Another Benson Henderson fight, another controversial decision. Is anybody surprised? Bendo's rectally installed horseshoe helped him win another 25 minute fight, extending his winning streak without a finish to 145 consecutive minutes. The only other champion who comes this close to pillow-fisted perfection has a funny accent and enjoys hot-tubbing it with the boys.
Nevertheless, even 25 minutes of leg kicks and 200 instances of wiping his hair out of his face, couldn't ruin what was otherwise a fantastic free FOX card. And if you PVRed so you could skip all of the inanity and nonsense, it was even better.
My predictions: 10 for 12. It looks like this was an easy card to predict since an 83% picking success wasn't good enough to crack the top 16 in the money pool. Another reason why mmaplayground.com is moronic.
Card's report card: A. It was an amazing card in every respect but it doesn't get the "plus" without an epic fight. And there were no epic fights, like a Dan Henderson versus Shogun Rua or a Johnny Hendricks versus a Carlos Condit.
Fight of the night: Matt Brown versus Jordan Mein
Knockout of the night: Myles Jury
Submission of the night: Nobody
Biggest upset: Matt Brown
Worst judges' decision: Francis Carmont versus Lorenz Larkin
Most boring fight: Frank Mir versus Daniel Cormier
Beatdown of the night: Joseph Benavidez versus Darren Uyenoyama
[DISCLAIMER NOTE - All UFC images in this post were sourced from Facebook.com/UFC and are the intellectual property of Zuffa LLC/Josh Hedges.]
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Yoel Romero owns a silver medal in 85-kg division for freestyle wrestling in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, but he didn't need it last night. There was no wrestling to be had in the 1:32 Clifford Starks lasted against the Cuban fighter, who basically jumped into the air like fucking Jet Li and ninja-kneed Starks in the face before dropping back down like he was hopping off his magic carpet.
It really was artistic to watch. Romeros knee headed for Starks' face, while Starks dropped his head to brace for impact, and then the sickening thud, the recoil from the blow, and then the floundering on the mat like a blue-fin tuna on the deck of a fishing boat. Romero dropped down to land several more brutal life-shortening shots to put an exclamation point and finality to the match.
He may be 35, he may be a Cuban fighter living in Germany, and he may be relatively new to MMA, but Yoel Romero is one tough fucker. A middleweight who hits like a heavyweight, has the speed and agility of a welterweight, and just happens to be an Olympic wrestler. Did the fighters in the middleweight division just soil themselves? I think yes.
Winner: Romero made a huge impact in his UFC debut, but should he be fed to the sharks right away? I think no. I like the idea of putting him up against the TUF 17 scrub winners like Josh Samman, Clint Hester, or Dylan Andrews.
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This was your classic wrestler versus striker matchup, but somebody forgot to tell Roger Bowling. Although he did very well on his feet in the first round, by the time Njokuani got warmed up in the second you could tell something bad was going to happen, especially when the muscular Strikeforce fighter began breathing hard.
Bowling's best chance to win this was demonstrated when he got a gorgeous flying double legged takedown in the first round. But his takedown attempts ended after that, and his fatal mistake was deciding to trade with one of the most technically proficient strikers in the Lightweight division. Njokuani has many flaws in his game, but striking aint one of them.
As it was a matter of time, Njokuani finally landed a brutal hook that put the lights out on Bowling, who slumped forward and briefly found a resting spot against Njokuani, his lifeless corpse suspended in midair for a moment, before plunging to the mat to do the head bounce. To his credit, Njokuani did the walkaway homerun, realizing Roger was dreaming of electric sheep.
Winner: Njokuani is a win one, lose one kind of fighter. No doubt he'll be matched against his stylistic opposite next and lose. Have him fight another guy who wins one, loses one every time in Sam Stout.
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Although Viana's chin didn't hold up, this was a great little scrap for the few minutes it lasted. Viana proved he's not easy to take down or hold down, and landed more than a few great shots on Dillashaw. Unfortunately, Viana's wide-open style left his chin exposed to a perfect jab and he went flailing backwards.
I won't say the stoppage was early, but Viana fell awkwardly against the cage where his arm became trapped and he couldn't turn around as Dillashaw fell on him. I don't know if he would have survived another 38 seconds as he was badly hurt. But I liked that never-die attitude from him.
As for Team Alpha Gayle, Dillashaw looked great. I still don't think he's ever really lost a fight. The stoppage against Dodson was hugely premature and since then he's looked unstoppable. Let's not forget that Viana was set to face a kid more his speed in Francisco Rivera, but Dillashaw stepped in on short notice to take his spot.
