Ahh, the elusive 10-7 round. The white whale of our sport. Some say it doesn't exist. Some say it's so rare you may only see it once. Some say they did see the white wale. Why, they saw it on New Year's Day! In the main event, no less! Gray Maynard knocked down Frankie Edgar twice! I've heard that statement many times. However, my reply to them is simple. Yes, Frankie got knocked down twice...but he recovered twice. 10-8? Sure! All day. But 10-7?
There are no definitive answers for what a 10-7 should look like. A 10-9 round is one where a fighter has an advantage over another. The incredibly rare 10-8 round (in MMA, anyway), is where one fighter has a decisive, one-sided advantage over his opponent, so much so that his score merits more than just an advantage, it was domination. But for a 10-7? How do you even judge that? The state of New Jersey, one of the finest athletic commission says that no score in the ten-point must system can be below a seven. So they are saying that a 10-7 does exist. But what is the closest thing we have to one?
I've watched and watched, and watched some more a fight that I think is the best argument for a 10-7 round that we've seen in recent mixed martial arts. So indulge me, if you will. I will provide you a second-by-second account of the round I deem most deserving of a 10-7.
Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan: UFC 133. Cue up your copy of UFC 133 and follow along with me, if you will.
After a touch of gloves, the two square of. Brown throws an overhand right which grazes Phan, then a left jab which connects. Phan throws a right that misses terribly. Brown throws another right that grazes Nam, but a left front kick to the body connects.
Another huge overhand right by Brown misses, but it backs Phan up. Throws a right hook that semi-connects, but pushes forward and gets Phan against the cage. Nam gets off the cage and throws perhaps his only connecting strike, a left jab.
Both fighters are free and square up again. Nam misses a jab that Brown ducks under and Brown lands a jab of his own. Brown throws a left jab that misses. Nam's left jab is hand-blocked. Another Nam jab is blocked. Brown throws a kick that barely landed, but mostly blocked by Nam.
Brown throws an overhand right/overhand left combo. The right hits nothing, the left is the most significant strike of the fight and backs Nam up. Mike shoots for a double that pins Nam against the cage. Nam defends against the cage, but that leads to Brown having his back. At the 4-minute mark, Brown has name from behind around the waist with Nam trying to defend.
Brown gets his takedown with Nam completely on the ground at 3:56. Brown gets his hook in and at 3:53 he throws his first strike to the pinned Phan. This will be the first of many. Brown has complete control of Phan now. The last eight seconds are Brown throwing lefts into Phan's left-side of his face with Nam trying to defend them with his left hand and succeeding about a third of the time.
Brown lands three nasty undefensed hooks to Nam's left side. Nam finally blocks another two punches. Brown throws another that catches him behind the ear and now Brown works towards a RNC. Once Phan raises his defending hand up to defend the choke, Brown slips his left out and delivers six undefended shots to Nam's face and head.
Brown throws two more punches to Nam's face before Nam tries to catch Brown's arm. He does momentarily, stopping the assault, but Brown gets free and throws three rapid shots. Now, because of Nam's arm movement, Brown can now fire four undefended shots under Nam's arm instead of over it, effectively trapping his arm. At the 3:21 mark, Nam manages to get his arm inside Brown's to defend his face. Brown lands three over Nam's arm, then when Nam defends, three under his arm. It is right now where the fight could have easily been called.
The camera pans out to show Nam vertical, even worse, he's a candy dish. He's becoming a weak U-Shape while Brown picks him apart. Another punch over his arm and under and Phan manages to catch Brown's arm with his armpit. But it's short-lived, as Brown gets free and with a combination of (rather questionable) hammerfists to the back of the head, and under/over arm punches to Nam's face, Brown lands eight measurable punches. During that time, Brown wraps left leg through Nam's left leg.and over his right. Not only does he have full-mount on Phan's back, but he's figure-foured his legs as well. Short of Mike Brown driving his car over Nam Phan's back, he couldn't be in a more dominant position.
