“What’s wrong? You’re not upset about that whole ‘stand and bang’ thing, are you?”
Odds are good that last night’s fights didn’t play out exactly as you’d envisioned them. Whereas many thought the headliner would be decided by a strict adherence to fundamentals like boxing and wrestling, the allure of the card’s other fights was their potential for wild, unrestrained fisticuffs . Whether we simply expected a couple of slugfests based on previous fights or due to outright lies, last night’s competitors exercised some unexpected caution and took a more thoughtful approach to victory.
Garcia and Jung’s first battle at WEC 48 was the stuff of legend, an epic fight with neither man showing concern for his own safety. Heading into the rematch, some things had definitely changed. Jung, for one, had vowed to abandon his reckless Zombie style forever. For the first time we also heard Garcia use strange terms like “gameplan” and “patience”, a testament to Greg Jackson’s ability to tame even the wildest of animals. While the fight may have been more controlled than their previous meeting, it wasn’t low on fireworks. Garcia still loaded up his punches and swung with full force, but there was a metered aggression at play. We did see some shades of their former brawl, but they came only in short spurts. Jung proved to have the advantage on the ground at the close of round one. He followed up a late takedown with an attempt at an armbar, but Garcia scrambled out only to eat a couple of knees before returning to the canvas. Jung landed a solid shot from above before securing full mount and taking Garcia’s back, ending the round with some solid shots and in full control. Most of round two saw the men exchanging on their feet, with no significant damage taking place until Garcia slipped as the two traded kicks. From here Jung took control, landing several hard elbows from the guard. Again Jung worked his way to Garcia’s back where he would execute a UFC first. Jung released one of his hooks and patiently sunk in a twister to elicit the tap with only one second left in the round, securing the win and the Submission of the Night bonus. If their first fight was non-stop excitement with a debatable outcome, this fight was more sedate with a dramatic, decisive ending. As much as I don’t care for some of the decisions Garcia has won, he may have better success returning to his buck-wild roots.
Anthony Johnson silenced his weight-haterz on the scale Friday night, and he quelled concerns regarding ring rust in the cage on Saturday. “Rumble” stayed true to his word to stand toe-to-toe with Hardy, at least for the opening seconds of the bout. A big head kick a minute into the fight sent Hardy to the canvas. Johnson pounced, but was unable to finish or keep “The Outlaw” down. From here Johnson threw his “stand and bang” oath out the window, choosing to use his size and exploit Hardy’s lack of wrestling. You can hardly blame Johnson for taking the fight to where he has the best chance of winning, but these “grappling is for pussies” agreements are getting a little old. If we have yet to enact a Cage Potato ban on the practice, is now the time? For his part, Hardy worked for several kimuras from the bottom, but Johnson was in control on the ground nearly securing an arm triangle of his own. “Rumble” was coming off a long period of inactivity, so going home with the win was his first priority, but it was far from the welcome-back victory he’d envisioned. He went the distance without gassing, but that’s somewhat expected when you dictate the pace of the fight and spend three rounds on top of a smaller opponent. For Hardy, this marks his third loss in a row. Normally that would mean a trip to the minor leagues, but as one of Britain’s best known fighters I doubt he’ll be going anywhere.
Fight of the Night bonus checks went out to Micheal McDonald and Edwin Figueroa for their highly entertaining Facebook tussle. Both on paper and in the cage Figueroa looked outgunned, with McDonald taking the fight to him standing and on the ground. McDonald was easily able to bob and weave away from Figueroa’s strikes while landing his own crisp blows at will. The story was much the same on the ground with McDonald throwing up submission after submission, but again Figueroa proved incredibly resilient and refused to give up. Those triangle attempts took more of a toll on McDonald than on their intended victim, as his legs were gassed in the following round making for a more competitive bout. “El Feroz” was just another of many fighters on the evening’s card to step in as a late replacement, and even in the loss his stock has risen. He may not have the experience or talent to hang with the rest of the division, but he showed remarkable heart and should be rewarded for his effort with another fight in the Octagon.
Amir Sadollah earned the win over DaMarques Johnson in a back and forth fight that should neither raise nor lower either man’s standing. The two Ultimate Fighter alumni traded some hard shots standing and each gained momentary control on the ground, but ultimately this fight seemed to be decided by the two weeks notice that Johnson had coming into the bout. He was game early on, but in the second round he was clearly starting to gas. Sodallah turned it on and secured a takedown which ended with him in the mount. Wrapping Johnson’s arm around his own head and raining down elbows, Amir forced the ref to step in and halt the bout. Neither man was a step up in competition for the other, and Johnson’s stepping in on short notice makes the win less impressive and the loss more understandable. Basically, both guys are right where they were before the fight, which is just kind of hanging out in the middle of the division.
Sean McCorkle learned once again that winning the war of words means very little when the bell rings. Christian Morecraft proved too much for “Big Sexy”, hurting him on the ground with big elbows and lighting him up on the feet. The end for McCorkle, both in this fight and possibly in the UFC, came via choke out from a standing guillotine at the end of round two. McCorkle is a funny guy, but he has yet to have the last laugh in his UFC career thus far.