UFC may not have been the biggest game in town this past weekend but they put on a show that delivered well above expectations. My only complaint is that I was told not to blink during the main event because I may miss something. Well I blinked about 500 times and both guys were still conscious. FALSE ADVERTISING! It was a great night of fights though and I think UFC fighters being in town inspired the Vancouver Canucks the night before, because they were putting the body on Boston Bruins. Or maybe they were all just trying to impress Brittney Palmer.
Junior dos Santos defeated Shane Carwin by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Not many people figured Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin would go to a decision, but they did, and it wasn’t pretty for one man.
Fight Recap: Everyone figured this fight would be over within the first two minutes so it was a bit shocking when both men were still standing. Carwin went for a couple of takedowns in round one but dos Santos fended them both off and also escaped the clinch before Carwin could do any serious damage. Late in the first round, dos Santos landed a clean one-two followed by a left hook that hurt Carwin and sent him down. “Cigano” was immediately all over him, trying to finish the fight as Carwin turtled up but the referee allowed Carwin to continue, despite dos Santos trying to plead with him to stop the fight while he was pounding away. Not wanting to blow himself up, dos Santos backed off Carwin and let him up, exposed the bloody mess of Carwin’s face. Round two and three were largely the same as dos Santos was just too quick for Carwin on the feet. He got in and out with the jab, put a right hand behind it, disguised it as a left hook, and even went to the body with it before Carwin knew what hit him. Carwin had brief moments of offense as he pressed forward and laid partial leather on dos Santos’ chin but JDS moved away well Carwin likely didn’t have the power that he usually does thanks to the damage done by JDS. In the third round, dos Santos surprised a lot of people by taking down Carwin, not once but twice to put an exclamation point on his victory. While he didn’t score the knockout, dos Santos proved that he was without a doubt the #1 contender to the UFC heavyweight title with a dominant decision victory.
Carwin Fight Assessment: Carwin looked much smaller in this fight, and while it seemed to help his card, it didn’t help his speed. He may have also sacrificed some of his power as well by dropping some weight. I’m not really sure what Carwin could have done differently in this fight. He tried takedowns but they were stuffed. He tried to put dos Santos against the cage but dos Santos spun off. He tried to land his big right hand but he was too slow. Everything he tried, dos Santos was ready for. Carwin is a warrior, no one can deny that, but he was simply overmatched in this fight.
Carwin Future: This makes two straight losses for Carwin, and while both were main event fights, he desperately needs a win in his next bout. Carwin’s problem is that he’s 36 years old and his body is even older, especially after his recent surgery. Carwin’s power and strength will make him a threat against any opponent, especially early, but he’s going to continue to struggle against quicker fighters with good cardio. Another thing going against Carwin is the fact that he’ll likely be out of action for a while and by the time he returns, who knows where he’ll stand in the division.
Dos Santos Fight Assessement: JDS did everything in this fight except finish Carwin, and had the referee been a little nicer, he would have done that as well. He answered the questions about his takedown defense and once again showed that he can go 15-minutes. He also once again proved that he has the best boxing in the heavyweight division. His jab was lethal, he put together great combinations, and he mixed things up very well. This was the kind of performance he needed to prove that he deserved a title shot. So far in his UFC career, I don’t believe he’s lost a round, which is a pretty big deal considering how many fights he’s had in the UFC (seven) and the competition he’s faced.
Dos Santos Future: Obvious JDS will challenge Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight strap in his next fight, and I can’t wait for that fight. To me, it’s the most intriguing heavyweight fight in a very long time. Both guys are well rounded and they just match up so well. Velasquez has the speed to match JDS and he’s the best wrestler JDS has ever faced. On the flip side, JDS’ combination of boxing and wrestling will be the best Velasquez has ever faced. If I could give dos Santos one piece of advice, it would be to work on your leg kick defense.
