The UFC was in Jersey Shore Saturday night for a titillating showdown between a former Strikeforce champion and a former light heavyweight champion. What made this match so interesting was the fact that the world's pound for pound best flukeweight champion was sitting cageside watching Luke Rockhold take on a guy he couldn't finish inside the distance, and who roughed him up in the latter part of the fight. Indeed, watching Rockhold and Jacare Souza go to work on their opponents in the main and co-main event should have Team Fluke fairly concerned about upcoming title bouts.
All in all a decent free card with a variety of finishes and surprising results. Although it was nice to have Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg back behind the microphone, I suspect old man Rogan will have needed his stomach pumped for all the man juice he swallowed while calling the fights. His superfluous adulation of Max Holloway and Gian Villante was more irritating than Kenny Florian's fucking idiot brother.
As for the "fight of the night" if you think that two sloppy, reckless, talentless, hopeless, dickless, 200th-ranked light heavies throwing sloppy strikes around the cage for 2.5 rounds is what turns on fans then let's bring back Matt Riddle. That's a fucking joke right there.
Luke Rockhold (A+) defeated Lyoto Machida (C) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:31 of Round 2
My oh my, what a battering. It's true that Chris Weidman put it on Machida in their title fight but that was patty cake compared to this drubbing. The "elusive" Dragon was taken down in the first round and dominated like he's never been dominated on the mat, showcasing Rockhold's elite top game and ground and pound. When Machida tried to walk back to his corner after being saved by the bell he looked like he needed an IV drip and some bed rest.
This was the sort of fighter people expected to see in the UFC after narrowly winning a decision over Jacare Souza in Strikeforce in 2011. Sadly, his momentum was derailed by TRT Vitor in his UFC debut, sending him to a series of gatekeeper fights against one-dimensional Costas Philippou, Tim Boetsch and the pound-for-pound top gatekeeper in the UFC, Michael Bisping. With the strangulation of Machida, Rockhold now has four UFC finishes in a row, all in less than 7 minutes and 31 seconds.
As for Machida, I have nothing but respect. He's a true old school warrior, a samurai, a fearless gladiator. But the Machida era is truly dead. The 36-year-old is always a threat but he is no longer the elite fighter who gave fans everywhere the "Suga Rashad face."
Ronaldo Souza (A+) defeated Chris Camozzi (D) via submission (armbar) at 2:33 of Round 1
If you're going to feel sorry for any fighter in the UFC it should be the former Strikeforce Middleweight champion. Souza is almost unbeaten since 2008, losing a close and debatable decision to Rockhold four years ago. As a reward, Zuffa has squared him off against some of the biggest scrubs this sport has ever seen: Bristol Marunde, Derek Brunson, Chris Camozzi (twice). The guy is fucking elite but he can't get close to a title shot.
Souza has seen a few challenges in his UFC career, but made quick work of Yushin Okami and avenged his loss to Gegard Mousasi in brutal fashion. Sadly, even though Souza has looked unstoppable against all comers he's operating in a limited time window here. At 35 years old he's only got another few years to really prove himself against top fighters. So what does he get? Chris fucking Camozzi. Sure, they had him paired up against Yoel Romero originally but let's face it. That wasn't going to end well for Romero. The better fight would have been a rematch with Rockhold.
A lot of people were giving Camozzi kudos for showing up on short notice to take on a guy who everybody knew was going to murder him... and let's face it, he was paid to be a warm body to wreck. But this wasn't a fight worth watching. The middleweight division has been paralyzed since The Fluke upset Anderson Silva in 2013, with just a single title defense against Lyoto Machida, a man ruined in short order by Rockhold last night. Before I give Chris Weidman his overrated due, let's see whether he can man up and clear out Belfort, Rockhold and Souza from contention.
Max Holloway (A+) defeated Cub Swanson (C) via submission (guillotine choke) at 3:58 of Round 3
Although Rogan was on TJ Dillashaw levels of hype for Holloway, much of it was justified. After what I considered to be a pretty mediocre performance against Cole Miller, Holloway showed up in this fight a completely changed man. And that's the toughest thing to predict of all. You never know when a fighter is going to show up and put it all together.
Holloway looked nothing like he did against Miller. He was lightning fast, accurate, crisp, elusive and dangerous. He dominated this fight everywhere it went. Swanson looked like he couldn't get started last night, ducking into kicks and spinning himself around on missed left hooks. Fans were expecting some standup fireworks but instead were treated to a clinic by Holloway, who was on another level.
You've also got to wonder about the "broken" factor of Swanson. After running up the 145 division ladder he was absofuckinglutely destroyed by Frankie Edgar, who made Swanson look like a child on the mat. You've got to think Holloway was facing a guy whose confidence was pretty shattered by the former lightweight champ.
Paige VanZant (A) defeated Felice Herrig (B-) via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 30-26)
I have to confess, I enjoyed this fight. A hell of a lot more than the "fight of the night." Not only because two tiny cute-as-a-button blonde girls were rolling around with thin pieces of fabric barely covering a fuckload of skin, but because Paige VanZant is an animal. This chick is like a pitbull on a poodle, she doesn't stop and she doesn't let go and she doesn't get tired.
When the fight started you could see that Herrig and VanZant are pretty evenly matched. But after escaping back mount you could see where Paige has a significant advantage: her headspace. PVZ does what the Diaz boys don't do anymore, she wears down her opponents with aggression, volume strikes, and an unfaltering belief in herself. She also feeds on the sagging energy of her opponent, getting better as the other wilts underneath her.
It's obvious that her biggest weakness is her striking but much like Ronda Rousey that shouldn't matter. She can always work on her striking, but her biggest asset is that she gets into the clinch and grinds the girls down. You can't really teach mental toughness, you either have it or you're Jimmy Quinlan.
