The UFC held it's annual fourth of July card, somewhat lacking in excitement despite the strong card, and we were treated to a sleeper hit. There was drama as Tito did the improbable and beat the retrospectively overrated Ryan Bader; there was technical brilliance in the main event (check out my scorecard down below, I had it even closer than the judges); Contenders made statements; Aaron Simpson proved that not fighting at an elite level wins fights.
Seriously though, what Aaron Simpson did was avoid fighting Brad Tavares, and instead try and stall out against the cage. Taking a person to the cage to negate their striking is not an end of itself, and if all that a person can do is stall out against the cage that is not a winning technique. If it is done as a means to land strikes or take the fight to the ground then by all means, press away, but if an athlete stalls out against the cage that must not be scored favourably by the judges. In my scorecard I had that fight as a 29-29 draw, with the first round split, the second for Tavares and the third for Simpson.
Of the 11 fights on the card, I successfully picked 8, about average for me, and giving me a 21-9 overall. Of the 3 I got wrong though the one I am happy about is Carlos Condit, taking out another contender in the Welterweight division, and a previously unbeaten one at that. In our video I said that if this was an exciting fight Condit would probably have won, and that was exactly the case. Kim pressed for and got a takedown early, as expected, but rather than controlling him on the ground Kim was immediately tossed ass over tea-kettle in a brilliant sweep. On the feet again Condit took over, throwing punches knees and kicks. He backed Kim against the cage and fired off a huge flying knee right onto Kim's enormous jaw and followed up with piston-fire punches ending the fight in the first. And it was three finishes in a row against respectable competition. Nice.
*Dominick Cruz (c) def. Urijah Faber via Unanimous Decision (click here for my scorecard)
"The winner, and still UFC Batamweight Champion of the World, Dominick Cruz!" For the first time ever two men walked into the cage, having met the 135 lb. requirement, and decided who is the best fighter in the world. Sort of. If one had knocked the other out, or if one had submitted to the other we would have. What we did decide is that over five, 5 minute rounds, Dominick Cruz can win between 3 (or two on my card) and 5 of those rounds, barely. Don't let my quibbling over specifics make you think I didn't like the fight, quite the opposite. It was exciting, fast paced, aggressive, varied and exceedingly technical. But what it wasn't was in any danger of being finished, by either man.
By my reckoning the first round was even: Cruz was the striking exchanges, Faber the grappling, and neither had a clear edge in terms of cage control or setting the pace or getting off first. I also scored the third as a draw, this time splitting the striking, Faber again winning the grappling, but Cruz starting to assert control of the pacing of the fight, pushing forward more and throwing first throughout. Both of these rounds were exceedingly close, and I can only argue to a point against giving it to either man, but that is why there are allowances for 10-10 rounds in the rules. There doesn't have to be a winner.
I gave Cruz the victory with R2 and R5, and I gave Faber R4.
*Chris Leben def. Wanderlei Silva via KO @ :27 of R1
They played rock 'em sock 'em robots for less than half a minute before The Axe Murderer went down. The best thing I can say about a fight like this is that I picked the winner. I like Wanderlei a lot, especially when he also plays defense and fights a good fight.
*Dennis Siver def. Matt Wiman via Unanimous Decision (click here for my scorecard)
Matt Wiman is a dirty fighter. He asked for, and got the stoppage against Mac Danzig despite his choke being totally ineffective. That was cheeky, but it his fight against Dennis Siver he was downright dirty. Despite, by my count, 6 attempts, 2 of which were successful in the first round, he could not keep Siver down and he lost the round. When in the second he was able to get Siver down cleanly, he headbutt him repeatedly while on the ground. The ref warned him once but failed to enforce that warning when the behavior continued. Then, after Wiman cut Siver with a very nice elbow, he then was grinding his chin into the cut, a clear violation of the rules and dirty as all hell. So after this fight Wiman was 2 things: a dirty fighter, and a loser.
*Tito Ortiz def. Ryan Bader via submission @ 1:56 of R1
I still don't like Tito. I still think he's a liar and a cheat. I will have to put up with him for at least one more fight. Hum bug.
*Carlos Condit def. Dong Hyun Kim via KO @ 2:58 of R1
I really like Condit. There aren't a lot of guys left I could pick over him. GSP, maybe Fitch, but who else?
*Melvin Guillard def. Shane Roller via KO @ 2:12 of R1
Roller had nothing on Guillard on that night. Guillard started aggressive, pushing the pace and landing some power shots for most of the first 2 minutes, but then he started hanging back, and letting Roller come forward. And then he punched Roller in the face as he came forward. Then they stopped the fight.
*Rafael dos Anjos def. George Sotiropoulos via KO @ :59 of R1
*Brian Bowles def. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision (my scorecard)
*Aaron Simpson sucks and I refuse to write about his Unanimous Decision of Brad Tavares
He didn't win. It was a tie. In R2 Tavares dropped Simpson striking and took him down with a huge double, which was more than Simpson did all fight long, giving Tavares R2 on my card, which combined with the 10-10 first round I scored made this fight a tie. It defies comprehension that someone can argue that Simpson won anything. Booo.
*Anthony Njokuani def. Andre Winner via Unanimous Decision (my scorecard)
*Jeff Hougland def. Donny Walker via Unanimous Decision (my scorecard)