But then we should remember that big hype and big expectation can usually lead to big disappointed and though I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was let down by the PPV, I would prefer a higher finish/decision ration. This one being 4-1 (with the best saved to last!). So let’s get into it.
Heavyweight bout : Gabriel Gonzaga (BRA) v Brendan Schaub (USA)
I’ve seen Gonzaga fight for a few years now, but with all the history he has as a dominant force in the Heavyweight class, it seems as though it will all remain history. The Brazilian looked flat footed against the energetic Schaub, and 90% of the exchanges resulted in Gonzaga receiving heavy shots and sometimes even backing away with a look of panic on his face. He showed some fight with solid leg kicks and Jui Jitsu but the fight never stayed on the ground and Schaub kept pressing with much more enthusiasm. Schaub is a young fighter with good striking and potential but he slowed down in the third, unable to finish it, and this fight really stands as an indicator of the immense gap between the upper echelon and the rest of the heavyweighters.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Tito Ortiz (USA) v Matt Hamill (USA)
Tito is a classic Heel and I thought it would be easy to support the natural sympathy draw of deaf Matt Hamill. I was surprised, however, to find myself admiring Tito’s early aggressiveness and strategy. He had his game face on which has been missing lately and he showed promise. Hamill, his former Ultimate Fighter apprentice, was still too strong and this became evident as the fight played out. Tito was outclassed in the stand up and was incapable of performing his trademark takedown/ground and pound. Instead Hamill took Tito down and held the dominant position. A unanimous decision was obvious but neither fighter really looked very close to finishing or being finished.
|Remember you're not gay for watching men wrestle each other|
Easily fight of the night, this could stand as an early indicator of the resurgence of one of the most explosive and entertaining fighters in the UFC. Sanchez, fresh from moving up into the 170 pound category after a spell in lightweights, looked a little out of his depth in the first round. Thiago is no chump and has a highlight reel that features a string of varying finishes. But sometimes, despite my love for a finish, the best thing about the lighter divisions is that they can’t finish each other. In the second round Sanchez came out of his shell and brought his strategy of relentless pressure on Thiago, resulting in an epic slam - Diego screaming as he dropped Thiago from shoulder height. This seemed to wind Thiago and come third round he was gassed out while Diego looked ready for 3 more rounds. To his credit, Thiago fought valiantly the whole final round, even attempting a few submissions, though he clearly lacked the strength to finish them. The fight ended with both fighters swinging for the fences as the final bell sounded. A classic fight with skill, excitement and heart involved!
Welterweight bout: Martin Kampmann (DEN) v Jake Shields (USA)
Shields entered the UFC with plenty of hype. Long time holder of the StrikeForce middleweight title, he had to battle a true battler in Kampmann. Now if there is one thing I am not a fan of in UFC it is wrestlers who can’t finish a fight, and while Shields has a great record maybe his drop in weight divisions led to him being unable to finish from dominant positions. The fight featured takedowns and mounts but little else and no damage from Shields. Meanwhile Kampmann landed some heavy knees in the clinch and in the third round had all the stamina and momentum in his favour. He connected with Shields a few times sending him down but then made a fatal error of going for a submission. He was close to locking it in, but Shields in considered almost impossible to submit and after freeing himself, he was able to go into auto pilot on the ground. He moved from guard to mount so easily and stole the round in the process. The judges scored the fight a split decision to Shields, receiving heavy boos from the crowd which I echoed from my seat on the couch. And don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t score the fight any other way but I still felt like boos were called for. From here Shields gets a title fight, but serious improvement will be needed if he hopes to match it with Koscheck or GSP. Was it an off night? Is the weight division the wrong one? Does StrikeForce just suck? Time will tell.
Heavyweight Title Fight! Brock Lesnar (USA) v Cain Velasquez (MEX)
The one we were all waiting for. The pre fight hype surround Cain’s incredible stamina and superior striking. Brock was just Brock: this man mountain who defies biology and physics more and more each fight. Velasquez entered to music from his home country and massive cheers from the heavily Latino LA crowd. Lesnar entered to boos and a look of serious business on his face. Walking to the Octagon he pushed a police officer out of the way without a second thought. This was going to be epic!
Herb Dean got the round started and Lesnar immediately strafed right before attacking Cain from a running start. Somehow Cain absorbed the force and stayed on his feet. A few short exchanges involved about 15 punches thrown that would probably kill most people; Cain looked technically better. Brock went for another takedown and landed it. Not many people get out from under the 265 pound monster but Cain seemed to spring to his feet. More close range exchanging and Cain was starting to weather the storm and cause one of his own. Brock got him up against the fence. Again he took him down. Again Cain rebounded back to his feet. Again the exchanges occurred. This time Cain landed some damaging strikes. Brock was in trouble and at points even retreating across the Octagon. Cain was all business though and eventually brought the fight to a ground and pound situation. It was reminiscent of Lesnar’s last title defense but this time it wasn’t a gas guzzling Shane Carwin on top; it was the energizer battery of Velasquez. He picked his spots and Brock’s face quickly turned bloody. With his last desperate attempt Brock exploded back to his feet, swinging heavy punches, but Cain remained calm and picked him off again. He dropped Lesnar a final time and from there he finished the fight with devastating ground and pound. The fight was over. rock was defeated. Cain was champion. All in the space of four minutes twelve seconds.
Paulo Thiago, Martin Kampmann, despite losing, will be fighters I look for in future cards and guys I use more often in the UFC: Undisputed video game. Diego Sanchez was an excitement machine and the welterweight division keeps producing talent to challenge the ever awesome GSP. Speaking of Welterweights, Shields still won and has a record that speaks for itself. He has beaten Dan Henderson recently and he shouldn’t be underestimated in the future. I can’t say I’m a fan though and will not be cheering for him.
Gonzaga seems to have become a stepping stone for the upcoming heavyweight fighters, much like Keith Jardine in the 205 division. Tito Ortiz may be heading the same direction. I mentioned the massive gap between the top heavyweights and the rest earlier, but what about the gap between Cain and the rest. It’s way too early to say this, but he could be champion for a long time.
- Eden (While listening to Led Zeppelin III)