Last night the MMA world was treated to a terrific night of fights from the UFC as they presented their third ever live offering on the Versus network. The card, including the preliminary fights aired live on Facebook had a lot of action and displayed the many facets to MMA, which, in my humble opinion, make it the greatest combat sport and one of the most exciting sports in the world.
Main Event – Diego Sanchez def. Martin Kampmann via unanimous decision
-WOW!!! If there is one aspect of MMA that I have always been frustrated with it is that more often that not, main event fights lack in entertainment value. Either one fighter is so clearly superior that he is able to secure an easy win, or both fighters’ talents seem to cancel each other out en route to a plodding decision. However, on that rare occasion when two fighters match up well with one another and offer varying styles, it truly is a joy to watch. Last night, the main event between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann was an absolute war. As Dana White said in a post-fight interview, neither fighter lost that fight. Though in no way am I a particular fan of the blood that is associated with fights, one need only look at Diego Sanchez’s face after the match to see how physical and brutal this fight was.
-Though Sanchez earned the judge’s decision, I personally scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Kampmann. Clearly the most dominant round of the fight was the first round in which Kampmann tore through Sanchez and bloodied him badly. Though Sanchez connected with some good shorts towards the end of the second round, I still feel Kampmann was able to get the better of the standup exchanges in the second round, as well as stuff every single takedown attempt made by Sanchez.
-Though Sanchez has never sported the most impressive or intimidating physiques, particularly as a welterweight, he clearly added some extra baby fat for this fight, as he did not look nearly as solid as he did against Paulo Thiago. Though Sanchez was able to win with his incredible heart and determination, I did think he was a bit slow and less dynamic than in his previous fights.
-This fight was a perfect example of how some fighters simply lose concentration and get unnerved at the sight of their own blood. Once Sanchez was able to connect to Kampmann’s face and open a cut over Kampmann’s left eye, Kampmann was never the same fighter. He became much more hesitant and allowed Sanchez to establish Octagon control, pushing Kampmann up against the cage, which minimized Kampmann’s fluid movement allowing Sanchez to land shots.
-Not taking away from either fighter, but after watching this fight, I am firmly convinced that neither fighter should be considered a top contender. Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, and Thiago Alves would easily beat (and for some already have beaten) both Sanchez and Kampmann.
-An entertaining fight that I would like to see would be Diego Sanchez against Carlos Condit, or after both guys heal, rematch.
Mark Munoz def. C.B. Dolloway via 1st round TKO
-I give a lot of credit for Munoz as his time with Rafael Cordeiro, former head trainer at the legendary Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil, appears to be paying immediate dividends. Munoz landed a clean shot that knocked Dolloway out.
-I completely agree with Mario Yamasaki’s stoppage. If you watch closely, Dolloway’s leg’s buckled and for a split second even before the stoppage you can see Dolloway’s eyes begin to roll back. As it happens sometimes, I think as Munoz began to connect on the additional shots once Dolloway hit the ground, one of these shots managed to knock Dolloway back into a state of consciousness.
-Though obviously disappointed, I was very impressed with how Dolloway was able to take down Munoz in the first minute of the fight. If he is able to work on his standup game more, I think Dolloway will have a very good future in the middleweight division, as the ease with which he took down a former NCAA champion was very impressive.
-While I am impressed with his victory, I am still not convinced that Munoz is a legitimate title contender. As has been documented by myself and countless others, Munoz’s magnificent wrestling game has not seamlessly translated into the realm of MMA. Though his striking has obviously blossomed, I do not think it is at a level that would render him successful against the top fighters in the division.
-Even though I would much prefer to match him up against someone that could knock him into a state of unconsciousness a la Dan Henderson, perhaps an intriguing matchup the UFC might want to consider is for Michael “Spitsbing” Bisping to square up against Mark Munoz.
Chris Weidman def. Alessio Sakara via unanimous decision
-Team Serra-Longo protégé Chris Weidman was very impressive in his Octagon debut. Having only two weeks to prepare for a dangerous veteran like Sakara, Weidman was able to weather the initial combos that Sakara threw and managed to get the fight to the ground in the second round, en route to an impressive ground and pound performance resulting in the unanimous decision victory.
-Weidman definitely will need time to develop his striking as he looked rather awkward at times. However, he definitely flashed his power.
-For those of you who fail to see why top-flight amateur wrestlers sometimes face difficulty translating their takedowns into the sport of MMA, I believe a review of Weidman’s performance between the first round and the rest of the fight is a classic example. In the first round, Weidman simply was pushing Sakara up against the cage and hoping to take the Italian off his feet with pure strength. In the second and third round, Weidman employed a more varied technique and recognized that he would have to do a better job of setting up his takedowns with his standup game.
Brian Bowles def. Damacio Page via first round submission (guillotine choke)
-As predicted Bowles was able to weather the initial storm and capitalize with his striking ability. I couldn’t quite tell if Bowles appeared rusty at first, as Page’s furious opening moments made Bowles look slow and hesitant. But in retrospect, Bowles was probably just laying back and waiting for his opening.
-I know Page has lost his last two fights, but I do hope the UFC will keep him around. He is an exciting fighter, and when matched with the right opponent (a Leonard Garcia type of fighter) I think he will be able to put on a memorable performance.
Thoughts for the rest of the fights shown to the viewing public
-I think last night’s performance made it painfully obvious that Joe Stevenson no longer is relevant in the lightweight division, and he will most likely be cut. Though I give credit to Danny Castillo who flashed some decent standup ability, the main story of that fight was Stevenson’s ineffectiveness.
-Hubris? Why would Steve Cantwell attempt to fight a purely stand up game against a world-class striker such as Cyrille Diabate? Though Diabate was winded by the end of the fight, he absolutely picked Cantwell apart. Cantwell is young and will bounce back, but if I were him I would think about going to a different camp where they can develop better strategies to target his opponent’s weaknesses.
-I have always liked Thiago Tavares, and because of my respect for his talents, it was upsetting to watch him get knocked unconscious the way he did against Shane Roller. Up until that moment, Tavares was flashing his best ever striking to compliment his superb grappling skills. In an incredibly stacked lightweight division, I worry that the UFC organization will finally cut ties with the talented Brazilian, as he has yet to demonstrate the consistency needed to elevate his status to the upper echelon of the lightweight division.
-Heads up Tito, now you have badass Croatians calling you out. I wonder if Tito somehow offended the Croats during his stint on Celebrity Apprentice.