March 19, 2011 will go down in history the day “SuperBones” was born and filmed. “SuperBones” put a criminal on his back faster than women when The Situation lifts his shirt and then beat a man to the point that even Snooki wouldn’t go near him. Sandwiched between the work of “SuperBones” was a “California Kid” making a successful trip to the east coast, the light Miller letting his opponent know that his fists taste great while the other Miller was less fulfilled, and a man with chess board short was checkmated once again. And of course no great action movie would be complete without a little eye candy and that’s the role Britney Palmer played to perfection.
Jon Jones defeated Mauricio Rua by TKO (Strikes) at 2:37 in Round Three to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Title
In the biggest test of his career, Jon Jones punched, kicked, and kneed his way through Mauricio Rua to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Title.
Jones went H.A.M. in this fight. During his walk out, I thought Jones looked a little overwhelmed by the moment but when I saw him punching and kicking the corner pad before Bruce Buffer spun to introduce him, I knew all his nerves went out the octagon and into “Shogun” fans who thought there was no way this 23 year old kid would beat their idol. For just under 13 minutes, Jones had his way with the best light heavyweight in the world. He opened up with a flying knee, a head kick, and spinning back kick. None of them landed clean but it sent the message that he was going to be the aggressor and he was going to take the fight to Rua. Jones eventually got a takedown, and after avoiding a couple of submission and sweep attempts by Rua, Jones landed a big knee as Rua stood up followed by a straight left. The champion was rocked and that was the beginning of the end. It looked like Jones could have put Rua away at any point during the round but credit Rua for surviving the first frame. The second round was even more dominant for Jones and was highlighted by a spinning back elbow off a clinch break. Jones once again got Rua down and pounded on him with elbows and punches for the majority of the second five minutes. Rua once again survived but he was taking an absolute beating. Rua seemed to have life early in the third round, landing a right hand and getting the back of Jones standing but he went for a leg lock, something he’d been unsuccessful in locking up the entire fight, and again ended up on his back with Jones on top. This time Jones wasn’t going to let Rua off the hook. He pounded on Rua with punches and elbows, kneed Rua in the body as Rua gave up his back, and then when Rua managed to get to his feet, Jones landed another knee that put Rua down. Referee Herb Dean stepped in before Jones could land another strike and before Rua could officially tap out. Now the world knows who Jones am.
Rua is a warrior, there is no doubt about that. I’m sure the knee surgery and lay off affected him but I’m not even sure a 100% Rua was going to win this fight. He definitely looked slower though and wasn’t as aggressive as he should have been standing. He never really unleashed his kicks and he kept going for leg locks on the ground, even though they weren’t there. Honestly though, I’m not sure what Rua could have done differently in this fight. Jones was just the better fighter. Rua will be back though and I still think he’s one of the best light heavyweights in the world. Hopefully he can stay healthy and doesn’t have another surgery/layoff because when he’s fighting consistently, that’s when you see how good he is. I hope we finally get the Quinton Jackson vs. Rua rematch, but first Jackson needs to get past Matt Hamill.
Allow me to re-use a line that I wrote about Jones prior to UFC 126, “the only way to stop Jones is with a handgun and state commissions frown upon that.” The guy beats up robbers by day and then beats up world-class fighters by night. Maybe Rua wasn’t himself and Jones’ dominance is a bit overstated, but it’s not like Jones doesn’t have a history of running through every guy he’s faced. Everything about this guy is amazing. I thought Rua would give Jones a little trouble on the ground but Jones’ base was so strong that Rua could do nothing with him. Now I want to see Jones turn into the MMA Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. It’s clear that his whole “humble” thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get my wrong, I’m sure Jones is a very nice guy and he’s grateful for all the opportunities that life has presented him but when it comes fight time, his comments are anything but, “I’m a humble guy who just wants to make the best of the situation.” So he should become Ali and Jordan, and just become the most confident guy in the world and make sure everyone knows it. He should start predicting what round and how he’s going to finish his opponents. As long as he backs it up, everyone will love him. He can be humble after he beats a man to a living death but prior to the fight I want to hear things like, “He won’t be alive after five” and “The man won’t see after just one knee.” Jones will face Rashad Evans next, and while I think a lot of people underrate Evans, I’m not sure he has any advantage in this fight. Maybe he’s a half step quicker but is that half step enough to negate the strength and explosiveness of Jones? I doubt it. And if Jones is ever going to become the Ali/Jordan of MMA, Evans will be the guy to bring it out of him.
Predicted Next Fights: Rua vs. Jackson/Hamill winner – Jones vs. Evans
Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Urijah Faber moved one step closer to a UFC Bantamweight Title shot by outlasting Eddie Wineland in a three round affair.
The first round of this fight was Faber trying to get a takedown but Wineland being too strong for him in the clinch. Despite not getting the fight to the ground though and Wineland having the supposed striking advantage, Faber landed some very clean right hands while Wineland couldn’t get much going on the feet. I actually thought Faber won the first round because he did more damage and I rate damage higher than clinch control but that’s just me. Faber was able to get a takedown in the second round and even though he couldn’t get past guard, he did rough up Wineland with elbows. The third round started slow but then Faber faked a takedown, which got Wineland to drop his hands, and Faber landed a beautiful straight right that wobbled Wineland. Faber followed that up with a couple more right hands and then got Wineland down, where he once again roughed him up with elbows until the round ended. It wasn’t the most impressive performance of Faber’s career but it was good enough to earn him the decision and likely a title shot.
