(Photo courtesy of Combat Lifestyle’s UFC 112 weigh-in set.)
UFC 112 comes to us live from Abu Dhabi today, which is why we’re watching fights at this strange hour when the sun has not yet set. We have no idea what will even happen as a result of this anomaly. Will the glare off the TV force me to rely on Mike Goldberg’s description of the action, which would mean I’m basically screwed? Will I run out of steam halfway through because I’ve been forced to miss lunch? Will I fall asleep immediately after the fights in the middle of the afternoon, just out of habit?
These, as well as some other questions, will be answered. All I can promise is that I won’t freak out unless Frankie Edgar and/or Demian Maia actually pull off an upset, in which case I will freak out to the point of being completely non-functional. That, and I will not make as many “Spider” puns as the UFC’s pre-fight promos.
Now that we’ve got the ground rules out of the way, let’s get started. Remember to hit refresh often.
We open with a lot of footage of Abu Dhabi, with a voiceover trying to impart the significance of this event in this particular place. If you weren’t feeling it before, this footage of the arena going up is going to have to push you over the edge.
B.J. Penn appears to let us know that Edgar shouldn’t make the mistake of going into the Octagon and thinking that B.J. Penn is going to be his friend. I’m going to say that of all the mistakes Edgar might make today, that won’t be one of them.
Shots of the crowd show several people wearing Western clothing, and many women with their heads uncovered and their bodies not hidden by a formless garb. What whores.
Munoz feels Grove out for thirty seconds before going for a takedown and getting it, but Grove gets to his feet without absorbing much damage. An uppercut from Grove drops Munoz. He’s hurt. Grove tries to pour it on but Munoz grabs a leg and rides it out. Grove avoids the takedown and drops hammerfists on Munoz’s ear. The ref looks close to stopping it, but Munoz continues moving just enough to show some signs of life They’re brought back to the center of the Octagon and Munoz attempts another shot, only to very nearly get caught with an anaconda choke. He gets out, and then winds up in a guillotine soon after. Munoz slips out, and then out of another one before the round ends.
Munoz comes out swinging for the fences and Grove counters. A hard knee in the clinch from Grove has Munoz hurt. Grove takes his back and looks for a choke before transitioning to the armbar. Munoz gets out and rains down some punches from the top. This is the most offense we’ve seen from Munoz so far. Grove is starting to look tired and a little discouraged. He’s hurt. Munoz swarming all over Grove now, and Grove turtles up and waits for the ref to stop it, which he does. Great come-from-behind victory for Munoz.
Mark Munoz def. Kendall Grove via TKO (punches) at 2:50 of round 2
Munoz admits that he was in some trouble there, as if we didn’t know that. Could this be all it takes for Grove to get his walking papers? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Etim has the greater range, and he’s looking to put it to use early on, jabbing and kicking to keep Dos Anjos at a safe distance. A head kick from Etim is partially blocked, and Dos Anjos responds by shooting for a double-leg. He gets the takedown, but also gets stuck in a tight guillotine. Dos Anjos hangs on and escapes. Etim tries an armbar and this allows Dos Anjos to go to side control. The ref stops it and warns Dos Anjos for a shot to the spine. Seems a little odd, but it works to Etim’s benefit as they go back to their feet to the restart. Etim gets Dos Anjos down and then is forced to slip out of a heel hook attempt. Etim isn’t terribly active from the top in Dos Anjos’ guard, and he ends the round there.
They trade inside leg kicks to start the round. Spinning back kick from Etim, Dos Anjos gets another takedown and this time gets right to side control. Dos Anjos tries to slide his knee across for mount and gets caught in half-guard briefly before going back to side control. Dos Anjos grinding away with elbows, and Etim is flat on his back, absorbing all of them. Dos Anjos is in mount for a moment, but Etim recovers half-guard. Dos Anjos goes to north-south and looks for a kimura, then moves to a straight armbar. Etim’s arm is fully extended, and he has no choice but to tap.
Rafael Dos Anjos def. Terry Etim via submission (armbar) at 4:30 of round 2.
Phil Davis vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Davis has some seriously pink shorts, and we make it no more than ten seconds into the fight before Goldberg refers to Davis’ explosiveness and NFL running back-like build. He’s black, is what we’re saying here. Davis looks for a takedown, and then surprisingly Gustafsson tries for one of his own, which turns out not to be such a great idea. Davis is grinding away on Gustafsson, but allows him to get to his feet with a little under two minutes to go. Davis wastes no time putting him down again and going back to work. With ten seconds left Davis sinks in an anaconda choke and rolls Gustafsson over. Time is running out, but Gustafsson can’t take it and has to tap.
