Saturday, 4 April 2009

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 18 on Setanta Sports - TV Review

It’s time for the great and the good of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to take centre stage again, and this time they’re doing it on free television with their 18th Ultimate Fight Night, shown live here in Britain in the early hours of this past Thursday on Setanta Sports. As always, Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are handling commentary duties.

The show begins with Cole Miller taking on Junie Browning in the lightweight division. I’d heard a lot about Browning in the run up to this one, and perhaps it wasn’t justified. Browning began well, taking Cole’s back earlier on, but Miller was soon able to move onto his back before getting back to his feet. Seconds later Miller had synched in a guillotine, with Browning quickly tapping out, giving Miller the submission victory. A good performance from Miller here, coming back from a disadvantageous position, but as for Browning, the jury is still out I’m afraid.

The lightweight action continued with Tyson Griffin against Rafael Dos Anjos. This was a very interesting fight. The first round began with both fighters trading shots. When it got down to the ground, Dos Anjos managed to get what looked like a unique looking leg lock, trapping Griffin’s leg between his own calf and hamstring, contorting the knee and the rest of the leg. Griffin managed to get out of the hold, but when they went upright again, he was limping visibly, unable to get any snap into his kicks and hindered somewhat as he moved around the cage.

The apparent injury hampered Griffin as he went into the second round, although he continued to throw kicks and punches, and apart from a couple of attempts to go to the ground, the fighters traded blows throughout the round.

Griffin clearly overcame his injury in the final round. Both fighters looked good with their punches and their kicks as the round progressed, showing no sign of fatigue as the round went on. It was only in the final minute of the fight that it went to the ground. As Griffin went for a single leg Dos Anjos tried for a kimura, and the fight came to an end with Griffin going for the ground and pound. So with the fight going the distance, it went down to the judges, who gave the unanimous decision to Griffin. A very good fight, and I personally thought that Griffin was finished after the leg lock.

Then it’s up to the light heavyweight division, with Ryan Bader against Carmelo Marrero. An excellent first round saw Bader, the Ultimate Fighter winner, put in a dominating performance, controlling Marrero, the former WEC champion, from the outset in all aspects, but especially on the ground, almost locking in a kimura, and seconds later, an armbar before Marrero was able to escape.

It was the same story in the second round. When the fight went to the ground, Bader dominated again. All Marrero could do was hang in there as Bader went for the ground and pound and made a couple of submission attempts.

Round three, same story. Bader dominated again when the fight went to the ground, with Marrero adopting a defensive position. At one point Bader looked like he was going to get the submission win with an arm triangle, until Marrero managed to get the arm out. The referee stood the fighters up because of inactivity, but it soon went back to the ground in the final minute of the fight, with Bader once again in the dominant position. The second judges decision of the night went to Bader, with all three giving him the win, and rightfully so. It was a truly dominating performance, and this is one man whose career I’ll be following closely in the future.

Main event time, welterweight action, with Carlos Condit going up against Martin Kampmann. Unlike his fellow former WEC alumni Marrero, Condit put in a great showing in a first round that was a great technical battle and back and forth affair. One moment Kampmann was on top on the ground, but then Condit quickly reversed things and took the upper hand. There were also quite a few submission attempts, with Kampmann trying to a leg lock and two guillotines, although the second attempt came at the very end of the round, although Kampmann went back to his corner with a cut under his left eye, courtesy of a Condit knee.

Both fighters began round two where they’d left off in round one. Kampmann controlled the early moments on the ground, but even though he was on top Condit continued to fight. When they got back to their feet they traded blows, each fighter getting their fair share of good shots in. It soon went back to the ground though, and both men had the chance to finish the fight, Kampmann with another guillotine, and Condit with a rear naked choke as he took his back seconds later.

The third round proved to be just as good as the previous two, although it began with Condit inadvertently poking Kampmann in the eye with his thumb. Kampmann soon took the fight to the ground, and began to dominate in the way that Condit had in the first. Condit fought back briefly first with a kimura attempt, and then with a heel hook attempt. However, despite Kampmann’s domination, the fight ended with Condit attempting a guillotine, but as with his opponent in the first round, it came too late. So with the fight going the distance, the judges were asked to render a decision again, with Kampmann getting the split decision. To say that this was a great fight would be an understatement, although one couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Condit.

In conclusion - a submission a three judges decisions made for a great show. There may have been no big marquee names here, but the lesser lights, if that isn’t too harsh a term to use, proved that they can deliver just as well as the big guns, with Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann giving us a fight worthy of it’s main event status. A great match to end a great show.

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