Good evening, fight fans! It’s Monday, so that means it’s time to check in from the Graveyard Shift! UFC 159 has gone down, curses came to the fore, and kinda-sorta “I guess he’s…” good triumphed over self-proclaimed bad! So, now that I’ve seen all the commentary, Fightmetric results, and what-have-you to go along with the card itself, here we go!
The Graveyard Shift: UFC 159
Jon Jones © d. Chael Sonnen (R1, TKO due to Ground & Pound)
This went about how most people expected it to, in that Jones fustigated the “Gangster from West Lynn” in the first round. Still, all credit to Chael Sonnen for not backing down and moving forward against a man who’s developed the same kind of “Battle Aura” that Anderson Silva has. Jones beats most opponents before they step in the cage these days, so for anybody to take the fight to him is an accomplishment in and of itself. You can’t really say that you saw much of anything new from “Bones,” in that we already knew he could fight well from the clinch, had good take downs, and can ground and pound with the best of ‘em. It’s almost a shame that this could be Sonnen’s last fight, though, in that he showed some real improvements. I was impressed with his defensive guard as he was able to get back to standing twice which is no mean feat against a fighter the size of your UFC light heavyweight champion. So, kudos to both men, and if this indeed is Mr. Chael P. Sonnen’s last fight, thanks for the memories.
Michael Bisping d. Alan Belcher (Unanimous Technical Decision, fight cut short due to eye injury)
I can’t help but think that Belcher came into this feeling a little too cocky. He was a bit behind Bisping the entire fight, he was gassing out by the third round, and was letting the Brit punch him in the face pretty much at will. Yes, we get it, Bisping has fists that have roughly the same density as Styrofoam packing peanuts, but even a constant barrage of those will wear a guy down. As much as I dislike Michael Bisping, the guy’s got cardio for days and technical skills, so he should never, ever be taken lightly. And that’s exactly what Alan Belcher did, thinking he could coast on talent. He was going to lose a decision anyways, but then Bisping had to remind us that the “o” in his nickname is actually for censorship purposes and “accidentally” droves his fingers into Belcher’s previously injured eye. Despite the fairly large amount of blood that can be seen coming from it while the doctor was checking him, “The C(o)unt” still accused Belcher of trying to find a way to get out of the fight at the post-fight presser. Stay classy, Mike, stay classy. Once again, Joe complained about the gloves causing these ocular incidents, but I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in the face: Sloppy technique and bad intentions are what cause these eye pokes, not the equipment.
Roy Nelson d. Cheick Kongo (R1, KO due to punches)
We started this fight with Joe Rogan giving one of his patented BJJ overhypings to Roy Nelson. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ground game more than most, but it would be nice if Joe could temper his hype jobs so they don’t come off as verbal fellatio. Secondly, for all the hype “Big Country’s” ground game gets, we never really see it. The guy has a bad case of what I like to call “Gurgel Syndrome,” taken from former UFC & Strikeforce competitor Jorge Gurgel. Gurgel was also a vaunted BJJ competitor, but tended to forget that and engage in striking contests. Unlike Gurgel though, Nelson can actually work his striking and actually knock people out with it, which is what he did. After some clinch work broken up by referee Kevin Mullhal, “The Redneck Buddha” hit an overhand casting-style punch behind the ear of Kongo, put him flat on his butt, then followed it up with an uppercut to his seated opponent for the finish. Half-way into the first round, we’re done, and Alan from the Hangover’s brother from another mother takes home another win.
Phil Davis d. Vinny Magalhaes (Unanimous Decision)
Well, this was not Vinny’s fight. As much as his striking has improved, and indeed it has, he just didn’t have the speed behind his strikes to keep up with Davis. “Mr. Wonderful” fought a smart fight, too. A lot of 1-2s, some nice variety in his strikes, and kept a good pace during the stand-up. As well, his positional awareness in the first round when “Pezao” had his back was great. Joe Rogan showed his bias in the first round of this fight, questioning why Vinny wasn’t securing second hook in while he was trying to take Phil’s back. From my perspective, the only reason we didn’t see Vinny Magalhaes riding Phil Davis like a backpack was that Phil’s positional defense is that good. Magalhaes has some seriously flexible hips for a 205-er, so the fact that Davis was able to not only prevent him from getting that second hook, but prevented the BJJ champion from getting into position for the chained kimura attempt, is laudable. So yes, kudos to Phil Davis. For Vinny Magalhaes, it was a good effort, and one that I hope he takes as a learning experience. One last aside, though: Is it just me, or could Phil Davis’ choice of walkout music have gotten any more “lame white frat boy” than Linkin Park?
Pat Healy d. Jim Miller (R3, Submission due to Rear Naked Choke)
A good old-fashioned, old-timey War of the Gingers! This has certainly been the Spring of Discontent for New Jersey’s own Fabulous Fighting Miller Brothers, with Dan getting finished back in March by Jordan Mein and Jim getting choked into unconsciousness here by Pat Healy. Still, he went down swinging. “Gentleman” Jim’s hands just seemed to be a half-step faster than Healy’s, but it was no match for the Oregon grinder’s wrestling and grappling savvy. Seriously, the grappling exchanges were so great I think Joe Rogan needed to change his pants before the post-fight interview. Healy especially showed great defensive instincts, escaping a nice chain of Miller’s arm attacks in the first round and making the Sparta, NJ native’s rubber guard completely ineffective. It was the fight of the night in my books!
The Prelims at a Glance
It all started off sanely enough on Facebook, with Steven Siler taking a spirited unanimous decision victory over Kurt Holobaugh in the latter’s debut. Then, we all should have realized it was going to be a strange night when Cody Mackenzie, yes that Cody Mackenzie, dominated Leonard Garcia en route to a decision victory of his own. Let that sink in for a moment: Cody freakin’ Mackenzie went three rounds with Leonard Garcia, and got a dominant victory. Sorry Leonard, but you’re going to have to go now. Then, Brian Caraway reminded us that for all the crap we give him about being “Mr. Tate,” he’s actually a pretty slick grappler as he caught Johnny Bedford with a guillotine choke from mount in the third round of their bout. Sara McMann scored the 1st round TKO from mounted crucifix over flyweight Sheila Gaff, as she should have. I like McMann, but I think she’d benefit from working on her BJJ with somebody with a strong top game like Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros. She can’t be content to sit in guard, and would also benefit from adding some submissions to her game. Gian Villante made one of the biggest mistakes a fighter can make after getting his eye thumbed by Ovince St-Preux in the third round of their somewhat dull affair: He admitted to the ref he couldn’t see. While I agree with Joe Rogan that Villante should have been given time recover, I can’t hate on Kevin Mulhall for his decision to stop the bout. I do, however, feel that the unified rules should be changed, and that instant replay should be instituted to see if it is a closed fist or an open hand that causes the eye poke. In the event of an open hand, a point should be deducted. We can’t blame the gloves for this, only sloppy technique or bad intentions, and we need to get both of those out of the sport. Finally, “The Human Suplex Machine” Rustam Khabilov defeated Yancy Medeiros (no relation to “Comprido”) by injury TKO, after the Hawaiian fighter posted wrong while attempting to defend a takedown from “The Russian Tiger” and broke his thumb.
By: Justin Pierrot (@stormlandbrand on Twitter)