After their trip to the land down under the UFC returned to their come country for their latest offering on free TV, Sanchez vs. Kampmann, shown live in the early hours of this past Friday morning here in Britain.
The broadcast began with Brian Bowles taking on Damacio Page in the bantamweight division.
These two didn’t waste any time. Page came forward early with a couple of flying knees, and although Bowles looked in some trouble it wasn’t long before he took control, quickly synching in a guillotine choke on the ground. Page was soon out of it, giving Bowles the quick submission win.
It was then up to the light heavyweight division as Igor Pokrajac faced Todd Brown.
An excellent display of striking saw Brown take the upper hand early on. But after he decided to go for a couple of clinches against the cage Pokrajac began to work his way back.
A big right busted Brown open, a right hand and a knee in the clinch hurting him badly. Pokrajac then went for the ground and pound, with Brown surviving, barely, until the end of the first round.
But after the round ended Brown said he couldn’t continue, giving the Croatian the very impressive TKO win.
Then it was down to the middleweight division as Alessio Sakara went up against Chris Weidman.
A very good three round affair saw Sakara getting off some good strikes. However, the debuting Weidman put on an excellent performance, opening up the Italian in the first round with a glancing blow.
Weidman inflicted further damage on the ground in the second, opening up a nasty gash with a hard elbow.
Weidman’s ground work was top notch as he completely controlled Sakara on the deck. It was just too much for the Italian to handle.
The judges were called into action for the first time as all three gave the fight to Wiedman, well deserved for a great performance.
More middleweight action followed as C.B. Dollaway took on Mark Munoz.
The blink and you’ll miss it affair saw Dollaway getting the early take down. But after they quickly got back to their feet Munoz connected with a big right. Dollaway staggered as Munoz connected with a combination that sent him down to the ground. When Munoz followed him the referee quickly stepped in to give Munoz the TKO win after just 54 seconds.
Thiago Tavares faced Shane Roller in the lightweight division next.
This was a rather strange fight. While Tavares put in a good striking performance in the first round Roller looked very awkward, unable to take Tavares’ superior ability.
But then it happened. In the second round, from out of nowhere Roller connected with a big right. Tavares crashed down to the ground, completely out of it, giving Roller the somewhat surprising knockout win.
The main event saw Diego Sanchez taking on Martin Kampmann in the welterweight division.
A great three round striking battle saw Kampmann taking control early on, and it wasn’t long before he turned Sanchez’s face into a bloody mess.
But from the second round onwards Sanchez upped his game, coming back into the fight, cutting the Dane open, although he was unsuccessful with his take down attempts until late into the fight.
Once again the judges came into play, with Sanchez edging the unanimous decision. Given how close this was I wouldn’t be surprised if these two are matched up again later this year.
In conclusion - another great show from the UFC, topped of nicely by the excellent Sanchez/Kampmann main event.
Although I do have one major criticism, and it once again concerns ESPN’s handling of the coverage. Normally they cut away to a commercial and then come back thirty seconds or so into a fight. This time they cut away to a commercial while a fight was still in progress.
Thankfully someone in the control room realised what was happening after just a few seconds, but when you consider ESPN’s experience and reputation you don’t really expect these basic mistakes.
But apart from that this show gets the big thumbs up, ending a very good week for Dana White and his crew.