Phil Davis def. Alexander Gustafsson via submission (anaconda choke) 4:55 of round 1.
Davis apologizes for his performance, saying he can’t ever afford to miss a takedown. That’s the spirit.
Huge ovation for Renzo, and scattered boos for Hughes. It is somewhat unfair, since Gracie came out to music with a local flavor, while Hughes walked out to his usual jam, which might not have gone over so well.
A feeling-out process in the first minute, with Hughes attempting a body kick and Renzo bouncing out of the way. Good left hook from Gracie finds Hughes’ jaw, and then a right lands a few seconds later. Hughes has had enough of his, and he clinches Renzo against the cage. Gracie spins out of there without absorbing any damage. Hughes lands a couple of good leg kicks, and Renzo seems to be successfully baiting him into a stand-up battle. Another good left hook counter from Gracie, and Hughes’ right eye is starting to show the effects. A push kick from Renzo brings the round to a close. It’s close, but I give it to Gracie 10-9.
Two very solid leg kicks from Hughes start the second frame. Renzo runs in with punches and Hughes clinches before getting the takedown. Gracie doesn’t stay down long though, and we’re back to the feet. Gracie lands a couple straight rights to the body, and mixes in some jabs to Hughes’ slightly bloodied face. A good right from Hughes makes Renzo smile. The crowd is growing restless now. I guess they wanted more lay-and-pray? Gracie looks for a clinch and Hughes responds with a guillotine followed by a flurry of punches. That may have stolen the round for him.
Hughes looks battered at the start of the final frame. Hughes goes back to work with the leg kick, and Gracie has got to be feeling those now. A good right to Gracie’s jaw from Hughes, but he doesn’t follow it with anything. Hughes lands an uppercut and moves into the clinch again. Hughes fires off a few punches and Renzo looks wobbly. Hughes isn’t exactly going for the kill, though Gracie looks like he might be ready to go. Hughes knocks Renzo down with a leg kick. He gets back up, only to go down again the same way a few seconds later. The crowd showers this with boos. Hughes drops him again, and Gracie doesn’t really look like he wants to get up. Hughes backs him against the fence and fires off a series of damaging rights. Gracie collapses and he’s done. Herb Dean is merciful, and he stops it before it gets any sadder.
Matt Hughes def. Renzo Gracie via TKO (punches) at 4:40 of round 3
Hughes credits his plan to strike with Gracie for the victory. Renzo blames his long layoff, but insists he’ll be back in the Octagon soon.
We pause to advertise some sort of Abu Dhabi racing circuit. I have no idea what the hell Goldberg is talking about, or what he’s trying to accomplish here. Is this an attempt to get me to go see some races in Abu Dhabi? Because that ain’t gonna happen.
BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar
Edgar comes out to some Biggie; Penn comes out licking his lips as his weirdo Hawaiian ballad blares throughout the arena.
Penn is wearing a knee brace, and Edgar aims a kick at it right off the bat but misses. Edgar keeps at it with kicks, landing a couple to Penn’s legs and circling around the champ in the center of the Octagon. Penn lands a good left hand counter off Edgar’s leg kick. Edgar grabs a leg and eats several rights from Penn before giving up on it. Edgar is all over the place, but Penn is starting to figure out where he’s going to be and the result is a good left hook. A knee to the gut by Penn, and Edgar tries a judo throw that he has zero chance of pulling off. That’s Penn’s round in my book.
A hard left from Penn prompts Edgar to shoot for a takedown, but no dice. Edgar seems a little quicker than Penn, but so far it’s only been good when he wants to avoid engaging with the champ. Penn fires off a three-punch combo, and he seems like he’s ready to go on the offensive now, but Edgar stays out of his range. Edgar briefly takes Penn down, but that doesn’t last long. Penn goes back to controlling the center of the Octagon in the final minute, and the round ends with the mouse under his eye looking worse.
Goldberg tries to credit Edgar’s surprising performance, and Rogan responds, “Well, he’s still here.” Penn’s counters are really finding their home at the start of the round. The left hook stings Edgar. Edgar comes back with a leg kick to Penn’s knee brace. Edgar tries for a takedown, but doesn’t come close. There’s a lot of bouncing around, but not a lot of action in this round.
Penn is being backed up for the first time in this fight. He seems to be waiting for Edgar to come to him, and that’s not going to help on the judges’ scorecards. Edgar tries for a takedown but again can’t come close to finishing it. Penn lands a good jab and then a straight right. He doesn’t have any sense of urgency about going after Edgar, though. I don’t know if he’s tired or just biding his time, but he’s in danger of letting Edgar steal some of these rounds just by looking like he’s doing more.
Edgar gets a takedown in the first thirty seconds, but Penn is up in a hurry. Still, in a fight this close stuff like that could make the difference. It would be nice if someone would tell Penn that he’s in danger of losing his title if he doesn’t go on the offensive. Edgar is trying for takedowns and getting tossed off now, but at least he’s trying stuff. Penn seems too reliant on counters still, but his hands have slowed and they aren’t landing with the same force or frequency. Penn comes with an attack in the last ten seconds, and its effectiveness makes you wonder where that stuff was for five rounds.
Edgar finishes the fight with his hands in the air. Penn finishes the fight by shuffling off to his corner and looking exhausted. Not the fight I was expecting. For the record, I was expecting an exciting fight.
Frankie Edgar def. B.J. Penn via unanimous decision.
Weirdly, Penn does not look surprised or even upset. It’s like he didn’t care. Edgar, on the hand, really cares. One judge gave him every single round, which is pretty baffling. Penn seems to have left the Octagon right away. Can’t wait to hear his explanation for this one. Judging from the way he fought, anything from the flu to a sudden and complete loss of ambition would be believable explanations.
Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia
Silva comes to the center of the Octagon during the intros, gets to his knees, and starts bowing. Maia does the same thing, only to then realize that Silva wasn’t really bowing to him. Awkward.
Silva is dangling his arms out there, doing his customary opening minute of complete inaction. Vicious leg kick from Silva spins Maia around. Silva is bouncing around and he flings a spinning back kick to Maia’s gut, then apes around the Octagon, clearly just fucking with Maia. A hard right from Silva stings Maia. Silva is now flinging his arms about like a crazy man at the bus stop. A flying knee from Silva catches Maia’s head and drops him. I have no idea what Silva is doing, but for some reason it involves jazz hands. Well, he won that round.
Silva goes right back to work, hammering Maia with right hands and and then puts him down with a leg kick. Rogan calls it a showcase. I call it fucking with your opponent. Now he’s doing capoeria. Wow. Maia tries a couple unsuccessful takedowns, and Silva is verbally berating him in the center of the Octagon. He’s hitting himself in the face. During a fight. I can’t decide if he’s a bully, or if he’s just bored. Silva can clearly hit Maia whenever he wants, but too often what he wants to do is mock his opponent. Another bizarre and kind of entertaining fight.
Maia comes out of the corner with his face looking bloodier than when he went in. Silva continues to try and entertain himself with an array of weird stuff. Clearly, he could finish Maia at any moment. He’s just in no hurry to bring that moment about. Silva spazzing out, backing Maia up with leg kicks. Silva clowns around by hiding behind Big Dan Miragliotta, who shoves him back towards Maia. The horn sounds; the crowd boos.
A good overhand left from Maia lands flush on Silva’s jaw. Who knows, maybe it will convince Silva to take this seriously. There’s that left again from Maia. No sign of renewed focus from Silva. Now he’s no longer showboating, but also not really fighting very much. Just in case there was someone out there in the crowd who didn’t hate him yet. Now the crowd is chanting ‘GSP!’ Come on, people. This isn’t pro wrestling. He’s not going to jump in the cage and tag in. Maia is the one urging Silva to fight now, but he continues circling. I have no idea what’s happening, but I don’t think I like it.
Rogan says Dana White went over to Ed Soares and gave him a nasty glare. That doesn’t sound like a happy president.
Maia’s left eye is completely closed now, perhaps due to blowing his broken nose. Maia going on the offensive now, actually landing some punches and then trying to get Silva to the mat. He’s definitely the aggressor, and some of those blows are actually landing. Silva still doesn’t feel any urge to actually fight. Maia grabs a single leg and tries to pull Maia down, but no dice. The most Silva seems to want to do is kick Maia in the knee. Wow, Big Dan just stopped the fight to warn Silva for stalling and running around the Octagon, threatening to take a point away. Can he do that? God, I hope so.
And the fight is over, with Anderson Silva solidifying his place as the most hated middleweight champ of all time. He turned this entire arena against him, and exhibited the most bizarre behavior since the last time he did this shit.
Anderson Silva def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision.
Even Big Dan is disgusted. And when you’ve lost Big Dan, you’ve lost everything.
Silva (via Ed Soares) says he doesn’t know what got into him. For the entire fight. Call me crazy, but I don’t buy that explanation.
Well, this UFC was…noteworthy. I’m going to go collect my thoughts, and we’ll talk later.