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UFC 110 Review

In MMA on February 23, 2010 at 9:47 pm

The UFC made its Australian debut on Saturday night in a thrilling
event which saw contenders rise, champions fall, and lots of questions
answered.

Main Event: Cain Velasquez bt Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (TKO, R1)

Velasquez dominated Nogueira on the feet

This short but eye-opening fight answered a lot of questions about
both these fighters. Velasquez proved that he does, in fact, pack some
power in those fists. Nogueira, meanwhile, is on the decline.

In all of his long career, Big Nog had never been stopped by an
opponent until Frank Mir knocked him flat last year. That beating was
partially attributed to the Brazilian’s staph infection, which greatly
weakened him come fight night. There can be no excuses this time
around. The younger man dominated this fight, showing greatly improved
stand-up technique and some previously hidden power.

Cain also showed a killer instinct which will serve him well in future
fights, and is now perfectly positioned for a shot at the title. He
has the option of biding his time and awaiting the winner of the
Lesnar sweepstakes, or he can take one more fight in the meantime.
Whatever the 27 year old decides, his future is blinding.

The same can not be said of Nogueira. He has had a legendary career,
but it looks increasingly unlikely that he will ever again gather the
momentum to push for a title. He looked sluggish once again on
Saturday night, and his supernatural powers of recovery are a thing of
the past. He may well be given some similarly diminished opponents in
future bouts, but he remains an asset to the UFC.

Wanderlei Silva bt Michael Bisping (UD)

Silva rocks Bisping to seal the decision

Silva and Bisping fought to a standstill over 15 enthralling minutes,
and when the dust settled it was the former Pride legend who had his
hand raised.

The first round was a tight one to call, but Bisping probably stole it
due to some takedowns and a greater volume of strikes. He peppered
Silva with jabs and constantly flitted out of range as the Brazilian
bomber loaded up those Nyquil coated power shots.

With Silva looking frustrated on his middleweight debut, it looked as
though Bisping was in pole position heading into round 2. The Axe
Murderer belied his name as he showed some surprising patience though,
and the fight began to turn in his favour as he landed leg kicks and
some purposeful ground and pound. The round was already heading in his
direction when he sealed it with a tight arm-in guillotine which
nearly had the Brit tapping.

Bisping showed admirable determination in holding on, but the strain
was written all over his face. The third round looked similar to the
1st, and it was anyone’s fight with the seconds draining away. That
was when Silva exploded, and dropped Bisping with a flurry against the
cage. If there was any doubt in the judges’ minds, it would have been
dispelled by the image of a dazed Bisping being helped to his feet as
a primal Silva, arms aloft, lapped up the crowd’s bellows.

Bisping must now rebuild, although a performance such as this won’t
have hurt him too much. He showed what a solid fighter he is, but a
few of the old frailties remain. His strikes lack snap, and this is an
area which he must improve. Should he find more mustard to go with his
excellent technique, than he will become a truly dangerous striker. He
also must work on improving his top control, as time and again Silva
exploded out from under him after being downed by a muscular takdown.

Silva, meanwhile, has a chance to make a run at the middleweight
title. He will probably face Akiyama next, and a win there could see
him in line, given his popularity and the paucity of contenders. It’s
more likely that he will need one more win after that, against someone
like Marquardt or Sonnen, depending on where they all stand.

He’d better hope his namesake Anderson has moved up or got bored by
then though, as that is a match-up that Wand should want no part of.

George Sotiropolous bt Joe Stevenson (UD)

Sotiropolous was impressive on the ground

George Sotiropolous was always an impressive fighter, and his recent
run showed that his hard work was paying off. Very few expected him to
handle this step up in competition so easily though.

He dominated from the very first bell against Joe ‘Daddy’, and there
was absolutely no doubt over the winner here. His rangy boxing
frustrated Stevenson, and the Aussie refused to be taken down without
a fight. This resulted in numerous scrambles, which almost always
resulted in the home town favourite probing for submissions from the
top.

Even on the few occasions that Stevenson wound up where he wanted, in
top control, Sotiropolous showed exactly how a defensive guard can be
most effective. He utilised a high rubber guard to clam up and
frustrate his American opponent, and never left himself open to the
onslaught which the ‘Daddy’ was desperate to unleash.

Apart from some belated offense from above in the third round,
Stevenson only briefly threatened with a trademark guillotine and a
desperate ankle-lock. These were never enough to negate the Aussie’s
impregnable defence, better stand up, effortless guard passing and
constant submission threat.

Joe Daddy has had a difficult time of things lately, and is only 3-4
in his last seven appearances in the octagon. But even in these
troubled times, he is very unlikely to be cut. A veteran of nearly 50
fights, he is as reliable a gatekeeper as there is, remains popular
with the crowd, and rarely takes part in a dull fight.

Sotiropolous, on the other hand, is finally putting it all together,
and will take another step up the ladder in the lightweight division.
He showed how effective he can be in neutralising a wrestler from the
bottom, which will be a key attribute against some of the powerhouses
he will be matched up against. He also showed how adept he is at
creating scrambles and profiting from them.

It will be interesting to see how he deals with a powerful striker,
and how his BJJ stacks up against another submission specialist. He
looks to have all the tools to compete though, and could be a threat
to plenty of the division.

Ryan Bader bt Keith Jardine (TKO, 3rd)

Bader controlled Jardine for the first round

This one was heading for a tight decision until Bader took it out of
the judges’ hands with a crushing knockout of the Techno Viking.

The first round was Bader’s, as he landed takedowns and showed some
impressive top control. Not for the first time in his career though,
he came out in the second looking flat and tired. Jardine took
advantage by sprawling effectively and landing some of those damaging
leg kicks. His chopping hooks also began to land as he drove Bader
backwards in the stand up.

So it was more than likely all square as they came out for the third,
and TUF 8 winner Bader looked as though he knew it. He showed a
greater urgency than he had in the second, and when he briefly dropped
Jardine in an exchange midway through the round, he capitalised
expertly.

Seeing his opponent was wobbly, he closed the distance with a flying
knee before knocking the still fuzzy Jardine cold with a straight
left. Like his team mate Velasquez later in the night, Bader showed a
killer instinct which some were unsure he possessed. With the power in
his hands, showing the technique to capitalise against as awkward and
accomplished an opponent as Jardine is a big feather in Darth’s cap.

He will move on to more taxing challenges, but at such an early stage
in his career, he has shown all the hunger and skill which can be
reasonably expected of a developing fighter. He is probably just one
more win away from being talked about in title terms, but it might be
a little too early for that. It would be interesting to see how far
his BJJ has come, and whether he can successfully neutralise a sub
specialist from the top. That kind of fighter is thin on the ground at
205 though, so right now he is a threat to whoever is lined up next.

Jardine meanwhile, slumped to yet another damaging loss as his suspect
chin betrayed him once more. He remains a solid fighter at 205, but is
very vulnerable to power punchers. `like Stevenson at lightweight, he
will be kept around to provide a challenge for up and comers, but his
title challenging days are almost certainly behind him.

Mirko Filipovic bt Anthony Perosh (Stoppage, Rd 2)

Cro Cop was too good for Perosh

Ben Rothwell’s stomach virus forced him to pull out of this fight, and
Australian Anthony Perosh took his life in his hands by stepping in on
just 48 hours notice.

Perosh has made numerous appearances at the ADCC Championships, and
would provide a stern test for Filipovic if he could drag him to
ground. Unfortunately for Perosh, he couldn’t.

The Croatian has developed a lightning sprawl to combat such jiu jitsu
players, and he showcased it once again on Saturday. Poor Perosh was
pancaked numerous times as he shot in with increasing desperation. Cro
Cop was having none of it though, and kept the fight in his world.

Cro Cop’s world was a nightmare for the Aussie, as he was continually
beaten to the punch. Even when he covered up, the punches still snaked
through as he was badly outclassed on the feet. Finally, after 10
minutes of punishment which left his face badly cut up, the doctor
stepped in to end the fight.

Perosh showed commendable bravery in not only stepping up at such
short notice, but also continuing to push forward in the face of the
Croatian onslaught. He probably doesn’t have what it takes to compete
at this level, but the UFC may hand him an undercard slot at a future
event in recognition of his heart and guts.

Cro Cop, meanwhile, proved little in this fight other than what we
already know. He packs serious power in his strikes and possesses a
sprawl par excellence. Next up will be a far sterner test in the
moon-blocking shape of Rothwell. With both fighters physically fit,
that fight will be set for sometime in the near future.

Undercard:

Lytle locks up a knee bar for the win

A highly entertaining undercard saw a Kiwi victory as James Te Huna
stopped Igor Pokrajac in the third, while Chris Lytle finished Brian
Foster with a knee bar in the first round of their dust-up. Elsewhere,
CB Dollaway took a much needed unanimous decision as he wrestled his
way through the returning Goran Reljic, and Krzyzstof Soszynski
stopped Stephan Bonnar due to cuts.

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