To say that I was a little excited about this event, is to say that Princess Leia could have been a little more thankful to Han Solo. Before sleeping inside the steaming carcass of a camel or sending a Sith Lord careening helplessly into space, the dude flew a hot-rod Lincoln into a fucking Death Star and laid waste to more trained soldiers than John Matrix, only to discover that the Princess that he was saving was a bitchy, ungrateful, know-it-all who keeps telling him how to run his own ship. Rather than show a little thanks, she just gets all bent because he would rather drop her off at the closest port and get paid than join her and her friends in some Anti Big Government activism. Oh yeah, and he did it all with little more than a handgun while listening to her and her brother piss and moan.
Ridiculous movie analogy out of the way, this card delivered big (and yeah, I suppose Leia eventually came around too).
Phil Baroni vs. Brad Tavares: Baroni caught Tavares early and failed to capitalize on it. Tavares rallied back and got the KO with a series of strikes in the last minute of the first round. Referee Josh Rosenthal did an excellent job defending the single-leg as Baroni started getting up. This puts Baroni at 0-2 since getting signed into the UFC again, which means the “New York Bad Ass” is looking for work elsewhere now.
My record for the night: 1-0
Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier: I actually didn’t give a pick on this one. Grispi was originally set to fight Jose Aldo for the Featherweight Title on this card, so most assumed Poirier to be the underdog in this fight. Grispi was first pulled from a fight against Erik Koch in order to fight Aldo however, so this one was a coin toss for me. Poirier upset Grispi, winning a dominating 3 round decision.
Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens: I picked Stephens here, and for 2 ½ rounds, Marcus Davis kicked his ass with superior boxing. Going into the 3rd round, Stephens knew the judges gave Davis both of the first rounds, so he needed a finish, and at 2:33 of round 3, Stevens clobbered Davis with a single right hand, squarely on the jaw, that sent “The Irish Hand Grenade” falling unconscious to the mat. He followed it up with a shot reminiscent of Henderson vs. Bisping just to make sure. Like Hendo, this also won Stephens Knockout of the Night.
Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi: Is there anybody that’s more fun to watch than Guida? This went down exactly how I thought it would. Guida confused Gomi with what could be best described as African Tribal Moshing. He seems to keep a rhythm in all of the chaos though, which makes me wonder what song is playing in his head while he’s out there. Gomi landed a few glancing shots, but he just couldn’t make sense of Guida’s movement. Guida took Gomi down and submitted him with a guillotine with 30 seconds left in the 2nd round, winning him Submission of the Night. Guida keeps looking better and better since teaming up with Greg Jackson, and I can’t wait to see who’s next for “The Carpenter”
Still sitting pretty at 3-0
Nate Diaz vs. Kim Dong-Hyun: As expected,Diaz had a tough time keeping Kim on his feet, and Kim fought off submission attempt after submission attempt once he got Diaz to the mat. Kim controlled Diaz with superior grappling for the first 2 rounds, which was enough to win him the decision. Back in Pride, all of Diaz’s submission attempts may have actually won him these two rounds. I had a real problem with this fight however. Early in the 3rd round, Diaz landed a knee that dropped Kim. Kim had a single finger touching the mat when the knee landed, so the ref gave Kim a few minutes to recover, calling it an illegal knee to a downed opponent. Rules are rules, but calling this a “downed” opponent is bullshit, and Diaz should have won this fight. Keeping a knee down to prevent your opponent from kicking/kneeing you in the face is one thing, but this was ridiculous. Of course, if I had picked Kim in this fight, you bet your ass I would be complimenting Yves Lavine for what a fine job he did noticing the illegal knee.
Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva: Silva totally dominated Vera for 3 rounds. Much of this fight was spent on the mat though, which did surprise me. I called Silva winning it, but not in such dominant fashion. Brandon Vera did walk away as the winner of the Best Broken Nose Ever award though. Silva put on an excellent display of douch-baggery while having Vera’s back in the 3rd round. After landing some open handed strikes to the sides of the head of Vera, he sat up and started slapping his back like a bongo drum. I’m not sure what this means now for Vera though, as this was his 3rd straight loss. If he gets cut from the UFC, somebody should put together a rematch with Vera and Keith Jardine.
Photo Credit: SBNation
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann: I was least confident with this pick. Stann’s last fight wasn’t just an un-televised preliminary fight, it was an un-televised prelim on a free fight card on Versus. He went from that fight, to a co-main event in a PPV. To me, this was for one of two reasons:
1. Leben did the UFC a HUGE favor stepping in to replace an injured Wanderlei Silva and fighting twice in two weeks. Not only that, but it ended up being one of the most exciting back and forth battles of the year. Maybe the UFC gives him a guy who also likes to stand and throw punches, but isn’t quite the same caliber of fighter, confident that Leben will win, setting him up to coach the next season of TUF against Wanderlei, assuming Chael Sonnen cannot actually coach.
2. Joe Silva clearly saw something in Brian Stann’s last fight that showed him that Stann was ready to fight a vet like Leben, and made it happen when Stann asked for it.
Clearly the latter was the case, which should be no surprise. It’s a win for the UFC either way though. If it turned out that Stann wasn’t ready for a guy like Leben, then they have Leben as a TUF coach who would be great for ratings. If Stann did pull off the win, it makes for a great story, and he’s a great poster boy for one of their biggest sponsors, the US Marine Corps, not to mention that our guys in the military are a big audience for the UFC. Maybe we’ll even see Wanderlei vs Stann as TUF coaches. After seeing this fight, I might even pick Stann in that fight.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard: Edgar retains his belt via a draw. Maynard had Edgar rocked bad in the first round, dropping him multiple times. Edgar proved he has the heart of a champ though, and came back to win the 2nd round decisively. The 3rd round was very close, and was the only round in the fight that Maynard actually got a takedown on Edgar. I still gave the round to Edgar, but only 1 judge agreed with me. The fourth round easily went to Edgar again, and the fifth, although not as close as the 3rd, was still a very close round, and 2 judges gave it to Edgar. 48-46, 47-47, 46-48. The champ retains his belt. Both fighters got their win bonuses, and also Fight of the Night. Edgar, Maynard, and Yours Truly were all disappointed by the judges calling it a draw, but nobody is more disappointed than Anthony Pettis, who will now have to wait for his title shot, as these guys are going to get an immediate rematch. I’m going to go ahead and call it now though, Edgar will win the next one decisively. I’m curious to see if he’s actually started getting a little respect though, and perhaps isn’t the underdog going into the rematch. Nah, who am I kidding, if Frankie Edgar was fighting my little sister they would still put him down as an underdog. She kicks like a mule, but c’mon, what does this guy need to do to gain a little respect?
All in all, I was 5-2 with my picks. How did you do?