With the Ultimate Fighting Championship continuing their busy schedule it’s time to look at their latest offering as Demetrious Johnson challenged Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title in the main event of UFC Live, shown in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on Premier Sports here in Britain.
The broadcast began in the lightweight division as Matt Wiman faced Mac Danzig.
This proved to be a highly entertaining three round affair, fought at a frantic pace throughout. But fighters put in great performances in all departments. The many striking exchanges were a joy to watch.
The best submission attempts came in the second round. Wiman put in some good work off his back, going for an arm bar and a kimura, with Danzig showing some good defensive work.
The best striking came in the third, and their certainly showed the scars of battle as the round went on, with Danzig going for a kimura as the fight came to an end.
So with the fight going the distance the judges came into play with Wiman taking the unanimous decision.
After an interview with Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard it was on welterweight action as Anthony Johnson faced Charlie Brenneman.
A dominating performance from Johnson saw him dominate the fight as soon as Brenneman went for a take down. Rumble used his power to hold his man to the mat, face down, as he unloaded with a torrent of blows.
Brenneman was struggling, although he soon managed to turn over, putting Johnson into his half guard.
Moments later Johnson caused Brenneman further difficulties with a series of punches and kicks, and after a head kick sent Brenneman crashing down to the mat the referee had seen enough, stepping in and giving Johnson the impressive TKO win.
It was up to heavyweight for the next fight, a battle of the kick boxers as Pat Barry went up against Stefan Struve.
Being a big fan of Pat Barry after having seen him in his WCL days I was eager to see this fight, and even though it was a little slow to begin with it had a spectacular ending.
The first round was a very cagey affair as both men tried to find their range, but when the second round began Barry upped his game and seemed to get the better of the exchanges.
But when the fight went to the ground the giant Struve took control, and it wasn’t long before he smoothly locked in a leg triangle. Barry tried to slam his way out but it didn’t help his cause, forcing him to tap out seconds later.
The main event saw Demetrious Johnson challenging Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title.
I thought Wiman and Danzig had fought at a frantic pace. It was nothing compared to these guys.
Throughout the fight Johnson scooted around the ring like a happy terrier as he attempted to stick and move, looking for that one punch or kick that would put the champion away.
But as good as this was to watch it was often stopped when Cruz took him down, particularly in the second when he picked Johnson up and took him down with a back suplex.
Sadly there were no Kurt Angle-like follow ups as Cruz took Johnson’s back and flattened him out as he went for a variety of chokes and submissions which were ultimately unsuccessful.
This was the story of the fight, Cruz getting big take downs and Johnson showing incredible foot speed, and with the fight going the distance the judges came into play again, with Cruz taking the unanimous decision.
In conclusion - do I really need to tell you how much I enjoyed this show?
On a night when Premier Sports screwed up big time by showing a Cage Warriors show encrypted when it was meant to be free to air they once again picked up ESPN’s slack with this free to air offering.
And what an offering it was. All four fights delivered, with the Cruz/Johnson title battle the fight of the night for me, and possibly the title fight of the year.
So it’s for these reasons that the UFC’s latest foray into free television gets the big thumbs up, and let’s hope that Premier Sports continues to give British fans the UFC coverage they deserve, because it looks like ESPN won’t be putting their hands in their pockets to pay for these shows anytime soon.