-When it was announced that StrikeForce would be closing its doors and its roster folded into the UFC, most fans figured the biggest reason for this was the rising star of Ronda Rousey and the fact that Dana White could probably see the huge amounts of money that could be made promoting her under the UFC banner. So when it was announced that her first UFC fight – and additionally, her first UFC title defense – would headline the UFC 157 PPV despite no other women’s fights taking place in the UFC previously, it was really not that much of a surprise. Bolstering the show? A Prime Time series to push the main event and help to get over Rousey’s opponent, Liz Carmouche, and also a big-time 205lbs co-main event in Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson. With all that figured, plus the historical significance of women finally fighting inside the Octagon, this felt like one of the biggest shows in recent memory.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

02/23/13

Anaheim, California

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Welterweight Fight: Nah-Shon Burrell vs Yuri Villefort

These two prospects had moved over from StrikeForce, where Villefort had lost a tight decision to Quinn Mulhern while Burrell had last been seen in a TKO loss to Chris Spang. I wasn’t really sure who to favour as I didn’t know that much about either man, but the fact that Villefort had topped Bloody Elbow’s Prospect Search in 2011 – above both Erick Silva and Gunnar Nelson – made me lean towards him. Burrell missing weight and coming in at 175lbs didn’t help his cause, either.

Round One and they circle before trading off with combos right away. Kick is caught by Villefort and he trips Burrell down and then takes the back in transition. He’s only got one hook in, though. Burrell tries to scramble free but gets caught in a deep rear naked choke. He’s in big trouble as Villefort has both hooks in now too. Good job from Burrell to avoid the choke but Villefort continues to control him from the back. He loses a hook though and that allows Burrell to escape to his feet. Spinning backfist misses for Burrell and Villefort drops to butt-scoot before standing back up. Left hook glances for Burrell. Good leg kick from Villefort. Villefort is really pushing forward here. Good low kick from Burrell and he follows with a left hand. Leg kick lands for Villefort. Nice combo from Burrell. Villefort answers with another chopping leg kick. Burrell is putting together some nice combinations though. Good left hook from Burrell to counter a right hand. Big right hand drops Villefort when he throws a kick, but as Burrell looks to follow up Yuri goes for a leglock. Burrell manages to defend, but that allows Villefort to hit a sweep and he gets on top in side mount. Explosion from Burrell allows him to get to his feet though and they WILDLY EXCHANGE with both men landing some hard shots. Round ends on the feet. Close round but I’d give it to Villefort for the closer submission attempts.

Round Two and Burrell uses a nice jab to set up some good combos, but he takes a leg kick from Villefort. Superman punch glances for Burrell. Beautiful left hook to the body into a leg kick from Villefort. He’s really landing these leg kicks nicely. Couple of combos answer for Burrell and he catches a kick and shoves Yuri down, but won’t follow into the guard. Striking exchange continues and Villefort hits him with a front kick to the face. Burrell fires right back and they trade off openly for a second. Burrell is putting together some sweet combos here. Head kick lands for Villefort and he follows with a left to the body. Good combo answers for Burrell ending in an uppercut. This is a hard one to score. Left hand lands for Burrell. Good trade-off and Villefort gets the better of it this time, really digging to the body. They clinch and exchange some knees but it’s brief and they break off. Good leg kick from Burrell. Exchange continues and Yuri lands a leg kick again but Burrell comes back with a heavy uppercut. Neither man seems to be slowing down at all here. Exchange continues right until the round ends. Another tight round but I think Burrell just about edged it, so it’s even going into the third.

Round Three and naturally both men come out ready to trade again. Another leg kick lands for Villefort and then he drops for a takedown and gets it. Burrell scrambles, but gives his back and Villefort goes for a choke without even bothering to get the hooks in. Burrell escapes though and ends up on top, but Villefort sweeps him from half-guard right away. Scramble allows Burrell to escape to his feet though, and we’re back to the stand-up exchange. Another takedown from Villefort follows and this time he looks to pass the guard. Burrell gives his back again and Yuri looks to get an over/under to put the hooks in. Burrell stands and Yuri drags him back down to attempt a heel hook, but as he does so Burrell OPENS UP and nails him with punches direct to the face. Villefort continues to look for the submission, but can’t get it and lets it go for Burrell to grab a front facelock. Guillotine attempt from Burrell but Villefort pops out and gets on top again. He gets the back again, but Burrell stands and grabs a guillotine. Yuri pops out and they wind up clinched. Yuri’s face is badly busted up but I think he’s winning this round so far. Both guys look exhausted and you can’t blame them. They break with a minute to go and Yuri shoots on a single leg again and gets a rear waistlock, but Burrell breaks free and lands a front kick to the face! Uppercut follows. Yuri is just wading forward though with no fear and he goes for a takedown and gets the rear waistlock again. He can’t get Burrell down but he does land a solid knee. Seconds remaining and they openly trade to a big pop. Great fucking fight. I’ve got it 29-28 for Yuri Villefort but I could easily see it for Burrell too.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Nah-Shon Burrell. Don’t agree with that 30-27 but the 29-28s are fair as Burrell could easily have taken the third round with that flurry when defending the leglock. At any rate this was a great opener with a ton of action and both men came out and just went for it, which is what you want to see from these lower-card fighters who are looking to make a name for themselves. Bravo, guys.

