As usual, there’s plenty to talk about. Let’s get right to it:
1. 170 lbs: Tarec Saffiedine (22.40 SILVA) def. Scott Smith (32.27) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
When I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I didn’t really understand why so many people were getting behind Tarec Saffiedine for this fight, as he never blew me away in his previous fights. He didn’t blow me away this time either, but he was easily the more effective fighter, landing numerous punches and kicks against a very tentative Scott Smith.
In the past, Scott Smith was an aggressive fighter, a man who was willing to take a punch to land a punch. He wasn’t necessarily the most talented fighter, but you could count on him to take risks and go for it. This fight was the complete opposite. Smith looked very much like a man who was afraid of getting knocked out. Sure, he flurried in the last 30 seconds of the fight… I would have loved to see him do that from the beginning.
2. 170 lbs: Tyron Woodley (45.16) def. Paul Daley (35.16) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The thing about this fight is that, for Tyron Woodley, fighting a smart fight was not the same thing as fighting an exciting fight. Yes, there were moments in which Woodley threw strikes Daley’s way, but for the majority of the fight, Woodley was playing a very cautious game, controlling position and not allowing Daley to get back to his feet. Ultimately, Woodley did what he had to do to win the fight, but as much as I’d like to give him a glowing review, given his extremely high SILVA score, I can’t do it.
Last night, I watched Matt Hughes vs. Sean Sherk from UFC 41. I was struck by how quickly referee “Big” John McCarthy stood up the fight after a period of inactivity. There’s definitely been a shift in the way fights are officiated, in the direction of fights being allowed to play out longer. In the past, if a fighter wanted to keep an advantageous position, he needed to either constantly seek to improve his position, or strike on a constant basis. Maybe I’m in the minority, I don’t know, but part of me would like to see referees become a little more aggressive in standing up fights like Woodley-Daley (not fights in which a fighter has a dominant position or is attempting submissions).
3. 185 lbs: Tim Kennedy (34.56) def. Robbie Lawler (31.64) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Robbie Lawler reminded me a lot of Scott Smith. Both guys have a very similar record, both have the vast majority of their wins by KO, and both seemed very hesitant to throw strikes against their opponent. Striking clearly doesn’t come naturally to Tim Kennedy, at least not at a particularly high level, but Kennedy’s striking doesn’t need to be great if his opponent doesn’t throw many strikes. In the end, Kennedy won because he came to fight, and Lawler came to wait for the right opportunity to fight, so to speak.
4. 135 lbs (Women): Miesha Tate (28.05) def. Marloes Coenen (31.26) by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), 3:03 round 4
I’m very glad that Miesha Tate was able to finish Marloes Coenen by submission, because I really did not want to write a rant about how Tate won a championship by essentially maintaining top position for the majority of the fight. Much of the fight went as I expected, with Tate landing takedowns and Coenen threatening to attempt submissions. It got to the point where it seemed that Tate was genuinely afraid of getting caught with something. However, in the fourth round, with Tate in side mount, there was little threat of a Coenen submission, and instead, it was Tate who secured the arm-triangle choke to finish the fight.
I’ll be honest, this was a truly awful fight. I’m seeing people comparing the way Tate fought to Jon Fitch. Jon Fitch CONSTANTLY strikes from his opponent’s guard. CONSTANTLY. Tate did absolutely nothing of the sort.
5. Dan Henderson (34.77) def. Fedor Emelianenko (49.39) by TKO (Punches), 4:12 round 1
This was a very exciting fight with bombs landing both ways. Even though it was short, it was worth waiting through all of the awful fights that preceded it. With that having been said, I feel that there’s a big contrast between the way that Emelianenko fights now, and the way he used to fight. In the past, Emelianenko was aggressive, but in a very calm, controlled way. He carefully picked his moments to attack, and did so with great precision. Now, he fights in a very wild, reckless way, winging punches with poor technique. When he knocked Henderson down, he immediately jumped in with a series of very wild strikes; a much calmer Henderson used that as an opportunity to sweep Emelianenko and land the punch that finished the fight.
Was it an early stoppage? I think it’s in the gray area, to be honest. It did look like Emelianenko was unconscious for a brief moment, and that one of Henderson’s punches woke him up, at which point he turned to his back. Even if the timing of the stoppage wasn’t perfect, if Emelianenko being seemingly unconscious and face-down on the canvas is what caused referee Herb Dean to stop the fight, then he can’t be blamed for that.