MMA Review: #421: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

-This was probably the most anticipated main event of 2013 to this point, as while Weidman hadn’t fought since July 2012 – almost a year prior to this event in fact – it was widely recognized that he had the style to give Anderson his toughest fight in some time. A lot of casual fans wouldn’t have recognized Weidman from Adam, but that didn’t really matter – every Anderson Silva fight at this point feels like a big deal – they get like that when you’re one of the best fighters to ever live I suppose!

UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

07/06/13
Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Pierce vs David Mitchell

Despite reeling off his third UFC win on the bounce over Seth Baczynski, Pierce was again placed on the prelim card here – most likely because unfortunately his fighting style is insanely dull. Seriously, I can barely remember a good fight from the guy. Mitchell meanwhile had picked up his first UFC win in three tries in January, but I just couldn’t see him being able to follow that up against Pierce, who for all his boring-ness is a very effective fighter.

Round One and right away Pierce swings on him and forces him into the fence in the clinch. He drops for a takedown but Mitchell defends it decently and looks to break off. Good elbow inside for Pierce but this hasn’t exactly been an exciting couple of minutes. Good job from Mitchell to break off and he catches Pierce with an uppercut, but Pierce walks right through it and forces him into the fence again. Mitchell breaks again and lands a nice combination, but for some reason he initiates the clinch which is surprising. He’s landing some short punches inside though to be fair to him. Another combination connects for Mitchell. Good knees connect inside for Pierce as they continue to muscle for position. Pierce hasn’t come close to taking Mitchell down though. One minute to go and ha, Joe Rogan is pimping DAVID THE SOUL ASSASSIN TERRELL!~! on commentary. They break and Pierce lands a big right hand. Back into the clinch and the round ends shortly after. I’d call that 10-9 Mitchell, surprisingly enough.

Round Two and Pierce bulls into the clinch right away with a pair of hooks. Both men exchange punches from close range but Mitchell can’t break the clinch. Pierce decides to break and wings some wild punches before clinching again, but still he can’t get Mitchell off his feet. Mitchell breaks off and pushes forward, winging the left hook before clinching. They exchange knees to the body and some body punches too before Pierce forces Mitchell backwards and LEVELS HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK. Holy shit that was a hard shot. Mitchell goes down and that’s that.

Dull fight until the finish but the knockout was pretty awesome; replay shows it was a really short punch but had ludicrous power and Mitchell looked out as he hit the deck. Still can’t stand Pierce’s clinching style though sorry.

Welterweight Fight: Brian Melancon vs Seth Baczynski

Melancon was making the move over from StrikeForce, where he’d gone 1-1, while Baczynski was looking to come back from the afore-mentioned loss to Mike Pierce that had snapped his excellent six-fight winning streak. With Melancon looking wildly undersized for 170lbs and Seth being a HUGE guy for the weight class I was firmly behind Baczynski in this one.

Fight begins and Melancon opens with a leg kick. Big left hook follows and glances, but forces Baczynski to back up a little. Another good leg kick lands. Front kick to the leg from Seth. Another one is countered by the left hook. Baczynski circles around and throws some jabs, but he eats another left hook that wobbles his legs a little. Clinch attempt from Melancon but Seth avoids it. Melancon is really throwing some hard shots. Glancing combo from Baczynski but he gets DROPPED by a counter left hand! Seth gets to full guard but he takes some huge shots and he’s in trouble. He manages to fight back with some upkicks though and they force Melancon to drop into the guard before standing back up. Crowd are going wild now. Seth seems somewhat recovered and begins to push forward with some combos, and then he shoots on a double leg. Melancon works to block it and manages to shrug the TUF veteran off. Single leg from Melancon and he easily drags Baczynski down to the ground. Seth gets up but eats some heavy punches along the way and Melancon drags him right back down into half-guard. Seconds to go and Melancon stands over him and Seth looks BEATEN UP. BIG PUNCHES land right on the buzzer but when referee Yves Lavigne steps in he sees that Baczynski’s out cold and stops the fight there.

Wildly impressive UFC debut for Brian Melancon as Baczynski isn’t an easy out by any means and yet he was absolutely blown away here and couldn’t get a thing going due to Melancon’s punching power and ability to get inside and catch him with shots despite a reach disadvantage. Really fun fight too.

Lightweight Fight: Edson Barboza vs Rafaello Oliveira

This would initially have seen Barboza taking on John Makdessi in one of those battles of strikers that Joe Silva seems to love to book, but the Canadian got injured and so Oliveira stepped in to replace him on short notice. Personally I wasn’t all that fussed as I’m not a Makdessi fan anyway, and with Oliveira’s weaker stand-up and long layoff (pretty much exactly a year) I figured this would be a fun showcase for Barboza.