Welterweight Fight: Neil Magny vs Jon Manley

Battle of TUF 16 semi-finalists in this one and in all honesty it didn’t sound that exciting given that series pretty much sucked. Both men had looked, well, alright on the show, with Manley picking up a rare finish on that season with a guillotine choke of James Chaney. I was taking Magny to win though as I thought he’d looked slightly more impressive during the show.

Round One and they circle and throw some feeler strikes before Manley closes the distance and drops for a takedown. Magny stuffs it and lands a solid right to the body, but Manley brings him down. Good reversal from Magny and he pops back up to his feet in the clinch. Announcers sound confused as to who is who, mainly due to the similar names. Manley keeps looking for the takedown but Magny has some good defense. Action slows down a bit as Magny continues to defend the takedown. Good elbows to the body from Magny as the crowd begin to boo. Manley gets him off the fence but still can’t get him down, and he takes a couple of knees to the body too. Good knees land for Magny and now he looks for a trip. They break off instead and Magny lands with a solid right hand. Nice leg kick from Magny. Manley seems to be struggling with Magny’s reach. Bodylock from Magny and he drives Manley into the fence. They muscle for position and Magny continues to shrug off the takedown, and then they break. Seconds remaining and Magny lands with a combination. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Magny.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes before Manley goes for the takedown again. Once again Magny stuffs it for a moment but this time Manley manages to get him down into half-guard. Manley passes into side mount and he lands some short punches. Nice reversal from Magny though and he flips over into a side mount of his own. Magny gets back to his feet rather than keep position and that allows Manley to go for the takedown again, but Magny stuffs it and nails him with some knees to the midsection. Pair of elbows break for Magny and he follows with a flurry that sets up a takedown to side mount. Manley does a good job of getting half-guard and he looks for a sweep, but Magny blocks and lands some shots. Manley works to his feet and goes for a single leg, but again he can’t get Magny off his feet. Nice knees to the body from Magny. Big combination breaks for Magny and he drops for a takedown and gets it. Manley holds onto a guillotine but has to give it up quickly and he attempts a reversal, but Magny keeps his posture and ends up on top in guard. Manley rolls to his knees and takes some more punches, and it looks like he might be in trouble. Magny continues to work him over until the round ends. 10-9 Magny.

Round Three and Manley comes out swinging, but he’s throwing stiff punches that Magny avoids nicely. He lands a couple of sharp counters, too. Looks like Manley’s nose is bloodied. Magny is picking him apart here. Clinch from Magny and he hits an easy takedown into guard before posturing up to drop some bombs. He passes into side mount for a second but the cage gets in the way and it allows Manley to reclaim guard. Armbar attempt from Manley and it looks quite deep. Magny looks super-calm though and he separates Manley’s legs to remove the pressure. He continues to work to free his arm and does so, landing some punches on his way back into the guard. Good ground-and-pound from Magny and he passes into full mount and then takes the back. Manley slips out the back door though and looks for the takedown as he gets up. Magny unsurprisingly stuffs it and the referee separates them with seconds to go. Combinations land for Magny and he again avoids the majority of Manley’s shots. Fight ends with a takedown from Magny. Clear 10-9 for Neil Magny and it’s gotta be his fight.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Neil Magny. Pretty clear-cut decision as Manley couldn’t get Magny off his feet and was outgunned standing and when he was on the bottom. Good showing from Magny actually but the fight was largely unspectacular.

Welterweight Fight: Kenny Robertson vs Brock Jardine

With loads of roster cuts taking place in early 2013 this definitely felt like a loser leaves town match, as Jardine had come in as a late replacement and lost to Rick Story pretty definitively in June 2012, while Robertson had lost two UFC fights – to Mike Pierce and Aaron Simpson. Coin toss told me to take Jardine as did the rule of the Bloody Elbow Prospect Search.

Round One and they circle and exchange leg kicks early on. Robertson shoots on a single leg and gets it, but Jardine quickly synches up an arm-in guillotine and it looks tight. Robertson hops into half-guard to attempt to escape, and he manages to work his head free nicely. Couple of grinding elbows from Robertson and he slides into side mount and then takes the back when Jardine looks to scramble. Both hooks in for Robertson and he controls Brock and lands some heavy punches to the head after flattening him out. Jardin gets onto his knees and tries to roll, but Robertson stays in control and looks for the rear naked choke. Jardine manages to avoid that, but he’s still got Robertson firmly clamped to his back. He takes some more punches and then gets to his knees, but from there Robertson reaches back and grabs the left leg, and yanks it forward to force Jardine to verbally tap! Whoa.

FANTASTIC submission and it was a move I’ve never seen before in MMA – looking at it it’s like a hamstring stretcher, as Jardine’s base was being forced back by Robertson’s hips and legs while his leg was being stretched forward by the arms. Totally unique stuff and probably within the top ten submissions of all time in the UFC in my opinion. Definitely one of the most painful-looking. Must-see stuff from a guy I never ever would’ve thought would come up with it.

Lightweight Fight: Sam Stout vs Caros Fodor

This one was a UFC vs. StrikeForce special, with division stalwart Stout – coming off a loss to John Makdessi – facing new import Fodor, who had lost his most recent fight to Pat Healy. Like the previous fight this felt like a loser leaves town match, and my pick was Stout as I didn’t know all that much about Fodor but for all his faults, Stout is a very tough dude to beat.

Fight begins and Fodor wades in right away swinging, landing a hard right hand and a body shot. Stout clinches and forces him back into the cage, but Fodor quickly switches the position. They exchange knees from close range with Fodor looking really aggressive. Stout breaks off and Fodor keeps on coming forward, landing a hard right. Good right answers for Stout and Fodor goes for the clinch and then lands a takedown. Nice switch from Stout though and it allows him to take the back standing. He can’t get hooks in or anything and that allows Fodor to turn into the regular clinch. Good right hand connects for Stout. Fodor keeps on working from the clinch though with uppercuts. Good forearm shots from Stout inside before Fodor breaks. Left hand from Fodor seems to buckle Stout for a second but he recovers fast. Fodor’s aggression is insane here. Stout clinches again and forces him back into the cage, and they continue to trade off from there. Trip attempt from Fodor is blocked and Stout lands a trip of his own, getting on top in guard. Into half-guard for Stout and he looks to work into mount. Fodor tries a sweep, but Stout avoids and mounts. Hip escape from Fodor but Stout mounts again and then takes the back with one hook. He goes for an armbar, but there’s only seconds to go in the round and Fodor survives. 10-9 Stout.

Into the 2nd and Fodor walks through a right hand and clinches. Good right hand inside the clinch from Stout and they muscle for position along the fence. They break off and Fodor cracks him with a big right hand and a heavy knee to the body. They trade from the clinch again before breaking. Fodor is putting constant pressure on here, walking forward and never going back. Good combo from Stout though, left to the body and right to the head. Left hook to the body into a head kick from Stout. Both of these guys have excellent chins as they’re taking some heavy shots. Nice left hook from Fodor. Exchange continues before Fodor lands a leg kick to set up the clinch. A trip attempt is blocked and Stout muscles him into the fence. They break and Fodor lands another inside leg kick. Stiff jab from Fodor. Takedown attempt from Fodor is stuffed and Stout forces him into the fence again. Nice knees inside from Stout but Fodor takes him down to end the round. Close round but I think Fodor did enough to take it, evening things up going into the third.

Third and final round and Stout counters to the body as Fodor pushes forward and clinches. They muscle along the fence and exchange short strikes before Fodor gets a takedown. Stout pops right back up though, but takes a pair of rights from close range. Stout moves him back into the fence but Fodor breaks off again. Nice left hook from Fodor. Into the clinch again but Fodor lands a left and drops for the takedown again. He gets him down, but Stout looks for a reversal right away. He wall-walks to his feet, but Fodor stays on him and continues to look for the takedown. Nice elbow in the clinch from Stout as they muscle for position. Crowd begin to get a bit restless before Stout breaks with 1:45 to go. Good leg kick from Fodor. Combination follows and backs Stout up a little. He looks for the inside trip but Stout blocks it. Right hand connects again from Fodor but Stout trips him down and then nails him with a right as he stands. Another trade leads them to clinch again before Fodor breaks with a flurry. Stout pushes him back into the fence where they exchange, and we’re headed to the judges. I have it 29-28 for Fodor but I could see it going either way.

Judges have a split decision, 29-28 Stout, 29-28 Fodor, and 29-28 for Stout to pick up the win. Super-close fight and it was entertaining for the most part too as Fodor came out with some serious aggression and pushed a ridiculous pace throughout that Stout was totally willing to match. Fodor was actually cut following the loss which is insane to me given most people thought he won and he showed a lot in the fight too, but such is the breaks in 2013 I guess. Incredibly this was the 13th decision in 14 UFC fights for Stout!

Featherweight Fight: Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice

To me this one felt like an odd fight to make, as Bermudez had reeled off two wins since his TUF final loss to Diego Brandao and I felt he was due a step up in competition, and instead he was faced with Grice, who had beaten Leonard Garcia in his previous outing, but before that he’d been beaten by Ricardo Lamas and had never really looked like a contender in my opinion. I was taking Bermudez to win this one pretty comfortably.

Round One and they circle before Bermudez clinches and forces Grice into the fence. Grice reverses position and pins him into the cage, and they muscle for position before Bermudez reverses a trip and takes full mount! He lands some hard punches to the face and then switches to elbows and Grice is in trouble as his right arm is trapped under Dennis’ leg too. He manages to wriggle out the back door, but Bermudez grabs a front facelock as he stands. Looks like he’s going for a guillotine, but Grice picks him up and throws him to the ground to avoid it. They come back up quickly though and Grice lands some knees to the legs. They break and Grice lands a leg kick and a sharp left hook in a trade. Both men land some good shots before Dennis charges into the clinch. Big elbow and left hook from Grice break the clinch and they continue to trade off wildly. Bermudez is swinging haymakers. Brutal right hand from Bermudez and he wobbles Grice with a jab and a leg kick that sets up the clinch. Takedown attempt from the TUF finalist but Grice defends and breaks off with a combo that wobbles Dennis slightly. MASSIVE LEFT HOOK folds Bermudez badly and he’s in deep trouble. Somehow though he gets up and seems fine. Dude has a ridiculous chin. Body kick lands for Bermudez but he eats a counter right. Dennis keeps on coming though and clinches, but Grice breaks off. One-two glances for Bermudez. Spinning back kick from Grice connects to the body of Bermudez. Seconds to go and Grice lands with a combination before the round ends in the clinch. Great round. 10-9 Grice.

