MMA Review: #466: UFC 175: Weidman vs. Machida

-This was built up as the biggest show of the year by far, with a double main event of a Chris Weidman and a Ronda Rousey title defense – a combo that had drawn over a million buys at UFC 168. Of course, their opponents at that show – Anderson Silva and Miesha Tate – were more high profile than the two here (Lyoto Machida and Alexis Davis) but even so, the UFC were hoping to get another big drawing card here. The third big fight on the card? Originally it was Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, then Chael Sonnen vs. Vitor Belfort, but you know, STEROIDS and all.

UFC 175: Weidman vs. Machida

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Middleweight Fight: Kevin Casey vs Bubba Bush

This was Bush’s UFC debut after a string of wins in the Legacy Fighting Championship, while Casey was returning to the Octagon after three straight wins on the smaller circuit after his unsuccessful TUF run. I didn’t know much about Bush so I was leaning towards Casey here even though I don’t rate the guy that highly.

Round One and Bush looks crazy intense coming out of his corner, almost Matt Brown-esque in fact which is saying something! Casey is just ridiculously muscled for a 185lber. Low kick opens things for Bush and then he charges in, but Casey drops him with a HARD COMBO. Beautiful counter striking from Casey. He drops down into half-guard and Bush still looks in trouble. Elbows from Casey and he begins to bounce Bush’s head off the ground. A couple more elbows and Bush goes out, and that’s that. Total squash match.

Post-fight Joe Rogan mentions that Bush was a big favourite with the bookies coming into the fight which is insane. Casey just ran through him here with no difficulty whatsoever. Of course, the result ended up being overturned when Casey got busted for roids (drostanolone!) in his drug test so yeah, can’t take much from this one. Sometimes you can’t judge guys by their looks but if you’d told me Casey was on the juice, looking at the guy I would not have been surprised! Fun little fight though roids aside!

Middleweight Fight: Luke Zachrich vs Guilherme ‘Bomba’ Vasconcelos

‘Bomba’ Vasconcelos was coming off the third season of TUF Brazil – a season I felt had a lot of UFC-level talent, particularly in the Middleweight side of the bracket – and so I was glad to see him brought back to the Octagon following his stint there. He’d lost to Ricardo Abreu in a close fight and looked like an excellent grappling prospect during the show. Zachrich meanwhile – a former TUF competitor himself, back in 2008 (!) – had last lost to Caio Magalhaes in April. I was taking Bomba here as I was pretty high on the guy coming off TUF Brazil.

Round One and they circle tentatively with Zachrich getting off on a couple of combos early. Head kick glances for Bomba. Couple of minutes in though and Zachrich is clearly outlanding the Brazilian. Beautiful right to the body from Zachrich. Good left hook answers for Vasconcelos. Couple more combos from Zachrich. No attempt thus far at getting the fight to the ground from Bomba. Couple of leg kicks connect for him though. Both men land left hooks but Zachrich lands another that clearly hurts Vasconcelos. He recovers quickly though and Zachrich can’t capitalise. Body kick from Vasconcelos. Decent exchange sees Bomba land with a right hand cleanly. Zachrich is still outlanding him though using some nice movement to avoid any big shots. Round ends there. Bit of a dull one to be fair. 10-9 Zachrich.

Round Two and Bomba comes out more aggressively, but again Zachrich lands combos on him. Left hook connects for Vasconcelos but he’s still not going for any takedowns which I don’t get at all. Head kick misses for Bomba and he slips, but pops up right away. Takedown attempt finally follows but Zachrich stuffs it. Striking exchange continues and Zachrich continues to land on the Brazilian although he hasn’t rocked him or anything in this round yet. Another takedown attempt by Bomba is stuffed. Nice left hook lands for Zachrich. His jab is looking excellent too. Left hook into a low kick from Vasconcelos but Zachrich comes back with a harder kick of his own. Few shots begin to get through for Bomba as he’s seeming to find his range a bit more now. Joe Rogan quite rightly points out the difference in movement between the two though which is allowing Zachrich to get the better of the exchanges.

Round Three and we pick up where we left off with Zachrich continuing to tee off with combinations, not really hurting Bomba but he’s clearly outlanding him. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Zachrich again and then he gets one of his own, but lets Vasconcelos up. The Brazilian answers with a body kick. Hard combination lands for Vasconcelos in an exchange and he follows with a left hook. Zachrich is slowing down a bit with his movement now and it’s allowing Bomba to connect some more. Two minutes to go and the action’s really slowed down now. Good combo from Bomba but he needs a finish and it doesn’t look like he’ll get it. Sweet combo ending in a leg kick from Zachrich. Flurry glances for Vasconcelos but it doesn’t hurt Zachrich. Good knee to the body from the Brazilian. The exchange continues until the round ends with a Bomba right hand. Better round for Vasconcelos and I’d give it to him by a hair but it’s a clear-cut 29-28 for Zachrich overall.

