Monday, September 27, 2010

UFC 119: Intriguing match-ups, lackluster decisions

As the UFC continues to take their traveling roadshow across the country and the world, their latest foray was to Hoosier country in Indianapolis, Indiana; there a card filled with intriguing match-ups ended up filled with lackluster decisions. UFC 119 wasn't the worst card this year that dubious distinction still belongs to UFC 112, but it was far from the best as well.

To summarize it, one has to look no further than the main event between former heavyweight champion Frank Mir (14-5, 3 KO's 8 subs) and former Pride Grand Prix Champion Mirko 'Cro-Cop' Filipovic (27-8-2, 20 KO's, 4 subs). Although the fight ended up with Mir knocking out Cro-Cop with a standing knee to the jaw, that explosion didn't happen till less than a minute left in a fight that was easily the most boring on the main card. In other words, the only one of the five fights on the main card to end with a finish, the other four were decisions, was actually the worst.

There's not much more to discuss regarding the main event, so let's go to the co-main event where young stud light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) Ryan 'Darth' Bader (12-0, 5 KO's, 3 subs) defeated 'Lil' Nog' Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-4 5 KO's, 6 subs) to up his record in the UFC to (5-0).

Bader combined an improved stand-up game with his superior wrestling background and overall speed advantage to keep the more experienced Jiu-Jitsu wizard off balance. While I didn't have one, apparently there was some question as to the decision of the judges. Dana White, President of the UFC, quelled any speculation when asked about it at the press conference. "Believe me, I'll be the first one to tell you who I think won or didn't win a fight; I think Bader won that fight."

Not surprisingly, two of the more interesting fights of the pay-per-view took place at the lighter weights. First, former lightweight (155 lbs.) champion Sean 'The Muscle Shark' Sherk (33-4-1, 8 KO's 13 subs) won a razor thin split decision over up and coming Evan Dunham (11-1, 2 KO's 6 subs). It was so close; it ended up winning one of two fights of the night bonuses. Sherk, using his overall experience, finally went back to his roots in this fight, which is his wrestling, after losing two of his previous three thinking he was a boxer.

Dunham, a black-belt in Jiu-Jitsu who was coming off a four-fight win streak in the Octagon, almost caught Sherk in two very tight guillotine choke holds, but that's where Sherk's experience was able to help pull him through and out of both those positions. Dunham was one of five fighters I featured to look out for in a column I wrote a couple of months ago entitled 'The next generation of UFC Superstars'. Thus, even though he took the loss, it made me feel pretty good when Dana White stated in the post-fight press conference, "I thought Dunham won the fight."

The other fight which was fairly entertaining was the back and forth battle between former welterweight (170 lbs.) champion Matt 'The Terror' Serra (11-7, 2 KO's 5 subs) vs. Chris 'Lights Out' Lytle (30-17-5, 3 KO's, 21 subs). This was a rematch of a fight they had four years ago in 'The Ultimate Fighter' Season Four finale. Serra won a split decision then, but Lytle (pictured above) left no doubt this time as he clearly won a unanimous decision. Using his superior boxing skills, he actually sports a professional boxing record of (13-1), Lytle peppered Serra with combinations over three rounds.

Lytle fighting in his hometown was hoping to put on a good show and surprisingly Serra, a Renzo Gracie renowned Jiu-Jitsu black belt, was willing to oblige him by standing and trading with him. While his record may not look all that impressive, Lytle is currently (9-9) in the UFC, he's won four fights in a row and five out of his last six. When asked where Lytle stands in the pecking order of welterweights, White's response was, "he's in the mix; it was a big fight for him and Serra tonight and Chris fought a great fight as usual."

Lastly, in what was expected to be a fight filled with fireworks, ended up being a dud. Melvin 'The Young Assassin' Guillard (26-8-2, 16 KO's 2 subs) failed to assassinate Jeremy 'Lil' Heathen' Stephens (17-6, 12 KO's 2 subs) in a lightweight fight that failed to live up to the hype. Guillard won a disputed split decision. He even acknowledged his failure to perform as he publicly apologized to Dana White for it at the post-fight press conference.

Up next, UFC 120 on October 16, 2010 from London, England, which will be broadcast for free here in the states on Spike TV. While many have openly criticized the overall content of the upcoming card, UFC 119 has proven that sometimes intriguing match-ups don't necessarily equate to a great night of fights, but rather a bunch of lackluster decisions.

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