The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: UFC 171 – Hendricks vs. Lawler Edition

77535_740857195936264_1734617880_o

Full results at the bottom of the article, but let’s break it down..

The Good:

I might be a tiny bit biased but seeing Robert Whiteford become the first Scot to earn a UFC win was a very special moment.

Mixing some excellent striking with effective judo takedowns and a measured ground game (understandable against a noted submission artist like Pineda, and coming off a submission loss) Rab showed flair and composure in equal measure to earn his (and our) first UFC victory.

The rest of the prelims totally outshone most of the featured bouts with standout performances from Sean Strickland, Justin Scoggins, Frank Trevino and Dennis Bermudez alongside fun brawls from Alex Garcia & Sean Spencer, Jessica Andrade & Racquel Pennington and Kelvin Gastelum & Rick Story.

Ovince St-Preux becoming the first fighter I’ve ever seen secure a Von Flue choke (basically countering a guillotine by linking hands behind your opponents back, stepping over their opposite arm and choking them with your shoulder) was just awesome to see. Also worth noting good reffing from Dan Miragliotta to call Kyrlov being out with a lag of only a second or so.

Lastly, the main event was a fine back and forth brawl, rightly won by Johny Hendricks (taking the first, second and fifth rounds on my card) but with Robbie Lawler taking his share of the credit.

The Bad:

The clutch of matches which seemingly held the key to who gets to challenge the new champion for the 170lb title fell a bit flat, as neither Hector Lombard or Tyron Woodley won their fights in the most entertaining or convincing fashion with Lombard being more conservative than we’re used to and almost getting choked by Jake Shields at the end, while Woodley’s win came via a freak ACL tear to Carlos Condit*.

At this point, I’d actually say Dong Hyun Kim would be the best choice for no.1 contender…

*Also, as big fans of the Natural Born Killer, it’s pretty bad to see him injured, especially with something as nasty as an ACL tear.  Here’s hoping Carlos’ recovery goes well and he’s back soon.

The Ugly:

This might come across as a little bit biased, but Joe Rogan‘s commentary was awful last night – especially when he criticised Robert Whiteford for a conservative ground game (coming off a sub loss and fighting a guy known for his submissions) and saying he was running away (when he was winning the striking battle at distance and his corner were telling him to avoid getting drawn into a brawl.)

Also laughable was Rogan’s decision to praise Daniel Pineda’s butterfly guard as Whiteford took him down (six times).

There were a fair few other incidents

This wouldn’t bother me if it was consistent, but some fighters are lauded for exactly the same tactics and it seems a clear case of Rogan picking favourites or simply not doing his research on the relative newcomer and choosing to build up the guy he was more familiar with despite the fact he was clearly losing the fight.

This leads to commentary that is a detriment rather than asset to a broadcast and it is harmful to both fighters involved (as the commentator’s praise becomes meaningless) and ultimately the promotion as a whole.

Usually, I quite like Rogan and his enthusiasm and usual insightful calling of the ground game are fantastic, but this growing tendency to pick favourites and ignore the objective truth of a match is a serious issue. Joe could take lessons from Julie Kedzie, Frank Trigg and Josh Palmer on how to do excellent colour commentary without bias.

BONUSES

The UFC gave bonuses to Hendricks & Lawler, Ovince St-Preux and Dennis Bermudez but we’d give the cash to…

FIGHT OF THE NIGHT – Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer – if you want to reward fighters (especially undercard fighters) who come to throw down, this was the one to back. The main eventers don’t need another $50k and this was the fight that had easily the most edge of seat action all night.

PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT #1 – Justin Scoggins

Scoggins was on fire last night, outclassing the veteran Will Campuzano in every area, constantly going for a finish and displaying ultimate confidence and charisma. While he didn’t get the finish that was exactly the kind of all-action performance the UFC should be rewarding.

PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT #2 – Dennis Bermudez

While I feel a bit bad about denying OSP an official bonus for his stunning submission, nowadays it’s about performances and Bermudez completely swarmed the very good Jimy Hettes en route to a TKO earned via sheer dominance rather than one Hail Mary punch.

