The MGM Grand Garden Arena is sold out for tonight’s event, leaving lonely men to wander the casino floor and mutter hopeless pleas for spare tickets. But you, you lucky bastards, have this liveblog. It’s as elusive as Lyoto Machida, as much of a chick magnet as Georges St. Pierre, and as steeped in straight-up, gangsta realness as Nate Diaz.
We’re going to get started with the prelims at about 5 pm PST, so if you don’t want to ruin the undercard results for yourself, tread carefully. Otherwise, hop on and enjoy the ride. Remember to hit refresh often. But before we get started, how about helping us out with a Digg. Thanks. You’re the best.
Matt Arroyo vs. Dan Cramer
Cramer looks for a takedown before jumping into guard and transition right into a slick little sweep to gain full mount. Cramer reverses and ends up in Arroyo’s guard, nearly getting caught in an armbar for his trouble. Cramer escapes and lands some decent punches from the top position. Arroyo is definding well with his high guard, but Cramer stays after him and lands some elbows before the round ends. Tough round to score, but Arroyo might have taken it.
We’re right back to the same position before you know it, only now Cramer is landing more effective strikes. He postures up as if to punch and drops down with a big elbow that lands cleanly on Arroyo. Cramer alternates between standing up and getting kicked in the stomach to sitting in Arroyo’s guard and landing intermittent strikes. You’ve got to give this one to Cramer.
Arroyo shoots for a takedown and catches a knee, but manages to get Cramer on his back. Now Arroyo’s jiu-jitsu looks much more effective. He takes Cramer’s back and sinks in a rear naked choke. It looks close, but Cramer toughs it out and gets to Arroyo’s guard. More elbows, a stand-up, and a tired-looking takedown attempt from Arroyo follows. As this one nears its end, Cramer might have the decision. He’s certainly spent more time on top landing strikes, and we know how the judges love that.
Dan Cramer defeats Matt Arroyo via split decision. Proves yet again that you can’t just hang out on the bottom for three rounds. Arroyo hangs his head, looking equally shocked and exhausted.
Christian Wellisch vs. Jake O’Brien
Wellisch lets us know right away where he wants this thing, shooting in for a single-leg and getting denied. They get quickly to their feet and O’Brien unloads with a big right that catches Wellisch and drops him to his knees. O’Brien tries to finish him off but Wellisch is aware and covering up. He gets back up and eats a left hook from O’Brien, who is throwing some serious leather in there tonight. After a little ground-and-pound intermission we’re back on the feet, and it’s all O’Brien in the striking department. Wellisch ducks under a left hook and falls to his back. O’Brien follows into his guard, although I can’t say why since his striking looks so much better. A ref stand-up and now Wellish seems to be finding his distance. O’Brien puts his down with a double-leg near the bell, but they end the round on their feet. The first round is all O’Brien.
Wellisch seems to be feeling more confident on the feet, mixing up punch combos and high kicks, though not much is getting through. O’Brien shoots for a single and then moves to a body lock, but eventually gives up on it and settles for a left hook. Wellish is definitely the more active fighter in this round. O’Brien presses Wellisch against the cage and then picks him up for a big slam. Wellisch nullifies any ground-and-pound and gets to his feet. He backs O’Brien up with strikes but gets taken down again. Wellisch gets back up and lands a few kicks before the round ends. It may not be enough for him to win the round after the takedowns. You know those zany judges.
Wellisch’s nose is good and bloody to start the third, but he’s winning the striking exchanges now by pure volume. O’Brien responds with more takedowns, though each time Wellisch manages to get back to his feet without incurring any damage. Wellisch is stalking O’Brien, but his strikes are slow and his combos have gotten pretty predictable. O’Brien seems content to backpedal away and look for takedowns. He gets them when he wants, but can’t do anything at all with them. With fifteen seconds left in the fight Wellisch finally stuffs one. We’re headed to the judges again, and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll they’ll give it to. He lost on takedowns, but Wellisch pressed the action.
Jake O’Brien defeats Christian Wellisch via split decision. Go figure. My guess is you won’t see this one on the pay-per-view broadcast unless they somehow decide to show every single fight.
Do my eyes deceive me, or is Edith back for a show in the U.S.? Guess those visa troubles got sorted out.
Howard lands a stiff leg kick and Wilson responds with a pseudo flying knee that lands, but results in a takedown for Howard. Howard and lets him up and they exchange leg kicks on the feet. A nice combo from Wilson ends with a low leg kick that sweeps Howard’s feet from under him. Wilson tries for a standing guillotine in the scramble, but winds up in Howard’s guard. Some decent strikes from Wilson, but another scramble and another guillotine attempt ends with Howard in Wilson’s guard. Herb Dean stands them up. Howard takes a big swing and misses, then picks Wilson up for a slam before the end of the round. That round is about as even as they get.
…and we’ve already started with the competing GSP and B.J. Penn chants. It’s still the prelims, people. Let’s save some for later.
A big shot rocks Wilson and sends him reeling backwards. Howard follows up with a good left, but Wilson regains his bearings and counters with a punch combo and knee to the face. Howard picks Wilson up high again and slams him down hard. Back on their feet, both fighters have slowed down noticeably. Wilson lands some straight punches, but it’s Howard who seems to be doing more damage when he lands. Wilson trips Howard down and goes to work in his guard. Howard gets a slick little leg sweep before the round ends. The UFC rookie did enough to win that one on my scorecard.
Howard grabs Wilson’s leg after a knee attempt and uses it to take Wilson’s back after a takedown. Howard can’t find the choke, but lands some damaging punches to the sides of Wilson’s head. Another choke attempt looks closer, but Wilson shows his toughness and resolve by battling his way out of it. Wilson rolls forward and reverses, landing in Howard’s guard before another leg sweep puts him on his back again. Back on their feet, a Howard takedown pretty much seals the decision. We go to the judges and it’s looking like Howard’s UFC debut will be a successful one. There goes my “absolutely don’t bet against” pick.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva comes over to shake Howard’s hand. That’s always a good sign.
John Howard defeats Chris Wilson via split decision. And who was the one judge who scored it for Wilson? You guessed it, Cecil freaking Peoples. At least he’s consistent.
The music Gamburyan comes out to is…weird. All instrumental, vaguely Middle Eastern dance music. I really can’t describe it, nor can I say whether or not I like it. I’m confused.
Having learned from his KO loss to Matt Wiman, Tavares has his hands up very high and tight to start the fight. Tavares changes levels and puts Gamburyan on his back, going to work from his guard. Tavares lands some nice hammer fists, and Manvel opens his guard to try and stop him. Gamburyan looks for a kimura but Tavares doesn’t seem worried as he works free and continues his hammer fist campaign. Tavares tries to take Gamburyan’s back as they get to their feet, and Gamburyan responds with a great judo toss, though Tavares rolls with it and maintains back control even without his hooks in. Tavares picks Gamburyan up like a baby and slams him down (which you shouldn’t do to an actual baby under any circumstances). The round ends with Tavares in control.
Gamburyan is loading up on big right hands, hoping for a home run, but they aren’t coming close to landing. Tavares looks for a single leg but winds up with Gamburyan on top of him in his guard. Gamburyan isn’t accomplishing much with his ground-and-pound attempts, so he briefly tries for an ankle lock before going back to Tavares’ guard. After a ref stand-up Tavares lands a two-punch combo. Gamburyan responds by loading up for more right hands that everyone in the arena can see coming. Tavares lands a good right and looks for a single-leg before the round ends. Gamburyan may have done enough to win that round and knot it up, but odds are Cecil will give that one to Tavares.
More big rights miss their mark for Gamburyan. He reminds me of a Tekken character with one great move that takes a long time to set-up. If it lands, there goes ¾ of your life-bar. But it hardly ever lands. A big right from Tavares sends Gamburyan reeling. But Manny comes back with a big right of his own that actually lands. Gamburyan tries a takedown attempt but Tavares sprawls and lands a knee to Manvel’s head as he gets up. Tavares seems to have this one as we come to the end, but hell, who knows at this point.
Thiago Tavares defeats Manvel Gamburyan via unanimous decision.
They’re going to have to hustle to get Fitch-Gono in before we go live for the pay-per-view. This is shaping up to be a long night of decisions. Wish I’d packed a lunch.
Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono
Oh. Shit. Gono’s entrance is completely fucking insane. Picture three Japanese dudes in wigs and sparkling silver evening gowns doing a choreographed dance routine to music that sounds like a Japanese James Bond theme. It’s the single greatest thing I’ve ever seen. God bless you sons of bitches.
Fitch counters with a comparatively tame entrance to Johnny Cash. No dance routine at all.
