Another event, another series of prelims. UFC 116 was a great night of fights and with viewers getting to see 9/11 (...uh oh) fights from the card, the preliminaries saw themselves get a more-than-normal amount of exposure. Nevertheless, I'm here to review - albeit a little bit late - all the preliminaries shown and the two that did not make it to broadcast.
To the fights!
Jon Madsen vs. Karlos Vemola - Madsen defs. Vemola via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
There are few things I enjoy less in this world than watching Jon Madsen fight. This fight did nothing to change that statement.
The most entertaining part of this fight was the introductions, as Karlos Vemola had the most shit scared expression on his face. I'm not sure if he was scared or rather just a giant ball of nervous energy. I'm leaning more towards the latter as that is exactly how Vemola fights.
Outside of being a giant ball of nervous energy, he is simply not good. Vemola's gameplan revolved around attempting to get the takedown, which he attempted to set up with the worst, telegraphed, right hand followed by a bum rush. This strategy meant that the fight - in the earlier rounds - spent the majority of the time in the clinch as Vemola was unable to take Madsen down. This was a blessing in someways as I didn't have to see Madsen showcase the striking he showed against Al Turk, but it also meant a large portion of the opening round was spent with Madsen landing some hard knees to the legs of Vemola.
The rest of the fight differed to the beginning in that Madsen realised he could take Vemola down at will, and with Vemola disillusioned, completely gassed and not possessing the game to get off his back, Madsen did what he always does and simply pitter-pattered away with right hands with no inclination to advance position. The only time he did advance position was in the third round where he managed to make it to side control and then north/south. This did not last long though as Yamasaki saw fit to stand the fight up; much to the disdain of Joe Rogan. The tedious affair finally came to an end where Madsen earned a shutout on the judge's card for his third straight UFC victory.
For Madsen, it did seem like he had shown some improvement in his game from his past fights, or at least has refined his current game. It is still about as fun as cancer, and won't get him any higher than the middle of the pack in the UFC's heavyweight division. I wouldn't mind seeing a rematch with Brendan Schaub, as it would give a good indication how far both have come and would also give me a chance to see Madsen knocked out again.
For Vemola, I think free agency is a safe bet but probably the undercard of the upcoming British card against a middling European fighter. Are they still giving Mostapha Al Turk fights?
Daniel Roberts vs. Forrest Petz - Roberts defs. Petz via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
This fight has its moments and saw some slick transitions from Roberts as well as an improved overall game from Petz. Petz came into this fight with a whole lot of determination and it showed as he constantly got back to his feet from Roberts' takedowns in the first round. He looked like he might even steal the round until Roberts capitalised on a small error to take Petz back where he rode out the round. The second was an even tighter round as Roberts used a slick move to take Petz back that is very - dare I say it - gif worthy. Petz was able to escape though, and landed some hard punches that hurt Roberts and probably saw him take the round. Although he probably edged the round it wasn't a sure thing and it was hardly close to a 10-8, as Joe Rogan would have had you believe. Petz looked to pick up where he left off in the third round but after landing some strikes early was put on his back midway through the round and was unable to get back to his feet, resulting in him losing a semi-dubious split decision.
I was very impressed with Roberts in the few minutes he showed against John Howard before being put to sleep. After this fight, I was less so. He's got a very slick ground game and serviceable takedowns, but his stand-up is poor and as soon as he finds himself up against one of the division's monster wrestlers, or even a more dynamic striker he probably isn't going to fare to well. Matches against Luke Thomas or Mike Guymon would be good tests for him.
As for Petz, I think his performance here warranted him another fight with the UFC. He has the skillset to make a nice living as a gatekeeper for prospects and TUF winners. I wouldn't seeing him being Amir Sadollah's rebound opponent.
Gerald Harris vs. David Branch - Harris defs. Branch via KO (slam) at 2:35 of round 3.
When this fight was announced, I was disappointed that it wasn't given a spot on the SpikeTV prelims. About a round and a half into the fight - once it was broadcast after the Schaub fight - I began to wonder why the UFC decided to air it. It was a slow and awkward fight for two and a half rounds, which led me to believe that there had to be something crazy happen. And then it happened.
I remember during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Harris was described as a mini-Rampage (well mini-old Rampage, but I can't say that because he is younger... anyway...) and he really lived up to the name in this fight. Up until that point though, the fight failed to pick up any sort of rhythm and reminded me a lot of Harris' fight with John Salter, which also saw middling action for two rounds until Harris ended it brutally.