HONOURABLE MENTION (locker room bonuses) – Ovince St-Preux, Kelvin Gastelum, Rick Story, Jessica Andrade, Racquel Pennington, Frank Trevino & Sean Strickland.

MAIN CARD
Johny Hendricks def. Robbie Lawler to win vacant welterweight title unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) – Round 5, 25:00
Tyron Woodley def. Carlos Condit via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 2:00
Myles Jury def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3
Hector Lombard def. Jake Shields via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3
Ovince St. Preux def. Nikita Krylov via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 1, 1:29
PRELIMINARY CARD
FOX Sports 2, 8 p.m. ET
Kelvin Gastelum def. Rick Story via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) – Round 3
Jessica Andrade def. Raquel Pennington via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Round 3
Dennis Bermudez def. Jimy Hettes via TKO (knee) – Round 3, 2:57
Alex Garcia def. Sean Spencer via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) – Round 3

PRELIMINARY CARD
Frank Trevino def. Renee Forte via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3
Justin Scoggins def. Will Campuzano via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3
Sean Strickland def. Robert McDaniel via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:33
Robert Whiteford def. Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3

The Good, The Bad & the Ugly: UFC London Edition

You know how this works by now…

The Good:

The action throughout was of a high quality but the undoubted high points have to be the standout performances by Alexander Gustafsson and Gunnar Nelson, with the compelling bouts between Pickett/Seery and da Silva/Scott and big wins for Ilir Latifi, Luke Barnatt and Louis Gaudinot.

The new announce team of John Gooden and Dan Hardy did a fine job, offering informative and engaging commentary while not stepping on the action or indulging in self aggrandisation – a rare and special feat in terms of MMA announcing it seems.

A lot of UK cards have felt a tad second rate in the past, headed by bouts that wouldn’t make the main card of a US show but that criticism simply cannot be aimed here. Two number one contenders were decided and some other fighters took big steps towards the top echelons of the divisions.

Even the late replacements to the card were significant with Neil Seery proving a great test for Brad Pickett and really showing his quality (Dana White was vocally impressed, for one thing) while Michael Johnson added to his win streak with plenty to spare against Melvin Guillard.

The Bad:

A strangely lacklustre co-main event where some promising trash talk resulted in a tepid match with long periods of reluctance to engage interspersed with burst of compelling action was a bit disappointing.

Indeed, I don’t recall another match that had several near knockdowns that proved so unsatisfying and unmemorable.

The new EMEA ring announcer (who’s name I’ve forgotten already) wasn’t convincing and I can totally understand the criticism of some US commentators feeling that his delivery made the show seem like a regional level event. Do we not have anyone in the UK who won’t fluff the information given on their cue cards and doesn’t make their ring announcing sound like a pro wrestling bout in a working men’s social club, circa 1982?

In truth, it wasn’t a great night for British fighters as they went 1-4 on the card, with only Luke Barnatt really adding to his stock (I’m not counting Pickett vs. Seery here as it was pretty much a derby fight) but Brad Scott can feel aggrieved at losing the decision in his fight and Manuwa and Mitchell both showed plenty of skills and entertainment value.

The Ugly – this week retitled, The Funny:

Towards the end of the Igor Araujo vs. Danny Mitchell match, the two fighters were locked in a mutual leg lock and with time winding down, they flailed at each other like (admittedly large and strong) toddlers fighting over who gets to play with the toy bricks.

Totally understandable in the circumstances, but visually hysterical nonetheless.

Disclaimer: We watched the whole show on Fight Pass / BT Sport, so didn’t have first hand experience of the Channel 5 offering of the top fights, but by all accounts their broadcast was embarrassingly bad which shouldn’t surprise anyone who witnessed their half assed attempts on BAMMA shows.

If we’d had the UFC chequebook we would have given bonuses to…

Fight of The Night:

It had to be Pickett vs. Seery for sheer competitiveness, quality and variety of action and a sense that the fight mattered. While not quite the OMG spectacle I had built the fight up to be, it still had a bit if everything and I can’t criticise Brad Pickett for doing the sensible thing and taking Seery down to ensure what was a vital win for him.