Round One and right away Barboza lands a thudding leg kick as Oliveira pushes forward. Oliveira seems to be looking to rush Barboza with punches probably to set up the takedown, but Barboza circles on the outside and lands another couple of leg kicks. BRUTAL body kick follows too. The torque the guy gets on his kicks is ridiculous. Left to the body causes Oliveira to shoot, but Barboza stuffs it and buckles the leg with another kick. Oliveira looks to be in deep trouble already. He shoots wildly on a single leg but comes nowhere near. Leg kick lands again for Barboza. Better takedown attempt from Oliveira but it’s still stuffed and he eats a spinning back kick to the body. Low kick lands for Oliveira but Barboza makes him pay with a nasty one of his own. Barboza is just picking him apart. Clinch from Oliveira is shrugged off in scary fashion and then Barboza cracks him with another leg kick. Really harsh leg kick wobbles Oliveira badly and he seems to be all over the place. He’s blatantly limping and Barboza lands with a couple more in vicious fashion. Barboza’s leg kicks are incredible. Wheel kick glances for him and sends both guys down to end the round. Clear 10-9 for Barboza if not 10-8 in fact.

Round Two and Barboza opens with a body kick and then catches a low kick and drops Oliveira with a right. He struggles to get up and Herb Dean has to wave him to his feet. Brutal leg kick from Barboza but Oliveira catches it and takes him down. Barboza instantly scrambles to his feet though. Oliveira pushes forward with some punches, but another leg kick buckles him in nasty fashion. Another puts him down. He pops up but he’s limping horribly. Another one puts him back down and Herb has to get him up. One more buckles his knee in and another sends him crashing down and Herb waves it off there. Vicious stuff.

Finish was insanely nasty there. Oliveira tried but he was overmatched on the feet and couldn’t get Barboza down and ended up paying the ultimate price. Which idiot said that leg kicks didn’t win fights? They ought to watch this one as Oliveira probably didn’t walk for a couple of days afterwards. Best performance of Barboza’s UFC career for my money.

Heavyweight Fight: Gabriel Gonzaga vs Dave Herman

Another fight that saw a late change, Herman’s original opponent was Shane Del Rosario, but when the StrikeForce veteran pulled out we actually got an upgrade in the form of Napao, who had most recently fought in April in a controversial loss to Travis Browne. Herman was pretty much desperate for a win here coming off three straight losses, but I couldn’t pick him in good conscience over a guy as talented as Gonzaga and took the Brazilian to win via early submission.

First round begins and Herman opens with a pair of front kicks. A third follows but Gonzaga counters over the top with a HUGE RIGHT HOOK that knocks Herman silly! He goes crashing down and Napao finishes him right off with some punches. WOW.

Replay confirms the whole fight lasted all of seventeen seconds which is INSANE. Really impressive win for Gabriel Gonzaga who seems to have recaptured his scary form from 2006-2007 recently. As for Herman, he’s got to be one of the biggest missed opportunities in MMA in recent memory I’d say; all of the athletic talent but just none of the fight IQ, unfortunately. Total highlight reel stuff here.

Lightweight Fight: Norman Parke vs Kazuki Tokudome

This was TUF winner Parke’s first fight following the reality show win, and initially he was pegged to fight Jon Tuck. The Guam-based fighter got injured though and so Tokudome – coming off a win over Cristiano Marcello – stepped in to take the fight. I was favouring Parke due to the late notice for Tokudome more than anything really.

Round One and Parke opens up with some kicks and then cracks Tokudome with an overhand left that stops him in his tracks. They trade strikes pretty evenly before Parke cracks him again with the overhand left. Parke’s left hand is looking really sharp thus far. Good leg kick from the Irishman too. Parke is clearly the sharper striker here. Clinch from Tokudome but Parke forces him back into the fence. Parke drops for a takedown and gets it, but Tokudome pops right back up. Parke gets his back with a rear waistlock though and looks to drag him back down. Nice trip from Parke but Tokudome hits a reversal and gets on top in Parke’s guard. Elbows from the back land for Parke as Tokudome works from the top with some short punches of his own. Parke’s doing a great job of preventing damage though. Parke almost gets a BJ Penn-esque reversal to take the back from inside the guard, but Tokudome manages to avoid that. Seconds to go in the round and Parke hits a sweet reversal, taking top position in half-guard. Looks like he almost has full mount and sure enough he slips into side mount with little difficulty. Tokudome looks to reverse out but the round ends there. 10-9 Parke; fun round.

