UFC 189 Co-Main Event & Undercard Preview

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Given the relentless hype for the main event, it’s been easy to forget that there is actually an undercard to UFC 189 on Saturday but that undercard would probably be amongst the best PPV cards of the year even if both Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes suddenly got injured.

The co-main event itself is a fight worthy of headlining any MMA card as Robbie Lawler (25-10, 1NC) looks to make the first defence of his UFC Welterweight title against Rory MacDonald (18-2).

Robbie Lawler’s career would make an excellent movie trilogy, all the way from the youthful prodigy through his journeyman years in the wilderness to his triumphant UFC return and title victory.

6-1 since returning to the UFC and dropping back down to Welterweight, Lawler seems to have reached a point in his career where natural talents, coaching, experience and a maturity have moulded him into a complete martial artist where his always dangerous striking is fully in accord with his grappling game, cardio and mentality.

By contrast, Rory MacDonald has seemed like the heir apparent to the welterweight throne for years. A protégé of former champion Georges St-Pierre, it seemed that MacDonald was always the new big thing at 170lbs even as losses to elite fighters Carlos Condit (losing to a late KO after dominating the fight for three rounds) and Lawler (via split decision) checked his progress towards the seemingly inevitable title shot.

Nonetheless, MacDonald rebounded from both losses by becoming a more dangerous, more complete martial artists and in the five years since first tasting defeat in that fight against Condit.

Now, one of the sports most beloved and skilled veterans faces off with one of the preeminent examples of a modern, well rounded, cerebral and above all, professional MMA fighter with the belt on the line. What more could you ask for?

Well, a promoter would ask for one of them to be a bit mouthier and turn a credible sporting contest into a bit more of a media sensation, but a certain Irishman seems to have pegged the market in that field. In any case, for true fans of mixed martial arts as a sport, this is as credible a title matchwith as compelling a sporting narrative as any you are likely to find.

The main card is filled out with a few excellent fights, all of which could be expected to headline a Fight Pass card in their own right. Firstly, a featherweight contest between two guys who are no stranger to ‘of the night’ bonuses and had been on the outer edge of title contention before some recent losses in the shape of Dennis Bermudez (14-4) and Jeremy Stephens (23-11). A win for either man really places them back in the mix.

Next we have two rising welterweight prospects who met defeat in their last bout against experienced opposition as the exciting Brandon Thatch (11-2) meets smooth Icelander, Gunnar Nelson (13-1-1) looking to recover from losses to Benson Henderson and Rick Story respectively. Both are highly regarded by UFC brass, the media and the fans so the winner here could find themselves a win or two from a title shot.

Opening the main card, Brad Pickett (24-10) returns to 135lbs following a disappointing 1-3 run at Flyweight and is rewarded with the dubious honour of facing undefeated prospect Thomas Almeida (18-0). Pickett would be the biggest scalp of Almedia’s career to date, while a win over the impressive youngster would immediately rehabilitate Pickett to his former spot in the top ten of the bantamweight rankings.

The preliminary card also has it’s share of great fights as ‘Immortal’ Matt Brown (19-13) faces the surging Tim Means (24-6-1) and with a hefty 28 knockout wins between them I don’t think anyone is expecting a dull fight…

We’ve also got former Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred (17-2-1) looking to impress after a lukewarm start to his UFC career when he faces the ever-game veteran John Howard (22-11) and Neil Seery (15-10)continues his UFC fairytale against Louis Smolka (8-1) knowing that a win would likely place him in title contention given the shallow waters in the flyweight division.

For once this is a card which actually seems worth staying up late for so let’s hope it lives up to the hype.

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

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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

UFC 171 – Undercard Highlights Preview

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Rather than go through the whole card in petty detail, I’m just going to talk about the fights that stand out from the supporting card.

Yes, the image above might be a hint as to which fighter we’re most rooting for but forgive us if there is still a real novelty in having a Scot fighting in the UFC.

