For the first time since UFC 153, the main event of a major PPV had a defining finish. UFC 157 was an enjoyable PPV, despite the lack of star-studded fights. There were some questions about the card, but it was very enjoyable with defining finishes and close bouts.

The main event may have only lasted a round, but it was a major moment for women’s mixed martial arts. It was a competitive fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche that had non-stop action. It was an instant success and the fight has definitely grabbed the attention of many fans.

Also, the main event was far more exciting than the popular fight between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida. The co-main event was a bit of a letdown, even though I enjoyed the mind games by Machida to throw off Henderson. A few defining finishes, along with an outstanding undercard fight made this an exciting PPV.

Rousey Lives Up To Hype

Nobody could imagine the amount of pressure that was on Ronda Rousey. She has become one of the most popular fighters in the world, along with being placed as the head figure of a division that isn’t known. With all the media and attention on her, she couldn’t afford a loss here.

It didn’t take too long for her to be in a situation, where she could have been beaten. Many people were caught off guard that Carmouche was effective using a submission, when it’s clear that her best opportunity was to strike Rousey. It was a close call, but Rousey mustered up enough power to get out of the predicament.

The submission attempt was very reminiscent of Vitor Belfort’s arm-bar on Jon Jones at UFC 152 with Jones close to losing his championship in the first round. Rousey fought out of the submission and did what she’s always been effective at. She grounded Carmouche and positioned herself for the infamous arm-bar.

It was a close call, but Rousey bounced back from a tough predicament and won in convincing fashion. I’d still like to see her improve on her striking because women are going to start countering her takedowns and ground game. She’ll need to evolve whether she’s face Miesha Tate or Cat Zingano next.

The Future Of The Women’s Division

The success of the main event has brought even more optimism for the future of women’s mixed martial arts. The performance of Liz Carmouche was inspiring and it’s going to bring her a larger fan base in. From the beginning, she was aggressive and didn’t let up. It was a shame that she couldn’t hold on to fight in the second round.

Just like most people, I would have liked to see it go to the second round to see them in stand up. Even in defeat, I’m expecting many people to be excited for Carmouche’s next fight.  She needed to threaten Rousey at some point, since she was labeled as a major underdog. That’s what she did and I’m expecting many MMA fans to watch her next fight and for years to come.

The next number one contender will be settled in April 13th between Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate. She may be labeled as arrogant and bitter, but I’ve always been a Tate fan. You’ll always get an honest answer out of her and she is very versatile as a fighter.

Zingano is another versatile fighter that is very explosive and is starting to get more attention. She’s been under the radar due to never competing in Strikeforce. It will be a great bout between both of them because both are aggressive and have proven that they can win in all different aspects of mixed martial arts.

Machida Continues To Be A Mastermind

The game plan for Lyoto Machida was pretty basic by staying patient and to be prepared to run around. He knew that Henderson was going to be the aggressor and wanted to make a quick impact. It was a great plan with Machida played mind games and made Henderson look old.

Other than Anderson Silva, I don’t think there is a better fighter right now than playing mind games than Machida. His unpredictable style clearly threw Henderson off guard and he frustrated him countless times by dodging his strikes.

The fight was a letdown, but there is no doubt that Machida fought smart. It was conservative, but when has Machida ever been so aggressive? He’s explosive with his unorthodox strikes from his elbows to kicks, along with having the ability to takedown anyone. His takedown sweep of Henderson at the end of the first round was incredible doing that to an Olympic athlete.

I don’t see how Machida won by split decision. His takedown in the first round clearly took that round and then he landed some hard kicks to a fatigued Henderson in the third round. We’ve seen much better performances from him, but this fight was another case of why Machida is one of the best light heavyweights of all time.

We will have to see how the Alexander Gustafsson versus Gegard Mousasi ends up before determining the next number one contender in the light heavyweight division. For now, I would be excited for Machida to face Jon Jones again.

Age May Have Caught Up To Henderson

It could be age or ring rust, but it was clear that Dan Henderson didn’t look like himself. He looked slow, confused, and frustrated throughout the fight. He never looked like he was going to finish Machida and couldn’t connect on many of his combinations.

Even when he managed to mount Machida, he didn’t do anything and couldn’t land a single strike on Machida. It was frustrating to watch Henderson continue to miss and then showed no urgency in the final two minutes. He should have known that he wasn’t going to get the decision victory.

Henderson is very intelligent, along with being a legend in this sport but I’m shocked he actually used the excuse of Machida not fighting. He should know that Machida doesn’t like to wrestle or get in a boxing match. The fact that he used that excuse baffled me for someone as great as him. Octagon control is overrated when you aren’t landing any damage to your opponent.

He should have known better, but I like how he admitted that he should have done more. You knew that Henderson was going to be the aggressor, but he simply didn’t move well enough. This fight showed how much explosiveness he lost in his striking. He lost a chess match and has nobody to blame but himself.

Another Non-Title Faber Win

There was pressure on Urijah Faber going into this fight. With the recent cuts in the UFC (I’ll get into it soon), there was some buzz that Faber might get cut if he had a poor performance. After losing another title fight last summer, it’s clear that people are getting tired of him.

Despite the disappointing title fights, Faber looked fantastic here. He looked aggressive and confident compared to the hesitant and predictable performances that he had in past title fights. It could have been because he was in his home state, but he seemed very relaxed and loose.

Many people thought he was in trouble after an excellent judo throw by Ivan Menjivar, but he took top position shortly after. His ground-and-pound caused some damage and then he finished it off with an unbelievable rear naked choke on Menjivar’s back.

It was a performance that Faber clearly needed, but he still needs another fight to prove he’s worthy of a title shot. As for Menjivar, it was very disappointing considering he had top position and could attempted one of his patent submissions. Overall, this was definitely one of the better fights of the night and brought some attention to a forgotten bantamweight division.

McGee Didn’t Exactly Impress

There wasn’t much buzz going into the fight between Josh Neer and Court McGee. Many people including John Villarreal and myself weren’t happy that this fight was on the main card over a matchup like Brendan Schaub and Lavar Johnson.

This fight seemed to be lagging at numerous parts with both fighters not connecting much on their striking. Court McGee broke a record in most accurate strikes ever for a welterweight, but it didn’t exactly show that McGee was that dominant.

His punches weren’t that powerful and he looked sloppy with his technique. Other than his knees and body kicks, he didn’t look like he was going to finish off Neer. It was just a performance where he used his size to dictate the fight and controlled the octagon with constant striking.

Neer fought hard and showed heart by fighting through several liver shots. He had some nice moments in the second round, but Neer looked outmatched and was predictable in his striking combinations. This fight was very sloppy and it didn’t do much for either fighter. McGee still has some potential, but he’s going to have to improve because the welterweight division is starting to become stacked.

Lawler Pulls A Mild Upset

It came at a random time, but Robbie Lawler clearly lived up to his reputation of being a knockout artist. After being mostly defending against tae downs in the first round, he got in position and it only took a few punches to finish off Josh Koscheck.

Many people thought Koscheck was going to out-wrestle him and throw him around for three rounds. Other than one takedown, Lawler did a great job in defense and showed great technique in stopping Koscheck’s attempts. He showed that he was clearly prepared and was ready to wrestle from any angle, whether it was on the cage or on the ground.

Now Lawler was probably going to finish him off eventually, but I didn’t agree with Herb Dean’s decision. Dean is the best referee in the company, but he stopped the fight a few seconds before it should have been. Koscheck should have defended better, but it didn’t seem like he took too many punches.

It was a great performance by Lawler, who is going to get a major fight in the future. His takedown defense was superb and he showed how much power his punches have. I’m still looking to see if he can take punishment because his chin isn’t very good. A fight with Martin Kampmann could be a possible great bout in the summer.

Koscheck’s UFC Days Are Numbered

I’m still puzzled by Josh Koscheck’s loss because it came in such a blur. For most of the first round, he was aggressive and kept pushing Lawler around the cage. He wasn’t having that much success in punishing Lawler, but he was going to win the first round.

His poor positioning and not respecting Lawler’s power cost him in the first round. He could say that he respected Lawler, but how he just laid there and took punishment baffles me. It was clear that his takedown attempt wasn’t working and he was grounded on the bottom. Instead of defending his face, he kept taking shots and it was over in a flash.

He is now 2-3 in his last five fights, along with coming off a first round knockout loss. With the recent cuts, I could see him easily on the chopping block.  Dana White has shown that he doesn’t care if someone was a star three years ago, but is now becoming a gatekeeper at best. He cut Jon Fitch and it wouldn’t surprise if he cut Koscheck.

The welterweight division is starting to grow and become filled with great talent. Also, it’s pretty clear that Koscheck is getting paid a lot per fight. Other than his knockout victory against Matt Hughes, what has he done since his victory against Paul Daley in 2010? His victory against Mike Pierce was lackluster and has lost in every other fight since 2010. If he gets cut, don’t expect a major outrage because Koscheck hasn’t brought much to the table in a long time.

Recent Cuts

This may be a week late, but I still feel this is important to discuss. The cut list was going to come eventually, but I didn’t expect to see so many fighters in one day. With the inclusion of Strikeforce fighters, there were going to some major cuts.

I’m still surprised by Jon Fitch being cut and didn’t agree with it. Despite not agreeing with it, I could understand why Dana White got rid of him. Similar to Koscheck, Fitch hasn’t looked that impressive lately and is being paid a lot. Other than his performance against Erick Silva at UFC 153, what has he done since 2010?

Similar to Koscheck, he’s on the downside of his career. I can understand why White cut him from a business perspective, even though I still see value in Fitch. Dan Hardy is one of my favorite welterweight fighters, but the fact that he hasn’t been cut is pretty sad. He was on a terrible losing streak and should have been cut already.

The other cuts that surprised me had to be Paul Sass. Sass had a nice winning streak with three straight submission victories, before losing his last 2 fights. He is only 24 years old as well, so it surprised me that they would get rid of him so early. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t fighting for Bellator by the summer.

Awards Of The Night

As usual, I’ll be giving out the awards for the best fighter of the night and the worst fighter of the night. It will be based on their performance and value to their career. Sometimes it will be co-winners like Rashad Evans and Alistair Overeem at UFC 156, but this should be easy choices.

The best fighter of the night is Ronda Rousey slightly over Urijah Faber. It was close because both had excellent performances and explosive finishes. Rousey had more pressure though, yet mostly dominated her fight other than one minute. She may still be considered a one-trick pony, but she still delivered a great performance.

The worst fighter of the night is easily Josh Koscheck. The fact that he was knocked out that fast after controlling the round was disappointing. Now he’ll probably get cut and head to Bellator at some point this year with his AKA teammate Jon Fitch.

What this PPV showed that you don’t need major stars to make an enjoyable card. It seemed like a poor card on paper, yet it delivered some enjoyable performances compared to the lackluster UFC 156 event. I’m still trying to get the stink off of that card.

Also, I want to recommend to everyone to watch Dennis Bermudez versus Matt Grice. Sometimes I manage to watch the FX undercard depending on the setting I’m at. I got to watch this one and it absolutely blew my mind. It was two fighters fighting with purpose and wanted to keep their job in the future. If you can watch that fight in any way, you should do that.

I’ll be back in March to preview UFC 158 in what should be a wild night. Any card that involves Nick Diaz should make for an interesting night, but a co-main event featuring Johnny Hendricks and Carlos Condit makes it even better. Hopefully the primetime episodes happen for the St. Pierre- Diaz fight and the reports of Diaz being stubborn end.

 

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