You know a UFC card is dull when John McCarthy, Herb Dean, Steve Mazzagatti, and Mario Yamasaki all have better things to do. No knock on the reffing abilities of Dan Miragliotta and Kevin Mulhall — or the lovely state of New Jersey — but nearly everything about UFC 78 was substandard, and every fighter proved that they weren’t quite ready for the big show. Let’s get through it…
Frankie Edgar vs. Spencer Fisher
Frankie Edgar kicked off the night with a win for his home state, but the match was so boring that the crowd didn’t seem to care much by the end. The phrase “lay and pray” was invented for Edgar; he dominated Spencer Fisher with takedowns, but couldn’t figure out how to finish the fight. From the announcer’s booth, Joe Rogan implored Edgar to pass Fisher’s guard, but it didn’t happen. And like Ryo Chonan and Houston Alexander in the fights to come, Fisher had no idea what to do on his back. After 15 minutes, Edgar won by unanimous decision, and the crowd responded with a collective “meh.”
Ed Herman vs. Joe Doerksen
Ed Herman scored the first knockout of his career — and picked up a $55,000 Knockout of the Night bonus — for his handling of Joe Doerksen, but the fight was very close to going the other way. Up until the last minute of the second round, the match was marked by Herman’s ground and pound, with Herman’s punches opening up a nasty gash on Doerksen’s eyelid. Then, Herman botched a takedown attempt, and Doerksen took his back. Herman reversed the position, only to have Doerksen come dangerously close to a leg submission, and then trap him in a combined triangle choke/armbar that would have surely ended the fight if Herman wasn’t saved by the bell. Thirty-nine seconds into the third round, Herman put Doerksen’s lights out with a left hook. Unfortunately, this would prove to be the most satisfying fight of the night.
Karo Parisyan vs. Ryo Chonan
For all of Joe Rogan/Bill Goldberg’s attempts to pump this match up by reminding audiences that Chonan had once beaten Anderson Silva, this fight couldn’t have been less exciting. It was an infuriating repeat of Edgar/Fisher, with Parisyan taking Chonan to the mat at will, but not being able to finish his completely helpless opponent. There’s not much else to say; Chonan looked really unimpressive, and Parisyan was totally gassed by the third round. Though they were eerily silent for most of the fight, the audience booed loudly near the end, realizing that they weren’t getting their money’s worth. Parisyan apologized to them for putting on a boring fight. It was really awkward and sad. But I had faith that the next two fights would turn things around…
Thiago Silva vs. Houston Alexander
Well, this was just heartbreaking. Houston Alexander came in as the crowd favorite — an unhinged powerhouse whose top priority is entertaining the fans. But since his first two fights in the UFC were frantic knockout victories that lasted 48 and 61 seconds, there were questions about what would happen if he was put on his back or if the fight lasted longer than one minute. The answers to both questions turned out to be “he’d lose.” Alexander was surprisingly tentative as the match began — a change from his usual kamikaze style — and it proved to be his undoing. After stalking Silva in the opening moments, Alexander was taken down and mounted; though he did his best to control Silva’s head, he didn’t seem to know how to escape the position. Silva eventually overwhelmed Alexander with punches, and Dan Miragliotta put an end to it at the 3:25 mark. And like that, all the wind was taken out of the crowd. This was worse than boring — it was depressing. Silva tried to show respect to Alexander in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, shouting him out as a fighter and as a father to six sons. It should be noted that three of those sons are actually daughters.
Rashad Evans vs. Michael Bisping
If you’re one of those people who thought Michael Bisping would get crushed by Rashad Evans, you were wrong. If you thought their fight would prove that one of them deserved to be a top contender in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, you were also wrong. Though the theme of the night was “Validation,” the main event only demonstrated that both Bisping and Evans aren’t quite ready for a title shot. Evans did look tenacious in the first round, pressuring Bisping with takedown attempts and punches; the difference in wrestling ability seemed to favor Evans greatly. Bisping got a bit more aggressive in the second round, and outside of a dramatic carry-and-slam by Evans, seemed to even the score. Both fighters were completely gassed by the third round, and no significant damage was inflicted on either side. Just as everyone hoped wouldn’t happen, the fight went to the scorecards. Two out of three judges gave the match to Evans, primarily on the basis of his dominant first round. To put the perfect cap on the anti-climactic night, Evans announced that his beef with Bisping had been “squashed in the ring,” and Bisping complained about the decision.
— The Fight of the Night bonus was awarded to Thiago Alves and Chris Lytle, and the Submission of the Night bonus was awarded to Akihiro Gono for his arm-bar of Tamdan McCrory. Unfortunately, neither match was shown in the pay-per-view broadcast, though Joe Lauzon‘s submission win over Jason Reinhardt was featured after the main event.
— Bruce Buffer pronounced “Decatur” as “DEK-a-turr” (which offends me as an Illinois native), and “Bettendorf” as “beh-TIN-dorf” (which should offend every single MMA fan reading this).
— The UFC has a new ring girl named Edith. She’s the one on the left, with the breast implants.