UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle's KeyArena culminated with Benson Henderson smearing and smothering Nate Diaz to defend his UFC lightweight title. But hardcore fight fans and free TV walk-ins alike enjoyed 11 bouts in five different weight classes.
Plenty of people billed the event as the best top-to-bottom MMA fight card ever assembled for free television. Did it deliver? Who did and didn't come through? Google can give you the vital stats, but who were the real winners and losers Saturday night? Why don't you just read on.
More than anything else, plain, old bad timing seemed to create the whisker closeness between John Albert's tap and the sounding of the horn.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old might have a tough time living it down, especially since the tap to Scott Jorgensen's rear-naked choke meant his third straight UFC defeat (all submissions, by the by) and could free him up to hone his craft in a lesser promotion.
Can we stop calling this guy overrated already?
This might have been the best win of Dennis Siver's career. Though he's mainly regarded as a kickboxer, on Saturday night the German brandished every tool in his box with artisan precision and workmanlike power.
In the first half of the fight, sharp kicks and combinations kept Nam Phan at bay. In the second half, Siver put Phan on his back and kept him there, mercilessly pummeling his crestfallen opponent.
After making sausage out of Phan and surviving a dogfight with Diego Nunes, Siver is 2-0 as a featherweight. Maybe he doesn't deserve a title shot right now. But he deserves a seat at that table.
First he weighed in three pounds overweight for his lightweight, er, catchweight collision with Daron Cruickshank. The fatness forced Martinez to hork up 20 percent of his fight purse.
Then Cruickshank pounded on him for two rounds. For a while, Martinez somehow remained vertical and was praised on Twitter for his toughness, or at least his strong knees. But in retrospect, that was a little like praising the golf ball for staying atop the tee, as an unabated Cruickshank head kick sent Martinez a long distance down the fairway.
So much for The Sauna. UFC debutante Abel Trujillo proved a much more dangerous knockout artist when he progressively knocked the various body segments of Marcus LeVesseur into bloody, steaming oblivion.
LeVesseur, who gamely and admirably replaced Tim Means on about 24 hours' notice after Means walked out of a sauna and fell and bumped his head and couldn't get up in the morning, was overwhelmed from the start.
Trujillo, a lightweight who trains with Rashad Evans and company at the Blackzilians center, proved a quick study below the bright lights. Trujillo dug into LeVesseur's face and body, and in the second round closed the deal with shield-your-eyes knee bombs to the midsection.
In the last fight on the undercard, the venerable thug-jitsu master dodged an ill-intentioned right hand from Jeremy Stephens and dropped a perfect counter right directly on Stephens' jaw.
Yves Edwards, 36, is one of the most underrated lightweights ever. This was one of his best wins in recent memory and the first KO loss of Stephens' career. Edwards' MMA journey is far from over, and for that, fans should be thankful.
Fans should also be thankful for this sweet photo from Tracy Lee. Credit where it's due: that image says it all.
The cable network had to be delighted with a seven-fight undercard that included two highlight-reel knockouts (Edwards/Stephens, Cruickshank/Martinez), one brutal TKO (Trujillo/LeVesseur), one buzzer-beating submission and one dominant decision (Siver/Phan).
It will be interesting to see the ratings for this one.
Did you know that Matt Brown has a checkered past that he overcame through mixed martial arts? No, it's true. How do I know? Endless hours of exhaustive independent research. Could those microfiche readers be any less user-friendly? I say no.
It's also true that Matt Brown has some noteworthy moments inside the cage as well, and none of them are any bigger than the battering ram left hook that made an ironing board out of Mike Swick.
Even serious Brown fans always had him relegated to solid-journeyman status. Could he be more than that?
It gives me no pleasure to say it, but BJ Penn has lost his fastball.
Rory MacDonald, the younger and much larger fighter of the two, agonizingly picked Penn apart. MacDonald showed a restraint of attack that was openly disrespectful. He seemed to make an Anderson Silva-esque decision to expend as little energy as possible while making sure to fully humiliate the adversary.
I mean, he was dancing like Muhammad Ali. He was murmuring to Penn. He was dropping his hands. Penn simply stood stoop-shouldered in front of the phenom and absorbed the physical and mental abuse, powerless to stop it. The final scorecards—30-26, 30-26, 30-27—tell the tale.
The view from my comfortable couch is that Penn, if he wants to keep fighting after this, must return to lightweight. Not should. Must. No one wants to see a living legend toyed with in this manner.
The co-main event was no adrenaline dump, but it was a clear decision win for Alexander Gustafsson over former champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. As in previous fights, Rua tired with time and became sloppier and more susceptible to takedowns.
Given that UFC president Dana White said on Thursday that the winner of this fight will get next crack at champ Jon Jones after Jones dispatches Chael Sonnen in April, I'd say it was definitely the biggest win of the 25-year-old Swede's career.
After BJ Penn and Shogun Rua both fell to much younger guns, many a glass of Xyience Cran Razz was salted with the bitter tears of defeat.
Both men appeared to gas early and neither was especially competitive. Just two more sad data points along the plot line tracing the slow demise of the sport's Age of Heroes.
Hey, at least there's still Yves Edwards.
Kudos to the whole UFC on Fox 5 crew. Nary a Ceciling or Winslowing in sight.
No inappropriately early or late stoppages, no questionable decisions. Never mind that there weren't a lot of close calls to make this evening. Never mind that! No one puked on themselves or blacked out at the scorer's table, and that's a win. The absence of bad is sometimes very good.
And seriously, because they sure get their ration of dung when a mistake occurs, kudos to Herb Dean, Anthony Hamlett, Dan Miragliotta, Steve Newport and the whole gang.
What a performance from the lightweight champion. He weakened the dangerous boxing game of Nate Diaz with leg kicks and kept it under wraps with the clinch. He hit takedown after takedown and then worked ground and pound. Perfect game plan, perfectly executed.
Benson Henderson's a very good champion at 155 pounds. If it wasn't clear before, it is now. Hard to see who might beat him right now.
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