MMA opinion with minimal padding

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So tonight, my girlfriend kindly offered to transcribe my hoots and yelps during the UFC’s all-heavyweight main card, so that I could get on with swearing at everybody. A fine idea, undone by Josh Rosenthal: at whom I unleashed such a torrent of foul language that she simply refused to continue. 

Look: I’m all for letting fighters fight, but when someone’s face is pissing blood like a sprinkler and they shake their head like a sneezing dog while they’re talking to the fight doctor, you might want to take the decision out of their hands. You’d at the very least want to keep an eye out for an opportune moment to stop the fight, instead off letting them take a career-shortening series of face-punches from a barely-functional half guard. I’ve watched that stoppage five times and every time I think I’d have jumped in three punches earlier - I can’t believe there isn’t more outrage about this elsewhere. I was actually gearing up to have a go at Yves Lavigne for letting Shane Del Rosario get his face elbowed to a paste, and this stoppage was worse. Elsewhere on the card, my notes simply say ‘Fuck’s sake, Mazzagatti,’ presumably a reference to him letting Jamie Varner grab the cage for balance while he pounded out Edson Barboza. Not, all in all, a great night for refereeing. 

The one referee that didn’t have much of a job to do was Herb Dean. In-keeping with his job as the nicest man in the face-punching business, JDS seemed almost polite in the way he’d blast Mir with belly punches and occasionally stiff-jab him in the face throughout a fairly one-sided title fight. Even the little hammerfist he ‘finished’ with was almost an afterthought, more like a little nod to the Dean Machine: ‘You’re stopping it, right? You are? Definitely? Great.’ JDS looks like a monster at the moment, easily the best puncher out of the heavyweights and seemingly impervious to being taken down. Something struck me as weird about his stance and I’ve finally worked out what it is: he stands in a really wide version of an orthodox boxing stance, left leg quite far forward instead of being squared off like most MMA fighters. It makes him basically invincible to blast doubles, and though it’s relatively easy to scoop up a single, his balance in defending such things is insane. I hate to think how much he’s drilled hopping around on one leg, but love to see that there’s an archetype out there for traditional boxers to copy. 

What else is there to say about that card? Johnson/Struve didn’t go long enough to tell if Struve’s learned to fight like the giant he is yet, but Johnson needs to take some BJJ lessons if he wants many more outings in the Octagon. My girlfriend saw that armbar coming before he did, and she was mostly-focused on my excellent spiced chicken salad. The traditionalist in me was pleased to see that after calling over a thousand MMA fights Mike Goldberg still doesn’t know what a head-arm triangle choke is - ‘He’s got the arm in…DOESN’T MATTER!’ from the Teixeira fight - and the poet in me was sad that he didn’t finally correctly identify a thing happening in the Octagon as ironic (Crocop fan and shorts-mimicker Miocic having no defence to getting his liver destroyed by kicks). Oh, has anyone else noticed that Paul Sass is 3-0 in the UFC, undefeated in a 13-fight career, and has only gone to decision once alongside 11 first round submissions?True, he can’t punch or do takedowns, but maybe there’s literally no lightweight in the world he can’t heelhook or triangle. He was supposed to fight Dunham last time out - that’s as good a next fight as any. 


Finally, great to see Hardy back in the win column. At first glance the shootout that led to the knockout looked terrifyingly close to Hardy Vs Condit, but in reality it showed that he’s grown as a fighter. The feint he threw before it was flawless, and the jab Ludwig caught him with was sheer reflexes. Hardy’s got genuine knockout power - much as I love them both and don’t want to see either lose, I think he’d make a great matchup with Akiyama. Only possible downside: I don’t think my TV could take all the swearing.


