UFC 104: The Liveblog

(Let’s all take one last look at Shogun and then call it a day. Photo courtesy of UFC.com)

So you missed Dana White by ten minutes when he was giving away tickets at the mall, and now you’re desperate for UFC 104 results coupled with pithy commentary?  We’ve got you covered.  From Lyoto Machida and “Shogun” Rua squaring off to determine which Brazilian guy with poor English skills is on the top of the 205-pound heap, to Ben Rothwell and Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight tilt and maybe even the Yushin Okami/Chael Sonnen bout that the UFC is intent on protecting us from, we’ll be rolling right along and typing about what we see.  Won’t you join us and accuse one another of being gay, newbs, or both in the comments section?

The action gets underway at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST.  Remember to hit refresh often.

…and it’s prelim time.  Let’s hope this installment doesn’t suffer from the same glitches and production problems that the first attempt did.  Regardless, broadcasting the prelims on Spike just makes sense, and whatever gets us more fights is something we’re all for.  Up first, Hardonk and Barry in a heavyweight fight that I’m betting will not go the distance.

Antoni Hardonk vs. Pat Barry

Round 1

If the early going is any indication, this one is going to end with someone getting their leg broken.  Hardonk is hammering Barry’s legs with kicks, while Barry seems to be looking for the knockout punch.  The leg kicks are getting to Barry so he switches his stance just in time to get raked across the eyes by Hardonk.  Barry struggles to alert referee Josh Rosenthal that he’s been poked, and after a brief pause we restart, just in time for him to get poked again.  ‘Sup with that, Hardonk?  Barry battles back, stinging Hardonk with jabs and looping rights.  Hardonk slips or perhaps just tries a half-assed takedown.  Barry sprawls and then puts him on his back, going to work with short elbows and punches.  Back on their feet, Hardonk is bleeding and looking either dazed or tired as the horn blows to end the round.

Round 2

Barry’s eye is seriously swollen up to start the second round.  It doesn’t seem to be bothering him, because he comes out firing and lands several crisp punching combinations.  Hardonk lunges in for another leg kick and Barry drops him with a punch.  Barry is picking Hardonk apart now, exploiting a real difference in hand speed and blasting Hardonk.  A right jab drops Hardonk.  Barry is slow to move in, but when he does he nails Hardonk with a right hand that leaves him slumped face down on the canvas.  Huge win for Barry.

Pat Barry def. Antoni Hardonk via TKO (punches) at 2:30 of round 2.

Well instead of Ryan Bader/Eric Schafer, we’re getting Struve/Gormley first.  A little bit of jarring editing there, but okay.

Stefan Struve vs. Chase Gormley

Round 1

God Stefan Struve is a tall, skinny son of bitch.  Now that that’s out of the way, Gormley, who is dwarfed by Struve, wisely gets things to the mat early on.  With Struve on his back, Gormley tries a little ground and pound before engaging in an ankle lock/heel hook war with Struve.  After briefly getting back to the their feet, Gormley goes for a knee lock and gets pounded on.  He manages to do just enough to avoid a stoppage, but Struve gets the mount and locks in a triangle as Gormley rolls him on to his back.  Gormely tries to posture up, but before long he’s tapping out.

Stefan Struve def. Chase Gormley via submission (triangle choke) in round 1.  

Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer

Round 1

Schafer tries jabbing his way in with his head held as far away from Bader as he can get it while still being in range.  Bader wings one of his patented looping rights, but misses by a mile.  It’s a kickboxing match between these two grapplers early on, with Bader landing the more meaningful strikes.  Bader lands a huge right hand that sends a resounding smack through the arena and follows with a second one that drops Schafer.  Bader swarms all over him on the ground, landing a second loud right hand with Schafer on his back.  To his credit, Schafer endures the beating, and even gets to his feet right after being slammed.  Schafer attempts a few submissions off his back and succeeds in quelling the onslaught for a moment or two, content to survive the round.

Round 2

An incidental eye-poke in the first minute brings a temporary stop to the action.  It’s already a bad night to be an eyeball in the UFC.  After the restart Bader is a little less active than he was in the first, and Schafer actually manages to land a couple hard strikes of his own.  Bader keeps loading up for big right hands, and Schafer keeps avoiding them and then landing a counter punch.  A good left hand sends Bader staggering back.  Suddenly Schafer is in this fight again.  Bader attempts a takedown in the final seconds, but doesn’t get it.  Schafer finished with a nice right, and I’d say he clearly won this round.

Round 3

At the start of the final round Bader looks like a man who thinks he should have already won this thing.  He attempts a slow leg kick that misses, but a few seconds later lands that same looping right behind Schafer’s ear and puts him down.  Again though, Schafer recovers quickly and ties Bader up in his guard.  An accidental headbutt from Bader cuts Schafer open.  The doctor takes a look, but it’s not a fight-ender.  Bader is tired.  He’s looking at the clock and seems like he’d rather be done with this one already.  Bader shoots and gets the takedown with a little over a minute left.  Bader has him in side control, and if he can stay here he should win the round and the fight.  Schafer recovers guard, but just in time for the horn.

