This fight card was a big challenge to predict, probably the biggest since I’ve started blogging, mostly because there were multiple fights that featured fighters that I knew were given a very flawed rating by SILVA. I did my best to try to navigate this minefield, but I blew up a couple times. SILVA was 4-6, which sounds bad after a 5-7 UFC Fight Night event, but this is how things are in the prediction game.
It was funny… I made some calls which were eerily accurate, and others which were way, way off. Here are my thoughts on the fights:
1. 205 lbs: James Te Huna (29.99 SILVA) def. Ricardo Romero (25.00) by KO (Punches), 0:47 round 1
I said that this fight was “tailor made” for Te Huna to win, given Romero’s tendency to get hit, and Te Huna’s history of starting strong. This was a call that was spot on. Romero clearly wanted no part of the striking game, but when a fighter is so predictable in going for takedowns, it makes him easy to counter. Te Huna did just that to score an impressive victory.
2. 135 lbs: Takeya Mizugaki (27.56) def. Cole Escovedo (27.66) by TKO (Punches), 4:30 round 2
My call on this fight was a very close scrap, a call heavily influenced by how close each fighter’s SILVA score was. The first round was very close, with stiff strikes going both ways, but in the second round, it seemed that Escovedo got a little one-dimensional in looking for the head kick, while Mizugaki stuck to what was successful for him.
Fights like this are a reminder of why simply looking at SILVA’s prediction record isn’t always the best way of evaluating the accuracy of the system. If a couple of rounding errors are looked at a different way, Mizugaki could have had the higher SILVA score. A better way to look at this would have been to say “I’m predicting a close fight”… but even then, the accuracy of that prediction could have been better.
3. 145 lbs: Junior Assuncao (20.18) def. Eddie Yagin (26.38) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
This fight was frustrating to watch. I wouldn’t have booed either guy, since they were both fighting, but Yagin’s focus was clearly on jumping into range to strike the taller, longer fighter in Assuncao, while Assuncao’s focus was to prevent Yagin from doing exactly that. The result was a war of attrition, in which Assuncao won based on doing a great job of using his length to keep Yagin at bay.
By the way, I’m starting to think that the guillotine choke is a highly overrated move. If you get the tap out, that’s great… but more often, it seems that fighters who attempt that submission end up both exhausted (from exerting energy in trying to finish the opponent) and in bottom position on the ground. Yagin tried to submit Assuncao with a guillotine choke in the third round, and after failing, received a total beating for about three minutes.
4. 185 lbs: Tim Boetsch (32.62) def. Nick Ring (29.20) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Unfortunately, I missed this fight, but it’s good to see that SILVA wasn’t underrating Ring by giving him a below-average SILVA score despite his undefeated record.
5. 155 lbs: Tony Ferguson (23.23) def. Aaron Riley (24.49) by TKO (Broken Jaw), 5:00 round 1
This was the first of two fights in which I went against SILVA, because if fights on The Ultimate Fighter were counted as professional fights, Ferguson’s SILVA score would have been significantly higher. His boxing really impressed me on the show, and it was impressive again in this fight, as Ferguson tagged Riley with a series of punches, including one that presumably broke Riley’s jaw. Ferguson might not be a top prospect at lightweight, but he’s fun to watch, and it’ll be interesting to see just how far he can go in the division.
6. 155 lbs: Nate Diaz (29.21) def. Takanori Gomi (43.46) by Submission (Armbar), 4:27 round 1
This was the second fight in which I went against SILVA, and once again, I was correct in doing so. In fact, I speculated that Diaz would hit Gomi with a series of jabs (he did), and that when Gomi got tired of the “jab diet,” he would take Diaz down (he did). Then, once on the ground, Diaz would threaten to submit Gomi. Needless to say, this line of thinking turned out to be 100% correct. I hate seeing Gomi like this; he was incredibly fun to watch in PRIDE when he was arguably the world’s best lightweight, but he’s now far beyond his prime and his relevant career is almost certainly over.
7. 265 lbs: Travis Browne (30.81) def. Rob Broughton (29.21) by Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Against most opponents, the punches that Travis Browne landed would have scored him a KO. For some reason, Rob Broughton was able to withstand Browne’s punishment, but wasn’t able to retaliate with much of his own. These are two very big men, and when the fight got to the third round in a high altitude climate, they were both completely exhausted. Browne said that he trains at altitude with Greg Jackson’s camp, but keep in mind that all of his previous fights were at sea level, so it should still be expected that his conditioning would be worse than usual, in comparison to his past.
I still don’t know why Broughton was given this fight; I’m guessing that it’s because he and Browne each needed opponents. Sometimes, matchmaking just doesn’t work the way many would want it to.
8. 265 lbs: Mark Hunt (31.01) def. Ben Rothwell (32.87) by Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)
The judges’ scorecards are bizarre to me. What round did Ben Rothwell win?
My thoughts on this fight were: as long as it’s standing, Hunt wins, but if it hits the ground for any length of time, Rothwell wins. It turned out to be a suspense thriller in a strange sort of way, as Rothwell was as gassed out as I’ve ever seen an MMA fighter, but was still threatening to submit a very fatigued Hunt late in the fight. Ultimately, Rothwell’s conditioning was just nowhere near where it needed to be. I understand that this fight featured two very large men at altitude, but of the four very large men to compete on the card, Rothwell’s conditioning was the worst.
I do need to credit Hunt for having strong takedown defense; if Hunt can prevent his opponents from taking him to the ground, he could become a “shock” contender in the heavyweight division. I’ll take Hunt’s striking over any heavyweight not named Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, or Alistair Overeem.
9. 170 lbs: Josh Koscheck (32.60) def. Matt Hughes (43.66) by KO (Punches), 4:59 round 1
Here’s where I stood by SILVA, despite thinking that it was overrating Hughes. The idea was that Josh Koscheck is a very overrated striker, and that Hughes would be able to keep the fight standing and out-strike him. For most of the first round, Hughes was making me look like a genius… that is, until he ate a series of punches that left him unconscious on the ground. I failed to take Koscheck’s KO ability into account in comparison with the limited KO ability of Hughes, and the result is that, for this fight, I took a risk and ended up looking foolish.
10. UFC light-heavyweight championship: Jon Jones (44.42) def. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37.40) by Submission (Rear Naked Choke), 1:14 round 4
Reports indicate that Jon Jones’s hype has reached a different galaxy.
In all seriousness, what a complete and awe-inspiring performance by Jon Jones. Jackson showed extremely strong takedown defense for most of the fight, but found himself almost completely unable to hit Jones. As the fight went on, Jackson became increasingly desperate, and started throwing wild punches in an attempt to KO Jones. Meanwhile, Jones methodically picked Jackson apart with an extremely diverse striking attack, and mixed in a couple wrinkles like a flying triangle choke attempt for good measure. Jackson has lost fights before, but nobody has beaten him like that (except perhaps Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but we saw what Jones did to him too). Jones has now ended the curse of Rampage Jackson, and after fights like this one, it’s very difficult to see him losing anytime soon.
But if Jones is going to lose, the most likely man to beat him is his next opponent, and former teammate, Rashad Evans. Evans has the highest SILVA score in the light-heavyweight division, at 55.35. Compare this to what Jon Jones’s SILVA score would be if the Matt Hamill fight is counted as a win (51.85), and what we have is what figures to be one of the highest-level fights in UFC history. My hypothesis is: if you want to beat Jon Jones, put him on his back and ground and pound. Evans is a candidate to do just that, but easier said than done.