Round Two and Bermudez lands with a low kick as they press forward. Wild swings from Bermudez but Grice catches him with a left and sends him flying. Dennis pops back up, but he eats another clean left hook. He takes it though and goes for the takedown. Grice blocks and breaks off. Bermudez keeps rushing forward here which is dangerous. Stiff jab lands for Grice. Takedown attempt from Bermudez but Grice blocks it and looks for an anaconda choke. He can’t get it and so he releases and goes back to striking. Couple of wild haymakers from Bermudez but Grice catches a kick and goes for the takedown. Takedown from Grice and he works to take the back, getting one hook in. Bermudez stands back up though and looks to turn into him and does so, clinching against the fence. Grice looks cut on the hairline. They break off and Grice lands a low kick. Bermudez is still swinging though, but he’s eating better counters. Wild low kick into a superman punch from Bermudez and that sets up the clinch, where he lands a heavy elbow. Takedown attempt from Grice but Dennis stuffs it. Grice keeps trying it but this time Dennis blocks and lands an illegal knee, but Herb Dean ignores it for some reason. Takedown attempt from Grice is blocked again and Bermudez rolls for a guillotine to end the round. Closer round that time but still 10-9 Grice for me.

Round Three and Bermudez really pushes forward throwing punches, and he lands an overhand right to set up the clinch. BRUTAL uppercut into a combo from Bermudez and GRICE GOES DOWN HARD! Dennis pounces and looks to finish but Grice manages to tie him up in half-guard. Big shots continue to land for Bermudez though and Grice is in big trouble. Elbows from Bermudez and Grice is bleeding badly. Grice works to his feet but continues to take clean punishment. Single leg attempt from Bermudez but Grice blocks it and they remain clinched. Bermudez breaks and nails him with some more heavy shots, all landing flush and Grice looks out on his feet. BIG uppercut into a head kick and the crowd are going CRAZY as Bermudez is just throwing EVERYTHING at him. BRUTAL KNEE causes Grice to stagger backwards and it looks like Herb Dean might stop it, but he lets it go. Takedown attempt from Grice somehow but Dennis blocks, and both guys look EXHAUSTED. They exchange from there and Grice tries this crazy jumping double knee that doesn’t come off. SICK UPPERCUT into a low kick outright spins Grice around but somehow the guy fires right back and then looks for the takedown. This is a crazy round. More shots land for Bermudez as he continues to unload with all he has, and I have no idea how Grice is still up. One minute to go and the crowd are DEAFENING now. Heavy knee to the body from Dennis. More shots from Bermudez from close range but Grice breaks with a straight left. Bermudez won’t stop coming forward though and he lands a couple more rights that set up a WILD TRADE to end the fight. Tremendous stuff. I’ve got that round 10-8 for Bermudez which means a draw.

Judges officially score it 29-28 Grice, 29-28 Bermudez and 29-28 for Dennis Bermudez to pick up the split decision. Wild, wild stuff and really that was one of those fights where neither man comes away looking like a loser as it was so back-and-forth. Bermudez in particular did an incredible job of coming back from two rounds in the hole to just throw everything at Grice in the third in an attempt to finish, and the heart that Grice showed to stay in the fight was amazing too. I’d say it was a little too sloppy to be considered a proper FOTYC or anything like that but this was a great, great fight. Hell of a brawl.

Lightweight Fight: Michael Chiesa vs Anton Kuivanen

Not the most interesting first test for a TUF winner then, as I expected Chiesa to be matched with someone higher up the ladder for his first post-reality show fight, as UFC have pretty much stopped babying them these days. Rather than a contender Chiesa was faced with Finn Kuivanen, who had beaten Mitch Clarke at UFC 149 but hadn’t shown much in a previous loss to Justin Salas. I was favouring Chiesa here by a pretty wide margin.

Round One and Chiesa’s cut his hair short and grown a HUGE BEARD which makes him look like a small Evan Tanner. Kuivanen opens with a right hand to the body. Trade of punches sees Chiesa land with a good left straight. Front kick to the body from Kuivanen and he avoids a catch attempt. Good combo from Kuivanen. Low kick but Chiesa slips to the ground for a second and eats a right hand. He’s back up right away though. Body kick glances for the TUF winner. Kuivanen seems more comfortable with the stand-up though and he continues to wing combos. Plum clinch from Chiesa but Kuivanen muscles him into the fence and breaks free. Takedown attempt from Chiesa is blocked nicely and they remain clinched. They muscle for position and then break off, and Kuivanen tags Chiesa with a nice combo that has him hurt for a second. Big flurry from Kuivanen backs the TUF winner up but he drops his hands to taunt him. Flying knee from the Finn but Chiesa catches it and tackles him to the ground. Kuivanen manages to hit a reversal though and explodes to his feet. Chiesa trips him back down but Kuivanen uses a whizzer to get back up, and the round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Kuivanen.

Round Two and they circle and miss some shots before Kuivanen wades in with a combo. Chiesa ducks under and drops for a single leg, and this time he’s persistent as hell and stays on it even when the Finn defends. He still can’t get him down though and they wind up clinched. Chiesa manages to take the back standing and almost locks up a choke from there, before using one hook to trip the Finn down and slap the other one in. Holy shit that was a sick move. Kuivanen tries to defend but Chiesa slaps on a body triangle and locks up the choke tightly! Kuivanen tries to defend it, but he looks stuck. He manages to escape momentarily, but Chiesa suddenly locks it back up and really tightens it up for the tapout.

Excellent finish for Michael Chiesa and a good overall performance as he weathered a real storm and when he was given a slim opportunity of finishing he took it with both hands and did not mess around at all. How far he can go in the UFC I don’t know but it’ll be fun to watch him as he continues down his path. Fight was a ton of fun overall.

Heavyweight Fight: Brendan Schaub vs Lavar Johnson

When the planned Chad Mendes vs. Manny Gamburyan match was scrapped from the card I expected this to be moved to the main card, but instead I guess they figured it’d make for a strong ‘headliner’ for the FX portion. This was a tricky fight to pick, too, as on paper you’d favour Schaub as he’s a well-rounded guy while Johnson is painfully one-dimensional, but with Schaub’s chin it was impossible to count out the powerful puncher from StrikeForce.

First round and Johnson stalks forward, but Schaub waits for him to come in and drops for a takedown. He gets it and works into half-guard instantly and then looks for side mount. Johnson manages to secure a tighter half-guard though. Schaub works for a choke and then rolls into an anaconda, and it looks pretty tight, but evidently it isn’t as Johnson starts to punch him from the bottom and doesn’t come close to tapping. Eventually Schaub has to give up on it and he settles back into side mount. No clue how that wasn’t the finish. Schaub controls him and then looks again for the front choke, but this time he tries to transition into taking the back and that allows Johnson to explode to his feet. He looks to strike, but Schaub quickly clinches. Trip takedown from Johnson follows, surprisingly enough, and he works into half-guard. Schaub uses a leglock attempt to set up a nice sweep though and he gets back on top in half-guard. Crowd begin to boo a little as Schaub isn’t doing much outside of controlling Johnson really. Johnson rolls and so Schaub grabs a front facelock and then takes him right back down when he scrambles up. This time Johnson gets full guard. Round ends there. 10-9 Schaub.

Second round and Johnson slips early on which allows Schaub to clinch. Johnson starts swinging wild bombs at him from the clinch, landing to the body, and then he switches to knees to the legs. Knee-tap takedown from Schaub though and he’s in half-guard on top again. He controls him from that position and works to pass, but to be fair he’s not doing any damage whatsoever. Ref calls a stand-up with about half of the round to go, and Schaub lands with a decent right hand. Johnson swings some heavy leather but Schaub clinches and forces him into the cage. Good knee from Schaub and he tackles Johnson to the ground again. Johnson gets full guard this time and takes some short shots and the crowd are openly booing. Schaub passes into half-guard and continues to work the ground-and-pound, and Johnson just looks inept from his back. Round ends with Schaub in control. 10-9 Schaub.

Third round and Johnson pushes forward swinging wildly, but Schaub clinches. Uppercut from Johnson puts Schaub on the run, but he shoots on a single leg and works through some punches to put Lavar on his back again. Crowd are HATING THIS FIGHT. Full guard from Johnson but Schaub works him over with some short punches. Johnson’s actually busted Schaub up from his back which is pretty wild. Good shots from Schaub but Herb Dean calls a stand-up. Another takedown from Schaub follows instantly though and he gets into half-guard after almost taking the back. Schaub works to pass and gets the full mount. Johnson manages to hip escape to half-guard before taking any punishment, and it looks like Schaub might go for an arm triangle choke, but he quickly gives up. Two minutes to go. Johnson is outright trying to force Dean to stand them up now which never works. He does get to full guard though. He kicks Schaub off for a second, but in the scramble he gives his neck again and Schaub rolls for the anaconda choke. He doesn’t get it, but ends up on top in half-guard. Crowd are livid at this point. Solid elbows from Schaub from the top and he ends the round on top. Clear-cut 30-27 for Schaub whether the crowd like it or not really.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Brendan Schaub. Dull fight but with all the cuts going on in the UFC at the minute Schaub just needed to win after losing his previous two by KO and so you can’t fault his gameplan I don’t think. Johnson looked pretty awful here as he couldn’t defend the takedown at all and then post-fight he tested positive for PEDs, so unsurprisingly he was released from his contract. Definitely one to skip.

Welterweight Fight: Robbie Lawler vs Josh Koscheck

Outside of the main event I was pumped up for this fight more than anything else on the card, as I’ve been a fan of Lawler’s since 2002, as he was the first guy I ever saw KO someone in the UFC (Tiki Ghosn at UFC 40!) and I’ve been clamouring to see him back in the Octagon for AGES now. The StrikeForce merger finally made that possible and even better, he was dropping back to 170lbs where I thought he could make an immediate impact. Koscheck looked like a tough match for him due to his incredible wrestling skill, but personal bias made me take the Ruthless One by brutal knockout.

