Archive for the Results & Recap Category

UFC 129: ST-PIERRE VS. SHIELDS Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on May 2, 2011 by jaytan716

UFC 129 Post-Fight Press Conference: http://www.ufc.tv/ufc/video/ufc-129-post-fight-press-conference/459

The biggest live UFC event took place last night at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, in front of a reported 55,724 fans for a gate of $12.075 million. The show featured a stacked card of competitive title challenges (Georges St-Pierre defending against Jake Shields and Jose Aldo defending against Mark Hominick) and imaginative marquee matches (Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture).

By the end of the night, however, the lay of the MMA landscape was largely the same, and anti-climactically so. St-Pierre kept his UFC welterweight title and Jose Aldo kept his UFC featherweight title. Nobody distinguished themselves as title challengers on the rise. Lyoto Machida may have produced the most memorable (and bittersweet) moment on the show in knocking out Randy Couture, who’d declared this to be his retirement match regardless the outcome, with a front kick out of nowhere in round two.

However, even the innovation of that kick is shortchanged, as Black House MMA teammate Anderson Silva finished Vitor Belfort with almost the same strike three months earlier. In fact, Machida’s front kick may be overshadowed by the sad fact that it marked the official end to Randy Couture, MMA’s great folk hero, as an active fighter.

Couture retired once before, in February 2006, after his KO loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 57. By that point, people were saying that ‘The Natural’ was too old to stay competitive at the top level (much like people said that Ric Flair, whose 2008 retirement match at WrestleMania 24 was the top draw of that show, was too old to draw in 1991). Couture’s first retirement only lasted a year, when he returned to win the UFC heavyweight title from Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. Couture built a 5-3 record in his second UFC tenure.

This time, however, I believe the retirement to stick. Couture and the sport are at different, more established places in their lives than they were in 2006. At that point, Couture was going through a messy divorce, and didn’t have either the Xtreme Couture clothing / fight team franchise nor the acting career that he has now. He’s also older, and by even his own accounts, his reflexes aren’t what they used to be. Likewise, MMA was less evolved and established in the mainstream than it is now. Stars were needed, especially great ambassadors to the sport like Couture. In 2011, however, the Natural has other projects to move onto, and MMA has a new generation of fighters ready to take the sport to the next level.

Excellent homage to ‘The Natural’: Randy Retires

Despite St-Pierre winning by unanimous decision, the victory continues his streak of one-sided performances which I personally think risks triggering an unfortunate backlash against him. Both fans and many in the sport have expressed frustration over GSP’s matches as champion, labeling his fights as boring, and accusing him of fighting to avoid losing, as opposed to trying to finish his challengers. GSP’s last four title defenses were dominant decision wins that nobody questioned. He outwrestled Dan Hardy at UfC 111 and jabbed Josh Koscheck (UFC 124) and Shields (UFC 129) with expert precision after that. Prior to Hardy, GSP went five rounds with Jon Fitch (UFC 87), who never was close to threatening, and before that muted any offense that BJ Penn could think of before doctors ended the match in round four due to a cut on Penn (UFC 94).

Perhaps just as relevant as St-Pierre’s non-finishes is whether any criticism of him is justified. In six title defenses since 2008, GSP has proven to be an indisputable champion. Presumably, all of his challengers want to beat him and are trying their best during the match. And it being a title match, presumably these challengers are very good, such that perhaps GSP is good enough to beat them, but not finish them. If GSP’s challengers are unable to get control or impose their will over the champ isn’t his fault. He’s doing his job in preventing them from doing so. That’s one reality.

The other reality could be that St-Pierre and his camp value not losing the UFC title more than risking potential loss in order to finish their opponents decisively. For any MMA team at the level of GSP and Jackson’s MMA / Tri-Star Gym, mixed martial arts is a business that rewards owning and maintaining championship titles. By definition, sports and competition is about winning and losing, and in striving for the former, most competitors get farther in implementing strategy into their game plan in addition to simply doing that sport better than their opponents. For better or worse, GSP and their team put together successful strategies that have continuously led to victory.

