Sunday, October 17, 2010

UFC 120 a success in U.K.; U.K. fighters not


With the Ultimate Fighting Championship's latest foray into London, England, UFC 120, matchmaker Joe Silva used the same formula for success he has in the past. Stack the card heavy with European fighters, especially those from The United Kingdom. The formula proved successful as the UFC had well over 17,000 fans in the arena. Unfortunately, for the British fans there was not much to cheer about as many of their fellow countrymen on the card took it on the chin, literally.

Sadly, all was not lost as the night's main event fighter and biggest draw, middleweight (185 lbs.) Michael 'The Count' Bisping (20-3, 12 KO's 4 subs) (pictured above), saved face for the English fans with a unanimous convincing win over the man known as "Sexyama", Judoka Yoshihiro Akiyama from Japan. Using a crisp 1-2 boxing combination and connecting all night at will with his overhand right, Bisping kept Akiyama at bay, avoiding any possible takedown situations; although Akiyama didn't appear to be looking for any either.

Bisping, now riding a two fight winning streak, after losing a decision earlier in the year to Wanderlei Silva, is looking seriously at a possible title shot with at least one more win. Akiyama (13-3, 5 KO's 7 subs) on the other hand, who came into the UFC with a lot of fanfare last year @ UFC 100, has now lost his last two in a row. He could easily be (0-3) in the UFC as his fight @ 100 with Alan Belcher was a highly disputed split decision win. Curious to see how the UFC brass handles Akiyama's status as they are desperately looking for an Asian star to market around.

The co-main event provided the most fireworks of the night, although it turned out to be a dud for the British fans. 'The Natural Born Killer', Carlos Condit (26-5, 12 KO's 13 subs), former welterweight (170 lbs.) champion for World Extreme Cagefighting fighting out of New Mexico, USA, proved to be just that. He shocked the U.K. and the MMA world with his one punch KO over local favorite Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy (23-8, 11 KO's 4 subs).

Condit, although carrying 12 KO's on his record, is known more taking a punch than delivering one. The same can be said for Hardy, who before last night never tasted defeat via KO. So, it was quite surprising when the two were gladly trading with each other at will in the first round and in the midst of an exchange, Condit caught Hardy with a devastating left hook that nearly took his head off. Hardy fell to the canvas and Condit immediately jumped on him and delivered another right-left to the jaw before the referee mercifully jumped in to stop it.

Up next for Condit, who is now on a three fight win streak and three for four in the UFC, either the winner of next week's match-up between Jake Shields and Martin Kampmann or possibly await a potential title shot against Georges St. Pierre. That is assuming St. Pierre gets passed Josh Koscheck in December. Kampmann holds the lone victory against Condit in the UFC.

As for Hardy, he has now lost his last two, including a title shot against St. Pierre in March, after winning seven in a row. However, London or not, he is a very popular fighter and the UFC loves him because he's the type that will bring it every time, win or lose. Don't look for him to go anywhere and after the way he lost last night, I know he's itching to get back in there sooner than later to get that monkey off his back.

One fighter who appears to have finally put it all together and emerge from the shadows is Mike 'Quicksand' Pyle (20-7-1, 2 KO's 16 subs). A veteran in this sport since 1999 Pyle has been a name that has been mentioned over the years by his peers as someone to look out for. Xtreme Couture fighters such as Frank Trigg, Jay Hieron and Randy Couture himself, have all sung Pyle's praises. Trigg has publicly stated "pound for pound, no one hits harder" and Hieron has said, "when it comes to submissions, no one is nicer." So why has he not emerged till now?

The knock on Mike Pyle has always been he is a gym fighter, a guy who is unbelievable in training, but could never transfer that into his fights. In the UFC alone, he's only 3-2, however he's won his last two, including a dominating performance in London against the previously undefeated and heavily favored Englishman John 'The Hitman' Hathaway (14-1, 5 KO's 4 subs).

Pyle beat him standing and on the ground, where in the second round he had Hathaway in a Triangle choke position from side mount that was so controlling, he literally pummeled his face at will for well over two minutes. To 23 year old Hathaway's credit, he withstood the onslaught of punches along with the choke and survived the round and the fight. It took 11 years, but it looks like Pyle has finally arrived.

A couple of other quick notes from UFC 120; first, it would not surprise me if heavyweight Cheick Kongo (15-6-2, 9 KO's 3 subs), may have wore out his welcome after 13 fights in the UFC. With a record of (8-4-1) in the UFC, Kongo's main strength has always been his striking. However, since getting cracked in the jaw by Frank Mir last December; he appears hesitant to pull the trigger. He's also resorting to illegal tactics in his fights. He received a point penalty deduction that cost him the win and into a draw on Saturday for excessive grabbing of his opponent's shorts for leverage against the cage.

One bright spot for England on Saturday came in the form of up and coming lightweight (155 lbs.) Paul 'Sassangle' Sass who remained undefeated in 11 fights with a slick submission victory in the first round. However, in the long run, his great submission game, he's got ten wins by sub, may be his Achilles heel. He's great on the ground, but he offers nothing in his striking and it may be a matter of time till he gets smashed upon stepping up against better competition. In all, UFC 120 was a success in the U.K., but unfortunately the majority of U.K. fighters were not.






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