Wednesday, 23 March 2011

UFC 128 Shogun vs Jones on ESPN - TV Review

It was a title shot taken at short notice as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defended the Light Heavyweight title against Jon “Bones” Jones in the main event of UFC 128, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning here in Britain.

The broadcast began with the preliminaries, beginning with lightweight action as Edson Barboza faced Anthony Njokuani.

I had been very impressed with Njokuani’s kickboxing displays during my World Combat League reviews, so this was one fight I was really looking forward to.

This was a very good striking battle. Barboza began strongly, rocking Njokuani with a big right early in the first. Njokuani was clearly stunned for the remainder of the round.

But from the second round onwards Njokuani worked his way back into the fight with some crisp striking, including a great looking spinning back elbow. However, Barboza managed to get the big take down as the round ended.

It was the same story for the third, good striking from Njokuani with Barboza again getting the late take down. The last act of the fight was a Barboza spin kick to Njokuani’s head.

The judges were quickly called into action as all three scored in favour of Barboza, although I thought Njokuani had just edged it.

It was up to the light heavyweight division for the next fight as Luiz Cane took on Eliot Marshall.

A quick fight saw Marshall looking for the early take down, looking to negate Cane’s striking ability.

It never happened though. A straight left rocked Marshall and sent him down. Cane was all over his man like a cheap suit as he rained down with a torrent of blows. Marshal simply had no answer to this, and the referee stepped in after Marshall took a hell of a beating, Cane getting the deserved TKO win.

Then it was down to the featherweight division as Raphael Assuncao faced Erik Koch.

Lots of feeling out at the beginning of this one with both fighters testing the waters with kicks and jabs.

But when Assuncao came forward to attack Koch connected with a right hook. Assuncao went down like the proverbial sack of spuds, giving Koch the knockout win.

The main show began with heavyweight action as Mirko Cro Cop went up against Brendan Schaub.

This proved to be a very good main show opener, with solid displays from both men as well as a couple of controversial moments.

Schaub looked to negate Cro Cop’s big weapon straight away by simply moving to his left. He also scored with some impressive take downs, although he earned a point deduction in the second for blows to the back of the head.

Cro Cop had his good moments as well as he bloodied Schaub’s nose and left eye. He also earned a warning for connecting with an up kick to the head while Schaub was still grounded.

The end came in the third round when Schaub connected with a right hand. Cro Cop went down immediately. Schaub followed him down but the referee quickly stepped in to give him the very impressive TKO win.

It was down to the middleweight division for the next fight as Nate Marquardt took on late replacement Dan Miller.

This three round affair saw some great ground work from both men. Miller was relentless with his take down attempts at times, and Marquardt looked highly impressive when he scored with the big slam.

Both men had other good moments as well with Miller going for a couple of guillotine attempts while Marquardt opened his man up with some great looking ground and pound.

The judges came into play once again with all three giving the fight to Marquardt, a disappointing result for the New Jersey fans.

Dan’s brother Jim Miller was up next, taking on Kamal Shalorus in the lightweight division.

Miller put on a good display of striking throughout, catching Shalorus a number of times. He also showed some great work on the ground. His take down and quick transition to the back was a thing of beauty, although he couldn’t seal the deal with the rear naked choke afterwards.

The end came in the third round. Miller connected with an uppercut, quickly following up with a knee that sent Shalorus down. Miller went for the ground and pound, with the referee stepping in to give Miller the TKO win.

The co-main event saw Uriah Faber going up against Eddie Wineland in the bantamweight division.

Another great three rounder saw Wineland getting off to a good start in the first round, looking particularly impressive when he took Faber’s back and took him down to the mat.

Faber began his comeback at the start of the second round. After getting the take down he put on a great display of ground and pound, adding some crisp striking in the third and finishing the fight with some more nice ground work.

The judges again came into play as all three scored in favour of Faber’s highly impressive display.

The main event saw Jon Jones challenging Shogun Rua for the Light Heavyweight title.

From the moment this fight began Jones dominated. Although he looked a little wild at the start it wasn’t long before he settled down.

From there he took it to the champion in every aspect of the game. His striking was crisp, his ground and pound was solid, and his defensive work was top notch.

Shogun just had no response to Jones’ assault, and by the time the third round started the Brazilian looked exhausted. Jones continued with his assault, and after some more tremendous ground and pound Shogun staggered to his feet, only to get knocked straight back down. As Shogun slumped against the cage the referee stepped in to give Jones the title winning TKO win.

A second showing of the Assuncao/Koch fight rounded out the show.

In conclusion - this was one of those shows that had that feel good factor about it, something we haven’t really seen since Randy Couture defeated Tim Sylvia for the Heavyweight title a few years ago.

Shogun vs. Jones proved to be another great outing for the UFC. There were plenty of great performances, topped off nicely by the excellent main event, and surprisingly no technical cock-ups from ESPN, meaning that we actually got to see every second of every fight.

So in all UFC 128 gets the big thumbs up. Nice work guys.