They said it couldn't be done. Anthony Pettis isn't on the level of Benson Henderson, and even if he used to be that fight was ancient history. Benson can't be defeated. If he goes to the judges he'll win. Pettis was taken down by Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens. He's overrated. Overhyped. This is a pure wolf tickets card by Zuffa. Right?
Wrong. Anthony Pettis took his 1-0 record against Benson Henderson, stuffed all takedown attempts, kicked him three times in the ribs, and then snapped the unbreakable bendable arm of the champion. Hey, some guys just have your number, and Pettis has his. It's going to be fun to watch a fighter as exciting as Pettis take on challengers for five rounds of Showtime.
Card's report card: Maybe I'm crazy but this whole card pretty much bored me. I wanted many of the fights to be over when much of it was taking place on the ground. A fucking ground and pound fight at 125 pounds? Are you kidding me? I give it a C.
My predictions: 8 for 12. In my defense I made my picks with my cell phone while at a wedding, sitting on the shitter at 2 a.m. completely hammered, while on a remote island in the archipelago off Vancouver with one bar of service. I honestly had no idea who some of these dudes were and my research was based on half-remembered names. And I still beat Oil_Check.
Fight of the Night: I wouldn't watch any of these fights ever again
Knockout of the Night: Hyun Gyu Lim
Submission of the Night: Anthony Pettis
Biggest Upset: Pettis I guess? No real upsets.
Worst judge's decision: Gleison Tibau versus Jamie Varner
Most boring fight: Soa Palelei versus Nikita Krylov
Beatdown of the night: Tim Elliott versus Louis Gaudinot
* * *
I'm not really sure why Jared Hamman still has a job as a fighter or why he continues to bring pain upon his brain-damaged self. Hamman could have easily called it a career after getting stomped out by Costa Philippou at UFC 140 but decided to follow that up with another painful encounter against Michael Kuiper. at UFC 150.
A year after that fight he stepped into the cage with gangly freak Magnus Cedenblad and proceeded to engage in the same balls to the walls reckless style that gets him finished. And he got finished for it. After blitzing Cedenblad a few times, the Swede grabbed his neck and basically forced Hamman's body to follow it as he dropped to the mat for the submission. Cedenblad rolled right into mount and pop goes the weasel.
Winner: Josh Samman sounds about right.
* * *
Oh yeah, THAT Al Iaquinta. I was trying to remember who the guy was, and it's since come flooding back. He was the Serra-Longo kid who knocked everybody silly on The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 show before getting disappointingly choked out by a disheveled homeless man. Still, I doubt I would have picked him to beat Ryan Couture.
Nothing that Ryan tried out there really seemed to work and the things that did were few and far between. The Natural's son isn't a natural striker and was being lit up in the exchanges so much that by the third round he was wearing a swollen mask. Not that dude doesn't have a chin. The amount of abuse he took was impressive.
Couture was finding success with unorthodox strikes and flying knees, and it looked like he rocked Iaquinta a few times when he used his kicking and knees. Sadly, instead of going on a frenzied attack he merely paced himself for three rounds of ass-whooping. As for Iaquinta, he looked like a 155-pound Chris Weidman.
Winner: Defeating Ryan Couture after a huge layoff is impressive, but then again Couture is a Strikeforce product who owns a dubious split decision over KJ Noons and nobody in the UFC. His next fight should be against another low-ranked fighter like Justin Salas, last seen riding a unicycle around the cage against Aaron Riley.
* * *
Fatweight : Sao Palelei (F) versus Nikita Krylov (F)
Prediction: Palelei via KO1
Result: Palelei via TKO3
I thought this fight might be the first death we'd ever see in the octagon since Sao Palelei looked about ready to keel over and die three minutes into the fight. Lucky for him Russian newcomer Nikita Krylov also had a gas tank with a one gallon capacity because he burned out at the same time.
This wasn't so much a fight as it was a fat man lying on a thin man for several rounds trying to lift his arm high enough to allow gravity to bring it back down again and hoping it might hurt. I've never seen two guys so tired in a fight, and that includes the Houston Alexander versus Kimbo Slice.
I honestly believe that if Nikita simply ran around Palelei for a few minutes, the Australian would have fallen down from fatigue. He looked ready to quit on his stool at the end of the first round, which makes it even more amazing that Krylov couldn't finish a man who was already mentally and physically defeated.
Winner: Let's get Tim Sylvia back in the cage and Palelei might stand a chance.