Fight begins and Koscheck pushes forward with a body kick before Lawler counters with a right hand. Faked takedown from Koscheck and it causes Lawler to slip. Real double leg follows and he puts Lawler on his back in guard. Sweep attempt from Lawler and he escapes to his feet. Koscheck grabs a front headlock though and drags him down to the ground. Another takedown attempt follows as Lawler gets to his feet. Koscheck gets him down, but again Lawler uses a butterfly guard to disrupt his base. Koscheck looks to transition to take the back and gets one hook in, then settles back on top in butterfly guard. Right hand from Koscheck lands but Lawler gets back to his feet. Koscheck continues to look for the takedown, but Lawler locks up a kimura to help to block it. Good job by Lawler to defend and he lands a pair of knees to the body and then sprawls out, forcing Koscheck onto all fours. Short punches connect from Lawler from the front facelock position and then he NAILS Kos with a hard left hand! Koscheck is in trouble and he turtles up and Lawler BOUNCES HIS HEAD OFF THE MAT WITH BRUTAL SHOTS THAT CAUSE HERB DEAN TO STOP IT!~!

Post-fight Koscheck protests the stoppage but there’s no way – Lawler was dropping BOMBS on him and he would’ve been knocked into next week had Herb not called it when he did. Awesome return to action for Lawler as he took out a top ten Welterweight in one round. I genuinely think he can be a legit contender this time around too as he’s improved his game so much since leaving the UFC previously. As for Koscheck, let’s be honest – he hasn’t looked the same since the second GSP fight and I wonder how much he has left in the tank at this point. We shall see. Great knockout at any rate.

Welterweight Fight: Court McGee vs Josh Neer

After a pair of disappointing losses to fellow TUF alumni Nick Ring and Costa Philippou in 2012, McGee was looking to re-invent himself by dropping to 170lbs here, which I found a surprising move given he looked quite big at 185lbs. His opponent Neer was coming off a bad 2012 himself, having been KOd by Mike Pyle and choked out by Justin Edwards. Close fight to call but I was leaning towards McGee, thinking Neer was a possibly shot fighter.

Round One and both men come out aggressively throwing strikes. Good right hand connects for Neer in an exchange and he channels his inner Diaz and tells Court to bring it on. Nice right lands for McGee. Couple of jabs follow for Court as Neer stalks forward. Good combo from McGee. Neer is really chasing him now. Punches land for both men in a trade and Neer looks for the plum clinch, but Court shakes him off. Nice leg kick from McGee. Overhand right misses for Neer. Combo from Court staggers Neer a little. Another one follows but Neer swings right back. Good leg kick from Neer. Combo answers for McGee. Beautiful combo to the body and head from McGee. He seems to have the much faster hands. Leg ick lands for Neer. Right hand to the body from Court and he follows with a left and a head kick that Neer just about blocks. Body kick from McGee and Neer might be hurt. Right hand to the body follows. Neer is eating punches. Another nice combination from McGee. Into the clinch and McGee lands a knee to the body and then breaks. Beautiful combination from McGee. Body kick lands for McGee and Neer is hurt but does a good job of masking the pain. Court follows up with another combo but he’s not going to the body as much as you’d think. Another body shot doubles Neer over though and this time Court follows up and the Dentist goes down. McGee stands over him to drop some punches, but he can’t quite seem to finish him off. Can’t believe he isn’t pounding at the body. Round ends with McGee taking the back, but he runs out of time before he can secure a choke. 10-8 round for McGee in my eyes as he came close to a finish.

Round Two and McGee comes out hard and lands a trio of kicks; one to the head, one to the leg and one to the body. Neer switches stance in order to protect the body, but McGee catches him in the liver again a couple more times. Kick from Neer is caught and McGee throws him down, but he pops back up. Clinch from McGee and it looks like he’s going for a takedown, but he decides against it and that allows Neer to break with an uppercut and a right hook. Good combination from Court backs him up again though. McGee is looking excellent here. Head kick glances for the TUF winner. Neer is standing right in front of him. Takedown attempt is stuffed by the Dentist. Good left hook from Neer and he backs Court up a little with some punches. Court fires back but he takes another nasty combo from Neer. Good uppercut into a short right hook from Neer and McGee looks slightly hurt and goes for a takedown. Neer grabs a front headlock to block it and lands some knees before breaking off. Good combination from McGee from close range now but Neer clips him with an uppercut and a body shot. McGee fires right back with a combo but Neer clinches and muscles him into the fence with a knee and an uppercut. They break and Neer sticks him with a jab, but eats a right hand counter from the TUF winner. Body kick from McGee. Both men land nice shots in an exchange before Neer lands to the body with a combo. Neer is really pushing forward now. Both men exchange combos that land pretty clean and Neer taunts him again. Seconds to go and McGee goes for a takedown, but Neer blocks it and they continue to trade off. Round ends on the feet. That was a hell of a round. 10-9 Neer.

