First off, yesterday's UFC 115 was probably the most enjoyment I've gotten out of an MMA event since that mysterious Aldo vs. Faber PPV event and the most I've gotten out of a whole UFC event since UFC Australia. While everyone was ragging on this card in the lead up to it, I was quietly confident that it was going to be a quality night of fights and I was not let down. The event went a long way to rinsing out the bad taste that was UFC 114.
Due to another prelim special on Spike and Yves Lavigne prematurely stopulating the Wiman/Danzig fight, we were treated to a fair few of the shows entertaining preliminaries. But if you want to rehash the ones you saw and get a rundown on the ones that weren't aired, read on.
Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennox - Pyle defs. Lennox via submission (triangle choke) at 4:44 of round 3.
UFC 115's opener ended up being the last fight broadcast on the pay-per-view and turned out to be a very entertaining fighter. Pyle used his height and more technical striking to outwork Lennox on the feet and his very fluid ground game to out grapple Lennox once the fight hit the mat. Pyle looked to be in trouble at the end of the fight as he got tagged a few times, but capitalised on Lennox's reckless aggression to sink in a tight triangle that put Lennox to sleep.
The fight was a good paced, back and forth bout that really demonstrated what we have to come to know about Mike Pyle. While he has all the skills to give nearly anyone in the division trouble, he is very capable of being hit. What Pyle did not do in this fight, that he has become accustomed to doing, is go to pieces when he did get hit. To quote Hank from Me, Myself and Irene, Pyle is usually "like origami, he folds under pressure" but in this fight he remained cool under fire and countered nicely. With this win he should move away from the brink of termination and return to the middle of the welterweight pack. I'd like to see him take on Mike Pierce, which would be a good test for both fighters.
After obtaining a fortunate win over Danillo Villefort in his UFC debut, Lennox has suffered defeat to Rick Story and now to Pyle. While there is no shame in losing to either man, I think we will will see Lennox be the first cut from the UFC's roster after this event.
Claude Patrick vs. Ricardo Funch - Patrick defs, Funch via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:48 of round 2.
Heading into this fight, it was said this was to be a coming out party for Patrick who had applied his trade on the Canadian circuit for some time. The fight definitely turned out that way as Patrick fought through some brief resistance from Funch early to lock up a nice guillotine choke early in the second round to cinch his first UFC win.
Patrick looked good against the mediocre Funch but the jury is still out for me on how the skills he showed will translate to more proven competition. Patrick called out Dong Hyun Kim after the bout, which is too much, too soon in my eyes. Perhaps someone along the lines of the earlier victor, Pyle or previous Canadian card victor, Mike Guymon.
In the story of the shady looking Funch, he appeared to have the fire in him early, but the craziness with the imbecilic, local referee and the phantom upkick looked to have killed his buzz. I doubt we'll see Funch back in the UFC anytime soon, with a tour of the smaller shows in his future.
Peter Sobotta vs. James Wilks - Wilks defs. Sobotta via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-28, 30-27).
This was a much closer than expected fight as Sobotta attempted to use a high work rate, and pace to overcome his technical deficiencies while Wilks did the opposite and almost seemed too relaxed at times but always seemed one step ahead of Sobotta skill-wise. Sobotta's pace in the first frame kept the round tight as he landed good strikes on the feet and was able to take the fight to the floor. He didn't do much of anything with the position though and let Wilks steal the round with some close submission attempts. The second saw Sobotta begin to slow as his cardio could not keep up with his work rate. This saw Wilks take control of the round with superior strikes and positioning. The third round I saw for closely for Sobotta as he had Wilks' back for a long stretch of time after a misguided kimura attempt by the TUF winner left him in the precarious position. Sobotta's lack of technical polish came to the fore again though as he made muffled attempts at a choke before giving up his body triangle for a poorly executed arm trap that let Wilks turn into his guard where he closed out the round with some stifled ground and pound to take the decision.
Wilks had flashes of greatness in the bout, but they were mixed amongst a pretty disappointing overall performance. His striking looks improved from his TUF days but his measured performance doesn't really call for much hope for his future in the 170lbs. shark tank. Anyone greater than the middle of the middle pack of welterweights could very well be too much for Wilks. Look for him to return on the England card coming up soon against someone right on that level of competition I just mentioned.
As for Sobotta, I think he'll make it 3/3 losers so far at the event getting the boot from the organization. Like Rory MacDonald, Sobotta seems to have a good grasp of the fundamentals but unlike MacDonald he doesn't quite have the technical polish to be able to handle anyone UFC calibre at the moment.
David Loiseau vs. Mario Miranda - Miranda defs. Loiseau via TKO (strikes) at 4:07 of round 2.
If you were wondering who the bleeder was on the preliminary card that caused the mess in the middle of the octagon - this fight holds the answer. To put it bluntly, David Loiseau got the shit beaten out of him. About 8 of 9 and a bit minutes of the fight were spent with Miranda on or around Loiseau's back, beating the tar out of him with elbows, punches and knees. The fight was brutal and certainly marks the end of Loiseau's UFC career.
Miranda looked very good in the fight, and seems to be living up to the hype that surrounded his UFC debut which saw him perform well early before getting rocked and stopped by surging middleweight, Gerald Harris. He executed the perfect "David Loiseau Gameplan" of evading the flashy strikes and putting Loiseau on the mat where you can pound on him with reckless abandon provided you control position. Mario is going to be very, very good in the future and I wouldn't mind seeing him slow cooked in the division against some of the aging guys in the division like Jorge Rivera, Tim Credeur and Joe Doerksen.
Watching Loiseau get beaten down like that was pretty sad. I've had a soft spot for Loiseau as his spinning back kick on Captain Miserable was the very first piece of MMA I ever witnessed, which in turn got me hooked on this sport. Time has simply overtaken Loiseau with the blueprint to beat him firmly established, as his game has simply not evolved. Make that 4/4 on undercard losers cut.
Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig - Wiman defs. Danzig via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 1:45 of round 1.
There's not much to say on this "fight" that hasn't already been said. Why Yves Lavigne is taking the advice of Watt Miman instead of properly checking Danzig's condition by, I don't know, checking his face or a hand that wasn't being posted on to stop him from going out is beyond me. Hopefully they can set this fight up to be done again as quickly as possible because the style match-up between the two was very intriguing to me.
Evan Dunham vs. Tyson Griffin - Dunham defs. Griffin via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28).
Evan Dunham really emerged as a force to be reckoned with after this bout. The booing from this fight irked me severely, but not as much as the scoring did. It has been said already but to find one round for Griffin in that fight, let alone two is nuttier than squirrel poo and as Brent said, the person who handed in that scorecard has no business judging a fight ever again.
I have been very high on Dunham after his opening two UFC performances against Aurelio and Eklund, but this fight really showed just how good Dunham is. He almost made controlling Tyson Griffin look easy, while showing fantastic striking and grappling. I can't wait to see who they match him up with next, and I hope it is someone in the top five.
Griffin again proved how resilient and unsubmittable (not a word) he is, but I think he may have developed the common ailment wrestlers-turned-strikers develop of forgetting his bread and butter in favour of his new toys. I don't think the result would have been different if Griffin chose to wrestle Dunham, but it would have certainly worked better than the strategy he employed in the fight.