(You DID NOT just call me Chris from ‘N Sync!)
Although Stipe Miocic‘s quick knockout of previously undefeated heavyweight Philip De Fries may have netted him the $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus, our pick for sweetest KO went to Jonathan Brookins, who proved that not every Brazilian has the femur mangling leglock ability of Rousimar Palhares when he ground-and-pounded Vagner Rocha into oblivion inside the first two minutes of their preliminary card match-up. Not many of us knew what to make of Brookins after he dropped a UD to Eric Koch back in September of 2011. The fight proved that Brookins’ wrestling could in fact be thwarted, and that his striking had not made the leaps and bounds it needed to in order to balance things out. Last night’s fight was made to be a test of both.
Well, if anyone is still doubting the power in Brookins’ hands, they should probably shut right the hell up. Brookins did what Donald Cerrone, or any of Rocha’s previous opponents for that matter, couldn’t, and shut off his light switch with a series of increasingly punishing strikes before the ref managed to step in. To be honest, it was kind of scary to see that someone as docile and plain daffy as Brookins had the capacity for such brutality. And just as Brookins resembles the missing evolutionary link between man and ape, he was able to evolve in his own right, to connect one of the missing links in his game, and should be applauded for it. Not only did his knockout save a Facebook card that was luke warm at best to begin with, it made up for the fact that the Loeffler/Roberts match was cancelled after Loeffler rolled his ankle in the pre-fight warm up. Talk about shit luck.
Ivan Menjivar and TUF 14′s John Albert kicked off the main card by engaging in one of the wildest back and forth rounds that you will see this year, trading punches, kicks, knees, and submissions at an astonishing rate. A tip of the hat is also due to Albert for having the gusto to attack Menjivar in the fashion he did, going for omaplatas, heel hooks, and triangle/armbar variations on the more experienced grappler at every opportunity. That said, it appears his submission defense is not quite up to par with that of his offense. Albert had Menjivar on the defensive following a left hook/head kick combo, and looked like he would finish “The Pride of El Salvador” with a barrage of knees, one of which was blatantly illegal. But he made a huge mistake when he went for that guillotine, which gave Menjivar all the space he needed to flip the script and put Albert on his back, a shift in momentum that would lead to the the fight ending rear-naked choke, and a $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus for Menjivar. We would call it a rookie mistake by Albert, but even the most seasoned of veterans have made it.
Following the Menjivar/Albert match, TUF 14 bantamweight runner-up T.J. Dillashaw used his superior grappling prowess to grind out a unanimous decision over the lengthy Walel Watson. From the opening bell, it was pretty evident that Dillashaw wanted nothing to do with Watson’s striking game, and considering the manner in which he lost to John Dodson, this seemed understandable. Threatening with a rear-naked choke on several occasions throughout the first round, Dillashaw continued to take Watson down at will over the next two, utterly dominating him and walking away with a 30-25, 30-25, 30-26 unanimous decision.
Speaking of numbers, one thing we would like to compliment the UFC on was their usage of the strike counting graphic that would pop out of the clock every so often. It gives you something to consider when personally judging each fight, and in our opinion, will help casual fans gain an appreciation for one aspect of the ground game. So touche, UFC. Touche.
Oh yeah, and Ronny Markes had a successful middleweight debut, managing to overcome being nearly finished in the first round to out grapple Aaron Simpson and snag a split decision victory. With the win, Markes improves to 2-0 in the octagon and is now the biggest middleweight since Anthony Johnson.