Monday, March 29, 2010
UFC 111 Recap
The 17,000 fans at the sold out Prudential Center this past Saturday saw a champion retain his belt and a new champion crowned in addition to the other 8 fights featured on the UFC 111 card.
On the preliminary card, local fighter Greg Soto started the night against fan favorite Matt Riddle. Riddle controlled the action through the first two rounds using good hand combinations as well as takedowns, although Soto appeared to be gaining steam. That momentum was halted however when an illegal upkick to Riddle from Soto earned Soto a disqualification in his first UFC fight. An unfortunate end to an entertaining fight.
Jared Hamman defeated Rodney Wallace by decision in their Fight of the Night performance. Both fighters came out looking for the early knock out and while that may have tired them out quickly, neither fighter gave up throughout the 3 rounds. Both men scored with hard combinations but Hamman looked to be the better striker as Wallace's wrestling saved him on multiple occasion when Hamman looked like he was close to ending the fight. The two fighters each earned $65,000 bonuses for the exciting performance.
Nate Diaz impressed in his welterweight debut, coming up from lightweight to challenge Rory Markham. While this was thought to be a classic "Grappler vs Striker" with Diaz being the Jiu Jitsu expert and Markham the kickboxer, Diaz proved the more dominant stand up fighter, landing crisp combinations before dropping his opponent and earning the TKO at 2:47 of the first round.
New jersey native Kurt Pellegrino won an exciting ground battle against fellow Jiu Jitsu fighter Fabricio Camoes via Rear Naked Choke towards the end of the second round. Camoes nearly finished the fight with the same technique early in the first, but Pellegrino was able to survive and reverse position. The finish earned Pellegrino a $65,000 Submission of the Night bonus.
In the first of two title fights, Shane Carwin continued his streak of 1st round stoppages earning him the Interim Heavyweight Championship and a unification bout with current champ, Brock Lesnar. Carwin pushed his opponent, former champ Frank Mir, into the cage early, using knees and dirty boxing to wear down his opponent. A little more than halfway through the round saw a series of uppercuts from Carwin drop Mir to the canvas where Carwin followed up with punches, causing the ref to stop the fight. After the fight, Lesnar entered the cage to congratulate Carwin, but remind him he had won a "fake belt" in the interim championship and that he'd need to fight himself to earn the real one.
The second championship bout of the night saw top pound-for-pound great Georges "Rush" St. Pierre battle Englands Dan Hardy for the welterweight title. St. Pierre seemed intent on getting the submission win, constantly passing Hardys guard and looking for chokes and armlocks. The first and fourth rounds saw Hardy in dire straights as St. Pierre looked to have an armbar and kimura locked in. Hardy though refused to tap and managed to get out of the holds to survive until the judges score cards, which unanimously saw St. Pierre taking all 5 rounds. One judge even gave St. Pierre a 10-8 round and another 2 10-8 rounds. While dominating his opponent, St. Pierre immediately received critisiscm for not finishing the fight, as Hardy came in as a +500 underdog and wasn't expected to make it the distance. The crowd at the Prudential Center voiced their dissaproval throughout the 5th and final round as the action seemed to slow. My opinion is with the two near submissions, "Rush" was clearly trying to finish. My only critique would be that after Hardy was able to escape two very close armlocks, St. Pierre could have changed his gameplan to focus more on landing strikes on the ground. Given that St. Pierre was able to basically pass Hardys guard at will, he was in position to deliver the strikes but seemed intent on looking for the submission.
Overall an entertaining card that saw some meaningful division matches in addition to the two title fights.