Sunday, February 26, 2012

UFC 144: How we fared

Before I dive into the details, let me get to the two most important points about our picks for last night:

1) Kyle won.

2) We sucked.
It was a night of upsets, a card in which the up-and-comers routinely defeated the favored established fighters.

The first fight started the trend.

Tiequan Zhang vs. Issei Tamura

The UFC broadcast this fight on the PPV after the main event, so I was able to catch it. We both expected the more experienced Zhang to take this match. Instead, Tamura dominated the first round, then knocked out Zhang shortly after the second began.

We started the night 0-1.

The next four fights were all on FX, where we started badly again.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso

We picked Mizugaki because of his experience fighting a better caliber of competition than Cariaso. I felt Miguzaki won the fight, though not by much, because Cariaso was in it the whole time. MMAWeekly agreed with us. Dana White, the UFC's president, also did and paid Mizugaki his win bonus. The judges, however, did not: they gave Cariaso a unanimous decision victory.

We were then both 0-2.

Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell

Finally, a fight that went the way we both predicted: Fukuda was simply too much for Cantwell. Cantwell hung in the bout until the very end, but Fukuda just beat him down and earned the decision victory. Expect Cantwell, who's now lost five in a row in the octagon, to be looking for work before the end of this coming week.

His loss, though, took us to 1-2.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee

This match felt like one designed to ensure a victory for the Japanese Yamamoto over the British Lee. We both consequently chose Yamamoto.

It didn't go that way at all. Instead, Yamamoto came out strong but quickly learned that Lee was able to hurt him. With about a minute left in the fight, Lee hurt Yamamoto, got on him, transitioned smoothly from a triangle choke to an arm bar, and tapped out Yamamoto with what later proved to be the "Submission of the Night" bonus winning move.

We were down to 1-3.

Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

This fight also felt like one designed to give the favorite--in this case, The Fireball Kid, Takanori Gomi--a sure win. This time, though, it worked--though it wasn't clear for a while that it would. Mitsuoka gave Gomi all he could handle for the first round, but in the second Gomi came out firing and was too much for Mitsuoka. Gomi ultimately won via TKO in that round.

His victory helped us to 2-3 as we left the prelims and headed into the main card.

Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon

This fight marked our first disagreement. I bucked the odds and went with my heart by picking Lauzon, the poster boy for IT fighters. Kyle chose Pettis to win on his feet by being the better and more creative striker.

Kyle nailed it: Pettis knocked out Lauzon with a roundhouse kick in the first and earned himself the "Knockout of the Night" bonus in the process.

Kyle moved to even (3-3), while I dropped to 2-4.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski

I once again defied the oddsmakers with my pick of Palaszewski to win this fight. Kyle chose Hioki to notch the victory via ground control.

Kyle won our second disagreement as the Hioki won two rounds (one judge said all three) en route to a unanimous decision victory.

At this point, I was an amazingly bad 2-5, while Kyle had climbed above .500 to 4-3.

Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch

In one of the no-brainer picks of the night, we both opted for Okami. He's faced better competition, he grew up in Japan and so would be fired up, and his skill set is superior to Boetsch's. All of that seemed to be true, as Okami dominated the first two rounds.

In the third round, though, Boetsch came out incredibly aggressive, landed a big right on Okami, followed Okami down, and beat on him until the ref called the fight.

Tim Boetsch's amazing comeback took Kyle back to even (4-4) and me to an astonishingly poor 2-6.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields

Akiyama looked strong at welterweight, though his spray-on tan was more than a little odd. Shields looked cautious but in control, his game plan clear: strike, move away, take down. It was a close fight until the third round, when Shields got Akiyama's back and Akiyama grabbed the fence not once but twice--moves that should have cost him a point. Even without that penalty, however, Akiyama lost, Shields claimed the victory he very much needed, and Kyle and I notched another correct choice, moving us to 5-4 and 3-6, respectively.

Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo

In our third and final disagreement of the night, Kyle was the one to buck the odds by picking Hunt. He was right, and in dramatic fashion as Hunt knocked down Kongo twice, pounced on him the second time, and put him away for the TKO victory.

Heading into the co-main event, Kyle had moved to 6-4, while I dropped to 3-7.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

Rampage was fighting in a place he loved and in front of an audience that loved him. He was ranked higher than Bader. We both figured he would knock out Bader.

We were both wrong. Bader mixed striking and the occasional take-down into a combination that Rampage simply could not handle. Rampage had moments in which he shined, but the fight was all Bader, and he won a unanimous decision.

Kyle was down to 6-5, while I sank to 3-8.

Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Right before the fights, Brian Derrick posted a comment on yesterday's entry in which he said that Benson Henderson was an SF fan and that he had introduced Benson to my books. Derrick noted it was not too late for me to change my pick.

I didn't.

I should have.

We both figured Edgar would be too much for Henderson to handle, but wow, were we wrong. Henderson was the fresher fighter, he did more damage than Edgar, and as Fight Metric reported, he won on most key statistics. The judges agreed and crowned Henderson the new UFC Lightweight Champion.

Kyle ended the evening a sad 6-6, but he kicked my butt in our first contest of 2012, as I went 3-9, the worst I've ever done in fight picks.

The show, though, was excellent, with a lot of very entertaining fights.

As always, don't rely on us for betting advice!


Brian Derrick said...

Proof. By the way, I knew Ben was going to win when I saw his confidence in the stare down at the center of the ring. The man is fully actualized Jungian warrior.
Here's an article about his Sci-Fi reading:

Here's a link to a picture with Ben, my kids, and me from a few years ago, before he was WEC champ:

Here he is after the WEC belt:

Mark said...

Very cool. I wonder if my publisher, who also publishes John Ringo, would like to buy sponsorship on Ben's trunks.

Brian said...

I bet a signed congratulatory book would be enough sponsorship. His coach John Crouch said sponsoring a fighter is about the worst investment one could make.

Mark said...

Brian, email me via the site's Contact form (, and I'll send Benson as many of my books as he does not have. Do you know which ones he has?


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