Round Three and Neer opens with a nice leg kick. They trade punches again and Neer lands a right hand and a stiff jab, but eats a combo from Court. Left to the body from McGee but Neer fires back. They’re talking trash at one another now too. Takedown attempt from McGee and he drives Neer into the fence. Neer blocks and they exchange short strikes from close range with McGee really working the knees to the legs. Neer breaks free and lands with a right hook. Jab follows nicely but McGee fires back with a right. Takedown attempt from Court and this time he gets it, landing on top in guard. He stacks up to deliver some punches and then takes the back as Neer rolls. One hook in for McGee as Neer stands. Neer shrugs him off and we’re back into the clinch. Another takedown attempt from McGee follows and he manages to get Neer down after a struggle. Full guard for Neer but Court postures up to drop some ground-and-pound. Neer goes for a leglock from the bottom, but McGee avoids it and manages to take the back again in a scramble. He gets one hook in, but can’t quite sink the second one. Neer looks to roll and Court tries for the rear naked choke with one hook, but he can’t get it and Neer manages to turn to take guard. Court stays on top though and drops some more elbows and short punches. Neer stays busy from the bottom and switches his hips out for a possible armbar, but McGee keeps pounding and that’s the round. 10-9 McGee for a 29-27 I’d say.

Official scorecards read 30-27 all round for Court McGee. Really good fight actually and it would’ve been great had the whole thing been like the second round, but that would’ve been tough as the pace they put on in that round was crazy. Neer didn’t actually look shot or anything as I suspected and put on a good performance, but really McGee outworked him for the majority of the fight and looked excellent in his first fight at 170lbs. I look forward to seeing what he’s able to do at that weight although I think his lack of true athleticism will end up holding him back eventually as he’s just not that explosive even if he works incredibly hard.

Bantamweight Fight: Urijah Faber vs Ivan Menjivar

This was a major fight for the Bantamweight division, as is any fight involving Urijah Faber to be fair as the guy is seemingly unbeatable unless he’s in a title fight with one of the top fighters in the division. Making the fight more interesting was the fact that they’d fought prior to this in 2006 at 145lbs and Menjivar was actually doing very well until he was disqualified for kicking Faber while he was downed. Still, Urijah’s improved so much since then that I couldn’t see him losing this one, even if Menjivar had looked excellent since making his own UFC return in 2011.

First round gets underway and Faber walks through a pair of wild overhand rights and lands a short left. Lunging knee from Faber sets up a clinch but Menjivar hits a SICK SHOULDER THROW! Beautiful reversal from Faber immediately though and he gets on top in side mount. Tremendous job from the California Kid there. Crowd are really hot for Faber. Menjivar looks to scramble to get to half-guard and then he manages to get to full guard. Short elbows land for Faber but Menjivar turns for an armbar. Faber postures out and drops some shots from above, then lands a nasty elbow that stuns Ivan for a second. Good elbows connect for Faber. He’s working Menjivar over in brutal fashion here. Menjivar looks to roll free, then lands a nice upkick as Faber stands over him. Big crowd chant for Faber as he lunges down into the guard with a sharp elbow strike. More elbows connect for Faber. Menjivar works to kick him away, but as he scrambles Urijah hops right onto his back! Beautiful stuff. He slaps a body triangle on instantly too and then locks up the choke, and Menjivar has nowhere to go and has to tap! LEMUR CHOKE!~!

Wow. To channel Mortal Kombat for a second that was a FLAWLESS VICTORY as Faber just completely destroyed Menjivar who is no slouch. In fact I’d argue that it was Urijah’s best performance in the UFC thus far, beating out his other incredible showing against Brian Bowles in 2011. People dog on the title shots this dude gets but how can you deny him when he runs through top contenders like Menjivar like a hot knife through butter? Phenomenal stuff from the California Kid.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Lyoto Machida vs Dan Henderson

On paper this was basically a de facto #1 Contender’s match, as both men had a fair claim to that spot – Henderson had been in line for the Jon Jones fight at the doomed UFC 151 card before he blew out his knee, while Machida had been promised a shot after KOing Ryan Bader, but had then been put to the backburner after he turned that shot down at UFC 152 and Chael Sonnen muscled into the picture instead. In terms of a winner, I was leaning towards Machida as he’d dealt with Bader so easily and Henderson is a lot like Bader in terms of style, but Hendo’s experience and punching power are always the big equaliser.

Round One and both men look tentative. Low kick misses for Hendo early. Body kick glances for Lyoto. Hendo chases forward swinging but Machida dodges out of the way. Front kick glances for Machida and Hendo comes back with a glancing inside leg kick. Body kick from Lyoto. Tons of feinting from both men so far but little in the way of action. Low kick from Lyoto. Hendo comes forward but eats a left. Body kick from Machida. Henderson tries to clinch but Lyoto avoids it easily. Henderson pushes forward but Machida clips him with a counter right. Hendo has barely landed a thing in this round outside of one or two leg kicks. No sooner have I typed that than Hendo does connect on a right hand that backs Machida up. Clinch from Henderson but Machida muscles him off. Low kick sets up another clinch for Hendo but Machida takes him down and lands some big elbows to end the round. Got to be 10-9 Machida.

Round Two and Hendo comes forward but almost eats a head kick early on. Low kick glances for Hendo. Takedown attempt from Henderson but Machida stuffs it. Nice kick to the body causes Henderson to stumble as he comes forward. Machida lands with the front kick to the face after doing some hand-waving karate movements. Sorry for my ignorance! Big crowd chant for Hendo now but he can’t get a handle on Machida and he takes a couple of quick punches. Nice knee from Machida catches Hendo leaning in for a takedown. Machida’s timing is ridiculous. Good leg kick from Henderson. Heavy body kick from Machida and he shrugs off a takedown attempt. Hendo lunges in but gets caught by a right and goes down off balance, but he pops back up immediately. Clipping right hand lands for Lyoto as Hendo comes forward. Body kick from Machida. Leg kick follows. Charging right hand misses for Hendo. Machida does a good job of getting out of the way of the rush. Spinning back kick glances to Hendo’s body. Round ends with Hendo rushing forward. 10-9 Machida and Henderson is becoming frustrated.

Round Three and once again Lyoto keeps out of the way of some wild shots from Henderson. Vicious kick to the body from Machida. Nice takedown from Henderson though and he gets on top in guard. He doesn’t do much from the top, as Lyoto does a good job from the guard at controlling Hendo. Forearm shots land to the body but Hendo can’t really land much to the head. Kimura attempt from Lyoto and he uses it as a reversal to escape to his feet. Low kick lands for Lyoto. About a minute to go and Lyoto switches stances and uses more hand movements. Right hand glances for Machida. Jumping crane kick (!) glances too. Head kick does land but Hendo takes it LIKE A MAN. He can’t land on Machida though and the fight ends there. 10-10 round for me which makes it 30-28 for Machida.

Judges have it 29-28 Henderson, 29-28 Machida and 29-28 for a split decision for Lyoto Machida. Crowd boo but I really don’t know why as Machida basically picked Henderson apart here. Was it the most entertaining fight of all time? Well, no, as there wasn’t all that much action, but the people crying foul about it surprised me as it was basically your prototypical Machida fight when he doesn’t manage to finish like in say the Bader or Couture fights. Everyone knew coming in that he’s got amazing movement and timing and Henderson just wasn’t able to solve that riddle. Of course, it would’ve been hard to award him a title shot after this sort of performance too, and so the shot has gone to Alexander Gustafsson instead – a move I fully agree with as Machida already got his shot and was left lying like a corpse by Jones, so why do we need to see the rematch?

UFC World Women’s Bantamweight Title: Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche

As I mentioned in the intro, you can’t really question the historical significance of this fight – the big question going in was whether people would buy into it and whether they’d accept women’s MMA in the UFC as they had in StrikeForce over the past few years. The bigger question was of course what would happen if Rousey lost? While Carmouche had gotten herself over as a great personality (and the first openly gay fighter in UFC history too) during the PrimeTime shows, it was unmistakably Rousey’s looks, personality and fighting style that had caused Dana White to install the division in the UFC in the first place, and so it was hard to imagine the division without her at the forefront. The chances of that seemed unlikely though, as Rousey had dealt with better fighters than Carmouche in Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman with terrifying ease, and so barring a Matt Serra-like punch landing I was expecting Rousey to deliver another first-round armbar and cement herself as a bonafide UFC superstar.

Fight begins and Rousey comes charging out swinging, looking to close the distance. She takes a couple of shots on her way in but nothing serious and gets to the clinch. Ronda looks for a throw, but Carmouche avoids it and takes an uppercut. Throw attempt again and this time she gets Carmouche down. Carmouche manages to reverse though and takes the back with both hooks! Crowd go apeshit as she looks to lock up a choke with Rousey standing, and then switches to the Demian Maia neck crank! It looks like it’s in tight, but somehow Rousey manages to shake her off! Crowd are LOUD. Carmouche ends up on her back with Ronda standing over her, dropping a couple of shots. Good punches from Rousey. Carmouche looks for a leglock, but Rousey avoids and drops down into side mount. Solid punches from Rousey as she ties up the head and right arm. Carmouche keeps bucking her hips but can’t seem to get out. Full mount from Rousey and she goes for the armbar, and Carmouche tries to fight out of it but Ronda locks it down and STRAIGHTENS THE ARM FOR THE TAPOUT!~!

Awesome fight right there. Seriously, it could not have gone any better for the UFC as not only did Rousey win, but she had to FIGHT for it and by doing so well – even for a round – Carmouche got over as a semi-star too. Zuffa couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the Women’s Bantamweight division and I think Dana would’ve been seeing big dollar signs as he heard the crowd react to this and saw such a tremendous fight. Rousey is a SUPERSTAR, no doubt. And it’ll only be up for her after this, too.

-Highlight reel rolls and that’s the show, dude.

Final Thoughts….

For some reason I didn’t see this as a great show when I first watched it but I was WRONG. This is definitely show of the year-contender stuff even if it wasn’t quite as good as the very best UFC shows of all time. There was only one bad fight really – Schaub/Johnson – as I didn’t see Hendo/Machida as being as bad as most made out, and pretty much everything else was exciting, from the opening bout to the tremendous main event, with great stuff like the wild Bermudez/Grice match, Robertson’s sick hamstring stretcher, Faber’s LEMUR CHOKE!~! and a lot more in between. Thumbs way up for this one – if you didn’t see it first time around, check it out as soon as you can.

Best Fight: Bermudez vs. Grice

Worst Fight: Schaub vs. Johnson

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: NewmanMMA@gmail.com