* * *
I'm sure a few people got their panties in a twist when the judges read out the scores but I don't have any sympathy for them. There's really no argument to be made that Kang won two of the three rounds needed to win a fight, and there's a really strong argument to be made that Kang was knocked cleanly the fuck out at the bell following a brutal upkick that showed Kang's eyes roll back in his head.
Make no mistake: Kang's top control on the ground is impressive. I've seen down comforters that don't cling as tightly to the body as Kang was clinging to Camus. But hugging somebody in half guard for eight minutes while delivering blind rabbit punches doesn't, or shouldn't, win you a fight.
Delivering punches that stagger your opponent, make his eyes roll back in his head, drop a guy, and force him to turtle up under the onslaught should win you a fight. And if that's the judging criteria then Chico Camus clearly won the fight. (If you're keeping score, I gave the second and third to Camus).
Winner: Chico should fight a guy who is also coming off a win that broke a losing streak and that fighter would be Yaotzin Meza. Also acceptable would be the winner of Roland Delorme versus Alex Cacares. Bruce Leeroy also defeated Kang.
* * *
Lim didn't impress me in his UFC debut and he didn't impress me on Saturday night either. That might sound fucktarded, considering he has back-to-back knockouts, but it's the truth. Lim carries heavy hands out there but he's incredibly one-dimensional. Wade in, throw combination, step back, reset. Krauss was doing pretty well out there until Lim connected and went in for the kill.
A more well-rounded fighter than Krauss would likely have considerable success against Lim, who hasn't shown any intent of doing anything other than brawling and relying on his heavy hands. It's a shame that Krauss, who has shown to be well-rounded in the past, couldn't find a way to get this fight to the ground where he might have found some success. His willingness to engage with exchanges demonstrated a low fight IQ.
Winner: I think the antidote to Lim is 170 pounds of Kelvin Gastelum.
* * *
Flyweight : Tim Elliott (A) versus Louis Gaudinot (F)
Prediction: Gaudinot via decision
Result: Elliott via decision
Once again a case of mistaken identity. I confused Tim Elliott with Phil Harris. Regardless, I don't know if Saturday's Gaudinot could beat Harris either. Coming off a shocking win over John Lineker, Gaudinot looked outmanned and outgunned in every aspect of MMA.
Elliott looks and fights like a psychopath, the kind of midget that you wouldn't want to meet while canoeing down the Cahulawassee River valley. He laid a good old-fashioned ass-whooping on Gaudinot with strikes, ground and pound, and savage aggression. Although he took his beating for all three rounds, that's the best that can be said about his performance.
This version of Tim Elliott would give number-3 ranked John Dodson a tougher time if they rematched, the first fight going to Dodson by a unanimous 29-28 score in which The Magician faded at the end. At 26 years old, he's got the work ethic and the savagery to make a run for the top.
Winner: There's not too many guys at 125 up for grabs, but one glaringly obvious one would be Ian McCall to set up candidacy for a number one contender's match, pending the outcome of fights involving Joseph Benavidez, John Lineker, and Jussier da Silva.
* * *
Lightweight : Gleison Tibau (B-) versus Jamie Varner (C)
Prediction: Varner via TKO3
Result: Tibau via split decision
It's hard to call this robbery after watching the former WEC champion unable to escape mount position for five minutes in the second round, but it wasn't good scoring. Varner pretty clearly won the first and third round, which means even if the second is a 10-8 then it's a draw.
But whatever. Varner didn't help his cause by going to the ground after he'd done all but knock out Tibau in the third round. The Brazilian staggered around after taking huge shots and then simply fell down, inviting Varner to rest on him until the bell. Had he forced Tibau to get back to his feet there's a huge chance the finish would have followed.
Varner's inconsistency since his return to the UFC only contributes to his legacy as an enigmatic fighter who manages to lose fights against less skilled opponents. If only he could put his wrestling, power, and aggression together for one sustained effort he might actually return to the top of the 155 heap.
Winner: There's really nowhere for Tibau to go other than spoil other fighters' chances to make it into the lightweight's top ranks. As gatekeeper, Tibau serves little purpose. Hence, his next fight will be against a similar challenger at the gate.
* * *
This had all the makings of a close fight on paper. And then Dustin Poirier laid down a beating on the former number one contender to Jose Aldo. With each loss for Koch it becomes clear that he dodged a bullet having to face the champion because he's far from being ready for that.
Poirier looked great for two rounds, knocking Koch silly on the feet and almost getting the finish. But he made several mistakes on the ground, nearly getting finished early in a triangle choke and escaping other close calls. Then in the third he was taken down and dominated, ruining a lot of the impressive accomplishments of the first two rounds.