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It’s difficult to articulate what I love most about the Korean Zombie. Firstly, there’s the fact that he comes out to The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ - does he know it’s about the cycle of resentment and injustice that led to an IRA bombing in Warrington, or did some UFC runner just do a search for his nickname on Spotify? Then there’s the fact that he consistently wears the only fighter-branded shirts I’d ever consider sporting in the sorts of hipster bars I go to. And then there’s the fact that he responded to a ridiculous decision loss against Leonard Garcia by hitting the never-before-seen-in-the-UFC Twister - which he’d learned from Youtube. Realistically though, what I love about Jung is the same thing I love about all my favourite fighters - he has minimal interest in winning decisions, and exactly zero interest in holding someone down to coast to a points win. By way of an example, he was easily winning round two in his fight against Poirier, who didn’t seem to have any answer to his very solid mount. But rather than simply drop half-arsed hammer fists for two minutes, Jung decided to jump on an armbar, then unleash a hellstorm of triangle/armbar/triangle/elbow attempts that left him absolutely exhausted for the third. And when he got his breath back in the fourth, he immediately went for a flying knee, then finished with the little-seen Darce. I doubt he can beat Aldo, but I hope they’re throwing so much bonus money at him that it leaves bruises.

Oh, and the other fights? Cerrone seems to have learned from the Diaz loss, no? He made Stephens - who only ever needs one big punch to win - look like a chump, mainly thanks to the same sort of economical down-the-pipe striking that the Stockton boys have made famous. I’m glad Lawlor got the knockout bonus, and I barely care that Sadollah robbed Lopez, who wasn’t doing much except cage-grinding anyway. Another solid card, but in the only thing in my head - aha-ha-ha - was the Zombie. Now, let’s just petition to change that theme tune. 

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Well, that whole card was nothing short of glorious. 

It can’t be coincidence that Nate Diaz’ last two opponents (three if you count Gomi) have done their post-fight interviews with a sort of cat-in-a-washing-machine glaze on their faces that says they aren’t sure what the fuck just happened. These are very tough professional fighters who’ve spent eight weeks specifically preparing to fight a guy like Nate Diaz, and the actual Nate Diaz straight up mercs them so badly that they can’t quite believe it. Nate Diaz might be a fighting genius, and I think I’ve worked out why. 

He fights everywhere. Watching him fight Miller, I was struck by those moments when there’s a micro-lull in the fighting, when somebody takes a clean punch and resets, or when a clinch breaks and there’s a little pause. Or rather, I was struck by the lack of them, because Nate Diaz hits you in those micro-lulls. Diaz was firing those 70-percent punches every time Miller’s face was in range, and them getting through was clearly frustrating Miller. Add in the fact that Diaz is even more relentless in jiu-jitsu than he is in face-punching, and he’s a dangerous man. He’ll probably be in the same situation as his brother soon, where guys can beat him with lay-n-pray or point-fighting but I won’t ever accept that he’s actually lost. I’m actually looking forward to it. 

Palhares isn’t the best gameplanner, is he? He’s all happy if he can rip your leg off, but if that doesn’t work out he sometimes seems a bit lost. But much as I love the Treetrunk, I can’t be too sad after being treated to what was a masterful display of grappling (offensive and defensive) from Belcher. It’s fascinating to see the ground game evolve, and if you aren’t watching the Gracie Breakdowns then you should be, if only to increase your enjoyment of future events. 

Koscheck can moan about that decision all day, but he poked Johnny Hendricks in the eye twenty seconds in and still couldn’t land a decent right hand on him. If I’m going to watch wrestlers dominate at welterweight then I’d rather they be epically-bearded power-sluggers, and so I approve Hendricks’ rise. Ellenberger for a title shot next. 

And Pat Barry? Well, that blue-belt level BJJ aside, he needs to fight smarter and stop being so prepared to slug it out. He can land with accuracy, he’s just too happy to fight for the fans. 

In conclusion: number one contender bouts for everybody except Johnson, and if THQ don’t put the Diaz ‘Don’t be scared, homie’ taunt into the next Undisputed, I will likely cry. That is all.

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So it turns out that Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter in the world. Or at least, if he isn’t, he will be soon - I can’t think if it’s some X-Men villain or the Borg out of Star Trek that constantly adapt and can’t ever be beaten twice by the same strategy, but the only way to have any success against Jones seems to be showing him something knew, and if you don’t finish him with it he’ll simply assimilate your tactics and smash you in the next round. In years to come, MMA historians might see Saturday’s fight as the singularity where Jones finally absorbed everything the light-heavyweight division has to offer and starts creating his own fighting styles at exponential speed. Much as I dislike him - even during the intro package he managed to come across as impossibly supercilious with his ‘you really want Evans as champ?’ schtick - the hand-fight elbows he threw in the second round were just a thing of magic, and Rashad never looked the same after they landed. Jones is a fighting genius, and I really can’t see the likes of Davis and Gustaffson keeping up, however carefully the UFC might nurture them. Who can beat him? Hendo has as much chance as anybody, but other than that I think it might be up to Velasquez, when Jones finally ventures up to heavyweight. 

On the subject of freakish super-athletes, Rory McDonald looked amazing. I’m not sure what kind of Faustian pact Che Mills signed to hurdle into co-main event status as a prelude to getting his face smashed in, but I hope he doesn’t suffer for it - he’s an excellent fighter who was simply outclassed, and I’d like to see him in some fun wars against the lower tiers of the welterweight division. My other notes from the night (yeah I take notes) say simply: ‘Rogan really stoned.’ I could be wrong, but he sort of vacillated between long periods of silence and meandering thoughts about fighters and fighting in general, unlike any normal commentator. I actually really liked listening to him talk about Chuck Liddell for two minutes of the Hominick fight, but when he was talking about an ‘ocean of betrayal on the seas of hatred’ during the Evans fight, shit got weird. 

Speaking of Hominick, by the way: there is fucking nothing I hate more than watching a fighter do pretend press-ups after losing a boring decision. You know what, M-Dogg? If you were feeling that spritely, maybe you should have thrown some big shots in the final 30 seconds, instead of just coasting to an uninspiring loss. JC Santana once said to me that he wants his guys to be absolutely exhausted after they fight as long as they win, and Eddie Yagin looked ruined after giving it everything he had. Well done to him. 

Joe Silva generally has a good rep, but for my money Matt Brown vs Stephen Thompson was one of the greatest fights he’s ever made. Seeing the karate wunderkind tested by a horrible, come-forward, drag-you-to-the-ground-and-elbow-the-shit-out-of-you brawler was exactly what I wanted to happen, and in the event it told us a lot about where Thompson is. He needs more than a blue belt and his lord and saviour Jesus Christ to protect him on the ground in the welterweight division, and at 29 it’ll be interesting to see if he can manage it. Brown looked great, fought with heart, and I’m always happy to see him tear it up as a welterweight gatekeeper.

Finally, hooray for Ben Rothwell. I’ve heard of ‘taking one to land one,’ but his fight was more like ‘taking fifteen to land a single atomic megapunch.’ He ate everything Brendan Schaub could throw to clip him with an uberleft, and looked in great shape doing it. Will he be a force against a new generation of heavyweights? Probably not, but I’m applauding him anyway.  Good show all round, though the less said about my seven-fight mega-parlay the better. 

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So two days before the UFC made its debut in the land of meatballs and constitutional monarchy, I was moaning about the lack of top-flight talent on the card. ‘You always say this,’ a colleague reminded me, ‘And then it’s always the most exciting card for ages.’ I may have hmphed. 

Two days later and with the co-main and main events still to go, I’d already declared something like three fights in a row Fight Of The Night, shouted ‘karate karate karate!’ during a wheel-kick showcase by Dennis Siver and jumped out of my seat to applaud delightedly and swear at the TV during one match. You know which one.

Isn’t John Maguire fucking brilliant? Like every other true-hearted Englishman, I’ve been waiting what feels like forever to see a Brit whose gameplan includes takedowns, and for him to be a fellow fan of Bret Hart feels like the icing on the cake.  I’m also convinced that declaring himself a pink belt in Gypsy Jiu-Jitsu is a stroke of genius - even though he’s displayed a vicious kimura in his non-UFC fights and grapples at a pretty high level, nobody knows quite how seriously to take him. The answer for Damarques Johnson was ‘Not seriously enough,’ as he uncorked an absolutely masterful armbar counter to a kimura attempt (see? you know a move and you can defend it) for what was unquestionably the sub of the night. It was basic jiu-jitsu, but pulled off flawlessly under big pressure and against an excellent fighter. Brilliant.

Pickett: also excellent. He needed a win, and fought a great fight, though he still seems a bit too willing to trade when he could be using his superior skills to dominate. Good to see Jason Young picking up a win too - his losses have been the narrowest of decisions so far, and it would’ve been a shame to see him get cut without showing what he can do. Siver deserved his win - okay, that fight was basically almost like a kickboxing sparring match, but there were moments of genuine brutality when the kleine Deutschman got in close, and Nunes looked far too happy to sit back and counter. I was sad to see Paulo Thiago get dropped, but that’s what you get for leading with your face. 

And so to the co-main event. It felt a lot like Legionarius was a gimme fight for Stann, who’s exactly the kind of American hero the UFC might want to push into a middleweight shot when Silva retires. Sonnen made him look dreadful and Palhares would rip his leg off, but I’m sure he’d like to fight Bisping, and he’s got enough one-shot power to make a fight of it. Bisping might not like it, but a win would put him near the top of the pecking order - and if Sonnen can beat Silva, it might even make sense to rematch him into a title shot. Perhaps I’m just overexcited. 

Oh! And for the first round of the Gustaffson fight both men were moving at the speed of lightweights, which was tremendously exciting. Gustaffson’s not quite at contender-level yet, and he probably ought to fight Bader to see if he’s learned to deal with wrestlers. But basically a brilliant card, and a welcome return after three weeks of fight-less weekends. Evans/Davis ought to be amazing, which in the Bizarro-world logic of the UFC means that it will actually be a tedious snoozer. But I am enormously excited about it anyway. Evans for the win!

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Possibly the biggest compliment I can pay Miesha Tate after this weekend’s fight is that I didn’t even blink when she had her elbow bent in half like a pipe cleaner.

You, gentle reader, might argue that I’ve simply become desensitized to limb-bending from all the Youtube videos I watch of amateur BJJ tournaments - and you’d be right that I’m not jumping on the worst-armbar-evah bandwagon, since watching Tim Sylvia’s forearm get popped like a breadstick was infinitely worse. But that’s not it at all. Until now, top-flight women’s MMA has never seemed to quite match the skill levels you see among the men - Cyborg Santos, the most dominant woman in the division, is only a purple belt in BJJ, and you regularly see quite serious errors in groundwork even during title matches.

Rousey/Tate changed all that. With an Olympic bronze under her belt, Rousey is one of the highest-level judoka ever to compete in MMA (the only better ones I can think of are Satoshii Ishii and Hidehiko Yoshida), and she’s already the most successful in terms of using her base skillset to win fights (8-0 including her amateur record, all by armbar in the first round). Women’s judo is every bit as competitive as men’s, and so what you’re watching during her fights is a genuinely world-class competitor with utter confidence in her skills. Tate is former national champ in wrestling with a solid submission game, and had a huge experience edge on Rousey. The fight they put on wasn’t just a good women’s fight, it was one of the best fights this year - four minutes and twenty-seven seconds of throws, reversals, submission attempts and punching, and not one second of time-wasting or fighting for a decision. When the end came, I was looking at Miesha Tate like I’d look at any other championship-level fighter - someone

fully cognizant of the risks and rewards of trying to escape a fight-ending armbar, and someone completely capable of deciding whether or not to get their elbow dislocated. Tate knew what she was doing, and nobody else can really say anything about it. It was a great fight, and a great night for women’s MMA, and if someone’s going to get their elbow popped in the name of entertainment, then I’d damn well better watch it happen.*

 

*I didn’t watch the other matches.

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True facts: I can usually gauge how good a UFC has been by the amount of times I shout ‘Fuck YOU!’ at the TV during the live broadcast. That makes it sound more malevolent than it is - yes, sometimes it slips out when a fighter I don’t like gets savagely concussed, but mostly it’s a celebration of some phenomenal bit of technical skill, heart or virtuousity in the octagon. That ends in someone being savagely concussed.