All this said, the only thing that fans of a defending champion want to see more than their fighter retaining the title is him / her finishing their opponent, which is something St-Pierre hasn’t done since the second Penn fight (or winning the title back from Matt Serra at UFC 69, depending on how you look at it). For whatever reason, St-Pierre chooses to not risk ending up in a dangerous position for the sake of catching and finishing his opponent. This approach has often cause fans to turn withdraw their loyalty and fanfare from other fighters, such as Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping. Of course, GSP has a babyface persona and charm which is equally as effective as his fighting skills, but whether right or not, it’s been proven time and again that it’s better to lose an exciting fight than win a boring one.

Here’s Dana’s opinion about it:

Hosting the UFC in T-Dot for the first time, Canadians can stand proud in going 6-4 over the ten matches in which the were represented. John Makdessi, Jason and Rory MacDonald (no relation), Ivan Menjivar, Claude Patrick, and St-Pierre all emerged victorious. For statistics nerds, it was their best showing on a Canadian event since UFC 97 (Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites) and UFC 83 (St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra II), respectively, when Canadians went 4-2 over the six matches in which they were represented on each of those cards.

Canadian Jason MacDonald talks about fighting among his countrymen:

Likewise, featherweight challenger Mark Hominick did his countrymen proud in going the distance with champion Jose Aldo. In Aldo’s nine UFC / WEC matches since 2007, the only other person to hang with Aldo to the finish line was Urijah Faber at WEC 48 last year. Hominick, whose wife is due with their first baby in the days after the fight, won a $129,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts.

Bonuses of the same amount also went to Aldo (Fight of the Night), Pablo Garza (Submission of the Night) and Lyoto Machida (Knockout of the Night).

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Event:

145 lbs. – Yves Jaboin (Canadian) x Pablo Garza:
Prediction: Garza via submission (round three)
Result: Garcia via submission (round one)

155 lbs. – John Makdessi (Canadian) x Kyle Watson:
Prediction:  Makdessi via TKO (round one)
Result: Makdessi via KO (round three)

185 lbs. – Jason MacDonald (Canadian) x Ryan Jensen:
Prediction: MacDonald via TKO (round two)
Result: McDonald via submission (round one)

135 lbs. – Charlie Valencia x Ivan Menjivar (Canadian):
Prediction: Valencia via split decision
Result: Menjivar via TKO (round one)

170 lbs. – Daniel Roberts x Claude Patrick (Canadian):
Prediction: Roberts via unanimous decision
Result: Patrick via unanimous decision

170 lbs. – Jake Ellenberger x Sean Pierson (Canadian):
Prediction: Foster via TKO (round one) – EDITORIAL FUCKUP
Result: Ellenberger via KO (round one)

170 lbs. – Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald (Canadian):
Prediction:  Diaz via submission (round one or two)
Result: MacDonald via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – Ben Henderson x Marc Bocek (Canadian):
Prediction: Henderson via unanimous decision
Result: Henderson via unanimous decision

205 lbs. – Randy Couture x Lyoto Machida:
Prediction: Couture via TKO (round three) or unanimous decision
Result: Machida via KO (round two)

205 lbs. – Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz:
Prediction: Matyushenko via unanimous decision
Result: Matyushenko via KO (round one)

145 lbs. UFC Featherweight Title– Jose Aldo x Mark Hominick (Canadian):
Prediction: Aldo via TKO (round one)
Result: Aldo via unanimous decision

170 lbs. UFC Welterweight Title – Georges St-Pierre (Canadian) x Jake Shields:
Prediction: St-Pierre via unanimous decision
Result: St-Pierre via unanimous decision

The Finish

In a sport where the unexpected often happens, huge landmark victories and all-time classic matches can’t be relied upon to show up for key events like this. Walking away from UFC 129, I felt like the event played out like an average show, and that the most significant memories are the huge gate and Couture’s retirement, both announced before the show itself. Credit is due to Mark Hominick, whose stalwart performance to the end, despite a giant lump on his right forehead the size of a baseball, was rewarded with a nice hefty bonus from which to base his impending newborn’s college tuition. However, in the grand scheme of things, the biggest winner of UFC 129 is Zuffa’s bottom line, with everybody else a far distant second.

