Read ahead as Five Ounces of Pain‘s Jeremy Lambert dissects the main card action from this past weekend’s UFC 119 event, providing commentary on both the show’s in-ring offerings as well as the results’ effect on the evening’s participants…
If I could say one positive thing about “UFC 119: Mir vs. Cro Cop” it would be this – Thank God not many people ordered this event and woke up the next morning pissed off thanks to their fight induced coma. I could say more positive things but they would all include the name of, hopefully not one and done Octagon girl, Brittany Ward, and I don’t need another restraining order filed against me.
Frank Mir def. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic by KO (Strikes) at 4:02 in Round Three
When Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop was announced; most people figured it would be a rather exciting fight given their styles and stature. Well, we were all wrong.
There wasn’t much to this fight. Seriously, did you watch it? There really wasn’t much to this fight. For 14 minutes Mir and Cro Cop engaged in a low-level exhibition bout where both men agreed that they wouldn’t hurt each other. Mir pressed forward with half hearted strikes, Cro Cop countered with half hearted strikes, and they clinched only to whispered sweet nothings to each other. I’m not even sure that Mir’s hair was messed up unless it was somehow moved by the cool breeze of Cro Cop’s lazy high kick attempt. Finally, with one minute remaining in the fight, Mir knocked out Cro Cop with a knee and followed up with a couple of unanswered blows on the ground. I’m convinced that Mir was just trolling the internet in this fight and he knew he could finish Cro Cop anytime he wanted to but decided to wait until the last minute just to get his pretty face on TV some more. At least that’s the story I’d be telling people.
With this victory Mir remains near the top of the heavyweight ladder. In fact, he could be one Brock Lesnar loss away from a third fight with the current UFC heavyweight champion. As for Cro Cop, only he knows how much he has left in the tank. He’s a very old 36 who didn’t look particularly good in this fight. Was it because he took the bout on short notice and came in with an eye injury? Only he knows. What I do know is that he’s one loss away at the hands of a mid-level fighter from being officially retired.
Predicted Next Fights – Mir vs. Lesnar/Velasquez loser / Cro Cop vs. Matt Mitrione
Ryan Bader def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by Unanimous Decision (30-27 across)
Ryan Bader needed a stellar performance to prove that he belonged with the light heavyweight elite. Rogerio Nogueira needed a solid performance to prove that his fight against Jason Brilz was just an off night. One man delivered, the other fell far short.
I’ll go ahead and admit it: I thought Nogueira won this fight. It was a close fight and the decision wasn’t a robbery nor do I even strongly disagree with it, but I still thought Nogueira won. Both men looked a little tentative early but Bader won the first round thanks to a big takedown and some vicious ground and pound that had Nogueira on the ropes. In the second round Nogueira started to open up a bit more with his striking and he managed to stuff the majority of Bader’s takedowns. Even though he ended up on the ground a few times, he was always right back up before Bader managed to land anything significant. The third round was about the same except that Bader managed a late takedown and finished the round on top. Given how judges score fights, it’s no surprise that Bader won. But given the fact that Bader went for over a dozen takedowns in rounds two and three, was successful on about 25% of them, and did absolutely nothing with them, it’s not out of the question that Nogueira could have won the decision. Unfortunately for Nogueira, successful takedowns are scored far more than unsuccessful ones and he didn’t do quite enough on the feet to sway the judges. He can control the latter half of that statement but can’t do a thing about the former.
Bader earned himself a big fight, likely against Jon Jones, with this win but he was far from impressive. He struggled mightily with his takedowns, still loads up on his punches, is rarely effective on the ground, and still has a questionable gas tank. Nogueira may not have won but he looked better in this fight to me and proved that the Brilz fight wasn’t indicative of his current skills.
Predicted Next Fights – Bader vs. Jones / Nogueira vs. Ortiz/Hamill loser
Chris Lytle def. Matt Serra by Unanimous Decision (30-27 across)
Their first fight may have been the most boring TUF final in the shows history. Luckily the winner of this fight wasn’t getting a welterweight title shot so both Chris Lytle and Matt Serra were willing to go out there and put on a show for the fans.
Joe Rogan put it best during the broadcast when he said, “it’s like these two have a silent agreement to just punch each other in the face” because that’s exactly what they did. Lytle, being a former professional boxer, got the better of things but Serra hung tough and landed some good shots of his own. Lytle battered the left side of Serra’s face with powerful right hooks and uppercuts but he couldn’t put away the Long Island native despite rocking him multiple times. Credit Serra’s parents for blessing him with an outstanding chin because a lesser man would have fallen after taking that many blows to the head. Everyone, including Serra himself, knows he had a stupid strategy for this fight and maybe things would have been different if Serra tried to grapple with Lytle but he obviously didn’t care about that and he just wanted to put on an entertaining fight for the fans. It’s not like he’s in danger of losing his job and I’m sure Dana White appreciated his effort. There is an old saying that goes, “you gotta be dumb to be tough.” Well Serra showed he was tough by being dumb.
Both of these fighters are essentially welterweight gatekeepers. Luckily for them they usually have exciting fights so even if they may never be title contenders, they’re always welcome additions to the card. Lytle is going to have his chance to move up the ladder now. He’s won four straight and deserves a crack at someone in the title hunt.
Predicted Next Fights – Lytle vs. Nate Diaz / Serra vs. Sanchez/Thiago loser
Sean Sherk def. Evan Dunham by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Coming off a Mir layoff and wondering if he would remember that he was a wrestler, it was easy to doubt Sean Sherk in this fight. On top of that, Evan Dunham just seemed like a bad match up giving his length and skill set. Well Sherk proved that there is still a little bit of bite left in the ol’ “Muscle Shark” and you can’t write him off just yet.
That said, Sherk lost this fight. He won the first round by controlling the action with his wrestling and opening a nasty cut near the eye of Dunham with an elbow. He got caught in a couple of slick guillotines, including one that had Mike Goldberg prematurely celebrating but it’s tough to be submitted with a guillotine when you have no neck. The first half of the second round was more of the same except Sherk did far less damage on the ground. Then there was a huge momentum shift in the middle of the second. Dunham started to find his range on the feet and he was able to pick apart Sherk with two and three punch combinations. The third wound was all Dunham as he continued to pick apart Sherk, stuff most takedown attempts, and badly rock the former lightweight champion with well-timed knees. I don’t know what fight the judges were watching but Dunham clearly won this fight in the eyes of anyone paying attention. He did more damage and he was far closer to finishing the fight. To me, those should be the main requirements when it comes to scoring but that’s a different argument for a different time.
You can’t blame Sherk for incompetent judging. He did what he had to do, he didn’t look particularly good, but he was handed a gift decision. This fight isn’t indicative on what we’ll see from Sherk in the future. Due to the layoff he wasn’t as sharp as he’ll be in the future and more importantly, his cardio wasn’t where it needed to be. Dunham’s stock went up despite officially having a loss on his record. Sometimes getting robbed on a decision isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially when it comes to gaining popularity.
Predicted Next Fights – Sherk vs. Joe Stevenson / Dunham vs. Sotiropoulos/Lauzon loser
Melvin Guillard def. Jeremy Stephens by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
When Melvin Guillard called out Jeremy Stephens after his victory at UFC 114, Joe Silva was quick to make the fight official. Two guys who wanted to fight each other and two guys who are known for their explosive striking, what could go wrong?
What went wrong is that Guillard seems to believe that he’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. Instead of engaging with Stephens, he spent the better part of 15 minutes dancing around on the outside, controlling the tempo, and picking his shots. At least nobody was paying $45.95 just to see Guillard fight like they do with Mayweather. Stephens started to find a home for leg kicks in the third round but it was too little too late and despite the leg kicks, one judge still thought Guillard won that round. If you follow Dana White on twitter you would have seen that he was extremely disappointed in this fight. After all, during the SpikeTV broadcast he dubbed this fight as one of his potential fight of the night candidates along with every other main card fight, the drunk guy vs. the other drunk guy in section 118, and Kenny Powers vs. Reg Mackworthy.
The performance of both men did neither of them any favors. However, Guillard has won three straight and has looked good since joining Greg Jackson’s camp. So even if he lost a few fans with his performance, he’s still winning fights. Stephens can still have exciting fights, he just needs the right opponent.
Predicted Next Fights – Guillard vs. Cole Miller / Stephens vs. Winner/Siver loser