Shogun slays the Dragon
Revenge has never tasted this sweet for Mauricio Shogun Rua.
In the main event fight of UFC 113 at Montreal, Quenec, Canada, the former Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix Champion knocked out Karate phenom Lyoto Machida in the first round, earning the UFC light heavyweight championship belt.
One of the most noticeable changes from their first fight, in which Machida won a controversial decision, was the aggressive behavior exhibited by both fighters.
It was Machida who closed the distance and succeeded at two trip take-down attempts. Shogun looked to be aiming more towards the champion's head than the legs or torso, a strategy that was effective in their first fight but failed to impress the judges.
It was interesting to observe how Machida, the master of timing and precision-striking, was bested by Rua in none other than the striking aspect of the fight game.
As Machida lunged in with a left cross, Shogun also came forward with a overhand right that clipped the champion at the top of his head.
Machida dropped to the ground, hurt but still conscious. Shogun immediately jumped to full mount and started raining down punches. The champion tried to survive but Rua's devastating Ground & Pound, which had toppled countless opponents in the past such as Ricardo Arona and Alistair Overeem, was too much for Machida to handle.
After a disappointing debut in the UFC against former champion Forrest Griffin, Mauricio Rua has rightfully gained the top spot in the ridiculously crowded light heavyweight division.
If Quinton "Rampage" Jackson manages to get past Rashad "Sugar" Evans in UFC 114, the former champion may earn an opportunity to avenge the humiliating TKO loss he suffered to Rua 5 years ago back in Pride. Other hungry contenders, such as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (who also suffered an unanimous decision loss to Rua 5 years ago) and the ageless Randy Couture, are also eyeing at a shot for the title.
Koscheck defeats Daley via Unanimous Decision, Controversy ensues after fight
Also on the main card, welterweight contender Josh Koscheck defeated British striker Paul Daley by going back to his roots : the former NCAA Division I champion put a wrestling clinic on the explosive kick-boxer.
That is not to say that Daley was entirely defenseless ; he seemed to be well aware of Koscheck's wrestling prowess. The stocky Brit kept a noticeably low stance and constantly looked for an opportunity to land his patented left hook. Even when he was on his back, Daley showed good hip movement and escaped from multiple rear-naked choke attempts.
The one thing that Daley lacked was his take-down defense, but one could hardly criticize a striking-oriented fighter for not being able to stay on his feet against one of the very best wrestlers in modern day MMA.
The fight was not clean from controversy though. The crowd saw shades of the Koscheck vs. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson fight (in UFC 106) when Daley threw an illegal knee to a grounded Koscheck. Although camera-replays seemed to suggest that Daley's knee had no physical effect on Koscheck, the American Kickboxing Academy representative was given plenty of time to recuperate.
Also, when the horn sounded to signal the end of a somewhat lackluster 3-round fight, a noticeably frustrated and angry Daley approached Koscheck and hit him with his famous left hook that had failed to land flush for 15 minutes.
Thankfully, Koscheck was not hurt from the cheap-shot, but things like this cannot be good for the sport. It may not be as bad as the post-fight brawl between Jason Miller and the Diaz brothers in Strikeforce: Nashville, but Daley is definitely deserving of a suspension for what he did.
Koscheck was also very vocal in his post-fight speech. Addressing the Canadian spectators, he assured them that he will beat their favorite son (none other than GSP) and get hold of the coveted welterweight championship belt.
Bahamian Street-Brawler loses to the "Meathead" in onesided bout.
Matt "Meathead" Mitrione, a former NFL player and contender in The Ultimate Fighter Season 10, told the press that Kimbo Slice can be defeated if "[he] puts constant pressure on Slice and make him work," and he kept true to his word, beating Slice via referee stoppage in the second round.
The bearded and chiseled street-brawling sensation (who was about 30 pounds lighter than Mitrione) attempted to close the distance and even succeeded in a few impressive take-downs.
In the beginning minutes of the first round, Mitrione caught Kimbo in a swift triangle and was close to finishing the fight. Slice persevered, but near the end of the first round, he was again put in danger by an Anaconda Choke attempt. Slice barely made it out of the first round, and was visibly fatigued when the second round began.
Mittrione, who had trained with Duke Roufous (who is famous for training Pat Barry) for this fight, then hurt Kimbo with a series of stinging leg-kicks. Kimbo, gassed and deprived of any mobility, easily gave up the mount-position and Mitrione punched away, prompting the referee to intervene at 4:24 of the second round.
Other than an unexpected knockout-loss to Seth Petruzelli two years ago (and not counting the exhibition match against Roy Nelson), this is the first time that Kimbo has been thoroughly dominated and outclassed by his opponent.
Belcher gets big W, Jeremy Stephens wins via split-decision
In other main-card fights, Alan "The Talent" Belcher finished middle-weight contender Patrick Cote via rear-naked choke in the second round. Throughout the fight, Belcher displayed crisp striking and good submission-defense.
In the second round, when Cote attempted a double-leg take-down, Belcher picked him up and dumped the Canadian on his forehead. He soon got the back of the dazed contender and secured a fight-ending choke.
In an entertaining 3-round stand-up fight, lightweight fighter Jeremy Stephens bested Sam Stout, earning a split-decision victory. For the first two rounds, Stephens landed the cleaner shots (dropping Stout in the first round) and controlled the fight. Stout, however, gave a very strong showing in the third round when he toppled Stephens with a clean body shot and swarmed on him, landing several effective elbows to his head.
*** Shogun won Knockout of the Night honors, and Stephens and Stout were awarded for their Fight-of-the-Night performances. ***