I was impressed with Wineland’s strength and takedown defense in this fight but Faber’s speed was too much for him. Wineland had a lot of trouble hitting Faber and because he’s almost exclusively a boxer, Faber didn’t have to worry about the leg kicks. Wineland is going to give plenty of guys trouble at bantamweight because he is a good boxer with strong takedown defense. I’d like to see him add more kicks to his arsenal, to slow down any fighter that might be faster than him. Antonio Banuelos needs a strong bounce back performance after his sparring contest against Miguel Torres, so I hope he gets to fight Wineland next. It would be a rematch of the first ever WEC Bantamweight Title fight and a big fight for both guys given that they’re coming off losses.
While Faber wasn’t able to muscle around Wineland, he still has the speed that made him so dangerous at featherweight. Even though Faber wasn’t able to finish Wineland, I though he looked very good in this fight. The takedowns weren’t there for him in round one so he decided that instead of using his strength in the clinch, he would use his speed on the feet. He out-struck the better striker and because of this, he was able to score takedowns. Faber called out Dominick Cruz after the fight, with a meme that died months ago, but lets not hold that against him. Given that the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will feature featherweights and bantamweights, and Cruz and Faber don’t like each other, it makes perfect sense for them to be the next coaches, leading to an eventual title fight.
Jim Miller defeated Kamal Shalorus by TKO (Strikes) at 2:15 in Round Three
Continuing to prove that he belongs in the upper echelon of the lightweight division, Jim Miller poured it on and finished a very tough Kamal Shalorus.
Moments after watching his brother taste defeater, Miller turned in arguably the best performance of his career. In the first round he was able to use his speed and straight punching to combat the power and wild hooks of Shalorus. Miller had a lot of success striking, especially with his right hook. In the second round, Miller scored a takedown on the world-class wrestler and as Shalorus tried to pop back up, Miller quickly jumped on his back. While Miller wasn’t able to finish Shalorus with the position, he had back control and a body triangle for the majority of the round and was well in control of the fight. The third round saw Miller continue to batter Shalorus on the feet before putting him down with an uppercut followed by a knee, that busted and broke the nose of Shalorus. Miller pounded out Shalorus on the ground to score his seventh straight victory. While he was hesitant to call anyone out after the fight, Miller hinted that he was ready for a title shot.
Despite being one of the best wrestlers in the division, Shalorus seems content on trying to strike with guys. While he has a hell of a chin and plenty of power, it’s just not a smart strategy and doesn’t work too well against quicker strikers who throw straight punches. Shalorus should have tried a lot more takedowns in the fight in order to slow things down. Even if he couldn’t keep Miller down, the takedowns would have scored in the judges eyes. I don’t know about anyone else but I’d love to see Shalorus vs. Takanori Gomi. Two guys who swings for the fences and have iron chins, something would have to give.
People keep calling Miller the “Jon Fitch of the lightweight division” because he keeps racking up wins but does it in such a low-key manner that he’s still not super-popular. I also think the facial hair has something to do with it. He’s not Fitch though; not that being compared to Fitch is a bad thing in my mind, because Miller is finishing guys. He had the perfect game plan against Shalorus. Good movement, mixed things up, and straight punches. Maybe Miller hasn’t been fighting what people would call top lightweights but look at the guys resume. He’s fought all kinds of challengers, from hard hitters to great grapplers, from tough veterans to hyped prospects, and he’s beaten them all except the top two lightweights in the company. Rumor has it that Miller will get a title shot if Anthony Pettis loses his upcoming bout against Clay Guida. While I don’t think that’s the best business decision, it is the best sport decision. It’s a shame Melvin Guillard and Denis Siver have upcoming bouts against lower ranked opponents because either of those fights makes sense for Miller. It looks like Miller will be getting a nice vacation though as he waits to see how things shake out in the division and who knows, should Pettis win, maybe someone else will emerge from the pack for Miller to fight.
Predicted Next Fights: Shalorus vs. Gomi – Miller vs. Edgar/Maynard winner or Guillard/Roller winner
Nate Marquardt defeated Dan Miller by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Getting back on track, Nate Marquardt grinded out Dan Miller in a middleweight affair.
The story of this fight was Marquardt’s right hand and takedowns. For the better part of 15 minutes, Marquardt landed his right hand at will but Miller, being one tough hombre, wouldn’t go down. Marquardt also had success landing a lead leg head kick but still Miller wouldn’t go down. Miller tried to score with takedowns but Marquardt was either right back up or able to reverse things. Miller came close to sinking in a guillotine choke on a couple of occasions but Marquardt proved to have stout submission defense and managed to pop his head out before he was forced to tap or pass out. When Marquardt had Miller down, he roughed him up from the guard with elbows and did a nice job stacking Miller and then raining down heavy punches. Even though he couldn’t finish Miller, Marquardt cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
Even though he’s 2-4 in his last six fights, Miller has only lost to top competition and he’s a guy who will fight any on a moment’s notice. He hasn’t developed to the level of his brother but in fairness to him, he’s also fought a higher level of UFC competition than his brother. He’s never been finished and he’s going to make it a fight against anyone in the division. Maybe he’ll never advance past the gatekeeper level but every division needs a gatekeeper and Miller is more reliable than John Carlos Frey. Miller vs. CB Dollaway would be an interesting next fight as Dollaway thinks he’s a top level fighter and a win over Miller would at least be the biggest win of his career and Dollaway is a tough but beatable opponent for Miller, and someone who has a bit of name value.
Marquardt looked good in this fight. His takedown defense looked much improved and his right hand looked faster than ever. I’d still like to see him put more combinations together but I can’t fault him for just continuing to throw the straight right considering that it was landing almost every time he threw it. I still don’t know if Marquardt is “Great” but he was certainly “Good enough to win this fight.” That doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easy I guess. Marquardt needs another top opponent in his next fight and I believe that the winner of Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago would be a good fight for him. I know both Marquardt and Stann train under Greg Jackson so if Stann wins, maybe that fight won’t happen but Marquardt does most of his training is Colorado and it’s not like Stann has been training under Jackson for years so maybe they find a way to make it happen.
Predicted Next Fights: Miller vs. Dollaway – Marquardt vs. Stann/Santiago winner
Brendan Schaub defeated Mirko “Cro Cop” by KO (Punch) at 3:44 in Round Three
Brendan Schaub possibly sent a legend into retirement with a big knockout over Mirko “Cro Cop” in the nights opening contest.
Even though he talked up his hands, Schaub seemed content on turning this fight into a wrestling match. He constantly clinched and looked for takedowns against the historically dangerous striker. Schaub was able to control the clinch for the better part of three rounds and land some good knees to the body but Mirko had his fair share of offense inside, landing to very good elbows, including one that busted the nose of Schaub. Not known for his wrestling, Schaub managed to get Mirko on his back a couple of times and batter the MMA legend with some heavy ground and pound. Mirko wasn’t going away though. He was landing a good straight left and his left head kick wasn’t missing by a mile. Schaub was deducted a point in round two for hitting Mirko in the back of the head one too many times in the clinch but it ended up being a moot point as the fight never made it to the scorecards. In the third round, Mirko threw a leg kick and Schaub countered with a right hand that sent Mirko crashing down to the mat in typical awkward “Cro Cop” fashion. Schaub decided to land an unnecessary punch, I guess to wake Mirko up since he was obviously out. It was the biggest KO of Schaub’s career and the last time we’ll see “Cro Cop” in the octagon.
Mirko should retire. When you’ve suffered as many big knockouts in your career as he has and the lights are turning out quicker and quicker, you need to hang it up. Dana White has already stated that he won’t bring back Mirko and does anyone want to see Mirko fighting in front of 500 people against the fifth best heavyweight in North Dakota? It’s better to go out losing against the best and in front of millions than winning against nobodies in front of hundreds. He wasn’t doing terrible against Schaub but again, he’s just been KO’d too many times and when almost everyone in the heavyweight division hits hard, the knockouts aren’t going to stop. He’s had a hell of a career and his run in the PRIDE 2006 Openweight Grand Prix is something that no one can take away from him but too many wars have taken a toll on his body and he’s just not the same fighter that he was five years ago. I’m sure he still loves to train and fight, and if that’s the case then he’ll make for a hell of a striking coach for any up and coming southpaw, but he just can’t compete anymore. If you’re a fan of “Cro Cop” and MMA then you shouldn’t want to see fight anymore, otherwise I question just how big of a fan you are.
I would like to issue an apology to Schaub for suggesting that he might be a “scaredy cat” (but not in those terms) on twitter for not wanting to stand with Mirko, despite all the talk. I’m sorry Brendan, you fought a smart fight even though I think if you decided stand and trade for the get go instead of clinching and trying to wrestle, you could have KO’d Mirko in the first round instead of the third given your speed advantage. I was impressed with Schaub’s wrestling in this fight though. He timed Mirko’s strikes well, ducked under, and got the takedown. And of course he bullied Mirko in the clinch, where Mirko has had a ton of problems over the years. I think Schaub believes he’s better than he really is but thus far, aside from Roy Nelson, he’s beaten everyone put in front of him and he’s looked good in doing so, maybe he really is that good. According to “future predictor” Joe Rogan, Schaub is going to face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira next and he’s going to win since Schaub has back to back wins over legends. Given the path they seem to have Schaub on, a fight against Nogueira isn’t the worst idea ever, unless you’re Nogueira’s quite possibly shot chin.
Predicted Next Fights: “Cro Cop” vs. Retirement – Schaub vs. Nogueira
While there were no classic fights on this card, there was a classic performance and the start of quite possibly the most dominating UFC Light Heavyweight Title reign since Chuck Liddell.
Next up is UFC Fight Night 24 this coming Saturday so everyone get ready for The Walk Out.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC