Historic, epic, barrier breaking or the dawn of a new era. No matter what words were used to described last night’s UFC 157 it lived up to the hype. Whether you are a fan of slick BJJ, stand and bang or a technical chess match there was something for everyone last night. So lets take a look back at what happened and see what lies ahead.
Bombs Dropped at Thursday Press Conference
Even before fighters took to the stage for the weigh-ins for UFC 157 company President Dana White announced Thursday that “there are over 100 guys that are gonna go” in regards to fighters being cut. This was coming on the wake of Tuesday’s release of fan favorite and #9 ranked Welterweight (UFC Rankings) John Fitch. This put a whole new meaning to Dana’s famous quote “so you wanna be a fu**ing fighter”. This should be a wake up call for many fighters that you will need to put on a show and win to keep your job because it is now performance based.
Oh No, More Decisions
The card started off looking like most of UFC on FUEL7 with two decision victories by Nah-Shon Burrell and Neil Magny. Both fighters were not terribly exciting and both drew at least one 30-27 from the judges. When the prelims on FX started it seemed like we were in for more of the same but these decisions had a different feeling to them and really set the tone for the night.
UFC Vet Sam Stout seemed very crisp in his stand up in the first round and looked to be en route to knockout Caros Fodor at the end of the first round. Stout was landed whatever he wanted when he wanted but then the round ended. When Fodor came out for the 2nd you could see something in his eye and he started to land power shots and push Stout around. the third round saw exciting action out of both fighters with Stout having the better cardio and was able to land more often in the round but it was extremely close. When Bruce Buffer announced Stout as winner you could see the disappointment and disagreement in Fodor as he threw his arms up and walked away but Stout did more in the round and was awarded a split decision.
Rock-em Sock-em Robots
The next fight up brought the house down as the Featherweight division once again showed why it may be the most exciting division in the entire UFC. Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice stood toe to toe for three rounds and threw absolutely everything they had at each. It reminded me of a Rocky movie as it looked as if Grice was done in the first then Bermudez was out in the second then both had big moments in the third. This fight absolutely set the tone for the night and had fans on their feet quickly and for 15 full minutes. In the end Dennis Bermudez was awarded a split decision but both fighters earned a bonus as this was the Fight of the Night and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain attention for Fight of the Year. It was like a mini Hendo vs Shogun for everyone who missed it the first time.
TUF Fighters Are For Real
UFC 157 bolstered 4 fights with former members of The Ultimate Fighter reality series including Josh Koscheck (TUF 1 semifinalist), Court McGee (TUF 11 winner), Michael Chiesa (TUF: Live Winner) and Brendan Schaub (TUF: Heavyweights Finalist) and they all showed up big time and proved they are more than just Reality TV fighters.
First up was Michael Chiesa who was making his UFC debut since winning TUF 15 in June of 2012. The undefeated Chiesa had a very tough opponent in Anton Kulvanan and this was apparent early in the first round when he had to weather a strong start from the Finnish fighter. Chiesa did just that and in the second round he found himself on the back of his opponent, exactly were Anton didn’t want him. Chiesa did what he has done over his last 4 fights and sunk in a rear naked choke for the win. After the fighter Chiesa told Joe Rogan he thought ‘that round one was the only round he (Kulvanan) could win” and he knew he would win this fight.
The Prliminary Card on FX ended with a Heavyweight bout that on paper could have been very ugly as ultra-heavy handed Lavar Johnson took on Brendan Schaub who has been prone to the KO (all 3 loses due to KO). Many thought that Johnson would end this quick and violent like he has 15 times in his career but Schaub had other plans as he used his superior takedowns and wrestling to negate the power of Johnson all fight. At one point in the first round it looked like Schaub had a choke sunk in from side control but Johnson punched, yes PUNCHED his way out of it, only to have Schaub stay in side-control and hold him down. Schaub went on to garner the unanimous decision.
What lays ahead:
Johnson: He is now 2-4 in his last 6 and 2-2 in the UFC. He could be on his last legs in term of a job but I see him getting one more fight and it will be a must win.
Schaub: This wasn’t a must win for Schaub but it was as close as you can get as he had lost his last two by KO in the first round. He isn’t a huge HW but his wrestling is solid. I could see him fighting Kongo or someone of that type next.
We Are LIVE!!!
Josh Koscheck vs Robbie Lawler
The main card started where the prelims left off in ragards to TUF Fighters being in the cage but the Josh Koscheck vs Robbie Lawler fight had a much different outcome than it’s predecessors. The man known as “Kos” came into this fight ranked 8th in the UFC Welterweight rankings but just didn’t seem interested in this fight from the get go but landed two nice takedown in the opening minutes. When he went for a third against the cage Lawler showed why he was and still is such a feared striker as he landed bomb after bomb to the head and body of Kos until Herb Dean had seen enough. Lawler won the fight via TKO in the first round.
What lays ahead:
Koscheck: This is his second straight loss and hasn’t seemed to be the same man that fought GSP for the title a little over 2 years ago. With the release of a guy like Fitch in this division the spotlight for cuts could be turning to Josh. His next fight is a must win.
Lawler: What a return to the 185 division for the veteran fighter. This was a huge win if in fact these ranking mean anything and a fight with Mike Pierce or Tarec Saffiedine could be on the horizon.
