UFC on Versus 2 was a nice short and sweet card that saw Jon Jones effortlessly destroy Vladimir Matyushenko, Yushin Okami decision Mark Munoz via sprawl, Jake Ellenberger impregnate John Howard's face and Takanori Gomi bring back the fireball to put Tyson Griffin's lights out. But with only two hours of broadcast time, five of the six prelims did not make the air. Hopefully I can help fill you in on on what you may have missed.
To the fights!
Rob Kimmons vs. Steve Steinbeiss - Kimmons defs. Steinbeiss via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Steve Steinbeiss is going to look back at this fight as the one that got away. The opening round of the fight saw Steinbeiss pounding Kimmons stomach into mince meat with relentless knees and punches against the cage. A good few minutes of the opening frame were spent in the same position with Kimmons' back pinned to the cage as Steinbeiss dug hard and often into the soft stomach causing Kimmons to wince repeatedly. A winded Kimmons went back to his corner where he was given some much needed advice and came out with takedowns on his mind. He came up short for most of the round with Steinbeiss again battering the body but a timely slam takedown saw Kimmons close out the round on top. An ill-advised flying arm triangle/back control attempt by Steinbeiss early in round three saw him end up on his ass, and although he regained his feet shortly thereafter he spent the majority of the round underneath Kimmons or fending off takedown attempts. The fight went to the scorecards with the judges siding with Kimmons who, as Joe Rogan pointed out, will most likely find a nice helping of blood in his urine tomorrow.
Rob Kimmons is probably on borrowed time inside the UFC. He has serviceable skills in all areas but they only really help against the most one-dimensional (not sure if that's a word...) of fighters. There was some talk a while back about how he wanted to drop down to the welterweight division. While that may sound like a decent idea, I would probably advise against it as that wrestling shark tank of a division would probably fasttrack him out of the UFC. I'd suggest sticking around the middleweight division where there are less dominant grapplers. Match-ups against Brian Stann, Dave Branch or Mario Miranda are all decent fights.
With a .500 record of 4-4 and three straight defeats under the ZUFFA banner (albeit one was a bullshit stoppage against Ryan Jensen) that will probably be all she wrote for Steinbeiss's UFC career for some time.
Charles Oliveira vs. Darren Elkins - Oliveira defs. Elkins via submission (armbar) at :41 of round 1.
Not much to say with this fight other than it was a very impressive debut for Oliveira and that Elkins is probably not long for the promotion. This was the lone preliminary to make it to broadcast and as we all saw a quick slam by Elkins was followed by an even quicker transition by Oliveira to a triangle choke that turned into an armbar forcing the tap. Taking Oliveira down right off the bat probably wasn't the smartest play in the book for Elkins, but the difference in class between the two made really had Elkins picking his poision.
While a lack of takedown defense is not something you want to have in the lightweight division, Oliveira is incredibly crafty and could make a good home for himself inside the organization. A fight with fellow preliminaries winner, Jacob Volkmann could be a very fun grappling that I'd very much like to see.
Elkins could get another fight for the promotion in a do-or-die match but his limited skill set probably won't have him sticking around in the stacked division.
Brian Stann vs. Mike Massenzio - Stann defs. Massenzio via submission (triangle choke) at 3:10 of round 3.
Firstly, Brian Stann by submission...huh? I know, but the drop down to middleweight plus four months of training in the gi with Roberto Traven has really tightened up the glaring holes in Stann's game with this fight showing tremendous improvements from any other Stann fight. When I looked at the play-by-play on Sherdog for this fight it made it out like Stann had secured a Leben-esque comeback after having lost the first two rounds. While, an argument could be made that Massenzio eked those rounds out a more convincing argument is that Stann easily secured one or both of those rounds. The fight was back and forth with the main difference being that Stann's offence inflicted far more damage than Massenzio's offence. Massenzio would land takedowns but would be unable to cause any damage from top control. Once the fight was on the feet or Stann achieved top position he was able to land hard strikes that hurt Massenzio. Heading into the third it was very clear that Stann was in better shape and after landing a hard combination that rocked Massenzio he slipped to his back throwing a high kick. Massenzio followed him down groggily and neglected to defend the basic triangle choke setup of Stann. By the time he went to fight it, Stann had wrapped it up and forced him to tap.
The middleweight version of Brian Stann is so much better than the light heavyweight version. I'm not saying that that's the result of the weight cut or that Massenzio is some world beater just that Stann looks so much crisper in everything he does and could really make some waves in the middleweight division if he continues to improve like this. Having faced three wrestlers in a row, it is probably time to reward Stann with someone who will stand in front of him. Matches with Nate Quarry, Rob Kimmons or Jorge Rivera could all be good fun.