Poirier needs to put in a solid performance when he's fighting the elite guys at 145, and unfortunately he seems to have a history of fading. I don't mean he has cardio problems, but in his fight against Cub Swanson he also failed to keep the pressure on and ended up losing the pivotal third round.
Winner: Personally I'm kind of interested in seeing him against Conor McGregor, but I guess there's a long wait for his recovery from an injury. I'm not really sure where Poirier fits in the 145 picture, but Darren Elkins might help shed some light on the matter.
* * *
You've got to feel sorry for Brandon Vera. Don't you? No, I guess you don't. Too unskilled to beat the 205ers and not big enough to pick on the 265ers, Vera is looking for a place to hang his gloves. I think he'd have better luck in Bellator because the UFC is just on another level.
Vera fought a boring and uninspired fight, running around the outside trying to land single kicks and punches, and opting out of any combinations or getting close enough to risk getting knocked out. The funny thing is that the strategy seemed to work in the first round, but by the second round Rothwell seemed to realize that Vera's pussy punches weren't hurting anybody, least of all him. So he waded in with more confidence as the time ticked away.
Then suddenly in the third round it's like a light bulb went on in Rothwell's thick cranium. Hey, I'm 265 pounds of heavy, sweaty, brick-chinned gorilla and I'm fighting some upjumped Light Heavyweight clown who's afraid to come near me. Why don't go over there and beat the shitfuck out of him and call it a night?
And that's what he did.
Winner: Ben Rothwell is on a bit of a see saw part in his career. And it should be noted that he loses to fellow gorillas (Mark Hunt, Cain Velasquez and Gabriel Gonzaga) and beats up the tiny Heavyweights (Brendan Schaub and Brandon Vera). Actually, he just seems to enjoy beating up guys with that first name. I'd be interested to see a rematch against Roy Nelson, but he's busy about to get savaged by Daniel Cormier. If Big Nog or Cheick Kongo aren't retired, maybe they'll fight Rothwell.
* * *
Featherweight : Chad Mendes (A+) versus Clay Guida (C-)
Prediction: Mendes via decision
Result: Mendes via TKO3
Although this was the earliest stoppage I've ever seen I can't complain too much. Clay Guida had nothing for Chad Mendes on Saturday and we've all been waiting a long time to see that bouncing, hair-flailing, spastic huggy bear get his comeuppance.
Mendes was smiling at Clay Guida in that fight. Every failed shot, every whiff of air, Mendes was on a completely different level from Guida. Which is kind of scary, considering Guida has laid and prayed his way to many a victory over elite fighters, including the new 155-pound champeen.
Mendes is definitely making a strong case for a rematch at 145 pounds, and if he's dispatching guys like Clay Guida inside the distance he's got to be close.
Winner: There's four guys who all have a strong claim to challenge Jose Aldo for the title. Unfortunately, all but one have already lost to him. Frankie Edgar lost to Aldo recently, and Chad Mendes lost before that. Cub Swanson lost in an embarrassing eight seconds in the WEC. Only Ricardo Lamas has a clean shot and he should be next. But that still leaves Mendes with another fight and he's already fought and beaten Swanson. That means either that rematch happens, or he fights Frankie Edgar. Anybody else would be a guy way down the ladder.
* * *
Another horrible stoppage marred an otherwise good-fashioned mauling. Josh Barnett came out and took it to Frank Mir with dirty boxing and knees against the cage in the clinch. Mir was fading quickly and the finish would likely have come soon, but the referee had seen enough after Mir fell to his knees.
Although I think Barnett would have won, keep in mind that early stoppages can ruin some of the greatest comebacks in UFC history. Big Nog dropped Mir and went to finish with a guillotine only to get his arm broken. Frankie Edgar was dropped three times in the first round and recovered to slam Gray Maynard in the second round. Brock Lesnar withstood a terrible beating from Shane Carwin only to arm triangle him in the second when he gassed.
As for Frank Mir, it's tempting to call for his retirement but his losses are arguably to the very top of the 265 division. Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett were the elite heavyweights that came over from Strikeforce, while Roy Nelson is sort of a top-10 gatekeeper in the division. There's probably still fights out there for Frank, although I think he should probably do his body and his brain a favour and hang em up.
Winner: Travis Browne sounds about right.
* * *
Lightweight Championship : Anthony Pettis (A+) versus Benson Henderson (C)
Prediction: Pettis via decision
Result: Pettis via SUB1
I think I've already said all that needs to be said about this fight, but I do regret not having the courage to pick the finish. When I first heard about this fight I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for Pettis to finally finish the Champion, but I didn't think it would be by submission. Henderson gets rocked a lot in his fights and I thought it would be a nicely timed punch or knee.
