onestopsport

UFC 107 Round-Up

In MMA on December 15, 2009 at 1:30 am

The UFC made its debut in Memphis, Tennessee last Saturday night as BJ Penn put his lightweight title on the line against top contender Diego Sanchez. Onestopsports managed to get 9 out of 11 predictions right, but don’t start rushing to the bookies yet. It was probably a fluke!

Here’s what happened:

Main Event: BJ Penn bt Diego Sanchez (TKO, 5th)

Diego Sanchez was supposed to give the Prodigy a challenge.

Unfortunately for the ‘Nightmare’, what we saw on Saturday was confirmation, if it was needed, that BJ Penn is the most talented lightweight fighter on the planet, and one of the sport’s pound for pound kings.

I expected Penn to win, but I thought Sanchez’ relentless style and bottomless gas tank would at least cause him a few hairy moments. Instead, we were treated to an exhibition of mixed martial arts at its most inspiring, and in the words of Dana White, ‘the worst beating ever in the octagon’.

As early as the opening minute, the outcome was all but decided, as Penn dropped the challenger with a beautiful counter right hook and swarmed all over him with a blurring barrage of flying fists in search of the finish. Sanchez showed incredible heart to survive that onslaught, but it had clearly taken its toll. He looked slightly wobbly on the feet, and never really recovered.

BJ Penn put on a boxing exhibition as he retained the lightweight belt

The remainder of the fight played out like some kind of gruesome snuff movie on repeat, as Penn moved like a leaf on the wind in the face of Sanchez’ constant advances. He landed his concrete counters with ease and it was soon clear that this was a mismatch on the feet.

Before long, the nutty ‘TUF’er resembled an extra from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ as his face began to swell and the blood leaked. But, zombie-like, he kept coming forward, exhibiting a moon-sized heart and a Roy Nelson size gas tank.

The fight mercifully came to an end midway through the 5th, as a rare kick from Penn opened up an enormous wound on the Nightmare’s forehead. Even the undead have to bow to the doctor’s decision in the octagon, and the fight was called almost immediately.

The champion showed respect for his opponent in the after-fight interview, claiming he’d always wanted to fight him.

But the question is now, who’s next?

Frank Mir bt Cheick Kongo (Sub, 1st)

As most people predicted, this one hit the ground, and was over very soon afterwards. But the real shock was how it got there. This was no ‘survive on the feet and scrag a takedown’ effort from Mir, this was a total domination.

The fight was less than a minute old when the first real exchange between the two fighters was brutally punctuated by an overhand left from Mir. The shot stunned Kongo and dropped him to the canvas, and the former champ immediately smothered him like tan on Ronaldo.

The end came just a few short seconds later, as Kongo fought, manoeuvred and quickly went limp in a vice-like guillotine.

Mir tightens the fight-ending guillotine choke

It seems strange to some people how different a quality kickboxer can look in a mixed martial arts ring, but the added threat of a takedown changes things absolutely. There is no way Kongo would have dropped his hands that early and been caught by a punch like he was, if he wasn’t worried about allowing an opening for Mir to drag him down.

The shot wasn’t a fight ending one either, it merely stunned the giant Frenchman, but that was all Mir needed.

There are some interesting fights in the American’s future, as he has firmly re-established himself in the title mix. But there is still only one that he wants, as he grimly vowed to ‘hurt and finish’ ailing heavyweight king Brock Lesnar.

He may have to wait for that chance though, as Lesnar is still a while away from returning to the ring. With Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira limbering up for their date in the cage, the fight that makes most sense right now is another slugger, Shane Carwin. Depending on the champ’s situation at that stage, the winners of those bouts could face each other for an interim title pending Brock’s return.

Kongo meanwhile, faces a long road back to legitimacy. He is now firmly entrenched as a gatekeeper, and will need some big wins to shake that stigma. With the holes in his game, he is unlikely to ever earn a title shot. Someone like Todd Duffee makes sense now, as the UFC will look to build younger stars off his faded name.

Jon Fitch bt Mike Pierce (UD)

Jon Fitch notched another unanimous decision win in this one, as he narrowly but comprehensively out-struck and outwrestled a lively Mike Pierce to hand the prospect his first loss in the octagon.

Fitch lands a leg kick

Pierce had some success on the feet early as he cut Fitch open, but the AKA fighter secured a takedown and took Pierce’s back to earn the round on the judge’s scorecards.

The second round saw the underdog again landing well on the feet, but again giving up two costly takedowns as he entered the 3rd in dire need of a finish.

He nearly got it too, as he escaped from Fitch on the ground to land a string of unanswered blows, forcing his opponent to desperately seek some respite in the clinch. He didn’t quite manage to halt Pierce’s onslaught, but he did survive, and that was all he needed to take an uninspiring 29-28 victory.

The win was Fitch’s 11th in the UFC, with his only loss coming at the hands of the invincible Georges St Pierre. With grinding decisions like this though, you can see why the top brass are reluctant to put him on too many main cards.

Pierce meanwhile, showed enough to earn himself another fight, although he may need another win or two if he wants to return to the main card.

Kenny Florian vs Clay Guida (TKO, 2nd)

Kenny Florian outclassed the hyperactive Guida in this one-sided scrap, as he bounced back impressively from his loss to BJ Penn.

He clearly took the first round by virtue of his superior stand up, despite being taken down and bloodied up early on. Guida’s unsophisticated approach on the mat caused Florian few problems as he confidently opened up his guard and exploded to his feet using the heels-on-the-hips ‘Cro Cop’ escape. From there, he went to work landing superior combinations and opening up a huge gash on the Carpenter’s head with another of his patented razor elbows.

Florian outclassed Guida on the feet

Ken-Flo came out in the second round and took his opponent right out of his comfort zone by easily avoiding the takedown, and the more time the fight spent on the feet, the closer the end came.

Sure enough, with about two minutes on the clock, a sloppy combo from Guida was met with a powerful right counter from Florian. As Clay crumpled, Florian dived on top and latched on an expert rear naked choke to finish the fight.

Florian will probably now be granted another shot at main event loser Diego Sanchez, whenever he’s healthy, as he looks to earn the right to another beating at the hands of Penn.

Guida meanwhile, has once again shown that his unending energy and rock ‘em sock ‘em stand up isn’t enough to trouble the top contenders. He needs a renaissance if he’s ever to develop into more than an entertaining sideshow.

Stefan Struve bt Paul Buentello (Maj. Dec)

21 year old Dutchman Stefan Struve once again showed his warrior spirit and huge potential against former heavyweight contender Paul Buentello, but there are still some big holes in his game which he will need to close up as he develops.

A win over Buentello is something to be proud of though, and the tough Texan showed exactly why he should be given some more opportunities in the octagon.

Buentello lands a hard right hand as Struve leaves himself open to the counter

The first round began brightly, as Struve stunned the Headhunter with an uppercut and dumped his dazed opponent to the mat. From there, he worked to the back, secured a textbook body triangle and went to work. He showed his inexperience as he worked for the submission though, neglecting to soften Buentello up with punches and elbows. As a result, he failed to secure the fight ending submission he sought and the fight went to the second round.

This was where he started to show some frailties.

Despite utilising his Stretch Armstrong physique with some telescopic kicks and a few nice jabs, he often left himself wide open to the counter. On numerous occasions, he would drop his hands as he advanced into the pocket, and finally paid the price.

As he launched into a ludicrous flying knee with his hands in his pockets, Buentello stepped back and cracked him in mid-air. It looked as though the fight was over, but the veteran showed far too much respect for the woozy youngster’s guard as he backed off and allowed him time to recover. As they engaged again on the feet, it was clear Struve had learned a lesson.

He escaped to the third round, and immediately began circling away and landing leg kicks. These didn’t seem to phase the aggressive Buentello, but they were the most significant offense in the final frame. The lanky submission specialist stayed out of trouble and took the judge’s nod with a majority decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 28 each.

Struve is a great prospect, but he showed against dos Santos that his stand up is still raw and he is not ready for the top tier. The UFC should allow him to develop and gradually introduce him to better fighters rather than throwing him to the lions immediately. Maybe a TUF’er could be next on the cards, someone like Matt Mitrione or James McSweeney perhaps.

Buentello on the other hand, showed great heart and should be kept around to test more up and comers. He will always put on an exciting fight, and provides a stern test for any opponent.

Undercard:

In an exciting undercard, Alan Belcher and Wilson Gouveia took the fight of the night honours for their windmill brawl. Belcher inevitably came out on top, as Gouveia wilted against the cage late in the first.

Despite landing some good shots, the Brazilian should have been looking for a takedown during some of the exchanges, as a furious Belcher unloaded on him.

Johnson submits Garcia with a slick triangle

Elsehwere, DeMarques Johnson slipped a sneaky triangle on Edgar Garcia to steal a fight he was losing handily, Matt Wiman outclassed Shane Nelson and Johnny Hendricks dominated Ricardo Funch on his way to a unanimous decision win.

Finally, TJ Grant dropped Kevin Burns to beat the bell in the first, and Rousimar Palhares heel-hooked his way to a win over newcomer Lucio Linhares.

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