Seriously, choreographing and practicing that dance routine must have taken at least three or four days. I can’t get over it. Such commitment to showmanship.
Fitch throws a couple perfunctory punches and shoots right in for the takedown. Gono defends, briefly giving up his back, but gets back to the clinch. After some striking exchanges Fitch is back to the clinch, looking for a takedown, and gets Gono’s back. He has one hook in and is trying to soften Gono up with some right hands to the ear. Gono tries to stand but Fitch stays with him before the horn sounds to end the first round.
Gono checks a kick and then we’re back to the clinch. Fitch keeps working for the takedown but Gono’s defense is giving him some trouble. Fitch gets a leg trip takedown and lands in Gono’s guard. Mazzagatti calls for action. So far there isn’t much. Fitch moves to half-guard and starts landing some elbows. Gono looks slightly annoyed. Now Fitch is picking up the pace, landing more punches, and he forces Gono to give up his back. Fitch has both hooks in with forty-five seconds left. Fitch rolls for an armbar with ten seconds left, but Gono holds on until the end of the round.
Gono tries a jumping knee and may have hurt himself in the process. Fitch comes on with kicks and punch combos that sting Gono, followed by another takedown. Fitch’s ground-and-pound is effective, in a way, though certainly not what you’d call vicious at this point. Back on their feet in the clinch, Fitch gets standing back control and Gono rolls for a kneebar attempt that is over before it can ever get started. Fitch has his back, then gets to knee-on-stomach and lands some good strikes. Gono scrambles out and puts Fitch on his back, though he seems content to rest in the guard. This has turned out to be exactly the kind of fight we expected. Another long slog toward a Fitch decision victory.
Jon Fitch defeats Akihiro Gono via unanimous decision.
Five prelim fights, five decisions. If not for Gono’s fantastically flagrant entrance, this crowd might have gone to sleep by now.
In Memory of Helio Gracie.
Very nice, UFC. And very deserved.
Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida
“Diaz is wise beyond his years…when it comes to mixed martial arts.” See how Goldberg saved it from being a complete lie? Well done, sir.
Guida is a Tazmanian Devil-like mass of punches and hair as he bullies his way inside Diaz’s reach. Diaz seems to want to use the clinch, but Guida lands a nice knee inside. Diaz’s long jab is finding it’s mark. Guida gets in and manages to force Diaz to his back against the cage. Diaz gets to his feet and Guida takes his back, but can’t keep his hooks in long. Diaz tries to roll out but Guida is latched on to him. Guida scoops him up for a big slam and almost gets caught in a the Diaz Double-Bird Triangle (patent pending). Diaz puts his hands up at the bell, but I think not. That was Guida’s round all the way.
Diaz comes straight for Guida with jabs before trying a hip toss that nearly works. Guida works for a high crotch takedown and Diaz considers a kimura in response. Guida almost has another takedown but Diaz grabs the fence to stall it. Where you at, Yves Lavigne? Guida is attached to Diaz like a backpack, which opens up the chance for another hip toss from Diaz. This one works, though Guida keeps ahold of him and outmuscles him on the mat. Another hip toss from Diaz, and Guida winds up in his guard. Diaz tries for a triangle choke with ten seconds left. No dice.
Both men fire off punches in the center of the Octagon, with Diaz getting the better of it. If he could use his reach to keep Guida away you get the sense that Diaz could pick him apart with his greater reach. Diaz is landing at will now and then throwing his hands up to invite an attack from Guida. Guida clinches against the cage. Another hip toss by Diaz and Guida again briefly takes his back. A single-leg from Guida puts Dias down again, though not for long. Guida tries to jump to Diaz’s back and gets bucked off before the horn sounds. Tough one to call, especially with the old wild card Cecil Peoples at cageside.
Clay Guida defeats Nick Diaz via split decision.
Oooh, the Diaz’s are not happy. The way that fight went, there was no way not to end up with someone pissed off. Guida gives a shout-out to the out of work carpenters. Because hey, someone has to. After a lengthy list of other acknowledgements, Joe Rogan observes: “No one thanks more people than Clay Guida.”
Still yet to see a finish tonight. And Lyoto Machida’s on this card. Pour a cup of coffee. We’re going to be here a while.
Like his cousin Manvel, Karo comes out to weird instrumental stuff. I feel like I’m in a Bollywood musical. Or at least what I imagine a Bollywood musical to be like. I’ve never actually seen one. I did read part of an article on them once, though. This was playing in my head when I read it. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. Just making conversation.
