(“Free porridge for everyone!” PicProps: UFC)
We hope Dana White didn’t have to make any profane and vaguely threatening phone calls on Saturday night after several of his athletes ignored his well articulated desire for them not to let their fights go to the judges at UFC 120. Michael Bisping was among the offenders, claiming a clear-cut (and fairly compelling) unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Akiyama. Mike Pyle’s grinding upset win over John Hathaway also went the distance, as did wins for undercarders Claude Patrick and Spencer Fisher. Oh, and Cheick Kongo and Travis Browne fought to a frickin’ draw (which Big DW actually joked about on yesterday’s video blog) after Kongo got a little grabby with Browne’s shorts.
Only Carlos Condit and Alexander Gustafsson were good for televised stoppages and Zuffa even fudged that by adding Gustafsson’s choke out of Cyrille Diabate by the magic of tape delay. On the whole – and despite its overly judgy nature – UFC 120 was the kind of card that proved a bit better in practice than on paper. Still, we’re sure glad we didn’t have to pay for it.
It’s easy to kid Bisping because he comes across as such a pompous jackass most of the time, but he looked pretty impressive on his feet against Akiyama. Sure, his inability to finish a clearly exhausted opponent squashed his own claims that people have been underestimating his punching power, but after surviving some difficulties in the first he effectively controlled the rest of the action and looked fluid in mixing up his striking combinations. Did he look good enough to get that title shot he talked about over the weekend? No, not even close. Still, it was a decent win that pushed “The Count” to 3-2 in his last five fights and salvaged what was shaping up as a pretty disappointing night for the Englishmen.
The effort was good enough for the main event fighters to claim Fight of the Night bonuses, but man, what to do with Akiyama? White is right saying this guy knows how to have an exciting fight, but it’s also just as accurate to say he knows how to lose an exciting fight. His early fireworks, stinging Bisping with a punch that had the Brit admitting to seeing double, seemed to drain his energy and by the third it looked like he was just there for Bisping’s target practice. Dude didn’t poop out quite as bad as he did against Chris Leben, but you can’t expect to win many fights in the UFC if you don’t have your cardio together and insist on fighting away from your own strengths with the kind of verve and dedication that Akiyama showed last night. It’s doubtful the UFC will cut ties with him just yet, but he better start winning some fights. And fast.
Condit netted Knockout of the Night, not only because his thunderous left hook nearly knocked Dan Hardy’s multicolored Mohawk sideways, but also because only one other fight on the card finished with any form of knockout. That’d be Fabio Maldonado’s third-round TKO of James McSweeney. Condit gambled and won by calling out Hardy, knowing that a win would rejuvenate a UFC career that had previously been pretty underwhelming. Hardy called him “foolish” for requesting the fight and did his normal trash talk bit leading up to it. That kind of stuff always makes you look pretty silly when you get devastatingly KOed, but that’s the game we play, isn’t it Dan Hardy? In the wake of the victory, Condit says he’d like to fight the winner of Jake Shields vs. Martin Kampmann. We wouldn’t quibble with that either.
Condit’s knockout would have been more exciting had ESPN not run UFC 120 results across its bottom line while we were trying to watch college football earlier in the day. Don’t know why ESPN would care about this particular event, but if the Worldwide Leader is paying attention, we’re not going to argue about it. Predictably, some MMA fans will be outraged by these “spoilers” and, really, that lack of understanding about how the national media works is kind of cute more than anything. Suffice it to say, real news outlets aren’t going to sit on results until after we’ve all watched the show, they just don’t play that.
Now, the rest: Pyle’s win over Hathaway was the biggest surprise of the night. Too bad the UFC doesn’t offer a bonus for screwing up its promotional plans for its best young English fighter. We’ll no doubt debate Hathaway’s “overratedness” in days to come. Paul Sass claimed Submission of the Night with the umpteenth triangle choke victory of his career, this time over Mark Holst. Fisher likely saved his job with his UD over Kurt Warburton. McSweeney did not. Smart money says he’s gone from the UFC by the start of business on Monday. We’d discuss Kongo vs. Browne, but that draw kind of says it all about where these guys are headed in the heavyweight division, does it not?