Court Mcgee vs Josh Neer
Next up we saw Court Mcgee put on a clinic vs Josh Neer in almost every aspect of the fight. From the get go anyone paying attention that the TUF 11 winner had a huge advantage in the standup game and he made guys like Bas Rutten proud with the liver shots that took down Neer in round 1. But the teacher quickly became the student in the start of round two as Neer covered the liver and really landed some big shots on Mcgee. McGee gathered himself and went back to work on the body and looked like he knew he needed this win (lost last two). He dominated the third round and went on to win a unanimous 30-27 decision.
What lays ahead:
Mcgee: Big win for the 28 year old and looked amazing. This should move him closer to the top ten but I still see him hanging around #15-17.
Josh Neer: I think this was the end of the road for Neer and I don’t like to say that but 3 straight losses in a division that is stacked with top talent. If he does have one more fight it will be a must win in every aspect of the saying.
Urijah Faber vs Ivan Menijvar
A WEC Urijah Faber Sightining. Former WEC champion and fan favorite (that’s an understatement) Urijah Faber (#2 in Bantamweight) has been in a “funk” over the last 5 years in which we have seen him win one lose one, win two lose one and not look terribly exciting over the span. Well last night that all changed and the Urijah Faber that WEC fans remember was on display! He pushed the pace, landed taken downs, striking looked on point and all of this against Ivan Menijvar (#10) who is no slouch! Faber took the standing back of Ivan and put in a RNC to get the win. It was impressive but the aggression and excitement seemed to have returned to Faber as you could see in his face after the fight, it looked as if a weight had been lifted.
What lays ahead:
Faber: He will face off in a rematch vs Interim Champ Renan Barao, if Barao doesn’t face Cruz first. If this happened he will get the winner.
Menijvar: This loss will drop him out of the top ten but I don’t see a huge drop as Faber was #2. I see Ivan going to #11-13 with this loss but he will be back to the top ten soon.
Dan Henderson vs Lyoto Machida
Wasted Opportunity. Fan were on their feet, the noise was deafening and the stage was set for another EPIC Hendo war as the #2 and #3 (Hendo) Light Heavyweights took to the cage. This fight was set to decide who would next take on Champion Jon Jones. Fighters took the cage, fans chanted “USA, USA, USA” and “MACHIDA, MACHIDA” in support of their favorite fighters. Then the cage shut and Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson touched gloves and the fight was on! But then the last thing in the back of anyone’s mind happened it turned into a cat and mouse fight where Hendo tried to land his overhand power punches aka “Hendo Bombs” just to be side stepped by Machida. The first round’s big moment came in the closing second as Machida took Hendo down with a trip and landed some shots but the bell sounded. The second and third rounds were filled with the same but without the excitement of the takedowns. In the end Machida took a split decision in a close yet uneventful fight.
What lays ahead:
Machida: Dana White announced that Machida will face Jones in his next fight for the LHW belt. This will be a rematch of the 2011 battle where it can be argued that Machida won the first round only to be KO’d in the second.
Henderson: He was due for a fight like this vs a counter puncher but it shouldn’t hurt the ranking too much. I see him around #5 and a fight with Glover Teixeira or Phil Davis could be next.
Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche
A Huge Step For MMA and EPIC MOMENT For the UFC. Danica Patrick, Sheryl Swoops, Mia Hamm, Veronica Corningstone and now Ronda Rousey. What do they all have in common? They have all helped to breakdown the gender barrier in their respective fields or sports and show the world that in fact yes women can be elite too Last night Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche were the first women in MMA history to headline a UFC PPV (or any event) and Ronda was the first women to hold a championship in the UFC. True fans of the sport see this and respect it for all it is and make no mistake it was a huge moment in the world of sports! Years from now you will remember where you were when this happened.
This was an AMAZING fight and it was closer than many who didn’t know who Carmouche was thought it would be. It opened with Ronda taking fight to the ground and getting Liz in a side headlock and raining down huge punches. Seconds later Liz somehow got on the back of Rousey and used a cross face to not only knock the mouth piece out of Rousey’s mouth but almost sink in a choke. Not being able to get under the neck Liz used a brutal neck crank across Ronda’s mouth to try to tap out the heavily favored former Strikeforce Champion and current UFC champion. As Ronda’s face turned blue she somehow escaped the crank and got to side control and fans saw it coming, you could feel it in your stomach as Ronda transitioned his legs over the face of the challenger and ripped the arm out. Liz held on for dear life but Ronda’s technique was flawless and she got Liz’s hand out and sunk in the famous Ronda Rousey armbar for the win! This was the 7th straight first round victory via armbar for Rousey.
As Liz talked in his post-fight conference she mentioned she had teeth marks on her arm from the neck crank she had across the mouth of Rousey. Twitter exploded with accusations that Ronda had bitten the challenger and that she cheated. It was later revealed that Rousey had lost her mouth piece and with the pressure of Liz’s arm across the mouth, Ronda’s teeth were jammed into Liz’s arm. Liz and Ronda both explained there was no bite.
What lies ahead:
Rousey: With Cyborg now signed to INVICTA fights that super fight is now out of the question. I see a rematch with Tate or Kaufman on the horizon. But who knows with this division there is so much talent out there I am sure someone else could be up next.
Carmouche: Yes she lost the fight but this was a positive thing for Liz’s career and can only help her. We will see her in another title fight soon.