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STRIKEFORCE: DIAZ VS. DALEY Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, Strikeforce on April 10, 2011 by jaytan716

I’m not sure what’s the sadder aspect to the Strikeforce sale – that one company now dominates 90% of the worldwide MMA market, or that it’s most qualified competitor, after years of toiling for casual fans’ respect on its own terms, is now hitting its stride and receiving the attention it’s deserved all this time.

On Saturday, April 9th, the group I’m still considering Coker & Company debuted in San Diego with a lineup of celebrated and respected international competition going against three homegrown Strikeforce stars, including title defenses by Nick Diaz and Gilbert ‘El Nino’ Melendez, and a qualified last-minute replacement in ‘The Dean of Mean,’ Keith Jardine.

What I feared would play in disappointment produced three spectacular first-round finishes and a sloppy but compelling and controversial draw that sets the stage for a storyline rematch. Diaz, defending his Strikeforce welterweight (170 lbs.) title against Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, triggered more anticipation and debate than any other recent Strikeforce main event. Many believed that Daley, an undeniably dangerous striker, had the speed, power, and striking accuracy to vanquish Diaz, who has become a company star over the last two years by walking to the anti-hero beat of his own drummer. The end result was one of the most exciting rounds I’ve seen all year, with the outspoken and unapologetic British kickboxer dropping the champ several times and threatening him more than any other of Diaz’s    title challenges.

The card was also highlighted by a lightweight title defense by Gilbert Melendez and the U.S. return of DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki. Both fighters renewed their awareness level among fans with dominant first-round finishes. Aoki seemed to have his old emotional charm back, in tears after his victory due apparently to the recent birth of his son, who he wasn’t able to see due to training for this fight. Melendez dispatched of Aoki’s DREAM colleague (and former opponent) Tetsuya Kawajiri handily, throwing punches and elbows for the TKO win. ‘El Nino’ is one of Strikeforce’s few homegrown stars, and as the merger between the UFC and Strikeforce continues over the coming months / years, he’ll be someone the larger casual audience will embrace the most.

Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi fighting Keith Jardine was another illustration of the controversy behind takedowns and the current scoring system. Jardine wrestled Mousasi to the ground several times in the first and second rounds, which is the only argument for giving the Jardine those rounds. However, the Dean of Mean didn’t advance position or threaten with finishing in any of those situations. What’s more, Mousasi didn’t even look worried at any point, appearing somewhat bored before shrimping out and getting back to his feet seconds later.

This points to judges’ overvalue of takedowns in a match where the most damage was done in the stand-up game. In many peoples’ eyes, including a majority of judges, takedowns are a fundamental benchmark in MMA, almost the grappler’s equivalent of a striker’s knockdown. Both are easy and empirical to identify and account for. However, what really matters in a fight is the follow up, and how effective those benchmarks are in allowing a fighter to advance or finish.

One school of thought is that takedowns and knockdowns, even if ultimately ineffectual in a fight, can be the tie-breaker for a round that is otherwise close to even (in terms of damage and landing, I thought Mousasi was clearly ahead). The other school of thought is that takedowns should require more control of the opponent or position advancing before it really affects the score (this is less of a controversy with knockdowns, perhaps as the visual act of a knockdown looks more commanding and damaging than any given takedown).

I tend to lean towards the latter belief, that not all takedowns should be equal. Of course, even then, the degree to which a fighter needs to control or advance position is always going to be subjective between judges as well.