I think the Master of Disaster will get a stay of execution on his UFC contract because of this fight winning "fight of the night" honours. Although he lost here, Massenzio's wrestling skills do give a good chance of sticking around the UFC as a gatekeeper if he catches some favourable match-ups. A loser-leaves-town match against one of the recent TUFers would probably be a good test.
James Irvin vs. Igor Pokrajac - Pokrajac defs. Irvin via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:29 of round 1.
I can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure bad luck struck again for James Irvin in this fight. The fight started with Pokrajac coming out aggressively and looking for the takedown. He managed to get Irvin to the ground but Irvin eventually reversed the position and started to work in Pokrajac's guard. Once Irvin had enough of that he lazily decided to stand only for Pokrajac to jump up and hit with 11 or 12 clean punches in a row before slamming Irvin to the mat. In the slam Irvin looked to hurt himself badly. Pokrajac continued to work though and after landing a clean elbow, he jumped on Irvin's back and tightened up a rear naked choke that looked only to be over the chin, but forced a quick tap from Irvin regardless.
This marked the first win of Pokrajac's UFC career and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It was a good performance although I get the feeling Irvin was not quite all there. Looking forward, it is highly doubtful that Pokrajac has the wrestling to make inroads in the 205 lbs. division but he's earned himself another fight, which will probably come as chum for some surging prospect.
As for Irvin, three straight, first round defeats does not bode well for him. He'll probably exit the UFC after this loss but his exciting style should bring him back should he pick up some wins. That is provided of course he doesn't get struck by lightning.
Matt Riddle vs. DaMarques Johnson - Riddle defs. Johnson via TKO (punches) at 4:29 of round 2.
This was the fight I was looking forward to most on the preliminary card as I'm fan of Riddle's and Johnson always puts on exciting fights. I expected Riddle to control where the fight took place but I thought DaMarques was going to give him hell wherever he kept it, however the story of the fight turned out to be Riddle's overwhelming strength in top control. Riddle appeared to just suffocate DaMarques when he was on top of him and looked to be starting to take the life out of him a bit. Johnson looked to rally midway through the second round as he reversed position and appeared to hurt Riddle badly with a knee. Riddle survived though and once he got back on top, DaMarques appeared to be done. From there Riddle moved to mount and pounded away until Johnson rolled to his stomach where the referee eventually stopped it.
Riddle's wrestling and top control, coupled with his size is really helping him make some moves in the division. I'm still not sure how he managed to lose his fight against Osipczak. If there was one thing I'd suggest to Riddle is that he bring back the anime hair he had against Dante Rivera. That shit was badass. While rushing Riddle is still a concern, I think a favourable stylistic match-up against John Howard could really be a good next step in his career.
As for DaMarques, he appeared a little bit off. He didn't seem to have the energy he had against Garcia and Blackburn. Nevertheless he is still a bag of excitement and would be a good test for anyone in the lower half of the division.
Paul Kelly vs. Jacob Volkmann - Volkmann defs. Kelly via unanimous decision (30-27x3).
This fight went how I thought it would go, and also how I thought the Matt Veach/Paul Kelly fight should have gone. Jacob Volkmann used his superior wrestling and ground ability to completely neutralise Kelly. While Kelly looked dangerous when the fight was on the feet, Volkmann was able to score takedowns almost at will, which would more often than not end with him landing in side control. Kelly would attempt to escape by rolling to his knees and giving up his back, but Volkmann resisted the temptation to take the back but rather ride it by hooking Kelly's near leg with his leg. As pictured here:
From here, Volkmann would land elbows and generally frustrate the shit out of Kelly. That would be pretty much the story of the fight with the main bit of offense from Kelly coming in the third round when he landed an insane flying knee that buckled Volkmann. If you can picture a slam takedown in reverse, it looked like that. Aside from that, Volkmann rode out a wide and comfortable unanimous decision.
Volkmann's striking remains the weakest part of his game, and his inability to integrate whatever striking he has into his takedowns hinders both areas of his games. If he gets top control though, he can be a pain to get rid of. He's kind of like the 155 lbs. version of Jason Brilz. Like I mentioned earlier, I'd really like to see a Volkmann/Oliveira bout.
As for Kelly, he'll have a home on the preliminary card of a UK show for the forseeable future. He has made improvements in his grappling but it's very hard to see him competing with all the seasoned wrestlers in the division no matter how much he works on it. He's still exciting to watch and will probably get a bounce back win in the UK before taking on an up and coming fighter in the gatekeeper role.