Tuesday, 28 May 2013

UFC 160 Velasquez vs Bigfoot 2 on ESPN - TV Review

It’s time to head off into the Octagon once again as we take a look back at the second meeting between Cain Velasquez and Bigfoot Silva at UFC 160, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.

The broadcast began with the preliminaries and the lightweight encounter between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Abel Trujillo. Well, it was meant to be a light weight fight but Nurmagomedov came in three pounds over the limit.

If you ever wanted to see a fine example of the art of grappling then this is the fight for you. For three rounds Nurmagomedov dominated the action as he threw Trujillo around the cage like a stuffed toy. Trujillo did well early on during the stand up exchanges, but as soon as the Russian got his hands on him he dominated. It was the perfect example of a grappler at work, because when Trujillo got back to his feet Nurmagomedov took him straight back down again.

There just didn’t seem anything Trujillo could do to stop his opponent, and there were a few points towards the end of the fight when he looked and the referee and raised his hands as if he expected the official to help him out. When I saw this it made me think that maybe he would have been better tapping out to Nurmagomedov’s triangle at the end of the first round.

I think you can probably guess how the judges scored this one. No surprises here as Nurmagomedov took the unanimous decision.

Then it was up to the welterweight division as Colton Smith took on Robert Whittaker.

This battle of Ultimate Fighter winners proved to be a very interesting affair. Whittaker came into this one with a rather strange stance as he kept his left hand low and his right hand near his chin, and although this left him open to Smith’s right hand at times it also gave him the opportunity to score with some left jabs from a difficult angle.

Both fighters had their fare share of luck in the striking department, but as the fight went on Smith began to display the scars of battle, particularly at the end of the second round, and by the time the third round started Whittaker upped his game even more, a big left sending Smith crashing to the ground. The Aussie followed him down for a few seconds of ground and pound until the referee stepped in to give Whittaker the TKO win.

It was down to featherweight for the next fight between Dennis Bermudez and Max Holloway.

Holloway came into this fight with a big height and reach advantage, which he used to good effect throughout. There were times when Bermudez had trouble because of it as Holloway rolled off a succession of great strikes. He even went for a series of spinning back kicks in the first round.

Bermudez had his moments, but these seemed few and far between, and it was only when he scored with a couple of takedowns in the third that he had any sort of lasting success. Although Holloway managed to escape after the first one he wasn’t so luck with the second towards the end of the fight after a couple of elbows from Bermudez produced a nasty swelling on his forehead.

With the fight going the distance the judges were called upon again, and this time they couldn’t agree as Bermudez took the somewhat surprising split decision.

The final preliminary fight featured further welterweight action as Mike Pyle took on Rick Story.

This was a great way to end this part of the show. For three rounds these two fighters put on a very entertaining encounter. Story’s striking looked both brutal and powerful early on. It certainly was a no frills approach, although he looked in some trouble from Pyle’s ground game when he took the fight downstairs.

Story’s best moment by far came in the first round when a right to the body followed by a left to the jaw sent Pyle crashing, although Pyle did managed to secure the ground and pound afterwards.

For his part Pyle put on a good display on the ground. Whenever Story scored with the takedown he always went looking for the submission off his back. Story looked in some trouble, particularly when Pyle went for the armbar.

Pyle’s striking got a little better as well by the time the third round started. Story had slowed down quite a bit by then as Pyle bloodied his face while using it for target practice.

But with no finish on the horizon the judges came into play again as Pyle took the split decision.

The main show began with lightweight action as Donald Cerrone faced K.J. Noons.

I really enjoyed this one. It began with Noons going to work with some kicks, with Cerrone responding in kind a few seconds later, and as the first round progressed Cerrone began to stamp his authority on the proceedings.

By the time the second round started Noons began to show signs of fatigue, and even though he managed to throw a few good shots Cerrone was in control, and that control was complete in the third when he went to work with the ground and pound. The Cowboy turned Noons into a bloody mess after a brutal series of elbows, and Noons was barely able to hold on to the end of the fight.

Which meant yet more work for the judges. It was relatively easy this time around though as Cerrone took the unanimous decision.

The lightweight action continued with Gray Maynard taking on T.J. Grant.

This one began with a brief feeling out period, and it wasn’t long before Maynard began to connect with some good shots. But just when it looked as if he was going to impose his will on the fight Grant began to come into his own.

A short right staggered Maynard. It was the beginning of the end as the Canadian went for the kill. Maynard tried to avoid the onslaught, but a flurry from Grant sent him crashing to the mat, and it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to give Grant the TKO win.

Then it was up to light heavyweight as Glover Teixeira faced James Te-Huna.

These two didn’t bother with the feeling out period. As soon as the fight started they began trading blows. But when Teixeira scored with the takedown he quickly took control of the proceedings, and although Te-Huna managed t get back to his feet Teixeira took control of his neck, pulled guard and locked in a guillotine choke. Te-Huna quickly tapped to give Teixeira the submission win.

ESPN then went back to their old ways of coming back late from a commercial break, which meant that we missed the first 90 seconds or so of the filler material, the bantamweight encounter between George Roop and Brian Bowles.

Thankfully we didn’t miss that much. Roop got in some good shots in the first round, but when Bowles connected with a right Roop fell to the ground. Bowlers followed him down and quickly applied a guillotine, but Roop survived that particular scare to make it to the end of the round.

When the second round began Roop took control. A left jab put Bowles on his backside, and it wasn’t long before Roop was unloading with the heavy leather, and with Bowles offering nothing in return the referee stepped in to give Roop the TKO win.

The co-main event featured heavyweight action as Junior Dos Santos went up against Mark Hunt.

Now this was worth the price of admission alone, a gruelling three round affair between two of the top strikers in the game. Hunt tried to take the fight to his opponent early on, but when Dos Santos sent him crashing with a big right the Brazilian began to take control. His striking looked top notch throughout, and although Hunt had his moments Dos Santos looked in top form.

One couldn’t help but feel sorry for Hunt though, the man who had been nothing more than an afterthought when Zuffa took over his contract when they brought Pride. He certainly was a game fighter, but when Dos Santos scored with the takedown in the second it was a stark reminder of just how good the former champion was.

The fatigue factor came into play as the third round began. Hunt began to swing for the fences at one point, but it proved to be too little too late, especially when Dos Santos connected with a high spin kick that sent Hunt crashing down to the ground again. Dos Santos then connected with a big right that sealed the deal before the referee stepped in to give JDS the knockout win.

The main event saw Bigfoot Silva challenging Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight title.

This one didn’t last long. Velasquez went for a couple of takedowns early on which Silva easily defended against, but when the fight went just past the minute mark a bight right hand from Velasquez sent Silva down to the mat. The champion went in for the kill, and when Silva didn’t reply to a barrage of right hands the referee stepped in to give Velasquez the title retaining TKO win.

The broadcast then rounded out with repeat showings of the Robert Whittaker/Colton Smith and Dennis Bermudez/Max Holloway fights.

In conclusion - this proved to be another great five hour marathon. From top to bottom UFC 160 was packed with great action, from Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dominant grappling right through to the main event striking of the Heavyweight Champion. Everything just felt so good and so right about this show.

As for my fight of the night no-prize those in the know went for the Junior Dos Santos/Mark Hunt encounter, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t join them in that decision.

So with all of that out of the way there’s only one more thing left to do, and that’s to give UFC 160 the big thumbs up.

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