So could B.J. Penn continue to cut it in the welterweight division? That was what I was hoping to find out by watching UFC 127, their second foray into Australia, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with the preliminaries as Nick Ring faced Riki Fukuda in the middleweight division.
A good three rounder to open the show. The debuting Japanese star made a great first impression with some nice take downs, particularly in the third round, and some good work on the ground.
Ring, although he showed some good defensive skills just had the look of a beaten man as the fight went on.
But the judges were the only ones who didn’t see it that way as all three gave the fight to Ring. It makes you wonder if they were actually watching what was happening.
It was up to light heavyweight for the next fight as James Te Huna faced Alexander Gustafsson.
An exciting one round affair saw Te Huna take control early on with some excellent ground work, and although he dominated it wasn’t long before Gustafsson escaped.
Moments later the Swede scored with an impressive take down, transitioning well until he took the Aussie’s back, locking in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
The first Brit fighter of the evening, Ross Pearson, then faced Spencer Fisher in the lightweight division.
This proved to be a highly entertaining and even looking fight. A mainly striking battle, both men rolled off a series of great combinations and kicks.
The main forays to the ground came at the end of the third round when Pearson scored with a couple of take downs.
The judges came into play again here as all three gave the fight to Pearson.
The main show began with middleweight action as Kyle Noke took on Chris Camozzi.
This one began with a nice exchange of blows, but when Noke scored with the take down it was the beginning of the end. Noke quickly took Camozzi’s back and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
It was down to welterweight for the next fight as Chris Lytle went up against Bryan Ebersole.
A highly entertaining three rounder saw Ebersole attempt a cartwheel kick as soon as the fight started. It was a sign of things to come as Ebersole put on a slightly eccentric performance.
But all of that changed when a knee to the jaw in the second round saw Lytle slump against the cage.
The great action continued into the third as both fighters looked for various submission attempts, and showing great submission defensive work.
Once again it went down to the judges, with all three scoring in favour of Ebersole.
ESPN then continued their tradition of missing the beginning of a fight when coming back from a commercial break. If they’d come back any later we’d have missed Tiequan Zhang taking out Jason Reinhardt with a quick submission win. When will they learn?
So after that technical cock-up it was back to the action as George Sotiropoulos went up against Dennis Siver in the lightweight division.
Another great striking battle. Siver put in an excellent performance, rocking Sotiropoulos before knocking him down twice with left hooks in the first round.
Although the Aussie seemed to take a step behind he upped his game in the second and third rounds. The only problem was that Siver upped his game even more.
With the fight going the distance the judges were put to work again, all three giving the fight to Siver.
The co-main event saw Michael Bisping taking on Jorge Rivera in the middleweight division.
This certainly was a highly charged affair. Bisping looked great early on, scoring with a couple of take downs, but he earned himself a point deduction after connecting with a knee to the head while Rivera was still grounded.
Rivera recovered enough to continue, but Bisping’s striking was top notch in the second. A flurry of blows had Rivera in trouble up against the cage, a big right knocking him down. It wasn’t long before the referee stopped the fight, giving Bisping the TKO win. Afterwards the two of them still wanted to go at it.
The main event saw Jon Fitch going up against B.J. Penn in the welterweight division.
A really enjoyable fight saw Penn going for a take down straight away, making it obvious we weren’t in for a stand-up striking battle.
The fighters exchanged clinch positions before going to the ground, where they each enjoyed a measure of success.
But while the first two rounds looked close the third round belong to Fitch. After getting the take down he worked throughout with the ground and pound, and although Penn didn’t have an answer to this Fitch couldn’t finish him off.
So it was left in the hands of the judges, and while one scored in favour of Fitch the other two couldn’t separate them. The decision, a majority draw.
The show rounded out with more filler material, beginning with the heavyweight clash between Mark Hunt and Chris Tuchscherer.
A great slugfest saw both men unloading with the big stuff early on, but when Hunt’s onslaught opened up a nasty cut above Tuchscherer’s left eye the doctors almost called the fight.
Tuchscherer changed tactics and took the fight to the ground, almost getting the win with a kimura.
But when the second round began it was back to the slugfest, and when Hunt connected with an uppercut that dropped Tuchscherer it was all over as Hunt took the knockout win in what could be described as an ugly but highly effective way.
A second showing of the Te Huna/Gustafsson fight completed the action.
In conclusion - apart from a couple of potty decisions the UFC delivered once again. Every fight shown had it’s strong points, and it’s hard to decided on my fight of the night because they were all as good as each other.
Special mention must be made of the Australian fans. They were up for everything, and also proved just how much they knew about the sport, which, sadly, is something I can’t say about some British fans, especially those at the BAMMA show who complained when a clinch against the cage lasted more than five seconds!
So in all UFC 127 gets the big thumbs up this time around. Well done to all.