Judges have it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Luke Zachrich. Not the most exciting fight in the world as Zachrich unfortunately seems to be one of those technically sound fighters who can get the job done but doesn’t really have enough power to truly damage the opponent. Bomba was really disappointing in that he never went for takedowns and was pretty much outgunned standing throughout. I guess Demente was a better opponent for him in that he was willing to exchange on the ground with the guy whereas Zachrich wanted none of that. I think he might stick around for another UFC fight but a ton of work on his wrestling is going to be needed.

Bantamweight Fight: Rob Font vs George Roop

I’d never heard of Font prior to this, although he was bringing in a strong record of 10-1 with the majority of his fights being finished. Roop meanwhile is always a tricky guy to read as sometimes he looks like a world-beater – see his fights with the Korean Zombie or Brian Bowles for instance – and other times he looks flat-out awful. I’m always suspicious of him at Bantamweight in particular so couldn’t make my mind up for this one.

First round and Font blocks a front kick right away. Lot of quick movement from Font early on to avoid some combos. Grazing right hand from Font. Good right hand answers for Roop. Low kick from Roop and he shrugs off a clinch. Left high kick is blocked by Font. Font comes forward but Roop clinches and muscles him into the fence. Knees from Roop but Font separates with an elbow. Few punches glance for Roop before Font lands with a leg kick. Suddenly Font lands with a Chuck Liddell-style WILD OVERHAND RIGHT and Roop is DEAD IN HIS TRACKS before collapsing down! Few punches on the ground end Roop’s night. Jesus Christ.

That was an incredible knockout. The way Roop went down was comical too as the punch hit his temple and caused the dreaded DELAYED REACTION!~! Hell of a debut from Rob Font to turn the lights out on a veteran like that.

Middleweight Fight: Bruno Santos vs Chris Camozzi

Classic striker vs. grappler match here with Camozzi looking to establish his hard-nosed kickboxing style on Santos, the stifling Brazilian grappler. I was siding with Camozzi here because usually his takedown defense seems on point and Santos really doesn’t have that much outside of his grappling.

Round One and holy shit Santos looks like he’s swallowed all the roids in South America. Not that I’d accuse him of anything. Leg kick opens things for Camozzi as he’s clearly trying to stay at a distance away from Santos. They exchange a couple of low kicks before Camozzi begins to force the Brazilian backwards with some punches. Looks like Camozzi’s taking full advantage of his reach. Body kick from Camozzi. Good combination follows. Hard right hand from Camozzi sets up the plum clinch, but he can’t land knees and it allows Santos to force him into the fence. Takedown attempt from Santos but Camozzi defends and he breaks free. Another clinch follows but Santos still can’t force Camozzi down. Really low double leg attempt from Santos but Camozzi blocks and lands some elbows. Santos comes back with a right hand but still can’t bring the fight to the ground and that’s the round. 10-9 Camozzi.

Round Two and Santos lands a left hook in an early exchange, but Camozzi avoids the clinch. A good takedown does follow though and Santos lands on top in guard. Very little happens from there as Santos controls Camozzi but can’t really work with the ground-and-pound as Camozzi does a good job using his hips. Mario Yamasaki calls time for a moment to replace Santos’s mouthpiece and from the restart he passes into side mount. From there he controls Camozzi and tries to mount, but Camozzi blocks that and gets back to half-guard. Full guard now for Camozzi and they exchange from there with Camozzi landing some decent elbow shots. Pass to side mount again for Santos but again he seems content just to hold Camozzi down. Reversal from Camozzi and he’s up on his feet. He looks for a takedown of his own, but totally botches it and winds up on his back again. Couple of good shots get through for Santos from the top and the round ends with the Brazilian in control. 10-9 Santos.

Round Three and Camozzi tries to walk the Brazilian down to begin with. Nice low kick from Camozzi. Decent right hook lands for Santos as Camozzi comes in. More kicks from Camozzi. Double jab lands for Camozzi. Beautiful combo follows, forcing Santos on the retreat. Santos swings some wild shots that miss, but they allow him to close distance and grab Camozzi for a slam to guard. Well, wasn’t quite a slam as Camozzi grabbed the fence. He does land in guard on top at any rate. Into half-guard for Santos and he looks to pass into side mount, but Camozzi gets to his knees. Santos immediately drags him back down as Joe Rogan goes on a RANT about hating referee stand-ups, not that Mario has called one here yet. No ground-and-pound but Santos is all over Camozzi. One minute to go and Camozzi works to his feet, managing to separate, but he makes the error of trying a flying knee and Santos catches it and throws him to his back. That might wrap things up for Santos. He keeps Camozzi on his back, and that’s the fight. 10-9 Santos for a 29-28.