Firstly, the ever entertaining and FOTN award hogging Diego Sanchez (24-6) looks to rebound from his (lucrative) loss to Gilbert Melendez when he faces the undefeated Myles Jury (13-0) in what should be a fun contest between two talented fighters who are both looking to break into the top ten of the division.

Jury is well rounded and has shown an ability to grind out wins, or land submissions or KOs when the opportunity presents itself, while Sanchez is all about the heedless assault, overwhelming opponents with sheer volume of strikes, his capacity to take damage and limitless cardio.

Whether the old lion takes a step back towards the top or the young pretender adds another scalp to his belt, only time will tell.

Next we have the miniature female version of Wanderlei Silva, Jessica Andrade (10-3) looking to capitalise on her beating of Rosi Sextion (I don’t like that truth, but it’s true) when she faces the similarly entertaining Raquel Pennington (4-3) who earned a decision win over Roxanne Modafferi at the Ultimate Fighter 18 finale to break a 0-2 skid.

While neither girl will be troubling the top of the bantamweight division in the immediate future, this is all but guaranteed to be a hell of a scrap and should be loads of fun to watch.

Fresh off his Fight of the Night win over Steven Siler, Dennis Bermudez (12-3) boasts a 5-0 streak in the UFC since losing to Diego Brandao in the TUF 14 finale and will be looking to continue that against accomplished judoka Jim Hettes (11-1).

Bermudez may be the favourite but I can’t help noticing that all his losses have come via submission, which is very much Hettes’ ‘A’ game. This should be a lot of fun.

Last but by no means least… in fact, seemingly opening the broadcast we have Scotland’s own Robert Whiteford (10-2) making his sophomore UFC appearance, and debut on US soil against the more experienced Daniel Pineda (18-10).

The stakes are high for both men, as Pineda is on a 1-3 slide while Whiteford lost his short-notice UFC debut to Jim Hettes, so both men’s roster positions could be at stake.

It might be patriotism speaking, but I fancy Whiteford to win this one, with a full camp behind him and training with ATT’s Mike Brown who beat Pineda back in 2012, he should put in a much better show than he did in Manchester.

Of course, Pineda is a wily veteran with a history of quick and decisive finishes, so anything could happen…

… but we are very much in Rab’s corner for this one.

The moral of the story is TUNE IN FOR THE PRELIMS, because names don’t make fights, warriors do…

Full Card

MAIN CARD
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler for vacant welterweight title
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Myles Jury vs. Diego Sanchez
Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields
Nikita Krylov vs. Ovince St. Preux

PRELIMINARY CARD
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer

FIGHT PASS CARD
Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino
Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins
Robert McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland
Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford

MMA Monday – 25 February 2013

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It’s that time again. Let’s catch up…

News

The Girls Are Here

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that the UFC held its first ever Women’s bout on Saturday, which is quite mind blowing and era defining enough news for one week. I’m still a tad blown away by the significance of this event and how awesomely it all went down. With a clutch of female fighters tied into contracts, including Julie Kedzie, Amanda Nunes and Sarah Kaufman and a successful pay over view with expansive and positive media coverage in the can, the girls look here to stay.

Scottish Hit Squad Shout Out

We’d like to make a wee shout out to our buddies at the Scottish Hit Squad, who earned a win and a draw at Total Combat 52 in County Durham on Saturday night. Congrats to Chris Bungard who earned a SUB1 win over Paul Edmondson via triangle choke and Andy Cameron who went to a draw with Aden Lynn both in semi pro action.
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Ethos

We’d also like to take this opportunity to restate our dedication to promoting Scottish MMA. It may seem at times like we are a UFC blog, but when the biggest promotion in the world are offering up near weekly events, regular title matches and persisting in doing comment worthy things like asking the ladies to the big dance and cutting dozens of fighters, then we feel its incumbent on us to cover that.

We will have full coverage of all major happenings in British MMA – especially the upcoming live head to head between Cage Warriors and BAMMA on March 9th, but given that there is only a few of us and were doing this in our spare time, it’s hard to cover every regional card, much as we’d love to.

