UFC 122 had very little going for it heading into things and when news broke that the co-main event, it lost a potential fight that had fight or knockout of the night written all over it. You know the card isn’t all that important when every loser on the main card not in the main event could very likely be released by the time you read this. Your Saturday night could have been worse though. You could have been watching Jon Kitna throw interceptions at Cowboy Stadium while the entire crowd booed. What’s that? Manny Pacqiuao was throwing bombs at Cowboy Stadium while the entire crowd cheered? Well then. If you spent your Saturday night watching UFC 122 then I applaud your dedication to MMA and at least your name isn’t Antonio Margarito.
Yushin Okami defeated Nate Marquardt by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
When Yushin Okami vs. Nate Marquardt was announced; people figured it wouldn’t be the most exciting fight in the world. When it was announced that the winner would get a title shot, people figured it would be the most boring fight in the world. Well it’s wasn’t the most boring fight in the world but it certainly didn’t light anyone’s world on fire or give people much confidence that either man is ready to challenge for the title.
This was one of those “human chess match fights.” Unfortunately there is a reason why everyone makes fun of the kids in chess club and that’s because, no matter how much brain power it might require, it’s not a psychical sport and it’s about as exciting as the acting in a porn flick. Okami worked the jab on the feet and landing a good straight left while Marquardt kept head hunting with the right hand. Both men failed on multiple takedowns and when the fight did hit the ground, neither man did anything with the position. Okami got the better of the clinch control but didn’t really do much damage with the position. All three rounds were relatively close. If you concluded that the grappling was canceled out by the lack of effectiveness and just looked at the striking, Okami was the clear winner. He controlled the center of the octagon, was more aggressive, and landed the better strikes. While it wasn’t the prettiest fight in the world, Okami did enough to pick up the decision and earn himself a title shot that has eluded him since late 2008.
I think it’s time to change Marquardt’s nickname from “The Great” to “The Good.” It might not roll off the tongue as easy but it’s more fitting. For some reason he seems to mentally fade in big fights. He was able to stuff the takedowns of Okami but he looked very afraid to let his strikes go. He’s fallen too much in love with his straight right ever since he caught Demian Maia with it and now it seems as if he’s afraid to utilize any of his other weapons. He’s been calling out Anderson Silva since UFC 95 and he’s failed to earn another crack at the belt two times now. Maybe he should worry less about Silva, stop trash talking potential or upcoming Georges St. Pierre opponents, and focus more on himself.
Hopefully Okami still gets his title shot despite this lackluster performance. Even though he picked up the victory, I think he fought a rather dumb fight. He seemed too content on going for takedowns when he was handling himself just fine on the feet. Had he continued to focus more on his striking and less on his wrestling, he probably could have turned in a better showing. He’s going to be a tough match up for whoever the middleweight champion may be. He utilizes his jab well, he’s very strong for the weight class, and he’s tough as nails. He’s not the most marketable fighter in the company thanks to his style but his record does speak for itself. Whether he faces Vitor Belfort or Silva, he’s going to have a wrestling advantage and we’ve seen Silva dominated for 24 minutes by a better wrestler and we’ve seen Belfort wilt under the pressure of a relentless wrestler. I know my readers are the smartest MMA fans on the Internet so just remember to not write off Okami when he eventually gets his title shot.
Predicted Next Fights: Okami vs. Silva/Belfort winner – Marquardt vs. Tom Lawlor
Dennis Siver defeated Andre Winner by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:37 in Round One
When this fight was moved to the co-main event, I immediately thought of Dan Hardy vs. Rory Markham from UFC 95. That fight was the co-main event of the night despite not fully deserving the spot, it was in Hardy’s home country of England, and Hardy delivered a spectacular finish. Dennis Siver must have had the same thought because he made Andre Winner his own Markham.
These two started off fast and furious only without the bad acting. They were both landing hard leg kicks, Winner was using his speed well, and Siver was counter well, especially with the left hook. After a failed takedown and a flurry, Siver caught and dropped Winner with a counter left hook. After failing to put him away with punches on the ground, Siver took the back, and sunk in a choke that forced Winner to tap out. The only disappointing thing in this fight was that it never slowed down enough for Siver to throw his trademark spinning back kick.
Despite losing his last two fights, Winner will probably be given one more chance in the UFC. He still has the striking speed and power to give guys problems but outside of that he’s not really a threat in the division.
Siver looks better in every fight and this was his best performance to date. While Winner isn’t exactly a top lightweight in the world, he is a very good boxer and yet Siver was able to deal with everything Winner threw at him and beat him standing. Now it’s time for Siver to take a step up in competition and see what he’s really made of.
Predicted Next Fights: Siver vs. Stevenson/Danzig winner – Winner vs. Kelly/O’Brien winner
Amir Sadollah defeated Peter Sobotta by Unanimous Decision (30-27 across)
Amir Sadollah has a marketable personality and is used a lot for UFC promotional spots but when you’re a fighter, you have to win fights. Coming off a loss to Dong Hyun Kim, UFC handed Amir a win on a silver platter. That win’s name was Peter Sobotta and Amir welcomed his silver platter with a big smile and a goofy dance.
This was a leg kick clinic by Amir. I’m a huge fan of leg kicks and think they’re the most underutilized weapon in all of MMA so when I see someone snapping off leg kicks with quickness, precision, and power like Amir was doing, I’m instantly a fan. Sobotta had no answer for the leg kicks and couldn’t get Amir to the ground so his best option was to counter Amir’s aggressiveness. While he landed some good counter strikes, Amir walked threw the punches and landed strikes of his own. At the end of the night, Amir landed the most leg kicks in a single UFC fight and walked away with an easy decision victory.
Like a lot of people on this event, this loss could send Sobotta out of the UFC. He’s lost three straight fights and even though he hasn’t been finished in any of them, three straight a recipe for a pink slip. He’s only 23 and has plenty of time to improve but for right now he’s better off on smaller shows.
Even though he’s only been a professional fighter since The Ultimate Fighter 7, Amir seems to improve in every fight. His striking continues to be outstanding and although he wasn’t taking on a great grappler, he managed to avoid too many bad positions, especially as the fight went on. My concern with him is that he gets hit far too much. Sobotta landed some excellent counter punches but just didn’t have the power to really do much damage. He’s better off facing only strikers for the time being in order to work on his grappling a bit more but if he continues to improve at the rate he’s been improving, he could easily be facing top competition this time next year.
Predicted Next Fights: Sadollah vs. Ludwig – Sobotta vs. Unemployment
Krzysztof Soszynski defeated Goran Reljic by Unanimous Decision (30-27 across)
Both fighters were in desperate need of a win in this fight. Goran Reljic had lost two straight while Krzysztof Soszynski had dropped two of his last three. With their backs against the wall, they both came out swinging but only one fighter stood standing at the end.
For two rounds that was a close, albeit a bit lackluster, fight. Soszynski was throwing heavy hooks while Reljic was landing good straight lefts and left kicks. Reljic even managed a couple of takedowns but failed to do anything with his positioning on the ground. Soszynski really won the first two rounds in the clinch. He had more control over Reljic and did more damage with knees to the thighs. That damaged paid dividends in the third round when Reljic started to slow down and Soszynski turned up the pressure on the feet. Soszynski nearly put Reljic away in the final round but Reljic managed to hang on and see the judges scorecards. Unfortunately for him the judges didn’t rule in his favor and Soszynski walked away with a comfortable decision.
Reljic will likely be released following this fight. While he put up a decent performance, fact is that he’s lost three straight against mid-level competition at best and that’s not going to cut it in the UFC. He has the skills to be a good fight but between a very long layoff and the fluctuating of weight classes, he could never find his rhythm following his UFC 84 victory over Wilson Gouviea.
Soszynski looked solid in this fight. He handled the body kicks well, which have always been a problem for him, and he fought his fight. He gave up some takedowns that he probably shouldn’t have but he managed to take limited damage on the ground. He’s a good hand to have in the Light Heavyweight division and can give some fighters problems but he’ll need to improve his takedown defense and learn how to throw straight punches if he’s going to be a threat to the top guys.
Predicted Next Fights: Soszynski vs. Karlos Vemola – Reljic vs. Unemployment
Duane Ludwig defeated Nick Osipczak by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 28-29)
This fight ended up on the main card because Alessio Sakara woke up on Saturday morning, listened to Jorge Rivera singing, and suddenly came down with a massive headache. Duane Ludwig and Nick Osipczak are now required to purchase River’s upcoming CD to show their gratitude.
Ludwig showed very little ring rust early despite breaking his ankle in his last fight. He was landing very good combos and throwing a lot of high kicks to show that his ankle was 100%. Osipczak was able to survive and even drop Ludwig late in the first round though. Although he couldn’t finish Ludwig, he easily won the first round thanks to the knockdown and the damage he did on top while Ludwig was still rocked. The second round was very close. Ludwig was getting the better of the exchanges but Osipczak managed a couple of takedowns. The problem is that Osipczak did nothing with those takedowns, which did him no favors with the judges. The third round was all Ludwig. Joe Rogan speculated that Osipczak may have been hurt but whatever the case may have been, he just didn’t show up for the final round. Ludwig battered him at will and if he wasn’t so gassed out, he could have easily finished him. It all came down to how the second round was scored and luckily for the fans, two judges got it right and gave the fight to Ludwig.
Osipczak looked pretty good in this fight until the third round where the damage caught up to him, he was gassed, he was injured, or a little bit of all three. He’s not the most skilled fighter in the world but he’s relatively young so maybe he’ll improve. He might end up released by the UFC, which would probably be a good thing for him as he could get some wins on local shows while also improving his skill level.
While he’s never going to be a title contender, Ludwig is a solid hand to have around. He’s nicknamed “Bang” for a reason because that’s exactly what he likes to do, in fighting terms that is. There are plenty of exciting fights for him in the welterweight division as long as they choose his match ups wisely.
Predicted Next Fight: Ludwig vs. Sadollah – Osipczak vs. Unemployment