Sunday, 21 September 2008

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 15 on Setanta Sports - TV Review

Well, I’m still suffering from tonsillitis, but I’ve decided to press on, this time taking a look at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s latest offering, Ultimate Fight Night 15, shown live here in Britain on Setanta Sports, with our usual hosts, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

The show begins with action from the light heavyweight division, and Houston Alexander and Eric Schafer. Round one, and Alexander began things early by connecting with a couple of huge knees, before going for the ground and pound in the guard position. Schafer defended well, and did well enough to get back up to his feet. Schafer did well to recover, working in the clinch, before scoring with a take down, having attempted this move a few times before. Alexander managed to get out, but immediately found himself in a guillotine attempt, which he also managed to escape from. Schafer took control again straight away, getting in the guard and unleashing with the ground and pound himself. Shafer then synched I an arm triangle, and although he tried to pound his way out, it wasn’t long before Alexander tapped out with just seconds to go. A very good fight to start the show with, and this writer thought it would all be over in seconds after the start Alexander made.

Fight two was down in the middleweight division, with Ed Herman taking on Alan Belcher. No feeling out process in this one, as Belcher came out swinging, before a clinch up against the cage. Nothing much happened there, so the referee pulled them back to the centre, where the punches and kicks came in from both men, before they returned to the clinch. Again, this accomplished nothing, so it was back to the kickboxing tactics. Both guys got in some good shots, especially Herman, who followed up a hard blow with a take down attempt, which saw them return to the clinch up against the cage. More work there this time, as Herman scored with a take down after a high knee. Hermann did a lot of work on the mat, looking for the choke, but it wasn’t long before Belcher managed to get to his feet, only for Herman to take him back down straight away. The first round ended with Belcher trying to get back to his feet as Herman looked for another choke.

Round two began with both fighters coming out swinging, The pace slowed down a little as the blows were exchanged, with Belcher connecting with a left to the chin that rocked Herman but didn’t send him down. Herman later scored with a good left hook followed up by an elbow, but seconds later Belcher scored with an overhand right, following this up with a clinch, which didn’t last long as both fighters moved away from the cage, with Belcher connecting with an elbow. The back and forth blows and kicks continued, before the fight went down to the ground, with Herman working in Belcher’s half guard. Both fighters worked from the outset of this move, before Belcher was able to get back to his feet, and the round came to an end with both fighters again exchanging blows.

Round three, and Herman went for the take down early on, only for Belcher to sprawl. With the fighters starting to show signs of fatigue, they continued with their back and forth punching and kicking, before another clinch up against the cage led to nothing. They soon returned to type, and as Belcher attempted a spinning back fist, Herman went for a take down, which resulted in, yep, you guessed it, another clinch up against the cage. But this time Herman managed to complete the take down. Once again it wasn’t long before Belcher got back to his feet, and scored with a good high kick that rocked Herman. Moments later Herman scored with another take down, and went for the ground and pound as the seconds ticked away and the fight came to an end, with the judges giving the fight to Belcher with a split decision. A good fight here, and a good decision, as I couldn’t really decide who won.

Following that close contest, it was on to Mac Danzig and Clay Guida in the lightweight division. Another quick beginning here, with Danzig going for a few quick combinations, with Guida on the back foot. The exchanges continued, with Danzig looking the superior fighter, in the early stages of the opening round. Once again Guida seemed to be on the back foot as Danzig came forward, but he suddenly came back quickly with a take down. Danzig tried for a kimura, but managed to wall walk out and up to his feet. He didn’t stay upright long as Guida picked him up and slammed him back down. Danzig was soon standing up again, only to be taken down again, with Guida trying to push him away from the cage so he couldn’t stand up again. But as the round came to an end, Danzig managed to use the cage again to get back to his feet.

Round two began just as quickly as round one, with blows exchanges, except Danzig was on the back foot this time. Danzig then tried a kick, which Guida caught, and then used for an attempted take down. A second attempt by Guida failed, before they began to exchange blows again. This continued until Guida scored with a rather tepid take down, with Danzig constantly working to get out, which he soon accomplished. Guida then managed to get another take down, and again, Danzig was soon able to escape. Guida’s almost constant attempts to take Danzig down soon bore fruit, as he took Danzig’s back and finally managed to get a successful take down. Once there he went for the rear naked choke, but again Danzig was able to escape from this precarious position.

Round three, and despite it being the third round, Guida looked as fresh as a daisy as he again tried for a take down up against the cage. When this failed it was back to the boxing, and after connecting with a couple of good punches it was actually Danzig who scored with a take down, and almost synched in a kimura. But when Guida managed to get out, he was able to take Danzig’s back, before dropping down and going for a double leg. By this time Danzig was looking exhausted, and it wasn’t surprising when they went back down to the mat. Seconds later Guida managed to take Danzig’s back again, and worked well as he took him down into the guard and then took his back over and over again, constantly looking for an advantageous position. The only thing of note that Danzig could do as the fight entered it’s last thirty seconds was going for a weak looking guillotine, but the round ended with Guida in Danzig’s guard, unleashing with the ground and pound. The unanimous decision went in favour of Guida, which was well justified giving this impressive performance.

Main event time, again in the lightweight division, with Nate Diaz facing Josh Neer. Another fight with no feeling out process, it wasn’t long before Neer scored with an impressive looking take down, immediately going for a couple of chokes, before taking Diaz’s back and taking him down again. Diaz managed to get back to his feet, but Neer managed to keep hold of his back. The battle for positioning continued for the next few moments, before they began to exchange a few blows, with Diaz gaining the upper hand in one exchange. There wasn’t a quiet moment in this one, and as the round entered it’s last minute Diaz scored with a judo throw, taking control of Neer on the mat, and the Diaz’s transitions came thick and fast as the round came to an end.

Round two, and the fast pace continued. Neer was the first to get the take down, but Diaz was soon back on his feet, and getting a take down on his own, going for a knee bar, and using this to pass the guard. To say it was fast and furious down on the mat would be an understatement as the takedowns continued, with Neer getting the next take down and going for the rear naked choke. But Diaz was able to escape, only to find himself facing Neer in his guard. Neer remained in control on the ground, but Diaz came back with a couple of good punches as they got back to their feet.

Round three, and after a brief exchange of blows, it was back up against a cage with a clinch. Diaz worked hard for the take down, but all it succeeded in doing was giving his back to Neer. But he soon worked his way free and took Neer down. More quick transitions followed, although the pace had slowed down somewhat. More clinches up against the cage followed when they were back on their feet, before Diaz managed to take Neer’s back, before transitioning into his guard. Neer went for a couple of alma plata attempts, but Diaz was manage to escape from these with ease. Neer went for another submission attempt, Diaz stepped out, and Neer ended up taking Diaz’s back. It certainly was interesting to watch, a back and forth match as both fighters jockeyed for position, and the fight ended with a Diaz flurry. The judge’s decision - a split decision for Diaz. This was another fight I couldn’t pick a winner from, it was that close.

In conclusion - I’ve been disappointed with previous Ultimate Fight Night shows, but not this one. We had four very good fights here, an explosive first round finish followed by three fights that went the distance, with two of them being so close that it was almost impossible to tell who won. This show may have lacked the star power, but it showed that the undercard UFC talent are more than capable of putting on a good show. Definitely one I’ll watch again.

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