Beneil Dariush (B+) defeated Jim Miller (C) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
I was pleased to see all three judges gave Miller the first round for his near-submission on Dariush. But after a spirited first round, Miller was pretty easily dominated on the mat in rounds 2 and 3 in what was basically a fucking dull jiu jitsu match. Don't get me wrong, this Dariush guy is elite on the ground. But exciting it wasn't.
I like mini-Mousasi quite a bit. He doesn't look at all concerned about anything, and goes about kicking ass with all of the emotion of Rory MacDonald chopping up bodies in his basement. Other than the bizarre Ramsey Nijem blemish on his record, Dariush has looked solid in the UFC.
As for Miller, the guy looked undersized in this fight. The guy's an old school lightweight, he was fighting Frankie Edgar at 155 on the regional circuit back in 2006. I'm pretty sure he makes the weight effortlessly for his 5'8" frame. There's no reason he can't take his ass down to 145 and see if he can make a run for the title down there.
Ovince St-Preux (B+) defeated Patrick Cummins (B-) via KO at 4:54 of Round 1
Was it a KO? I dunno, kind of looked like OSP stunned Cummins, rushed in with some spazzing hammerfists and got the stoppage. Either way, Cummins was outmatched in the fight. He got a couple of takedowns (lifting a giant like OSP in the air and slamming him is pretty fucking crazy to watch) but St-Preux bounced right back to his feet.
I do think a Round 2 might have been interesting. Rogan was right when he said OSP looked tired already and a machine like Cummins wasn't going to stop coming. I guess what's frustrating about watching wrestlers like Cummins is that a little BJJ would go a long way. As OSP was getting back to his feet after the takedowns there were opportunities to take the back or grab a body lock and drag him back down. Cummins just didn't have the skills to make that happen.
Gian Villante (C+) defeated Corey Anderson (F) via TKO at 4:18 of Round 3
A fight involving Anderson and Weidman and leg checks? Oh fuck. Did this fight really entertain anybody though? I mean, I know Rogan was going apeshit about the leg kicks but it looked to me like Anderson was working Villante on the feet. Yeah, the leg kicks were successful in the first round, but became less effective as Villante gassed out in the second and third.
I have no idea what the fuck TUF scrub Anderson was doing. You can see he has tons of talent but he never unloaded on Villante or put it on him. And why would he let him kick him 200 times in the fucking leg? That's just stupid. It seemed like he woke up in the third round and began destroying Gian on the feet. But then Villante landed a fluke punch (apropos with Weidman in his corner) and that was that.
Anderson has potential but he demonstrated some serious mental weaknesses in this fight. To lose to a scrub like Villante, who is basically a walking meatsicle who did nothing but throw a hook and a leg kick, is a serious embarrassment. The good news is he's only 25 and there's lots of room for improvement.
Aljamain Sterling (A) defeated Takeya Mizugaki (C-) via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:11 of Round 3
Sterling may have the standup skills of Cesar Gracie but it probably doesn't matter with his wrestling and grappling. The undefeated fighter faced a serious gatekeeper in Mizugaki and came away with a finish. Sterling is an extremely quick fighter, able to dash in and out and grab legs before the other guy can even react. In the third round he fell down and as Mizugaki stood over him waiting for Sterling to get to his feet he leaped in and scored a takedown that led to the finish.
Tim Means (A) defeated George Sullivan (B) via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:41 of Round 3
I've never really thought of "Dirty Bird" as anything but a complete fucking scrub. But he looked damn scrappy last night. Yeah, he was fighting a relative nobody, but other than Matt Brown, Carlos Condit, Brandon Thatch and Jordan Mein, I don't think I've seen too many guys at 170 able to work vicious elbows like that in the clinch.
I'm not going to get too excited about the performance since his four fight winning streak in the UFC is all against guys you couldn't remember without a Wikipedia search but I did like what I saw last night. It's not impossible for guys to suddenly get better either. Look at Matt Brown or Neil Magny.
Diego Brandao (B+) defeated Jimy Hettes (B) via TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00 of Round 1
Every time some piece of shit gets 11 points in the money pool due to a bullshit doctor stoppage God drops a kitten off a cliff. This was a fun scrap to watch while it lasted. Unfortunately Hettes' disgusting fucking cauliflower ears burst open and the doctor decided to keep the mutilation to a minimum.
However, Brandao demonstrated some fairly impressive ground skills in the first round, ragdolling Hettes who is no slouch on the mat himself. Which was weird, because as Rogan pointed out he's demonstrated suspect cardio in the past and is better known as a striker. It would have been interesting to see whether he could have kept that pace for the entire fight.
Chris Dempsey (C) defeated Eddie Gordon (D) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Sigh. TUF scrubbery. Juiced up TUF 19 middleweight winner Eddie Gordon wheezed and huffed his way through three rounds of "action" last night only to get robbed by judges impressed by windmill punches. Which is fine. Both these fuckers sucked some serious dong and it's meaningless who really won since neither have a future in this or any other fighting league.
Gordon landed the better of the exchanges but there's something to be said for the down syndrome determination of Chris Dempsey who pushed forward at all costs, landing reckless punches in the hopes some of this incompetence would inspire similar incompetence on the scorecards. It worked.
Anyway, that's all from me. A thoroughly uninspiring effort on my part but to quote Billy Bob Thornton, they can't all be winners, kid. Next up, possibly the worst pay-per-view the UFC has ever had the fucking balls to try to shove down the throats of fans in its entire history. Including two guys on the main card who they don't even have a FUCKING PHOTOGRAPH in their promo for.