Predicted Next Fights: Carwin vs. Mike Russow – dos Santos vs. Velasquez
Kenny Florian defeated Diego Nunes by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Making his featherweight debut, Kenny Florian gutted through the weight cut to out-work a very tough Diego Nunes.
Fight Recap: This fight started off slow with both men trying to find their range and get the timing. They traded takedowns in the first round but neither man did anything with the position. Florian scored a late round takedown, but once again Nunes was right back up. In the closing seconds of the round, Nunes dropped Florian with a left hook but didn’t have enough time to capitalize. Knowing he likely lost the first round, at least in the eyes of people who actually have eyes, Florian came out aggressive in round two but it backfired early as Nunes was able to put Florian on his back. That’s when the fight changed. Florian landed one of his infamous elbows that cut the top of Nunes’ head and Nunes was never the same. Florian was able to get to his feet, put Nunes on his back, and worked him over for the rest of the round with more elbows. Nunes really slowed down in the third round and Florian took over with the jab, another takedown, where he continued to batter Nunes with elbows, and more jabs. Florian tried to finish with a flurry but instead got clipped in the exchange and dropped to one knee. The one punch didn’t negate the four minutes and 55 seconds of Florian dominance though. Even though Florian didn’t finish the fight, which he always preached at lightweight, he did pick up the victory and likely a title shot.
Nunes Fight Assessment: Nunes did well in the first round but they he got exhausted, which was pretty shocking, in the middle frame and I really think the elbow to the top of the head messed him up a bit. He seemed to have trouble with the reach of Florian and when he got tired, he clearly had trouble with the size.
Nunes Future: Nunes is still very talented and has the heart of a champion, and now that he’s been in that big fight, I’m interested to see what he does in the future. Nunes’ biggest problem moving forward is the fact that he trains with Jose Aldo and he’s older than Aldo. Unless Aldo’s career is cut short due to injuries or he’s willing to fight his friend, he’s going to have a tough time jumping him.
Florian Fight Assessment: This was probably the worst Florian we’ll see at 145 and yet he did better as the fight went on. He seemed to have trouble with the speed of Nunes early but once Nunes got tired, that speed went away and Florian was able to out-quick him and muscle him around a bit for the rest of the fight. I thought Florian should have gone to the jab earlier but he finally started to find a home for it in the third round, which was key to him winning the round. I thought Florian was more tired and didn’t look as good as the announcers were giving him credit for but it was still a solid performance, especially after the weight cut.
Florian Future: It looks like Florian will now challenge Aldo for the UFC featherweight title and all I can say is, good luck. Florian is a very talented fighter and has big fight experience but Aldo just looks like such a monster right now that I have a hard time going against him. Florian will present a tough challenge because of his skill set and Aldo, coming off another injury, may not fight up to his full potential again but if Aldo’s cardio holds up, Florian is going to have a tough time with the speed, strength, and technical ability of the champ.
Predicted Next Fights: Nunes vs. Stevenson/Vazquez winner – Florian vs. Aldo
Mark Munoz defeated Demain Maia by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Mark Munoz and Demain Maia fought all over the place and in the end, Munoz did enough to satisfy the judges and pick up the victory.
Fight Recap: Maia showed off his improved striking early, clipping Munoz in the opening moments and then damaging Munoz with a very good straight left hand. Munoz kept loading up on his right hand but Maia did a nice job avoiding it throughout the first round. In the second round, Munoz caught Maia early with a right hand that had Maia retreating and looking for a desperation takedown. Munoz sprawled and landed some short, but powerful, strikes to the thighs of Maia. For the rest of the round, Munoz controlled Maia with his wrestling and roughed him up a bit with punches from the top position. It was a good bounce back round for Munoz and tied the fight at one round apiece, at least in the eyes of people who actually have eyes (sense a theme?). The third round was a back a forth round with Munoz still looking to land his big right hand but Maia actually landing his straight left. Munoz went for a takedown early but Maia hit a switch and ended up with the crucifix on the back of Munoz. He couldn’t do anything with the position though as Munoz was able to work his way out rather quickly. Both men spent the rest of the round trying to secure takedowns but neither man could get his opponent on their back. Munoz did have more control in the clinch though, which likely swayed things in his favor. Also helping him was the fact that Munoz was on top as the fight ended as he stuffed a late takedown attempt by Maia. It was a close fight, and while I thought Maia won, I had no problem with Munoz getting the nod. With the victory, Munoz picked up the biggest win of his UFC career.
Maia Fight Assessment: Maia looked very good in this fight. His striking continues to get better, although his defense could use some work, and he’s still very dangerous on the ground. I thought he could have been more active in the clinch as I don’t think he looked for a single trip takedown, but I credit Munoz’ strength for Maia not being able to get anything going in close. Also, I understand why Maia wouldn’t want to go to his back because even if he threatened with 20 submissions while Munoz did nothing but defend, as long as Munoz was on top, he was going to win, but I thought Maia should have been more open to seceding the takedown so he could work on the ground. Again, I can understand why he wouldn’t want to do that though.
Maia Future: Even though he lost, I expect Maia to come back stronger and continue to improve. It’s a bit worrisome that he hasn’t submitted anyone in a couple of years and I hope he’s not completely neglecting his jiu-jitsu to focus on his stand up because he can’t forget what brought him to the dance.
Munoz Fight Assessment: This was a big win for Munoz. His striking is still a little too right hand heavy, but luckily for him, his right hand is heavy. He did a nice job on the ground really neutralizing Maia, although going for the d’arce choke in the second round was a pretty dumb move that almost cost him. Munoz’ chin is a bit questionable though. After he fought Yushin Okami, I wrote that, “Munoz looks a little afraid to get it” and maybe that still holds true because he doesn’t seem to have the greatest chin in the world. Maybe Maia’s power has improved but it’s still not a good sign that Munoz is getting stumbled and retreating against a guy that has never been known for his punching power.
Munoz Future: I still believe that Munoz can be a force at middleweight. His power is second to none and his wrestling is still very good. He might not be the most polished fighter in the world but he seems to be improving with every fighter. Munoz needs a big time opponent in his next fight to further see where he’s at in the division.
Predicted Next Fights: Maia vs. Tim Boetsch – Munoz vs. Brian Stann
Dave Herman defeated Jon Olav Einemo by TKO (Strikes) at 3:19 in Round Two
Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo went back and forth in their UFC debuts but it was Herman that got the last shot in and stood victorious.
Fight Recap: Even though he’s a jiu-jitsu specialist, Einemo had a lot of success in the first round and early in the second in the stand up department. Einemo constantly tagged Herman with the right hand and Herman responded by backing up and smiling. In the second round, Einemo rocked Herman with a right but Herman once again maintained his composure and just smiled. Herman came right back at Einemo, rocked him with a knee, and then dropped him with a right hand but Einemo was able to survive on the ground. Back on the feet, Herman once again got the plum clinch and landed more knees to the head of Einemo, finally putting him down, where he finished him with strikes. It was a great comeback victory of Herman and the only finish on the main card.
Einemo Fight Assessment: Einemo was doing well but he got tired and that was really his downfall. His right hand was there all night but he chased Herman a bit too much and allowed Herman to grab the plum clinch and couldn’t escape often enough. For a guy who hadn’t fought since 2006 and was training for a short, stocky, power wrestler, I think he did fairly well though.
Einemo Future: I hope Einemo will get another chance in the UFC. He’s not likely to become a contender because of his age and all the time he spent away from the sport but I think he can be a good test for up and coming fighters.
Herman Fight Assessment: Honestly, I don’t know what to think of Herman’s performance. I give him a lot of credit for hanging tough, even though he looked rocked a couple of times, but his “back straight up with his chin in the air and smile” isn’t going to cut it against better strikers and harder hitters. He took advantage of Einemo’s weakness though, the clinch, and put him away.
