UFC welterweight contender Carlos Condit.
UFC Fight Night 27 went down Wednesday night from Indianapolis. In the main event, welterweight contenders and general man crush targets Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann squared off in a rematch of their 2009 bout, which Kampmann took by split decision.
But, true to the nature of the Hoosier State, there was a lot of substance on the main card, the second such card to air on the spanking-new Fox Sports 1 network. A lot of no-frills, salt-of-the-Earth, rock-solid substance. It was a main card you could sink your teeth into. Does that make any sense? No? Well, maybe these grades for every main card combatant will help clear things up for you. Make it hurt so good, Indianapolis.
Result: Brad Tavares def. Bubba McDaniel by unanimous decision
Brad Tavares went in there and did what he was supposed to do. A straightforward, unexciting sentence for a straightforward, unexciting victory.
The Hawaiian used heavy leg kicks and a potent counterpunch game to keep McDaniel at bay, preventing him from landing a takedown and initiating his submission offense.
Tavares coasted a bit in the third round, and this probably wasn't the kind of win that will unequivocally land him on the next echelon. But it was a good, solid win for a 25-year-old who now has four straight wins on his record.
UFC middleweight Bubba McDaniel (right).
After clearly losing the first two rounds, Bubba could've packed it up and headed back to Texas. He went a different way, coming out fast and hard in the final stanza to take a clear round. And it wasn't just the ground game; he landed a strong left hand in there, too, which pushed Tavares back to the fence.
It was more than a lot of people (myself included) expected from McDaniel. Was he outclassed? Yeah. Did he show some heart and some skills? Yeah.
Result: Takeya Mizugaki def. Erik Perez by split decision
No matter who you were rooting for, this was an outstanding fight. Perez is a very impressive young go-getter, but outs don't come much tougher than Takeya Mizugaki. He's like Matt Brown, only smaller, less powerful, more Japanese and better at grappling.
Each round was close, but Mizugaki came on in the second and third rounds with heavy counter striking, led by a stiff left hook, and even heavier takedowns. Score one for the grinder.
Perez fought well. But as Bill Belichick says, he was just one or two plays away. Wasn't the better guy today.
On my scorecard, Perez took the first round, but left himself too open to counters down the stretch—even as he showed some inconsistency on his takedowns and takedown defense.
It could have been much worse, though: he somehow powered out of a very tight rear-naked choke in the third that could have been curtains for someone else. He had his hand in tap position and everything. Even though the other guy's hand went up tonight, Perez still showed why so many people believe in his UFC future.
Result: Court McGee def. Robert Whittaker by split decision
Early on, Court McGee took a nasty cut to his eye. But as Court McGee is wont to do, Court McGee hung tough, shook it off, dirtied it up with the clinch and just kept on throwing.
Don't forget: According to FightMetric, earlier this year McGee set a UFC welterweight record for significant strikes landed in a three-round fight with 166. That stay-busy ethos served him well again tonight against a game Whittaker, and it moved him to 2-0 in the division.
Whittaker did a fine job, and certainly landed with more overall power than McGee. But in the end, he didn't do enough to separate himself (literally, at times) from his opponent.
The weirdest part about the performance came after the final horn, when one of those ever-popular judges scored the bout 30-27 for Whittaker, even as another scored it 30-27 for McGee (the third had it 29-28).
In any event, it's a setback for Whittaker, sure, but the guy's still a The Ultimate Fighter champion at the age of 22. He'll be back. Especially whenever the UFC is looking toward Whittaker's native Australia.
Result: Kelvin Gastelum def. Brian Melancon by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:26, Rd. 1
A crisp one-two combination and then an uppercut put Melancon on all fours. Gastelum saw that Melancon's neck was set up on a tee, hopped on his back and put on the choke. Melancon was tapping just scant seconds later.
What a performance from Gastelum. I'll be very interested to see what the UFC does with him next.
And he's only 21.
Nothing against Melancon, but he just couldn't get going tonight. Gastelum wouldn't let him. He was out fought, out aggressed, out struck and out submitted.
Don't forget, though, that Melancon last fought less than two months ago, and that was a stirring and surprising knockout on Seth Baczynski in his UFC debut. Here's hoping the Texas veteran gets another shot. This loss wasn't so much predicated on poor performance from Melancon, but rather a really great performance from his opponent.
Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision
Good on Dos Anjos for winning the best fight of his entire career. And he did it against a famous and accomplished fighter in the UFC's best division.
It started with a big punch—and, boy, did I notice RDA's bowling-ball fists tonight—that sent "Cowboy" to the ground. Dos Anjos followed up with ground-and-pound to take the first round. Afterward, it was essentially more of the same, just in different permutations. Cerrone came on strong later in the fight, but Dos Anjos did enough not only to win, but to face a real, bona fide elite in his next UFC fight.
There were signs it was all turning around for Donald Cerrone. After big losses to guys like Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis, Cerrone did himself some soul-searching. He always knew how to beat good fighters; how could he get over the hump against the great ones, or the good ones when the lights were brightest?
It seemed he was ready to dig in for one last run. And hey, maybe he still is. But Wednesday night, Dos Anjos was faster to the punch and stronger in every phase. Meanwhile, Cerrone's chin and, well, entire rest of his body just didn't look to be in elite cage-fighting shape.
Could it be a matter of Dos Anjos being awesome and we just don't know it quite yet? Maybe. But it wasn't good times for Cerrone Wednesday night, no matter how you cut it.
Result: Carlos Condit def. Martin Kampmann by TKO, 0:54, Rd. 4
Carlos Condit is great. He's a great fighter. I just want to say that for the record.
If he was who we thought he was (and he was) we knew he'd want to effect a violent ending in a rematch of the fight he lost in his UFC debut. Kampmann took the first round with takedowns and grappling, but then Condit came on, employing those classically Condit combinations, some almost Anderson-Silva-like accuracy and some takedown defense that improved over the course of the fight to wear down Kampmann, bloody him up, bloody him up even worse, then take him out.
Condit seemed to wax even as Kampmann seemed to wane. Toward the end, I wouldn't be surprised to learn Condit literally smelled blood. The end was surgical and it was awesome. And I'm glad I have it on DVR.
I'm happy for Kampmann that he probably won the first round. Perhaps that's a moral victory. And there's no question he'll remain at the top of an extremely tough welterweight division.
But aside from the early takedowns, there was no phase or time segment in the fight where it seemed Kampmann had a clear advantage. And his face wore that disadvantage at the end, as he sat with his back against the cage, blood pouring from his head, referee Herb Dean having called Condit off.
Bottom line: He fought respectably, and he'll be back to fight and probably win again on another day. But Condit was better Wednesday night and that's it.
Scott Harris is a featured columnist and unrepentant slideshow writer for Bleacher Report. He also likes to talk MMA and other things on Twitter. Find him there@ScottHarrisMMA.