After a night (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013) filled with dominant performances, gruesome injuries and another judging decision that has nearly everyone steaming, UFC 163: "Aldo vs. Korean Zombie" was maybe not worth the hefty pay-per-view (PPV) price tag, but it should not have been ignored either.
The fight card had its moments -- especially in the "Prelims."
Brian Stann's overall performance replacing Joe Rogan as a color commentary broadcaster was nothing short of spectacular, as "The All-American" dazzled in breaking down the fights with genuine knowledge of the fight game and looked too comfortable in doing so. As we've seen in the past with fighters like Kenny Florian, Frank Mir and Pat Miletech, Stann really excelled in being more than just an FX pre- and post-fight broadcaster and could do as good as a job as the previously mentioned fighters moving forward.
If FOX expects great things from Stann when he begins analyst duties for ACC college football this fall, the network will not be disappointed.
In the evening's main event, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo restored the Brazilian championship legacy in the UFC, defeating "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung by strikes with the latter suffering a gruesome shoulder dislocation inside the Octagon in the fourth round, which helped Aldo's cause (watch the highlights here).
Aldo won the first and second rounds in a more conservative method, different from his killer instinct ways. In the third round, Aldo slowed down immensely and did not inflict much damage but "Zombie," who had a few good moments and even tagged the champion a few times, could not capitalize. Takedowns or combinations were simply not working for Jung, and then in the fourth round he threw a right hand, which resulted in his shoulder popping out of his socket. "Scarface" noticed this and delivered a couple of kicks to the shoulder as he saw Jung was suffering and the challenger had no alternative but to crouch down and let the referee step in.
It was later revealed that Aldo broke his foot during the fight, as he stayed to answer a few questions, limping his way to his seat at the press conference (watch full replay here). This only solidifies Aldo's championship status, as he fought through excruciating pain and adversity progressing towards a stoppage victory. This was another dominating but more careful performance from Aldo, probably because of the foot injury. His next move remains to be seen (click here for more details), but one thing is for sure:
Aldo solidified his place as the best 145-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all-time.
Phil Davis beat Lyoto Machida in one of the most controversial decisions of the year (more on this here). Although the first and second rounds were super close, the difference at the end of those rounds is that Davis finished them by taking down Machida and utilizing his wrestling with efficient timing. Machida did, however, get the best of Davis on the feet -- or so it seemed -- and when the judges scorecards came in at 29-28 all in favor of Davis, Bruce Buffer even seemed surprised by slotting in a little hesitation.
The worst part in all this is that Davis is being discredited by everyone, from fellow fighters to writers just like this one -- and the poor guy did what he had to do which was win.
"Do you think I actually won, is that your question?" an irritated Phil Davis replied to a reporter sarcastically while dropping his microphone when he was asked that exact question.
As the dust settles, we could say this decision was not the worst robbery we have ever seen, but the scorecards (see them here) just don't match up. Machida may have landed more strikes (according to these FightMetric stats, Machida landed a total 27 of 61 and Davis a total 29 of 98), but Davis only landed two takedowns out of 10 attempts and literally did nothing with them except for those knees to the solar plexus in the second round ... and that's about it. Since this fight was in Machida's homeland of Brazil, maybe the days fighting on your home turf and having the judges sway in your favor have become non-existent.
As Dana White puts it, "never leave it in the hands of the judges." But, can't we rely on the judges to make a competent decision if it in fact does go them? His statement clearly doesn't add up since they should be smart enough to do their jobs properly. Does that mean every fight in the UFC needs to be finished?
White also makes a point that these commissions comprise government officials and he could do nothing about it; however, UFC sends its proper judges to Brazil and selects which ones will work the cards in the South American country, right? Okay, so maybe the UFC cannot be faulted for that, but for the company to defend the system of always finishing fights, but to say it should not go to the scorecards and then blast decisions like these? UFC needs to do its best to find an alternative. Maybe it was a Freudian slip from the three judges (Rick Winter, Chris Watts and Sal D'Amato -- who has a bit of notoriety that follows his name because of his past decisions) who scored this bout, but it does not look good on the company's part.
As if this card needed a controversy like that, out of all the criticism this card took and the probable, but not certain, lackluster PPV numbers, it will forever be remembered as the one were Jung's shoulder popped out and Machida got screwed (that is if you think he did).
It's a really tough loss for Machida to swallow since the better man may have lost this past weekend. On the other side of the coin, maybe wrestling and more importantly, takedowns, are worth a little too much in the 10-point scoring system?
Moving on, Cezar Ferreira looked outstanding against Thiago Santos, scoring the fastest main card win of the night in just 47 seconds by guillotine choke. It looked as if Ferreira rocked Santos with a walloping left hand and when Santos shot in for the takedown, he found himself in a very tight choke. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" Ferreira moves to 6-2 in his career, while "Marreta" suffers defeat in his Octagon debut and the second loss of his career.
It was a long four-years away from the Octagon for Thales Leites, who expressed his joy in his post-fight interview with Brian Stann after clearly outmatching Tom Watson over the course of three rounds. "Kong" had nothing for Leites' ground game (except for one submission attempt) and even suffered a nasty, blood-gushing cut courtesy of Leites' improved stand up game. Leites, who defeated the likes of Jeremy Horn, Matt Horwich and Tor Troeng in his time away from the UFC, now holds six victories in the promotion.
John Lineker was put into the deep waters in the first round of his bout with Jose Maria Tome, which got the PPV portion started. Tome rocked Lineker with a spinning-backfist and had Tome maybe changed his approach, Lineker would have potentially been stopped. But "Hands of Stone" recovered well, and eventually pounced on Tome for the technical knockout stoppage in little more than one minute of the second round. Unfortunately for Lineker, the possible title shot with a win may have drifted off since he came in overweight for the second time and opted not to lose the additional four pounds by making this a catchweight fight at 129 pounds.
Anthony Perosh needed only 14 seconds to knock out Vinny Magalhaes and nobody saw that coming in the featured fight of the "Prelims" portion (watch the highlights here). Magalhaes, the Rio-born favorite, walked directly into a right hand and eventually woke up seconds after the fight ended as Perosh delivered some nasty blows to ensure the "Knockout of The Night" bonus was headed his way. Perosh is now 14-7 in his MMA career and the road looks dark for Magalhaes -- who despite his trash-talking before the fight saying his opponent was going to pay for calling him out -- is 1-3 in the UFC.
The women's Bantamweight division should have its eyes on Strikeforce and Invicta veteran Amanda Nunes, as it did not take long for her to dispose "The German Tank" Sheila Gaff by using her strengths, as well as her dominant jiu-jitsu pedigree to deliver Gaff her second Octagon loss in a row. Nunes criticized Gaff for thinking she could beat her in her home country of Brazil, but that was probably out of excitement rather than bad blood. Nunes respectfully called out Alexis Davis at the press conference -- the only competitor to stop her via strikes in her MMA career so far back in 2011.
Sergio Moraes, better known as "Serginho," earned the "Submission of The Night" by beautifully transitioning an arm-triangle to a triangle choke by flipping over Neil Magny and submitting him in little more than three minutes into the first round. Moraes now has two-straight submission victories and looks like he's improved from the fighter who lost to Cezar Ferreira back at UFC 147. He could also be the happiest and most joyous man in the UFC, making respectable and humble gentlemen like Mark Munoz and Brian Stann look like grouches.
Ian McCall and Iliarde Santos kicked things off nicely, opening the FX "Prelims" broadcast in the "Fight of The Night" that did not disappoint. McCall saved his job by getting his first UFC win out of four appearances thus far, engaging into a brawl with the Brazilian who made his Flyweight debut. For his efforts, it seemed like the Brazilian crowd generally liked McCall, as they normally summon grief upon the athletes who face off against one of their countrymen. Santos tagged McCall on separate occasions as well, as "Uncle Creepy" left his chin out there proving he is as gusty as he is entertaining. McCall also couldn't get the best of Santos on the ground, as his opponent showed good defense in the third round against the cage. It's also worth noting that Aldo and "Zombie" were not the only ones to suffer injuries, as McCall broke his hand during the fight and uploaded a picture to prove it. Although this was Santos' second straight loss in the UFC, he hopefully did enough to earn another invite.
Rani Yahya successfully defeated Gilbert Melendez-training product Josh Clopton decisively in all three rounds. Yahya, a World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran, transitioned from position-to-position for nearly the entire duration of the fight except for the third round where Clopton tried to mercilessly make something happen but was caught in Yahya's guard for the majority of the time. Yahya also showed some decent striking skills, as he moves to 3-1 in the UFC.
The slowest fight on the card saw Francimar Barroso stepping up on two week's notice to face Ednaldo Oliveira, in a bout where clinching was heavy and no man really took any risks to lay it all on the line. "Bodao" looked good and made Oliveira pay for rushing out in the third round ineffectively and nearly got caught in a guillotine that could have ended the fight right then and there.
Kicking off the action on Facebook was an impressive performance from UFC newcomer Viscardi Andrade, who showed signs of sharp, crisp striking and eventually finished Bristol Marunde with some ground and pound before Mario Yamasaki stepped in. Andrade, now on a seven-fight win streak, showed he could hang in there with guys who have slightly more experience than him. Marunde's near future hangs in the balance -- as he is now 0-3 in the UFC.
Maybe this card was the worst line-up of the year but injuries took a hefty toll on what would have been a slightly better event. Josh Koscheck was supposed to fight Brazilian jiu-jitsu grappling ace Demian Maia but "Kos" had to bow out because of an injury, forcing Maia to be scrapped from the event.
Robert Drysdale, the American jiu-jitsu phenom and ADCC Submission Wrestling world champion was supposed to make his heavily anticipated debut after three straight submission victories in Legacy FC but he too sustained an injury and could not face Ednaldo Oliveira.
Clint Hester, winner of four straight who made his UFC debut in April by knocking out Bristol Marunde, was supposed to face The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil (TUF) middleweight winner Cezar Ferreira but he too had to withdraw.
And finally, Anthony Pettis caps off a long list of injuries as he was supposed to be Jose Aldo's original opponent in the main event, making the drop down from lightweight to earn an immediate title shot against "Scarface" -- but yes, you guessed it -- "Showtime" had to bow out because of a serious knee injury.
Some of those proposed fights would have helped an ailing card if these original fights would have materialized but with the lack of star power on the main card, it would have only helped so much. The UFC needs to find alternatives to see how they can fix this injury bug since plenty of fights over the course of nearly three years now have been lost in the shuffle. Strangely enough, a lot of fights have not materialized since the new fighter insurance clauses came into effect in 2011. Is that fully to blame? Not really, since accidents happen.
But, in the glory days of the UFC -- and a time not too long ago -- it was almost unheard of for someone to pull out of a fight.
Another reoccurring problem -- as we mentioned with last week's Drive Time -- is that judging remains a serious dilemma. As the sport grows and followers become more educated, it is a sign of the times that we may have to get used to and explain to newcomers that sometimes, these things happen in MMA (thanks to Gus Johnson for that note). Without beating a dead horse with this subject, there needs to be some serious reconsideration or investigation into these judges.
It's been happening with boxing for years and sadly, it is now happening in MMA.
If the fight promotions cannot do anything in their power because the government regulates athletic commissions then a stomach-turning feeling is that we all know we cannot beat the government and crappy decisions are here to stay, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to find a way.