UFC 175 was a night of strange happenings and settings, but indeed it was exactly the kind of PPV the fans deserved. After a couple shit turds of an excuse for main events this year, Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida had potential to be just another typical five-round touch-and-go fest (which is typical of a Machida fight, for better or for worse). What we got instead was a fight that became a slug fest in the later rounds, and a fight that, despite Weidman retaining his belt, saw both men's stock raise considerably from a fight fan's perspective.
MAIN EVENT: CHRIS WEIDMAN (CHAMPION) vs. LYOTO MACHIDA
PREDICTION: Lyoto Machida would win by decision.
ACTUAL: CHRIS WEIDMAN wins by decision, remaining the Middleweight champion.
The fight started slow with a much larger Weidman pressing the action, making it very difficult for Machida to counter and land significant strikes with his back close to the cage. This was the story of the first three rounds, but somewhere in the fourth Machida opened up and started landing. Not just little punches, but big punches, and Weidman looked dazed and tired for the first time in his career. The fight would end with Machida in a flurry, winning the bi-partisan crowd over in a back-and-forth battle that had Lyoto bloodied and battered, but Weidman victorious.
CO-MAIN EVENT: RONDA ROUSEY (CHAMPION) vs. ALEXIS DAVIS
PREDICTION: Ronda Lousey (Rousey) would win by first round armbar.
ACTUAL: Ronda Rousey wins by 0:16 Donkey Kong slam and KO.
There's not much to say here. Ronda has nobody else to fight right now. This was just a perfect example of feeding a trout to a shark, and it's almost like watching a James Bond movie where the villain sends his victims to the giant evil henchman who can cut their head off with a karate chop to the neck. You watch the fight not hoping that there will be anything different than the inevitable, but to see just how devastating the result is going to be. To be clear, Alexis Davis thought referee Yves Lavigne's leg was the teddy bear she spoons with for the better part of thirty seconds after her whoopin'.
URIAH HALL vs. THIAGO SANTOS
PREDICTION: Uriah Hall would win by split decision.
ACTUAL: Uriah Hall wins by unanimous decision.
A great fight through-and-through, but the highlight wasn't just the fact that Uriah Hall won, but the manner in which he won. He stayed true to his word (which I had feared would have been a ploy) and came into the cage as a fighter. Both men landed good shots, but Hall was entertaining to watch, moving around with fantastic footwork even IF his right middle toe wasn't broken. But it was. And eww, it was:
At the end of each round, the doctors kept trying to get a closer look at the toe, but Halls' corner men kept shooing them away. "He's alright. He's fine," they continued to say, leading the doctors away from the concern of a single injured toe being a fight-stopping mechanism. Hall continued to bounce on his feet, showing fantastic footwork until the last second, where finally he limped back to his corner in pain.
This is the kind of fight that draws casual fight viewers into fans. This is the kind of situation and circumstance that the UFC suit-wearers should dream of and respect to the highest degree - a man with a legitimate injury, who puts aside all things to continue on the course of being a world-class fighter. And succeeds.
URIJAH FABER vs. ALEX CACERAS
PREDICTION: Urijah Faber would defeat Alex Caceras via rear-naked choke (Round One)
ACTUAL: Urijah Faber defeats Alex Caceras via rear-naked choke (Round 3)
"The California Kid" versus "Bruce Leeroy" is, in my memory, the biggest mismatch in Zuffa-era UFC history. Despite the fact that the fight turned out be surprisingly competitive, I can't think of anything logical that would have drawn the matchmakers to think that putting Caceras against Faber was a good idea in the first place. The fact that it WAS competitive was a surprise - there's literally no damn way anyone would have though that the fight would have gone outside of the first round. In the end, Caceras has nothing to feel sorry for, because he put on a great fight and was able to land some good shots against the never-UFC-champion.
