Sunday, 7 August 2011

UFC 133 Results and Review

The card started with a compelling victory for young Canadian Rory McDonald who used his speed advantage to the maximum. First taking Mike Pyle's game plan away and then the win. A quick trip early in the fight was an early indication that Pyle was going to struggle with the closing speed of McDonald which was ratified when McDonald landed a three punch combination shortly after. This sent Pyle into wrestling mode, going with three takedown attempts in a row without throwing a strike. Although this had limited success, as Pyle briefly looked like he was going to get back control, it also showed the desperation that was already coming into the more experienced man's mind.

Once the ensuing clinch had separated, the fight was all McDonald. The young man who had clearly worked on his angles which lead to Pyle's actions appearing predictable and laboured. The fight ended on the floor, with the Canadian postuing up and landing a perfect left which cracked the chin of Pyle. McDonald swarmed, landing a series of shots however it did appear Pyle was recovering, looking for a kimura and turning to protect himself. In the mist of the action McDonald then proceeded to land several shots to the back of Pyle's head which forced the American fighter around. An illegal shot in MMA, the referee did not react and it opened the opportunity for the final shots of the match. This left the referee no choice but to call the fight at 3.54 of the first round.

Even with the slightly controversial finish, conveniently avoided by the commentators, it was still a much deserved victory for McDonald who will be looking for a step up in competition next time around. Perhaps a fight with the winner of Paulo Thiago and David Mitchell at UFC 134. Pyle will find himself against the next young gun who needs to be tested at welterweight.  

One note of interest was McDonald's comments on the potential of a fight with Georges St Pierre which he claims he would refuse. The two train at the same camp but this young fighter could well be in line for a title fight sometime in the future so this could be a situation worth keeping an eye on.

This fight was followed by a brawl more reminiscent of UFC 33 than UFC 133 as Jorge Rivera and Constantinos Philippou slugged it out in a contest that showcased of solid boxing and terrible wrestling. The most notable action of the first round was a sloppy takedown by Philippou who landed several short lefts from the half guard while Rivera attempted to wall walk. The damage was not great but was enough to take a round where one shot was answered with an identical one.

Round two started spectaularly with a flush uppercut flooring Rivera but appalling ground and pound by the New York trained Philippou simply bounced of the shoulder of Rivera. Rivera took some time to reply in the round but it was mainly short stuff from the clinch so to generate some offense went for a trip takedown which was reversed nicely by Philippou into an omaplata shoulder lock. Stuck in the position Rivera did his best to defend but anyone confident in the position could have caused serious damage. Philippou was clearly out of his depth. Philippou didn't know the correct way to finish the move nor did he take the chance to cause damage to the body of Rivera. Stuck in that position, the round finished flatly. It was still more than enough to give the round to Philippou on most peoples books. 

The third round had to be about Rivera looking for the finish and so it turned out as the former Ultimate Fighter competitor pushed the action. Although achieving several dominant positions, there was no single strike or manoeuvre that really troubled Philippou as the fight fizzled out. As the cards were being prepared, most expected the fight to be scored 29-28 to Philippou which was how two of the three judges scored it giving him his first win in the UFC via split decision.

Neither fighter will have done anything to suggest that they have a big future in the middleweight division and it would not be a shock to see Rivera, coming off his second loss, being released. 

The legends fight between Dennis Hallman and Brian Ebersole showed how important experience can be in mixed martial arts. Hallman showcased it first, not only engaging the taller man but getting the takedown striaght into back control. This is when the experience of Ebersole that came to the fore as a combination of being relaxed and great hand control stopped the rear naked choke attempts which eventually opened up the opportunity to reverse the position, gaining top control.

The fight was over almost as soon as Ebersole had achieved the prominent position, landing an elbow that rocked Hallman and used his larger frame to land hammer blows from odd angles. These blows opened the defending Hallman up to a finally devastating elbow that knocked Hallman out. On first look, it could be seen as a premature stoppage but replays showed that it was absolutely correct and a great piece of refereeing.

The future for these fighters could not be more different. Ebersole could well get Rick Story or Johnny Hendircks next, as the UFC will want to see if he belongs with the younger guys trying to drag themselves up the UFC pecking order. Hallman is unlikely to fight in the UFC again but not due to his performance. When Hallman revealed his attire gasps arose around the arena as he was wearing speedo style bottoms with an oversized cup. This has clearly caused embarrassment in the UFC especially as a scramble caused a wardrobe malfunction and Hallman's genitals were briefly exposed.

Ebersole was awarded the vacant "submission of the night" award of $70,000 for finishing quickly and getting Hallman off camera. Dana White was clear that there will be disciplinary measures for the back room staff for allowing such fight wear to be worn and those types of briefs have been officially banned from the UFC. It does not bode well for Hallman's future with the company.

The UFC career of Yoshihiro Aikiyama could be under considerable threat. The Japanese star fell to his third consecutive loss and in devastating fashion as he was flattened by the "Phenom" Vitor Belfort. The fight turned very early on, after a few exploratory exchanges that looked like that fight could be evenly matched, Belfort threw a big head kick that was blocked by Akiyama but the power behind it changed the demeanour of the fighter. Going more defensive, Akiyama threw an upkick reminiscent of the one which knocked out Belfort in his last fight but it missed by some distance. This opened up the counter consisting of two lefts which floored Akiyama. Belfort swarmed, landing several upper cuts as the Japanese fighter tried to get away which dropped him again. On the way down, more shots rained down which separated Akiyama from conciousness.

There is some controversy that these final shots were to the back of the head. Closer analysis would appear that these shots were to the temple, which is a legal shot, but more importantly it had very little difference on the fights outcome. Belfort could well get Okami next, if he loses to Silva at UFC 134 or the winner of Sonnen and Stann. Akiyama must now consider going to welterweight where fights with Chris Lytle and Nate Diaz would be very marketable.

The main event advertised as a clash between two light heavyweight champions turned into a celebration of Rashad Evans's talent. The opening saw good exchanges and even a Tito Ortiz takedown but it all went wrong for the man who took the fight on two weeks notice after that. Rashad closed off the cage and landed 3 clean shots to Ortiz's chin and with a bit more precision and a little less aggression could have put Ortiz, who was clearly rocked, away. Too many shots bounced off the shoulders of Ortiz so the Hunnington Beach Bad Boy was able to use a knee to the gut to create separation and get way from Evan's onslaught. This simply gave Evans the chance to land a huge takedown which emphasised the dominance that Rashad held as round 1 ended.

Round 2 nearly started off with a shock as Ortiz grabbed hold of a guillotine which looked close to finishing the fight even if Evans said otherwise. Had Ortiz achieved full guard it could have been a different story indeed. However this gave Evans the chance of several minutes in side control to slowly wear down Ortiz who was clearly tiring. Evans showing none of the ring rust that many people thought might be an issue after not fighting for 14 months. As the round came to an end, with the referee telling Ortiz that he would end it if he did not intelligently defend himself, the fight ended up with a scramble next to the cage with Evans controlling Ortiz in a knelled position. Evans was clearly looking for the knee to the head so Ortiz stayed on the floor only to get a knee to the solarplexs instead that downed him. The punches after were academical and the fight was over with only seconds to go until the end of the second round.

Evans was very impressive and will have his title shot against the winner of Jon Jones and "Rampage" Jackson while the future for Ortiz is far less clear. Possibly a fight with "Shogun" Rua if he gets past Forrest Griffin  and could be a PPV winner.   

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