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UFC Pittsburgh: 'Cowboy vs Cowboy,' The Report Card

David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

The best part about UFC Fight Night 83 last night (Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016), also known as UFC Pittsburgh, was that it didn't try to be something it wasn't. Namely, a fight card of any importance whatsoever.

Rarely has there ever been a UFC card so stacked with fights of no consequence or impact to any of the divisions. Nearly every single fight on the card from top to bottom could literally have been slotted anywhere and made zero difference. None. Nothing.

Don't get me wrong, UFC Pittsburgh was entertaining. It had seven stoppages, including three in the first round to close out the card. And many of the fights were quite fun to watch.

But much like Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, this fight card will soon be forgotten.

Disagree? Name one single fighter last night who is within even a sniff of a whiff of being within three fights of a title shot. Yeah, I thought not. Nobody.

Anyway, we've got some fights to grade here so let's get going, shall we? Who got top marks and who failed to pass in this week's "Report Card"? Find out below:

I don't want to be too hard on Alex Oliveira. After all, he wasn't supposed to be there at all. It was Tim Means who was pulled from the fight because of a "potential USADA doping violation" which left Cerrone without a dancing partner at 170 pounds. Oliveira stepped up on 17 days notice, which isn't a ton of time to prepare for one of the top lightweights in the world, even if it is at a bigger weight class.

Highlights! Cerrone taps Oliveira with triangle

I think Oliveira did what he could to impose his will on Cerrone, attacking him early on and using the clinch to try and land punches. But Cerrone has an absolutely beautiful Muay Thai clinch and didn't have much trouble shrugging off the Brazilian and using his range to measure the distance and land at will.

Everybody knew coming in that Oliveira had a fairly solid chin. The question was whether he could survive for very long on the mat with the high level grappling of Cerrone. Yes indeed, while "other Cowboy" had earned nine knockouts in his 14 career wins, he's a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And while "Cowboy" is best known for his ferocious kickboxing, it often surprises people to learn he's only ever secured five of his 29 wins by knockout. A whopping 16 have come by way of submission.

That's where it all went south for Oliveira. After a few exchanges on the feet, Cerrone landed a beautiful level change into a takedown in side control, effortlessly slid into mount and then without hesitation wrapped a triangle choke around the neck of "other Cowboy", forcing a tap that was so quick even Sage Northcutt was like, bro, that shit was fast. Indeed, Mario Yamasaki hadn't even noticed it, so Cerrone helpfully pointed at Oliveira's hands furiously playing the bongos on his chest.

So, that's that. Cerrone can go back to drinking beer and wait for his next opponent at 155 or 170 pounds while Oliveira hopes UFC will reward him for stepping up on short notice to get crushed. As for who that opponent for Cerrone might be, the fighter told Jon Anik, "if you want to get hurt, I know a guy."

Again, I don't know if I'm supposed to be impressed here or not. I mean, I am impressed with Derek Brunson's new found power at 185 pounds, as demonstrated in his three consecutive first round knockouts. But who the fuck is Roan Carneiro? No seriously, who is he? Let me look him up.

Highlights! Brunson Blasts 'Jucao' With Strikes

Roan Carneiro, a guy who went 2-3 in UFC nearly 10 years ago, who was cut after losing to Ryo Chonan in 2008. Yes, that Ryo Chonan, the one who landed that famous flying scissor heel hook on Anderson Silva. That's how long this dude has been gone from the UFC.

So Carneiro spent the last eight years beating up scrubs in places like "Wild Bill's Fight Night" before (thanks to UFC being the "fastest growing sport in the world") being invited back in 2015. Dude returned with a win over Mark Munoz, which is the UFC equivalent to defeating Ken Shamrock in Bellator, before being put in a co-main event. Are you beginning to get a sense of what I meant by my opening statement about how utterly meaningless the names on this card are?

Being a submission guy, Carneiro had pretty much one hope in this fight. Get a 3-time Division II All-American wrestler to the ground. LOL! Good luck, pal. Unsurprisingly, he was unsuccessful, and soon found himself sleeping against the cage.

Stop me if you've heard before. One guy got injured so the other guy fought some poor schlub on a few day's notice. Usually when people get injured I'm of the same mind as Conor McGregor calling out that "pussy" Fabricio Werdum. But John Lineker didn't get a boo boo on his baby toe. He got fucking Dengue Fever. I don't know what that is, but it sounds nasty.

Highlights! Garbrandt Shows No Love For Mendes

The surging and undefeated Cody Garbrandt was supposed to fight Lineker. But in his place was some 32-year-old "kid" named Augusto Mendes, who had compiled a 5-0 record in the minor leagues. Honestly, it didn't look like a total mismatch. Mendes had five stoppages, all before the third round.

The only problem was that, once again, Mendes was getting the opportunity on short notice. So short, in fact, that he had six days to cut 26 pounds. That's a veritable "Bigg Pigg" amount of water weight to shed in less than a week so the UFC tried to be nice and made it a catchweight fight at 140 pounds. Mendes still couldn't make the weight, and despite stepping up to save this fight, will forfeit 20 percent of his purse for taking this beating.

As for the fight itself, Mendes wasn't terrible. He held his own on the feet and once nearly lured Garbrandt into his guard where he had an armbar waiting for him, then almost converted it to an omoplata. But it was a tall order to take out a man who had starched all but one of his seven previous opponents, and before long Mendes walked into a 1-2 combination that put him out.

Referee Mario Yamasaki jumped in to stop the fight, then didn't, and Garbrandt followed up with a few more knocks to the noggin. In a way, Yamasaki was playing a deadly game of peek-a-boo. Mendes got dropped, his eyes rolled back into his skull, saw a flash of black pass by as Mario botched the call, looked up and saw Garbrandt bringing down the nightcap. Boom.

I don't know if these grades are fair or not. All I know is that fight sucked. It was just painful. It's the kind of fight that makes me want to stop watching MMA until I see another Robbie Lawler fight. Aint nobody want to watch two men grunt and push and grind on each other for 15 minutes.

Tatsuya Kawajiri did what he always does, which is bury his head between his opponent's legs and seek a takedown. We know that. We know he's going to do that in every fight. And it's not like I'm particularly upset that he's going to do it, it's just that Dennis Bermudez seemed more than happy to engage him in this pointless affair for 15 minutes.

We know Bermudez is a talented wrestler, but that's not all he is. There was no reason he had to prove he could control Kawajiri for most of 15 minutes when he has many other tools in his box, including decent striking. And you'd think he would have learned his lesson from the last fight when he pulled the same kind of clinch work with Jeremy Stephens and got KTFO for his efforts.

Not that anybody needed to worry about Kawajiri employing a sudden unexpected jumping knee to the face. At 37 years of age, the Japanese legend has exhausted pretty much all his surprises and looks like he's simply showing up to grab at legs and cash paychecks.

There seems to be this nostalgia in MMA lately, a yearning to watch the legendary fighters of old put on the gloves and give it one last go. Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock put on their freakshow Friday night in a display of amateurish striking capped off by a man with a five second brain delay for groin strikes getting finished with limp hammerfists. What this accomplished, nobody truly knows.

Knees! Camozzi Knees Riggs Into Oblivion

The same could be said for Joe Riggs, a 33-year-old UFC veteran with the body of a 70-year-old. Riggs is an old school fighter dating back to 2001 who has competed against people like Travis Fulton and referee Herb Dean. That's how long ago this fucking guy has been slinging bricks. Riggs' career looked to be done several times over in the past, but he always somehow clawed his way back in the minor leagues.

This second go-round in the UFC has not been good for Riggs, who was stopped in one of the most brutal and one-sided fights I've ever seen. In the span of 26 seconds he was stunned by Chris Camozzi, tried to block about five or six knees to the face, broke his arm, and then crumpled to a heap on the mat like he'd been shot with a .50 cal. I've seen Liveleak drone strikes that were more evenly matched than this fight.

You know when you're making Camozzi look good it's really time to retire. At one time a loser of five straight UFC fights, Camozzi is only in the pro leagues because he's willing to be Jacare Souza's training mannequin at the drop of a hat. And since being fed punch drunk dinosaurs like Tom Watson and Joe Riggs, this minor leagues prelims fighter is now on a two fight winning streak. What do you think about that?

No offense to the ladies who won "performance of the night" but this was the true fight of the night. James Krause and Shane Campbell went balls to the wall for three rounds in one of the most entertaining scraps you'll see anywhere on a fight card, top to bottom. The Lauren Murphy vs. Kelly Faszholz scrap was decent, but let's be honest here. That was Faszholz's debut and other than a good first round, she got the proverbial shit kicked out of her to the point where in the final round the cameramen were furiously wiping blood off the lenses.

But this fight. Guys, this fight was the one to see. James Krause and Shane Campbell threw heavy leather on the feet, engaged in wild scrambles on the ground, and were both nearly finished several times. Campbell was saved by the bell in the first round and also lost the second before coming on ferociously in the third to put a beating on a fading Krause late in the third. This was back-and-forth fighting at its best, with no clear advantage for either fighter at the end. You honestly get the sense those two could fight every night and each time they'd come out almost evensies.

Having said that, the level of fucks given about this fight are pretty much zero. Neither of these guys mean anything in the ridiculously stacked lightweight division so there's not much to care about going forward. I was impressed with Campbell's resiliency and really hope the UFC doesn't make any rash decisions about sending him off to Bellator. The reason I gave him a better grade than the guy who won the fight is that I fully expected Krause to dominate.

Quick Hits From The Undercard

  • Sean Strickland (A-) looked good in finishing the tough Alex Garcia (B) despite getting taken down several times during the fight. Strickland needs to learn to tuck that chin though.
  • Oluwale Bamgbose (A+) wasted little time shattering that glass chin of Daniel Sarafian (F), who surely has to be the most disappointing TUF Brazil prospect ever.
  • Anthony Smith (B) threw everything but the kitchen sink at the diamond-skulled head of Leonardo Guimaraes (C), before fading late and looking a lot like Dada 5000 towards the bell. Smith needs some more cardio and notice for his next fight, while the Brazilian needs to donate his head to science because that shit is crazy.
  • Nathan Coy (A) proved that old man strength is a real thing, outworking the younger Jonavin Webb (B-), whose cardio failed him at critical times in the fight, leading him to surrender the top position. I wasn't particularly happy to watch Coy lay and pray his way to a win, but there's no denying he overcame major underdog odds.
  • Nothing to really say here except it's clear to me the judges are literally fucking morons. No, seriously, I mean dumb as a bag of hammers. Ashlee Evans-Smith (B-) lost to Marion Reneau (B) fairly clearly on my scorecards: 8-10, 9-10, 10-9 (27-29 Reneau). At worst, Reneau had a draw.
  • Lauren Murphy (B+) really put it on Kelly Faszholz (C) late to secure the bloody win in a fairly entertaining bloodbath. Much enjoyed. Just bleed, ladies.
  • Shamil Abdurakhimov (C) is yet another Russian heavyweight with no knockout power (yay). His opponent Anthony Hamilton (F) looked awful.

That's a wrap. Just in case you didn't know from the 4,000 advertisements about it during this event, we're back in six days for Michael Bisping versus the Viagra-free version (we hope) of Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 84 in London, England. See you chaps then!

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