I gave each round to Mousasi 10-9, and a 30-27 win in the end. Jardine scored multiple takedowns in the first and second, which likely held weight in the judges’ eyes, but I didn’t think he did enough with them relative to Mousasi’s stand-up dominance during the rest of those rounds.

Mousasi was also docked a point in round one due to an upkick to the head while Jardine was on his knees in Mousasi’s guard. Whether it was intentional or accidental is up for debate – Mousasi likely didn’t mean to throw the kick, but it looked like he had a clear view of Jardine being on his knees. Jardine seemed to recover without too much difficulty, and it being a first offense, issuing a warning wouldn’t be unreasonable. But referee Mike Beltran deducted the point, which resulted in a 9-9 first round, by my score. Even given that, I saw Mousasi winning 29-27.

The other three televised matches ended in first-round finishes, resulting in a show budgeted for 2 ½ to three hours ending almost an hour early. Keep in mind Showtime controls the production and running time of Strikeforce shows, which presumably will be the case for as long as Strikeforce broadcasts on the channel. I question whether this is something that is going to be rectified anytime soon under the Zuffa regime.

In a dichotomy of target audiences, extra time was filled with episodes of Inside NASCAR and Nurse Jackie.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley:

155 lbs. – Shinya Aoki x Lyle ‘Fancy Pants’ Beerbohm:
Prediction: Beerbohm via TKO (round three)
Result: Aoki via submissioin (round one)

205 lbs. – Gegard Mousasi x Keith Jardine:
Prediction: Jardine via TKO (round two or three)
Result: Technical / Majority Draw (29-27 Mousasi, 28-28, 28-28)

155 lbs. Strikeforce Lightweight Title – Gilbert Melendez x Tatsuya Kawajiri:
Prediction: Melendez via submission (round two) or unanimous decision
Result: Melendez via TKO (round one)

170 lbs. Strikeforce Welterweight Title – Nick Diaz x Paul Daley:
Prediction: Diaz by submission (round two or three)
Result: Diaz by TKO (round one)

The Finish
If my tone and perspective on Strikeforce’s recent string of excellent shows sounds backhanded and glass-half-empty, the quality of this show should be reiterated.

Tonight, the only drawback to Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley was that we didn’t get more. The matches were imaginative and felt like they had a larger relevancy – of Strikeforce taking on the world. And certainly all of them were exciting to watch and difficult to predict.

For years, I’ve seen MMA promotions come and go, all trying so hard, too hard, to figure out their own identity while simultaneously trying to replicate for themselves the lightning-in-a-bottle luck that Dana White and the Fertittas had in building the UFC.  Tonight’s event is the ‘MMA alternate choice’ that promoters have wanted to discover. Of course, its not something that you create instantly overnight, so it’s a relief that MMA and ‘the other big group’ finally got to this point. Hopefully we’ll get it for a little while longer.

Putting the larger picture aside for a moment, Strikeforce fans can look forward to finally resuming the heavyweight WGP tournament. Perhaps people will point to the four-man heavyweight tournament from three years ago that the UFC produced, which resulted in Brock Lesnar winning the UFC heavyweight championship, but again, the Strikeforce product has an international element that gives it a more universal tone. If the first leg of that tournament and tonight’s show is any indicator of things to come in the rest of 2011, casual fans just learning about Strikeforce now are going to catch the promotion at the peak of their game. And not a second too soon.

In the meantime, we’ll all have to settle for this Canadian show I keep hearing about at the end of the month. Who knows? It might actually be good too.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 24: NOGUEIRA VS. DAVIS Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on March 24, 2011 by jaytan716

The UFC continued its christening of new U.S. markets with their first foray into Seattle, WA, Ultimate Fight Night 24, and on that night, fans continued to see the rise of a new generation of fighters: tall, lean, muscular wrestler with long limbs that lend to a longer striking reach and grappling abilities.

On the heels of Jon Jones’ historic capture of the UFC light heavyweight title, collegiate wrestling champions Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson executed dominant performances against their respective opponents, demonstrating the adage that striking and submissions are crucial skills to finish an opponent, but wrestling is the key to controlling where the fight takes place.

Fans were also treated to a particular surprise with the rematch of Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung (more popularly known as the ‘Korean Zombie’). Many were expecting a barnburner of fists, as the two demonstrated in their first match, though rematches rarely play out similar to the first encounter (pardoning Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page). Zombie succeeded in giving us another historic moment, however, winning by submission via Twister, a spinal lock popularized by 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo, for the first time ever in the UFC.

Unfortunately, Zombie’s Twister finish was likely lost on casual fans who surely didn’t recognize the move, but it also likely reminded those same fans who their favorite Korean fighter is (as if they really know any others), and also gave them something new to like about him.

One undercard match in particular, Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa, is absolutely worth going out of your way to watch. This battle of UFC debuts (McDonald has one WEC fight from November last year) was broadcast on the UFC Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ufc) and was a fantastic display of ground skill on McDonald’s part, defense on Figueroa’s part, and heart and sportsmanship on both men’s part. McDonald really had the advantages on paper, but Figueroa took the bout on a week’s notice and did a fantastic job in surviving (and even transitioning out of) some very close submissions. Announcer Joe Rogan interviewed both men after the fight, with fans cheering Figueroa very audibly. Keep your eye out for these two young guns.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Ultimate Fight Night 24:

155 lbs. – Nik Lentz x Waylon Lowe:
Prediction: Lowe via TKO (round one)
Result: Lentz via submission (round three)

To watch the match for free, click here: http://www.ufc.tv/ufc/video/ufc-fight-night-nogueira-vs-davis-prelim-waylon-lowe-vs-nik-lentz/375

185 lbs. – Aaron Simpson x Mario Miranda:
Prediction: Miranda via (surprising, out-of-nowhere) submission (round two)
Result: Simpson via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27, 30-26)

170 lbs. – Johny Hendricks x Anthony “TJ” Waldburger:
Prediction: Hendricks via TKO (round one)
Result: Hendricks via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Christian Morecraft x Sean McCorkle:
Prediction: Morecraft via TKO (round two)
Result: Morecraft via submission (round two)

135 lbs. – Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa:
Prediction: McDonald via TKO or submission (round one)
Result: McDonald via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

170 lbs. – John Hathaway x Kris McCray:
Prediction: Hathaway via TKO (round two)
Result: Hathwaway via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

145 lbs. – Alex Caceres x Mackens Semerzier:
Prediction: Caceres via TKO (round one)
Result: Semerzier via submission (round one)

265 lbs. – Mike Russow x Jon Madsen:
Prediction: Madsen via submission (round three)
Result: Russo via TKO / doctor’s stoppage (round two)

145 lbs. – Leonard Garcia x Chan Sung Jung:
Prediction: Jung via unanimous decision
Result: Jung via submission (round two)

170 lbs. – Amir Sadollah x DeMarques Johnson:
Prediction: Sadollah via TKO (round two)
Result: Sadollah via submission due to elbows (round two)

170 lbs. – Dan Hardy x Anthony Johnson:
Prediction: Hardy via submission (round two)
Result: Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27 on all cards)

205 lbs. – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x Phil Davis:
Prediction:
Davis via decision
Result: Davis via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Davis and Johnson

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Sadollah and Jung

The Finish

On TV, the Key Arena audience was one of the more vocal and opinionated televised crowds that I’ve heard in a long time. And to no surprise, as Seattle is continually among the top pay-per-view buy markets for the UFC. Moreover, Washington State has one of the longest histories of MMA in the U.S., having produced early pioneers and veterans of the sport like Matt Hume, Maurice Smith, Dennis Hallman, Ivan Salaverry, and the ever-outspoken Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett.

UFN 24 felt very much like a night of young stars of tomorrow showcasing their continued evolution. Amir Sadollah’s striking was on point against Demarques Johnson. Anthony Johnson and Phil Davis’ grappling control of Dan Hardy and Antonio Rogerio Norgueira, respectively, demonstrated the biggest factor (wrestling) in the UFC’s next big main event, George St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields, as most see the Shields, the self-proclaimed ‘American Jiu Jitsu’ specialist, giving St-Pierre, a wrestling late-starter but fast-learner, a run for his money on the ground.

Kudos to UFC for showing five matches on Facebook, giving fans the chance to see newcomers (like McDonald vs. Figueroa) to the promotion.

UFC 128 Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on March 21, 2011 by jaytan716

There aren’t a lot of high-profile notes to come out of UFC 128, but the one angle that fans and the fight community will be talking about for the next few months, Jon Jones’ winning the UFC light heavyweight title from Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and the ramifications of Jones’ first title defense, is as layered and complicated as if Quentin Tarantino wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

With Jones, a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA team in Albuquerque, NM, now the 205 lb. champion, he is scheduled to face ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans in his first UFC title defense. Evans is / was a friend and teammate of Jones at Jackson’s (see related videos below), and has seniority both in terms of team membership as well as title ownership (Evans won the light heavyweight championship from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92). Evans did say to MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he would be leaving Jackson’s in order to prepare for his challenge against Jones, though Jackson noted that some things said in the heat of the moment don’t always stand the test of time.

Needless to say, the ‘training triangle’ storyline has its characters. Evans was the heel in the build-up for his match against Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson, largely by default, as Rampage was too comedic and fun-loving to hate. Ironically, Evans was also the perennial underdog throughout his rise to the top.

Jones is a fresh face, a young wunderkind fighter, and all-around nice boy, accentuated by his infamous crime-stopping incident in the hours before the fight. If you haven’t already heard the story, here’s the play-by-play by Jones himself:

With all these roles (which fans will force on Jones and Evans anyway) played right, coupled with the mixed emotions of team allegiance, friendship, and proving oneself the best in the world, Jones-Evans could end up being a more powerful ‘storylines-to-Fight-Night’ than even Evans-Jackson (which was one of the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view events of all-time). Where does Evans go to train? Do fans cast him as the heel (my guess is yes), and how does that affect him? Does Greg Jackson truly stay out of this match, and what will all fight teams take away from this experience of having teammates square off for not just a championship, but ‘The Championship?’

Jones-Evans also points to a developing issue regarding fighters’ careers and team allegiances. As fights get more competitive, fighters seek out higher-level training partners in the same weight classes, some of whom are in the same promotion and perhaps on track for title shots. As gyms / team gather more high-level fighters and form larger teams, the more competitive, reputable schools grow bigger and the smaller ones fall off. Moreover, teammate vs. teammate crossroads become more frequent.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen, and in fact not even the first time Jackson’s MMA has faced it. In late 2007, then-welterweight Diego Sanchez left the team and relocated to San Diego, CA after reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre joined the Jackson team. In several interviews, Sanchez noted in several interviews that part of his motivation was that St-Pierre’s addition both came at the detriment of Sanchez’ training, and also was forced encouragement for Sanchez to drop down to lightweight (155 lbs.).

Likewise, when Tito Ortiz was the UFC light heavyweight champ and Chuck Liddell’s star was on the rise, Ortiz claimed that they had an agreement that they’d never fight each other for the title. Liddell always denied that such an agreement ever existed.

Team alliances in a one-on-one sport like boxing or MMA are difficult. The team benefits financially from its fighters winning championships, but teammates don’t directly benefit from each others’ victories. For fighters at any level, whether the Jones-Evans-St-Pierre-Sanchez stratus or among the young aspiring fighters who take their team and training environment seriously, it’s a choice that everyone makes at some point. Some will forego their Big Shot and some will eschew team alliances for the opportunity for their own individual success. Both choices are right.

There’s little else to note about UFC 128. Brendan Schaub, a former AFL and NFL football player who transitioned into MMA via season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, defeated aging legend Mirko Cro Cop with a third round TKO. Cro Cop is 3-3 since his return to the UFC, not wholly embarrassing, but certainly not the record for which he’d want to be known. The bigger and more relevant knock is that his unbeatable aura is very much a thing of the past. Combined with what is surely a hefty price tag, this is likely Cro Cop’s last hurrah in the UFC (at least for the time being). For Schaub, it continues to build his name as a future title contender.

Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision, which is a win that needed to happen for the UFC’s plans with Faber to go forward. The promotion is greatly behind Faber’s star potential, and understandably so. The guy is a tremendous athlete with an easygoing, polite charm and poster boy good looks. His was the only name that popped WEC ratings on the Versus network, and he was a great straight-man to Kenny Fucking Powers in the K-Swiss Tubes commercials. Moreover, there’s been talk of Faber and UFC 135 lb. champion Dominick Cruz coaching season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (though Dana White denied that to Ariel Helwani in their post-fight interview). Had Wineland won, Cruz vs. Wineland would have been a tougher season to promote.

However, Faber didn’t look dominant in this match, having difficulty landing takedowns and, for much of the match, being stuck in Wineland’s clinch. Watching the match, part of me truly wondered if Faber hasn’t already hit his athletic prime. He’s been fighting since 2003, and went on a 13-fight win streak from 2005 to 2008, with only one of those victories going to decision (his one-sided domination of Jens Pulver at WEC 34). Streaks like that aren’t typically repeatable, and although the Wineland match marked his second win at 135 lbs., I question whether we’ll see Faber’s MMA career dominance coincide with his newfound exposure as an official UFC star.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Event:

145 lbs. – Raphael Assuncao x Erik Koch:
Prediction: Assuncao via decision
Result: Koch via KO (round one)

185 lbs. – Constantinos Philippou x Nick Catone:
Prediction:  Catone via TKO (round one)
Result: Catone via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

135 lbs. – Joseph Benavidez x Ian Loveland:
Prediction:  Benavidez via submission (round two)
Result: Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

155 lbs. – Kurt Pellegrino x Gleison Tibau:
Prediction:  Pellegrino via unanimous decision
Result: Tibau via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

170 lbs. – Mike Pyle x Ricardo Almeida:
Prediction: Almeida via submission (round three)
Result: Pyle via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) though apparently scores were 29-28 across the board

155 lbs. – Anthony Njokuani x Edson Barboza, Jr.:
Prediction:  Barboza via KO (round two)
Result: Barboza via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. – Elliot Marshall x Luiz Cane:
Prediction:  Marshall via decision
Result: Cane via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Brendan Schaub x Mirko Cro Cop:
Prediction: Schaub via TKO (round three)
Result: Schaub via TKO (round three)

185 lbs. – Nate Marquardt x Dan Miller:
Prediction:  Marquardt by TKO (round one)
Result: Marquardt via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

155 lbs. – Kamal Shalorus x Jim Miller:
Prediction:  Shalorus via unanimous decision
Result: Miller via TKO (round three)

135 lbs. – Urijah ‘The California Kid’ Faber x Eddie Wineland:
Prediction:  Faber via submission (round one or two)
Result: Faber via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. (UFC Light Heavyweight Title) – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua x Jon ‘Bones’ Jones:
Prediction: Jones via TKO (round three or four)
Result: Jones via TKO (round three)

The Finish

Not every UFC event is going to be remembered as one for the ages. If anything, UFC 128 will be marked as the night when an amazing young talent got his chance to reign supreme and start his path to potential crossover superstardom. Of course, in fighting his friend, Jon Jones first challenge will be a personal and physical test.