Judges have it 29-28 for Santos, 29-28 Camozzi, and 29-28 for a split decision for Bruno Santos. Well, fight sucked and you’ve got to say – no offense to Santos – but Camozzi seemed to throw the fight away, as he was clearly winning on the feet and made small errors that allowed Santos to take him down. On the ground Santos didn’t do much but control him, but really Camozzi seemed more content to work his guard and look for a ref stand-up, and that probably cost him the fight. C’est la vie, but after seeing that I hardly want to see either guy again any time soon.

Welterweight Fight: Kenny Robertson vs Ildemar Alcantara

Originally this would’ve seen Alcantara – the larger brother of Bantamweight contender Iuri – taking on TUF Brazil’s Santiago Ponzinibbio, but when the Argentine got hurt, Robertson stepped in on short notice to follow up an impressive March win over Thiago Perpetuo. I was taking Alcantara but it was more wishful thinking I guess as I like the Marajo brothers.

Round One begins and they circle before Robertson closes distance with a flurry and forces Alcantara into the fence. He looks for a takedown, but Alcantara shows good balance to remain on his feet. Robertson stays on him though and reverses a takedown attempt into one of his own, landing on top in half-guard. Few punches get through for Robertson and he tries to trap the right arm for good measure in order to land more. Really solid elbows land for Robertson. Alcantara works back to full guard, but he continues to eat elbows and punches. Really good ground-and-pound from Robertson here. He can’t quite pass the guard, but he’s owning Alcantara on the ground anyway. Round ends with Robertson dishing out more punishment. Clear 10-9 for Kenny Robertson.

Round Two and Alcantara opens with a left head kick that glances but doesn’t hurt Kenny. Another head kick is blocked by Robertson, but Alcantara avoids him closing the distance and lands a solid left hook. Another head kick connects but Robertson lands a knee when his takedown is stuffed. Good leg kick into a right hand from Robertson. Robertson is rushing forward with punches now and Alcantara’s catching him with counters, just not quite cleanly enough to have him stunned. Double leg attempt from Robertson but Alcantara stuffs it. Sick transition from Robertson allows him to get a single leg dump though. He rolls into a crucifix attempt but can’t get it, so he begins to land shots to the head with Alcantara giving his back. Good reversal from Ildemar allows him to stand and hit a knee to the body, but Kenny stays on him and drags him back down with a single leg. Full mount this time and Alcantara’s in trouble. He takes some shots with the elbows, and it looks like Robertson might be going for an Americana. Instead Kenny decides to open up with ground-and-pound, then skips into side mount to look for a kimura. He switches into a mounted Americana attempt but can’t quite finish it off, so he goes back to dropping nasty ground-and-pound instead. Round ends with Robertson landing vicious elbows. 10-9 Robertson.

Round Three and Robertson opens with a nice low kick. Left hook glances for Kenny as Alcantara looks pretty wary of the takedown. Elbow strike does land for the Brazilian but Robertson manages to clinch and force him into the fence. Knee lands low apparently and the ref calls time to let Alcantara recover. They restart and Alcantara looks to throw some knees to prevent the takedown as Kenny lunges forward. Combo connects well for Robertson but it looks like a big hole in his game with how wild he comes forward. Knee to the body lands for Ildemar as Robertson looks for a takedown, and as he stuffs it Robertson hits him with another knee to the groin that causes him to collapse. Surely that’s a point deduction now? Alcantara recovers and it’s only a warning for Kenny, and they restart. Good right hand lands for Robertson but he eats a knee to the body again trying to close the distance. Into the clinch and Alcantara manages to trip Robertson down to guard, surprisingly enough. Robertson immediately works a sweep though and gets on top in guard again. Ground-and-pound from Kenny but this time it slows down and the ref calls a stand-up. Odd moment follows as Alcantara shoves Robertson to the ground and drops a right hand, but the fight ends before anything else can happen. Got to be 30-27 for Kenny Robertson.

All three judges actually call it 30-26 for Kenny Robertson. Holy 10-8 round Batman! Gotta be the 2nd I’d guess as he did a lot of damage there. Good showing for Robertson but the problem is that while Alcantara was totally incapable of stopping the takedown, a better fighter would easily time those mad rushes that Kenny was making to close the distance and crack him with something nasty, which is probably why he’s nowhere near the top ten or anything actually. If he could close that gap in his game he might be able to move further up the ladder though.

Bantamweight Fight: Urijah Faber vs Bruce Leroy

Baffling choice for a prelim when you consider the first three PPV matches were Russell Doane vs. Marcus Brimage, Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Marreta and Matt Mitrione vs. Stefan Struve (which got scrapped anyway due to Struve having HEART PALPITATIONS backstage), not exactly as enticing as a Urijah Faber fight even if the opponent was Bruce Leroy (who to be fair had been on a great run and was borderline top ten coming into this…). The two trains of thought were either that Fox Sports wanted a “headliner” for the prelim portion which is understandable if frustrating (to me you put the best fights on the bit of the card you’re charging people money for) or that Zuffa were putting Faber on the prelims because his contract gives him a cut of the PPV and this was going to do a good number. I tend to believe the former. Anyway – smart money was on Faber as for however good Caceres had looked prior to this he’d never fought someone close to Urijah’s level before.

Fight begins and Caceres throws a low kick that Faber catches and gets a takedown off. Caceres reverses to his feet but Faber’s still on him, muscling him around the cage into the fence. Knee to the body from Faber but Bruce Leroy does a good job of remaining on his feet. Good right from Caceres in the clinch and he rolls away (!) from a takedown attempt. Urijah stays on him though and finally manages to force him to his back in full guard. Short elbows and heavy body punches connect for Faber as Caceres holds on tightly. Two minutes to go and Faber’s beginning to get through with some nasty shots. For the most part though Caceres is doing a good job defensively. Mini-slam lands for Faber from the guard. Just over a minute to go and Faber postures up to drop a hard right hand. Vicious one-two of elbows connects for Faber. Faber stands and has to avoid some upkicks, and they scramble to their feet on the buzzer. 10-9 Faber.

Into the 2nd and Faber tags Caceres early with an overhand right that buckles his legs. Takedown follows and he lands in the full guard. Caceres tries to set up a triangle but can’t quite manage it, and so he ends up going back to full guard. Reversal from Caceres though and he’s up to his feet. Beautiful combination tags Urijah and snaps his head back. Uppercut into a left hook. Jumping kick connects too but Faber catches the leg and trips him down. Bruce Leroy reverses to his feet, but he gives his back in the process and Urijah grabs a waistlock. Caceres turns into him though and lands a right hand and a knee to the body from the clinch. Nice takedown from Faber though and he works hard to take the back, but Caceres shakes the hooks off as he stands and ends up clinched. Left elbow breaks for Urijah. Head kick glances for Bruce Leroy. Superkick (!) follows and glances off Faber’s jaw. Wheel kick misses and Faber clinches and forces him into the fence. Caceres reverses and lands a knee, but Faber hits a huge hip throw takedown. Reversal again from Bruce Leroy though and he’s back on his feet. This is a really good fight. Right hand from Caceres but Faber clinches and looks to get him down again. Good knee from Caceres inside the clinch but he can’t shake Urijah off. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Faber, but it was very close.

Third and final round and Bruce Leroy lands a nice combo early and throws in a superman punch for good measure. He’s backing Faber up a little now. They clinch up and Caceres forces Urijah into the fence, but they break off quickly. Good low kick from Caceres but Faber catches another one and lands a trio of rights before dumping him to the ground. From there he takes the back and I guess those right hands might’ve stunned him as Faber locks up the rear naked choke with little defense to force the tapout. Great finish for Faber.

This was a really good fight that clearly should’ve been on the PPV card. I mean it was business as usual for Faber in the end, but it was also a super impressive performance from Bruce Leroy as while he did lose eventually he never looked outclassed at all and definitely had his moments. At just 26 he’s a guy who could definitely become a future contender if he continues to develop. As for Faber he remains in that odd spot as the guy who can beat pretty much anyone in the division but just falls short at the title level, and with his teammate holding the belt it’s hard to match him at the minute. Still an awesome fighter to watch though!

Bantamweight Fight: Russell Doane vs Marcus Brimage

So yeah, didn’t get this as a PPV opener at all. Brimage hadn’t even fought since April 2013 (!) and his loss to Conor McGregor, and this was his first fight at 135lbs. Doane had at least won his UFC debut with a neat submission over BJJ black belt Leandro Issa, but he was still a definite unknown to the majority of fans. I was taking Brimage just because.

Round One begins and they circle and exchange some glancing combos before Brimage lands with a heavy leg kick. Quick takedown from Doane and he lands in the guard. Brimage looks to reverse but Doane passes into side mount and then looks for a D’Arce. Brimage works to avoid but gives his back, and Doane gets one hook in and lands some hard punches. He looks to work the second hook in, and looks for the choke in the process, but Brimage manages to defend it well. Second hook in for Doane and Brimage might be in trouble. Big shots land for Doane as Brimage rolls. Doane’s ground game looks excellent here. Brimage keeps trying to turn into Doane but a left underhook from the Hawaiian prevents it. Doane loses one hook, but quickly slaps it back in. Good explosion from Brimage allows him to escape to his feet. Body kick from Doane connects as Brimage throws some punches. Left hand lands for Brimage. Head kick glances for Doane. Exchange sees Brimage get the better of it, and he almost takes Doane off his feet with a low kick to end the round. 10-9 Doane for the ground control.

