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UFC 111 Review

In MMA on March 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

2 belts were on the line as the UFC touched down in New Jersey this Saturday, with Georges St Pierre and Nottingham’s finest Dan Hardy facing off for the welterweight belt, and Frank Mir taking on another hard-hitting giant in Shane Carwin.

Here’s where the gold ended up…

Dan Hardy survived 5 rounds, including this deep armbar, but never looked like causing an upset

Georges St Pierre (C) bt Dan Hardy (UD)

Mohawked challenger Dan Hardy rose to prominence in the welterweight division with wins over Akihiro Gono and Rory Markham, then grabbed the headlines with his merciless baiting and beating of Marcus Davis. These three wins earned him a date with Mike Swick, who he dismissed with surprising ease.

That win left the matchmakers with little choice but to hand Hardy a shot at the belt. Many disputed his right to share a cage with St Pierre, but the truth is that the bionic French Canadian has pretty much cleaned out the division, apart from the ‘Outlaw’.

Although he was as deserving of a shot as anyone in the division, Hardy’s crunching counter-striking style is not the ideal template for those hoping to take St Pierre’s belt, and as expected, it proved to be less than effective as the champion handed in yet another masterclass in wrestling and ground control. The stats show that Hardy was dumped to the mat 11 times in this five round fight, and mounted precious little offence of his own. He did hang in and last the distance though, which is an achievement in itself. As has been pointed out by many, he did no worse than such vaunted challengers as Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves.

Hardy will also have earned a host of new fans for the incredible heart he showed in toughing his way out of a tight armbar and an eye-watering kimura. While GSP’s supersonic shot never allowed him enough time on the feet to get comfortable and let his hands go, he showed some real heart and some solid defence on the ground. On the right side of 30, sounder take down defence will serve the colourful showman well against the rest of the division, and there’s no reason why he can’t work his way back to a title tilt.

St Pierre though, is on another level to anyone in the weightclass right now. Not much more needs to be said about this guy, but there looks to be very little left for him to do at 170. Rumours abound over his next opponent being either the outspoken Josh Koscheck or another hard-hitting Brit in Paul Daley, but with a little bit of a lull before the next victim emerges, fans will be hoping he steps up to test the waters at 185, with the ultimate goal of challenging middleweight ruler Anderson Silva.

Shane Carwin had too much power for Frank Mir, finishing him in the 1st round

Shane Carwin bt Frank Mir (TKO, Rd.1)

Self styled blue-collar brawler Shane Carwin took home the interim belt in New Jersey in a fight that was always going to go one of two ways. Carwin’s impressive record so far points to the obvious fact that anyone he can lay fists on, goes down quickly. 12 first round finishes in a 12-0 career  is about as impressive as it gets, but in MMA, the test for such a fighter comes when they are dragged into the later rounds and their cardio (or lack of it) comes into play. Also, while Carwin has a solid wrestling pedigree, his ground game has yet to be tested.

Personally, I thought Mir would give him a solid exam in both aspects of his game if he could survive past the first round, but unfortunately for the enigmatic grappler, he got caught in the gears of the smashing machine. A series of short uppercuts in the clinch crumpled Mir midway through the round, and that was all she wrote for his hopes of a Lesnar reckoning.

It’s hard to see where he goes from here. With young guns like Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on the rise, it’s a long road back for Mir, and he has shown exactly the kind of weaknesses in his stand up and wrestling that those two would relish exposing once more. A career as a gatekeeper awaits unless he can find some patches.

Carwin will now be the man to take on the hulking Lesnar, and he could cause some serious problems for the champ. That all depends on his ability to stay upright though. If he can keep it on the feet, he could well have too much power for the unproven chin of Lesnar to withstand. Any time spent on his back though, will be spent in survival mode. The fight will tell us a lot about either Brock’s chin or Carwin’s wrestling ability.

Pellegrino gets set to dump Camoes on his head and turn the tide

Kurt Pellegrino bt Fabricio Camoes (Sub, Rd. 2)

Pellegrino continued his recent revival with a win over the skilled Camoes, as he choked out the Brazilian midway through their lightweight scrap. This one looked like going the way of the South American as he sank the hooks in and clung like a limpet to ‘Batman’s back, but the fight hinged on a nifty little manoeuvre that the Dark Knight would have been proud of, as he stood and flipped forward, dumping his erstwhile tormentor right on his head.

That dazed Camoes, and from then on Pellegrino took charge, putting his groggy opponent away with a textbook rear naked choke. Pellegrino has always had some great skills and an all-round game that would be the envy of many, but inconsistency has dogged his career in the UFC. Losses to Drew Fickett, Nate Diaz and Joe Stevenson have bumped him back down the ladder every time he looked like a challenger, but with his 4th win in a row here, things are looking up. Bigger tests await, and whether he has what it takes to make a title push remains to be seen.

Camoes on the other hand, stays winless in the octagon after his November draw with Caol Uno. Had things gone slightly differently here though, he could have got a big win under his belt. He showed enough skill to warrant another chance.

Jon Fitch overpowered Saunders on his way to a comfortable decision

Jon Fitch bt Ben Saunders (UD)

Jon Fitch’s original opponent Thiago Alves had to withdraw from this bout, and on the shortest of notices, Ben Saunders stepped up to try and take a big scalp. The ‘Killa B’ though, quickly learned what 12 of Fitch’s 13 UFC opponents have found out to their cost already. If you can’t keep Fitch from taking you down, you’re in for a long and painful night. Saunders just never had a chance in this fight, his brutal clinch game useless with his shoulder blades pinned to the canvas.

Fitch is not a popular fighter with the fans or, it would seem, the UFC brass themselves precisely for his style of fighting. He’s a grinder, a neutraliser, taking skilled strikers out of their element and shutting down submission specialists with seeming ease. He gets very little respect, and much scorn for his inability to finish, and this is his weakness. He needs to put away these opponents to turn heads and put himself back at the top of the title queue. That, or beat his team-mate Josh Koscheck.

Saunders, meanwhile, won’t be hurt too badly by the loss. A win may have put him one or two scalps away from a shot, but taking such a big fight on a few days notice showed real desire. There’s no shame in being ‘Fitched’, and he gained respect in this fight. A couple more wins could put him back in the frame, and at 26, time is very much on his side.

Jim Miller had just enough to eke out a decision over Mark Bocek

Jim Miller bt Mark Bocek (UD)

Miller’s 4th win in a row, and 6th in 7 in the UFC, was the fight of the main card. The 26 year old Miller looked by far the better fighter in the first round, as he eased his way into the lead. Bocek came roaring back though, and nearly finished BJJ brown belt Miller a number of times as he clearly took the second. Both men knew the fight was in the balance coming into the final round, but rather than freeze, they both upped their games in a ding dong battle that swayed one way, then the other, uncertainty reigning right up until the judges’ scorecards handed Miller the win.

He’ll now take a step up the ladder, and probably a step up in competition too, and his fourth victory in a row means that one good quality win could put him right up there with the other lightweight contenders.

Bocek, meanwhile, must build again after his 3 fight winning streak was ended. He showed his chops though, and looks like a solid mid-level fighter that should have a place on the roster for a while to come.

Nate Diaz grabbed another dominant win

Undercard

In the two televised undercard bouts, Nate Diaz notched another win as he put away a sluggish Rory Markham with ease, outstriking the vaunted kickboxer with his rangy boxing and finishing him in short order with a TKO on the ground. Ricardo Almeida submitted Matt Brown in the first round as he handed in a masterclass to end the ‘Immortal’s recent winning streak.

Elsewhere there were wins for Matt Riddle, Jarred Hamman and Rousimar Palhares, who faces a 90 day ban after failing to let go of a leg-lock promptly enough. Thankfully, there looks to be no lasting damage done to his opponent, Tomas Drwal.

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