Harris deserves a spot on the main card of a future UFC card and will most likely get it. My thoughts on the matter are summed up best by Sherdog's Tomas Rios. I assure you the quote does not contain any deftly, interlaced pop culture references.
Since fighting his way back into the UFC, Gerald Harris has been matched up with nothing but tough, undefeated prospects. Not only has he won all three of those matches, but he managed to score spectacular stoppages each and every time.
After nearly slamming Dave Branch through the mat, it’s high time the UFC matchmaking department recognize that they have a special fighter on their hands. Given the dearth of serious middleweight contenders out there, the UFC is doing itself a disservice by not getting Harris out of the prelims and onto some main cards.
Someone like Michael Bisping might be a bit too big of a name for Harris right now, but a match-up against Chris Leben or the winner of Sakara/Rivera could be a very good main card filler for a PPV.
In regards to Branch, I still think he's a quality talent but faced a terrible match-up for him in Harris. He'll probably find himself with another UFC fight where he will be fighting for his contract. i suggest a match against fellow Harris victim, John Salter.
Kendall Grove vs. Goran Reljic - Grove defs. Reljic via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).
Relegated to the preliminaries for speaking ill of UFC sponsors, Grove managed to find his way onto the broadcast with an absurdly close fight with Croatian, Goran Reljic. The scoring for this fight indicates how close it actually was. The two fighters basically cancelled each other out with each fighter trading evenly on both the feet and the mat. It was Grove that was given the much needed decision however, and will live to see another day inside the UFC.
Saying bad things about a company sponsor before a fight having lost your last one is either very stupid or very motivating. Either way, Grove has continued to do what he has done in the UFC for the past year or two and that is survive. Having saved his contract against Evan Tanner and Jake Rosholt, Grove has again succeeded and will probably find himself against a very difficult opponent as punishment for his indiscretions.
Reljic's stint at middleweight hasn't gone so well, suffering two defeats from two attempts. Granted, those fights came against two seasoned opponents after having been out of the game for a long time. I would like to see Reljic get a reprieve from the UFC's axe as I feel there are worse middleweights than him still going around in the UFC.
Ricardo Romero vs. Seth Petruzelli - Romero defs. Petruzelli via submission (straight armbar) at 3:05 of round 2.
If anything, Petruzelli proved he was a lot better than people were giving him credit for going into this fight. That being said, he has his limitations, and they eventually caught up with him against Romero. Petruzelli's performance was very similar to his training partner and fellow wierdo, Tom Lawlor. He started fast and strong but lacked the stamina to back it up, (cue lame sex joke) which ultimately resulted in his downfall. That's not to compeltely dismiss Romero, who is one tough son of a bitch. To eat that knee like he did and still manage to pull of a swift submission when he was clearly not all there, requires some serious hat tipping directed his way.
Although Romero showed he was a great grappler, he also showed his best striking weapon is his chin. This does not bode well for his future in the division which contains solid wrestlers that hit very, very hard. You'll probably see Romero given a newcomer in his next fight to see how he does and where he stands.
Petruzelli is still yet to pick up a UFC victory, having lost in his past attempts to Wilson Gouveia and Matt Hamill but I expect he will get one more chance to break his duck. Provided he gets the issues with his pacing sorted out, I think he could easily defeat someone like Jared Hamman in his next fight.
Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchsherer - Schaub defs. Tuchsherer via TKO (punches) at 1:07 of round 1.
This was the only fight in the whole card not to make it out of the first round, which probably puts it in rare air in the history of the UFC. The result was always on the card as Schaub is built to make light work of mediocre heavyweights, and Chris Tuchshererereretc. is a mediocre heavyweight. This fight was almost a clone of Schaub's fight with Chase Gormley, just not as brutal. I'm not sure why Schaub saw fit to celebrate in the manner he did though. The whole thing gave me douche chills.
Vaginal cleansing liquid aside, Schaub is turning into quite a force in the division. An aforementioned rematch with Jon Madsen might be a bit below him considering he demolished him already, so if he doesn't care for it, perhaps a fight with Russow is in order.
For the YAMMA Pit Fighting runner-up, I think it will be a return to the smaller shows provided there isn't a stay of execution by the UFC to approve the mighty Brock Lesnar. If he does stay with the organization, a loser leaves town match might come around with Vemola on the arse end of the upcoming England show.