Mark Twain’s statement “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes” may apply to the UFC welterweight division’s title picture. Carlos Condit ‘jumped the line’ with an adrenaline-inducing beatdown of Thiago Alves that was as beautiful as it was violent, and when the UFC announced that he’d get the next title shot over guys with better recent fight resumes like Johny Hendricks and Tyrone Woodley there was more excitement from fans than cries of injustice. Eighth ranked Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson’s first round annihilation of former champion Johny Hendricks was even more impressive, considering that the Bigg Rigg had never been knocked down, much less finished, and is ranked second while Alves was on the fringe of the top ten. A matchup between the dynamic Thompson, with his ‘new-aged’ movement and a veritable encyclopedia of striking techniques versus the brutally efficient champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, who submits ‘Fight of the Year’ candidates every time he enters the octagon seemingly, is probably too mouth-watering to pass up. Let’s hope the UFC matchmaking brass feel the same.
Hendricks had an obvious path to victory last night, and that was to grind out Thompson and take away his space. Johny was only able to log one takedown attempt, which Thompson thwarted using the cage and a wide base. Once Thompson separated from Rigg the striking clinic was on. The blueprint of the fight was very similar to Rousey/Holm, with the grappler failing to cut off the escape angles of the polished striker while eating damage trying to close distance. Johny never seemed to have a clue which technique was coming due to Thompson’s deceptive timing and wide range of very effective tools. The finish came when a spinning back kick to Johny’s midsection propelled him off the cage and into a flurry of Thompson’s fists. John McCarthy stopped Thompson’s assault on a crumbled Hendricks who was just dropped for the first time in his career. The win earned Thompson a Performance of the Night bonus.
The co-main event between Roy Nelson and Jared Rosholt was a much less exciting affair. Rosholt has a tendency to grind out wins using his wrestling, and Nelson employed a gameplan to keep Jared’s hands off him at all costs. Unfortunately for those watching this also limited Nelson’s striking, as he chose to make staying on his feet the top priority. His most effective strike was probably a leg kick in round 2 which wobbled Rosholt and a hard jab in 3 which stung his nose. Nelson earned the unanimous decision ending a 3 fight losing skid.
LHW Ovince Saint Preux fought well through adversity versus Raphael Cavalcante. He seemed to break his foot in round 1 with a kick to Raphael’s hip. He had a lot of trouble moving in that round, yet continued to threaten, particularly with his straight left which was his best weapon of the fight. Calvalcante spent most of the fight evading on the perimeter of the cage. OSP ended the fight on top, raining down hammer fists when the horn sounded, earning a unanimous decision victory.
In the first of two flyweight fights twelfth-ranked chain grappling specialist Ray Borg took on the well-rounded karate practitioner Justin Scoggins. Borg wanted this fight on the ground and landed an early takedown, but Scoggins immediately returned to his feet. Scoggins then put on a striking clinic, confusing Borg with his timing and variety. Borg was bloodied heading into the corner at rounds end. In round 2 he quickly pulled guard but failed to threaten off his back. Scoggins was able to pass guard and return to his feet, where he continued piecing up Borg. He proved the better wrestler this round as well, and did a lot of effective work in transitions. In round 3 Scoggins showed no aversion to being in Borg’s comfort zone and he did a lot of good work in Borg’s guard and half-guard. The favored Borg had no answer to Scoggin’s game and lost the decision. It was Scoggins’ best performance to date. His style is effective and entertaining. At only 23 years of age the sky’s the limit.
The second flyweight contest saw perennial top contender Joseph Benavidez take on Zach Makovsky. “Fun Size” never got a read on “JoeJitsu”, and lost a mostly stand-up chess match. Zach was able to get a couple takedowns but never got anything substantial going on the ground or in the clinch. Joe’s superior pace and striking led to a unanimous decision victory.
The ‘Fight of the Night’ was awarded to Sean Spencer and Mike Pyle. The two fought mainly on their feet, Spencer showcasing his boxing and Pyle more of a muay thai approach. Spencer got the better of the exchanges in round one, but the 40 year old veteran Pyle started utilizing more kicks, disrupting Spencer’s game. The end came in round 3 when a spinning Pyle elbow rocked Spencer. Pyle ‘piled’ on with an array of devastating clinch knees and elbows forcing the stoppage.
Derrick Lewis welcomed Damian Grabowski to the UFC heavyweight division with some devastating standing-strikes to the newcomer while he laid in guard resulting in an early round 1 KO.
Ten to one favorite Misha Cirkunov improved his UFC record to 2-0 with a neck crank submission win over Alex Nicholson. The technique appeared to have re-broken Nicholson’s jaw.
After being controlled on the ground by Noad Lahat for almost the entirety of round 1, featherweight Diego Rivas landed a beautiful leaping knee in the beginning of round 2 on Noad’s jaw immediately knocking him unconscious. The finish earned Rivas a Performance of the Night bonus.
Mikey Gall took advantage of his opportunity at a chance to be CM Punk’s first opponent with a victory last night. He landed a quick 1-1-2, dropping Mike Jackson. Gall then pounced on Jackson’s back and cinched the rear-naked choke, forcing Jackson to tap at :45 seconds into round 1. The submission is tied for the fourth quickest in welterweight history.
The colorful and heavy fisted Artem Lobov lost a unanimous decision to Alex White. Last season’s TUF finalist was never a threat to White, who was able to time Artem at will with his power hand and evade Lobov’s strikes easily. The win ended a 2 fight skid for White, and puts Lobov at 0-2, potentially making his next fight do-or-die if he hopes to remain in the promotion.
Josh Burkman won a unanimous decision over KJ Noons, ending a 2 fight skid. The loss is Noons’ second straight.