Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 12.14.12: Big FOX Review Edition
Posted by Robert Winfree on 12.14.2012
Thoughts on Shogun Rua's big loss and the rest of UFC on FOX 5, news on the next welterweight title challenger, Rory MacDonald's next fight, a preview of some fights taking place this weekend and more!
Greetings one and all, I hope you're enjoying the month of December and the upcoming holidays. The UFC got December underway with a big card, one that actually lived up the UFC's hype moniker of "the best card ever on network television". Crazy to think the UFC might actually have been right. There's also some fights this weekend, the finale's of two different version's of The Ultimate Fighter, one has been on FX, the other featured a Brit and an Aussie and didn't really get much air time here in the states. There's a few fights worth talking about on those cards, so we'll do that as well as break down the big fights from last Saturday. There's also news, and news is always good, including some fights being made official and a retirement. Lots to do, hope you can hold you're breath while you're Locked in the Guillotine this week.
Buzzer beater: Scott Jorgensen defeated John Albert by submission when Albert tapped to a rear naked choke with less than a second left in the first round. Albert had a nice sweep and a decent triangle attempt, but Jorgensen managed to maintain control through most of the first round and secured the submission at the very end of the first round. Not a bad way to get things going tonight.
Siver makes a statement: Denis Siver defeated Nam Phan by unanimous decision in a really one sided affair. Siver controlled and dominated the entire fight from start to finish with striking and grappling. Siver's kicks and strikes were on point and accurate, and his top game was smothering to go with some strong ground and pound. Siver's takedowns could use some refinement from a technical standpoint, but he looked really good in this fight. Siver is ready for the next level of competition at featherweight, and with another win or two he could get a title shot.
Impromptu beating: Able Trujillo defeated Marcus LeVesseur by TKO in the second round with some brutal knees to the body on the ground. LeVesseur spent the entire first round trying to get Trujillo to the ground, but was unable to do so. Trujillo landed a bunch of punches and elbows to the body as his back was against the cage defending the takedown attempts of LeVesseur. This was a one sided fight, and should get some people talking about Trujillo because he looked like a beast here.
Head kick KO: Daron Cruickshank defeated Henry Martinez by KO with a really sweet head kick in the second round. This entire fight wound up being a showcase for the abilities of Cruickshank, because he landed punches and kicks at will the entire fight, hurt Martinez more than once, and finally put him down and out with a head kick. That was a sweet KO, and early contender for KO of the night.
Well they couldn't all be great: Ramsey Nijem defeated Joe Proctor defeated by unanimous decision in what wound up not being a great fight. It wasn't awful, but it was controlled by Nijem's wrestling and top control. Though Nijem's striking is still ugly, it does seem to be getting better it just has a long way to go still. If this is the worst fight of the night that says good things about this card.
Nothing to see here: Rafael Assuncao defeated Mike Easton in a really uninspired fight. Easton just wasn't able to pull the trigger effectively when standing and Assuncao landed sharp counter strikes and took much less damage. Neither guy really raised their profile with this fight though, next please.
That's more like it: Yves Edwards defeated Jeremy Stephens by KO in the first round with a beautiful counter right hook. Both guys came to fight and were throwing some nice punches and knees until one of them fell down. Not a long fight, but a really fun one and a nice finish to get the crowd back into the night after the Easton and Assuncao fight.
Main card off to a good start: Matt Brown defeated Mike Swick by KO in the second round with a nice combination of punches. In the first round Brown had a decent D'arce choke attempt and a better triangle attempt, but landed some nice elbows standing that hurt Swick. In the second round Brown was able to land more elbows from close quarters before finishing Swick off with a really nice combination. Brown will always be a journeyman fighter, but there is a place for guys like that in the UFC. As for Swick, back to the drawing board. Good fight to get the main card going.
Dominance: Rory MacDonald defeated BJ Penn by unanimous decision in what wound up being a pretty one sided beating. Penn had no answer for the reach or speed of MacDonald. MacDonald did the smart thing, he attacked Penn's body. Penn is notorious for have questionable cardio and body attacks sap cardio. Penn also has a great chin, so body work is in some ways more damaging than attacking the head. This wound up being a great step up for MacDonald and raises his profile significantly, because he looked great. For Penn, the guy is an absolute legend and deserves all the accolades that he gets when he eventually gets into the hall of fame.
