UFC on Fuel 3 is in the books, and it definitely had some highs and lows. An early contender for fight of the year in the main event was obviously a high, as was the earlier bout between Igor Pokrajac and Fabio Maldonado. Some poor refereeing and a dull co-main event might have dragged it down a bit, but not enough to say it was a bad card or anything. One thing that was poor was the attendance though - 4,592 fans in a 10,000 seat arena isn't that great, even on a Tuesday. Anyway, let's get onto the winners and losers:
Chan Sung Jung: This man is a warrior, folks. He came into the bout dealing with injuries and it didn't faze him at all. Yes he gassed early in the third, but who cares when you win the fight in the fourth? The Korean Zombie still gets hit a lot, but he put on a masterful display of grappling and transitions to control the first two rounds and get the finish early in the fourth. He was also very smart to try and connect with the audience by saying four words in English - "I want Jose Aldo". You couldn't ask for a better performance.
Donald Cerrone: That was vintage Cowboy. After he got a feel for the range and knew Stephens was no match for him on the feet, he turned it into a 15 minute sparring session. He was trying out a bunch of fancy stuff, taunting a bit, and generally enjoying himself. It certainly won't be like that against guys that match him in reach and put more pressure on him, but Cerrone is clearly one of the best strikers at 155. A bout with Anthony Pettis next would be great.
Yves Jabouin: Jabouin shouldn't have heard the final bell in that fight. After the spinning back kick in the first, the referee totally screwed him over by jumping in front of him when he tried to go in for the kill, then backing off and telling Jabouin to continue. You could see that Yves was all sorts of confused, and it probably impeded his ability to finish then and there. The ref was just as bad in the third when Yves was close to finishing as well, admonishing him and making a nuisance of himself. Still, Yves is one of the flashiest strikers at 135 and is now 3-0 as a bantamweight. Going back to the Mike Easton fight would make a lot of sense if Easton will be back relatively soon.
Igor Pokrajac and Fabio Maldonado: One man lost the bout, but in the long run I think they are both winners coming out of this bout. They went to war, each using different styles which likely led to the scoring difficulties. Maldonado's boxing has flaws (as Brent pointed out last night), but his body work is second to none in MMA. Pokrajac took a ton of blows and continually came back with huge, damaging punches and knees. Both men showed off iron chins and a lot of heart, and I definitely want to see them both on a main card again soon. Does anyone else think that Maldonado should maybe consider 185 though, or is it just me?
Losers after the jump.
Dustin Poirier: I wouldn't say he got "exposed" or anything like that, but he definitely needs to work on his takedown defense and striking defense. He's 23 years old though, so it's not like there's any panic. He showed a lot of heart in some bad positions and came back to win the third round, but the Zombie proved to be too much for him at this point in time. I still see a really bright future for Poirier though, and it should start with a bout they tried to make before - Poirier vs. Erik Koch, after Koch gets lit up by UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in July.
Amir Sadollah: Let's face it, Amir didn't really deserve that decision. Lopez handled him in the first round and Sadollah got taken down a lot. His saving grace was Lopez' gas tank, but I still don't believe he won two rounds with a few strikes here and there. Either way though, the worst possible thing happened to Sadollah's career last night - a boring fight. The UFC has constantly been giving him main card fights because his bouts are generally entertaining. That came to an end tonight, albeit partially because his opponent was content to clinch against the fence continually. But if there was still a tiny group of fans that wanted Amir on TV, well...it probably evaporated last night.
Jorge Lopez: The man has skills. He just doesn't have the gas tank to match them. He came out and looked excellent in the first round, mixing up striking and grappling well and controlling the tempo. Once his tank was shot though, he had to resort to a tired gameplan that ended up costing him the fight and any place on the main card anytime soon. Just getting a win in the UFC would be a start.
Jeremy Stephens: Totally. Outclassed. I'm not trying to be mean here, but Stephens has never seemed like a world-class fighter to me. His two biggest wins are probably over Rafael dos Anjos and Marcus Davis, and he was getting dominated for most of both fights before he pulled out the miracle popeye punch to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. He earned a split with Pettis because Pettis inexplicably tried to grapple instead of strike. Cerrone wasn't about to do that, and he showed the difference between a top lightweight striker and an average striker with big power. Stephens should be back on the preliminary card.
Marcus LeVesseur: When your opponent has exactly one weapon, why in the world would you basically walk right into it? He just sat there and waited to be guillotined by Cody McKenzie. He also didn't take advice well from his corner, and just fought the wrong fight against a one-dimensional guy he could easily beat with a smarter gameplan. It goes to show how important fight IQ really is in MMA.