Performance of the Night #1:

Alexander Gustafsson, who waited till he had Jimi Manuwa’s measure and then ended his undefeated streak almost at will, choosing to turn up the heat midway through the second round and quickly dropping the powerful Englishman. This was exactly the result Gustafsson needed following his razor thin loss to Jon Jones and he is back as #1 contender once again.

Performance of the Night #2:

Gunnar Nelson for handling the very dangerous Omari Akhmedov with his characteristically unhurried style. Nelson has never been one to rush things or look particularly stressed by a situation, but his calm demeanour through the early striking exchanges and his supremely smooth jiujitsu towards the end made a worthy opponent look like a beginner at Mjollnir MMA that Nelson was demonstrating techniques to.

Surely a top ten opponent for Gunnar next, maybe Mike Pyle or the winner of Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva?

Notable mentions go to Ilir Latifi for a good performance and brutal neck crank submission win, Luke Barnatt for a big KO over a very underrated Mats Nilsson and Louis Gaudinot for his party pooper early sub of Phil Harris.

MAIN CARD

Alexander Gustafsson def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 1:18
Michael Johnson def. Melvin Guillard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Brad Pickett def. Neil Seery via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Gunnar Nelson def. Omari Akhmedov via submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 4:36

PRELIMINARY CARD

Ilir Latifi def. Cyrille Diabate def. submission (neck crank) – Round 1, 3:02
Luke Barnatt def. Mats Nilsson def. TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:24
Claudio Henrique da Silva def. Brad Scott def. unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Igor Araujo def. Danny Mitchell def. unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Louis Gaudinot def. Phil Harris def. submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 1:13

Cage Warriors 65: Maguire vs. Rogers Results

20140302-102353.jpg
Sadly, I couldn’t watch the card live due to prior commitments, but b all reports it looks to have been a cracking event with some big upsets taking place.

Here’s the results and I’d urge you to watch the replay on MMA Junkie on Monday night, cause that’s what I’m going to have to do.

MAIN
• Saul Rogers def. John Maguire via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Ben Alloway def. Jack Mason via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Alex Enlund def. Artem Lobov via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:24
• Damien Rooney def. Bryan Creighton via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:10
• Paul Redmond def. Damien Brown via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Philip Mulpeter def. Aldric Cassata via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:13

PRELIMINARY (Facebook)
• Lee Caers def. Merv Mulholland via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:12
• Catherine Costigan def. Irene Cabello via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
• Paddy Pimblett def. Martin Sheridan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

PRELIMINARY
• Konrad Iwanowski def. Shane Gunfield via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
• Neil Ward def. Gavin Kelly via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 2:58

TRT No More!

20140301-110346.jpg
It is with great pleasure that we report that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has banned TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) with immediate effect and that the Brazilian commission followed suit, with Dan Henderson’s application for later this month the last to be allowed.

The UFC has endorsed the decision, adding that whenever they are acting as the commission in international territories where no official body exists, such as in the UK, they will uphold the prohibition against TRT.

This is a massive win for all of MMA. Let us be clear – TRT was cheating, a loophole that allowed fighters to compete while using steroids.

It’s a sad fact that you can always find a doctor to sign off that you ‘need’ a treatment that gives you an advantage and this made TRT ripe for abuse. Throw in the fact that you tend to ‘need’ TRT if your testosterone is low, which tends to be caused by advancing age or prior use of steroids and it’s clear that a zero tolerance policy is the only credible option.

Sure, low testosterone is going to end your career as a mixed martial artists but all things end. MMA is not about bending the rules to help disadvantaged fighters compete, it’s about being the best you can be WITHIN the rules.

Should Nick Newell be allowed a steel robotic arm because he’s missing one? Should JDS be allowed to soccer kick Cain Velasquez as he doesn’t have an answer to his wrestling? Of course not.

The question as to whether a fighter with low testosterone is allowed to take steroids should be viewed in the same way and now it is, at least in some regions.

While most commissions have yet to follow suit, NSAC has always been a leader in such issues and while conspiracy theories remain regarding fighters using TRT without a doctor’s note, the fact that Vitor Belfort had been pulled from his main event title shot at UFC 173 and prior test results suppressed to avoid a suspension and allow him to get a title shot in future, this remains a wholly positive step.

