Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UFC 130: Fireworks end in a dud

UFC 130 may have started out with fireworks, but when and where it really counted, it ended with a dud. I guess that’s what happens when you lose your scheduled main event weeks before the event. Originally going to be headlined by the third fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard for the lightweight championship, injuries forced the cancellation of that fight. That left light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) contenders Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (32-8, 14 KO’s 7 subs) and Matt ‘The Hammer’ Hamill (10-3, 6 KO’s) to pick up the slack and they didn’t.

I originally predicted Hamill could and would defeat Jackson (pictured at left), based solely on the blueprint Rashad Evans laid out for wrestlers, which he used one year prior, on how to beat the former champion. However, Hamill, a former division three national champion wrestler, was unable to do the same. As a matter of fact, Jackson was never in danger at all throughout the fight of being taken down.

That left the fight standing, where Jackson had a decisive advantage, and he used it effectively. Yet, Hamill was never in any serious trouble throughout, thus causing Jackson to win a lackluster unanimous decision. The 12,000+ in attendance, which is another issue, voiced their displeasure and apparently UFC President Dana White did not disagree. Part of that emotion came from what he was already feeling after the co-main event.

Heavyweights Frank Mir (15-5, 3 KO’s 8 subs), a former two-time champion, and Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson (15-6, 8 KO’s 5 subs), both fighting in their hometown, did not do much to win their hometown fans over. Nelson especially, who weighed in @ 260 lbs, looked out of shape, more than normal, and unmotivated throughout. Mir meanwhile, did take the fight to Nelson, but didn’t do much to try and finish it. This resulted in another lopsided unanimous decision win for Mir.

To say Dana White was initially displeased with the way this fight played out is an understatement. In his post fight press conference on Saturday night he berated Mir by saying, “Frank Mir has been a two-time world champion. He’s been around a long time. He’s a super talented guy and I expect more from him.” However, he softened his stance a bit on the former champion 24 hours later when he said, “I was a little harsh on Mir. He came into that fight with the perfect gameplan, and he nailed Roy with some big shots. Mir dominated that fight from start to finish, and he deserves some credit for that."

As for the undercard, there was some excitement as All-American light-heavyweight Brian Stann (11-3, 8 KO’s, 1 sub) continued his winning ways by destroying Jorge Santiago (23-9, 9 KO’s, 12 subs) via TKO from punches in bunches in the second round. Also, in the battle of the twin towers, heavyweight contender 6’7” Travis ‘Hapa’ Browne (11-0-1, 9 KO’s 1 subs) garnered the KO of the night bonus for his highlight reel “Superman Punch” knockout over 6’11” Stefan ‘Skyscraper’ Struve (21-5, 5 KO’s 14 subs) in the first round.

The other bout on the undercard featured a welterweight (170 lbs.) tilt between contenders Rick ‘Horror’ Story (13-3, 3 KO’s 3 subs) and Thiago ‘Pitbull’ Alves (18-8, 11 KO’s 1 sub). What had the potential to be a dynamite fight, turned out to be another dud as Story dominated Alves with his wrestling and gutted out a unanimous three round decision victory. The win now propels Story though, riding a six-fight win streak, to the top tier of the division and a potential match-up with fellow wrestler and number one contender Jon Fitch.

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