Sunday, February 7, 2010

UFC 109: How we did

Kyle and I tied this time around, with each of us picking correctly one of the two fights in which we had made different choices. Kyle's win came on the co-main-event, however, so I have to give him the slight nod overall.

Here's how we did on each fight. As always, I'll start with the undercard, which is often very hard to call, because we don't know the fighters as well as we do the bigger names. In the cases of our errors here, though, we really can't use that excuse; we were just wrong.

Joey Beltran vs. Rolles Gracie

I don't know anyone who picked Beltran to win this fight, and when I saw the two of them in the octagon--the UFC showed this fight on the PPV after the main event--I was doubly certain Beltran would lose. Gracie was significantly better and appeared to be in far better shape.

The fight began the way Gracie wanted, with some stand-up and then a trip to the ground. At that point, I figured Kyle and I had called it right, with the only question being how Gracie would submit Beltran. Instead, Beltran worked his way free. He then won the striking war, which wasn't hard, because Gracie moved like Frankenstein's monster. In my opinion, Beltran ultimately carried the first round. In the second round, Gracie gassed, tried to entice Beltran into playing the ground game again, and failed. Finally, Beltran just got on Gracie's back and beat on him until the ref stopped the fight.

Chalk up one bad call for both of us.

Tim Hague vs. Chris Tuchscherer

This bout didn't make it to TV, so I have to go with the text summaries. From what I read, it went pretty much as we both guessed it would: Tuchscherer's wrestling let him carry the day. Interestingly, though Tuchscherer won the judges' decision, called it two rounds to one for Hague.

Brian Stann vs. Phil Davis

Kyle and I both bucked the odds and picked Stann to win. We were wrong; the oddsmakers were right. Davis, who is an amazing physical specimen, completely dominated Stann for all three rounds with his wrestling and did a fine job of avoiding Stann's strikes. Davis has incredible potential, and I look forward to seeing him fight again.

Phillipe Nover vs. Rob Emerson

This is another fight I didn't get to see, but it brought me the tie with Kyle as Emerson won by unanimous decision. In all truth, I dislike Emerson's behavior enough that I would have been happy had Kyle been right and Nover won, but from what I've read, Emerson earned this victory.

Melvin Guillard vs. Ronnys Torres

I had no clue Guillard had been training with Greg Jackson and rooming with Joe Stevenson. If I had, I would have chosen differently and picked him to win--and then I would have been right, because win he did.

Instead, I chose Torres, as did Kyle, and we were both wrong. Guillard earned a unanimous-decision victory, and though called it for Torres, I agree with the judges.

After the fight, Guillard praised his camp and said that as far as he was concerned, he was starting over his career and was now 1-0. If Jackson really can teach Guillard to use his enormous physical assets, Guillard could become a force among the lightweights. It'll be interesting to see.

Mac Danzig vs. Justin Buchholz

We both chose Danzig, and indeed he won. I thought he'd submit Buchholz, but instead he had to settle for the judges' decision. Buchholz fought a good fight, but Danzig was just better.

So, as the undercard ended, I was up one fight over Kyle, but we'd both made some mis-calls. Kyle came back on the main card.

Matt Serra vs. Frank Trigg

I said Serra was likely to win by strikes, and Kyle said he wouldn't be surprised if Serra repeated his KO of GSP. Serra almost did, as he knocked down Trigg in the first round and then hit him a few more times before the ref stopped the fight and awarded Serra the TKO.

Demian Maia vs. Dan Miller

We both correctly called Maia as the winner, but that's the only way in which we were right. We both said Maia would get Miller down and submit him, but that never happened. When Maia did take down Miller, he couldn't submit him. Maia rarely bothered, though, and instead stood and struck with Miller. After the fight, Maia said he'd decided to do that and make it tougher on himself, which he did--but not so tough that he didn't win. Training with Wanderlei Silva clearly paid off for Maia.

Mike Swick vs. Paulo Thiago

Another fight we both called wrong: I figured Swick to win by decision, while Kyle thought Swick would KO Thiago. Instead, Thiago won the first round, beat on Swick in the second, and then submitted Swick. Thiago looked way better than Swick en route to a very impressive victory.

Nathan Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen

Kyle was right: Sonnen won by unanimous decision. I don't think he was correct about Sonnen setting a pace that Marquardt couldn't manage, however, as Marquardt's best minute of the fight was its last, when he nearly submitted Sonnen and then beat on him. Marquardt also badly cut Sonnen in the second round, but it didn't matter. Sonner was the wrestling Terminator, taking down Marquardt at will and just dominating him from the top. I was more impressed with Sonnen in this fight than I've ever been.

Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman

Here's what I wrote:

"I expect an entertaining first seven or so minutes, and then Couture will take down Coleman or pin him to the fence, feed him a lot of punches, and eventually the ref will stop the fight."
I was mighty close, except that after about that much time, Couture put Coleman on the ground, hit him a bit, and then submitted him.

Kyle had expected an early storm from Coleman, and so had I. There was no storm. Coleman was never in this.

Couture looked better than in his last two fights, with by far the best striking he's shown in recent years and superior cage control. I have no way to know if Couture can use these new skills effectively against the elite light heavyweights, though I suspect he won't be able to do so, but we'll find out when he gets his chance at the light heavyweight title after Machida and Rua have their rematch.

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