What I really like about this card is that we should get some answers about contenders in two divisions. Is Tito Ortiz still the real deal? Can Forrest Griffin get over two straight losses? Is Anthony Johnson the real deal? Can Josh Koscheck make the leap? I have a feeling we’ll get most of those questions answered tonight.
1. Phil Baroni vs. Amir Sadollah
That was a pretty fun first round. Both guys came out strong. Baroni came out throwing bombs. Sadollah stuck him in the clinch by grabbing the back of his neck and starting ripping up knees. Baroni was also landing uppercuts from that spot. Baroni got a takedown and Sadollah looked like he wanted to grab an arm bar, but nothing happened. As is usually the case, Baroni got tired about half way in and Sadollah took over.
It’s actually pretty amazing that Baroni stayed on his feet for the entire round. Or, Sadollah isn’t a good finisher. Sadollah was all over him for the entire round. Sadollah was using kicks to keep Baroni at bay and digging with knees in the clinch. Baroni had a few nice shots, but you can tell that there wasn’t as much on them as there was in the first round.
Baroni took a beating the likes of very few this year. He was a mess by the time the fight was over. He was getting hit with kicks to the thigh, shin, and body, elbows and punches to the head, and knees to the head. It was really hard to watch Baroni take so much punishment late in the round, but he wouldn’t go down.
Winner: Amir Sadollah by way of unanimous decision
2. Antonio Rogerio Noguiera vs. Luiz Cane
Wow. Noguiera knocked him out. He had him reeling with a left hand and then simply just walked around Cane so that he could throw it again. He finally threw a loopier left hand and Cane just went down like a bag of rocks. Impressive.
Winner: Antonio Rogerio Noguiera by way of 1st round TKO
3. Marcus Davis vs. Ben Saunders
Saunders used knees in the clinch and his reach to overwhelm Davis. It was two knees that dropped and put Davis out. That’s the Saunders we didn’t see versus Mike Swick.
Winner: Ben Saunders by way of 1st round TKO
4. Jacob Volkmann vs. Paulo Thiago
This fight was pushed to the main card after Karo Parisyan pulled out of his fight with Dustin Hazelett.
Thiago had the round won with two takedowns and he worked on the ground and had him in the mount at one point. Near the end of the round, he knocked Volkmann down, but didn’t follow up because it was the end of the round.
Volkmann actually controlled most of the round with his wrestling. He ended up on his back for a bit, but was ok until late in the round when Thiago landed a huge right hand. If not for that big right hand, he won the round just based on his wrestling. It will be interesting to see how that round is scored.
This is going to be another tough round to score. Thiago hurt him with punches and seemed to be in control on top, but Volkmann switched the position and ended up on top of him and had the little brother position on him. Then from the bottom, he had a D’Arce choke in, but couldn’t keep it. Thiago ended the fight on top.
Winner: Paulo Thiago by way of unanimous decision
The scores were 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27. I think I would’ve had it 29-28 for Thiago, but it got pretty close there late.
5. Kendall Grove vs. Jake Rosholt
Rosholt just threw him around for the round. Grove is much longer, but Rosholt is stronger. Rosholt wanted an arm triangle, but Grove turned it into a triangle and Rosholt tapped.
Winner: Kendall Grove by 1st round submission
6. Anthony Johnson vs. Josh Koscheck
Koscheck looked much more comfortable than Johnson in the first minute or so. He landed a big right hand that Johnson seemed suprised to be hit with. Johnson got more comfortable and started to find the range with his jab. Koscheck landed another shot, but Johnson also landed a few big shots. Koscheck was up against the fence and went for the takedown, but Johnson stuffed it. Koscheck was down on both knees and Johnson landed a knee, which is illegal. Koscheck took several minutes to get back up, but he did. Koscheck went back to the takedown with just under a minute left. I’m not sure if a point was taken away from Johnson, but you would imagine it was.
Koscheck poked Johnson in the eye ball twice and the fight was put on pause. There was a fantastic exchange where Johnson landed a great left hook, but Koscheck also landed clean shots. Koscheck then took him down and landed four elbows in a row. Koscheck bloodied him and then sunk in a rear naked choke for the win.
Winner: Josh Koscheck by way of 2nd round submission
Koscheck was just too savvy for Johnson on the ground. Johnson didn’t seem comfortable on his back at all. Johnson needs more work, but on his feet, looked ok with Kos. I wish they’d put Koscheck with GSP rather than Dan Hardy. I think it’d be the better fight. Koscheck called out Hardy in his post fight interview and Hardy made motions like Koscheck was crying.
7. Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz
Back and forth first round with each guy winning his game. Griffin landed the better punches and front leg kicks. Ortiz got one takedown and looked solid on the ground. Griffin grabbed his arm to help him get back on his feet and stuffed a second takedown attempt. Both guys look in really good shape for such good guys. I had it for Griffin.
It was very similar to the first round except Ortiz was able to seal two takedowns and with the second takedown, landed some big elbows to open up Griffin. Griffin swept him and reversed position with thirty seconds left. He landed shots on Ortiz, but I still think Ortiz took the round.
Griffin picked Ortiz apart with the stand-up. Tito simply took a beating. He went for two takedowns which Forrest stuffed. Ortiz’s hands just aren’t fast enough. I’m not so sure that he’s all the way back. He looked stiff. Forrest should get this decision.
Winner: Forrest Griffin by way of split decision
The scores were 29-28 for Ortiz and 30-27 and 29-28 for Griffin. Griffin and Ortiz both called for a third fight. I’d rather see Ortiz fight Randy Couture and Rashad Evans again. Ortiz claimed to be hurt with bulging discs in his neck. So much for being 100%.
Now this was a fun card. Everything that was wrong with the last two UFC cards being lackluster fights and fights that didn’t really mean all that much going in, you had two superstars go at it and saw Josh Koscheck separate himself from the middle of the welterweight division. Lil’ Nog debuted with a great win and Amir Sadollah beat Phil Baroni in a really entertaining war. This is one to go out of your way to see.