I’m pretty sure UFC 144 set a record for ‘Fuck YOU!’ moments, because top to
bottom I can’t think of a card that was more exciting. Edgar/Henderson was fantastic, as expected - that picture up at the top is Hendo throwing a fucking Enzuigiri (actual translation: medulla oblongata chop), which as far as I’m aware has never even been attempted in the UFC before. I’m late enough in writing this post that it’s been established that Hendo will be rematching Edgar, which I don’t hate as much as I would if you’d suggested it immediately after the fight. Yes, Edgar will have rematched his last three opponents and spent three years basically fighting the same three guys, but I didn’t want him to drop to featherweight either - if he loses against Aldo, as he very well could, that’s a stratospheric plummet from champ-in-a-stacked-division to working-up-the-ladder-in-a-division-not-everyone-cares-about. I guess this means that Pettis fights the Miller/Diaz winner for the next title shot, which is a bit unfair if it’s Miller but a great way to thoroughly establish any of the others. 

Edgar/Bendo wasn’t the noisiest match, though. The highest-volume profanity came courtesy of Yoshihiro Akiyama, who has to be wondering what he’s done upset the UFC - most people on a losing streak get a chance to rectify their slide against weaker opposition, but he’s fought Bisping, Belfort AND THEN SHIELDS. Because he doesn’t give a shit, Akiyama fought like he always does - with an utter disregard for anything except doing flawless, textbook-perfect judo throws. Between his reluctance to cut weight and his unwillingness to stick to a boring gameplan he might never make waves at welterweight, but if you’re declaring him overrated on the basis of his UFC run then I hate you. Shields was solid and I’d like to see him make another run at the top, but he really needs to find a way to take people down when they’re treating his punches with the utter contempt that they deserve.


Second most-likely-to-upset-the-neighbours was Kongo/Hunt. Normally two
things are inevitable in a Kongo fight: I will make a load of jokes about
how Kongo always knees his opponent in the balls, and then Kongo knees his opponent in the balls. This fight there wasn’t time for either, and massive props to Mark
Hunt for having the tenacity to chase down (and punch unconscious) an
opponent who was openly running away. I was absolutely horrified to watch Gomi fight like an exaggerated version of his old self (head forward, loads of hooks) but glad that he won. And was sad to watch Yamamoto, but I hope Vaughan Lee can ride the momentum, pocket his submission bonus, train hard and come back as a new British prospect.  In conclusion: bring back Akiyama, let Gomi fight Lauzon, and go Google ‘Kid Yamamoto Flying Knee KO’ to remind yourself of what once was. Goodnight, everybody.  

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I thought I’d kick off this post by saying that I’ve never actually seen Nick Diaz lose a fight. Then I thought about it a bit more and decided that although I’ve seen Nick Diaz lose fights in the technical sense - being damaged more, taking more punches, having his skin cut open by his own tectonic-plate bone structure - I’ve never seen him end a fight not looking like he was going to win.* Somewhere there’s a parallel universe in which every fight is contested under Sakuraba/Royce/Pride rules - 10 minute rounds, keep going until one person has to stop - and in that universe, Nick Diaz is undisputed open-weight champion. It’s arguable whether he lost against Sanchez or Parisyan, Sherk did nothing to him that the police would even regard as actually bodily harm, and he was so pissed off about dropping a decision to Joe Riggs that he carried on fighting him in the hospital. Everything Nick Diaz does in a fight is designed to allow him to beat you up more, whether it’s taunting you with his hands down or calling you a bitch in between rounds or walking through 40 leg kicks so he can punch you in the liver. He doesn’t get tired and he is always trying to hit you. He is awesome. 