We reason that MMA is still very much an underexposed sport and most folks are only aware of/interested in the UFC. If our UFC articles draw folks to the site who then learn about Cage Warriors or Vision or On Top, who pick up on Joanne Calderwood or Graham Turner etc. then we consider it a job done.

We’re here to promote the sport as a whole, and that means talking about the big show. We’ll also scream the merits of smaller shows as loud as we can in the hope that someone pays attention. One more person checking out Cage Warriors, trying out jiujitsu or realising that Alex Reid isn’t in fact the UK’s #1 mixed martial artist makes every word we’ve ever written worthwhile.

Results

We covered the Bellator results on Friday morning and we’ll continue to do that from here on in, because posting results four days after the fact is a bit silly.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche
Sat, 23 Feb 2013
Anaheim, California

The girls headlined, Liz Carmouche gave Ronda her biggest scare to date but in the end succumbed to the armbar with seconds remaining in the first round. The golden girl has her first UFC win, the match was fun and Liz Carmouche is now the #2 star in WMMA. Job done.

The co-main event between Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson disappointed anyone who expected a KO, or indeed any real form of action. This was a little predictable as Lyoto was unlikely to stand still and let Hendo knock him out and Hendo’s chin is legend. Guess everyone who was calling that the ‘real’ main event is feeling a bit sheepish now…

Elsewhere, Urijah Faber showed his quality and apparently simian nature by clambering all over Ivan Menjivar en route to a standing rear naked choke submission while Robbie Lawler made himself my new favourite person by knocking out Josh Koscheck.

Some say the finish was early, but Kos was taking a lot of shots and looking set to take more. Just cause he wasn’t sparko when the ref stopped the fight, doesn’t make it early.

The prelims saw an AWESOME WAR (capitalisation justified) between Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice which could have gone either way, but Beemudez took on a split decision.

We also saw impressive submission wins for Michael Chiesa and Kenny Robertson that lit up my inner fan of incisive grappling.

MAIN CARD
• Ronda Rousey def. Liz Carmouche via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:49 – to retain women’s bantamweight title
• Lyoto Machida def. Dan Henderson via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
• Urijah Faber def. Ivan Menjivar via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:34
• Court McGee def. Josh Neer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Robbie Lawler def. Josh Koscheck via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:57

PRELIMINARY
• Brendan Schaub def. Lavar Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27
• Mike Chiesa def. Anton Kuivanen via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:29
• Dennis Bermudez def. Matt Grice via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
• Sam Stout def. Caros Fodor via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

PRELIMINARY
• Kenny Robertson def. Brock Jardine via submission (kneebar) – Round 1, 2:57
• Neil Magny def. Jon Manley via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
• Nah-Shon Burrell def. Yuri Villefort via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

…of the Week

We’re going to start shouting out to our favourite happenings of the past week, so those who didn’t catch all the action can go find it on YouTube or your streaming site of choice.

Fight of the weekMatt Grice vs. Dennis Bermudez – early fight of the year contender, could have been ended several times, both guys showed immense skill and heart. Check it out.

Sub of the WeekKenny Robertson’s innovative Kneebar on Brock Jardine. Bendy.

KO of the weekEmanuele Newton’s Spinning Back Fist finish of Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 91 for being a sick highlight and sheer upset value.

Quote of the WeekChael Sonnen on TUF – “What emotion is going to help you? THIS (raises fists) is what helps you.”

Tweet of the week @WolverDean_DNFT (Dean Reilly, Dinky Ninja Fight Team/Griphouse): Right @ufc , surely you now have space for young exciting hungry fighters like @Flyinjudoka and @AfterburnerDNFT (Robert Whiteford & Graham Turner)

Image of the Week – Ronda Rousey stretching Liz Carmouche’s arm to get the tapout and retain the UFC belt. Look at the stress on Liz’s tendons!
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Incoming

As ever, we’ve got previews of the week’s UFC and Bellator cards, we’re looking to start our build up to the week after’s double header of UKMMA events from BAMMA and Cage Warriors and I’ve got a few things to say about roster cuts and prejudice in MMA.

It’d be awfully nice if you’d stop back and check some of that out.