Another Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) "Fight Night" is in the books. And once again an unpleasant moment of human incompetence has overshadowed what might have otherwise been a fairly enjoyable event.
I refer, of course, to the UFC Fight Night 73 co-main last night (Sat., August 8, 2015) inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., in which two judges who have not known what they're doing for too many years to count once again displayed they have no idea what they're doing.
It might be one thing if this were the first egregious offense by judge Doug Crosby, who first began deciding the fate of fighter livelihoods in Nov. 2000, but I mean this is the fucking moron who thought Cathal Pendred beat Sean Spencer in all three rounds.
In other controversial news from last night, veteran referee Mario Yamasaki once again pulled a bonehead move by pulling Derek Brunson off of Sam Alvey one second after the latter fighter dropped to the ground, giving the brick-chinned veteran no time whatsoever to recover.
You'll notice that human error is consistently and constantly ruining mixed martial arts (MMA). And what's worse, these same incompetent people are allowed to continue cashing paychecks for years and decades in this sport. Where are the new referees and judges to replace the Crosbys and the Yamasakis?
We need new blood, if only to keep from the appearance of corruption in this sport. Because that's what people are going to start saying, the more dubious decisions like this happen.
Anyway, we've got six fights to score on the FOX Sports 1-televised main card from last night so let's get to it, shall we? Who got top marks and who failed to make the grade this week? Find out in the UFC Fight Night 73 "Report Card" below:
Moments after gassing out and going to sleep in the third round of his main event fight against Glover Teixeira, home state hero Ovince Saint Preux declared happiness with his performance, suggesting he put up a good fight and refused to tap out.
Well, whatever credit he gets for not tapping out is surely overshadowed by showing up with Anthony Johnson levels of cardio?
"OSP" hits hard. That much became clear when he finished Mauricio Rua in one minute and battered Patrick Cummins in just under five minutes in his last two fights. But, it would seem that the issues that have plagued him against tougher opponents like Ryan Bader and Gegard Mousasi have not been addressed. Namely, that if a fight involves a lot of wrestling and grappling and goes longer than five minutes, he begins sucking wind like a mountaineer on K2.
Indeed, after just the first round Saint Preux was huffing and puffing and his threat to blow any houses down were nullified by Teixeira's smothering top game. Granted, Teixeira is a lot of pudgy Brazilian to deal with, but you can't come into a 25 minute fight with a fifth the required cardio. I mean, that's like going into the desert for a six-hour hike with nothing more than a box of crackers.
I don't want to take away from Teixeira's performance. Despite getting outclassed by Jon Jones and outwrestled by Phil Davis, he proved he's still a fighter at the top of the 205-pound division who has heavy hands and a heavier top game. And for a guy who looks like he buys a dozen Dunkin Donuts every day on the way to the gym, he appears to have no cardio issues whatsoever.
Which just goes to prove the old expression: You can't judge a book by its muffin top.
I've mainly covered the robbery portion of this fight so I'm just going to stick to the meat and potatoes here. Yes, I do think Johnson won this fight, taking the first two rounds with crisp striking and evasive movements. Having said that, I didn't think it was a clean sweep like many others on Twitter seemed to believe it was.
Johnson spent most of the first rounds with aggressive striking and fending off takedowns. His overhand left and jab was money all day and Dariush found himself struggling to compete with the speed and movement of the Blackzilian fighter. The first round was clearly Johnson's, as agreed upon by all three judges, especially when he dropped Dariush briefly with a combination.
The second round was much closer, but still pretty evidently one-sided, as Johnson nearly doubled up Dariush in strikes. I didn't think anybody would need Fight Metric to know that "The Menace" clearly outworked his opponent on the feet. Headed into the third round it looked like Dariush would need a finish and based on what we'd seen from the first two it seemed highly unlikely, especially considering his 0 for 4 in takedowns weren't even close to landing.
The third round greatly surprised me as not only did Dariush seem to relax and begin to find his range, Johnson clearly took his foot off the gas pedal and cruised to a decision knowing he was up two rounds to zero. Ultimately the incompetent or corrupt (take your pick) judges didn't agree, and handed Dariush the decision. But that ultimately might be the best thing that has ever happened to Johnson.
Why? Allow me to explain.
Do I think terrible judging should be an acceptable part of this sport? No. Do I think fighters should be allowed to rely upon competent scorekeeping to win fights? Sure. Do I think Michael Johnson took his foot off the gas pedal because he felt it was safer to win a decision than risk actually, you know, fighting? Yes. This was Johnny Hendricks going "70 percent" against Georges St-Pierre all over again.
A fighter clearly in control deciding not to push his advantage.
UFC is full of point fighters who have no problem going to the judges each and every time because they're under the mistaken impression that's all you have to do. But, the truth is you also have to entertain people, and riding out the third round isn't entertaining and it certainly doesn't guarantee you a win. Perhaps this will inspire fighters like Johnson to heed Dana White's advice once and for all and ...
OMFG!!!!!!!!! That is HORRIBLE!!! That why u can't leave it to these judges!!!!!!!
— Dana White (@danawhite) August 9, 2015
Although I think Mario Yamasaki pulled a Luigi stopping the fight early, it didn't seem like the end result was in any doubt whatsoever. Derek Brunson was a complete animal in this fight. The kind of fighter who would rather not give 70 percent and leave it in the hands of the judges. The kind of fighter who keeps punching until the ref rips you off. The kind of fighter you can't wait to see again.
I'm not sure where I got it into my head that Brunson is only a wrestler. From the outset he made it clear he was going to trade with the heavy-handed Alvey, who had finished three consecutive fighters via first round knockout heading into the fight. It didn't seem like a wise decision until Brunson landed on Alvey's chin. And landed. And landed. Alvey stumbled backwards, trying to survive, but ended up looking slightly like a contestant on Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.
Rather than change levels, pull guard, or shoot for a takedown, he got lamp-posted.
Alvey has relied on his considerable chin in the past to make up for what is clearly a lazy stand up defense, but it backfired in this fight. Brunson used the clinch a sizable speed advantage to land shots to the dome of Alvey, before unloading his full arsenal. To his credit, as "Smilin'" was running for his life, Brunson didn't ease off the pedal, chasing him down and battering him to the ground.
Also, a note to UFC fighters: If you don't want to get the fight stopped, maybe don't put your forehead on the mat like you face-planted and block punches with your skull.
Yes, the above image qualifies as a "highlight." Ugh.
The only thing that could have made this fight worse would be if it were hosted at Mexico City. This was 15 minutes of wall and stall, sloppy takedowns and heavy breathing punctuated by 30 seconds of excitement when Timothy Johnson nearly knocked Jared Rosholt out by going for broke.
In the preceding 14:30 minutes, however, Johnson seemed to have little gameplan other than doing exactly what Rosholt wanted, which was clinching with him at every opportunity. Rosholt happily pushed Johnson up against the cage, tiring out the bigger fighter and then dragging him to the canvas as the fight wore on.
There was an interesting moment in the second round when Rosholt accidentally gave up his back and Johnson attempted to hop on back. It was like watching a rhino mounting a hippo. Johnson slid right off like greased lightning and Rosholt gained top control. It would have been funny if it weren't so fucking sad.
Late in the fight Johnson seemed to finally solve the complex math problem that was not clinching with Rosholt and decided to swing wild punches at the wrestler, many of which connected and had him in serious trouble. But Rosholt's saving grace was the ability to fall down and Johnson followed him right to the mat, where his 280-pound frame served as a mild inconvenience during the dying seconds of the fight.
That's what getting hit by a 280lb guy will do to you. Have a lot to work on. Not my best performance but better pic.twitter.com/bNcdeuaVBI
— Jared Rosholt (@JaredRosholt) August 9, 2015
I'm not going to pretend I'm some kind of fighter or anything because I'm not tough enough for that and I'm certain I have a glass chin. I did take a few classes here and there over the years, but I gave it up because I kept hurting my ribs in the grappling. Having said that, my biggest problem when I was training was the same as what I saw from Sara McMann. I'd commit entirely to a punch or a kick without any afterthought to defense from the counter.
My excuse is that I was a rookie. What's McMann's?
McMann may be an Olympic wrestler, but she's still very much an amateur striker. Numerous people gave me shit last week for lauding Ronda Rousey's striking when Bethe Correia's was so terrible, so here's my honest assessment of McMann's: She is really slow to react when she misses, and that leaves her open to devastating counters such as the one that led to the first round finish.
Anyone who has access to the replay (watch it here), simply forward to the part where McMann throws a lazy right leg kick. She is so focused on seeing that kick through to the end that her hands are down and her chin is straight up in the air like a Christmas stocking hung with care. Nunes had little difficulty plucking it from the air. Once McMann was rocked the rest was elementary as Nunes has a great reputation for finishing fighters who are hurt.
With the victory, Nunes moves a step closer to a fight at the top of the division, although when pressed by Jon Anik to call for a title shot against Ronda Rousey she declined to take the bait. Nevertheless, it did spawn quite a few tweets on the #UFCNashville hashtag calling for Rousey vs. Nunes as opposed to yet another foregone conclusion in the Miesha Tate fight.
Personally, I don't think either present an interesting opportunity for Rousey. I only wish these rumors were true.
When I heard Ray Borg was something like a -500 favorite for this fight I felt like it was a bit of an insult to Geane Herrera, an undefeated (8-0) submission fighter with six finishes to his name. And when Borg came in 0.75 pounds over the weight limit it didn't take much convincing from a certain dumbass to make me think the underdog was going to pull off the upset. (To be fair, Jesse actually picked Borg).
Borg was in top form last night, dominating the newcomer from glove tap to the final horn, spending nearly 15 minutes in top control while allowing his opponent just seven strikes. Unfortunately for Borg, one of those strikes actually cut him open badly enough that the fight was stopped briefly to check on the severity. However the fight continued and Borg was able to fend off any and all submission attempts from the bottom en route to victory on all scorecards.
As for Herrera, although I was impressed with his guard he was entirely too comfortable on his back. It should have been obvious much earlier that he needed to do something drastic to escape the smothering game of Borg, whether that meant baiting back control to roll for a leg, or something, anything to avoid 15 minutes of being dominated. It's better to lose in the first round to a forgettable submission than be remembered for the guy who was completely helpless on his back.
Quick Hits From The Undercard
- Uriah Hall (A) rebounds from a terrible loss to Rafael Natal by knocking out UFC newcomer Oluwale Bamgbose (F), who although he showed promise on the feet looks too green on his back to be a UFC fighter just yet. He may also need to drop to 170 pounds because Hall looked twice his size.
- Chris Camozzi (D) won a very ugly decision against Tom Watson (F), who might just be the worst fighter to come out of Great Britain in the history of that nation. And for fuck sakes, how many times do you have to hit a guy in the balls to even a fight you're losing?
- Dustin Ortiz (A) proved the reason he's such a highly touted fighter by getting medieval on Willie Gates (C) with a smothering top game and brutal ground and pound. It should be noted that Ortiz was originally slated to face Ian McCall, however the glass body of that fighter shattered once again prior to the fight.
- Honestly, I really didn't think the fight was as close as people were saying about Frankie Saenz (B) and Sirwan Kakai (B-). Yes, Kakai performed better than expected but Saenz outstruck him in every round and clearly won the third with conviction.
- Jonathon Wilson (A) put Chris Dempsey (F) out so quickly that I don't even remember much about the fight. I do remember laughing at the little boop boop hammerfists he dropped after the knock down, reminiscent of Mike Russow and Todd Duffee.
- Roman Salazar's (C-) sloppy wrestling gave way to a Chael P Sonnen moment against the talented submission fighter Marlon Vera (A-) who caught him in a triangle choke while lingering in his guard too long. Lay and prayers beware!
- Scott Holtzman (A) absolutely battered tubby Greek boy Anthony Christodoulou (F) before finally submitting him. The only thing going for Tony is a good chin, but with all that flesh hanging off his frame at 155 pounds I find it hard to imagine he can't find his way down to 145. Still, do it in the minor leagues because this kid is not ready for the bigs.