UFC Fight Night 24 is in the books and it was probably what Seattle sports fans have come to expect. It started off promising but by the end of the night fans probably felt like Howard Schultz ran in and replaced all the action with another Starbucks shop. Fans that tuned in hoping to see exciting stand up wars were no doubt disappointed but sometimes these things happen in MMA and things don’t go as expected. Sort of like no #1 seeds making the NCAA Final Four or Chris Brown throwing a chair even though the chair was not his girlfriend. The one consistent thing we can expect on every UFC event is the lovely Brittney Palmer. So at least there’s that.
Phil Davis defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
It wasn’t the star making performance many thought it would be, Phil Davis outlasted Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and picked up a unanimous decision victory.
This wasn’t the most exciting fight in the world but Davis did what he needed to do. In the first round, Davis really struggled. He kept looking for a head kick, and the first one he threw landed pretty flush, but after that Nogueira started getting his hands up. That was about all the offense Davis could mount though as he failed on every takedown attempt he tried and if he threw any other kick, whether it was to the body or leg, Nogueira countered with a right hook or straight left. A couple of punches seemed to wobble Davis but he never went down and I think part of the reason why he was wobbled was due to the fact that he was off balance from throwing a kick. I gave Nogueira the first round, feeling that he landed the cleaner strikes and stuffed every takedown attempt but the ever astute judges thought that failing to implement your game plan should count for more. The second round was going the same way until Davis switched from a power double to a quick single. He used that to drag Nogueira to the ground and even though he didn’t do much, when Nogueira pushed him away and tried to get up, Davis quickly got his back and landed some heavy punches before the round came to an end. Davis went back to the single leg drag in third round, getting Nogueira down and once again controlling him. While he didn’t do much damage to Nogueira, choosing to stay more at the feet of Nogueira rather than in his guard, he held him down the majority of the round and picked his shots while Nogueira struggled to mount any kind of offense from his back. It was a rather underwhelming performance but it was good enough for Davis to win on the judges scorecards and remain unbeaten in MMA.
After blasting Luiz Cane in his first UFC fight, Nogueira now finds himself on a two fight losing streak that could easily be three if some judges didn’t pick the winner by playing “eeny meeny miny moe.” It’s not like Nogueira was blown out in his losses though, he just got put on his back and couldn’t mount any offense from his guard. That’s really the biggest story of his two losses, his lack of grappling offense from his back. We know he has a dangerous guard and his grip strength is incredible but he seemed more content on just controlling his opponents wrists and avoiding damage rather than actively going for submissions. Granted Davis stayed at the tail end of Nogueira’s guard but with all the wrist control Nogueira had, he should have at least tried to pull Davis into a triangle. I’d like to see UFC keep Nogueira away from a wrestler, at least for one fight. Someone like Brandon Vera would be a great opponent for Nogueira. Two guys who have name value, both struggling, and both in need of a victory. Let them battle it out and see who can still contend in a deep division and who is better off fighting elsewhere.
Can the premature comparisons between Davis and Jon Jones now cease for the time being? They were stupid before Jones roughed up “Shogun” Rua, they were really stupid after Jones mangled Rua, and they’re pretty stupid after Davis’ showing against Nogueira. Davis didn’t even look terrible in this fight but when people constantly put his name beside the name of the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, everyone looks bad. Davis fought a smart fight against a tough and well-respected veteran. The most impressive part of his performance was his ability to bounce back and change things up after the first round really didn’t go his way. Then once he finally got the fight to the ground, instead of laying in the guard of Nogueira, he stayed at his feet where Nogueira could only try and push him away. Davis was also very quick in the scrambles as every time Nogueira tried to get to his feet, Davis would pounce on him and end up in a better position. UFC should continue to bring Davis along slowly. He’s got all the potential in the world, he just needs more seasoning and training time. I wish someone knew what was going on with Thiago Silva because I think that would be a good match up for Davis, but since he could return tomorrow or be sidelined for another year, I guess that rules him out. The next option is likely the winner of the upcoming Ryan Bader vs. Tito Ortiz fight.
