There was plenty of dust stirred up at UFC 111 from New Jersey’s Prudential Center. It was a night filled with great fights, most ending in exciting submission or TKO finishes. Even the decisions were hard fought too, so nothing lost there.
Jersey’s native sons, Jim Miller and Kurt Pellegrino, shined brightly in front of their hometown crowd.
Jon Fitch is still Jon Fitch, and Shane Carwin silenced critics by sending Frank Mir to both the hospital and psychiatric ward.
We got to see heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and freshly crowned interim heavyweight champ Carwin square off in the middle of the octagon, both seemingly eager to consolidate the heavyweight belts.
We got to experience Dan Hardy’s warrior spirit, which ended up being just as impressive as Georges St-Pierre’s beautifully grinded route to victory.
The highs—speaking of which, Joe Rogan seemed extra colorful in commentating the night’s events—out numbered the lows, making it a very successful venture into the Garden State.
So let’s take a look through the literary microscope and see what’s next for these UFC gladiators.
The New Jersey native fended off numerous rear-naked choke attempts while Mark Bocek, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, had Miller’s right arm pinned down inside a body triangle.
There is nothing like showcasing some top-notch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a very entertaining opening fight in front of thousands of fellow Jersey inhabitants.
The fight was dangerously close for Miller though and his facial expression reflected that after hearing the outcome. Instead of a split, Miller was awarded a unanimous “home field” decision victory—an addition to his three fight winning streak he had going into the bout.
To be fair to Bocek, who would be in Miller’s shoes right now if UFC 111 had been held in Toronto, his match with Miller was easily one of the most exciting displays of ground fighting this year.
Verdict: The Garden State kid added a hard fought victory to a record that only boasts two losses, one to the man fighting BJ Penn for the title at UFC 112 and the other to a man who many thought would be fighting Penn for the title at UFC 112.
Miller is on the cusp of getting thrown into the contention mix at 155lbs. Let’s give him the winner of Evan Dunham vs. Tyson Griffin, Kurt Pellegrino, or a rematch with Gray Maynard.
Who didn’t see this one coming? Fitch’s lopsided victory was one of the two most predictable conclusions of the night.
He came forward, sprung a take down on Saunders, controlled dominant positions, setting up the eventual top position where he could ground and pound just enough to edge out another 15 minute victory.
This was all painfully apparent against an outclassed opponent like Saunders, who is too under qualified to make a fight against Fitch competitive—it’s hard to tell if Alves would have suffered the same fate.
The American Kickboxing Academy captain executes his winning formula to perfection regardless if it’s aesthetically pleasing to the common fan’s eye or not (which shouldn’t be a fighter’s main concern to begin with).
If it is not broken, why fix it, right Jon? Unless, of course, you want another title shot against the same man who is immune to that exact winning formula.
Fitch continues to be better than most in the division, with only three losses after 26 fights, but fails to convince us that a rematch against Georges St-Pierre would be any different than the first time around.
Assuming Fitch will discover a way to nullify the champ’s take downs by the next time they fight, he’s still posed with the problem of being an inferior striker to St-Pierre. The number one and two seeds at 170 seem to be set in stone for the time being.
Verdict: There are really not too many welterweights that can beat Fitch, except for the very one he wants to rematch again. Selling a rematch, that has a high probability of ending the exact same way as before, is a tough pitch for some fans.
Best case scenario for Fitch is if GSP moves up to middleweight. Let’s give him Paul Daley, assuming he beats Koscheck, or his original opponent for UFC 111: Thiago Alves (assuming he’s healthy).
It was smooth sailing for the other Jersey native on the card once he dive bombed his opponent’s head into the mat, jarring his standing back position, which allowed Pellegrino to avoid a near loss due to a standing rear naked choke.
From there, Pellegrino controlled the fight with his excellent wrestling and ended the bout by sinking in his own rear-naked choke on Camoes for his fourth straight victory in the octagon.
After going a disappointing 2-2 in 2008, Pellegrino has gone on an impressive streak defeating Thiago Tavares, Rob Emerson, Josh Neer and now Fabricio Camoes. Like his Jersey brethren Jim Miller, Pellegrino will be looking to jump into the 155lb contender pool this year.
Verdict: It’s time for a Jersey vs. Jersey match. Let’s give him Jim Miller.
The closest thing the UFC has to Brock Lesnar is Shane Carwin. Now after Carwin’s deconstruction of Frank Mir, we will see who is the better Brock Lesnar: Carwin or Lesnar. This will literally be the biggest heavyweight title fight ever in the UFC since both men share the Goliath gene and share very similar styles—collegiate wrestlers who make beating Frank Mir look easy.
Once Carwin got Mir in the clinch up against the cage, it was over. The engineer became a human demolition foreman, lighting up Mir’s world with extremely quick and powerful uppercuts that brought the former interim heavyweight champ crumbling down.
From there, Carwin swarmed Mir with more and more heavy shots, eventually flattening him out on his stomach until Dan Miragliotta deemed him inoperable. Ring rust did not seem to be a problem.
Alternating from his “one hitter quitter” punch to his Gatling gun of punches in bunches from the clinch is exactly how Brock can be defeated—assuming the wrestling element of the fight gets cancelled out. Despite there still being a lot of unknown variables, Brock vs. Carwin is certainly a fascinating match up.
Verdict: Carwin is the real deal. People were right to be skeptical before the Mir fight, but now, he’s going to give Lesnar a run for his money. We all know who Carwin is getting next…let’s give him UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the human kraken on top of the division, in a fight to unify the belts.
Georges St-Pierre/Dan Hardy
Another decision victory for everyone who thought St-Pierre wouldn’t be predictable in his method of victory…you know who you are.
It could not have gone any other way and rightfully so. There is no point in “mixing it up” or proving something in risk of losing your title just to please a handful of nay-saying fans.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it...right Jon and Georges?
As predictable as GSP can seem, he is that much harder to defeat. It has to be extremely frustrating for his opponents to know that their weakness will be exploited.
Once coming to that realization, they know they’re too ill-equipped to do anything to prevent it from happening. Hardy knew to expect the take down—not having a wrestling background ie sprawl and using a more traditional upright Muay Thai stance, on top of GSP’s superior wrestling, did nothing to help the Brit change his fate either.
The Canadian took Hardy down at will with incredible ease. As soon as Hardy went to throw more than one punch, he was on his back, though surprisingly defending himself very well for the full 25 minutes.
While on the ground, Hardy’s mental fortitude shined, proving to everyone that while he was outclassed, he had heart all the way through by not tapping when GSP slapped a flush arm-bar and kimura on him throughout their fight
Mind over matter—a method that most true martial artist posses. He grimaced in pain during the submission attempts, while his limbs were being mangled, but ultimately to everyone’s surprise, refused to be finished by the champ.
Hardy can’t be blamed for taking full advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, even if he’s not quite on the same level as the Canuck cannonball, freak of nature St-Pierre. I do have a feeling his shoulder and elbow are going to be nice a swollen today for his efforts though.
Hopefully, Hardy has earned the respect of his doubters. He clearly won over GSP, who was baffled by Hardy’s ability to withstand such contortion, one of the main reasons why the champ was left with another decision victory—a sore spot that he repeatedly apologized for when interviewed by Joe Rogan.
To some, being champion and not being able to finish opponents, reflects negatively on a fighter. To others, it doesn’t matter how a champion wins, as long as he does it time and time again. Essentially, St-Pierre is a more popular, more polished, flashier version of “grinder” extraordinaire: Jon Fitch.
Verdict: There seems to be two likely paths for St-Pierre to take: continue his dominance at 170 or move up to Anderson Silva’s domain, middleweight. If he plans on going to middleweight (which I don’t see the point in since he will be small 185lbs), let’s give him Rousimar Palhares, Ricardo Almeida, or Mark Munoz. If he plans on staying put at welterweight, let’s give him the winner of Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley.
For Dan Hardy, he put on a valiant effort and displayed a lot of heart—a performance that doesn’t negatively affect his stock that much. He does need to improve his wrestling at least to the point of acquiring an effective sprawl—he needs a couple stiff tests against decent wrestlers.
Koscheck would be perfect assuming he loses against Daley. Otherwise, let’s give him John Howard, Anthony Johnson or Martin Kampmann (the latter not known for his wrestling, but a good entertaining fight to bounce back on for both fighters).
**Check out past editions of ATDS on my achive page.