Pretty good event overall. This time the prelims were distinctively inferior to the main card. Comments in bold.
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco
Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements
Preliminary Card (FX)
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero - Battle of the former TUF winners, buried in the undercard (at least it was not on Facebook). That says a lot abot the success rate of the show's winners. Escudero's best chance of winning the fight was a heel hook in R1. Danzig reversed the position quickly and the rest is history. The rest of the fight was a mix between a kickboxing fight and a hug fest against the fence. Escudero's passive attitude, being content with trading some blows with Danzig all while being cornered agains the fence, cost him the fight. Efrain just couldn't bring himself to be te agressor and take the fight despite all the advantages he had like Danzig's ankle being totally blown out. He just doesn't have what it takes to compete in the UFC anymore. With losses to Volkmann and Danzig, he should be cut pretty soon (maybe just one more fight). Danzig, on the other hand, didn't do himself any favors with this fight. It wasn't a good performance and it wasn't a good fight. He will not get himself out of the undercard with fights like that. I have no idea who his next opponent will be but it will probably be some random undercard fight to fill a card.
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani - Played out pretty much as I expected. Makdessi spent the fight throwing kicks into the air while being picked apart at a distance by Njokuani. Why didn't he try close the distance and throw punches until the 3rd? I don't know. Maybe he wanted KO of the Night to offset the 20% of his purse he had to give up for missing weight. Maybe he thought he was in a TKD point match. Njokuani did his thing, kept calm, dodged the kicks and peppered Makdessi with shots while stiffling his offensive with great movement in the cage. Maybe match up Makdessi with Escudero in a "loser goes home" match. As for Njokuani, I don't know. Maybe Mac Danzig in a "winner gets a 2 win streak" match?
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson - A karate and kickboxing champion who doesn't have any grappling. Who would've known? I think Matt Brown knew. That's why he picked a fight with him. Since Wonderboy couldn't KO Brown, he just got beaten down due to his total lack of grappling, Brown's kryptonite. Brown fought pretty smart the whole fight, grounding himself at the beggining to stop the kicks, grabbing them and going for singles. Even when Thompson got a top position, he got quickly reversed and beaten down again. He did have a shot at finishing a very gassed Brown in the 2nd round but he himself was gassed and wasn't throwing with enough power to put him away. The endind was totally brutal: mounted triangle and pounding his face in. Brown beat the odds and now finds himself with a 2 fight win streak, something he didn't have since 2009 at UFC 105. Thompson goes back to the drawing board and hopefully the BJJ and wrestling mat to learn something about keeping the fight standing.
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs - Browne absolutely dominated Griggs by being the bigger man but also the smarter fighter. Instead of trying to simply bang Griggs out, he took advantage of his complete lack of ground game and worked for a submission instead of risking his face against the punches. He looked pretty in shape for his size and will probably fight soon enough, maybe at UFC 146 against Roy Nelson who lost his dance partner to a card re-shuffle. The flying knee was the beggining of the end for Griggs and it becomes twice as impressive when you think about the fact that Browne is 2,05m and weighs 250lb. Chad Griggs now faces a dilemma: he's a small HW at 1,86 and 223lb, could probably cut easily to LHW but he simply doesn't have any significant skills going for him other than punching hard and would be easily beaten by every LHW in the roster. So, he must keep fighting at HW were heavy hands rule the roost but there aren't many guys around that will simply stand and bang with him, at least not guys that are destined to stay employed with the UFC (see Joey Beltran). I'm thinking he'll take the opportunity to get as much money out of his UFC run as he can (much like Sean McCorkle) and then "retire" to the freakshow circuit in the B-Leagues. Maybe KZW, SFL or Titan Fights. It should be pretty clear to him that fighting in SF is a whole different pool depth than in the UFC.
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio - I think when Bocek beat Lentz, he stole his mojo. Alessio's only shot at winning this fight was his striking and he didn't show enough despair until it was too late. Bocek imposed his will, grappled Alessio to bits in a lukewarm decision by LnP. He didn't go for submissions until the last few seconds of the round, despite having several available. Browne vs Griggs should have taken it's place on the Main Card. It's wasn't a good fight to start the PPV on and it will probably cost Bocek in his future matchmaking.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin - When I was watching this fight, I said out loud: this looks a lot like Kampmann vs Sanchez. And sure enough, the decision went the same goddamn way. Yagin's gameplan was to stand flat footed in front of Hominick and wing bombs. There was nothing else to him, he just stood there, ate shots and winged bombs. He didn't even press forward. Hominick got tagged, sure, but look at the rest of the rounds. He outlanded Yagin in signifcant and total strikes in the 2nd and 3rd. The 3rd round was a complete blowout of Yagin's face. A knockdown in the 1st and another in the 2nd and it's 29-28, despite getting tagged over and over again? Come on. I concede that Hominick also did lack a sense of urgency and didn't press for the finish when he sould've, still I think he should have won the fight. From fighting for the belt to losing 3 in a row, it's almost like the Miguel Torres' story. Homnick needs to get his confidence back and take his rightful place in the FW division or get cut trying.
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald - Future BW contender Michael McDonald proved once again that he's the real by knocking Miguel Torres into oblivion. KO power is a rare comodity in the lower weight classes and sure enough, Mayday has it. What an uppercut. Seeing how Faber is going to fight Cruz again for the belt, will they match McDonald with future champion Barão or will they have him fight maybe Brad Pickett and set him up as the next contender after Barão takes the title? As for Torres, well, he certainly has some years ahead of him but this overall in his style seems to be working against him. He really needs to return to his pre-Brian Bowles days or else he will slowly drift into gatekeepership and irrelevance, a sort of BW Tito Ortiz.
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell - Seems that Schaub's belief that his chin is stronger than it really is got to him again. He was doing fine until then, even throwing a spinning elbow that rocked Rothwell but then he got punched and it was lights out. Pretty much a repeat of the Nogueira fight. A left hook by a dazed, backing Rothwell did the trick. The fight didn't last enough for a real gauge of Rothwell's cardio but I'll admit he looked pretty good. As for future fights, pair Schaub with Griggs and Rothwell with the winner of Hunt vs Struve, Roy Nelson or even Travis Browne (if they don't end up fighting eachother).
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills - The commentary was on the WWE level for this fight, with Rogan desperately trying to sell Che Mills as an elite fighter. And he kept on doing it even after the inital 30 seconds where he wasn't being absolutely destroyed. Rory had his way with Mills. He had submissions available a bunch of times but didn't take them, opting to keep punishing Mills. Heck, I think the fight lasted 2 round just because Rory decided he should pound Mills' face in some more and finish by TKO. Rory is the real deal and he should fight another Top 10 WW in his next fight. Jake Shields or Martin Kampmann maybe.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans - The only thing in this fight that maybe surprised some people was that Jones didn't finish Evans. Jones dominated Evans on the feet, as one would expect due to his huge reach, and Rashad was content with it because he knew he couldn't take him down. What followed was 5 rounds of Jones beating the **** out of Evans with standing elbows, body kicks and straight jabs. Evans was in the fight until the 3rd round but he then probably realized that he was losing by 30-27 at that point and he wasn't getting a KO, so he slowed down a bit and tried to minimize the damage that he was taking. Jones' next opponent is Dan Henderson but after what we've seen here tonight, the term victim wouldn't be inappropriate. Evans keeps his #2 spot in the LHW ladder and should probably fight Shogun next, since Rampage will probably end up facing Forrest Griffin or a blown-up Rich Franklin. Shogun having double knee surgery yet again is a sure sign that Evans would take that fight even if he didn't train at all for it.