The Summer MMA season has now concluded, and it wasn’t without incredible moments. History making comebacks, instant classic title fights, and the possible return to form of a legend.
MMA fans were treated to an unbelievable main event on Saturday night, as UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz avenged his only prior loss to former WEC Champion Urijah Faber. The five round bout was the true definition of a technical fight, as the two were both fast paced, aggressive, and scrambled to their feet almost immediately upon takedown attempts.
In the end Cruz’s size played a major factor, as well as his awkward striking style. He was able to land numerous takedowns in the fifth round, although considering Faber was quickly able to reach his feet and no damage was done, I think those take downs should have been negated. My only beef is with whoever decided to score the fight five rounds to none in the corner of Cruz. This fight was a toss-up. Each round aside from the fifth could have easily gone either way. Demetrious Johnson looks to be next in line for the Bantamweight title, as he has knocked two legends off in the division.
The age of Wanderlei Silva and his deteriorating chin were put on display as well, as underdog Chris Leben was able to land a devastating knock out shot from the clinch. One has to wonder how much longer Silva has in the sport, as he says he wants to continue fighting. We’re all aware of his fan friendly demeanor and exciting fights, but his “windmill punch technique” has been figured out time and time again of late. Chris Leben on the other hand, experienced a huge victory, bouncing back from his loss to up and comer Brian Stann.
Carlos Condit kept his reputation intact with a KO of previously undefeated Dong Hyun Kim. Condit is likely to receive a title shot if he can piece together another victory, which is what many were clamoring for before his split decision loss to Martin Kampmann. Unfortunately for Dong Hun Kim, he’ll likely be regulated to Spike TV cards and prelims, as the mystique of his already questioned undefeated record has now been erased.
The most impressive performance of the evening came from the Lightweight division, as Melvin Guillard completely dismantled Shane Roller. Guillard was literally untouchable in the bout, with Roller only connecting once, before “The Young Assassin” Guillard unleashed a sick uppercut, and followed with a barrage of shots. This is Guillard’s fifth straight victory, and remains undefeated since joining Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque.
I have long heralded Guillard as the next dominant UFC Lightweight champion since making the move to Jackson’s camp. Melvin battled personal issues throughout his experienced career, but at age 28, still has his best years ahead of him. With his confidence through the roof, in addition to speed and agility that most 135 pounders don’t have, Guillard is on his way to the top of the division. Many fans were clamoring for a bout with Clay Guida, but due to the fact that the two are teammates, that won’t be happening. After the fight Guillard called out Jim Miller (who is facing Ben Henderson next month), as well as UFC 132 winner Dennis Siver (whom Guillard once knocked out in 36 seconds).
The biggest surprise of UFC 132 undoubtedly was Tito Ortiz’s quick disposal of top 10 light heavyweight Ryan Bader. Ortiz was able to catch Bader with an arm-in guillotine choke to force the submission early, and post-fight, Ortiz celebrated like a man who hadn’t won a fight in five years. Prior to this bout, Ortiz hadn’t defeated anyone whose name WASN’T Shamrock since 2004, and effectively saved his job in the making. While this is a huge victory, Tito isn’t off the hook yet, as he will continue to receive tough fights and have his back to the wall. Personally I haven’t been a fan of his Inside MMA hosting duties, so I really hope fighting works out for him.
I also had someone mention to me that Tito is a top 10 Light Heavyweight, and a couple wins away from a title shot. Just say no to drugs kids. Guys like Ortiz have a place in the UFC. Honestly, I believe guys like Chuck Liddell could still be fighting, if they only took a step down in competition. MMA can be a way to earn a living as well, folks. Wouldn’t it have been cool to watch Chuck Liddell co-main event the card on Versus against a guy like Steve Cantwell or Stephan Bonnar?
Other big winners at UFC 132 included the aforementioned Dennis Siver, Brian Bowles and Rafael Dos Anjos. Bowles is very close to receiving a title shot in the developing bantamweight division, but according to UFC management, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson may be next in line. With Miguel Torres, Bowles, Cruz, Faber, Kid Yamamoto and Johnson, the UFC Bantamweight division has main- card staying power early in its life.
Although I didn’t cover the Strikeforce and UFC on Versus card outside of twitter, some huge waves were made. Particularly THIS!
Cheick Kongo, who is the emphasis of fitness in the heavyweight division, looked to be knocked out or finished three separate times prior to landing the comeback Knockout shot on Pat Barry. Recovering from a K-1 level striker of Barry’s stature is something you should throw on your resume. There were initially some concerns about Barry’s status in the UFC, but it looks as if he is safe for the time being, which is great in my opinion. Barry is one of the great entertainers in the sport of MMA, right up there with Gerald Harris and Rampage Jackson in terms of pure hilarity.
Speaking of entertaining heavyweights, Josh Barnett, whom is also a professional wrestler in Japan, soundly defeated former contender Brett Rogers (who was cut from Strikeforce this week due to an arrest). Barnett’s utilization of catch wrestling was spectacular, and his post-fight wrestling promo was almost like a “face turn”, as there had been much ill will directed towards him due to his previous steroid testing failures. Barnett is looked at as a hero within the catch wrestling community, and it was excellent to see him dominate as he’s always capable of doing. Barnett will now face dangerous striker Sergei Kharitonov in the next round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem decisively topped Fabricio Werdum in a rematch of a bout from five years ago. Werdum tried desperately to avoid exchanges with the world class striker, but ironically when he engaged, he would often win the exchanges. Overeem’s complete control of the cage, as well as his takedown defense won him the fight, and a date with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Nate Marquardt was cut from the UFC after failing his physical due to elevated testosterone levels (much better than the rumored Hepatitus B, that a member of his camp said) due to testosterone replacement surgery … This is the same issue that caused Chael Sonnen a year of his career after his LOSS (because remember, he lost) to Anderson Silva last August. Marquardt was replaced by Charlie Brenneman, who was able to pull out a victory over the heavily favored Rick Story.
Before I leave you folks, I wanted to bring up Chael Sonnen. I respect the man’s talent, and especially his aggressiveness following a take down. This is how MMA should be. In the cage, he is exactly what you’d want to see in a fighter. Outside of the cage however, Sonnen has been a complete tool. Calling out any Brazilian fighter he can (I’d probably be upset if I were 1-4 against Brazilians too), calling people cheaters (after he was popped for cheating and money laundering), among other things. Chael Sonnen can SELL a fight, without a doubt. He’s one of the most talented wrestlers to make the transition to MMA, but at a certain point, the things he says begin to reach a level of ridiculousness. I honestly can’t tell if the man is serious. That being said, I look forward to seeing his next fight…and even hearing what he has to say about it.
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