(Gono brings some much needed style to the weigh-ins. Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)
Despite the best attempts of some jerks to ruin the results of tonight’s tape-delayed event, those of you who have managed to remain willfully ignorant will get to see it all unfold without the curse of omniscience that makes God’s days so utterly boring. Those of you who have had the outcome spoiled for you already, you’ll just get to see some fights. I’ve spent all afternoon trying to make sense of Michael Bisping‘s video blog (turns out “geezer” means something different in England) and getting myself all riled up on coffee and booze, so I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
Let’s turn on some Spike TV, see the same video game ads over and over again, down some frosty beverages, and watch some fights. Just thank your lucky stars it’s free. Remember to refresh the page every so often. Giddyup.
…and the gladiator welcomes us to another fine evening of pugilism. Sure, some of you won’t be happen until you ruin Christmas for everybody, but here we are to enjoy ourselves nonetheless.
Bisping kicks things off in his pre-fight interview by vowing that Leben will not embarrass him in front of his family. Then Leben makes some completely untenable claims about the power of his left hand. Seems like everything’s in order here. Joe Rogan’s Evan Tanner tribute beard is as burly as advertised, and as much as I hate to admit it the added facial hair really lends him some Papa Hemingway-meets-Grizzly Adams gravitas. Well done, Joe.
A tentative start, with neither man wanting to wade in there right off the bat. Now it’s halfway through the first, and still very little action. This is the same Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis, right? Just checking. Sweet little foot trip takedown for Davis into half-guard. The way this first round is going that could be enough to win it. Slick pass to side control, but Kelly turns into him and is back to his feet in the scramble. Some high kicks from Kelly but nothing lands as the first comes to a close. I score it 10-9 for Davis. Yawn.
More cautious stand-up to start this round, but Kelly shoots in for a double-leg and gets it. Davis is using the cage to get to his feet and grabs a guillotine in the process. Kelly doesn’t defend, so Davis jumps to guard and squeezes for all he’s worth. Kelly is locked up and has to tap. Submission victory for a much more tactical Davis.
Marcus Davis def. Paul Kelly via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:16 of round two.
Davis says he needed to be careful in this fight (no kidding) and gives mad props to his scar tissue doctor, Frank Styles. Way to work, Frank. He also wins some of the UK fans back over by praising them and his new friend, Paul Kelly, then begs to go to Ireland. It’s an easier wish to grant than a title shot, and who could say no to that face?
And we’re brawling! This is what we hoped for at the start of the last fight. Lytle and Taylor are slugging it out, with Lytle pressing the action despite his bad omen “Condom Depot” ass ad. Lytle flips Taylor down with a sweet little throw, but can’t keep him there. Taylor has some power in his strikes, though he’s having trouble getting off the cage in the clinch. Taylor lands a right hand in close that may have hurt Lytle just a touch, and that’s it for the first.
They trade more leather to start this round, with Lytle landing a couple decent left hooks. Lytle gets it to the ground again and looks for a guillotine, unsuccessfully, while continuing to control the action. Lytle is starting to look a little winded after all these big punches. Taylor catches him in the pills with a kick and Lytle needs a moment to collect himself. It’s Taylor pressing Lytle against the fence at the close of the second. Fatigue could make the difference here if Lytle can’t collect himself between rounds.
Taylor lands some good leg kicks on a very tired Lytle, but “Lights Out” comes back with another barrage of punches, pushing Taylor back against the cage. A takedown by Lytle may be enough to seal the decision. With thirty seconds left Taylor comes roaring back, landing some hard punches on a very resilient Lytle. A tough fight, but it’s hard not to think that having a little more gas in the tank could have made a tremendous difference for Lytle.
Chris Lytle def. Paul Taylor via unanimous decision.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Luiz Cane
Soku comes out banging with right leg and body kicks, apparently unhampered by whatever that knee brace is for. Cane had good defense, but he’s being overwhelmed early on by Soku’s explosive kicks and raw aggression. Soku is a little more flat-footed toward the end of the round and now Cane is starting to come on. Soku seems tired and content to wait out the round as the horn sounds.
Cane kicks Soku in the junk; Rogan wants to see it again. Doesn’t he know there are special fetish websites for that stuff? Soku is much less active this round, as if he’s still disappointed he didn’t finish Cane in the first two minutes. Cane has him backed up against the cage but isn’t really going after him. A good knee from Cane catches Soku, and soon after Cane drops him with a left hand and follows with a flurry of punches on the ground. Soku is unresponsive and the ref steps in to stop it. Soku just seems glad it’s over.
Luiz Cane def. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou via TKO (strikes) at 4:15 of round two.
Patrick Cote, in an interview with Joe Rogan, says Anderson Silva has been beaten before and can be beaten again. It’s sound reasoning, but somehow fails to convince me that Cote will be the guy to hand Silva that next defeat. Even after he describes his training camp as “crazy.” Oh, Cote. You gotta tell yourself something, I guess.
Jardine does the Greg Jackson camp nipple pinch during the introductions. This thing isn’t going away, is it?
Jardine gets a takedown right off the bat and Vera looks for a kimura, but no dice. Jardine is bleeding from the top of his very bald head. Jardine is working out of Vera’s guard, landing a couple decent blows before being stood up. In a weird stand-up exchange first Jardine and then Vera go down briefly. Hard to tell if one or both of them was a slip or whether they might have been genuinely stunned. Jardine has Vera down on all fours against the cage to end the round. He’s teeing off, but not exactly making the most of his opportunity and Vera lasts until the horn.
Vera blocks a Jardine kick and gets him to the ground, but Jardine uses the fence to get back to his feet. The striking is more tentative in this round, though Vera lands some good body kicks. Jardine seems to have slowed, as has the pace overall, and the second frame comes to a close. Tough round to call, but I think Vera may have the edge.
Both guys charge out to start the final round and Vera lands another good kick. Those could make the difference if he puts them to work here in the third. Good body kick from Vera and Jardine catches it but can’t do much with it. Some scattered boos from the fans, and Jardine changes things up by charging in for a takedown attempt. Vera defends, but Jardine clinches him from behind and lands a few decent shots. The action picks up in the last ten seconds, but the fans make their displeasure known even as Rogan and Goldberg insist that it was a battle. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Not a whole lot of action, and that makes it a difficult fight to call.
Keith Jardine def. Brandon Vera via split decision.
In the post-fight interview, Jardine and Rogan lament the boos that come along with a drunken crowd. As a drunken member of the TV audience, I resent that.
Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping
Leben comes out to the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.” I’m not sure why. Leben looks to be in better shape than we’ve ever seen before. Maybe I should quit drinking too. Just kidding.
Bisping tries to pump up the crowd a little during his entrance. The response isn’t as enthusiastic as one might expect.
The crowd has woken up as we start the main event. Is that a soccer chant? Probably not. Leben is stalking Bisping to start the fight. Bisping is looking to stick and move. Leben keeps charging in and Bisping is doing a good job of landing strikes while circling away. Leben doesn’t seem exactly bothered by being hit in the face, but it certainly won’t help his looks any. A takedown from Bisping ends the round, and the first frame should go to “The Count.”
More of the same to start the second. Leben is coming forward, though he’s still more patient and less of a brawler than usual, and Bisping circles away and picks away at him. A testicular kick from Leben halts the action briefly, but we’re back on once Bisping’s nuts recuperate. Leben spends the rest of the round chasing Bisping and eating sporadic punches for his trouble. He lands a good left with ten seconds left, but the round may still belong to Bisping.
Leben’s right eye looks, for lack of a better word, gross. Undaunted, he comes right out and lands a heavy left anyway. Bisping returns to his jab, jab, circle philosophy, and regardless of whether you like it you have to admit it’s working. Leben backs him into the cage and lands a couple of glancing blows, but he can’t get Bisping to stand in front of him. Leben gets a takedown but Bisping gets back to his feet. As the fight comes to a close an obviously frustrated Leben put his head out there for Bisping to punch and kick, and the Brit obliges. I get the point he’s trying to make, but it’s not going to help his cause with the judges any.
Michael Bisping def. Chris Leben via unanimous decision.
As for the undercard, it went down like this:
Per Eklund def. Samy Schiavo via submission (rear naked choke) round three
Jim Miller def. David Baron via submission (rear naked choke) round three
Tery Etim def. Sam Stout via decision
David Bielkheden def. Jess Liaudin via decision
Shane Carwin def. Neil Wann via TKO (strikes) round one
Dan Hardy def. Akihiro Gono via split decision
That’s all for us. A fairly mediocre, but free night. Oh, good. Manswers is on. They’re covering how to make a weapon for under five bucks. I’m headed into the garage to sit in my car with the engine running. Sweet dreams.