Winner: I think Dillashaw is clearly a top-ranked fighter at 135 now and I'd like to see him against top-ranked competition instead of knocking out mid-tier 135ers in the first round. Let's do Brad Pickett. Alternately, I'd be interested to see Johnny Bedford from the same TUF season, although he's booked to fight Erik Perez next week so we'll see.
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I don't know about you guys but I thought this was a mini-robbery. Means seemed to do the bigger damage, whether he was on the feet or underneath Masvidal. I didn't expect the judges to give it to Masvidal just because he was good at absorbing elbows to his head from the top position.
If you were to tell me before the fight that the striker Masvidal was going to steal a decision win over the lanky brawler in Means by taking him down over and over, I'd have asked you whether Cecil Peoples was judging. Means literally towered over Masvidal, but the smaller fighter ragdolled him like a stick insect and took him down whenever he felt like it.
Even though Masvidal got the takedowns, Means landed brutal elbows from the guard and cut him open. Fightmetric says Means won the fight 29-28 but I guess wrestling continues to confuse judges. Tim Means might want to take some wrestling training, it's embarrassing being thrown around by a guy who is four inches shorter.
Winner: Unimpressive, to say the least. I like a matchup against Myles Jury.
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Flyweight : Joseph Benavidez (A) versus Darren Uyenoyama (C)
Prediction: Benavidez via decision
Result: Benavidez via TKO2
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Joe B has a huge fucking head. He's a bobblehead. Anyway, Joe B put a thrashing on Darren Uyenoyabbadabbadoo in a beatdown of the night. Not once did Darren put Joe B in trouble, while Mr. Bobblehead stole five years from the life span of Darren's liver.
This was a complete mismatch from bell to finish. The strike count was 57-11 in favour of Benavidez. I'll give it to Darren though, his chin stood up under some heavy shots (for a midget fight). In the end it was his ribcage that gave way.
Winner: Joe B is like the 125-pound version of Urijah Faber. Too good to fight anyone but the champ, but not good enough to beat the champ. I'd like to see a John Dodson fight to determine the true number one contender, since I think John Moraga is getting the next shot.
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Lightweight : Myles Jury (A+) versus Ramsey Nijem (C+)
Prediction: Jury via decision
Result: Jury via KO2
At first, this looked like it was going to be a grappling match, with Myles Jury and his "Jury-Jujitsu" getting a slight advantage over Ramsey Nijem. The first round was a back-and-forth roll in the hay, just like Nijem loves it. Jury kept going for the same weird move, by hooking his leg over the right arm of Nijem and trying to crucifix him from the back position. Not sure that's going to work on a high level grappler.
At any rate, Jury came out in the second and showed he's pretty good on the feet, too. His right hook on Nijem that shut the lights out was easily KO of the night, and was one of the nastier knockouts I've ever seen. That sick slo-mo replay showed how far Nijem's facial features went to the left when Jury's fist made contact, his eyes rolling back in his head, and then the rigor mortis when he hit the canvas.
Winner: Beating a fellow TUF guy isn't that impressive, which is why after destroying Michael Johnson and Ramsey Nijem, it's time for a step up. Jorge Masvidal is that step up.
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Middleweight : Francis Carmont (F) versus Lorenz Larkin (C-)
Prediction: Carmont via decision
Result: Carmont via decision
And now for the robbery of the year. On nobody's scorecards across the world did Francis Carmont win this fight except for the judges cageside. Larkin won this fight everywhere it went, on the feet, on the ground, against the cage. He landed kicks, he showed impressive submission attempts, and he swept Carmont with a beautiful Kimura.
It's difficult to know how Carmont won this fight, just as it was confusing to understand how he beat Tom Lawlor. The man literally threw one strike in the entire first round. If he won the second round, it's hard to know why. He landed just eight strikes and scored one takedown. In the third round, neither fighter really landed anything so you could arguably give it to Carmont.
Let's face it, Larkin not only had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory by the judges, he spent too much time watching it happen. A little more activity and he could easily have won this 30-27. He is a better fighter than Francis Carmont in every category except looking athletic.
Winner: We need a fighter that will actually bring it to Francis Carmont. I think Tom Watson is that fighter.
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This fight was too short to remember much. I think Mendes landed and stunned Elkins and the referee jumped in pretty early before it was really conclusive. But whatever, Elkins was well out of his depth here. It's a shame that the Clay Guida fight fell through, not only because you know that would have been a hell of a scrap, but because Elkins just derailed his own run here.
Winner: Chad Mendes has shown he's great at beating up guys on short notice. It would be nice if he'd actually fight a guy close to his own skill level. Rebooking the Clay Guida fight would be a good way to make that happen.
