Monday, 14 December 2009

UFC 107 Penn v Sanchez on ESPN - TV Review

It was the final show of the year for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as B.J. Penn aimed to cement his place as the top lightweight in the world against his latest challenger, Diego Sanchez in UFC 107: Penn v Sanchez, shown live here in Britain in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN, with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan handling commentary duties.

The broadcast began with Paul Buentello facing Stefan Struve. This heavyweight encounter proved to be an entertaining opener. Struve used his nine inch height advantage to good effect in the first as it looked like he was going to get a submission with a body triangle. But that was the end of the ground fighting as the remainder of the fight saw both men duke it out. Buentello unleashed with a hell of a right in the second, connecting just as Struve came in with an attempted flying knee. Struve didn’t let this stop him though as he targeted Buentello’s leg throughout the third, and it was this that saw the Dutchman through, earning him the unanimous decision from the judges. A good enough fight, but I couldn’t help but feel for Buentello a little. His second round shot will definitely go down as one of the moments of the year.

Then it was on to lightweight action, with Kenny Florian facing Clay Guida. This was one of the fights that I was really looking forward to. Guida came out at the start of the first like a little ball of energy, and Florian was more than able to keep up with him. Florian’s elbows soon caused damage to Guida’s head, with the referee stopping the fight momentarily so the doctor could check the deep cut. The decisive moment came in the second. Florian dropped Guida with a big right, and seconds later the fight was over, Guida tapping to Florian’s rear naked choke. This certainly didn’t disappoint, and it was great to see Florian back to winning ways again.

Welterweight action followed, with Jon Fitch taking on Mike Pierce. Although a technically sound battle at times, this one won’t go down in history as a heart stopping classic. This one saw Fitch getting a few take downs, and going for Pierce’s back, with some good combinations later on from both men. So with the fight going the three round distance the judges were called on as they gave the fight to Fitch. Okay I suppose, but not exactly enthralling.

Then it was time for the big boys to play as Frank Mir faced Cheick Kongo in the heavyweight division in the proverbial blink and you’ll miss it affair of the show. The two big men squared up to each other early and it wasn’t long before Mir’s big left sent the Frenchman crashing down to the mat. Mir quickly followed up with a deep guillotine, and as Kongo faded in unconsciousness the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. To say that this was an impressive performance by Mir would be an understatement. The former champion was awesome, and is back in the title mix.

Catchweight action, pitting Alan Belcher against Wilson Gouveia, followed. This filler material was almost spoiled by ESPN, who cut to a commercial as soon as the fight started, which meant we missed the first minute or so. But what we did see was a good boxing performance from Belcher as he took the stoppage win. Then ESPN cut away to another break just as the decision was being announced. Just when we Brits thought that this was a thing of the past!

The main event saw B.J. Penn defending the UFC Lightweight title against Diego Sanchez. If you ever wanted an example of how a champion is light years above all of his contenders then you saw it here. From the moment he rocked Sanchez in the opening moments of the first round, Penn put on a master class, proving once again that he’s the best he is at what he does. It was a joy to behold as Penn dominated, and as the fight went into the final round it was only a matter of time. A big right kick opened up a nasty cut on Sanchez’s forehead, and that was it. The doctor checked him over, and the referee stopped the fight. A truly awesome performance by Penn.

The final filler material saw Demarques Johnson facing Edgar Garcia at welterweight. This was a good way to end the show, and featured some nice back and forth action. Both men looked like they could get the win, until Johnson, from out of nowhere, locked in a triangle choke for the submission victory.

In conclusion - the Fitch/Pierce fight aside, UFC 107 proved to be a very good show. B.J. Penn’s performance was awesome, and Frank Mir wasn’t that far behind him. But I’m left to wonder just who will challenge Penn next?

So in short a very good show, a perfect way for the UFC to end what was another great year. Nice work all round.

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