UFC 159 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
In the shade of the Big Apple, UFC 159 went down Saturday from Newark, N.J. And boy, was it ever weird.
Not one but two fights were decided by technical decision after eye pokes stopped the action. Another undercard bout ended prematurely after a freak thumb injury. Odd referee decisions and fights littered the card. And, of course, there was The Toe. We'll get to that.
But there also was excitement, as always. The main card pitted light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against Chael Sonnen, the UFC's biggest talker and Jones' opposing coach on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter.
All told, there were five main card bouts Saturday night (and Sunday morning, if you want to get technical). How did the performers perform on this strange and gruesome evening? Here are grades for every main card fighter.
Pat Healy: A
Result: Pat Healy defeats Jim Miller by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:02 of Rd. 3
A punishing, back-and-forth fight between two Groundskeeper Willie doppelgangers left both men looking like they had been in some kind of caber-tossing accident. (It also left Bruce Buffer rather confused, which is not easy to do.)
In the closing minute, Healy forced on a rear-naked choke, which shut off Miller's lights. An outstanding UFC re-entry for Healy, who is absolutely huge for a lightweight and should be considered one of the best in the division after topping a very tough fighter in Miller.
Jim Miller: C+
Try to be a little happier, Arianny. Miller is still a very good fighter.
He had plenty of good moments. In fact, he probably won the first round. Miller worked for a submission during several ground exchanges but couldn't ever quite lock one on. He eventually succumbed himself after flagging late in the fight.
Phil Davis: B+
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Phil Davis def. Vinny Magalhaes by unanimous decision
I had been hoping for some genuine heat in this Twitter-fueled grudge match. All I got was warm milk.
Credit where it's due: Davis stayed away from Magalhaes's dangerous jiu-jitsu, working from the perimeter with a long one-two combination. It wasn't elaborate, but it resulted in three rounds of target practice and an easy win for Mr. Wonderful. He probably could have pressed the action or violence a bit more, but hey, it's his fight.
Vinny Magalhaes: D+
One would think that if one worked so hard to get a fight, one would come in ready to go. You know, prepared for every contingency or whatever. I didn't have the impression Vinny Magalhaes fell into that category Saturday night.
I get that Magalhaes's specialty is not striking, but for much of the bout he simply stood flat-footed and covered up or just ate Davis' jab. He did demonstrate a grappling edge when the fight went briefly to the ground, but that was fleeting and inconsequential. For the most part, Magalhaes played the role of heavy bag, minus the cardiovascular endurance.
Roy Nelson: A
Result: Roy Nelson def. Cheick Kongo by knockout, 2:03 of Rd. 1
Set 'em up and knock 'em down. Another one bit the dust under Roy Nelson's bunker-busting overhand right Saturday. That's three consecutive first-round knockouts for "Big Country."
After the fight, Nelson told broadcaster Joe Rogan that he'd like to fight the winner between champion Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva, who fight at UFC 160. I believe I'd watch that. Nelson is wildly popular, and he's wildly good at fighting. What's not to like? I'd pay to watch him fight Mark Hunt, too.
Cheick Kongo: D
Kongo never really got into the fight at UFC 159. The few minutes of consciousness Kongo spent in the cage were spent mushed against the fence. It was a fast night, and that Nelson right can stop a hippopotamus, but Kongo still failed to mount any offense of any kind.
Michael Bisping: B
Result: Michael Bisping def. Alan Belcher by technical decision
Another fight billed as a grudge match, another tepid three rounds. Until, that is, at the very end of the fight, when Bisping buried a finger in the right eye of Belcher, who was bleeding from the eye and couldn't continue. And it wasn't iffy, either. It was quite bad.
It was a fitting co-conclusion to a strange night. Before Bisping's poke, Ovince St. Preux defeated Gian Villante by technical decision after an eye poke and Rustam Khabilov defeated Yancy Medeiros after a freak thumb dislocation. There were other strange timeouts and fouls and oddness all around.
But Bisping was the better fighter before the poke, landing crisp (if not exactly Nelson-esque) punches on a strangely passive Belcher.
Alan Belcher: C-
As with Magalhaes and Kongo before him, Belcher didn't really do much of anything. He skittered around the cage with his hands down. Then at the end, he received the eye poke—in the same eye, no less, for which he previously required surgery and a long layoff.
It was a lackluster performance, but after that poke, I'm just hoping Belcher is OK.
Jon Jones: A
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Jon Jones def. Chael Sonnen by TKO, 4:33 of Rd. 1
"I wanted to Chael Sonnen Chael Sonnen." Those were Jones' words to broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight, and that's what he did. He landed, by my count, three out of four takedowns. He chose to eschew a stand-up fight in which his major reach advantage would be a factor, and instead worked from the clinch and the ground.
It was a rain of punches and elbows that ended Sonnen with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fight. But whatever weirdness was in the Newark water supply Saturday night found its way to the main event. Shortly after the fight, Jones discovered he had a badly broken big toe on his left foot. It was pretty gnarly. Think Kevin Ware in miniature.
If the fight had lasted 27 more seconds, it's likely Jones wouldn't have been able to continue into the second round. But it's probably better that didn't happen. Jones, as always, was the better fighter at UFC 159.
Chael Sonnen: C
Sonnen's defense was reasonably good, and he landed a few shots to the body from the clinch. But at the same time, let's face facts: Sonnen was who we thought he was, which was an overmatched converted middleweight swimming upstream against the light heavyweight champion.
Sonnen told Rogan after the fight that he'd take some time to think about his future. Even if he concludes that his fight career is at an end, he has a bright future in front of the camera or any number of other places.
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