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Welterweight : Matt Brown (A+) versus Jordan Mein (C)
Prediction: Mein via SUB2
Result: Brown via TKO2
Raise your hand if you thought Brown was going to skullfuck Jordan Mein. Liar. This is easily one of the biggest upsets I've seen in a long time. It's not as though Jordan Mein was highly ranked at the 170-pound division, but few guys had shown an ability to stand with him for long.
Forget about managing to stand with Mein, it was Matt Brown who immediately showed he was better on the feet, chasing Mein around in the first minute of the fight, with the younger fighter literally trying to run for his life. Although he later hurt Brown and got him to the ground, Mein wasn't recovered enough to do much and almost got caught in a triangle.
Brown came out in the second and put a ruthless hurting on Mein, finishing him convincingly. No early stoppage here. Mein wanted no part of Brown's elbows anymore. One quick question: Where the holy fuck did Matt Brown come from? Here's a guy who lost to Amir Sadollah on TUF, and one point was getting subbed every single fight he appeared in the UFC.
Ever since his Chris Cope fight, Matt Brown has been ridiculously deadly on the feet, putting an absolute thrashing on the Hype Train, Wonderboy, a savage beating on newcomer Luis Ramos, he made Mike Swick look old, and now this. Wow.
Winner: When Matt Brown said he didn't want to be just top 10 in the UFC, that he's aiming for the crown, me and my friend laughed long and loud. I'm not really laughing anymore. Brown always had that Carlos Condit rage and determination inside him and now he's got the skills working in harmony to back it up. Let's see what he does against top-10 gatekeeper, Dong Hyun Kim.
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I would have called this an early stoppage if not for the fact that even Diaz's corner thought the fight was over by throwing in the towel. What can I say? I knew Thomson had a great chance of winning, I just didn't realize he'd win like this.
The problem with the Diaz boys is that they rely too much on their granite chins to take abuse, instead of fighting smart. Thomson is a fighter with a ridiculously high fight IQ, and he doesn't hang around to get into stupid situations with fighters who can expose his weaknesses (few as they are).
When Diaz ate two head kicks early on, I thought he might start putting his hands up to absorb the punches. Instead he got caught late in the second round and finished. The result was so shocking that Dana White (stupidly) gave Thomson a KO bonus.
Winner: Fuck Grant and Maynard. It's pretty clear Josh Thomson is the number one contender right now.
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Heavyweight : Daniel Cormier (F) versus Frank Mir (F)
Prediction: Cormier via TKO2
Result: Cormier via decision
Ok, so Daniel Cormier was boring as shit, holding Frank against the cage and landing uppercuts and body shots all night long. That's fine, he played his game and it worked. But what in the name of all that's unholy was Frank fucking Mir doing?
Mir is one of those guys who when you look into his eyes you can practically see the hamster that spins the wheel in his head. The man has all of the brain of a chipmunk and for a veteran MMA fighter he usually looks lost in his fights. He did nothing to change the pattern of the fight, and nothing to attempt to get it to a position where he's strongest.
It's almost like Frank Mir needs to be badly hurt in order to fight his best. It's when he gets rocked and falls to the ground that he's deadly, because his brain (what little he has) shuts off and the automatic pilot kicks in. And his automatic pilot has a hell of a ground game.
As for Big D.C., based on his performance from last night the guy is going to have trouble keeping fans awake, let alone trying to put his opponents to sleep.
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Lightweight championship fight : Benson Henderson (B+) versus Gilbert Melendez (C)
Prediction: Henderson via decision
Result: Henderson via split decision
I thought it was pretty clear that Henderson won, but as usual he needed to judges to make sure. Benson Henderson is one of the least dominant UFC champions of all time, which is strange considering he's defended his belt three times now.
I had Melendez winning round one with pressure and control, even though the stats show he landed more strikes (or more accurately, leg kicks). But the brutal kicks began to add up in the second and third rounds, slowing down Gilbert and allowing Henderson to take over. The razor thin second round went to Henderson, and then the third and fourth were clearly Henderson's.
I gave the fifth to Melendez to make it 48-47 for the champion. But it was anything but a convincing victory. Henderson was the better overall fighter last night, but he was hardly superior. I don't know if Gilbert was tired or hurt, but he didn't pressure Henderson enough to make the difference in the fight, giving away critical rounds where he just chased him around the cage.
Winner: I guess he's going to fight the winner of Grant versus Maynard, and if he gets by that guy then I guess Josh Thomson would be next. Frankly I'd rather see Thomson now. Having said all that, I really think the dark horse is Khabib Nurmagomedov. I have that kid knocking the pubes right off Henderson's body.
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That's it, see you kids next week when Jon Jones TKOs Chael Sonnen in the round. I'm taking sig bets that not only does Sonnen not win, he doesn't get a single takedown.