Thirteen goddamn punches. Over Nam's left arm, under Nam's left arm, and through a couple other angles, Brown is teeing off. Thirteen connected punches in fifteen seconds. Again, nobody would complain with any stoppage here.
Three more punches from Brown before Nam decides he wants to do something about this. He rotates about 45-degrees. His legs are in half-guard by Brown, but his back is still mounted. He's trying to make an effort while Brown is still raining punches.
Nam is trying to get up but failing. Now he has no momentum in his legs, as Brown has locked them, and his back is without support as Mike is still raining punches under Phan's arm. Now Nam attempts to raise his torso up and Brown is waiting for him with a choke attempt.
After that choke attempt by Brown, Nam decides it's better to lay back down. He's now totally on his side, he raises his head to show many blood spots, and now he's just holding his palm up to deflect punches. Brown throws a left that connects, but Nam somehow catches his hand on the way back and holds it tight. Finally, Brown gets it free and LEVELS Nam in probably the nastiest punch in the fight, straight in the nose and bounches his head against the cage.
Nam has the wherewithall to grab Mike's hand after that nasty shot, but eventually Mike gets it free again. Mike then controls Nam's (obviously exhausted) left arm and puts it behnd Nam so Mike can blast a few more shots. Nam's left arm falls across Mike's neck, but he's too spent to even attempt a choke and brings his arm close to him again. With Nam, totally exhausted by now, desperately trying to grab Brown's hand, and succeeding a couple times, but only for a second, Brown lands five more clean headshots in this time,
Brown lands one more but seems to punch himself out, as Phan finally gets a decent hold on Brown's wrist, then gets his left arm around Brown's neck. Brown mounts Phan again from the side and drops a heavy shot to Phan's face which brings his left arm off of Brown's neck and back to defending his face. Brown lands two more nasty shots.
Phan tries to get his body flat and away from the cage. Joe Rogan says "He's getting his face beat up here". Both fighters are now grappling for position. Phan is just trying to get away from the cage, Brown is trying to keep him in a bad spot.
Now in a weird spot, Nam is at like a 40-degree angle, but his head is still against the cage. Brown is mounting his left leg and hips on a knee and blasts six punches into his face that Nam tries to keep from bouncing off the cage.
"Nam might never get out of this spot" says Rogan. Nam is back on his side, Brown has Nam's left (top) leg locked with his own and is swinging lefts into Nam. Now Brown is throwing lefts and rights for the first time this fight. He lands about six, unfortunately, some land to the back of Nam's head.
Nam's body position can only be described as your stoner buddy in a bean-bag chair. He's on his right side, but his torso and head are leaning up, like you told your buddy that the pizza just got here. Brown sees the opportunity and decides that nasty elbows are the way to go now from this awkward position. He lands three and a few more punches.
Nam is up to his feet at 0:21! Bad news is that Brown has him around the waist from behind while Nam is trying desperately to break the bodylock.
Brown has Nam pinned against the cage from behind, Brown eases his grip so he can throw a knee at Phan. Once thrown, he doubles him again against the fence and gets him taken down again.
Nam escaped, but not before taking a hell of a beating. Were Brown's punches enough to stop Phan? No. Nam Phan is a fucking warrior and one of my favorite fighters. But just because Brown has pillow-fists doesn't mean we can discount the facts.
Weak punches or not, since the fight was not stopped, we have no choice but to rely on a points-system for the first round. Nam Phan landed one punch the entire round. A jab. According to FightMetric, Brown landed 106 (106!!) strikes on Phan. Once Phan was taken down in the first minute, he did battle back to his feet, which is the only part of this fight that has me thinking of taking a 10-8, but the fact that he was taken down seconds later reaffirmed my conviction.
If Phan could have saved the round by staying on his feet and even doing the smallest bit of ANYTHING, I'd take a 10-8 and be happy. But, not unlike Sisyphus, his uphill climb only ended in disappointment.