Ryan Bader def. Eric Schafer via unanimous decision.

Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

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Round 1

Johnson looks much bigger than Yoshida, which he is.  Dude did weigh in six pounds over.  Right away Johnson is landing crisp combos.  He stings Yoshida with an uppercut and backs him up.  Yoshida looks confused in there.  Yoshida comes forward and a big right hand from Johnson drops Yoshida and that’s it.  It took just forty-one seconds, too.  

Anthony Johnson def. Yoshiyuki Yoshida via TKO (punch) at 0:41 of round 1.

After the fight Johnson apologizes for coming in overweight and says he’ll go up eventually, but thinks he can stay at 170 for now.

Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher

Round 1

Not much action for the first minute, but a lot of feints.  When we hit the four-minute mark, however, they both come a-flurrying and Fisher winds up with a cut on his eyebrow.  Stevenson looks for a takedown and Fisher defends, but “Daddy” keeps after it, pressing Fisher against the cage, all to no avail.  Fisher is bleeding pretty good now.  Stevenson ducks under a right hand and moves around behind Fisher before tossing him to the mat, finishing the round with some strikes from behind.

Round 2

Fisher’s corner did a good job patching up the cut, but he’s obviously concerned about it.  Stevenson is grinning his way through this round, which I guess means he’s either having fun or has completely lost his mind.  Stevenson’s wrestling starts to take over midway through the round.  He puts Fisher on his back against the fence and is brutalizing him with punches in elbows from half-guard before moving to side control.  Stevenson locks up a crucifix and unleashes a torrent of elbows that Fisher is helpless to stop.  Herb Dean has seen enough and he calls this one off.

Joe Stevenson def. Spencer Fisher via TKO (elbows) at 4:03 of round 2.

Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami

Round 1

Well how about this.  Thanks to some early finishes we’re getting a look at a fight we didn’t expect to see.  Maybe that means that it’s not a total snoozefest.  Right away Sonnen gets his wrestle on, taking Okami down in the first minute and slamming him a couple of times before taking his back.  Okami works back to his feet though and gets away from Sonnen.  After trading some kicks Sonnen gets another takedown off a double-leg, but can’t do much with it.  Okami lands a couple good lefts in the final minute, but this round belongs to Sonnen.

Round 2

Okami stings Sonnen with a right hook/left straight combo.  Looks as if he’s starting to feel comfortable striking with Sonnen.  Sonnen slips under a punch and gets around behind Okami again.  When he can get space and throw his hands, Okami is doing all right.  But it’s Sonnen who’s dictating the pace, following him around the cage and outworking him.  A nice left hook lands behind Okami’s ear before the end of the round.

Round 3

It’s a boxing match to start the third, and Sonnen is winning it by being busier than Okami.  Sonnen gets a high crotch grab and puts Okami down before taking his back.  Okami defends well even as he absorbs some punches to the side/back of the head.  Okami works back to his feet and grabs a kimura.  He must think he has it, because he jumps into guard and tries to pull the arm out.  Sonnen defends well and rides out the round to a clear decision.

Chael Sonnen def. Yushin Okami via unanimous decision.  Was it totally boring?  No.  Was it the most exciting fight of even the last thirty minutes?  No.

Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer

Round 1

Tibau fires off a punch combination and goes right into a takedown for a thundering slam, but can’t hold down Neer, who recovers guard and gets back to his feet.  They don’t stay there long, however, as Tibau gets another takedown and they go through almost the exact same scenario again.  A third time Tibau gets the takedown, and a third time Neer gets him off of him and returns to his feet.  Should be interesting to see how the judges score that.  A fourth takedown probably guarantees that this is Tibau’s round.  How can Neer be from Iowa and have such bad takedown defense?

Round 2

Well, if you were hoping Neer would find a way to stay on his feet, you’re going to be disappointed.  Tibau dumps him twice in the first minute, and he’s so far avoiding Neer’s strikes on the feet.  A third takedown leads to Tibau getting the mount as Neer tries to get back up, then taking his back.  Neer is trying to slip Tibau off over his head, and Tibau makes a brilliant transition to an armbar attempt, but can’t finish it.  Back on their feet, Tibau suddenly looks very tired.  Neer tries to come on, but can’t land any clean strikes before the round ends.  Two rounds to none for Tibau.

Round 3

We start the third with a warning from Mike Goldberg about copyright violation, which is enough to make me reconsider my ongoing series of unlicensed UFC flipbooks, however briefly.  Tibau looks very tired.  A half-hearted takedown attempt confirms this, and he seems like he may be trying to just last through this round.  Tibau gets another takedown, and Neer is looking very frustrated.  Tibau gets another takedown in the final seconds and the round ends with Neer shaking his head in frustration, as if someone other than him is responsible for his poor takedown defense.

Gleison Tibau def. Josh Neer via unanimous decision.

Ben Rothwell vs. Cain Velasquez

Now we see what Rothwell’s been hiding under that do-rag/weird hat, or whatever that is.  Rothwell has decided to go from balding to totally bald.  It’s not a bad look for him, though it does make Mike C. look like his mini-me.

Velaszquez’s mariachi entrance music gets the L.A. crowd pumped.  Yeah, it’s a predictable reaction, but still fun.