But Pettis' victory showed how truly well-rounded a fighter he really is. His wrestling weakness seems to have been addressed, his kicks are lethal, and his submissions are on point. The kind of fighter who beats Anthony Pettis for the strap is going to need to possess strengths in all these categories and probably one that is vastly superior. Khabib Nurmagomedov's wrestling comes to mind.
Winner: Pettis versus Aldo superfight is the dream. But it probably won't happen. So TJ Grant it is.
* * *
Bonus Quick and Dirty
At the risk of stating the obvious, three cards in one week is too fucking much. But since I'm addicted to the sport I'll probably spend most of Wednesday night trying to find replays to the fights.
Sean Spencer (9-2, lost 1) versus Yuri Villefort (6-2, lost 2)
I don't honestly have any idea. I think this is Spencer's welterweight debut, since he lost to Rafael Natal last time out. And given the fact he lasted three rounds with the more talented fighter, I'm going to go with the idea he can outlast Villefort.
Spencer via unanimous decision
* * *
Keith Wisniewski (28-14-1, lost 2) versus Ivan Jorge (24-3, won 6)
I have no fucking idea who Ivan is or why a Brazilian has a Russian name but I do know that Keith Wisniewski being given no chance whatsoever by the oddsmakers. And that's really all anybody needs to know to make a blind pick based on a fighter you've never heard of or know one fact about.
Jorge via first round submission
* * *
Lucas Martins (13-1, won 1) versus Ramiro Hernandez (13-4, won 2)
Sigh. More Brazilians I know nothing about. Martins has a great standup game but he keeps his chin pretty high and gets tagged a lot. Hernandez hasn't been finished before, but doesn't own wins against any UFC-calibre guys except Eric Wisely and former TUF flunkey Chris Tickle.
Martins via unanimous decision
* * *
Joao Zeferino (13-5, lost 1) versus Elias Silverio (8-0)
Look, I'm straight up fucking lying if I say I know shit about either fighter. I'm mildly aware that Zeferino is an elite grappler and gave Rafael Natal a hard time in their fight. Silverio looks like banger. Hence, my theory that Zeferino will take him down and do something there.
Zeferino via unanimous decision
* * *
Felipe Arantes 15-5 (unbeaten in 3) versus Edimilson Souza (13-3, won 7)
Arantes looked good absolutely destroying Godofredo Castro in his last fight, but this new kid on the block has seven consecutive stoppages by knockout. Frankly, I have a hard time believing Arantes is going to make that number eight.
Arantes via submission in round 2
* * *
Marcos Vinicius (20-4, lost 1) versus Ali Bagautinov (10-2, won 8)
I don't know much about Bagautinov except that he's a Russian Combat Sambo Champion and gold medal winner in 2012, which is pretty much good enough for me. Plus, I can't believe skinny Vini is going down to 125 after starting as a 145er.
Bagautinov via unanimous decision
* * *
Rafael Natal (16-4-1, won 2) versus Tor Troeng (16-4, won 5)
Tor Troeng might have the same record as Natal but they are on vastly different levels and experience. So long as this gets to the ground Natal should be fine.
Natal via submission in round 2
* * *
Francisco Trinaldo (13-2, won 2) versus Piotr Hallmann (13-1, won 9)
Again, this pits some Polish kid I've never heard of against Trinaldo, who has been very impressive since he joined the UFC following TUF Brazil. Hallmann seems to have done well in the European circuit but none of the guys are well-known outside that continent.
Trinaldo via submission in round 1
* * *
Joseph Benavidez (18-3, won 2) versus Jussier Formiga (15-2, won 1)
I find it hard to imagine that Benavidez will have any trouble whatsoever with Formiga. The Team Alpha Male fighter has great takedown defense and some of the best standup fighting in the division. Unless Formiga can find a way to get him on his back, this will be a one-sided affair.
Benavidez via unanimous decision
* * *
Yushin Okami (29-7, won 3) versus Ronaldo Souza (18-3, won 4)
I want to pick Souza badly, but I've just seen too many talented fighters get stymied by Okami's breathtakingly boring style of lay and pray. I expect this fight to be no different and just another reason to hate Okami.
Okami via unanimous decision
* * *
Glover Teixeira (21-2, won 19) versus Ryan Bader (15-3, won 1)
I expect nothing short of a brutal unbridled violence as Teixeira drops Bader and rains down hot death on his face. The hardest part is wondering whether he'll put him out or reach into his armpit for the choke.
Teixeira via TKO in round 1