Changing of the guard: Alexander Gustafsson defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by unanimous decision. The first round was close, but all of the judges thought Gustafsson edged it out. The second round started off close again, but Gustafsson surged in the late minutes to take it convincingly, and the third was all about the Swede. Shogun had his moments to be sure, but one of his attributes through his career has been his explosive ability, how fast he closes distance. Sadly all the knee injuries have clearly hurt that ability because he couldn't get close to Gustafsson fast enough most of the time. He tagged the Swede with an overhand right several times, but that should say more about what Gustafsson has to work on than anything really great about Shogun. This was a decent fight for Gustafsson, and theoretically he's got the next shot at Jon Jones, assuming he doesn't lose between now and then.
Still the champ: Benson Henderson defeated challenger Nate Diaz by unanimous decision after taking the challenger apart for five rounds. Henderson used leg kicks, straight punches, his powerful clinch game and terrific ground and pound to batter Diaz over the entire twenty five minutes. Nate had some good submission attempts, but by his own admission he didn't fully commit to them and Henderson's otherworldly submission defense once again was on display. Henderson also tagged Diaz standing a few times, including a one two combination at the close of the first round that really damaged the right eye of Nate Diaz. Henderson needed a good performance here, and thankfully he got it and it should help his drawing power as far as pay per view numbers go. For Nate Diaz, he's still got the same strengths and weaknesses he's always had, but hopefully he'll take this loss and learn from it and become a better fighter.
All in all a really good night of fights from top to bottom. I do need to thank 411's Mark Radulich for bantering with me on Twitter during the Easton/Assuncao fight, because without that my opinion might be a little different. I still maintain that Jamie Foxx is imminently replaceable and pretty terrible.
Good numbers for FOX: While the final numbers aren't out just yet, it seems that after adding in Fox Desportes the viewers for the main event featuring Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz will clock in at a shade over six million viewers. This is really great news for everyone involved. The overall event was down a shade from the last FOX event, but up tremendously from events two and three. This is the kind of event that the executives at FOX want, and realistically it should be the kind of event the UFC wants to put on FOX. This is all around good news.
Rematch in the works: Following his thrashing of BJ Penn on Saturday, Rory MacDonald called out the only man to beat him, former interim champion and title challenger Carlos Condit. That fight, which MacDonald was winning, was stopped in the third round with just seven seconds left after Carlos Condit came on strong in that round. Since that fight Rory MacDonald has looked even scarier than he did before. While some people wanted to see MacDonald fight rightful number one contender Johny Hendricks, I have to disagree with that. MacDonald and champion Georges St-Pierre have both said they have no interest in fighting each other, so having the rightful challenger fight a guy who wont fight the champion makes no sense to me. On the other hand, Condit just lost to GSP and is looking to rebuild himself so a fight with MacDonald makes much more sense. The fight is supposed to happen when the UFC returns to Montreal next year, and personally I'll be looking forward to it.
Diaz gets a title shot: Nick Diaz is apparently getting a title shot against welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. I spoke last week about my dislike of that, and really nothing has changed. Diaz lost his last fight cleanly, then tested positive for marijuana metabolites and was suspended for a year. Nick Diaz has done nothing at all to earn a title shot. I know that MMA is a business, and Diaz against GSP will do good numbers, and under different circumstances I might not completely disagree. In this case though there is a rightful number one contender, and Johny Hendricks actually had his profile raised after his knockout of Martin Kampmann. Plus, I don't see this fight being competitive at all. Diaz doesn't have the movement, the punching power, the wrestling defense, or the fighting intelligence to beat GSP. Their fight is set for the UFC's return to Montreal next year.
Hominick retires: Former UFC featherweight title contender Mark Hominick announced his retirement from the sport. This was speculated about given his recent losing streak and the death of his long time trainer and close friend Shawn Tompkins. Hominick is still young, and if he gets his head and emotions back in check and finds a new team to train with I wouldn't be shocked to see him return at some point. For now though, I wish him the best.
