Tuesday, 20 August 2013

UFC Shogun vs Sonnen on BT Sport - TV Review

It's time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at the UFC's debut show on Fox Sports, a show headlined by Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen and shown in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The broadcast began with the prelims and the featherweight encounter between Diego Brandao and Daniel Pineda.

This certainly was an interesting three rounder. There wasn't much of a feeling out period at the beginning as they put together some nice exchanges, with Brandao hurting his man with a big right, but after just a few moments both men began to slow down considerably, and it wasn't even the end of the first round. Thankfully Brandao still managed to put some power into his shorts and his takedown.

Pineda came back well in the second round with his ground work. It was a very solid performance, although at one point his ankle wraps almost helped Brandao secure a leg submission. As for the third round, although Brandao scored with a few takedowns fatigue was clearly becoming part of the equation, and as the fight neared it's conclusion both men were basically walking around the cage as they faced each other.

As for the judges they were in complete agreement as Brandao took the unanimous decision.

More featherweight action followed as Mike Brown went up against Steven Siler.

This one didn't last long. We had a feeling out period at the beginning which saw both guys connecting with kicks, but as Brown came forward Siler connected with a short left that sent him crashing. He then followed him down for a spot of ground and pound, and when a big right sent Brown into la-la land the referee stepped in to give Siler the KO win after just 50 seconds.

Yet more featherweight action followed as Conor McGregor faced Max Holloway.

To say that McGregor put in a dominating performance wouldn't be overstating things. From the moment the fight started the Irishman confused Holloway with his unique stance, and it gave him the opportunity to get off some great strikes from a variety of angles.

Holloway had his moments, but they didn't come very often, and at times there just didn't seem to be anything he could do to combat McGregor's offence.

It wasn't just about the striking though. It was more or less the same when McGregor took the fight to the ground. Holloway's defence work was sound at times, but those times didn't last very long as McGregor showed he's as good on the ground as he is standing up.

The only thing missing from his performance was a finish, and the judges were in complete agreement once more as McGregor took the unanimous decision.

The final preliminary fight featured bantamweight action as Brad Pickett took on Michael McDonald.

This was a very enjoyable encounter. After an initial feeling out period McDonald went to work with the big bombs as he had Pickett in no end of trouble. But despite the fact that he was hitting him with everything that he had Pickett survived this early onslaught. McDonald managed to keep up his striking rate as the round progressed, and a further barrage of blows towards the end of the round had Pickett in trouble again.

It looked like it was going to be more of the same when the second round began, until Pickett scored with the takedown and went to work with the ground and pound, and although he never looked for that big knockout blow his work was solid and gave McDonald something to think about.

But then, from out of nowhere, McDonald went to work, wrapping his legs around Pickett's neck, and although he couldn't lock in the armbar he was looking for he changed tactics and went for the triangle choke. Pickett had no choice but to tap out to give McDonald the submission win.

The main show began with lightweight action as Joe Lauzon faced Michael Johnson.

This proved to be a great outing for Johnson. His striking performance was top notch throughout, and he had Lauzon in no end of trouble in the first round with a big left in the first round. Johnson followed up with a barrage of blows, and it was a sign of things to come.

Lauzon had a few good moments, particularly when he scored with a takedown, but these moments were few and far between, and as the fight entered the third round they were almost non-existent. Johnson had looked a little tired in the second round, but he was able to up his game afterwards, sealing the deal when he scored with a takedown of his own.

But once again a fine performance was blighted a little by the lack of a finish, which meant more work for the judges. They were in complete agreement yet again as Johnson took the unanimous decision.

It was up to middleweight for the next fight as Uriah Hall took on John Howard.

This proved to be a very interesting three round affair. As soon as the horn sounded Hall sprinted across the cage and scored with the takedown. Sadly nothing much came of that afterwards, and after Hall let Howard back up he connected with a few great looking strikes.

But as time went on Howard began to come back into the fight. His big left hook looked devastating at times, and when he took the fight to the mat his ground and pound looked good as well. He also stuffed Hall's numerous takedown attempts.

As the fight entered it's final round the pace slowed a little. Both guys still put on a good performance, but they spent just a little too much time high-fiving each other, and when they weren't dishing out the respect Hall finally managed to score with that second takedown. The fight did end in somewhat spectacular fashion though as Hall went for a rolling spin kick-type thing and Howard went for a flying Superman punch as Hall lay on his back.

But with neither man able to get the finish the judges were called upon again, and this time around they differed in their opinions as Howard took the split decision.

Then it was down to welterweight as Matt Brown went up against Mike Pyle.

The blink and you'll miss it affair of the evening saw Brown testing the waters a few times before he unloaded with a big right and a knee that sent Pyle down. Brown followed him down for a few more shots, with a big right sending Pyle into the middle of next week as the referee stepped in to give Brown the knockout win after just 29 seconds.

Then it was on to the bantamweight clash between Urijah Faber and Iuri Alcantara.

I really enjoyed this one. For the second fight in a row we began with a takedown when Alcantara threw Faber down to the mat, and for the first few moments he made Faber look quite ordinary as he dominated the action on the ground.

That domination didn't last that long though. As soon as Faber got back to his feet and slammed his man down he took control and dominated the remainder of the fight. He was all over his man like the proverbial cheap suit, and despite being hailed for his ground skills there was just nothing Alcantara could do to get any offence going, mainly because there wasn't much let up in Faber's work.

The Brazilian did go for a couple of submissions in the third, but Faber managed to escape from these easily, and as the fight came to an end he took his man's back, the final full stop on his dominating performance.

But once more the only thing missing from this fight was the finish, and this time around the judges were back on agreeable terms as Faber took the unanimous decision.

The penultimate fight featured the big boys of the heavyweight division as Alistair Overeem faced Travis Browne.

This one looked like it was going to be over early, mainly because of Overeem's onslaught. His knees in the clinch looked absolutely brutal, and Browne looked in serious trouble when he slumped to the canvas and the 'Reem connected with a barrage of right hands.

But just when it looked all over Browne began to come back into the fight. Overeem still managed to get in a few good blows, but when Browne connected with a front kick to the face Overeem crashed to the mat. Browne followed him down for a spot of ground and pound, and after a few hammer fists the referee stepped in to give Browne the knockout win.

The main event featured light heavyweight action as Shogun Rua faced Chael Sonnen.

Now can you guess how this fight began? Yep, for the third time in this show it began with a takedown as Sonnen took his man to the mat. Shogun, however, managed to get back to his feet just a few seconds later and score with a takedown of his own.

From there they jockeyed for position until Sonnen found himself on top on the canvas again. Although Shogun put in some nice defensive work Sonnen was able to keep busy most of the time with some well place shots.

Once again Shogun managed to get back to his feet, but this time around Sonnen pulled guard and locked in a guillotine, and as the round entered it's final few seconds the Brazilian tapped to give Sonnen the submission win.

In conclusion - if the UFC were looking to put down a marker on America's newest sports network they certainly achieved that goal, because this was a tremendous night of MMA action.

As the old saying goes, every fight delivered, and then some. We saw the full range of finishes here, from knockouts to submissions and decisions we saw it all, and it was a joy to watch.

As for my fight of the night I'm going to differ from the official opinion and go for the Faber/Alcantara battle. Now that was good.

So with all of that out of the way let's wrap this thing up by giving this show the big thumbs up.

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