Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tonight strummed the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn., for the first-time ever, playing some entertaining mixed martial arts action for the fans in attendance in "Music City."
UFC Fight Night 18: "Condit vs Kampmann" featured the Octagon debut of the last man to hold the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) welterweight title, Carlos Condit, before the promotion dissolved the weight class in a 170-pound contest opposite UFC veteran Martin Kampmann.
For those who thought that Condit didn't belong in the UFC, fighting scrubs and beefing up his reputation as one of the best welterweights in the world, think again.
"The Natural Born Killer" survived several early -- and very tight -- submission attempts from the Danish kickboxer before he was able to open him up with a huge flesh-splitting knee while the pair was clinched up against the fence.
It was a thrilling back-and-forth battle from that point on with both fighters transitioning from submission attempts and mixing it up between with nice strikes. Both fighters were giving so much that it was evident they were both extremely exhausted.
Nonetheless, it was more of the same as the third round opened up in a very, very close fight.
Kampmann appeared to have more left in the gas tank, however, keeping Condit on his back and defending his submissions from the bottom. Condit was incredibly active. In fact, he nearly pulled out a submission win as the seconds ticked down to zero to end the fight.
It's unfortunate that there was a loser in this type of fight, which saw both fighters give everything they had. But in the end, "The Hitman" was able to eek out a razor thin split decision in a fight that could have gone either way, snapping Condit's impressive eight-fight win streak.
Big win for Kampmann and a tough loss for Condit, which should not hurt him at all moving forward. It may even motivate him to get better the next time out -- sometimes losing isn't a bad thing.
Neither is winning. And Kampmann just tucked a very nice feather in his cap.
In the co-featured fight of the night, TUF 8 light heavyweight winner Ryan Bader kept his perfect record intact with a dominant unanimous decision win over Carmelo Marrero. The decorated Arizona State University (ASU) collegiate wrestler controlled the entire fight from bell to bell, keeping the pedal to the medal for the full 15 minutes.
Marrero had no answers for his smothering attack. He spent most of the fight on his back defending submissions and eating knuckle sandwiches. Bader displayed some very nice submission attempts and nearly finished the fight in the opening frame with a slick armbar that Marrero was able to eventually escape.
Bader admitted that he was not thrilled with his performance; however, it's clear that he is indeed improving and could very well be a force in the 205-pound division in the near future as the rest of his skills catch up with his phenomenal wrestling pedigree.
Whether or not fans will enjoy watching him develop during that time remains to be seen.
In other action, Tyson Griffin made his seventh straight UFC appearance since 2007 and once again was involved in his seventh decision. He won, which he does more often than not, but the Xtreme Couture-trained fighter has to be wondering when he will taste absolute victory.
His opponent, Rafael Dos Anjos, put up a nice fight, twisting Griffin's right tree trunk intro a painful-looking pretzel early in the first round that appeared to have him hurt (Griffin later stated he was fine). The Brazilian followed it up with more holds, including a standing kimura that could not have felt good.
But it wasn't enough -- Griffin scored a clear-cut unanimous decision from the judges sitting ringside.
Griffin is now in a very odd spot. He has been in against the best, and now he couldn't finish a foe -- who isn't near the level of a Sean Sherk, Marcus Aurelio, Clay Guida or Gleison Tibau -- once again. Talk about a dilemma for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
Last but not least, lightweights Cole Miller and Junie Browning kicked-off the televised portion of main card action, which promised to be a heated contest after The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) alums from different seasons of the show entered into heated exchanges prior to the bout.
And it was the far more experienced Miller who had the last word with a fight-ending submission (guillotine choke) early in the first round.
It actually wasn't much of a fight -- Miller outclassed "The Lunatik" from the opening bell, taking down Browning and immediately working for a submission. Browning was able to defend, but it wasn't so easy the second time around.
So much for being overrated.
Miller called out the winner of the UFC 99 match between Spencer Fisher and Caol Uno in his post-fight remarks, which would appear to be a decent match up whoever prevails. It may not be so clear for Browning -- his inexperienced showed tonight.
The bad news for Browning is that there are no real easy fights in the talent-rich 155-pound division. He'll need to hit the gym hard and demonstrate his next time out that he belongs inside the Octagon ... hopefully on the under card portion of the event.
To check out complete UFC Fight Night 18 main card blow-by-blow coverage click here. Solid night of fights!