Greetings folks, thanks for reading the first ever FightMatrix.com event review!
The broadcast starts off with Mike Goldberg and his partner – as always – Joe Rogan going over the scheduled card. This smoothly segues into a seemingly endless World of Warcraft commercial that sets the tone for the whole night: During every commercial break, we are reminded by Mr. T or William Shatner about the joys of WoW. Why is Blizzard investing so much into advertising a three-year old game? Are they resting on their laurels? What happened to Diablo 3, anyway? Oh yeah sorry, I am supposed to be reviewing the UFC here. On to the first televised fight:
Ben Saunders vs. Dan Barrera
TUF back-story: Saunders defeated Barrera by decision during the show, in a rather bizzare fight that left some questions unanswered.
The second time around, Barrera wants none of Ben’s striking and is determined to get the fight to the ground by any means, even if that involves being warned multiple times by the ref for holding Saunders’ shorts. Saunders defends well, sprawling and scoring with strikes. Barrera eventually gets the take down but is unable to do anything with it; Saunders threatens with submissions from the bottom but can’t finish. Rinse and repeat for three rounds, and Saunders once again walks away with a unanimous decision.
The aftermath: Neither fighter impressed much in this fight. Barrera shows some potential but has a long way to go in developing his skill set. Don’t expect him back in the UFC any time soon. Saunders should be back and it will be interesting to see him face someone whose preferred strategy is more than just lay-and-pray.
Fight grade: 2.5/5
Troy Mandaloniz vs. Richie Hightower
TUF back-story: Former teammates on Team Serra, both guys like to bang which should make for an exciting matchup.
They do not disappoint – most of the fight remains on the feet, with Hightower scoring knees and elbows from clinch, while Troy controls most of the longer range exchanges. Mandaloniz snaps Hightower’s head around with a hook, Richie fights back but eventually walks into a jab and falls. Mandaloniz finishes the hurt Hightower with strikes on the ground for a TKO in the final minute of the first round.
The aftermath: Both guys need serious work on the ground to be able to hang in the ultra-competitive UFC 170 division. However they both have a fan-friendly style, and so will likely be given some opportunities to prove themselves.
Fight grade: 4/5
Billy Miles vs. George Sotiropoulos
TUF back-story: None to speak of.
Miles rushes George with punches and shoots for a takedown. George sprawls and ends up on Miles’ back. Miles freezes, George works the rear naked choke and forces a tap.
The aftermath:Miles has been a dud thus far; expect to see him in the minor leagues with Barrera. Sotiropoulos is a smallish welterweight – I won’t be surprised to see him drop down to 155 in the future.
Fight grade: 2/5
John Koppenhaver vs. Jared Rollins
TUF back-story: Koppenhaver shat in Rollins’ toilet, dog! Seriously, he did.
In what turns out to be an unexpectedly great fight, Rollins goes for a takedown right off the bat. Koppenhaver escapes and returns the favor with a takedown of his own. Koppenhaver hangs out in Jared’s guard and scores with elbows. Jared responds with some of the most vicious elbows I’ve ever seen anyone throw from their back. Both fighters are a bloody mess at the end of Round 1.
Round 2 is more of the same, with Rollins on his back and trading elbows. Half way through the round the fight is stood up; Rollins scores another takedown and punishes Koppenhaver, passing guard and getting his back but unable to secure a choke. Koppenhaver looks very tired and barely survives what could be potentially a 10-8 round for Rollins.
In Round 3, Koppenhaver comes out with renewed energy and ends up in Jared’s guard again. After the fight is stood up, Rollins rocks John with heavy punches and knees. Rollins gets on top and looks to finish, Koppenhaver might be done here but suddenly sweeps into mount and knocks Rollins out with punches.
The aftermath:An amazing performance by both guys will likely be rewarded by Zuffa – look for them to be back in future events.
Fight grade: 5/5
Matt Arroyo vs. John Kolosci
TUF back-story: When Arroyo backed out of the semi-finals with a rib injury, Kolosci was the only Team Serra fighter eager to take his place and face the feared Mac Danzig.
After an initial scramble, Kolosci ends up in Arroyo’s guard. Matt works an armlock right away but gets powerbombed for his efforts. Seemingly unaffected by the slam, Arroyo looks for another armbar. Kolosci rolls out of it and is back in Arroyo’s guard. Arroyo keeps working the armbar, and eventually forces the tap in the first round.
The aftermath:Kolosci, realistically, does not belong in the stacked UFC WW division. However his willingness to step up may earn him another chance. Arroyo’s jiu-jitsu seems impeccable; looking forward to see him demonstrate other aspects of his fight game.
Fight grade: 3/5
Mac Danzig vs. Tommy Speer
TUF back-story: The only two Team Hughes fighters to make it past the first round, Speer and Danzig took it all the way to face off in the finale. On paper, Mac has a huge edge in experience and skill. However, Danzig weighed in at just 168.5 for this fight and announced that he will be dropping down to 155 win or lose. Hopefully Tommy’s strength and size advantage along with an a seeming unwillingness to quit can make it a competitive bout.
This is not meant to be as it’s all Danzig. After some back-and-forth in clinch, Mac lands a takedown and puts on a grappling clinic. He quickly gains mount and rains down punches. Speer rolls over; Danzig secures a rear naked choke and to the viewers’ surprise Tommy taps without putting up much of a struggle.
The aftermath:Danzig is your new Ultimate Fighter, and joins Diego Sanchez and Rashad Evans in the list of TUF winners who dropped to a lower weight class immediately following their win in the finale. Speer goes back to the farm, and needs to work on his submission defense before making a comeback.
Fight grade: 2.5/5
Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida
In the main event of the night, Guida and Huerta face off to try to introduce some order into the nearly unrankable 155 division. Kenny Florian joins Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg in the announcers’ booth, though he stays mostly quiet through the fight unless Rogan or Goldberg ask him a question. Florian is rumored to face the winner of this bout.
Guida secures a takedown almost immediately. Huerta scrambles and works some stand up, only to get taken down again. Huerta threatens a kneebar but can’t finish. Guida is warned for a knee to the head while Roger’s knee was on the mat. Guida controls most of the round with takedowns but does not do much damage. Huerta wins some standup exchanges but likely loses the round on the judges’ scorecards.
In Round 2, Huerta still has no answers for Clay’s takedown and looks increasingly frustrated as he find himself on his back against the fence time and again. Towards the end of the round Guida scores a knockdown and finishes with strong ground and pound for a very dominant round.
Down 2 rounds, Huerta can’t let this fight go to a decision if he is to have any chance of winning. He knows what needs to be done and comes out swinging for the fences, firing on all cylinders like a bat out of… hell, I can’t think of a worthy metaphor for the intensity of a pissed off Huerta in Round 3. Guida catches a couple of knees to the face; he desperately searches for a takedown but Roger defends with his patented spin-sprawl. In a scramble, Huerta takes back and forces a tap with an RNC on a spent, rocked Guida.
The aftermath: Huerta clearly proved himself to be a real deal and a top contender. He is likely to face Florian next for an upcoming title shot. Guida as well proves to be a worthy main eventer; most of his UFC fights to date have been instant classics. I’d like to see him face Frank Edgar next.
Fight grade: 5/5
Throughout the event, Mike Goldberg threatens a major announcement from the man himself, Dana White. The announcement turns out rather underwhelming – Forrest Griffin is now the #1 contender at 205, and will serve as a coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter against a yet-to-be-announced opponent (also known as the champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.) The broadcast ends with Goldberg and Rogan slapping each other’s foreheads in the anticipation of the upcoming UFC 79.
While the final matchup of the Ultimate Fighter tournament was a bit disappointing, the main event was amazing. Koppenhaver and Rollins made up for the otherwise lopsided undercard. Showing 7 of 9 fights was a nice touch considering this was a Spike event with all the commercials. Even the commercials themselves were not as annoying as usual (Coq Roq anyone?), though the constant Warcraft plugs got tiresome after a while. Overall, an excellent event. The UFC Spike cards have been outshining the pay-per-view events as of late.