Well, UFC on Fox 8 is in the books and no championship belts traded place. The event seemed a relatively dull affair despite the statistical fact that half of the fights resulted in finishes. Most of that is likely due to the fact fans needed smelling salts to be revived from the Ellenberger vs MacDonald fight.
There were several fights that did deliver, however, including the Herman vs Smith and Chiesa vs Masvidal scraps, both of which performed on the undercard. The main card saw three finishes in four fights, but the aforementioned welterweight scrap that could easily be scored "worst of the year" put a serious damper on Dana White's mood, as evidenced by his remarks in the post-fight press conference.
But the big man was upset about another aspect of the fights last night that had more than a few people typing out the WTF acronym on their keyboards:
Indeed, prior to the Guillard fight there were four consecutive split decisions, in perhaps the worst example of MMA judging that the organization has seen yet. Dana White also tweeted that MMA judges "scare me" and observed many of the split decisions resulted in the judges seeing either fighter win a dominating 30-27 on the scorecards.
Card's report card: Given the failure of the MacDonald vs Ellenberger fight to live up to its hype, the split decisions, and the otherworldly whooping sounds coming from a presumably bored audience, I'll give it a C+.
Fight of the Night: Ed Herman versus Trevor Smith
Knockout of the Night: Melvin Guillard
Submission of the Night: Demetrious Johnson
Biggest Upset: Yoatzin Meza
Worst judge's decision: Pick one.
Most boring fight: Jake Ellenberger versus Rory MacDonald
Beatdown of the night: Robby Lawler versus Bobby Voelker
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If there's one thing you can count on MMA fighter John Albert doing, it's being unable to finish a submission attempt. And if there's two things you can count on Albert doing, it's being finished by a submission attempt shortly after being unable to finish the submission attempt. Former Ultimate Fighter Season 14 competitor John Albert dropped his fourth consecutive match inside the cage, this time to Yaotzin Meza, a man who was thrown to the proverbial wolves in his UFC debut when he faced Chad Mendes in December on UFC on FX 6.
But Meza's fight on just five days notice against Mendes 10 pounds above his natural weight class was valued by the UFC brass, who gave him another shot. Albert, meanwhile, did little to impress his bosses by coming in one pound overweight and forfeiting 20 per cent of his purse.
Albert started the fight as he always does, by getting into good positional scrambles that result in a submission attempt. He landed Meza in an armbar in the first round, but lost it. He then survived a mounted guillotine to ward off his fourth consecutive time being finished inside the first round. Albert landed an early triangle in the second round, just as he did against Erik Perez last June. But it was the beginning of the end.
After Meza spent a minute fighting his way out of the triangle, Albert literally rolled over on his stomach and gave up. Whether he was injured, tired, or just ashamed of himself, we may never know. What is certain is that Meza happily jumped on his back and squeezed the life out of Albert until he was forced to tap-tap-tap that familiar song on the mat he's played so many times in the Octagon already.
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UFC veteran Aaron Riley, who hadn't been inside the cage since 2011, got his Salas tossed last night, in a bloody affair that split the judges across the board. Justin Salas ran so many circles around Riley you'd think he was a carnival operator of the ferris wheel at Picadilly Circus. He literally ran around the cage so often that the most motion sick-prone people would need vomit bags nearby their chair.
Still, it seemed to work. Salas was on his velodrome bicycle and Riley chased him around the cage like Nate Quarry trying to hunt Canadians. Every so often Salas would wade in and land a combination before running again. The performance made Carlos Condit's affair with Nick Diaz seem like a bangfest in comparison.
By the second round, Riley's ring rust was evident, but the man kept plodding forward, huffing and puffing like he wanted to plant one on the hairs of Salas' chinny chin chin. He couldn't do that until the third, however, when he rocked Salas with a head kick, causing the Tour de France champion to try and ride to safety for the rest of the fight. The judges agreed he had done enough to earn the yellow jersey.
Winner: Defeating a man with two years on the DL by playing merry-go-round might sound impressive, but it's not likely to win too many fights in the most stacked division in the UFC. His fortunes may look a little different against a Rustam Khabilov or a Norman Parke.