Herman Future: Herman has a lot of potential but he needs to learn how to use his length better. He’s a better wrestler than he showed in this fight, but I’m sure that’s because he wanted no part of Einemo’s ground game, even though, “jiu-jitsu doesn’t really work.” Herman has a very good personality and if he can get on a run, he could be a huge asset for the UFC moving forward.
Predicted Next Fights: Einemo vs. Morecraft/Mitrione loser – Herman vs. Barry/Kongo loser
Donald Cerrone defeated Vagner Rocha by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Vagner Rocha looked like a man who took a fight on short notice as he offered very little offense or defense against Donald Cerrone in a lopsided victory for ‘Cowboy.’
Fight Recap: This fight was all Cerrone, all the time. He opened the fight throwing leg kicks, through leg kicks for 15-minutes, and closed the fight with leg kicks. Rocha, the jiu-jitsu specialist, tried hard to get the fight to the ground, and succeeded for a brief moment in the first round, but was stuffed for the rest of the fight. By the second round, Rocha could do very little against Cerrone thanks to the abundance of leg kicks Cerrone threw and landed. Rocha tried to rush in with wild strikes, and caught Cerrone a couple of times, but they had nothing behind them. Cerrone stuck to his game plan, kept up with the leg kicks, and put leather on the chin of Rocha when he had the chance. Cerrone tried to finish the fight late but couldn’t quite put Rocha away. The result was still the same though as all the judges gave the fight to Cerrone, giving him his second UFC victory.
Rocha Fight Assessment: Rocha really showed nothing in this fight. Everyone knew he would have trouble with Cerrone on the feet but he never even threatened Cerrone. He should have known that Cerrone was going to throw leg kicks and yet he never checked them. He tried to press forward every now and again but his wild striking wasn’t going to get it done. In fairness to Rocha, he did take this fight on short notice but when you take a fight on short notice, you have to show something and Rocha didn’t show much.
Rocha Future: I hope Rocha is given another chance because he deserves to fight with a full training camp under his belt. He has to show something in his next bout though, otherwise it’ll be back to the lower-level shows for him.
Cerrone Fight Assessment: Cerrone was disappointed in his performance but it takes two to tango and Rocha didn’t want to dance. Or fight. He says that he bought into the hype of Rocha’s jiu-jitsu, which is understandable although a bit a odd considering that the one time Rocha got him down, Cerrone immediately threatened him with a submission. Cerrone fought his fight though and destroyed the lead leg of Rocha with leg kicks, which is my favorite strike in the sport.
Cerrone Future: You know what you’re going to get with Cerrone. He’s always going to bring it and he’s going to make it a fight against any he’s paired up against. He still gets hit way too much but that’s part of his charm. He said he wants Sam Stout in his next fight and I say give him Stout. That fight has fight of the night written all over it.
Predicted Next Fights: Rocha vs. Danny Downes – Cerrone vs. Stout
Quick Preliminary Fight Thoughts
*Sam Stout continues to put on great fights. And give him a lot of credit for not laying in any extra punches to a clearly out cold Yves Edwards.
*Chris Weidman has the tools to be legit at middleweight. Hopefully knee problems don’t shorten his career.
*Credit Mike Massenzio for taking a fight on short notice in a higher weight class but Krzysztof Soszynski was just too big for him.
*Does anyone else think that Nick Ring should get a crack at Court McGee? He beat him on The Ultimate Fighter 11 and may have won the show if not for a knee injury.
*Given their respective ages, Dustin Poirier (22) and Jason Young (24) both have the potential to be contenders at featherweight in the future.
*I don’t know how good Joey Beltran can be but the guy always has exciting fights, and sometimes, that’s all you need.
*Seriously judges, if a guy is shocked that he picked up a victory, he probably didn’t win. I’m glad that Michihiro Omigawa got his win bonus and will likely get another fight in the UFC.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC