(‘Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world. Took the midnight train going n-e-where…’)
Diego Sanchez knows how to work a crowd into a frenzy using Journey lyrics, but does he have what it takes to win a UFC championship? We’ll know soon enough, just like we’ll figure out whether Frank Mir‘s swollen physique translates into victory or just large-scale embarrassment. Either way, should be a good time. We’ll be liveblogging all the action from start to finish, complete with misspellings, snap judgments, and fairly obvious comedic remarks. Won’t you join us?
The action kicks off after the jump. Remember to hit refresh often to stay current.
The various highlight reels tell us that it is time once again to only remember the good moments from the careers of tonight’s fighters. Just like Frank Mir once kneed Brock Lesnar in the head, Clay Guida once bullied Roger Huerta around the cage. What happened after that? Ah, who cares? Let’s live in the moment and enjoy the hell out of ourselves. We’ll be underway here shortly.
The town that Struve is from – Bevernikzcxy – or something to that effect, seems suspiciously like the word you invent when trying to get rid of your Scrabble tiles all at once. Also, Buentello is one of the most popular heavyweights? Do they mean, considering how few big fights he’s won?
Struve’s initial head kick confirms that he is indeed tall as fuck, and not afraid to make use of it. Within a minute and a half, Struve gets Buentello’s back, locks up a body triangle, and starts looking for a choke. Buentello isn’t going out so easily, but Struve keeps working for it. The crowd grows restless, but don’t worry, Stefan. They’re really saying ‘Struuuuuve.’ Buentello turns into him and takes the top position, leaving Struve to work his rubber guard as the round comes to a close.
In between rounds, Rogan declares Twitter to be “the greatest thing ever,” which is an abuse of our trust, no doubt about it. Struve starts round two with some leg kicks, but ends up on his back. Buentello lets him up, and Struve keeps pressing and pushes Buentello against the fence. Struve drops down for an ill-advised leg lock, but nothing doing. Buentello lands an uppercut, followed by a big right in response to Struve’s flying knee attempt, putting the Dutchman on his back. Buentello lets him recover and get to his feet, and then they swing away at one another in the final minute. We’re all having fun in Memphis, which reminds Mike Goldberg to mention Oxford, Mississippi for some reason. Why not? It’s…a few hours drive away.
Oh, man. Struve has lost a piece of his tooth in his mouthpiece. Big Dan removes it with impressive/slightly nauseating efficiency, and we’re back. Struve starts the final round with a series of kicks, none of which are checked by Buentello. Struve continues attacking from the outside with success, and Buentello is looking lost. Buentello comes on strong with thirty seconds left, but it may be too little, too late.
Stefan Struve def. Paul Buentello via decision.
The crowd boos for some reason, and Struve placates them by calling it more of a draw than a victory. The result is inconclusive. Personally, I think he’s being too hard on himself. Take the win and go back to Bevernikcxzyzy with pride.
Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida
That upbeat pop-punk anthem can only mean one thing: Clay Guida is coming down to the Octagon. Goldberg says he’s been living in an RV on an Indian reservation, which brings to mind images of a cramped space cluttered with cheese puffs and mouse traps. Or maybe that’s just the RV that exists in my dreams. One day. One day…
Guida’s ADD attack keep Florian from getting anything started, and it isn’t long before Guida knocks Florian to the mat. KenFlo doesn’t stay there long, getting back to his feet without absorbing much damage. Guida is winning the exchanges in close, but Florian looks for a single leg. Someone’s corner shouts ‘Unpredictability!’ which doesn’t really help anyone. Guida is cut badly and bleeding all over the place. Yamasaki restarts the bout, but that is a gusher, thanks to KenFlo’s hell-bows, most likely. The round ends with both guys having got their licks in.
Guida’s hair is sticking to the blood that’s all over his face; there’s a significant disadvantage to that style. After some brief exchanges, Florian drops Guida with a hard right hand and then jumps on him. Guida doesn’t defend in time and Florian locks up a rear naked choke after some ground and pound, forcing Guida to tap.
Kenny Florian def. Clay Guida via submission (rear naked choke) round 2.
Fitch catches a kick from Pierce and takes his back. Pierce tries to shake him off, but Fitch is hanging on for the moment, battering him with punches in close. The Memphis crowd gives him a couple of minutes before booing, but Pierce gives them a reprieve by getting out and putting Fitch down. Fitch gets back to his feet and they trade ineffectual strikes for the rest of the round. Tough one to call, and no one in the audience seems impressed.
Fitch works an effective jab, and uses a kick from Pierce to get a takedown. He tries to take Pierce’s back, to no avail. Fitch lands a good uppercut as Pierce comes in. Fitch shoots for a single-leg and puts Pierce down, looking to take his back. Pierce works back to his feet, but can’t get rid of Fitch altogether. They end the round with a flurry, but Fitch seems to have gotten the better of it.
Pierce keeps trying to press for a clinch at the start of the round, but that’s a non-starter against Fitch. Fitch is doing a good job of outboxing him from a distance, winning a clear, but boring fight thus far. For a guy who hates decisions, he sure does seem intent on arriving intact at them. Goldberg reminds us that hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard. Sounds like someone read a book of inspirational quotes while waiting for his oil to get changed this week. Pierce wobbles Fitch in the last thirty seconds, but can’t finish.
Jon Fitch def. Mike Pierce via decision.
Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo
They feel each other out from a distance to start. A left from Mir drops Kongo, and in the scramble Mir snatches a guillotine. He doesn’t lock up the guard, but squeezes the hell out of it anyway and Kongo can’t find any escape. Mir goes to his back and squeezes until Kongo stops moving. That’s it.
Frank Mir def. Cheick Kongo via technical submission (guillotine choke) round 1.
Mir explains that he’s been trying really hard to earn what it takes to be a champion. I’m not sure what that means, but congrats anyway.
Both Belcher and Gouveia seem content to stand and hammer away at one another. I’m not even going to bother trying to describe the blow-for-blow exchanges, because it would be pointless. These guys are banging, and it’s easy to see why they decided to show this one. After a non-stop first-round shootout, Gouveia goes down. Belcher follows up and finishes with a barrage of punches.
Alan Belcher def. Wilson Gouveia via TKO (punches) round 1.
BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez
Hey, did you guys know that Penn is Hawaiian? It’s true. His walkout music gives it away. Don’t look now, but Diego is pumped up. He looks like he’s on the verge of an aneurism just standing in his corner. But what else did you expect?
It’s not quite a race to the center of the Octagon, but Penn is there and Diego backs off. A right hand from Penn drops Sanchez briefly, and a follow-up knee drops him again. Penn pours it on with punches from the side and Sanchez takes them without any defense. Hard to think this can go on, but Herb Dean isn’t stopping it and Diego rolls to guard and seems to have recovered. He’s lucky that wasn’t stopped. Diego gets back to his feet and, miraculously, he’s still in this. The rest of the round goes by without much action, but every time Sanchez comes in Penn pops him with a counter right. 10-5 round, perhaps?
Sanchez seems to be trying to avoid Penn’s punching power by diving in for a single-leg, but Penn isn’t even worried. Penn stays patient, avoiding takedowns and picking Sanchez apart with counter-punches. Sanchez presses Penn against the fence towards the end of the round in the hopes of getting an ankle pick, but no dice. Taking Penn down is going to be tougher than that.
Sanchez goes right back to work pressing Penn against the fence, ala Kenny Florian. Didn’t we already see how that turns out? Sanchez tries a head kick, to no effect, then goes back to pressing him against the fence. Penn responds with a nice elbow in close. This goes on and on, to no avail. Penn in total control.
Sanchez’s face looks like a knockoff Cabbage Patch doll to start the fourth. His nose and lip are swollen, and blood has dripped down his chest. The look in his eyes says he’s not mentally broken yet, but neither is he close to turning things around. Penn stings him with a good punch combo early on. Diego takes it well, but has no response. Sanchez keeps trying to press Penn into the fence to look for a takedown, and Penn continues to fight off his hands and stop him with ease. This isn’t quite competitive anymore, and yet Penn can’t end it. Frustrating.
Sanchez, his lip split wide open, continues to look for that single-leg. Someone tell me, what’s he planning to do if he gets Penn down? Submit him? Finish him with ground-and-pound in one round? Win a decision with a 10-2 round? I don’t think so. Penn stings Sanchez with a head kick. Sanchez dives in for another takedown, and when he gets clear again we see Diego’s head has been opened up big time. It’s a head-gina, if we’re being frank. Herb Dean stops it to let the doctor take a look, and that’s it. You can’t fight with your forehead split open like that. Or at least you shouldn’t.
The licking of the gloves naturally follows this bloody affair. That’s called giving the people what they came for.
B.J. Penn def. Diego Sanchez via TKO (cut) round 5.
Penn says he always wanted to fight Diego, then thanks Dana White, the Fertittas, and Hawaii. Diego says he did his best and he’ll be back. Yes he will. Yes. He will.
That’s it for me, Potato Nation. There’s plenty to talk about tomorrow, so get some sleep, rest up, and let’s get back after it with a clear head in the a.m.