UFC 88 proved to be one of the most exciting and shocking fight cards in recent memory. The fight card was filled with a nice mix of veterans looking to prove they still belong and some up and coming fighters looking for a breakthrough. Below is a record of my random thoughts and reactions following the four premier matchups of the night.
Nathan Marquardt vs. Martin Kampmann
Result: Marquardt via TKO (Round 1, 1:22)
This fight proved to be just as surprising as the main event. Not for the outcome but for how it played out.
He came out aggressive and landed a huge head kick that Kampmann never recovered from. The kick staggered him and Marquardt pressed forward landing strike after strike to the face of Kampmann until he curled up on the ground and could not defend himself against the onslaught any longer.
Surprisingly, this might be the best Nate Marquardt we have ever seen. Even after thirty seven professional fights he is still improving and is on the march back to middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Kampmann took a big jump up in competition for this fight and was overwhelmed. He was not fully prepared for a fighter of Marquardt's caliber at this point in his career.
He appears to be consistently smaller than his opponents at 185 pounds and it looks like he could easily make 170 pounds if so desired. I think he should definitely consider moving down to welterweight.
The good news is that he is still young and trains at one of the best camps in the world in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture. He can only get better from here on out and will most certainly use this loss as a learning tool.
Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares
Result: Henderson via Unanimous Decision (Round 3, 5:00)
He should be given props for executing a smart game plan. He was methodical, patient, and precise on his feet just waiting for the right opportunity to uncork his heavy right hand. He also scaled back his trademark wild striking style significantly to avoid getting out of position and taken down by Palhares.
Henderson's Olympic-caliber wrestling came in handy as he put on a takedown defense clinic stuffing attempt after attempt from Palhares. When he did end up on the ground he showed much improved submission defense. These skills will be important if he gets a rematch against middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the near future.
Palhares, on the other hand, came into the fight a relative unknown to most casual fans. This was only his second fight in the UFC.
He proved to be relatively one dimensional like most experts anticipated. He is mediocre on his feet, however, remains one of the best in the world on the ground. He might just be the most skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist on the UFC's payroll.
He also displayed a great chin in this fight. Henderson landed numerous shots to the chin of Palhares but he hung in the pocket and proved to be as tough as they come.
After the fight Henderson jokingly went over to Palhares and grabbed his chin and smiled at him, which was basically a tip of the cap for hanging in there after taking the best that he had.
If Palhares ever becomes more well rounded he will be a tough customer for any upper tier middleweight opponent in the future. He will have to work his way back up the ladder once again.
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