It is one of the interesting paradoxes of MMA that I want to see great finishes–but when they happen so quickly, I am left wanting more.
This card delivered both stunningly quick finishes capped by a 5 round Bantam Weight war.
Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller
Shane Roller is no joke. He is a tough competitor who can knock you out with his hands or dominate you on the ground with his elite wrestling skills. Yet, he looked like a child fighting a grown man in his match with Melvin Guillard. Guillard would be labeled overconfident in anyone’s estimation except that he backs up the talk with KO’s.
Guillard has always been confident with his hands, but his time at Greg Jackson‘s gym has given him confidence again in his ground skills. His takedown defense has improved so much, that we have not seen Guillard on the ground very long in his past few fights. Melvin kept his hands down and his head exposed and he paid for his cockiness by receiving a hard shot from Roller–but Guilliard stayed loose, relaxed–and fast.
After knocking Roller down with a hard left, he had the presence of mind to wait a long beat to allow Roller to get up from his knees before delivering a devastating knee from a Muay Thai clinch finishing Roller with a few more strikes on the ground.
Melvin Guillard is looking good for a title shot in the near future if he can keep his streak of victories alive.
Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim
This was another short fight finished in brilliant fashion by a deliberate and practiced flying knee. The Jackson camp did their homework on Kim. Besides the flying knee, the only other notable event in the fight was Condit’s sweep of the Judo expert Dong Hyun Kim which left him, albeit briefly, in full mount. To do that to such a strong and well-balanced ground expert like Kim is amazing. After both fighters got to their feet, Condit did a little walk to indicate to Kim: “So you think you are better on the ground than me?”
Condit deserved the $75,000 bonus for his performance–though Leben and Guillard came a close second.
Condit looks fantastic, and he looks more and more like a legitimate contender for GSP’s belt.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben
It was a war, as advertised–but a very short war. Silva tried the swarm approach on Leben, but got greedy and forgot the most important thing in a swarm, and that is to pause for a beat in mid-swarm, after your first attack, to avoid counterstrikes.
Leben managed a left hook which hit the back of Wand’s head as he was ducking–but it was enough to stun him, and allow Leben to fire uppercuts, one of which connected cleanly, dropping Wand headfirst to the mat. There, Leben expertly finished the job with rapid fire left hooks.
Is Wand’s chin gone? Are his days as a fighter over? This is hard to say since the fight was over so quickly. Leben hits like a Mack truck, so it is hard to speculate whether Wand would have withstood the same battering in his younger days.
Wand chose Leben over Stann, but it did not turn out better for Silva.
Leben again showed his amazing ability to not only take a punch, but to counter devastatingly when his back is against the wall. Leben is back in the mix. Wanderlei–maybe one more loss from retirement.
Ryan Bader vs. Tito Ortiz
I am no fan of Tito Ortiz, but he deserves kudos for how he quickly dispatched Ryan Bader. Ortiz seemed both patient and aggressive in his stand up. He finished ‘Darth’ Bader by a guillotine choke set up by a clean right hand to Bader’s jaw. Ortiz leapt in, swarming Bader, and caught him with the right, following him to the mat. Bader made the mistake of getting to his hands and knees and Ortiz grabbed his neck and locked in an arm-in guillotine forcing Bader to tap.
As with the previous fights summarized, it is hard to take too many lessons from the fight except a decisive victory–since the fight was so short. Tito has his reprieve–and Bader now has two losses in a row. With his loss to Tito, Bader’s stock has fallen far. Tito got $75,000 for submission of the night.
Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman
I am hoping that the decision win by Siver sends a message to all those fighters who believe that pushing your opponent against the cage for an entire round is MMA fighting. Siver showed excellent takedown defense and prevented the single-minded Wiman from performing his game plan. Siver got taken down in the second round, and was on the receiving end of some hard elbows which cut his forehead open, but did little real damage beyond that. Wiman won the 2nd round on the strength of his elbows but lost round’s one and three on my scorecard. I was worried that the press and pray fencework of Wiman would earn him the victory in the judge’s eyes, but they saw no points gained in holding an opponent against the cage–for which I am grateful.
Brian Bowles vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Bowles had nearly two minutes to sink in an RNC on Mizugaki, with a body triangle in place, but was unable to do so. In the third round, he played piggy-back for a record time, but was again unable to get the finish. He got the win, but fans expect a bit better from fighters in such dominant positions.
Aaron Simpson vs. Brad Tavares
Simpson got the win, but it was an ugly press and pray win. Tavares showed excellent takedown defense, but Simpson just kept pressing him against the cage over and over. Boring fight.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. George Sotiropoulos
G-Sot was soaring so high until he ran into Dennis Siver. After his loss, G-Sot defiantly claimed he did not need to change his game much–only tweak it. Well he got KTFO’d by Rafael, and he cannot claim that he just got ‘caught’. After dos Anjos came in swinging, G-Sot countered–but strangely, he did not move his head afterward, but stood in the pocket head straight up–and he received a left then a booming right hook to his chin. Lights out.
G-Sot needs to swallow his pride and recognize he needs to reinvent himself. dos Anjos looked great and considering he won with devastating strikes, even though he is a BJJ black belt, he looks promising as a possible future contender at LW.
Dominick Cruz def. Urijah Faber
After a whole night of short fights and quick finishes, it was good to see a five round war. Both fighters looked good and were quick–keeping an incredible pace throughout the fight. Cruz seemed out of breath in the 2nd round, but managed to keep the pace until the fourth, where he slowed down–but then again, so did Faber.
Faber had trouble hitting the elusive Cruz, but when he did, he hit hard–knocking Cruz down several times in the fight. Cruz landed many shots on Faber from every direction, but Faber seemed unfazed.
This was a great fight, with excellent back-and-forth action. Cruz definitely won this, but Faber has nothing to be ashamed about with his gutsy performance. A rematch at some point in the future would be good to see.
Takeaways From UFC 132
For those fans who despair of finishes in the UFC, they should be satisfied after this decisive card. It only goes to show that it is hard to predict how fights will go, and sometimes the finishes come in bunches and sometimes the decisions come in bunches.
UFC 132 continues a recent trend I have noticed. Generally, all fighters seem much better at takedown defense–nullifying much of the wrestling that occurred so frequently. I attribute this to the natural lag in skillsets catching up to the wrestling dominance in the UFC. The good news, for some, is that more fights will remain standing.
This was an excellent card–continuing a string of great cards I have thoroughly enjoyed.