Round Two and they trade strikes from the off with Brimage landing a really nice leg kick. Another one connects and almost takes Doane off his feet. Counter right drops Doane and Brimage rushes in, but the Hawaiian pops up and goes for a single leg. Brimage sprawls though and escapes to his feet. Another inside leg kick drops Doane and he’s all over the place. His leg is obviously jacked. This time Brimage lets him up and he has to switch stances. Another leg kick connects for Brimage. Another attempt is caught though and Doane tackles him to the ground and lands in half butterfly guard. Brimage gives his back again and once again Doane slaps both hooks in and takes firm control. Good job from Brimage to shake off the hooks though and he almost slips free. He can’t quite shake Doane off him though even when he stands, and the Hawaiian goes for a double leg. Good defense from Brimage and he’s free. Couple of strikes from Brimage and he catches a kick and tries to follow it, but Doane clinches to deliver some knees and then drops for the takedown again. Good initial defense from Brimage but Doane drags him down. Roll from Brimage though and he’s back on his feet. Seconds to go and Doane’s still favouring his left leg. Good knee from Doane but Brimage lands with a counter combo. Round ends with another Brimage leg kick. 10-9 Brimage to even things up.

Round Three and Doane lands the better punches in an early exchange. A head kick misses though and Brimage gets a takedown. Doane immediately goes for an oma plata so Brimage pulls out and stands. Nasty leg kick lands for Brimage, to the right leg this time. Another leg kick drops the Hawaiian for a second although he pops up immediately. Brimage’s low kicks look awesome here and he lands another one that puts Doane to his knees for a second. Head kick glances for Doane, but Brimage fires back with yet another leg kick. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Brimage but he does take a knee to the body. Guillotine attempt follows but Brimage pulls free before Doane can drop to his back. Counter left hook lands for Brimage. Just over a minute to go now and Doane throws a couple of front kicks. He looks tentative though and takes another leg kick. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Brimage. Good right hand lands for Doane in an exchange. Head kick follows but Brimage counters with a low kick that almost folds the Hawaiian again. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Brimage for a 29-28 win in my eyes.

Judges call it a split decision; 29-28 Doane, 29-28 Brimage, and 30-27 (!) for Doane. Well, that’s fucking ludicrous. Second round was sort-of close I guess but I just don’t see how Doane won it and to give him all three rounds is outright fucking insane. Complete robbery in my opinion as Brimage got through a tricky first round and basically took over using better distance control and those really nasty leg kicks. What the judges were watching I honestly don’t know! Fight was fine – perfectly acceptable MMA even if I don’t see either guy breaking into the title picture.

Middleweight Fight: Uriah Hall vs Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos

While it wasn’t the most marquee fight in terms of name value, this sounded like a hell of a striking match on paper. TUF Brazil’s Marreta had saved his UFC career in March with a sick body kick stoppage of Ronny Markes, while Hall had gotten his own career back on track by stopping Chris Leben in December. My money here was on Hall just because he was the bigger fighter with more KO power, but my feeling was that if he came in gunshy again Marreta could definitely switch his lights out.

First round and Hall looks aggressive. He throws a right hand into a spinning backfist that misses in the opening seconds. Lot of movement from Marreta. Low kick lands for Hall. Wheel kick misses for Santos. Good body kick from Hall and he follows with a straight right. Jabs from Hall but Santos fires back with a leg kick. Beautiful right hand lands flush for Uriah. Leg kick answers for Marreta. Hall looks like the faster man though and he lands with another jab. Another good low kick from Marreta but Hall counters with a right hand. Combo backs the Brazilian up and he eats another jab. Front kick to the body from Uriah. Couple more leg kicks from Santos but Hall takes him down. Marreta pops up and Hall’s limping from something. Hard right hand from Hall stiffens Marreta’s legs for a second but he recovers fast. Marreta is really working the leg kicks. Hall is really landing hard counters here. Big left hook connects for him and he’s got Santos backing up. Good right hand lands for him. Marreta looks wobbly. Left hand lands flush for Uriah. He’s taunting Marreta now too. Another snapping jab from Hall as he continues his Roy Jones Jr impression. Leg kick lands for Marreta but he takes a glancing wheel kick. Right hand ends the round for Hall. 10-9 Hall. He limps to his corner though and holy shit he’s got a SICK toe injury with the fucking bone exposed! Somehow though he convinces the quack he’s fine and they LET IT GO. Whoever said Uriah Hall doesn’t have heart?

Second round and Hall opens with a stiff jab. Leg kick lands for Marreta but Hall’s really pressuring him now. Stiff jab into a body kick from Uriah. He’s owning Santos with his jab here. Really good leg kick into a left hand lands for Marreta. Looks like Marreta’s marked up around both eyes. Hall is totally no-selling the toe break here. Couple of kicks land for him – with the dodgy foot. Stiff left hand lands for Santos but Hall counters with a right over the top. Leg kick is caught by Hall and he meets Santos with a right that drops him, but the Brazilian swiftly pops up. Sick head movement from Hall allows him to avoid punches like he’s Roy Jones again. Snapping jab connects for Uriah. Marreta glances with a head kick but Hall shakes it off. Another combo lands for Hall. Santos is really having a difficult time dealing with his speed. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Uriah. Combo from Hall. Santos glances on a jumping kick. Counter right lands hard for Hall as Santos throws a low kick. Marreta looks really pissed off with this. Rolling kick misses for Hall on the buzzer. 10-9 Hall again I think. Again his corner have to convince the quack that he’s alright between rounds, ha. How gullible is this doctor?

Third round and Hall again snaps Marreta’s head back with a jab. Marreta’s chasing forward wildly now but he still can’t catch Uriah cleanly. Front kick into a jab from Hall. Body kick glances for Santos. Beautiful counter one-two lands flush for Hall. He’s landing cleanly now as Santos tries to fire at him. Incredible speed from Uriah Hall. Capoeira kick misses for Marreta. Stats actually show Marreta’s landed almost as many strikes, but they just haven’t had the impact of Hall’s. Hard overhand right connects for Uriah. Hall is clearly limping now but he’s still the aggressor and he connects on a right hook. He’s chaining his low kick into the jab beautifully. Spinning back kick to the body from Hall and Santos is hurt. Body kick into a right hand follows. To be fair to Marreta the dude can clearly take a shot. Jumping kick glances for Marreta, but evidently low as Yves Lavigne has to call time. Replay shows it was right into the balls, urgh. Hall of course seems more bothered about the toe. They restart with a minute to go and Santos catches a kick and goes for a takedown, getting a rear waistlock, but he can’t get Uriah down. Good knees to the legs from Marreta though. Hall twists his way into a rolling kimura, but he can’t quite get it and he winds up on his back in guard. Bit of ground-and-pound ends the round for Marreta. I’ve got this 30-27 Hall but I could see a 29-28 too. Either way Hall surely wins.

Judges call it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Uriah Hall. Crowd give the guy a monster pop as I guess they realized how much heart it took for him to continue with an injury like that. Post-fight Hall cuts a promo clearly in a ton of pain, but he says that he was brought up to not give up and to get up when you’re down. Awesome stuff. Total money promo from Uriah and it feels like he’s got his TUF momentum back now for the most part even if this fight wasn’t the best ever. Got to give him a ton of credit for fighting through a horrible injury though. Hopefully he can continue on this route and live up to the hype he had coming off TUF!

UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title: Ronda Rousey vs Alexis Davis

Davis had earned her shot at the title here with impressive wins over Rosi Sexton, Liz Carmouche and Jessica Eye, and she did seem pretty well-rounded and a generally excellent fighter, but if we’re honest there wasn’t much hype coming into this one, mainly because there was no rivalry coming in like Ronda’s with Miesha Tate, she didn’t have an interesting backstory like Carmouche or Sara McMann, and mainly because while a solid contender she felt like a “challenger of the month” type deal while Ronda waited for either a match with the real #1 contender (Cat Zingano) or something from left field like Cris Cyborg or Gina Carano. Smart pick was clearly Ronda via armbar.

Fight begins and Ronda comes out FIRING. Davis lands with a jab but Ronda NAILS her with a right hook, follows with a HUGE HIP THROW and then knocks her SENSELESS with a flurry of punches on the ground. Jesus H Christ. Whole fight went like fifteen seconds.

Unbelievable showing from Ronda Rousey. Perhaps the most impressive title defense of 2014 in fact. Fight reminded me a lot of Tito Ortiz vs. Evan Tanner from UFC 30 with the quick finish – a big shot on the feet setting up a big takedown into shots on the ground that knocked the challenger into next year. To be honest Davis looked a bit overawed coming in, but then you expect that when someone’s fighting a champion like Rousey – to be blown away in fifteen seconds however was INSANE. If you’re not a fan of Ronda at this point you’re a fool, sorry. Post-fight Joe Rogan even asks her if she’ll save the upcoming UFC 176 card (it had just emerged that Jose Aldo was out of his title defense with Chad Mendes and the show had lost its main event) but unfortunately she’d broken her hand in this fight otherwise shit, I bet she’d have taken the fight in a heartbeat. Total squash match but wow, one of the most memorable title defences in recent memory for sure.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Chris Weidman vs Lyoto Machida