Round Two and Parke pushes forward and nails the Japanese fighter with the overhand left hook again. They trade a few more strikes with both men landing combinations. Big overhand left misses for Tokudome and Park clocks him with a counter and has him wobbled. Follow-up wobbles him some more and Parke stuffs the takedown attempt. Tokudome evidently has a good chin though as he swings right back and remains on his feet. Head kick glances for Parke and wobbles Tokudome, but again he eats a combo right up and fires back. This guy is as tough as nails. Left hand again connects hard for Parke. Big swing misses for Tokudome and he gives up an easy single leg to half-guard. Tokudome tries to scoot back towards the fence, but Parke manages to keep him down nicely. Good job from Tokudome to get back to his feet but Parke stays on him, pinning him into the cage. Short elbow breaks off for Parke but Tokudome comes back with a flying knee! Parke responds by tackling him to the ground and this time he slides into full mount. Beautiful reversal from Tokudome but Parke sprawls out and grabs a front facelock. They pop back up to their feet and Parke stuffs a takedown and lands with a big knee, which leads into a short exchange. Seconds to go and Parke lands the overhand left again to close the round. 10-9 Parke.

Round Three and they exchange punches from the off with both men landing. Single leg from Parke but Tokudome defends. Parke forces him back into the fence, but it’s Tokudome who almost gets the takedown. Parke sprawls out and grabs a front facelock though and he appears to be setting up an anaconda choke. Instead they come back up to their feet in the clinch. Good elbows inside from Tokudome but Parke switches and gets a takedown. Tokudome reverses on the way down though and manages to take top position in half-guard. Nice. Parke pops back up though and we’re back to standing. They exchange some kicks and Parke begins to pop Tokudome with some jabs, but Tokudome answers with a hard head kick and a takedown to guard. Parke immediately reverses back to his feet though and they clinch. Tokudome breaks with elbows and begins to push forward, and Parke’s looking tired but he’s still landing. Tokudome continues to push forward but Parke grabs a single leg and drives him into the fence. Trip takedown attempt from Parke and he gets it, but Tokudome pops up only to be taken down on the buzzer. Close round but I’d go Parke again so 30-27 in my eyes.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Norman Parke. Pretty clear-cut decision in the end as Parke always seemed one step ahead, but Tokudome was tough enough to keep it a competitive fight and it was fun throughout really if not spectacular at any point. Parke seems like a decent prospect at 155lbs but I don’t see him rising up to the level of title contender. Not everyone can though of course and I mean, being a mid-level guy in the UFC is pretty damn good these days anyway.

Middleweight Fight: Andrew Craig vs Chris Leben

I was surprised to see this on the prelim card in a way as it’s Leben, but then he stunk up the joint so badly with his last fight against Derek Brunson that I guess it was understandable. Anyway I was intrigued, but mainly because of the presence of Craig, who converted me into a fan for life after his wild comeback knockout of Rafael Natal in 2012. With question marks around how much Leben had left in the tank I was leaning towards the up-and-comer Craig to pull this one out somehow.

First round and Leben pushes forward, wading through some punches to get to the clinch, where he looks for a single leg. Craig defends it but finds himself taking some left hands against the fence. Plum clinch from Craig but he still has to defend the takedown and lets go. They exchange from the clinch and Leben busts out the old Marco Ruas foot stomps. Good knee breaks for Craig. Left hand from Leben sets up the clinch again but he takes a lot of punches trying to get a single leg. Craig goes down, but works right back up nicely. They break off and Leben stalks forward, but he eats a combo. Leben fires back with a big left that sets up the clinch, but he also takes a knee to the body. They exchange from close range with both men landing, but Craig can’t seem to get Leben off him. They finally break and Craig lands with a hard leg kick. Good combination from Craig and Leben seems stunned a little, lumbering forward into a clinch that Craig swiftly breaks. Big left hook misses for Leben but allows him to clinch again. Good takedown defense from Craig and he gets the plum clinch and breaks with a knee. Combination from Craig but Leben swings his way back into the clinch. They break with about twenty seconds to go and Craig shoots for a takedown, but Leben stuffs it well. Craig muscles him into the fence and that’s the round. Tight round as Leben was the aggressor, but Craig landed the better shots so 10-9 Craig.

Second round and Leben pushes forward swinging, but Craig does a good job of avoiding the big strikes. Clinch from Leben and he forces Craig into the fence, but he can’t get Craig down and he takes some punches inside. Good knee breaks off for Craig and he pops Leben with some punches from the outside. Leben clinches again and forces him into the fence, but he still can’t take Craig down. Knee breaks again for Craig. Good combination follows. He continues to counter nicely as Leben pushes forward and Leben’s face is looking marked up now. Good uppercut connects for Craig. Clinch from Leben again and he works the body with punches, but Craig fires back with some shots of his own. They break off with two minutes to go and Leben continues to push forward, but Craig seems to have his timing down nicely and he’s able to continue to counter. Into the clinch again, this time initiated by Craig, but Leben quickly switches position and pushes him into the fence. One minute left and they break, and Craig continues to catch Leben with counters en route to another clinch. Good body punches from Leben but Craig cracks him with a knee to break. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Craig in a similar round to the first.