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Women's Bantamweight : Julie Kedzie (C-) versus Germaine de Randamie (B)
Prediction: Kedzie via decision
Result: GDR via split decision
I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about women's MMA fighting. Like a lot of fans, I'm pretty new to it all. I did, however, see Julie Kedzie nearly decapitate Miesha Tate via head kick in Strikeforce's penultimate card last August. Unfortunately, she was being matched against a woman known for going 46-0 in women's kickboxing competition. Fortunately, all Kedzie presumably had to do was take the kickboxer down and put her on her back, where she had close to zero skills on the ground. So, how did it go?
Kedzie actually surprised more than a few people (including herself I think) by dropping Germaine de Randamie (GDR) in the first minute of the fight (which may have been why judges gave her the first round). But GDR quickly recovered and spent the next minutes landing brutal knees to Kedzie's midsection against the cage.
It seemed as though Kedzie woke up in the second round and scored a takedown, which led to pitter patter pillow fighting on the ground for close to five minutes. The rounds were tied headed into the third. Although Kedzie tried to get the fight south again, she didn't try hard enough, instead choosing to stand and get peppered at range by GDR. A very late takedown by Kedzie did little to affect the score. It was too late.
Winner: I'll leave this one to the experts. With the UFC's depth in women's MMA (or lack thereof) it's probably not going to be hard to pick one.
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Middleweight : Ed Herman (A-) versus Trevor Smith (B)
Prediction: Herman via SUB2
Result: Herman via split decision
This was another fight in which judges saw it 30-27 for both Herman and Smith. Regardless of who actually won, the fans were the real winners. This was a good old knockdown, go to town, mess around, brawling banging slobberknocker. Both guys landed punches that looked to be brain-damage inducing, but kept fighting for the full 15 minute affair.
The fight started relatively slow with about two minutes of stalling against the cage before Herman landed a huge punch that wobbled Smith and caused him to step back. The two continued to brawl to the bell. The second saw Herman eat a huge head kick and drop Smith with a punch in the very same move... physics be damned. In fact, it may have been Herman's chin, made of 185 pounds of brick shithouse, that kept the judges from giving the nod to Smith. His ability to appear unfazed, even after his facial skin would ripple from one side to the other under the force of a heavy leather attack, was beyond impressive.
Herman took another huge blow to the head in the third, but his uppercuts and pressure, as well as his ability to stifle Smith's attempts to get a takedown, while landing his own in the end, secured him the match. A fight of the night that left fans on their feet and hopeful they'd see the same in the co-main event.
Winner: Herman is an odd duck. He's been around forever, has huge power in his hands, a decent little submission game, and is an inspiration to gingers everywhere. But his consistency is a problem. If he could put together a string of wins, he might be talked about in the same breath as the Bispings and the Belchers. I'd really like to see him fight Andrew Craig next.
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This fight went down a lot like the Salas vs Riley fight. Cruickshank got on his bicycle and began pedaling around the cage while Edwards chased him. With a significant difference, however. Edwards and Cruickshank landed blow-for-blow, making judging this fight a nightmare for fans and professionals alike. This was the first fight that seemed impossible to score, with one judge once again seeing it 30-27 for Cruickshank and Edwards, respectively.
I scored the fight for Edwards in the end, not just because he seemed to land the better shots (except in the third), but when the strikes are equal then the whole aggression and octagon control have to count for something. I mean, where's the consistency? Brad Pickett doesn't seem to understand:
So I guess they don't score aggression anymore so I guess there is not point in going forward anymore— Brad Pickett (@One_Punch) July 27, 2013
Neither fighter could really complain after the fight regardless of how the judges had decided it, because neither changed up their gameplans. Edwards tried to cutoff Cruickshank along the cage and land punches and kicks, while Cruickshank tried to land kicks pretty much the entire fight, only landing with any real effectiveness in the final round. If one or either had mixed in takedowns into the fight it may have been easier to score.
Winner: You can't reward a guy for a performance like that. Let him try to go kick for kick with Edson Barboza and see how that works out for him.
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Lightweight : Melvin Guillard (A) versus Mac Danzig (F)
Prediction: Guillard via KO1
Result: Guillard via KO2
While the result was somewhat as expected, Melvin Guillard performed very different than he usually does. His swagger was gone and instead of bouncing around the cage and hopping in and out, he was playing strictly counterpuncher, waiting for Danzig to commit to a punch before lighting him up.
Danzig looked lost out there, unable to touch Guillard, but unable to just stand there and do nothing. Every time he waded in, Guillard would duck out of the way and land a combination. With this game of cat and mouse you just knew something bad was going to happen eventually.
That bad thing happened in the second when Danzig got caught and knocked out by hammerfists on the ground. When he came to he began moaning and shouting in a disturbing manner that indicated Guillard may have done severe damage to him. In fact, Danzig later revealed on Twitter that when he came to there were two guys leaning on his ribs, which had suffered torn cartilage. His moaning was an attempt to get them to move their knees but his articulating skills weren't as recovered from the knockout as his pain receptors.
Winner: We've seen the same old problem from Melvin Guillard for years, haven't we? Put him against a top 20 opponents and he gets beat down (see: Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone, and Jamie Varner). But put him against guys outside that range and he crushes them easily (see: last night, Shane Roller, Evan Dunham). Is there a happy place for Guillard to be? Has he changed his style and reinvented himself like fellow The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 contestant Josh Burkman? Who knows? Maybe Jorge Masvidal, who also won last night, might be a good fit.
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It's hard to feel sorry for Tim Means, a 6'2" giant competing in a weight class too small for him, coming in four pounds overweight and getting outwrestled for three rounds. Did he outscore Danny Castillo on the feet? Sure he did. Did he get beat up on the ground? Not even a little bit. Did he deserve to win the fight? That's pretty debateable.
Look, Tim Means has a decent game but Jorge Masvidal exposed a serious weakness in his wrestling game. Castillo basically won the first round by taking him down and holding him there in guard for five minutes, using the canopener until the cows came home. The second round was more of the same, meaning Tim Means was already down two rounds before he decided to start getting serious.
Means punished Castillo on the feet in the third round, even landing a nasty knee before a desperate takedown finished it off. Tim Means has the sort of reach and size advantage that he should be picking people apart at range and using his long limbs to setup submissions off his back. Instead, he looks like little more than a beetle on the ground, struggling to right itself. That's not going to get you anywhere in the UFC. Nor is missing weight.
Winner: Danny Castillo looked pretty ordinary against a decent striker and he's had his problem with strikers in the past unless he can take them down. I'd like to see him try against Ross Pearson.
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Lightweight : Jorge Masvidal (B) versus Michael Chiesa (C+)
Prediction: Masvidal via TKO1
Result: Masvidal via SUB2
Michael Chiesa brought his 9-0 one-trick pony MMA record into the cage last night, complete with northwestern hipster hair style and beard, and almost pulled off the biggest upset of the night. After failing on an early takedown attempt, Chiesa dropped Masvidal and rocked him badly, nearly finishing the Muay Thai boxing striker early. Masvidal recovered, however, and landed some tit for tat before getting rocked again near the end of the first.
Was Chiesa for real? Not so much. In the second round Masvidal came out with a vengeance, making Chiesa grimace with body blows and got him on the run. Once he scored top position, he dominated the scrambles, working Chiesa over for several minutes before finally sinking in a D'Arce choke with a Georges St-Pierre-versus Matt Hughes one second left tapout.
Once Chiesa realized what he'd done he was so embarrassed he made like Forrest Griffin and ran his ass right out of the cage. He may still be running today. I'm not sure. At any rate, the pony was exposed, and Masvidal showed he's well rounded enough to defeat guys at their own game.
Winner: Let's do Melvin.
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The only woman to fight twice in the UFC octagon, Liz Carmouche proved her title fight against Ronda Rousey was no mismatch, dispatching Jessica Andrade with a dominating second round performance. The first round was close, with Andrade recovering from a takedown to land a huge slam of her own. Although Carmouche controlled the scrambles she landed in a guillotine that lasted a full minute to end the round.
In Carmouche's corner after the first they rallied her up and urged her to take it to Andrade. And did she ever. Carmouche ran at Andrade in the second like a demon possessed, ripped her to the ground, mounted her, and then began to rain down pillowfisted fury.
Although most of the punches Carmouche landed weren't strong enough to stop the fight, her elbows from the mount were particularly effective in making nasty thudding sounds that caused her opponent to flop like a fish. When it looked like Andrade wasn't going to escape and would suffer needless punishment for another minute, the fight was stopped.
Winner: We'll see.
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There was something disturbing about the ease with which Robbie Lawler dispatched his opponent last night, and I'm not talking about the head kick that ended it all. It was the apparent lack of effort it took to destroy a guy who by all accounts is a tough guy to put away.
Lawler landed ruthless kicks, punches, flying knees, and takedowns, and was visibly quicker than Bobby Voelker, en route to a one-sided beatdown of the night. Although Voelker survived the first round, it seemed like a matter of time before something landed.
It's crazy to think Lawler wasted eight years of his fighting development in the middleweight division fighting lacklustre matches against guys bigger than him. Back at his natural weight class, he's dispatched two fighters with relative ease and looks every bit the top-10 fighter at 170 that people believe he is.
If there's one observation to make, it's Lawler's odd celebration. One of Lawler's worst qualities when he fought in the UFC a decade ago was his overconfidence and ego, which led to a reckless style that ultimately got him knocked out against pitter patter pillow puncher Nick Diaz. And if Lawler begins to get too big for his britches again, we might see a similar crash back down to earth against a power puncher. After all, he wouldn't be the first guy to buy into his own hype: see Baroni, Phil.
Winner: I like Jake Shields as a matchup for a number of reasons. First, it's a great rematch from Strikeforce in 2009 at catchweight. Second, it will show who has improved in that time. Shields seems slower while Lawler has only gotten better. Third, knocking out Shields would put Lawler in the kind of category of a Jake Ellenberger or a Johny Hendricks at the top of the food chain.
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Welterweight : Jake Ellenberger (F) versus Rory MacDonald (F)
Prediction: MacDonald via TKO3
Result: MacDonald via decision
Let's not beat around the bush. This was the worst fight of 2013 and quite possibly beyond. It wasn't just the hype behind the fight, but the complete lack of engagement from either fighter. Beyond the fact there were no takedowns, submission attempts, or punches of significance, Rory MacDonald disappointed any fans he may have had left by jabbing his way to a victory so dull that even Georges St-Pierre would have been put to sleep by it.
The first two minutes of the fight didn't feature any striking at all, as the usually explosive Ellenberger seemed mystified by MacDonald's size and evasiveness. But when that trend continued for the rest of the round and then the rest of the fight it was difficult to know what was up. This was the same guy who knocked out Jake Shields? The guy who ruined Nate Marquardt's return party?
Although Rory MacDonald did nothing to warrant winning the fight, Jake Ellenberger did even less, managing to hit air the entire night and a sole takedown at the end. People wondered aloud why he didn't try the takedown earlier when it would have made sense.
That was like watching paint dry. That takedown would have been nice early in the first round. #FOXUFCSaturday— Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) July 28, 2013
Harsh words from the most exciting UFC fighter of all time (12 post-fight bonuses, 2012 fight of the year winner, five-time fight of the night winner, six-time submission of the night winner). And that's really the most important thing, isn't it? Sure, Rory won last night, but it makes nobody want to see him fight again. We already have one unimpressive champion in the 170-pound division. We don't need another.
Winner: I'd give Rory MacDonald a low-ranked opponent or prospect on the undercard as a warning that you not only have to win fights, you have to win impressively.
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Watching Demetrious Johnson defend the belt is fun. I know he has his haters, but last night should have changed your opinion. He outstruck, outwrestled, and outclassed John Moraga in every single aspect of the game. His performance was nearly flawless, and the finish in the fifth round was the cherry on the sundae.
Johnson landed a takedown clinic, going 12 for 12 in attempts and landing good ground and pound while he was down there. He got a mounted crucifix, back control, and a suplex in the second round, a kimura attempt in the third, knees to the body in the fourth, and the fight-ending armbar in the fifth. Moraga's sole claim to fame was a late shot that dropped Johnson in the fourth but he sprang back to his feet before Joe Rogan could spit out his surprise.
This was easily Johnson's most dominating performance, and shows how much he's still growing as a complete MMA fighter and 125-pound champion. It's going to take a guy with a lot of tools to dethrone the kind of Mighty Mouse we saw last night.
Winner: The winner of Benavidez versus da Silva makes sense. Although I thought Johnson defeated Benavidez handily last September, the result was a split decision and makes for an interesting rematch. If Jussier miraculously wins, he'd be hard-pressed to beat Johnson, since he already owns losses to John Dodson by knockout and Ian McCall, both of whom lost to Johnson already.
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