With UFC 119 now a part of the history books, we can sit and reflect on what was–while trying to predict future match ups for Saturday night’s winners. It was a night of minimal excitement with four out of the five matches ending in decisions.
Frank Mir defeats Mirko Cro Cop via 3rd round KO: The main event should have been renamed “can we just get to the scorecards, please? 2010.” For the first two rounds, this looked like a sparring match. Neither man wanted to fully commit to throwing a punch or kick. Was there too much respect between these two men? I mean, c’mon. It’s the former UFC champ versus the former Pride champ. Where were the fireworks? The closest thing to fireworks came in the third round when Mir landed a lucky knee on Cro Cop’s face. Mirko came in for a punch but Mir had control of his head and guided it into his up-moving knee. Cro Cop’s lights when out instantly as he fell to the mat. Mir landed a few more strikes on his face before the ref realized Cro Cop was done right when that knee landed. What’s next for Mir? Maybe a rematch with Shane Carwin to get back to contender status? And for Cro Cop? He will most likely be fed mediocre competition from here on out until he retires.
Ryan Bader defeats Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via unanimous decision: Another fight that didn’t live up to its hype. This should have been an instant contender for “fight of the night” honors, but both men seemed weary to engage with one another (kind of like the main event that followed). For three rounds we got to witness Bader and lil Nog share punches in a sparring-esque manner. The only moments of excitement from from Bader’s bull-like takedowns, which were only short lived as Nogueira was able to spring right back up each time. Bader landed one last takedown with under a minute left in the third round and was able to ride that out until the bell sounded. Neither man did significant damage to the other, but Bader got the win for his takedowns. Next for Bader? A match up against Jon Jones perhaps to determine true contender status. Next for lil Nog? Some mid-level competition and a lot of lost hype.
Chris Lytle defeats Matt Serra via unanimous decision: Matt Serra should have buckled in this fight on numerous occasions. Serra was completely out-classed for three rounds. He ate punches to the face for 15 minutes straight. This was one of the more exciting bouts of the night because these men were actually willing to engage with each other (what happened to good ol’ brawling matches?). Lytle put together a couple of brutal hook-jab combos, but the heart of Serra never quit. He got his face pulverized, but at least he stuck it out and kept attacking. By the end of the bout you knew that Serra wasn’t going to be able to see out of his left eye for a while. Lytle deserved the UD and he will get a bump up in competition. The thing is, this match up really didn’t come with any future implications, so it’s pretty much Joe Silva’s call to put Lytle against another exciting striker for a crowd-pleasing bout.
Sean Sherk defeats Evan Dunham via split decision: The judges got this one wrong. This was one of those fights where the outcome was decided by who was bleeding more–in this case it was Dunham. This bout shared “fight of the night” honors and it was definitely deserving. Sherk cut open Dunham’s eyebrow with a sharp elbow in the first round. Blood continue to pour everywhere until Dunham was able to get worked on in his corner. He came out in the second round firing. As blood continued a constant drip down his face, he outworked Sherk the entire round–backing him into the cage and dictating the pace of the fight. In the third round it was more of the same. Sherk couldn’t close the distance on Dunham and looked helpless throughout the final round. Sherk clearly won the first round, but there shouldn’t have been any questions about Dunham winning rounds two and three. Well, the judges saw it differently–giving Sherk the split decision. When Sherk was approached by Joe Rogan for his post-fight interview, the crowd booed as loud as they could. They knew that Sherk didn’t really win. Go check Dana White’s twitter–he didn’t think Sherk won either. So now Dunham loses his undefeated record, but Joe Silva will realize that Dunham didn’t lose this fight. He will still get better competition. Sherk will become a gatekeeper at lightweight.
Melvin Guillard defeats Jeremy Stephens via split decision: Yet another “fight of the night” hopeful put on the back burner by an unwillingness to put it all on the table. Both fighters circled the octagon trading strikes. Stephens landed some brutal leg kicks and Guillard’s leg was visibly shaken. However, leg kicks weren’t going to stop Guillard. He kept attacking until a strange “below-the-belt” epidemic ensued. This fight was stopped twice due to groin shots by both fighters. This didn’t help the already restless crowd who were promised an exciting fight via the words from Dana’s mouth. The boo’s began to fill the arena with minimal action going on in the second round. As the third round was underway the boo’s got louder. If it weren’t for a flying knee from Stephens I think the whole arena would have fallen asleep midway through the round. Regardless, Guillard was seen as the victor in the Judges’ eyes as they gave him the split decision win. Next for these two fighters? Guillard has never been a contender–nor will he ever be. He will be matched up with a mid-level guy with actual talent and probably lose. Stephens is young, but if you can’t get past Guillard, you really can’t do much at lightweight. Look for him to merely become a fiber in the world of MMA.
UFC 119 was definitely anything but exciting. It did help raise some questions. Is MMA becoming too respectful? I get it, martial arts and respect go hand-in-hand; but if your level of respect for your opponent is going to inhibit your ability to knock his ass to the mat, then you need to take the bar down a few notches in the respect department. Should people stop complaining about the ground game? Damn straight. Look what happens when you turn the UFC into K-1–you get five technical kickboxing matches that looked more like sparring matches than anything. Let’s keep a good balance guys.
I originally believed that this card was full of great stylistic match ups, but now I realize that these match ups merely nullified the ground games of each fighter, which led to everyone trying to show off their striking. I’m glad that Dana didn’t give out a “KO of the night” award even though Mir KO’d Cro Cop. UFC 119 will be easily forgettable. The only interesting thing that will come from UFC 119 will be who Ryan Bader is fighting next. Other than that, should have saved my money.