Two kicks + two mangled testes = two points? (Photo: UFC.com)
Controversial decisions weren’t limited to the feature bout at UFC 143, my friends. From scrotum to scorecard, there’s much to break down from the undercard action.
Fabricio Werdum put on a striking clinic against the slightly less-hefty Roy Nelson. Werdum put together crisp, powerful combinations and launched a torrent of knees from the clinch to bloody “Big Country” up. It was a welcome rebound from his performance against Overeem and a promising re-introduction to the Octagon. Nelson has an incredibly tough chin—proven by the sheer number of bombs he takes fight after fight—and a heart as big as they come—what else could pump that much blood out of his face?–but that’s not enough to make it in the UFC’s heavyweight division. He’s served as a very game punching bag for much of his post-TUF career, and it’s not a good look. On the positive side, his refusal to die in the cage did help the duo score the evening’s $65k ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.
Josh Koshcheck managed to eek out an incredibly close split decision over Mike Pierce. Not only was this bout a big step up for Pierce, it was one that he publicly campaigned for. He worked his jab and out-struck the now-former AKA product throughout the fight as Koscheck shopped around for a home for his big right hand. It was the sort of dirty, grueling bout that Pierce typically employees, but it wasn’t enough to take home the ‘W’ in the judges’ eyes. Still, it was a solid showing against a highly ranked opponent. We don’t know what prompted Koscheck’s post-fight departure from AKA or how that may have effected his performance, but time will tell. As for those boos from the crowd, was it just me or did they actually seem to bother the happiest heel in the sport?
Renan Pegado proved what didn’t need proving: a 27-fight win streak is not just a run of good luck. “Barao” used an arsenal of kicks to punish Scott Jorgensen and keep him at bay. Coupled with his outstanding takedown defense, the Brazilian was in full control of this bout from the opening bell until the unanimous decision win was announced. It was a lopsided win over a tough opponent, and you can bet his fellow bantamweights took notice.
Ed Herman and Clifford Starks showed up to bang, but it was the ground game that mattered most. Herman threw uppercuts like they were going out of style, but Starks showed impressive power as he crowded “Short Fuse” against the cage and connected with a spate of worrisome right hands. Round one was a back and forth of heavy exchanges until Herman took Starks down to end the frame. Round two saw more reserved striking before Herman executed a trip takedown from the clinch and promply sunk in the rear naked choke. This marked Starks’ first loss and Herman’s third straight victory since his return to action in 2011.
In typical fashion, the evening’s prelim fighters put on quite the show, netting both of the evening’s fight-ending bonuses. UFC newcomer Stephen Thompson put on a karate clinic is his memorable ‘Knock Out of the Night’ win over Daniel Stittgen. With his sideways stance and unorthodox kicks, “Wonderboy” kept Stittgen guessing until finding a home for his highlight reel kick in the final minute of the first round. In a battle of young guns, Featherweights Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway came out swinging. Poirier landed heavy shots and his 20-year-old opponent was game to return fire, but once Poirier slammed him to the mat it was game over. “The Diamond” quickly took mount and attempted an armbar then a triangle before returning to mount and securing both in the evening’s ‘Submission of the Night’.
While both Thompson and Poirier’s victories increased their purses, Edwin Figueroa saw his mashed and mangled in route to a controversial decision win. He went toe-to-toe with Alex Caceras standing, but found himself in constant defensive mode on the ground. What could have been a clear victory for “Bruce Leeroy” was tarnished by a pair of accidental ball-breaking kicks to the groin. Twice Figueroa doubled over in pain, leaving us to wonder if he’d return from the five minute hiatus. Caceras was first warned by Herb Dean for the unintended low blow, but was docked two points on the second infraction. While Herb Dean has taken two points for low blows once before, it is far outside the norm. The kicks had to take a major toll on “El Feroz” and hamper his performance, but at the end of the day I don’t think the better fighter got his hand raised.
Full Results: (via: MMAJunkie.com)
- Carlos Condit def. Nick Diaz via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – wins interim welterweight title
- Fabricio Werdum def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Koscheck def. Mike Pierce via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Renan Barao def. Scott Jorgensen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ed Herman def. Clifford Starks via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:43
- Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway via submission (mounted triangle-armbar) – Round 1, 3:23
- Edwin Figueroa def. Alex Caceres via split decision (28-27, 27-28, 28-27)
- Matt Brown def. Chris Cope via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 1:19
- Matt Riddle def. via Henry Martinez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Rafael Natal def. Michael Kuiper via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Steven Thompson def. Dan Stittgen via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 4:13