On some nights, you get a bunch of decent, but not great, fights. On nights like tonight, you sit through the stinkers to get to the amazing moments.
1. 155 lbs: Michael Johnson (27.01 SILVA) def. Edward Faaloloto (N/A) by TKO (Punches), 4:42 round 1
Faaloloto connected with a number of strikes early, making Johnson bloodied, but he was just too aggressive and inefficient with his technique. Johnson figured out the openings that Faaloloto was giving, and capitalized big time, especially when it appeared that Faaloloto was fatiguing. Faaloloto definitely showed more ability than your typical random 2-1 MMA fighter, but I think the best thing for him would be to go fight in smaller shows and have a proper developmental period.
2. 145 lbs: Ricardo Lamas (36.07) def. Matt Grice (30.16) by TKO (Head Kick and Punches), 4:41 round 1
Just as Grice suddenly lost in the first round in two past UFC fights, he suddenly lost tonight, eating a flush head kick that really was the effective end of the fight. But unlike Grice’s previous fights, he wasn’t really out-striking his opponent in this one before the finish took place. Overall, it was a very impressive showing for Ricardo Lamas, who I believe will take his place as a quality fighter in the UFC featherweight division.
3. 155 lbs: Charles Oliveira (32.92) def. Nik Lentz (31.92) by Submission (Rear Naked Choke), 1:48 round 2
It was an absolute shame that this fight ended the way it did, because it was such an exciting fight early on. Oliveira attacked Nik Lentz the way he’s attacked all of his opponents: by aggressively striking and going for chains of submission attempts. Lentz had his fair share of success, landing a number of strikes of his own and attempting a pretty good guillotine choke. But in the end, a clear knee by Oliveira to the head of the downed opponent in Lentz was missed by the referee. That knee clearly had Lentz dazed, and the result was Oliveira finishing with the submission soon afterwards. I don’t know how this fight will be ruled after review, but if it was up to me, the result would be overturned and changed to a No Contest.
4. 170 lbs: Rich Attonito (21.93) def. Daniel Roberts (32.48) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-27, 30-27, 29-28)
What did we know about Daniel Roberts leading into the fight? That he’s a submission fighter with poor striking, right? It didn’t appear that Roberts got the memo, since he spent the entire first round striking with Attonito. Roberts landed a good number of punches and kicks, and won the first round in my opinion, but he was horribly gassed out afterwards, and Attonito capitalized to cruise to the decision victory. I put the blame for what turned out to be a sloppy fight on Roberts, who doesn’t have UFC-level striking technique, and entered with what was a very poor game plan in my opinion.
5. 155 lbs: Joe Lauzon (29.92) def. Curt Warburton (16.79) by Submission (Kimura), 1:58 round 1
For a little while, Warburton appeared to be getting the better of the striking. Suddenly, Lauzon crushed Warburton with a combination, and followed up on the ground with an absolutely nasty kimura. Seriously, Warburton’s arm was going in directions that just aren’t natural. Finally, Warburton tapped out, and all I have to say is: if you’re caught in a kimura as deep as Warburton was, please just tap out… don’t let Joe Lauzon keep cranking it.
6. 145 lbs: Javier Vazquez (25.16) def. Joe Stevenson (31.05) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Maybe part of the Nine-Year Rule is that when a fight features two such fighters, the fight ends up being disappointing or just plain bad. There was St. Pierre-Shields at UFC 129, Overeem-Werdum at Strikeforce: Dallas, and now there’s Vazquez-Stevenson. A lot of punches were thrown, and a lot of punches missed. Stevenson had an inverted armbar attempt that Vazquez didn’t seem particularly worried about. It was just a sloppy fight. I will say that Vazquez was the more effective fighter, and deserved the victory, and that I can’t imagine Stevenson being given yet another chance after this one.
7. 145 lbs: Tyson Griffin (33.88) def. Manny Gamburyan (31.03) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
In the first round, Gamburyan did a good job of being aggressive, throwing Griffin to the ground, and mixing in strikes. After that, Gamburyan seemed to go into haymaker mode, which is why Griffin ended up with his hand raised. I was surprised to see Griffin throw so many leg kicks (which, by the way, were not as amazingly technical as the commentators seemed to think). Those kicks seemed to make a difference, as Gamburyan’s leg was visibly damaged, and Gamburyan wasn’t terribly effective anymore. It’s a win for Tyson Griffin, who badly needed it, but it’s not the kind of win that suggests his stock is rising much in the UFC.
8. 265 lbs: Matt Mitrione (N/A) def. Christian Morecraft (26.95) by KO (Punches), 4:28 round 2
Mitrione still eats more strikes than I’d like to see, but he just annihilated Christian Morecraft here. Mitrione’s straight punches were particularly effective, as Morecraft’s head was visibly snapping back from the effects of being hit. Morecraft had brief periods of control, but understandably opted to take a rest as opposing to being aggressive on the ground or in the clinch.
I’m not sure if anybody appreciates the historical significance of what Mitrione has done. Out of all of the MMA fighters to make their professional debut in the UFC, here is the list of those who started by winning their first five fights, all in the UFC:
- Royce Gracie
- Don Frye
- Mark Coleman
- Matt Mitrione
If there’s anybody I missed, please let me know. Anyway, the result is that Matt Mitrione, the man labeled “Meathead” on The Ultimate Fighter, is now considered by SILVA to officially be an elite heavyweight fighter. Perhaps a fight between Mitrione and TUF 10 winner Roy “Big Country” Nelson would be an appropriate next step.
9. 170 lbs: Matt Brown (7.09) def. John Howard (31.39) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Again, this is an event in which we had to sit through the ugly fights to get to the spectacular ones. Such was the case with this fight, in which Howard started strong but faded too quickly. As a result, Matt Brown got more good positions and did more damage, but it really was a sloppy fight throughout. Good victory for Brown, who defies his SILVA score to remain a UFC fighter; terrible loss for Howard, who just didn’t look like he belonged in the cage tonight.
10. 170 lbs: Charlie Brenneman (27.83) def. Rick Story (43.90) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
I wrote about this fight that Charlie Brenneman wasn’t ready for Rick Story, and wasn’t as good a wrestler. I think he heard me. As it turns out, Brenneman was able to out-wrestle Story, controlling position and doing enough damage to win the first two rounds (although neither round was particularly dominant). Story had the best single round in the third, but again, he was ultimately out-wrestled by Brenneman, and the result was a shocking decision victory for “The Spaniard.” Great job by Brenneman, who yesterday wasn’t fighting on the card. Bad loss for Story, who in less than 48 hours went from fighting Nate Marquardt for potential top 5 status to losing to Brenneman. (Bad loss for my fantasy MMA team too… but we won’t go into that.)
11. 265 lbs: Cheick Kongo (29.79) def. Pat Barry (26.65) by KO (Punches), 2:39 round 1
The fight started. Then they traded some leg kicks. There were a few punches thrown. A bit of a feeling-out period. Then… CRACK! Pat Barry had Cheick Kongo badly hurt! He was rushing in for the finish! And then… HOLY CRAP KONGO KNOCKED HIM OUT!