UFC 114, featuring the main event of Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans. Jackson is #5 and Evans #7 in the latest SportsRatings MMA Top 100 (as of April). Among light heavyweights they are #2 and #3, and the winner has a chance to claim the top spot due to Lyoto Machida's loss to Shogun Rua in UFC 113.
Other noted combatants include "Little Nog" Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a light heavyweight match, and Michael Bisping fighting at middleweight. At heavyweight relative newcomer Todd Duffee is back after having won his first UFC fight in a record 7 seconds.
WW: #61 Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway
Light HW: #23 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz
HW: Todd Duffee (6-0) vs. Mike Russow (12-2)
MW: Mike Bisping vs. Dan Miller
Light HW: #5 Quinton Jackson vs. #7 Rashad Evans
Welterweight: #61 Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway
- Round One: The undefeated (but unranked in the top 100) Hathaway won the first round decisively. As Sanchez went for a takedown Hathaway met his head with a knee. The next several minutes saw Hathaway landing shots from inside Sanchez's guard. Hathaway 10-8.
- Round Two: Much more even, much more standup, but Hathaway won a close round. 10-9 Hathaway; 20-17.
- Round Three: Hathaway hit his stride while standing, countering well and avoiding big shots and Sanchez's takedown attempts. 10-9 Hathway; Hathaway wins on SportsRatings' card 30-26.
The judges called it pretty much the same: 30-27, 30-27, and 30-26 for Hathaway getting the upset win.
Light Heavyweight: #23 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Jason Brilz
- Round One: A back and forth round which saw both men on top on the ground, then back to standup. Close, awkward round but Brilz might have gotten more ground-and-pound in than Little Nog. Brilz 10-9.
- Round Two: A takedown by Brilz turned into a near-guillotine by Nog, but as these things almost always work out he couldn't hold it. Then tired, he got caught in a very bad choke himself but held on as they wrestled for position. Brilz then changed to a forearm choke before going for some ground and pound. But again the strain of holding a choke for 2 minutes left him tired, and Nogueira was able to escape to his feet. Brilz tried a few more takedowns but failed and generally lost the standup, though a few wild shots connected late. Brilz 10-9; 20-18.
- Round Three: A Brilz takedown was reversed by Nog, then both stood up again. Nog is fighting like he thinks he needs a stoppage to win, which may be the case. On the ground again, Nog tried a submission from unorthodox position, but the fighters stood again. Brilz attempts another takedown resulting in another unorthodox position. Nog trapped one of Brilz's arms with his legs and almost had him in a terrible position. But Brilz escaped, and survived some ground and pound at the end. Nogueira 10-9; SportsRatings' card: Brilz 29-28.
A really interesting fight with lots of twists and turns. It could go either way based on the first round scoring. Not surprisingly, the crowd takes issue with the split decision for Nogueira: 29-28, 29-28, and 28-29. Though I had it for Brilz, the first round was awkward and close. Joe Rogan has to notify us that the crowd is shouting "bullshit" in the middle of Nog's interview. Classy, Joe. But Brilz shows great class in not criticizing the decision, and telling the crowd not to boo Nogueira.
Heavyweight: Todd Duffee (6-0) vs. Mike Russow (12-2)
- Round One: Duffee, in far better shape than Russow, quickly takes control of the standup with some damaging shots. Russow can't close for an effective takedown. But he survives the initial onslaught from Duffee. The rest of the round is uneventful save one big shot by Duffee, who easily wins the round. Duffee 10-9.
- Round Two: Russow isn't showing much, playing defense and attempting a pathetic takedown now and then. Two minutes in Duffee has him in some more trouble, but Russow has a tough chin and won't go down. Duffee fights well but looks vulnerable to a good puncher, which Russow isn't. Duffee keeps things in the center of the ring, and wins this round clearly. Duffee 10-9; 20-18.
- Round Three: The crowd is getting impatient at the stalemate nature of the fight. Russow can't do anything, and he won't fall to Duffee's punches, which are becoming fewer and farther between as he tires. SUDDENLY RUSSOW GETS A KO!!! Yes, Duffee was vulnerable to the punch, I stand by that...
Duffee was laid out cold on his back by a right cross that took him completely by surprise at 2:35. That shows you how much a good defense, a good chin, and perseverance will do for you. Nothing was working for him, and all he was trying were takedowns that weren't effective, but he kept trying. Duffee, on the other hand, was exposed as a very one-dimensional fighter with a defense problem (and a questionable chin).
Middleweight: #152 Michael Bisping vs. #317 Dan Miller
Two fighters trying to regain their form at middleweight are up next. Bisping has lost 2 of his last 3, and Miller his last 2 fights.
- Round One: Bisping catches a kick in the crotch but he's ok. Over the next few minutes few punches connect, Miller lands a few soft kicks, and Bisping has a good straight right. An active but uneventful round won by Bisping 10-9.
- Round Two: Miller is kicking a bit more frequently. Bisping responds with punches and eventually a high kick of his own, then a strong right hand in the middle of the round. Miller's face is bloodied. Despite a last second shot from Miller, Bisping clearly wins the round. 10-9 Bisping; 20-18.
- Round Three: Bisping unloading; Miller returns fire but so does Bisping. Both want to win by stoppage. After two minutes, Miller gets a takedown into Bisping's guard. Bisping quickly escapes to his feet. Miller's next takedown attempt only gets to a fence clinch. Bisping continues to dominate the standup and he survives Miller's last ditch succession of wild punches to get the win. Bisping 10-9; SportsRatings card: Bisping 30-27
Miller had his moments but Bisping had more of them. The UFC judges call it 30-27, 30-27, and 29-27 for Bisping.
Main Event - Light Heavyweight: #5 Quinton Jackson vs. #7 Rashad Evans
- Round One: Evans connects with a hard punch early that rocks Jackson; Evans pins him against the fence. Rampage tries to hold off the takedown for several minutes and the fight is reset. Rampage misses a wild punch and Evans dives for a takedown, getting good partial mount position against the fence. Rampage somehow stands up but Evans controls the action. Another reset from against the fence. Jackson gets his best punch in with seconds to go, but Evans wins the round. Evans 10-9.
- Round Two: Evans battles inside for a clinch, and gets Jackson against the fence where I'm sure the fight will go at least once every round. Rampage forces his way out, but they go right back there again a minute later. The third reset of the fight from the fence. Rampage misses wildly, with Evans keeping far distance. Once again the the fence; Evans can't get the takedown from there, but delivers some knees. He takes Jackson's back on a takedown attempt and once again forces him into the cage. Not much offense that round. Evans 10-9; 20-18.
- Round Three: Rampage's corner implores that he needs a KO this round. Evans' speed is giving him problems though. He misses on a wild right, and another. Evans' takedown is stuffed and Rampage hits him with a huge shot, and goes on to ground and pound. Somehow Evans survives against the cage, and even gets back up with the round half over, relatively unharmed considering what could have happened. Evans gets a tackdown and has Rampage in bad position, landing punches to the face at side mount. Rampage stands but Evans takes him back down with 30 seconds left. Rampage stands again. Evans turns a clear Jackson round into one of his own, as his ground and pound was more effective. Evans 10-9; SportsRatings' card: Evans 30-27.