No longer having the honor of running live WEC events on their network, Versus now has the honor of running four live UFC events in 2011. The first of the four events took place last Thursday with a card that wasn’t headlined by Jon Jones, although he did find his way on the show via satellite. The biggest story of this event wasn’t the potential fight of the year candidate or Brittney Palmer but it was UFC’s first foray into 3D. It was such a big story that apparently no one watched in 3D because they got the wrong TV, sillyheads.
Diego Sanchez defeat Martin Kampmann by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
When Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann, many people expected a war. Well the fight lived up to the hype but like the explosions always overshadow the story in a Michael Bay film, the judging once again overshadowed the performances in a MMA fight.
For the entire 15 minutes Sanchez was the aggressor in the tilt. He was constantly moving forward with punches and never stopped trying for a takedown during the rounds. The only problem with this strategy was that Kampmann avoided most of Sanchez’ punches, constantly countered with a straight right hand, and stuffed every takedown Sanchez went for except for one. The first round was clearly Kampmann’s. He was moving well, pecking away at Sanchez with the jab, sprawling on every takedown attempt, countering with the right hand, and even dropping his opponent. Sanchez had absolutely nothing going for him in the first round. The second round was a bit better for Sanchez but he was still getting lit up standing. His saving grace in the round was that he was able to back Kampmann against the cage and land a flurry of punches, some of which rocked Kampmann but given Kampmann’s chin, none of them seemed fight ending. The third round was a lot like the first two. Kampmann was moving, jabbing, countering, and stuffing takedowns while Sanchez was pressing, missing, and eating punches. Sanchez finally managed to get a takedown in the third round but Kampmann popped right back up and took no damage on the ground. Sanchez once again had his against the cage flurry but it was less effective this time around. At the end of the fight, Kampmann had a broken right hand from punching Sanchez in the face and Sanchez had a third eye under his left eye from getting punched in the face. The fight was closer than the damage made it seem but Kampmann was the more effective fighter after 15 minutes. He landed the cleaner punches and stuffed almost every takedown attempt while Sanchez’ bright spots were two flurries in 15 minutes. As Randy Couture put it though, “the judges rewarded aggression over accomplishment” and gave the decision to Sanchez.
Kampmann is a couple of different opinions away from being on a four-fight win streak. Instead he’s 0-2 in his last two contests and yet he fought his fight against Sanchez. Seriously, Kampmann did nothing wrong in this fight. He bloodied the face of Sanchez and did everything short of putting him away, which isn’t easy as Sanchez is as tough as they come. Despite officially losing, Kampmann was the more impressive fighter of the two. His takedown defense has come a long way over the years, which means fighters have to stand with him and that usually doesn’t end well for his opponents. Kampmann has the tools to be one of the top welterweights in the division, he’s just been on the wrong side of a couple of close decisions. He’s only 28 though, he’s improving in every fight, and he’s not going away anytime soon. I hope he gets another tough challenge in his next fight, like the winner of Dan Hardy vs. Anthony Johnson.
If nothing else, Sanchez has tiger blood and he showed it in this fight both visually and metaphorically. Sanchez has long gotten by on his aggressiveness and his desire and it seems like that’s going to continue to be his path to victory as his technical ability is just lacking. There’s no shame in getting out-struck by Kampmann but the complete lack of defense Sanchez showed was very troublesome. On top of that but Sanchez not only struggled to get Kampmann down but he struggled to keep a hold of him in order to create scramble situations. The worst thing about Sanchez in this fight may have been his physique. He said before the fight that he wanted to put on muscle but I guess someone forgot to tell him that Little Debby snack cakes don’t increase muscle. The good news for Sanchez is despite all his problems, he still won the fight. I’d like to see Sanchez face Dong Hyun Kim next as Kim needs a top opponent in his next bout and Sanche is coming off two straight big wins.
Predicted Next Fights: Kampmann vs. Johnson/Hardy winner – Sanchez vs. Kim
Mark Munoz defeated CB Dollaway by TKO (Punches) at 0:54 in Round One
A battle of wrestlers ended in a stand up exchange as Mark Munoz made quick work of CB Dollaway to take another step up the middleweight ladder.
Dollaway used his wrestling early in the fight, dragging Munoz down and even having the opportunity to latch onto Munoz’ neck as Munoz tried to get up but instead Dollaway backed away and allowed his opponent to get to his feet. As Jack Slater would say, “Big mistake.” Munoz proceeded to thank Dollaway for letting him up by leveling him with a right hand that sent Dollaway down. Munoz pounced on him, landed a couple of hammerfists, and the ref jumped in to stop things. Maybe the stoppage was a bit premature but given Munoz’ power, I’d like to think that Mario Yamasaki saved Dollaway from death.
