Saturdays without Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have become a rare breed lately, but March MMAdness is here to sooth your withdrawal with another four classic tussles.
- Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 1 (#4) defeats Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler 2 (#61) with 66 percent of Maniac votes
- Shogun Rua vs. Antonio Roguerio Nogueira 1 (#36) defeats Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler 1 (#29) with 54 percent of Maniac votes
- Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi (#20) defeats Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva (#45) with 68 percent of Maniac votes
- Yair Rodriguez vs. Chan Sung Jung (#52) defeats Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi (#13) with 52 percent of Maniac votes
One minor upset as Shogun-Nog upends Hendricks-Lawler and one major one as Rodriguez-Jung takes out a Top 16-seed in Swanson-Choi. It seems that’s what an all-time great finish gets you.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) recovered from your Friday night antics, let’s get back to voting.
Match 13: Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez (#12) vs. Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis (#53)
Melendez’s controversial split decision loss to Benson Henderson in his UFC debut undoubtedly left a bitter taste in his mouth, but luckily for him, the UFC gave him the perfect opponent to remind people why his signing was such a big deal: the inimitable Diego Sanchez.
There’s really not much technical analysis to be done here; both men swiftly disregarded their wrestling pedigrees and went to work trying to knock each other’s heads off. “El Niño” had seemingly built an insurmountable lead as they bludgeoned their way through the third round, handily picking Sanchez apart as “The Nightmare” flailed away from well out of range, but a crushing uppercut sent the former Strikeforce king to the mat and brought Sanchez right back into the fight. To his credit, Melendez kept his composure, regained control, and battled his way to the judges, who gave him a well-deserved unanimous decision.
The prognosis heading into this fight was not great for Pettis; even with the momentum, he’d gained by choking out Michael Chiesa, an indestructible and unflagging pressure fighter looked like his worst nightmare. Ferguson did nothing to disabuse that notion in the first round, constantly pursuing and chewing Pettis up with his signature high-volume striking offense.
Things turned from “mauling” to “high drama” almost as soon as they met in the center to start the second. Ferguson’s reckless approach allowed Pettis to discombobulate him with a right hand and pour on the hurt as “El Cucuy” rolled for his life. “Showtime,” his face pouring blood, produced an iconic moment as he sat in Ferguson’s guard, but couldn’t ride the momentum shift into victory. Ferguson recovered, continued to slice him up, and left Pettis’ mug too damaged for a third round.
Who wins Match 13?
This poll is closed
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis
Match 14: Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum (#21) vs. Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki 2 (#44)
I have a request: even if you looked at this matchup and instantly decided to vote for Adesanya-Gastelum, take some time to watch/rewatch this fight. It was Sherdog’s 2010 “Fight of the Year,” a one-of-a-kind war between two extremely versatile and extremely gutsy Middleweights.
Santiago had won their first meeting by comeback submission and once again found himself needing some heroics after barely surviving a second-round guillotine. He found them in the third, crumpling Misaki with a head kick and straight right, only for “The Grabaka Hitman” to floor him with a left hook in return. Misaki was ahead on all three scorecards going into the final round, but despite being infamous for his fragility, Santiago put forth a phenomenal effort to force in the towel with less than 30 seconds to go.
Who wins Match 14?
This poll is closed
Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki 2
Match 15: Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley (#28) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture (#37)
Arguably the greatest MMA article of all time is Seanbaby’s Worst Life Ever: the Story of Kazuyuki Fujita’s Skull, which detailed Japan’s long and fruitless attempt at breaking the unbreakable. This figured to be a similar sort of stress test for Diaz; he’d eaten Gomi’s “Hadouken,” sure, but “The Fireball Kid” is a natural Lightweight. What would happen, we asked ourselves, when we threw the heaviest-handed Welterweight we could find at him?
Luckily for Strikeforce, Paul Daley was available, having gotten himself booted from the Octagon 11 months prior for punching Josh Koscheck after the bell. Scott Coker and co. had a proper science experiment on their hands: a chin impervious to conventional arms against a man with “Semtex” in his fists. The result? Mayhem.
These two compressed five rounds’ worth of action into five minutes. Daley landed that nuclear left hook of his twice, including one that nearly sent Diaz face-first to the canvas, but Diaz once again walked through it all to pulverize Daley’s body and force a stoppage late in the first. Fun fact: save for a thumb injury in a 2006 bout with Jean Silva, this is the only time in 51 fights that Daley’s been stopped by strikes.
Despite Vitor Belfort’s pleas, we’re (hopefully) unlikely to see a Legends Division in the UFC. If you’ve got two worn veterans who can still compete with the best, though, there’s nothing stopping you from sticking ‘em in a cage together and seeing what happens. With that mindset, the world’s largest fight promotion pitted its elder statesman against the former king of PRIDE in the headlining bout of UFC 102.
In the end, “Big Nog” proved too much for “The Natural,” but he absolutely had to earn it. Despite dropping Couture twice, sweeping constantly, and threatening with submission after submission, Nogueira just couldn’t find a way to get rid of the former two-division champion, who gave everything he had from bell to bell.
That’s one way to show the whippersnappers what for.
Who wins Match 15?
This poll is closed
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture
Match 16: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 2 (#5) vs. Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan (#60)
UFC 125 certainly worked hard to make itself unforgettable in the buildup, from its clever (and infectiously catchy) promo to Dong Hyun Kim’s professed desire to “bitch-slap” Nate Diaz, but a rematch of a boring, noncompetitive fight is not an intriguing main event. Well, you know what they say about assumptions, because Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard put on a classic.
Where their first meeting saw the larger, stronger Maynard grind Edgar into the dirt, this one opened with “The Bully” putting a schoolyard beating on the Lightweight division’s Cinderella, sending him fumbling around the ring as Maynard desperately looked for the finish. Edgar not only improbably survived, but asserted his strength by retaking control of the striking and slamming Maynard on his head. The 10-8 first round and strong third-round effort from Maynard proved too much for “The Answer” to answer, resulting in a draw that set up a far more anticipated trilogy match.
In one corner, a brash judoka with a penchant for highlight-reel throws. In the other. a well-credentialed wrestler with a bottomless gas tank. Chris Leben vs. Jorge Santiago in the co-feature already slaked the striking purists’ thirst; now, the grapplers got to enjoy.
Sanchez wrestled his way into early back control, but the remainder of the first round saw Parisyan’s technical edge shine as he sent Sanchez flying. Parisyan kept the reins early in the second, only for Sanchez’s suffocating pressure and superior ground-and-pound to start paying dividends. As was his wont, Sanchez took over late to secure himself a competitive decision in a delightful scrap.
Who wins Match 16?
This poll is closed
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 2
Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan
Also, to reiterate, spread the word, share socially ... do whatever grassroots / viral “Get Out The Vote” campaign needed to ensure your favorite fights advance to the next round. Complaining in the comments section about seeding and whatnot will not impact the results and will just make you look like an unappreciative dick.
Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our March MMAdness archive — which includes the entire bracket — to catch up on the tournament right here.