Third and final round and again Leben comes stalking out but walks right into counters. Big left hands from Leben back Craig up, but he steps out and NAILS Leben with a combo that sends him DOWN! Leben looks DONE and appears to go out as Craig pounces and lands some hard shots, but referee Yves Lavigne decides surprisingly to let it go. Instead Leben manages to regain guard, but he continues to take shots. Scramble from Leben puts him back on his feet in the clinch, but Craig stays right on him. Big chant for Leben as they break off, but his face is a MESS now. Beautiful uppercut from Craig catches Leben coming forward. Back into the clinch and it looks like Leben’s in survival mode now. Three minutes to go and they break off but Craig doesn’t appear to be slowed down at all and he does a good job of circling to avoid Leben’s stalking. A shove puts Leben down and Craig follows down with a HARD right hand into the guard. Leben rolls for a kimura but can’t get it, but he does manage to reverse to his feet. Left hook connects for Craig on the counter. Leg kick from Leben but he walks into another counter right. He goes for the takedown, but Craig blocks it and they break off. Nice takedown from Craig into the guard. He looks to pass but Leben does a good job of keeping him in the guard. Half-guard now for Craig but in attempting to pass he moves Leben to the fence and the TUF original stands. Seconds to go and Leben pushes forward, but another double leg plants him again and he keeps top position to end the fight. 10-8 for Craig for the near finish so I have it 30-26 for him.

Official scorecards call it a split decision (!), 29-28 Craig, 29-28 Leben and 30-27 Craig, thank god. Seriously now I have NO IDEA how anyone could score that for Leben given all he did in the fight was bull forward, eat counters and clinch a few times. I mean yeah aggression is important but only if it’s effective and it wasn’t there. Craig fought really well, using his range and counterpunching well, and it looked to me like Leben was actually out in the third round and his reputation as a tough guy more than anything probably caused the lack of stoppage. Big win for Craig but I think Leben is probably done now as he really hasn’t looked good since like 2010, and like most of the TUF 1 contestants it might be time for him to call it a day. We shall see, though. Decent fight for the most part but all the clinching got a little dull at times.

Featherweight Fight: Cub Swanson vs Dennis Siver

Both of these men had been on solid runs at 145lbs, with Siver beating Diego Nunes and Nam Phan since dropping to the weight while Swanson had reeled off four impressive wins in a row since the beginning of 2012. Despite Siver looking to have a size advantage I was leaning towards picking Swanson as for some reason I just can’t buy Dennis as a legit title contender whereas Swanson I certainly can.

Round One and Siver circles on the outside as they throw out some kicks early on. Siver looks HUGE compared to Cub, for the record. Cub’s American flag trunks look like something out of the WWF in the 80’s. Very quick striking exchange sees Swanson land and dodge the counter combo from the German. Wheel kick misses for Swanson and Siver gets him on the ground in half-guard. Swanson looks to scramble but Siver shows some good base to retain top control. Siver works to pass and slips into side mount, but Cub still looks pretty calm. Nice scramble from Swanson allows him to avoid a mounted crucifix, but he can’t get guard. Couple of short elbows land for Siver. Full mount for Siver but Swanson quickly hip escapes to half-guard. One minute to go and this is looking like Siver’s round unless Swanson can get up. Excellent job from Siver to remain in control. Swanson sits up into a guillotine attempt though and that forces Siver to stand to escape. Seconds to go and Siver connects on a body kick. Good leg kick buckles Siver’s leg to end the round. 10-9 Siver.

Round Two and Cub stays out of range to begin before landing with a left hook. Good body kick lands for Siver. Spinning back kick glances. Good uppercut into a body kick from Swanson. Left hook to the body from Cub. Siver seems to be the more active striker thus far but they’re landing quite equally. Single leg attempt from Siver but Swanson stuffs it. Cartwheel kick misses for Swanson and he eats an uppercut. Clipping right hand lands for Cub. Joe Rogan begins to talk about Siver gassing due to the weight cut but he seems fine to me and lands with a solid combo. Counter answers for Cub. Nice combination from Swanson. Hard body kick from Cub. He’s beginning to make Siver miss on his shots now too. Heavy uppercut lands for Cub and Siver tries a takedown, but Swanson reverses with a SICK HIP THROW and lands in mount! Crowd pop HUGELY for that one as Swanson hooks his legs around to control the German. Siver tries to explode out but can’t do it and then Cub lands some punches and rolls into an oma plata, but loses it to end the round. Cub took that round in the last minute. 10-9 Swanson.

