Sunday was exactly what the UFC needed after a disappointing UFC 97. All the fights that aired last night were solid, and the main event delivered in full.
Let’s delve into the fights:
Dave Kaplan vs. George Roop
Roop won by split decision. I got the pick right but not the prediction. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Kaplan again anytime soon.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
Yoshida picked up the win via guillotine in the first round. Again I got the pick right but not the prediction. It will be interesting to see if Wolff gets another shot in the UFC.
Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley
Bradley won by TKO in the first round. I was way off on this fight. I really hope Nover gets another shot but I’m not so sure he will. It’s amazing how bad he’s looked in the big show after how good he looked on TUF.
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Andre Gusmao
Well I was right that K.S. wouldn’t win by Kimura, but man did his striking impress me. He just walked right through Gusmao’s striking and destroyed him for the first round KO victory. I was kind of curious why Gusmao didn’t even bother trying to go to the ground.
In any case I got the pick right but not the prediction. I can’t wait to see K.S. fight again. He’s really on a roll!
Patrick Barry vs. Tim Hague
This was one of the best comeback victories I’ve seen in a long time. Barry came in and landed some good shots including a head kick that had Hague rocked. But Barry got cocky and let down his guard, which allowed Hague to take him down and force submission with a guillotine choke in the first round. I got this pick wrong but boy was it a fun fight to watch!
Brock Larson vs. Mike Pyle
Pyle was a last-second replacement for Chris Wilson, who didn’t file his medical papers on time. Larson dominated this fight, taking his opponent to the mat quickly where Pyle should’ve been more competitive. Unfortunately Larson made quick work of him landing some good shots and easily getting into position to finish Pyle by arm triangle in the first round. This fight won’t count against my record due to the last-minute replacement (but just as a reminder, I did predict Larson to win by submission).
Sean Sherk vs. Frank Edgar
Edgar looked really impressive in this fight. He had great cardio, more diverse striking, and used great angles and movement. Sherk just plodded straight forward; outside of some good shots in the first round, he didn’t do much.
I was really surprised Sherk didn’t go for more takedowns, but Edgar is a good wrestler. Sherk may not have been able to get him to the ground anyway. But when you’re losing like he was on the feet it’s worth a shot. In any case, I got this fight wrong as Edgar won the unanimous decision. If Sherk can’t beat guys like Edgar I’m not sure where his career goes from here.
Dan Miller v. Chael Sonnen
In what was definitely the most boring fight of the night, Sonnen came in and executed his game plan to perfection. He out-wrestled and out-muscled Miller all over the cage. He laid on top of him and stayed busy enough on top to keep the fight from going back to the feet.
Miller had no answer for Sonnen, who earned his first victory in the UFC since 2006 by unanimous decision. I was way off on this fight.
Drew McFedries v. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
McFedries stepped into the cage and just demolished Pokam. He landed one big punch and Pokam went reeling as McFedries kept landing punches until the ref called it off for a first-round TKO. McFedries picks up a huge victory and Pokam takes a devastating defeat that could really hurt his UFC career. I didn’t get this one right.
Matt Hughes v. Matt Serra
This fight went exactly as I thought it would. Serra landed some good shots (including an unintentional head butt) that hurt Hughes. However, Hughes hung in there and took Serra down and kept control of him for the last two rounds to earn a unanimous decision. I picked this fight right on the nose.
At first I was angry Serra lost (even though I picked Hughes, I can’t stand the guy). However, I was more disappointed that the bad blood seemed a little fake after the fight. Serra was upset he lost, but once the fight started it didn’t seem like there really was any hard feelings. I really hoped this wasn’t just hype.
Rashad Evans v. Lyoto Machida
And another TUF alum champion bites the dust. Joe Rogan said it best, “Welcome to the Machida era.”
This guy really does look unstoppable. Just like I figured would happen, we saw the evolution of striking in MMA last night—even if for just a round and a half.
Both guys came out and went through a long feeling-out process. After Machida found his rhythm, though, the fight was on. Machida began darting in and out as Evans looked to counter strike. Evans never got frustrated with Machida and didn’t start rushing forward. However, he couldn’t catch Machida either.
The second round picked up where the first left off as Machida darted in and out, landing solid shots until he rocked Evans. That’s when we saw the killer instinct from his last fight come out again. Machida began efficiently moving forward and picking the hurt Evans apart until he landed the knockout blow in the second round for the victory.
I didn’t get this pick right but was happy to see Machida finally get some recognition. I also couldn’t believe what I was hearing when people where chanting his name during the fight. This is the same guy people booed for the same exact style when he fought Tito Ortiz a year ago.
Congratulations are in order to the new champion, and I do believe we will see him hang onto the belt for quite some time. Machida can now be mentioned in the same breath with the Penns, GSPs, and Silvas of the world.
I went a miserable 4-6 with one bonus point for getting the Hughes prediction right. Hopefully UFC 99 will work out better for me. My terrible picks aside, it was a good night of fights and hopefully it only gets better as we approach UFC 100.
Until next time, soccer kicks and head stomps...
(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.)