Initially pegged for UFC 173, this one had been put together when Vitor Belfort’s TRT issues raised their head and removed him from the originally planned fight with Weidman. Machida – coming off impressive wins at 185lbs over Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi – stepped in and to be fair there weren’t exactly many complaints given the last guy to really beat him (the Phil Davis decision was largely bogus) had been Jon Jones back in 2011. Still, I was firmly behind Weidman here – I think he’s a guy that could hold the belt for as long as Anderson Silva did, with his brand of incredible wrestling, boxing and submission skills. I wasn’t sure exactly how he’d beat Machida but was pretty sure he would do it somehow.

Ring (cage?) introductions are pretty awesome here as they dim the lights and everything, making it feel like a genuinely huge fight. Can’t remember off the top of my head the last time they did that. Crowd seem firmly behind Weidman which is interesting as you could definitely hear a large Brazilian contingent in the arena during some of the earlier matches.

Round One and Weidman opens by throwing kicks. He’s also putting a lot of pressure on Machida by pushing forward and giving him very little room to move without actually charging forward ala Ryan Bader. Really interesting gameplan. Body kick from Machida is caught and Weidman goes for the takedown, but Lyoto does a good job of stuffing it. They clinch for a moment before Machida breaks off. Weidman continues to pressure him though and lands an inside leg kick and a hard body kick. Beautiful superman punch into a long left hand from the champ. He’s really forcing Machida onto his back foot here. Couple more kicks glance for Weidman. Counter left hand connects for Machida as he eats another low kick. Big body kick lands for Weidman. Never seen Lyoto forced backwards like this before. Kick is caught by Weidman but he can’t get the takedown. Seconds to go on the block and Weidman continues to force Machida back towards the cage. Body kick from Machida and he dodges a right hand. Weidman continues to walk him down as the buzzer goes. Interesting round; 10-9 Weidman.

Round Two and Machida opens with an inside leg kick, but right away Weidman pressures him again with some kicks of his own and a long left hand. Weidman’s reach is really understated actually. Short left hand lands for Weidman and he’s really backing Lyoto up. Good low kick lands for the champ too. Counter right hand comes over the top and lands for Weidman. Lyoto comes back by dodging a combo and landing a kick to the body. He can’t get his back from the cage at the minute though. They exchange kicks and Lyoto takes the center of the cage for a moment, but it doesn’t last long and Weidman pressures him back again. Jumping front kick glances for the champ. The challenger can’t get a rhythm together at all here. Big left hook lands for Machida to slow Weidman down slightly. Takedown from Weidman and he gets Lyoto down this time by the fence, landing on top in butterfly guard. Loud USA chant as Weidman keeps Lyoto under control and lands some solid punches. Lyoto scrambles and gives his back, and as the round ends Weidman grabs a front headlock to deliver some knees as the challenger stands. 10-9 Weidman. Perfect gameplanning thus far.

Round Three and Weidman looks supremely confident. Looping left hook glances for Machida early though. Head kick is blocked by Weidman. Takedown is stuffed by Machida this time. Weidman continues to pressure him back though and lands with a left hook. Weidman’s control of range is fantastic as he avoids another head kick with ease. Takedown attempt is blocked by Lyoto again. Another one set up with a flurry works though and Machida’s planted on his back in guard. Weidman works to pass and gets into half-guard, where he lands a hard left hand. Lyoto turns and almost gives his back, but Weidman can’t get the hooks in and Lyoto stands. Weidman holds onto him though and lands a big knee before they break. Big combo lands for Weidman ending in a left hook and Lyoto looks a bit stunned. He backpedals but Weidman stays on him and lands a hard right hand. Front headlock from Weidman but Lyoto slips out. Looks like Lyoto’s badly cut on the forehead. Another right-left combo has Lyoto really backing up now. Knee to the body answers but Weidman takes him down from it. Shots get through from Weidman and further open the cut, and when Lyoto stands the champ delivers a BIG GERMAN SUPLEX to take him back down. The challenger turtles up now and takes some more shots. Big punches land before Lyoto works to his feet. Seconds to go in the round and Lyoto has a high kick blocked. Clear 10-9 for Weidman and Machida’s in trouble.

