Now that you’ve made it halfway through the week, what better way to reward yourself than to close out Mania’s March MMAdness’ Round of 64 with us?
- Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson 1 (#3) defeats Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata (#62) with 89 percent of Maniac votes
- Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann (#30) defeats Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson (#35) with 63 percent of Maniac votes
- Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje (#19) defeats Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira (#46) with 80 percent of Maniac votes
- Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson 1 (#14) defeats Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald (#51) with 54 percent of Maniac votes
The favorites continue to dominate the right side of the bracket despite a surprisingly strong effort from Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald. The underdogs have just four fights left to prevent a clean sweep.
Match 29: Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez (#11) vs. Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit (#54)
You know it, you love it ... it’s the Hall of Fame tussle between two guys who treated defensive fundamentals as a sign of cowardice.
Sanchez came out looking for the early finish, slugging it out with “The Carpenter” until the latter leaned on his trusty wrestling. Unable to get anything going from top position, though, Guida soon found himself ordered back to the feet, only to be sent right back down by Sanchez’s left shin. His takedown prowess couldn’t quite bail him out, as Sanchez took top position and worked to put a stamp on a dominant first round.
Undeterred, Guida once again took it to the mat in the second. That proved only a mild reprieve because, again, unable to do damage from the top, he found himself cut open by Sanchez’s elbows off of his back. The pace slowed further in the third, which saw Sanchez enjoy a stretch of back control and attempt a bevy of submissions when the infamously scramble-happy Guida worked his way back on top. Sanchez would walk away with the split decision, though both cemented their places in mixed martial arts (MMA) lore.
Carlos Condit’s takedown defense had cost him dearly in his title bid against Georges St-Pierre, and though Hendricks’ knockouts dominated his highlight reel, “Big Rigg” was more than happy to cruise to victory from top position if given the opportunity. Things looked grim for the “Natural Born Killer,” but damned if he’d make it easy for Hendricks.
Condit simply refused to stay on his back, forcing Hendricks to take him down 12 times over the span of 15 minutes. Hendricks managed to hold his own on the feet early, rattling Condit and putting together combinations, but Condit refused to give him a moment’s rest as he fired kicks and knees. “Big Rigg’s” offense slowed to a crawl in the third, while Condit continued to pursue the finish with strikes both on the feet and off of his back. Though Condit couldn’t quite repeat his extraordinary comeback against Rory MacDonald, it’s safe to say the unanimous decision loss didn’t lower his stock any.
Who wins Match 29?
This poll is closed
Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez
Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit
Match 30: Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson (#22) vs. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry (#43)
This fight was the subject of my annual Thanksgiving post for 2017 (read it); therefore, there is no sense in letting that write up go to waste.
The fight started fairly methodically, with Gaethje marching forward and chipping away at Johnson’s heavy lead leg while the pair winged big punches at each other, but the moment Johnson buckled Gaethje with a savage right uppercut got the entire room into it. From that point on, everyone from my engineering grad friend to the middle-aged mother of two were hypnotized by the sheer violence involved.
When Johnson caught him with about as perfect a left hand as you can throw, my father — who enjoys combat sports but maintains only a passing interest — asked me, “How is the white guy not dead?”
Frankly, I’m still not entirely sure.
Everyone erupted when Gaethje rumbled back to beat Johnson into submission against the fence. It’s been a year with more downs than ups, but I have to be thankful for a fight that managed to enthrall people of all backgrounds through raw brutality.
Whether this is the best fight of all time is (literally) up for debate, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a wilder 30 seconds in MMA history. Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry put together a sequence that would stand out as unrealistic in a direct-to-DVD action flick.
Halfway through a tense first round, the far shorter Barry stepped in with a hook behind the ear that collapsed Kongo’s right leg and seemed to put him out for a second. Kongo got his wits back and tried to roll away, only to visibly slump twice more from Barry’s follow-shots. He somehow still had enough wherewithal to go for a takedown and stand, where he was met by another right hook for his fourth taste of unconsciousness in the span of 15 seconds.
Again Kongo went in for a takedown, then stumbled back to the fence upon regaining his footing. Barry casually marched after him, understandably overconfident, and was met by a pair of right hands that put him out cold for a truly one-of-a-kind comeback.
Who wins Match 30?
This poll is closed
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry
Match 31: Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung 1 (#27) vs. Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza (#38)
With Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber in the main event and the rematch between Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone serving as chief support, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) took the unprecedented step of putting its 48th event on pay-per-view (PPV), complete with a pair of televised “Prelims“ on Spike TV. Anthony Pettis opened the free broadcast with an entertaining submission of Alex Karalexis, setting the stage for newcomer Chan Sung Jung and late replacement Leonard Garcia to, in turn, set the stage for the PPV main card.
“The Korean Zombie” and “Bad Boy” put on a masterclass of marketing, putting on an unforgettable brawl. Both technique and defense were turned away at the door as they bounced haymakers off of each other’s heads, both seemingly having the times of their lives. Jung seemed to get the better of it throughout, but was left with the bitter taste of robbery when Garcia worked his customary magic on the judges.
Still, it says something about how amazing this fight was that even an all-time-bad decision wasn’t enough to taint its memory.
Edson Barboza is capable of dishing out life-changing beatings. Tony Ferguson is capable of walking though life-changing beatings and coming back even harder. It’s not exactly a spoiler to say that their fight was something special.
Though Barboza has historically struggled with pressure, he can counter with the best of them, and he spent much of the first round taking full advantage of the easy target Ferguson presented. Ferguson’s own bursts of effective offense weren’t enough to offset the damage, and the point he lost for an illegal upkick left him in a deep hole going into the second.
Barboza could only blunt that momentum for so long, though. Ferguson continued to press forward and land, prompting the Brazilian striking ace to take it to the mat, and a second attempt at a takedown left him in the clutches of Ferguson’s killer d’arce.
Who wins Match 31?
This poll is closed
Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung I
Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza
Match 32: Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 1 (#6) vs. Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks (#59)
For the first four rounds, this wasn’t a fight; save for a nice elbow from the champion, this was a one-sided whooping. Chael Sonnen did exactly what he said he was going to do, putting Anderson Silva on his rear and punching away from guard with absolute impunity.
Then reality came crashing back in as Sonnen’s infamously leaky submission defense proved his undoing. Silva, just minutes away from losing the title he’d held for nearly four years, locked up a fight-ending triangle, erasing all of Sonnen’s work and reminding fans why he’s considered a G.O.A.T.
Impressive as Georges St-Pierre’s title run was, the period after his mauling of B.J. Penn was rather short on excitement. “Big Rigg” managed to drag a solid scrap out of him, though, giving the legendary champion fits in both the striking and wrestling.
Outside of an early blitz from Hendricks, this fight didn’t offer too many “wow” moments, but it was chock-full of tension as St-Pierre struggled to impose his will on an extremely game challenger. The man formerly known as “Rush” managed to escape with his title in controversial fashion in what would prove his final defense, though Hendricks got the consolation prize of fighting Robbie Lawler for the vacant title afterward.
Who wins Match 32?
This poll is closed
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen I
Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
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.