Hendo and Machida official: Dan Henderson will meet former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida as the co-main event of UFC 157 which will be headlined by UFC women bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defending her title against Liz Carmouche. With the UFC getting behind the idea of Alexander Gustafsson as the next challenger the winner here might need another fight before they potentially get a title shot. There are rumors swirling that Henderson's knee still isn't fully healed, and I have to imagine if he does have to pull out of another fight the Swede Gustafsson would be the first guy called to be a replacement fighter. However it plays out I am looking forward to Hendo and Machida meeting if it happens.
The Axe Murderer returns to Japan: MMA legend Wanderlei Silva has agreed to fight on the UFC's next show in Japan. The event will air on Fuel TV here in the states, so I hope you all don't mind reading the coverage here on 411. Wanderlei made his name in Japan, and seeing him back there will bring back some awesome memories. Unfortunately he's taking on hard hitting middleweight Brian Stann. Given the state of Wanderlei's chin that doesn't bode well for him, but this will be a fun fight for as long as it lasts one way or the other.
Fights this weekend: There are three fight cards this weekend, and sadly I'm not really impressed or looking forward to any of them. There are a few individual fights that are worth looking at though, so let's take a quick look at them.
Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares is the co main event this Friday to the main event of Ross Pearson returning to lightweight and fighting George Sotiropoulos. Lombard was a big deal when he signed with the UFC, he was on a large winning streak that was littered with highlight worthy knock outs. Unfortunately his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch was, well, it was one of the worst fights of the year I think. Word leaked out that Lombard may have fought with a broken sternum, and if that's true the man is crazy. His opponent, the master of the leg lock and heel hook, Rousimar Palhares is looking for redemption after he was stopped on the ground by Alan Belcher. Either guy can win this, and it should help shake out the mid to upper level of the middleweight division. Since I'm supposed to pick a winner, I'm leaning towards Lombard. His heavy hands are still there, and Palhares has a somewhat questionable chin. I wouldn't be shocked if Palhares wins though.
Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario is on the under card this Saturday for the finals of this season of The Ultimate Fighter. The reality is that if Pat Barry loses here, he should be done in the UFC. The guy always comes to fight, has an exciting style, and is an interesting character especially in the heavyweight division. Unfortunately he's lost a lot more than he's won recently. Shane del Rosario was undefeated until he ran into Stipe Miocic in his UFC debut. Stipe used his wrestling and elbows to remove del Rosario from the ranks of the undefeated. This fight is going to be fireworks people, both Barry and del Rosario were professional level kickboxers and are likely going to throw leather and kicks until one of them goes down. This wont be a great fight, but I have a hard time seeing this not being at least fun to watch. I'm inclined to pick Barry, the guy likely knows he's up against the wall and doesn't have to worry about the ground game in this fight.
Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione is actually a poor replacement for the original fight between Nelson and Shane Carwin. That said, there's something entertaining about watching Roy Nelson land his big right hand and knock someone out cold, and that's the most likely scenario here. File this under car crash fight, but those fights have their place in the world of MMA.
Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard might be the most intriguing fight of the weekend. Guillard has all the talent in the world, unfortunately it's countered by his substandard grappling and questionable chin and striking defense. Melvin has some serious power in his hands and knees, but his striking defense is a bit iffy. He tends to make up for it with athleticism but it remains a weakness that has cost him fights. He ran into a left hook from Joe Lauzon that cost him a possible title shot, and got his bell rung by a head kick from Donald Cerrone. Grappling has always been a weakness of Melvin, he was choked out after being hurt on the feet by Lauzon, gave up his back in a scramble to Jim Miller, and was guillotined by Nate Diaz. Jamie Varner took full advantage of his UFC debut, upsetting the unbeaten Edson Barboza by knockout. He then fought Joe Lauzon on short notice and the two of them had a really good fight that Varner ultimately lost but was still a good outing for him. In this fight, I think Varner finds a hole in Guillard's defense and finishes him on the ground with strikes. Guillard is never out of a fight with his power and athleticism, but Varner is smarter money I think.
Next week I'll be back, and will look at the best fights from this big weekend. I'm also going to start looking at some holiday themes for next week as Christmas will be just around the corner. Until next Friday you've survived another Guillotine, try not to do anything too stupid during the week.