Predicted Next Fights: Nogueira vs. Vera – Davis vs. Ortiz/Bader winner
Anthony Johnson defeated Dan Hardy by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
While fans hoped for a slugfest between two explosive strikers, Anthony Johnson had other ideas, using his wrestling en route to a comfortable decision victory over Dan Hardy.
This fight looked like the fight we were all hoping for early with Johnson dropping Hardy with a head kick in the opening moments. It looked like Hardy blocked the head kick for the most part but Johnson put so much power into the kick that it knocked Hardy off his feet. The rest of the fight was spent on the ground with Johnson on top. Even when Hardy would get up or the next round began, Johnson wasted little time using his superior wrestling and putting Hardy right back on the ground. Johnson didn’t really do anything on the ground outside of some short elbows and body shots but Hardy offered no threat off his back except for multiple kimura attempts that were going to be tough to finish given Johnson’s strength. Johnson tried to put Hardy away in the third round, locking up an arm triangle and a neck crank but Hardy held on and proved why he’s one tough outlaw. The crowd wasted little time letting Johnson know how they felt about his game plan by booing every time he scored a takedown but their voices fell on deaf ears as Johnson stuck to his game plan and controlled Hardy to pick up the victory after a long layoff.
Hardy is a great personality and a very likable guy but this was the third straight loss and he was absolutely out-classed in two of those losses. His wrestling just isn’t up to the level of the top welterweights and considering that welterweight is a wrestling heavy division, he’s going to be in trouble every time he faces a top contender. He’ll be able to stand and trade with most guys but given his lack of takedown defense, I wouldn’t be shocked if even a mediocre wrestler tried to put him on his back. It doesn’t look like Hardy will get released because Dana White freakin’ loves him and he is a big star in the U.K. but he desperately needs a win in his next fight. A good next fight for him would be against Matt Serra. Unless he and Serra became really good friends during their contrived training sessions leading up to UFC 111, I don’t see why either man would be opposed to that fight, it has the potential to be very exciting, and the build up should be good given the promo ability of both men.
Everyone should have known that, no matter what he said prior to the fight, Johnson would revert to his wrestling if he got in trouble standing. Well he was never in trouble standing but he still went back to his wrestling, feeling that it was his best shot to win the fight. I don’t blame Johnson for constantly putting Hardy on his back because he was coming off a long layoff and he just wanted to win, even if it wasn’t pretty. We’ll probably see a much better and active Johnson in his next fight as the ring rust should now be off and there won’t be as much pressure on him to win since he got this one under his belt and hopefully won’t be out of the spotlight for 16 months. I’d like to see Johnson fight Diego Sanchez next but Sanchez is a guy who always has exciting fights and he’s a guy who is going to move forward and really test the cardio of Johnson.
Predicted Next Fights: Hardy vs. Serra – Johnson vs. Sanchez
Amir Sadollah defeated DaMarques Johnson by Submission (Elbows) at 3:27 in Round 2
Amir Sadollah continued to show off his improvement, this time putting on his best performance in the cage against DaMarques Johnson.
The first round of this fight was back and forth and action packed. Sadollah had his moments on the feet but Johnson got some good takedowns and roughed up Sadollah on the ground with elbows. Sadollah stayed active off his back, looking for the triangle choke, but Johnson did a nice job defending and making Sadollah pay with strikes. On the feet Sadollah landed the cleaner strikes and was more active but Johnson hung in there and fired right back. When the first round ended, Sadollah looked the same as when it started while Johnson was clearly getting tired. In the second round, Sadollah really took over. He once again landed the harder and cleaner strikes on the feet while Johnson started to load up on his punches and look for that one big shot. Sadollah eventually got Johnson down to the ground, passed to mount, controlled one arm of Johnson with his arm, and battered him with elbows until Johnson decided that he had had enough and submitted. It was a very good showing by Sadollah and he finally got the finish that has evaded him since his first UFC fight.