Ultimate Fighter Season 19 Finale
MAIN EVENT: B.J. PENN vs. FRANKIE EDGAR
PREDICTION: Frankie Edgar would defeat B.J. Penn via unanimous decision (49-46)
ACTUAL: Frankie Edgar finishes a strange B.J. Penn via TKO (Round 3)
I'm really curious to know what the mindset was behind the team training B.J. Penn for his first fight at featherweight. His stance was too tall, he had no power behind his punches, and just couldn't do anything on the ground outside of holding his feet on Edgar's hips from his back. While Edgar's performance was impressive (yet again), there was something sad about watching Penn go out the way he did. He hadn't fought in nearly two years, and was re-motivated to come back and fight one more time.
After the fight, he made mention that he shouldn't have returned, but he was proud to have fought hard and through the pains of competition in the fashion in which his father had taught him. Once again, he hung up his gloves and announced that this was his last fight. This time it's for certain. And he has nothing to be ashamed of for coming back - he is one of the main reasons a huge portion of fight fans are watching MMA today, and an even bigger reason why many fighters even exist today. Bittersweet and nostalgic is the final return of B.J. Penn.
"ULTIMATE FIGHTER 19" FINALISTS
Light Heavyweight Final: MATT VAN BUREN vs. COREY ANDERSON
PREDICTION: Matt van Buren will defeat Corey Anderson via decision.
ACTUAL: Corey Anderson defeats Matt van Buren via TKO (Round One)
If only these guys fought like this on the show. By "these guys" I am also referring to Matt van Buren, because he looked like shit in this fight. And I was hoping he would have eaten shit on the show as well, because he's an annoying piece of work that gives a lot of true fighters in this lifestyle a bad name. I was more than happy to get my prediction wrong, and to see Corey Anderson perform explosively, finishing van Douchebag before he could even get comfortable inside the cage.
Middleweight Final: DHIEGO LIMA vs. EDDIE GORDON
PREDICTION: Dhiego Lima defeats Eddie Gordon via TKO (Round Two)
ACTUAL: Eddie Gordon defeats Dhiego Lima via TKO (Round One)
This one was a little sad to watch. Lima was the one fighter the entire season of the show worth rooting for, but he just came up short against a guy in Gordon who was a boring, wrestle-fuck grinder on the show. I'm not sure anybody expected to see Gordon come out swinging the way he did, but it was surprising (and exciting) to say the least.
POSITIVES: Ultimate Fighter finalists were surprising in their quick finishes. Machida probably won more fans in his loss to Weidman than Weidman did in his defense of the belt. Uriah Hall was the entertaining (and tough) fighter we wanted to see since we first saw him. Faber versus Caceras was more competitive than anyone (including myself) gave credit to.
NEGATIVES: Stefan Struve apparently fainted in the back room and hour before he was supposed to make his return to the Octagon. I was really looking forward to his fight with "Meat Head" Matt Mitrione, but I am concerned about his future in the sport given his heart issues.
POSITIVE & NEGATIVE: Ronda winning in the way she did. While she is impressive and dominant, she is also, in a sense, too impressive and dominant. She just showed that there is literally nobody in the UFC women's bantamweight division that belongs in the cage with her. Nobody...yet.
WTF MOMENT #!: George Roop turning in his best marionette impression while getting knocked the hell out:
WTF MOMENT #2: During a post-fight interview with Ultimate Fighter winner Eddie Gordon, Fox Sports had to put a completely redundant stat at the bottom of the screen, stating that he has "the 4th fastest KO/TKO in a UFC Middleweight debut". That's almost as retarded as if someone asks you how your day is going, and you respond with, "It's not the best, but if I had to make a list it's probably my 4th favorite day so far this week."
BULLSHIT!: Uriah Hall NOT getting a "Performance of the Night" bonus for fighting with a broken piece of body. His dedication to the fight and to entertain the crowd was the exact kind of thing that the UFC brass should be commending. His broken toe wasn't a "health issue", and he wasn't putting himself in any danger by continuing to fight. What he did showed guts, and from it he received his glory.
OVERALL BETTING PERCENTAGE: I went 4-for-7 on my fight picks (57% accuracy)
UFC 175 Final Grade: A
Summary: UFC 175 had surprises, great finishes, and a middleweight championship that was one of the most exciting back-and-forth battles in recent title fights. This was a great card, one that may be a bit elevated by the fact that i watched it in a movie theater with a small crowd of fans, but that just added to the fact that THIS is what the fans are paying their money for.