If you ask CB, then you would probably think that CB is undefeated. Unfortunately for him, he is not. Instead he’s a guy that is at the mid-level and has been at the mid-level for his entire UFC run. This was the fight for him to prove himself against a guy on the upswing like Munoz and he once again was finished in the first round. Obviously Dollaway made a mistake in letting Munoz up but maybe he didn’t want to attack the neck, fail, and end up on his back with Munoz on top. Whatever his reason, it didn’t matter in the end because he found himself on his back anyway. Dollaway is a fighter who is going to beat fighters who lack wrestling and a really good ground game but anyone who can keep it standing or threaten from the bottom will give Dollaway a lot of problems.
Munoz continues to impress me. He was on the brink of victory against top contender Yushin Okami and his only other loss was against light heavyweight Matt Hamill. He keeps improving with every fight, he’s getting more comfortable on his feet, and he’s going to be able to takedown most guys in the division. Munoz is going to be a major player in the middleweight division for most of 2011 and heading into 2012. I hope he gets a top-level fighter in his next bout because he’s definitely earned it. The winner of Jorge Santiago vs. Brian Stann makes a lot of sense as it would be a great fight to see whose really ready to compete with the upper echelon guys.
Predicted Next Fights: Dollaway vs. Credeur/Herman winner – Munoz vs. Santiago/Stann winner
Chris Weidman defeated Alessio Sakara by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Taking the fight on short notice and making his UFC debut, Chris Weidman showed that the hype may indeed be real as he took it to Alessio Sakara for 15 minutes.
The first round of this fight was great back and fourth action. Sakara was putting together very crisp combinations and landing chopping leg kicks while Weidman was responding with a solid left hook. Weidman tried to mix in some takedowns as well but Sakara showed stout takedown defense in the first round. Even though he was bleeding his blood, Sakara landed the cleaner strikes and stuffed the takedowns, which was enough to win him the round in my unpublished book. The next two rounds were all Weidman. He was able to get Sakara down much easier and on the ground he roughed him up with short punches and elbows. Sakara never seemed in trouble of being finished but he was getting out-classed on the ground by the superior wrestler and grappler. Maybe the highlight of rounds two and three was Sakara wiping his blood on the referee’s shirt. Maybe Gary Copeland can always bring that shirt out with him like American Top Team fighters do with the ATT flag. The end result was Weidman picking up a dominant unanimous decision victory and making a successful UFC debut.
Sakara put up a valiant effort in this fight but he just doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree that Weidman does and he’s not very good off his back. Striking though, Sakara is as good as they come. He really looked fluid with his combinations in this fight, unfortunately he couldn’t keep it standing long enough. If Sakara can continue to improve his takedown defense and his cardio, maybe he can become a mainstay in the division and possibly compete with the top guys. Hopefully Sakara gets to fight his originally scheduled opponent, Maiquel Falcao, in the near future because that could be an explosive stand up battle.
Even though he couldn’t put Sakara away, Weidman looked impressive in his debut. He faced a tough veteran on very short notice in his UFC debut and he won a comfortable decision. You can tell Weidman is very talent, he just needs more seasoning. He held his own against Sakara in the striking department and he’s obviously skilled in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. The next bout for Weidman will be a true showcase of his skills because he hopefully won’t be taking the bout short notice and he won’t have the octagon debut jitters. UFC would be best advised to bring Weidman up slowly and let him improve along the way. A guy like Jorge Rivera would be a good fight for Weidman right now.
Predicted Next Fights: Sakara vs. Falcao – Weidman vs. Rivera
Brian Bowles defeated Damacio Page by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 3:30 in Round One
Brian Bowles not only has Damacio Page’s number, he has his e-mail, twitter, facebook and training schedule.
Page came out on fire early, pressing the action and taking the fight to Bowles. Bowles looked a little slow to start, likely due to the cage rust, but he soon found his rhythm on the feet. Bowles ended up catching Page with a right uppercut that wobbled him, got a takedown, and then locked on a guillotine choke for the victory. Yeah it’s that choke again, the same as fight one. The time was the exact same, Bowles guillotine is a tight one.
Page can still be a player in the bantamweight division but after two straight losses, he’s likely going to need a win in his next bout if he hopes to stick around. He was doing well early but then he got caught with a big punch and fell victim to the guillotine choke again. His aggressive style makes for exciting fights so hopefully he gets another aggressive fighter, like Takaya Mizugaki in his next bout.
If it were up to Bowles, he’d probably fight Page on every card. This was a good bounce back performance for Bowles following his first career loss and the long layoff. He started slowly but weathered the storm, showed his power, and reminded people that his wrestling and grappling is right there with his striking. Bowles is right there in the title hunt and could be one fight away based on his next performance. Joseph Benavidez is someone who is in desperate need of a top opponent and Bowles should be that opponent, pending Benavidez beats Ian Loveland at UFC 128.
Predicted Next Fights: Page vs. Mizugaki – Bowles vs. Benavidez/Loveland winner
It’s a shame not many people watched this event because between all the commercials, they missed some very good fights, culminating with the main event. This event just happened to fall on a Thursday, which has become a night known for second-rate wrestling and not first-rate MMA, and on a network known for bull riding and fly-fishing. Fret not UFC fans, UFC 128 is right around the corner so get ready for The Walk Out.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC