It was a busy night for my Tivo and luckily I recorded all the shows back-to-back or I would have missed the end of the Bonnar vs Jardine match and the end of TUF 3 – Kalib vs Stine match.
Let’s start with Ultimate Fight Night. There was 8 cards for the night but only 4 of them were televised. I was slightly underwhelmed by this Fight Night. I had been looking forward to seeing Cummo, Rashad, Bonnar and Stevenson back in the Octagon but the Cummo fight wasn’t shown and the rest of the fights went all three rounds to decisions. I also didn’t like the video production quality. It just seemed too quiet during the fights and all you could hear was Rogan and the other guy rambling on. There was no sound pick-up from the fighters. I like it when you can hear the punches or the “thwack” of the kicks. I really think they should have some ringside mics either hanging above the ring or to the sides.
1st fight – Leben vs Fioravanti – These guys were pretty equal and almost twins in regards to style and hair color. Leben was sporting the red hair and Fioravanti had blue hair. It was a pretty even match-up resulting in an unanimous decision for Leben. Leben was definitely the better fighter but just couldn’t pull anything solid off to get a dominating advantage.
2nd fight – Josh Neer vs Joe Stevenson – I like Joe and predicted he would win. I am not too familiar with Neer, but after this fight.. we will definitely be seeing more Neer in the near future. Neer was essentially able to dominate Joe while standing. Neer had the reach advantage and the striking skill. When Joe took it to the ground, he wasn’t able to really catch a hold of anything too definitive. The only exception was at the start of the fight he was able to get a takedown and caught Neer in a leglock then tried switching it to an anklelock. Neer even said he heard something pop but he never tapped and Joe seemed to have lost some confidence after this attempt. It went all three round with a unanimous decision for Neer.
3rd fight – Rashad Evans vs Sam Hoger – Rashad won this with a split decision. I like Rahsad. He came in at 205 and looked to be in really good shape. I am not a big fan of Sam, but he really does have some skill. Every fight I see him in, I think the other guy should be able to dominate him, but somehow he is good at neutralizing people’s fight game and this fight was no different. Rashad still had the fast hands and the crazy bobbing and weaving but I don’t know if with the weight loss some of the power in his punches has been lost.
4th fight – Stephan Bonnar vs Keith Jardine – This fight must have been tough to score. I would have probably given it as a split decision to Keith Jardine, but Bonnar was able to pull off a unanimous decision which actually drew some “boos” from the crowd. I was rooting for Bonnar in this fight, but Jardine really took it to him and had better, more effective striking and was difficult for Bonnar to take down. Bonnar seemed a little off his game. His coach Carlson Gracie passed away not too long ago which may have affected not just his training but also his morale. I rarely, rarely ever see a decision in the UFC that I don’t agree with and this was one of the few times that I felt that the better fighter was robbed.
Hopefully, we will get to see the other fights of the night in an upcoming Ultimate Fight Night or UFC Unleashed. I would have liked to see the Cummo vs Flue, Koscheck vs Chalangov and Fitch vs Burkman fights.
Besides the Ultimate Fight Night, it was also the season premiere for The Ultimate Fighter 3. Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock are the coaches for this season. This will definitely be interesting to see how they are as coaches. Spend anytime on the MMA.tv bulletin boards and you’ll see just what I mean. Tito Ortiz aka The Huntington Beach Bad Boy is looking to be the favorite coach for this season. Tito gets in there and rolls with the guys and offers heart to heart advice such as “it is OK to cry. I cry all the time.” Which is very much in contrast to the normally cocky and brash attitude that we all have come to know and hate. The “heel” of this season is turning out to be Ken Shamrock of Lion’s Den fame. A lot of this controversy is revolving around Ken’s hands off approach to teaching, his admittance that he doesn’t know much about jiujitsu and that one of the two assistant coaches he brought with him is a “nutritionist.” Tito enlisted the help of Dean Lister and Saul Soliz a kickboxing coach.
TUF 3 is going with a new format of having everyone fight to see who qualifies for the semifinals as opposed to the “physical challenges” of the previous seasons which somehow always allowed one fighter to sail through to the finals without having a single fight.
I think it is probably too early to make any predictions, but there are a few people that stand out for me:
-Matt Hamill, a collegiate wrestling phenom who has been doing MMA for only a few months
-Kristian Rothaermel, a 33-year old Louisiana boy with a 40-3 record
-Kalib Starnes, a Canadian jiujitsu guy from Revolution Fight Team
-Solomon Hutcherson, holds a 10-2 MMA record
I think this is gearing up to be one of the most interesting seasons yet.