MMA is about athletes putting work in in the gym, improving their skills and applying gameplans on fight night, not about getting unfair advantages because they have a sick note of dubious standing.

Header image stolen shamelessly from Tommy Toe Hold. Check him out on youtube for much MMA based hilarity.

The Good, the Bad & The Ugly – UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann Edition

rousey-knee

The Good –

The Evolution of Ronda Rousey, where once she was all about bull rushing opponents, going for an undertook, a judo toss and an arm bar, we saw a Rousey which is confident and effective in the standup game. We also saw a Ronda who rather than just using a tried & tested formula and adjusting it for opponents counters on the fly, studied an opponent’s style and formulated a strategy which might not have been expected and proved very effective.

Rousey, undefeated and quickly cleaning out her division is only getting better. Thats a bit scary.

Big performances and wins for Stephen Thompson, Rory MacDonald, Raphael Assuncao, Mike Pyle and Alexis Davis with three of that five arguably in the #1 contender slot in their division now.

Thompson vs. Pyle wouldn’t be a bad shout for a future Welterweight outing, either.

The Bad –

Demian Maia gassing in the second round against Rory MacDonald having dominated the first. With Maia reduced to increasingly desperate takedown attempts and hamfisted strikes, seemingly unable to counter MacDonald’s movement and striking this went from a compelling and competitive match to an exhibition for the Canadian.

The one-sidedness of Daniel Cormier vs. Pat Cummins was not exactly unexpected but in the end didn’t do either man or the event as a whole any favours.  It was undoubtedly better than just pulling Cormier from the card and I suppose it gave Cummins a great opportunity, but…meh.

The Ugly –

The controversy and criticism of the stoppages of Ronda Rousey’s and Mike Pyle’s fights, with Herb Dean taking flak for a late stoppage and an early stoppage.

Sure, Pyle could have been called off Waldburger a fraction of a second earlier and McMann could have been given another second to recover from Ronda’s body shot, but looking at replays, I’m inclined to think both stoppages were good.

Firstly, replays show that much of Pyle’s first blows to Waldburger were blocked or missed and once he connected with a few solidly, the match was ended. That’s good reffing.

Secondly, while the live broadcast showed a sudden stoppage that came for little reason in the headliner, it’s worth noting that Herb was actually in the line of the action (as Neil Hall recently said, an experienced referee always chooses the best angle, meaning whatever angle you’re watching the fight from is at the second from optimum at best) and other angles showed McMann getting pasted against the fence and then crumple from the knee.

Sure, it looked like she got up as soon as she hit the ground and was grabbing at Ronda’s leg, but that was after Herb has started to step in and Ronda was already turning away celebrating.

Could she have grabbed a single, survived and then anything could have happened? Yes. Is it vastly more likely that Ronda punched her in the face a half dozen times and we’d be complaining about a late stoppage? Yes.

As a fan, I could happily have seen the fight go longer – it’s always anticlimactic when a main event ends so quickly and suddenly but as a human being, I’d rather than a prone and hurt fighter didn’t take unnecessary damage and incur a significantly higher chance of concussion and future brain injury.

It seems to me that people get extra pissed when a slightly fast stoppage comes in a main event / title fight / or when it goes against who they wanted to win (I’ll maybe explore that idea another time) but fighter safety should come ahead of all such considerations.

Never mind who the UFC gave bonuses to, we think that cheques should have gone to…

Fight of the Night

Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye – close, entertaining and significant.

Performance of the Night

#1 – Alexis Davis – who deserved better than a split decision against Eye and really showed off her well rounded skills against a dangerous and faster opponent.

#2 – Stephen Thompson – We rate Robert Whittaker pretty highly and Thompson absolutely took him apart en route to the first round knockout win. That takes some doing.

MAIN

• Ronda Rousey def. Sara McMann via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:06 – to retain women’s bantamweight title
• Daniel Cormier def. Patrick Cummins via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:19
• Rory MacDonald def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Mike Pyle def. T.J. Waldburger via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 4:03
• Stephen Thompson def. Robert Whittaker via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:43

PRELIMINARY
• Alexis Davis def. Jessica Eye via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
• Raphael Assuncao def. Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Aljamain Sterling def. Cody Gibson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Zach Makovsky def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Fight Pass
• Erik Koch def. Rafaello Oliveira via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:24
• Ernest Chavez def. Yosdenis Cedeno via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

CWFC 66 Headliner Announced… but Who The Hell Is Sergei Churilov?

66_News_Main1

Following Cathal Pendred formally vacating the CWFC welterweight title to move on to the UFC, the promotion has wasted no time and indeed capitalised on the situation by planning to crown a new 170lb champion on their first foray into the Scandinavian market in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 22nd.

Competing for the belt will be home hero, Nicolas Dalby (11-0) who seems a great choice, unbeaten and ranked highly (#7 in our January European rankings, #12 in Europe and #64 in the world by FightMatrix) while also having the local angle.

His opponent was a new name to me though, as I would have expected an established CWFC talent on a streak (off the top of my head, Danny Roberts, Jack Mason, Gael Grimaud and Matt Inman spring to mind) to get the call.

That said, while I watch a LOT of MMA and read about a whole lot more, I doubtless process a mere fraction of what Ian Dean does, so with my faith in the booker man as strong as ever, I have to ask?

Who the hell is Sergei Churilov?

Churilov (15-1) hails from the Ukraine and currently sits on a five match unbeaten streak, all comprising of submission victories.

A quick Sherdog search tells me that he’s actually competed in CWFC before, on the undercard of CWFC46 in Ukraine (a card which I remember watching and it being pretty memorable but not recalling Churilov.  I’m only human, after all…) where he earned a first round submission win over Anatoly Starodubstev.

Check that match out here…

Going 7-1 since then, with only one fight going the distance (indeed only 3 fights in his sixteen fight career have) Churilov is in form and clearly a very dangerous competitor.

His relatively low ranking (#89 in Europe, #343 in the World according to FightMatrix) can possibly be attributed to the relative unknowns he’s been fighting in Ukraine and it’s worth noting that Dalby hasn’t fought outside Denmark at all., while Churilov has two outings abroad, both in Slovenia for WFC, going 1-1.

Both men are well rounded finishers who have excelled in their regional scenes but with home advantage and more experience of going the distance, Dalby should be a strong favourite here.

That said, there are two things I say a lot, because they keep being true. Don’t doubt Ian Dean’s matchmaking and never underestimate a former Soviet-bloc fighter just because you don’t know his name.

Pendred & Seery vacate Cage Warriors Titles for UFC Debuts

20131118-173431.jpg

 

It’s been a big few days of news from the Cage Warriors camp as Cathal Pendred formally vacated the Welterweight title pending his upcoming appearance on the Ultimate Fighter (which will also feature fellow CWFC alum and SBG Ireland product, Chris Fields) and today, Flyweight champion Neil Seery was announced as the late replacement for Ian McCall and is set to face Brad Pickett in London next month.

Pendred (13-2-1) leaves CWFC on a seven fight unbeaten streak, including wins over UFC vets Che Mills and David Bielkheden and a draw against the similarly UFC bound Danny Mitchell and a pre-CWFC win over current UFC fighter Nico Musoke.

He held the Welterweight belt since March 2013 where he defeated Gael Grimaud via decision and defended the belt once with his June TKO victory over Mills.

Seery (13-9) moves on carrying the best streak of his career, with four victories (all under the CWFC banner) since his 2012 submission loss to Artemij Sitenkov.

His last two victories – a liver kick TKO to Paul Marin and arm bar submission of Mikael Silander to win the Flyweight belt – have been especially impressive and when you remember that Seery has only had 4 fights in a 22 fight career go to a decision, he’s as close to guaranteed entertainment as you get.

 

Kumite would like to congratulate and thank Cathal & Neil for their efforts in the past few years which have formed a big part of Cage Warriors’ success and the rise in profile of Irish MMA.

 

We are sure both guys will be a credit to their country and great ambassadors for their gyms on the biggest stage but we have to say that Seery vs. Pickett just jumped to the top of my ‘must see’ matches for UFC London.