After weeks of height-related gags, Struve still wasn’t done rubbing his length advantage in Barry’s face. (Photo: Tracy Lee via Yahoo Sports!)
Sandwiched between two marquee UFC cards, last night’s UFC Live flew under the promotional radar. It’s understandable that Zuffa would focus more on two stacked pay per view cards than a Versus broadcast, but in a time when fights are hyped for months only to fall short when the bell rings, it’s rare to see a card that delivers so much action from Facebook to the main event. Add to the mix that there was gold on the line and the lack of promotion for this event is borderline criminal. Only two fights on the card were decided by the judges—though just as many were decided by the referees—and either of them could have earned FOTN honors. We’ve got a lot to cover, so hunker down.
First off, I’d like to welcome back an old friend. Elbows, we’d nearly forgotten about you, but last night you were ushered back into society like the queen of a violent debutant ball. Bored with simply working on teeth, “The Dentist” performed a full-facial extraction via elbow on Keith Wisniewski during the Facebook broadcast. Cut stoppages aren’t my favorite, but these ‘bows we’re seeing from the clinch are brutal, damage inflicting blows that you’ve got to stop before they stop you, and I like them. Speaking of which…
Mac Danzig and Matt Wiman opened the broadcast with an outstanding rematch that saw both men fighting for the finish. Much of the bout was spent in the clinch with Wiman throwing heavy elbows with bad intent. Danzig answered with combinations and body shots, but Wiman got better of the exchanges. The action didn’t lull when the fighters hit the mat, and though Wiman attempted a few close submissions in the second round it was Danzig who nearly ended the fight with a guillotine as the final bell rang. Wiman got his hand raised, but both men earned the $65k “Fight of the Night” bonus.
For most of his 2:49 second bout, Charlie Brenneman got his face grated against the canvas and bombed on from all angles, and that was the high point for “The Spaniard”. Johnson bullied Brenneman around like his kid brother, securing a dominant position off of a stuffed takedown and landing shots at his leisure. When he scrambled back to his feet, Brenneman was greeted with a head kick that sent him scrambling back to the mat. Once back on wobbly legs, another head kick sent him tumbling backwards. It was a forceful, undefended blow to an already-rocked opponent, but Mario Yamasaki made the decision to stop the fight while Brenneman was in mid-air. Had he waited a second longer, he may have seen that “The Spaniard” braced himself on impact with the mat and was prepared to defend himself. A tough call to make in the moment? I’m sure it is, but that’s what we expect of high-level officials, and where was his concern for fighter safety earlier in the evening? It certainly wasn’t a knockout, but it was the “Knock Out of the Night”.
Freakshow bouts are a roll of the dice, and outside of its wild finish the Barry-Struve bout did not deliver. Both fought a cautious first round, with “HD” trying to work his way inside and Struve largely content to keep him at bay with front kicks. When the two finally clinched up in round two, Struve nicely transitioned from standing darce attempt to a guillotine to a deep triangle. Barry’s Rampagesque counter was exciting, but the power bomb only served to tighten up the choke. Struve earned his fourteenth submission win and “Submission of the Night” honors. This was Barry’s second consecutive stoppage defeat.
After being put into a heavyweight-induced coma last week, Cruz and Johnson gave us a clear reminder that the lighter weight classes are where the action is. This was billed as a fight between MMA’s fastest fighters, and as predicted it looked a lot like one of those cartoon fights that takes place in a cloud of smoke with only the occasional limb popping out. For a full twenty five minutes their bout exhibited the sort of wild transitions and blazing speed that only my exes can fully appreciate. Johnson’s hustle and pressure forced Cruz to abandon his herky-jerky footwork, but the champion adapted and put on an incredible display of grappling superiority, landing two picturesque German suplexes and ten total takedowns throughout the bout. This marks Cruz’s fourth consecutive title defense, all the more impressive considering he broke his hand in the first round.
Full results (via TheMMANews.com):
Main Card (Versus)
Bantamweight Championship bout: Dominick Cruz def. Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson via Unanimous Decision (50-45, 49-46, 50-45)
Heavyweight bout: Stefan Struve def. Pat Barry via Submission (Triangle choke) – R2 @ 3:22
Welterweight bout: Anthony Johnson def. Charlie Brenneman via TKO (Head Kick) – R1 @ 2:49
Lightweight bout: Matt Wiman def. Mac Danzig via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Preliminary Card (Facebook.com/UFC)
Lightweight bout: Yves Edwards def. Rafaello Oliveira via TKO (Punches) – R2 @ 2:44
Lightweight bout: Paul Sass def. Michael Johnson via Submission (Heel hook) – R1 @ 3:00
Catchweight (138 lbs) bout: Mike Easton def. Byron Bloodworth via TKO (Knee-Punches) – R2 @ 4:52
Lightweight bout: T.J. Grant def. Shane Roller via Submission (Verbal Submission) – R3 @ 2:12
Welterweight bout: Josh Neer def. Keith Wisniewski via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) – R2 @ 5:00
Bantamweight bout: Walel Watson def. Joseph Sandoval via TKO (Kick/Punches) – R1 @ 1:17