Round Three and Siver looks for a single leg, but Cub stuffs it only to take a left on the break. Head kick connects nicely for Cub. Striking exchange continues and Cub lands a left hand and follows with a right. Body kick follows. Swanson’s found his range big time. Faked uppercut into a left kick from Swanson. Spinning kick misses for Siver. Cub is dancing around now. Good counter right hook lands for him. Big combo stuns Siver. Right hand wobbles him and now Cub OPENS UP with clean punches that send Siver down! He looks just about done, but Cub has to land TONS OF PUNCHES cleanly on the ground before the ref steps in. Rare late stoppage from Herb Dean there but a sick finish for Cub.

Fight was a lot of fun as both men went for it and put on a strong showing, but in the end the difference was the speed and accuracy of Swanson’s strikes as once he found his range towards the end of the second round he was all over Siver until the finish. Siver just couldn’t deal with the speed difference basically. Swanson is definitely a title contender now and I could see him in a title fight in 2014 for sure at this point.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Munoz vs Tim Boetsch

This looked like a pivotal match for both men; Boetsch had looked to make a run into the title picture with his wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard in 2012, but then lost to Costa Philippou and saw all his hype evaporated, while Munoz had been on the shelf since his July 2012 loss to Chris Weidman. The word coming in was that Munoz had suffered from weight gain since the Weidman loss but had since gotten into the best shape of his life, and that was enough for me to pick him to win as historically, Boetsch has always struggled against better wrestlers anyway.

Fight begins and Boetsch pushes forward with a front kick and gets a takedown, but Munoz instantly reverses and lands some punches to the body on the way up. They remain clinched and Boetsch gets him down again and lands some more punches, but Munoz scrambles to his feet again. This time Boetsch keeps a rear waistlock and lands some knees to the hamstrings. Munoz turns into him and breaks. Wild swings from Boetsch set up another clinch, but Munoz hits a nice takedown this time and drags him away from the fence, getting a low mount in the process. Boetsch works to his feet but eats a right hand. Another takedown follows but they roll all the way through to their feet. Munoz keeps going for a double leg and dumps Boetsch back down. Guillotine attempt from Boetsch but Munoz is in side mount to prevent that. Boetsch gets guard and rolls through, using it to take top position. Munoz reverses out though and pops back to his feet where he separates with a combo. Big combo from Munoz and he forces Boetsch into the fence. Good right hand from the clinch for Munoz. They exchange some knees and then Munoz breaks with a HARD combo. Seconds to go and Munoz catches a kick and goes for a single leg. Boetsch blocks and that’s the round. Close one to call but I’d go with Munoz for landing the better strikes.

Into the 2nd and Boetsch stalks forward and lands a big body kick. Superman punch from Munoz pegs him back though and he follows into a clinch. Short punches and knees connect inside for Munoz before Boetsch manages to break off. Boetsch keeps coming forward and lands a combo ending in a body kick, but Munoz clinches and trips him down into half-guard. He looks for the full mount and gets it for a second but Boetsch scrambles out. He gives his back in the process though and Munoz controls him. BRUTAL body punches land for Munoz with absolutely ridiculous power. Boetsch manages to scramble to his feet to avoid any more. Takedown from Munoz though and he lands in half-guard and begins to land heavy blows to the body and head again. Boetsch goes for his own takedown but winds up turtled under Munoz taking more shots. He manages to get to his feet and goes for a takedown of his own, but again ends up turtled taking big body shots. This is some vicious ground-and-pound. Boetsch’s body is badly marked up. Seconds to go and Munoz continues to land, and he ends the round with some solid punches to the head and knees to the body. Big round for Munoz.

Third and final round and Munoz opens with a right hook into an uppercut. Superman punch lands for Munoz and he hits a takedown. Boetsch goes for a guillotine but Munoz escapes and gets him down fully. Choke attempt from Boetsch again but Munoz scrambles free. Takedown attempt from Munoz and he gets it, but again Boetsch goes for a choke. Reversal from Munoz but Boetsch seems to be going for an armbar. Munoz slips free though and takes the back, landing some clubbing punches to the side of the head. Boetsch looks in trouble as he eats tons of shots, and Munoz manages to flatten him out to land at one point. Brutal ground-and-pound from Munoz and Boetsch isn’t offering much but trying to roll to avoid now. Kimura attempt from Munoz but he can’t quite lock it up from the half-guard. He gives it up and lands more punches instead, then looks for the rear naked choke. Boetsch manages to defend, but he’s still under Munoz taking big shots. Boetsch decides to desperately go for a leglock, but Munoz escapes and PUNISHES him with more shots to end the round. I’d call that a 10-8 and a 30-26 for Mark Munoz.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 30-26 for Mark Munoz. Great performance from him as after a close, gruelling first round he completely took over using his wrestling and ground-and-pound and totally punished Boetsch, doing everything but finishing basically. Boetsch was unable to deal with the wrestling in the end and once Munoz had him down he couldn’t avoid the punches as they came to everywhere – the head, body and legs. Tremendous showing for Munoz to return from his long layoff.