Round Four and again Weidman comes out pressuring the challenger back with kicks. Nice body kick lands for Machida but Weidman forces him back some more. Good knee to the body from Weidman but he can’t get to the clinch. Right hand glances for Weidman but Lyoto comes back with a body kick and a quick combination. Takedown attempt from Weidman and he gets Lyoto down for a second, but the Brazilian reverses up to his feet. Good escape from Machida. Body kick follows. Weidman’s taking some deep breaths now. Left hook glances for the champ but a heavy left hook lands for Lyoto to slow him down. Another left hand lands for Lyoto in a brief exchange and Weidman is beginning to back up a bit. Big combo from Machida and Weidman looks stunned for a second! He manages to circle out but Lyoto’s really attacking now for pretty much the first time in the fight. Nasty body kick lands for the challenger. Another one follows and Weidman is clearly hurt now. Left hand connects for Machida. Weidman tries to fire back but now it’s him with his back to the fence. Left hand again for Lyoto. Single leg attempt is stuffed by Lyoto nicely and it’s quite clear to see Weidman moving slower now. Massive crowd chant for Machida from the Brazilian contingent. Another body kick lands for the challenger. Takedown attempt is again stuffed by Lyoto. Trio of left hands have Weidman really backing up, but a cartwheel kick misses. Lyoto’s dancing around now and he connects with a heavy left on the buzzer. Massive round for Machida. 39-37 going into the final round though so Lyoto still needs a finish.

Round Five and the crowd are LOUD. Hard inside leg kick opens things for Machida and he follows with a kick to the body. Weidman tries to back him up again but he eats a quick combo from the challenger who is now controlling the center of the cage. Head kick misses for Weidman and a right hand glances for Lyoto. Nice left hook from Machida. Weidman looks like he’s getting a second wind now though and he begins to back Lyoto up again. Good takedown defense from Lyoto though and he lands with a combo to set up the clinch. They separate and Weidman connects with a trio of knees and a big right hook. Machida’s backing up now. Exchange sees both men land. Big body kick from Machida but Weidman takes it and keeps pushing forward with punches. Machida visually looks far worse. Head kick into a left from Weidman and Lyoto looks stunned but he bulls forward with punches. This is a pretty crazy round! Hard leg kick from Weidman. Knee follows and a SHARP ELBOW wobbles Machida’s legs! Big combination follows as the champ looks to finish him off, but Lyoto’s still standing. Combination answers for Machida and this is about as wild a fight for his standards I can ever remember with regard to the exchanges. Big takedown from Weidman and he lands in half-guard! Beautiful guard pass from Weidman and he takes the back with both hooks! He flattens Machida out and begins to land punches, but a scramble allows the Brazilian to shake the hooks off. He stands but Weidman’s still on him like glue. Beautiful spin allows Lyoto to break free and there’s seconds remaining. Big combo from Machida and he follows with a flurry against the cage! Weidman manages to hang on though as the crowd go INSANE and that’s the round. 10-10 round for me so I’d go 49-47 for Chris Weidman overall if the math is right! Awesome fight in the end.

Judges have it 49-45, 48-47 and 49-46, unanimous decision for Chris Weidman. This was a truly awesome performance from him as not only was it the first time he’d gone the full five rounds, but he also weathered a heavy storm from Machida who came out in the fourth and fifth rounds with an aggressiveness we hadn’t really seen from him before. A few people knocked on Weidman’s cardio after this but I disagree – the gameplan was clearly to pressure Machida back towards the cage to prevent his control of distance – which is how he wins most of his fights – and obviously that takes a hell of a gas tank to keep up for five rounds. Throw in the fact that the majority of Lyoto’s attacks went to the body – which also saps your gas tank – and it’s no wonder Weidman slowed down in the later rounds. Even when he did though he was still able to catch Lyoto with as many strikes as I’ve seen anyone really do before *and* he hit takedowns and did damage on the ground too. With all of his skills as well as an apparently GSP-like penchant for smart gameplanning I think we’re looking at a guy who could dominate this division for some time. Bring on Weidman/Belfort, dude, because I think Vitor gets annihilated. I’ve seen some people call this the Fight of the Year and while I disagree with that – I think Silva vs. Brown, Hendricks vs. Lawler and probably Aldo vs. Mendes were slightly better – this was a tremendous main event, especially with the story it told with Lyoto throwing caution to the wind in the later rounds and really going for it.

-Announcers recap the two title fights and the show wraps up there.

Final Thoughts….

Despite that questionable main card this was still one of the most memorable shows of 2014. Double main event absolutely delivered in spades with Ronda squashing Davis in one of the most jaw-dropping performances of all time, and then a real war between Weidman and Machida that cemented Weidman as *the* top guy in the Middleweight division at this point. Prelims were all fine except for Zachrich/Bomba and Santos/Camozzi which were slower, but the finishes in the Font, Faber and Casey fights were all excellent. Throw in a pretty entertaining Uriah Hall fight and you’ve got an easy thumbs up from me for this one.

Best Fight: Weidman vs. Machida
Worst Fight: Santos vs. Camozzi

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: