Last night in Sydney, Australia, Ultimate Fighting Championship 127 went down with a main event between Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn.
With a title shot in the welterweight division looming, Penn and Fitch fought to a disputed draw. No matter how you scored it, Penn took a brutal pounding for the entire third round.
The rest of the card was filled with a few upsets, an emotionally charged TKO, and a couple early submissions.
All in all, it was a decent card. But, I would be far from surprised if a lot of fans regretted forking out the 50 bucks for the pay-per-view.
Nonetheless, it was another UFC card and we all learned or were reminded of a few things. Here is what I took away from the event.
It has been a trend for some time now that when the UFC travels to a land they rarely visit, the lineup of fighters is going to be a little sub-par. Last night was no different.
The main event was intriguing enough to gain a decent amount of interest, and Jorge Rivera's goading of Michael Bisping was sure fun to watch. But, more importantly, when a UFC event is taken out of it's normal surroundings, it is part of the entertainment.
We got to see the beautiful scenery in between fights, some of the Australian fighters on a bigger stage than they are normally given, and listen to the drunk Australian crowd cracking jokes and chanting for their favorite fighters.
It is similar to when Manny Pacquiao faced Joshua Clottey in March of last year. The fight was not highly anticipated by anyone, especially the casual fans who had probably never even heard of Clottey. But, the fight took place at the Dallas Cowboys stadium and that alone was enough to garner plenty of interest. I myself looked forward to just seeing a fight take place under that massive HD jumbo-tron.
The UFC does more than one major event a month these days and there simply isn't enough star power to fill each of those up. So, you're going to have these semi-weak cards from time to time, that they usually try to hype up with taking the show on the road.
I'm OK with that, just know what you're getting into when the event is in a far-off country for the first or second time.
Chris Lytle was a large favorite to handle late-replacement Brian Ebersole on the undercard of UFC 127. He did not handle him, and he looked awful in trying to do so.
I made mention in a prior article that I questioned where Lytle's head would be at since he was supposed to face a major contender in Carlos Condit, but instead faced a guy nobody had ever heard of in Ebersole. A win over Ebersole would do nothing for Lytle's career at this point.
I can't say if Lytle was disappointed to have to fight Ebersole, but what I saw was a talented and experienced contender fighting to the level of his opponent. That is something I never like seeing from any fighter, and it is not uncommon.
Lytle may have figured this to be an easy fight and underestimated Ebersole, who was surely planing to take advantage of the biggest opportunity of his career.
Whatever the reason, Lytle fought a horrible fight and deserved to lose.
And why on earth would a tested veteran like Lytle have a newcomer to the sport like Matt Mitrione in his corner? He got no worthwhile advice in between rounds and a fighter in his place should have had a professional coach telling him the things he needed to hear.
Lytle is better than immediately gassing his arms going for three arm-in guillotines in the first round. Last night, however, he wasn't.
And, Condit must be pretty bummed he didn't get an easy win over that Lytle.
I get the feeling that sometimes Michael Bisping doesn't understand why the fans don't always appreciate him. And, I really don't see what he can be missing.
He has always designated himself the trash-talker in most of his high-profile fights. Yet, when someone returns the favor, as Jorge Rivera did in the lead up to this bout, he takes it as personal as someone disrespecting his mother.
After Bisping nailed Rivera with an obviously intentional illegal knee while he was down, which Rivera could have easily milked for a disqualification win, Bisping berated him at the end of the round, asking him "you like that?!"
Then, after the likely already hurt Rivera was stopped in the second round, Bisping ran to Rivera's corner and spit on his coaches, before returning to Rivera to disrespect his fallen opponent some more and shove off Rivera's attempt at a handshake.
And what does Bisping have to say a few minutes afterward in his in-ring interview with Joe Rogan?
"I just want to apologize. I just got a little worked up then. ...I respect Jorge as an opponent."
Spitting on and disrespecting your opponent before apologizing about a minute later does not earn you new fans.
Bisping continued, "I apologize if I lost it a little bit, to Mr. (Dana) White."
Oh OK, so he was basically covering his ass with the boss.
Look, being the villain is his choice and he can market himself however he wants, but there should be no confusion why he isn't a fan favorite after his antics last night.
Everyone can deny it all they want, but MMA judging is a major problem in the sport. And, as with pretty much every event, last night had a couple examples of it, too.
First was the preliminary bout between Nick Ring and Riki Fukuda. Fukuda was absolutely robbed in this one. Ring was landing some weak leg-kicks throughout, but this is professional fighting and the power of a strike has something to do with how it should be judged.
Ring looked awful. His strikes looked awkward and soft, and he did absolutely no damage, while Fukuda repeatedly took him down and marked up his face. I usually don't put a lot of stock in take downs and "octagon control", but when a fighters punches and kicks do less damage than a mosquito bite, they shouldn't count for much.
Second was the main event between Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn. I scored it 29-27 for Fitch, and that is how everyone I have talked to afterward scored it. The first round went to Penn for his dominant positions, and the second was somewhat close, but Fitch clearly got the better of the grappling and took control throughout the second half of the round.
In the third round, Fitch unloaded a brutal barrage of punches that never stopped raining down on Penn's face for the entire five minutes. There was no other way to score it than 10-8 for Fitch. Penn did absolutely nothing and Fitch never stopped hitting him at any point of the round.
Still, two of the judges managed to score the fight a draw. Sure, it only means that two of the judges gave the second round to Penn, which was a somewhat close round. But, it was not the correct outcome, no matter how you look at it.
More important than the judging in this fight, is an issue I will bring up in the next slide.
In boxing, if there is a match to determine the No. 1 contender for a title, it is 12 rounds, just like a title fight. MMA should be the same.
When a fight is as important as the main event was last night, the athletes should have time to work their game, and three rounds is just not enough.
If you lose the first round in a three round fight, you are already in a massive deficit. And, when the first two rounds are close, and one fighter completely takes control in the third round, it is frustrating to see that fighter lose a decision.
Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn are two of the best fighters in the world, and likely of all-time, yet they are fighting the same amount of rounds as any undercard fighter making his UFC debut. It is unfair to them to not be awarded as much time to finish a fight as the champions are.
We even saw it a bit in the Dennis Siver vs. George Sotiropoulos fight. Siver came out strong, but Sotiropoulos began to get in his rhythm in the second round. In the third, Sotiropoulos was forced to ditch that rhythm, knowing that the fight was going to be over in a matter of minutes.
Sotiropoulos was likely one fight away from fighting for the championship and he should be awarded more time to work and show his craft. It should not be who can get their work done the quickest.
And, we saw it when former champs Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida met last year. The first two rounds were close and Machida completely dominated the third round. Still, Jackson got the decision. It was not enough time to find out who was better.
This is why the UFC should develop an official ranking system. Then when say top five fighters fight each other, it will be for five rounds.
Penn and Fitch should have been a five round main event. Think of how decisive it would have been if they were given more time.