Monday, 12 December 2011

UFC 140 Jones vs Machida on ESPN - TV Review

My MMA weekend trilogy concludes with the biggest show of the month so far as former champion Lyoto Machida takes on Jon Jones for the Light Heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 140, shown live on ESPN in the early hours of this past Sunday morning here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the featherweight division as Mark Hominick went up against Chan Sung Jung.

This was the proverbial blink and you’ll miss it affair. While Mike Goldberg was making his obligatory sponsorship announcement Jung connected with a big right. Hominick went down like a sack of spuds, with the referee stepping in and ending the fight before Goldy had finished his announcement, giving the Korean Zombie the knockout win after just seven seconds. All I can say is wow!

So after that lightning fast encounter it was on to the welterweight division as Claude Patrick faced Brian Ebersole.

While this was nowhere near as spectacular as the opener it proved to be an intriguing three round encounter.

The first two rounds saw the fighters engage in a striking and clinching battle with a brief trip to the ground when Patrick went for a guillotine. The action went up a clear notch in the third when Ebersole scored with the early take down.

From there we saw some nice ground work from both men, with Ebersole briefly taking Patrick’s back and the Canadian going for a couple of submissions, including an anaconda choke.

But with neither man able to get the finish the decision went to the judges as Ebersole took the split decision in a bout that really was too close to call.

Then it was up to the light heavyweight division as Tito Ortiz faced Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Ortiz came out like a house afire and put in some great dirty boxing work. But a big left from Little Nog rocked him, and from there the Brazilian went in for the kill, a knee sending him crashing to the mat.

Nogueira went to work with the ground and pound, overwhelming Ortiz with a series of punches and elbows to the body, and with the bad boy failing to respond to this onslaught the referee wisely stepped in to give Nogueira the first round TKO win.

ESPN then went back to their old habit of coming back late from a commercial break, missing the beginning of the Costa Phillipou /Jared Hamman fight, a quick encounter which saw Phillipou dominate on the ground and with the striking, staggering his man with a left right combo and sealing the deal with another combination for the TKO win.

The big boys of the heavyweight division were up next as Frank Mir faced Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Now this was a fight. After they jockeyed for position up against the cage Big Nog scored with a combination that rocked Mir as he staggered around like a baby. Nog followed him down to the ground for the finish, and for a second or two it looked like Mir was out of it.

Then the real ground battle began, and from out of nowhere Mir took control and applied a kimura. Nogueira tried to fight it and rolled over, but Mir kept hold of the arm, and this writer shuddered when Nog’s arm snapped and the referee stepped in to give Mir the impressive TKO win.

The main event saw Lyoto Machida challenging Jon Jones for the light Heavyweight title.

Jones began the fight in what has become his usual custom, coming out of his corner on all fours. However, it wasn’t long before Machida asked questions of him that he’s never had to answer before, putting on a great display of striking in the first round that he continued into the second.

But when Jones connected with a blow that rocked the challenger Jones went in for the kill, and an elbow on the ground opened up a nasty gash on Machida’s forehead. The doctor checked the cut briefly and allowed him to go on.

A few moments later Jones rocked Machida again before synching in a standing guillotine, and when the referee saw that Machida had passed out the referee stepped in to give Jones the impressive submission win.

So with plenty of time to spare the show rounded out with filler material, beginning with John Makdessi against Dennis Hallman in the lightweight division.

Hallman came out at the start as if he’d been shot out of a cannon, going for the immediate take down, and the only way Makdessi could stop this was by grabbing the cage, and after two warnings from the referee Hallman finally got the take down.

From there he dominated with the ground and pound before taking Makdessi’s back twice and synching in a rear naked choke for the submission win second time around.

Then it was on to the light heavyweight bout between Krzysztof Soszynski and Igor Pokrajac.

Soszynski began with a quick combination, but it wasn’t long before Pokrajac had his man on the back foot, a right staggering him before a barrage of blows sent him to the ground. A brief period of ground and pound followed before the referee stepped in to give Pokrajac the knockout win.

Welterweight action in the form of Rich Attonito against Jake Hecht followed.

The debuting Hecht began by testing the waters with a couple of kicks, but it wasn’t long before the fight went to the ground. Hecht tried to stay active from his back, always looking for submissions, with Attonito countering with a few well placed punches.

The end came in the second round. As Attonito tried for the take down Hecht connected with a couple of elbows, the second of which saw Attonito go limp. Hecht then went in for the kill with the ground and pound before the referee stepped in to give the debutant the TKO win.

In conclusion - the UFC’s penultimate show of 2011 proved to be a solid affair from start to finish. As the old saying goes every fight delivered, with the Mir/Big Nog and Machida/Jones encounters earning fight of the night honours from me. That kimura will make me wince for years to come.

The only downside came with the timing of ESPN’s commercial breaks, with me thinking that they’d got past the problem of coming back late and missing the beginning of fights.

But apart from that UFC 140 gets the big thumbs up, bringing my MMA weekend to a nice conclusion.

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