard of Wiman and daring him to submit him.
Oops. He did. I haven't seen that kind of hubris since Wiman himself wagged his finger and smiled at Spencer Fisher for missing him, so Fisher obliged by flying a knee into his fucking face and knocking him out.
But Sass is still young. I think he'll learn from this experience, and come back with a different gameplan and attitude. He is, after all, only 24.
Do we really care? Wiman has been tooling around since UFC 60 and never even approached the top of the division. Well, having lost only once in his last six fights maybe it's time for a test. Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn't been booked yet. And I'm pretty sure TJ Grant is looking for a fight.
My prediction: Pickett by decision
Result: Pickett by KO at 3:40 of round 1
Is that actually a gif of Brad Pickett doing that retarded Gangnam dance? Yes. Yes, it is. Anyway, the fight basically went down like this. Jabouin picked Pickett apart for about 3:35 of round 1. Then Pickett landed a brutal uppercut and Jabouin went to dreamland. The end.
Although I thought this was going to be more of a war, I'm not too surprised. We always knew Pickett had knockout power, and as I wrote in my predictions post Jabouin has been kicking around the pro MMA circuit for 11 years now and every time he gets a challenge he fails miserably.
Pickett is top of the food chain, and despite a setback to Renan Barao I think he's a frontrunner for the next contender matchup.
Pickett should fight a guy in the top 10, and the most exciting time would be Eddie Wineland. Is Pickett on his level? Hard to say, and besides I think Michael McDonald might need an opponent soon. If not, Raphael Assuncao needs a fight, too.
I actually think Amir looked better with a beard and long hair.
Welterweight : Dan Hardy (B+) versus Amir Sadollah (C-)
My prediction: Hardy by KO in round 2
Result: Hardy by decision
I don't know what I was thinking picking Hardy to win by knockout, but the fight did go pretty much as expected. With one exception. Hardy's wrestling, clinch work, and takedowns are much improved. Like I wrote in my predictions post:
"Despite the fact TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah owns no knockouts in his professional MMA career, he still tries to stand and bang with guys. It usually doesn't work out so good. Sadollah is at his best when he's on the ground, preferably on his back, where he has good armbar submissions and triangles. His foray into kickboxing may have won him a decision or two, but it's completely useless and boring."
Useless. Boring. That's Amir in a nutshell. But Hardy was anything but boring and useless. Perhaps one of the first truly "mixed" martial arts performances of his career, he demonstrated kicks, punches, takedowns, wrestling, and was smooth and fluid throughout. What can I say? I was impressed with the mohawked douchebag.
If he doesn't fight Che Mills, Hardy has the previous fight experience to justify a fight against pretty much anyone in the division. Actually, I kind of like the idea of Mike Pyle.
My prediction: Miocic by KO in round 1
Result: Struve by TKO at 3:50 of round 2
I kind of feel like I got this prediction right. Check out my prediction post:
"The worst thing in this matchup is that Struve is a slow starter, while Miocic slows as the rounds progress. Expect Miocic to do heavy damage early and get the finish. If he can't, the odds of Struve scoring a knockout in the late second round or submission in the third will be pretty good."
That pretty much says it all. Miocic was too cautious in the first, and fatigued quickly in the second round. By then I knew it was over. Struve is a very slow starter but he gets stronger as the fight progresses.
I've done all I can to ignore and belittle and denigrate Struve's success in the UFC. No longer. He seems like a pretty legitimate top 10 threat now.
You know what I want. I know what you want. We both know what we want. Stefan Struve versus Mark Hunt. Make it happen.