Middleweight Fight: Tim Kennedy vs Roger Gracie

A battle of two StrikeForce alumni here, the general consensus seemed to be that Kennedy was well-rounded enough to be able to avoid the ridiculously good grappling of Roger and pick up a decision or TKO stoppage, but of course being a bit of a Gracie mark (even after all those shitty fights in early PRIDE!) I was taking Gracie to win by submission somehow.

Round One begins and Kennedy opens by kicking at the lead leg of the taller Gracie. Takedown attempt from Gracie and he gets it, and almost takes the back right away. Kennedy manages to get to his feet, but Roger forces him to the ground on his knees by using double underhooks from behind. Great job from Kennedy to scramble to his feet and he surprisingly stays in the clinch and forces Gracie into the fence. They break off and Roger misses with a lunging right hand and takes a glancing left counter. Couple of decent leg kicks land for Kennedy. Good knees from Gracie as he grabs a plum clinch, but Kennedy forces him back into the fence. Takedown attempt from Roger and he dumps Kennedy to the ground, taking the back again with both hooks this time. Crowd pop big for that as they figure Kennedy is in trouble. Body triangle from Gracie and he looks to work for the choke, but Kennedy defends it well. Seconds to go and Kennedy actually spins over into Roger’s guard, where the round ends. 10-9 Gracie, but Kennedy did well to survive a bad position with such a great grappler.

Round Two and again Kennedy begins with some strong leg kicks. Right hand over the top from Kennedy and he forces Roger into the clinch to prevent the plum. Trip takedown from Kennedy, surprisingly enough, and he begins to land some big punches as Gracie gives his back for a second! Looks like Roger’s rolling for a leglock, but he can’t get it and Kennedy stands free. Good upkick lands for Roger but Kennedy takes the back and continues to drop some hard punches right to the head. Gracie almost hits a reversal, but Kennedy gets back to his feet and stays right on him. Few knees to the body from Kennedy as Gracie looks a bit flustered now. Action does slow down in the clinch however. Mild “USA” chant as they muscle for position along the fence. Takedown from Kennedy and he lands in Roger’s half-guard. Gracie manages to work full guard back and so Kennedy decides to stall, I guess, until referee Kim Winslow calls a stand-up. Seconds to go in the round and Kennedy swings some wild shots that miss, then clinches again. Good knee to the body from Kennedy. Round ends with more shots from the clinch for Kennedy. 10-9 Kennedy and the tide appears to have turned.

Round Three and this time both men throw out some kicks early on. Nice leg kick connects for Kennedy. Gracie has clearly slowed down now and he’s looking very plodding. Left hook glances for Kennedy. Couple more leg kicks follow. Clinch from Gracie but Kennedy switches to take his back standing where he lands some knees to the legs. Gracie spins his way free but he got the worse end of that exchange. Takedown attempt from Roger but Kennedy blocks it nicely and lands some hammer fists. Trip puts Kennedy down but he pops right back up. Gracie manages to keep clinched, but he can’t really do much with Kennedy at all. Good punches land inside for Tim but the ref calls a break. Just over a minute to go now and Gracie’s face is marked up. Good left hand from Kennedy and Roger just looks exhausted. Back into the clinch and Kennedy continues to land some short, hard shots until the fight comes to an end. I’ve got this 29-28 for Tim Kennedy.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Tim Kennedy. Well, that was a clear-cut one. Once it became obvious that Gracie probably wasn’t going to submit him, Kennedy’s confidence just went through the roof and he basically beat Roger in all areas, including on the ground, surprisingly enough. Fight wasn’t the greatest of all time and definitely had its slow points but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered when I saw it live which is a bonus!

Featherweight Fight: Frankie Edgar vs Charles Oliveira

I’ll be honest and say I have no idea how this fight got made – sure, Edgar was on a three-fight skid, but the losses had all been close and had come to Benson Henderson and Jose Aldo, so it’s hardly any shame. Oliveira on the other hand had been out of action for almost a year and hadn’t won since a June 2012 victory over Jonathan Brookins! I mean he’s talented, but I expected Edgar to be faced with someone more highly ranked. With that in mind I saw this as Frankie’s fight to lose.

Round One and Oliveira opens with a body kick and just avoids Frankie catching the leg. Edgar starts throwing out combos and catches Oliveira with a right, and surprisingly the Brazilian drops to guard. Edgar gets into half-guard but Oliveira rolls for a leglock. Good escape from Frankie and they come back to their feet where Oliveira cracks him with a knee to the body. Edgar continues to push forward and clips him with another right before getting a takedown to guard. Looked like Oliveira might’ve pulled guard in fact. Body triangle from the bottom for Do Bronx and he goes for an armbar, but Edgar slips free and stands. Hard right-left from Frankie but Oliveira answers with a knee. Good leg kick from Edgar. Jumping kick misses for Oliveira. Side kick glances off Frankie’s chest. Edgar lands with a left hook. Couple of jabs follow. Good combo from Oliveira and it backs Frankie up a bit. Takedown from Edgar but he lets Oliveira back up. This is a ridiculous pace so far. Good combo from Frankie ending in a left hook. Uppercut connects too but Oliveira hits a throw. Edgar reverses and gets on top though, then kicks the legs before Oliveira gets back up. Combo again from Edgar but Oliveira blocks the big right. Uppercut lands for Oliveira. Combo follows and backs Frankie up. Right hand from Oliveira but Frankie takes him down into guard with seconds to go. Elbows from the bottom from Oliveira and that’s the round. Tight round but I’d call it 10-9 Frankie Edgar.

Round Two and Frankie opens with a left hook right away. Good combination follows but Oliveira comes back with a hard kick to the body. Combo from Frankie and he shoots but Oliveira blocks it and glances with a knee. HARD leg kick from Oliveira almost takes Edgar off his feet. Another one is countered by a right though and Oliveira goes down. Frankie refuses to enter his guard and kicks at the legs, and so Oliveira pops back up. Couple of jabs connect for Oliveira but Frankie hits a nice takedown to guard. Some solid punches get through for Edgar as Oliveira stays active from his back with his hips and landing some elbows too. Hammer fists land for Frankie. Oliveira works to his feet but takes some punches from Edgar on his way out. Two minutes to go and Oliveira glances on a jumping roundhouse kick. Good left hook lands for Frankie. He adds one to the body too but eats an elbow from the Brazilian. Front kick to the body from Oliveira. Nice combo follows but Edgar catches a kick and cracks him with a right hand. Looks like Oliveira has a bloody nose. Good combo from Edgar and he dodges a flying knee. Oliveira backs him up with some strikes, but Edgar fires right back and they go into a bit of a firefight before Frankie clinches. Big slam from Edgar but Oliveira locks up a guillotine. Edgar seems fine though and the round ends before Oliveira can really squeeze on it. 10-9 Edgar but this is a really close fight, surprisingly enough.

Round Three and they exchange some combos right away, wasting no time. Couple of jabs land for Oliveira but Frankie tags him with some punches and he looks a little rattled. To his credit the Brazilian fires right back though. Left hand and a leg grab put Oliveira down but Edgar refuses to go into the guard, kicking the legs instead. Nice step-in elbow lands or Oliveira. Good combo from Oliveira and Frankie looks wobbled for a second but seems to recover quickly. A knee and a right hand have him on the run again though. Great start to the round from Oliveira. Takedown from Frankie but Oliveira pops right back up. Left hook lands for Edgar but Oliveira forces him back with a flurry. Spinning kick misses for the Brazilian, but he manages to trip Edgar down for a second before clipping him with a right. Big right hook from Edgar has Oliveira’s legs badly wobbled, and he follows with a left hook and a big right hand. Somehow Oliveira stays standing and he manages to shrug off a clinch, but he’s on rubber legs. Flying knee glances for Edgar! Takedown attempt from Oliveira but Edgar stuffs it and takes top position, landing some hammer fists. Oliveira manages to slow him down a little but Edgar continues to work from the guard with punches and elbows. Round ends there. I have this 30-27 Edgar.

Official scorecards are 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Frankie Edgar. Really good fight though and it wasn’t like Oliveira got outclassed at all, as he had a lot of offense against Frankie and never wilted under the pressure for a second. It’s a pity he’s shown a weaker chin in the past actually as the skills he’s got should make him a legit contender but then he has losses like the Cub Swanson one that don’t look good. Edgar for his part fought the usual Frankie Edgar fight, but I enjoyed this much more than his recent title fights as there was no moment where I was trying to work out who won which round and stuff like that to settle arguments about scorecards. I know, that’s not Frankie’s fault as such, but still! Really fun fight.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman

When they announced this one, I was hyped beyond belief, mainly because Weidman was the prototypical strong wrestler with submission skills that I’d been pimping would be able to beat Silva for years – practically since he started looking unstoppable in around 2007. But even ignoring that, this one seemed more intriguing than Silva’s last few title defences just because it seemed like the majority of pro fighters also saw Weidman as the real deal and guys like GSP and Rashad Evans were picking him to win, too. Not that it wasn’t a risky pick – Weidman had been on the shelf for basically a year injured after his win over Mark Munoz; he hadn’t faced anyone close to the level of Silva, and of course, Silva had looked like an unbeatable virtuoso since 2006! But still, I was going with the upset and taking Weidman. Biggest main event of 2013 to this point? Most likely yeah.

