Not even quarantined lockdowns can stop Mania’s March MMAdness! Stay home, work safe, argue about old fights.
- Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (#10) defeats Georges St-Pierre vs. B.J. Penn 1 (#55) with 78 percent of Maniac votes
- Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg 2 (#23) defeats Forrest Griffin vs. Rampage Jackson (#42) with 68 percent of Maniac votes
- Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3 (#26) defeats Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie (#39) with 72 percent of Maniac votes
- Mark Hunt vs. Bigfoot Silva 1 (#7) defeats Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne (#58) with 72 percent of Maniac votes
Our upset drought continues as the favorites cruise into the Round of 32. Pour one out for Arlovski vs. Browne, a fantastic classic that was taken from us too soon.
Match 25: Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson 1 (#3) vs. Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata (#62)
Despite their lengthy tenures in PRIDE, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson never met in the ring. At UFC 139, they made up for lost time with a brawl for the ages.
Henderson’s legendary right hand set the early tempo, buckling Rua in the opening minutes and following up with a hellacious assault. Though Rua survived to score a knockdown of his own, it seemed as if his body could no longer keep up with his brawling spirit; “Hendo” waded through all returning fire to maul the Brazilian’s face into unrecognizability. Rua barely escaped the third round, but a huge uppercut, late takedown and ground-and-pound attack in the fourth appeared to revitalize him.
Though a slow, bloodied shadow of his former self, Rua spent the fifth round beating the daylights out of a spent Henderson. Only the startling damage Henderson had inflicted saved him from a comeback stoppage, allowing him to take perhaps the hardest-fought unanimous decision of his career.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but I think it safe to say that the majority of the match ups in this bracket had the visible potential for greatness before anyone actually traded hands. While Tony Ferguson is among the most entertaining fighters on the planet, an unknown late replacement didn’t figure to be enough of a challenge to draw out “El Cucuy’s” ludicrous best.
Said unknown late replacement then proceeded to give Ferguson everything he could handle, slipping his best shots, absorbing the rest, and flooring The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champ with a head kick to secure the first round. Unfortunately for the “Groovy” one, the resilience and gas tank that have felled so many elite Lightweights soon came to the fore. Vannata’s cardio proved insufficient to maintain his slickster stylings, allowing Ferguson to rack up damage before latching onto his signature d’arce choke to end their “Fight of the Night.”
Who wins Match 25?
This poll is closed
Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson I
Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata
Match 26: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann (#30) vs. Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson (#35)
We’ve seen our fair share of guaranteed-excitement match ups between knockout artists turn into staring contests, but not even the universe’s love of subverting expectations in the worst ways was enough to slow “All-American” and “The Axe Murderer.” They opened the first round trading knockdowns and ended the first round trading knockdowns, Stann doing the greater damage but Silva refusing to be cowed.
Partway through the second, as the pace appeared to slow, the seemingly out-classed Silva found the game-changing shot he was looking for and pummeled Stann into unconsciousness to at least temporarily cap off one of MMA’s most violent careers.
Alexander Gustafsson may have never won a title, but damn if he didn’t give us some incredible title fights. He and Cormier put on a war of attrition gritty enough to strip the paint off your walls.
Cormier’s signature high-crotch takedown sent the 6’5” Gustafsson wheeling through the air and set up a comfortable first round of top control for the champ. As he did against Jones, though, “The Mauler” flashed his own wrestling chops with a pair of second-round takedowns and used his lengthy boxing to good effect against the squat but implacable “DC.” Then a counter right in the third round swung the momentum right back Cormier’s way, only for Gustafsson to floor him with a knee for a near-finish.
Gustafsson rode that surge through a strong fourth round, but Cormier’s persistence paid off in the fifth, allowing him to rack up damage with his signature clinch attack and scrape his way to a split decision victory.
Who wins Match 26?
This poll is closed
Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Match 27: Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje (#19) vs. Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira (#46)
Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje appear on this bracket three times apiece. Just watch any given minute of those fights and you’ll understand why.
Though known for his willingness to slug it out, Alvarez put forth a surprisingly cerebral effort, punishing Gaethje’s exposed body as “The Highlight” trudged forward and chopped away at his thigh like the cumulative revenge of every skipped leg day. Alvarez’s strategy paid off as the significant strike numbers swung further and further his way, but the damage to his lead leg looked poised to undo all of that in an instant.
Racing against the clock to cripple Alvarez’s movement before the judges could turn in a trio of 29-28s, Gaethje stormed after him in the final minutes. A brutal knee stopped his Hail Mary comeback in its tracks, sending him to the floor and a badly swollen Alvarez to the top of the fence to proclaim his status as the most violent man in UFC.
Honestly, that video can speak for itself. Putting two balls-to-the-walls sluggers with the striking defense of magnets in a knife store produced exactly the kind of insanity it offered on paper. Indeed, these two combined for almost 170 significant strikes landed.
Medeiros’ habit of suffering multiple knockdowns per fight looked fit to doom him against one of the bigger punchers at 170 pounds, especially considering the damage Oliveira can do from top position, but the Hawaiian’s indomitable will ultimately carried the day. Seemingly unable to close the show despite landing by far the most strikes of his UFC career, “Cowboy” wilted in the final round, allowing Medeiros to pour on the hurt and secure what is, to date, his last Octagon win.
Who wins Match 27?
This poll is closed
Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje
Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
Match 28: Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson 1 (#14) vs. Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald (#51)
World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) certainly knew what it was doing when it decided that “Showtime” Pettis and “Smooth” Henderson would headline the final bout in promotional history. A technical, back-and-forth war culminated with one of the most iconic moments MMA had ever seen.
After two rounds of competitive kickboxing, punctuated by a Henderson takedown and Pettis knockdown, the challenger spent the third round attached to the champion’s back, hunting for a rear naked choke finish. The impeccable submission defense that carried Henderson past Donald Cerrone bailed him out once again, allowing him to bank the fourth round with his own stretch of back control.
A nip-and-tuck first three minutes of the fifth kept the fight up in the air. Pettis, with a tilt of his head that seemed to say, “hell, why not,” leaped off the fence to smack Henderson in the chops with a head kick, sending commentator Stephan Bonnar into hysterics and securing him the WEC Lightweight championship.
Way back in the ancient times of 2010, Carlos Condit was on unsteady footing after a pair of split decision losses against Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger, while Rory “The Waterboy” MacDonald was a 20-year-old wunderkind touted as the next Georges St-Pierre. Things didn’t quite play out according to the script.
MacDonald sure put in a hell of an effort to make it stick to that script, though. He kept up with the far more seasoned Condit in the stand up, kept him off-balance with regular takedowns, and put him on his butt in a teep exchange to end the second. Well behind on the scorecards, Condit roared out of the gate in the third to hurt MacDonald and unleash a carpet bombing of ground-and-pound. The mauling continued until the final seconds of the final round, when the referee intervened to give Condit a technical knockout victory at 14:53 of a 15:00 fight.
Who wins Match 28?
This poll is closed
Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson I
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald
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.