So why didn’t he beat Condit? Regardless of what I think (maybe Diaz in round one, definitely Diaz in round two when he started to flurry on Condit as soon as he backed into the fence, Condit in three and four via leg kicks as Diaz slowed down and Diaz in five because he went for two subs that Fightmetric didn’t bother to score) or how badly Cecil Peoples needs to be fired (he scored five for Condit, which suggests to me that he’s never seen a rear naked choke before), that fight was really too close to be upset about the decision, and you can’t blame Condit for fighting smart, even if you (me) were shouting abuse at him in the opening ten minutes. I wouldn’t necessarily be in favour of a rematch if GSP would be ready to go in June, but since he’s probably out until the end of the year, it’s absolutely the best solution.

Not much to report on the rest of the card. I can’t dislike Roy Nelson, but a thumping overhand right, cement-like head and self-deprecating sense of humour won’t get him to the top of the division, and I’m getting a bit worried about how much he gets hit. I thought Pierce beat Koscheck, but everyone knows you can’t trust judges these days. Barao looked great, and Ed Herman looked like a guy who will starch anyone with an obvious weakness but isn’t likely to break the top ten. And I was ready to worship Stephen Thompson as the new karate messiah right up until the point he thanked his lord and saviour Jesus Christ for helping him kick a man in the face so hard that he’s probably lost some wonderful childhood memories. Overall a decent card, and I’m genuinely glad to have scotched the Nick Diaz eulogy I started writing minutes after he announced his ‘retirement.’ Well done, everybody. 

*I haven’t seen his first fight with Jeremy Jackson, so this is technically fine. 

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Ed’s note: Rather than dwell on Miller/Guillard - from which the only real lesson is that Guillard can’t seem to remember how to defend submissions under pressure - I’ve leapfrogged straight to Evans/Davis with a guest post from writer, MMA-lover and vicious leg-kicker Jon Denton. If you notice that this one’s more coherent and thorough than usual, that’s all him. 

What constitutes a boring fight? 15 minutes of Jon Fitch blanket-grinding some poor chump into mush? Nik ‘Stahl’ Lentz leaning you into the cage while tickling the backs of your knees? Or is it now anything that doesn’t live up to the Everestian heights of Shogun/Hendo or Alvarez/Chandler? After Saturday’s perfectly solid, functional and technically sound main event, I was surprised to see such vitriol pouring out of the net’s darkest octagonal corner against Rashad Evans’ dominant, star-affirming turn against the human triangle Phil Davis. 

If anything, it reminded me of a boxing main event – an overmatched but supremely talented contender being outclassed round after round. Suga showed his mettle, his drive and most of all his skill as he outboxed, outwrestled and outgrappled Davis in every exchange, breaking him down systematically until his confidence was sapped from his giant mesomorphic frame. If anything, the fight had really begun two days prior at the fantastically entertaining press conference. Rashad’s biting – and at the time seemingly misplaced – barbs seemed to get to Phil. Suga insinuated that Davis had no wrestling technique, that it was ‘trash’. A bold claim against someone with two national titles, when Rashad has few pure wrestling credential of his own. He backed it up, though, and how. This was the first time that Phil Davis hasn’t been the best at something he does. It’ll be interesting to see how Mr Wonderful bounces back.

Perhaps more justifiably slapped with the ‘boring’ tag was the night’s opener, Demian Maia against Chris Weidman. After 20 minutes of dry banter from Curt Menefee, Randy Couture and the deer-in-the-headlights Jonny Bones Jones, we were hungry for action. Instead, what we got was one former jiu-jitsu emperor practising  a floppy one-two against a man who’d cut 30 pounds in 10 days and looked ready to collapse at any moment. The fact Weidman was able to power through and take the decision against the plodding Maia is testament to his heart and will, but quite what happened to DM is a mystery. Yes, he’s not a striker, but this is still a man who comfortably outboxed Dan Miller and slammed a closed fist directly into Mark Munoz’ subconscious. Rumours have circulated that he too was poorly before the fight. Regardless, it was not the most spectacular opening to a show on Big Fox. Even worse than those godawful trumpets that burrow their way into your cerebellum. 

The most entertaining scrap, of course, was Bisping vs Sonnen, although few could have predicted Mike bullying Chael against the fence for the majority of two rounds and refusing to stay layed-and-indeed-prayed. Bisping’s sprawl still needs work, but his ability – and sheer tenacity - to shrimp to the cage, lock in the wizzer and work his way to the feet is a lesson for any European fighter hoping to make it on the big stage. Just because you get taken down, doesn’t mean you have to stay there.

By the third, Chael did manage to maintain top control, and Bisping struggled to summon up the energy to explode back to his feet yet again, but Sonnen did no damage to speak of, while Bisping himself landed the coup-de-grace, actually hauling Chael off his heels, dumping him on the mat and dropping some savage elbows as the final horn echoed throughout the arena.  Both thought they’d done enough, and I thought Bisping had the first two in the bag, but the judges saw it the other way. 

A controversial decision, then, and a terrible outing for Clay Goodman and his baffling 30-27 scorecard, but it could turn into a win-win for the UFC, Chael and indeed Mikey B. We’ve now got the Sonnen-Silva rematch that the world’s been clamouring for, almost certainly taking place under the bright floodlights of a Brazilian football stadium and primed to make Mixed Martial Arts history. Good. Bisping, though, won the fight in Dana’s eyes. He won in many a fan’s eyes. And he won in his own eyes. He acquitted himself brilliantly in a matchup where no one gave him a chance, and he’s probably only one more win away from a title shot himself. Bisping/Palhares, or Bisping/Munoz? Make it happen.

So, boring? At times, possibly. The decision to keep Manatee-man, Randy and rebellious prefect Jones talking instead of showing off Lavar Johnson’s hideous KO of Joey Beltran, or Cub Swanson’s highlight-reel mouthpiece-rebound right hand, is questionable, but these are the kinks that Fox and the UFC will work out over the course of their gargantuan seven year deal. Sometimes sports just aren’t as dramatic, fierce and air-punchingly, eye-wateringly amazing  as we’d like. Suck it up, appreciate the technique, and get the beers in for Condit Diaz. Someone’s getting punched in the face. Hard.

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Well that was almost entirely brilliant. 

To get the awkward bit out of the way, I think Rogan was totally wrong to keep saying that he didn’t agree with the Silva/Prater DQ, especially directly to Mario Yamasaki’s increasingly-despondent face. It’s sometimes nice that Rogan gets to say what the fans are thinking, and he did excellent work under pressure during bag-of-ice-gate, but trying to get an official to admit that he’s just made a mistake during a live broadcast is outrageous. A rare slip from a great commentator. 

Aldo/Mendes looked like it might be a snoozer, and seeing him use a combination of flawless balance, perfect timing and astonishing power to knock the little man out was basically everything I wanted. The man’s a tiny monster, and seeing one of my BJJ training partners, who moonlights as Octagon security, try to restrain him from crowd-surfing out of the arena was the celebratory cherry on an extraordinarily violent cake. Still, the match that made me the happiest was little Toquinho almost tearing Mike Massenzio’s knee in half. If I’d been Massenzio, I’d have tapped as soon as Palhares touched my leg with his giant hands - he seemed happy to watch the heelhook being put on, wait until it hurt and then tap, and by the time a heelhook hurts you’re already guaranteed a trip to the rehab ward. Regardless, the post-fight flexing routine and backflip were like a special extra secret present directly from Palhares to me, because I love that crazy bastard. Everybody in the middleweight division should be scared to fight the Tree Stump right now, and with his barrel-forward takedowns and weird high kick, he’s a threat everywhere. He’s got a realistic shot at the title when Silva retires. 

Finally, I’m a big fan of Victoria sponge and react to dieting like a horse does from fireworks, and so I can sort of sympathise with Rumble Johnson expanding in size with every fight he takes. Unfortunately, he’s also a professional fighter, and coming in illegally heavy for an event where you’re going to try and concuss another man is not very forgivable. I was enormously pleased that Belfort got the tap (jiu-jitsu! jiu-jitsu!), and I hope Rumble learns that size isn’t everything while he’s fighting his way back from the minor leagues. Otherwise, well done everybody. Oh, except: Rio? Firing laser-pointers into fighters’ eyes is definitely not cool.