Crowd seem firmly behind Silva during the introductions with Weidman getting a very mixed reaction, presumably due to the massive Brazilian contingent in attendance. Big pop for Silva.

And here we go! Weidman immediately pushes forward, pressuring Silva who dances around on the outside. Takedown attempt from Weidman and he gets Silva down and starts landing punches right away as Silva tries to spin around to catch a leg. Good shots land for Weidman before Silva ties him up in the guard. Weidman immediately passes into half-guard and continues to punch away, but Silva blocks the majority of the shots. Big USA chant starts as Weidman does land a few cleaner blows. He looks to pass, but Silva hip escapes back to full guard. Weidman stands over him and takes an upkick to the knee, then drops some big punches from above that land pretty flush. Leglock attempt from Weidman in a massively risky move, but he can’t lock up a heel hook correctly and Silva manages to spin and works his way free, escaping to his feet in the process. Both men have their hands down now with Anderson especially hanging his by his waist. Silva decides to wave Weidman on and allows him to land a heavy one-two with his back against the fence ala the Stephan Bonnar fight. Man, crazy stuff. Brief clinch is swiftly broken and Silva is really taunting the challenger now, holding his hands on his hips. Big head kick misses for Silva but he lands with a pair of leg kicks. Jabs from Weidman but Anderson leans back to avoid. Crowd are DEAFENING now. Hard leg kick from Silva. He continues to taunt Weidman as the challenger throws some strikes. Weidman doesn’t seem to be biting though and actually taunts him back a little! Round ends and Anderson kisses Weidman on the cheek, really trying to get into Weidman’s head. 10-9 Weidman, though, for the early ground work.

Into the 2nd and Weidman looks unafraid to strike with Silva, to his credit. Glancing right hand lands for him but Silva puts on fake rubber legs and then lands a leg kick. Silva is in full on taunting mode now, jogging around Weidman with his hands by his knees. Side kick from Silva glances off Weidman’s body. More taunts follow but Weidman continues to push forward. Takedown attempt is stuffed by the champion who then asks Weidman if that’s all he’s got. Lord. Leg kick lands again for Anderson. Head kicks miss for both men. Left hook lands for Weidman and Silva fakes like he’s been wobbled, then leans out of the way of a combo…but doesn’t lean back far enough and WEIDMAN LEVELS HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK! SILVA GOES DOWN AND WEIDMAN FINISHES HIM OFF!~! NEW CHAMPION!~! Cue MAYHEM from the crowd who are about as loud as I can ever remember hearing a Vegas crowd.

Absolute fucking madness. Replay shows Silva leaned out of the way of a right hook, but Weidman threw a weak backfist that forced Anderson to lean right into the path of the follow-up left hook; evidently Silva totally underestimated the reach and punching power of Weidman and paid the ultimate price for it.

Post-fight Weidman says that he felt this was his destiny and he’d done it a million times in his head, but even then it still feels surreal. Really humble, down-to-earth guy. Silva then gives a ton of respect to Weidman and thanks the UFC before saying he doesn’t want a rematch, and he seems to potentially hint at retirement, but obviously that hasn’t happened!

Well, what can you say? I picked Weidman to win, but I picked him by submission and never thought in a million years that he’d actually knock Anderson out. With that said, I don’t believe that this was a case of Anderson doing his usual dominant spiel but fucking up – I think it was more a case of Weidman wasn’t drawn into his games at all and that threw him off, and of course if you watch carefully, Silva always fights like that and it was Weidman’s ability to throw the backfist in and then actually be able to reach Anderson with the follow-up shot that enabled him to catch the knockout blow. For me Weidman didn’t look rattled, even when Silva was trying to clown him, and the fact that he was able to take Silva down and do some damage in the first round is enough for me to pick him to retain in the upcoming rematch. But who knows really? In terms of memorable moments for 2013, though, I doubt anything comes close to this when the year ends. This was a once-in-a-lifetime type thing that you have to see to believe really. Incredible main event.

-Show ends on the highlight reel with Joe and Goldie still in shock.

Final Thoughts….

Like UFC 157 for some reason I didn’t remember this as a great show but I was wildly off. We got four of the six prelims ending in highlight reel fashion, with the other two being decently entertaining fights, and on the main card, three of the first four bouts delivered hugely – particularly Edgar/Oliveira – while Kennedy/Gracie wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. Top it all off with an epic main event with quite possibly the most shocking ending to a UFC fight in history (if not, at least in recent memory) and this is one of the best shows of 2013. Thumbs way up and if you haven’t seen the Weidman/Silva ending you need to see it NOW. Not that any self-respecting MMA fan would’ve missed it anyway of course!

Best Fight: Edgar vs. Oliveira
Worst Fight: Kennedy vs. Gracie

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com