Round 1

As expected, Velasquez goes for the takedown early and Rothwell defends for a little while, but can’t stop it.  Velasquez is doing good work on the ground, landing some hard punches from the top.  Rothwell keeps getting back to his feet, only to get put down again.  It’s as if Rothwell is always two or three steps behind Velasquez.  Cain dumps him on his head and unloads.  This one is very close to being stopped.  Rothwell’s just trying to last until the end of the round, but he can’t stay on his feet for more than a few seconds against Velasquez.  The first round is all Cain.

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Round 2

More of the same from Velasquez, takedowns followed by brutal ground-and-pound.  Rothwell gets against the fence and is trying to work his way back to his feet, but he’s eating a series of left hands right in the mouth.  Just as Rothwell stands back up, the ref waves it off.  Of all the times this fight could have been stopped, that seems like the worst possible choice.  Rothwell is pissed, and even Velasquez seems disappointed with it.

Cain Velasquez def. Ben Rothwell via TKO (strikes) 0:58 of round 2.

Lyoto Machida vs. “Shogun” Rua

Shogun comes out to some thumping club jam, which instinctively makes me want to check my drink for a roofie.  Machida follows in his gi with the belt on display behind him, looking like it’s just another night at the office.

Rogan tells us that Machida’s father went from Japan to Brazil, fell in love with a Brazilian woman, and “raised his son to be a killer.”  Sounds like the backstory of a character in a Van Damme movie.

Round 1

Shogun attempts a body kick and misses big.  Machida grabs a thai clinch and fires off a flurry of knees to the body.  Already he looks faster than Rua, who’s having a little trouble figuring out where Machida is going to be.  Rua clinches and presses Machida against the fence.  Machida defends and stays on his feet, and Rua almost seems content with a stalemate for the moment.  Rua lands a nice kick to the body, and it might be the most significant strike Machida has taken in his UFC career.  A couple leg kicks land for Rua, then another right kick to the ribs.  Machida may actually lose this round.  Either he’s being very patient, or a little too cocky.

Wow, the UFC seems to have hired a Portuguese translator to tell us what’s being said in the corners.  It’s about damn time.

Round 2

Rua is scoring by running in on Machida with kicks.  He may be finding the range now, and Machida seems surprised by all the kicks to the body.  Machida lands a good straight right that backs Rua up, perhaps his best strike of the fight.  Rua continues to pound Machida with kicks to the body.  Machida is wincing in pain every time one lands, and his ribs are glowing red at this point.  Rua clinches against the cage and lands a knee to the groin area – also known as Machida’s beverage dispenser – but Machida doesn’t want to stop.  Rua lands a few good knees to the thigh before the end of the round, and this one might be 2-0.  Crazy, right?

Round 3

Again Rua pounds those ribs, and Machida looks like he’d really prefer for Shogun to cut that out.  Machida lands sharp right hand lead that makes it through Rua’s defenses, but he seems content to throw one strike at a time right now.  Rua is using his kicks to control the distance, and the pace slows a little midway through the third, which the crowd doesn’t care for.  Rua gains confidence and comes rushing after Machida.  In the last minute Machida finally turns it on, backing Rua against the cage with a flurry of punches and low kicks.  It’s his most significant burst of offense yet, but Rua fires back with a good right hand.  Tough round to call.

Round 4

Rua clearly has his eye on Machida’s ribs, but Machida’s corner seems more worried about the damage his legs have been taking.  Machida flicks out a quick head kick, but Rua blocks it without much trouble.  Machida slips and Rua rushes in to try and capitalize with a takedown as Machida scrambles away, but he can’t finish it.  Both guys are slowing down, but it’s still Rua on the offensive.  Rua throws another body kick and Machida blocks it, maybe for the first time all night.  From where I’m sitting, it’s at least 3-1 Rua.  It’s time for Machida to locate a sense of urgency about keeping that belt.

Round 5

Rua’s corner tells him that he has the fight won, which might be premature, but he’s definitely winning.  Machida counters a body kick with a straight right that lands flush to start the fifth, but Rua seems unfazed.  He’s still riding the low kick train, and it’s effective.  A right hand from Rua catches Machida on the jaw and knocks him backwards.  Machida doesn’t seem to realize that he’s behind on the scorecards.  Rua is the one pushing the pace, and Machida isn’t offering much offense at all.  They finish the fight by trading punches in the center of the Octagon, then both raising their arms in victory after the horn.  Seriously, Machida?  You really think you won that fight?

Lyoto Machida def. “Shogun” Rua via unanimous decision (48-47 x 3).

Total.  Bullshit.  The crowd boos the decision and even Machida looks a little surprised, if not stunned.  Machida justifies it by pointing out that all three judges saw it for him.  That’s true, but one of those judges was Cecil Peoples.  So…

Rua says he felt like he won, but refuses to whine about it.  That’s honorable, but the fact is Rua got robbed here tonight.  I’m sitting right now, trying to think through the fog of the flu, and I cannot come up with an explanation for how Machida got that decision.  Just baffling. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shiver in bed.  I bid you all a pleasant evening.