(Photo courtesy of UFC.com. Rampage’s victory reaction gif is now after the jump.)
When the anticipated rematch between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was scrapped from this card, we were left with a few big names and a lot of hope. Despite a few stellar knockouts earlier in the evening, UFC 130 ended much like my date to see “No Strings Attached”: a lot of booing, a disappointing 15 minute fight, and I was out $50.
Every UFC card has to be about something, and with no gold up for grabs the storyline for this event became Quinton Jackson‘s climb back up to the top of the Light Heavyweight division. Dana White declared and Rogan and Goldberg echoed that an impressive, entertaining victory over Matt Hamill would land Rampage a title fight with champ Jon Jones. Rampage secured the win, but his shot at the belt is still up in the air.
(“Hold up…you mean ya’ll were watching that shit???”)
Coming off of a semi-contested and equally boring win over Lyoto Machida, Rampage’s performance last night was meant to be more than a notch in the win column. If all went according to plan, it would have provided the UFC with the type of highlight-reel footage Jackson hasn’t produced since his knock out victory over Wanderlei Silva in 2008 and had fans clamoring for a fight against Jon “Bones” Jones. But last night’s fight yielded few fireworks if any. Hamill’s mantra in the lead-up to the bout was that he would break Jackson’s will, but only a few minutes into the bout it was “The Hammer” who looked like he’d rather be anywhere than in that cage. Going 0-17 in his plodding, telegraphed takedown attempts, Hamill was unable to get the fight to the ground and understandably reluctant to stand and trade with Rampage. As for Jackson, he did deviate slightly from his hands-heavy style–incorporating knees, elbows, and even a few token kicks into his attack–but he didn’t initiate or go in for the kill against a clearly gun-shy Hamill. After the fight, Jackson put some of the blame on a fractured hand he injured back in December of last year. [Note to Quinton: we believe you and all, but you're not supposed to talk about that kind of stuff, bruh.] . Despite the lackluster performance, Dana White has stated that pending the positive outcome of tests on Rampage’s hand, he will likely be the first challenger to Jones’s belt.
If there were any questions about Frank Mir‘s place in the heavyweight division following his first-round loss to Shane Carwin and coma-inducing win over faded star Mirko Cro Cop, they remain completely unanswered. His one-sided victory over the obese Roy Nelson says less about his dedication to training than it does “Big Country’s” lack of it. The time has come to call the “Big Country” experiment a flop. The myth of his terrific cardio has been dispelled in consecutive losses to Dos Santos and Mir, where he served as a very exhausted, very durable durable punching bag for the full three rounds. The dude has a terrific chin—did he even blink when he ate those crushing elbows late in round three?–but the notion that he can walk into the Octagon with Cheeto fingers and compete with the top of the division is absurd. Fatigue reduced his vaunted ground game to rolling to his ample belly and working his way to his feet; it’s an impressive trick even without Frank Mir on top of him, but it’s not enough to compete at this level. Mir looked good taking Nelson down at will and landing some heavy shots, but it’s fair to say that “Big Country” was looking for the path of least resistance throughout the fight, even if it meant getting smashed in the face or tossed to the mat. Despite his lethargic performance, Nelson does possess power in his hands- Mir left the Octagon with a broken jaw and rib to accompany his win bonus.
As for the rest of the card, they did their part to entertain and it’s a shame that their work was soured by the last thirty minutes of cage-time. Brian Stann opened the night with big knockout over the returning Jorge Santiago in the “Fight of the Night”. UFC heavyweight Travis Browne secured his spot on a future ‘Ultimate Knockouts’ dvd by felling mighty oak Stefan Struve in spectacular fashion. Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson won a tough-to-call decision over Miguel Torres in a hyper-active fight contested largely on the ground. Top Welterweight Thiago Alves was given no room to work against Rick Story. Story kept constant pressure on Thiago, pressing him to the cage and working for takedowns. His decision victory marks his sixth straight win in the UFC. Tim Boetsch looked dominant in his first fight at Middleweight, rag-dolling Kendall Grove in a one-sided decision. This was Da Spyder’s second consecutive loss and his third in four outings. Late replacement Rafaello Oliveira was overpowered by Lightweight juggernaut Gleison Tibau. Tibau’s second round ground and pound forced Oliveira to surrender his back and tap out to a rear naked choke in the evening’s only submission.
Full results of the night (via: MMAWeekly.com)
UFC 130 Main Bouts (On Pay-Per-View):
-Quinton “Rampage” Jackson defeats Matt Hamill via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
-Frank Mir defeats Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
-Travis Browne defeats Stefan Struve via KO at 4:11 of the first round.
-Rick Story defeats Thiago Alves via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
-Brian Stann defeats Jorge Santiago via TKO at 4:29 or round two.
UFC 130 Preliminary Bouts (On Spike TV):
-Demetrious Johnson defeats Miguel Torres via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
-Tim Boetsch defeats Kendall Grove via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
UFC 130 Preliminary Bouts (On Facebook):
-Gleison Tibau defeats Rafaello via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:28 of round two
-Michael McDonald defeats Chris Cariaso via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
-Renan Barao defeats Cole Escovedo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)