Karo lands a big looping right on Kim’s jaw to start us off. Maybe a finish isn’t too much to hope for in this one. Kim trips Karo to the mat and then takes his back as “The Heat” stands up. A lot of that tonight, it seems. Karo flips forward but Kim stays on him, adding some hammer fists and encouraging the crowd to get its ‘woo!’ on. Kim looks for an armbar but Karo escapes and ends up standing in Kim’s guard. This nearly gets him triangled, though Karo slips free. They get to their feet and then a slick little maneuver from Kim lands him on Karo’s back again. The round ends with a little punching exchange. The first frame belongs to Kim.
Head kick from Kim glances off the top of Karo’s head. Karo seems unfazed, and bulls his way in for a clinch. Karo hip tosses Kim and looks for a kimura, starting to show his first signs of life since the opening minute. From the clinch Karo tosses Kim to the mat with a loud thud, but the Korean is back on his feet in seconds. The ref calls time to put Karo’s mouthpiece back in. I’ll take this opportunity to run a ‘sup check. ‘Sup? How you doing? All right? Cool. Back to the action. Kim seems to be fading as Karo pushes him against the fence and lands a nice left-right combo to end the round. That one belongs to Karo, and they’re even on my scorecard, which is purely imaginary and means nothing.
A takedown from Kim starts us off. Karo looks for a triangle and then upkicks Kim while he’s on the ground. You can’t do that, and the ref pauses the fight to let Karo know it. Kim looks for an anaconda in the clinch, which isn’t happening, and then presses Karo against the cage and batters his body with a knee or two. Kim almost has a leg trip, though Karo stops it by grabbing the fence. Does the ref even see this? Hard to say. We end the fight with a punching exchange that favors Karo, then we’re on to the judges scorecards yet again.
Karo Parisyan defeats Dong Hyun Kim via split decision.
Kim is pissed, and so is the crowd.
So we’re seven fights in, with seven decision finishes, five of them split decisions. A rare occurance in the UFC? Yes. An interesting one? No.
Very sedate, but fun music choice for Jon Jones. He cartwheels his way into the Octagon. Someone should tell him that any finish at all is likely to earn him a bonus worth more than his show and win money at this point. That might motivate some people.
A big, crazy right misses for Jones. A couple kicks keep Bonnar at a distance, then a near takedown for Jones from the clinch. Jones pulls off a nice throw, swarming all over Bonnar. Bonnar gets back to his feet and then gets tripped down again. Back on their feet Bonnar lands a kick to the body that Jones shrugs off. Jones tries a spinning arm drag from the clunch, then follows it up with a suplex. A spinning back elbow from Jones drops Bonnar. Jones seems momentarily surprised, then pounces but is unable to finish Bonnar on the ground. Jones lands a knee to Bonnar’s head in the clinch. At Octagonside the sound is…sickening. Jones finishes the round with a takedown, and Bonnar has no idea where he is as he wanders away from his corner. That’s what a 10-8 round looks like. So if you don’t know, now you know.
Bonnar has his wits back to start the second, landing some kicks to Jones’ body. Jones responds with a spinning back kick to Bonnar’s body and another knee to the head. Jones gets the takedown and is controlling Bonnar on the mat. When he works back to his feet Bonnar eats yet another knee to the head. A solid right connects for Jones, but give Bonnar credit for pressing forward. He’s taken some monster shots and is still hanging tough. Another toss from Jones spikes Bonnar on his head near the end of the second. This is all Jones so far.
Bonnar comes back with some stiff uppercuts in the clinch early in the third. Nothing short of a finish will win it for him, so he might as well swing for the fences. A right hand catches Jones behind the ear and momentarily staggers him. He recovers and trips Bonnar to the mat. Both men are worn out and it’s starting to show. Bonnar tries a triangle choke, but there’s no future in it. A lot of the snap has gone out of Jones’ attack, and Bonnar seems to sense the opportunity even if he can’t quite capitalize on it. Ten seconds left, Jones is just waiting this one out.
Jon Jones defeats Stephan Bonnar via unanimous decision.
Eight for eight on decisions. Jones clearly has tremendous potential, but his cardio could use some work. Still, keep an eye on this guy in the future. He’s for real.
Thiago Silva vs. Lyoto Machida
The way the night’s gone so far, I have to think Machida is going to be the one to somehow score both a submission and a knockout and go home with both bonuses. It is written. It’s also written that I will refer to Thiago Silva as Thiago Alves at least once. See if you can spot it!
Machida is already engaging more than I expected in the first round, jumping in and out with punches and knees. And just that quick we’re pausing due to a knee to Silva’s groin. Replay confirms that it got him right in the pills. Back to the action, Machida follows a punch with a sweet leg trip takedown, then it’s back to the feet. A left hook drops Silva. Machida jumps on him but can’t follow up. They stand back up, Machida mixing in kicks and deftly dodging Silva’s counterstrikes. A left-right combo from Machida drops Silva again. Machida gains mount for a second, though give Silva credit for recovery. In the final seconds Machida trips Silva to the mat and dives on him with a right hand that lands squarely on the chin. A left follows it as the horn sounds.
Ref Yves Lavigne takes a long look at Silva lying prone after the round has ended and then waves it off.
Lyoto Machida defeats Thiago Silva via KO (punch) at 4:59 of round 1.
Doesn’t it just figure? This is the Machida that UFC fans can get behind. That ought to be worth a title shot right there. When asked about it by Rogan, Machida defers to the crowd. They sure think he deserves it. Although one guy behind me shouted a very clear, yet happily enthusiastic, "Fuck no!" Pretty sure he’s drunk.
B.J. Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre
Penn’s entrance music is making me feel like I’m in a peyote trance. I mean, I like that feeling, but I’m working here.
Nothing but awesome French rap for GSP. Makes me feel like I’m in an episode of "UFC Primetime."
Bruce Buffer’s intensity during these introductions is borderline terrifying. I mean that in the best way possible, Bruce.
GSP clinches and pushes Penn against the cage right away, working on his body and thighs with knees in close. GSP looks for a single-leg, but gives it up when Penn defends. Penn lands some right hands while St. Pierre continues to look for the takedown. GSP slips a Penn punch and lands one of his own. Penn’s takedown defense is every bit as good as advertised so far. A jab catches GSP cleanly above the eye and he’s already looking red and swollen. A left from GSP sticks Penn, followed by a leg kick. Each man tries a small flurry in the final ten seconds to steal the round. Tough to call.
Penn charges in and GSP responds with left hook. GSP clinches against the cage and Penn tries for a thai clinch. GSP fights for the takedown and this time he gets it. Penn works for a high guard, but GSP shrugs it off and lands a clean elbow to his forehead. GSP stands up in his guard and lands a right as he moves to half guard, then side control, pestering Penn with short rights. Penn recovers a butterfly guard and then goes to full guard. GSP lands two more elbows in close. GSP again goes to side control, but Penn regains his open guard. GSP continues to pour on strikes as the round ends. Penn looks dazed going to his corner.
GSP opens with a leg kick and a lead Superman-like jab. Penn’s nose is bloodied as GSP forces another clinch and gets another single-leg. He goes to work in Penn’s half-guard with just under four minutes left in the round. Penn recovers guard and GSP lands a solid elbow, though his work rate has slowed. Penn grabs GSP’s leg and uses it to get to his feet and work for a takedown of his own. GSP stops it and clinches against the cage, then drops Penn down with a double-leg. Big elbow from GSP, followed by a left hand. The round ends with GSP stacking Penn up against the fence. GSP is in control so far.
GSP flicks out a few jabs to keep Penn off-balance, then shoots in for a double-leg and puts him down. He moves immediately to side control, peppering Penn with right hands and elbows. GSP tries for mount and ends up in half-guard, then side control, landing short, though not terribly powerful punches all the while. GSP again tries for mount, but can’t secure it. A left and a right bounce Penn’s head off the canvas. GSP continues to grind away. GSP is pounding Penn’s face and you can hear it as the blows reverberate through the cage. GSP momentarily becomes tangled with Herb Dean, who looks close to stopping this one. The horn sounds, ending the fourth.
Penn can’t answer the horn for the fifth round. His corner waves it off and he collapses against the cage. GSP celebrates in the center of the Octagon with his teammates.
Georges St. Pierre defeats B.J. Penn via TKO (ref. stoppage) at the end of round 4.
I’m being told at cageside that the judges scores at the time of the stoppage read:
40-35, 40-34, 40-34
That’s it for me, everyone. I’m off to the press conference and then Clay Guida’s after-party at the Hawaiian Tropic Zone. You read that right. Expect a full report later.