Credit Johnson for taking this fight on short notice but even if he had a full training camp, I’m not sure that he would have been able to handle the pace of Sadollah. Johnson fought hard and two judges even gave him the first round but he just couldn’t keep up with Sadollah’s pressure and when he started loading up on his punches, you could tell that he was ready to go down swinging. Johnson seems to be nothing more than a mid-level fighter but he’s always in exciting fights and he’s willing to fight on short notice so he’ll continue to get fights in the organization.
I really like Sadollah. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be a title contender but he works very hard, he’s extremely technical, and his pace is second to none. He gets hit a lot and his takedown defense isn’t great but he has a solid chin and never stops working on the ground. Again, he may never headline a PPV or be a title contenders fight but he’s going to win more than he’ll lose because of his work ethic and activity. John Hathaway would be a good next opponent for him because Hathaway has drastically fallen after dominating Diego Sanchez less than a year ago and Sadollah would be a good test to see where he’s at right now.
Predicted Next Fights: Johnson vs. TJ Waldburger – Sadollah vs. Hathaway
Chan Sung Jung defeated Leonard Garcia by Submission (Twister) at 4:59 in Round 2
Even though Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia didn’t live up to the hype of the first fight, in a way it was just as good.
From the opening bell you could tell that this would be a different fight. Jung’s stance was much different than it was in his previous fights and he obviously wanted to be a bit more technical and patient as opposed to just getting into a wild brawl. Garcia looked different as well, choosing to jab and throw more leg kicks and relying less on his winding right hand. Jung ended up getting a takedown late in the round and caught Garcia with a knee on the way up before getting his back with just seconds remaining in the first frame. The second round was more of the same on the feet with both men staying patient outside of one wild flurry after Jung landed a knee followed by an uppercut. Jung got the fight back to the ground, sweeping Garcia down as Garcia threw a kick, and then got the back of Garcia as Garcia tried to get up. While on his back, Jung put his left hand on green, his left foot on blue, his right hand on red, his right foot on yellow, and locked up the twister on Garcia. And with just one second remaining in the round, Garcia tapped out. It was not only a huge win for Jung but it was a submission victory that will go down in UFC history.
Despite I slightly more patient performance, I don’t expect Garcia to adopt this style full-time, mainly because he lost this fight. Garcia is at his best when he’s moving forward, eating punches, and throwing wild punches. It’s a style that has worked well for him since the judges love aggressiveness and a style he shouldn’t bother changing because it’s just not who he is. Now, can he improve on things? Sure. I liked that he threw more leg kicks in this fight and the jab served him well for the most. He just strayed too far away from his aggression. If he could find a balance between aggression and being patient, sort of like how Wanderlei Silva has done in recent years, he could be more than a guy who just has exciting fights and steals decisions. Hopefully we the Garcia vs. Nam Phan rematch that was originally scheduled for this event because like Jung, Phan deserves a chance to right a judging wrong.
It’s now safe to jump back on the “Korean Zombie” bandwagon. If Jung is going to stick to this new style of picking his shots and using his ground game more often, he’s going to be a threat at featherweight. I’m sure everyone noticed the difference in how Jung held his hands and carried himself in the striking department and I credit for not moving away from that style, even when Garcia tried to bait him into a brawl a couple of times. I’m sure the training at Team Alpha Male really played into his changes and I hope for his sake that he keeps putting in time with Urijah Faber and company because it can only make him better. Of course the twister submission was just the icing on the cake that made Jung go from Zombie Strippers in his last fight to Dawn of the Dead in this bout. Now that Jung redeemed himself against Garcia, he should get a chance to redeem himself against a lengthy striker. And since no one wants to see Jung vs. George Roop 2, I nominate Eric Koch as Jung’s next opponent. Koch is so pale he’s a bite away from being a zombie anyway.
Predicted Next Fights: Garcia vs. Phan 2 – Jung vs. Koch
Maybe it wasn’t the most action packed event ever and the top two fights definitely underperformed but overall it was a good night of action, especially if you watched Bellator 38 and the five Facebook fights prior to the SpikeTV portion of the UFC event.
The next big event if Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley although there might be a special Bellator 39 preview this Friday. Either way, get ready for the next Walk Out.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC