I'd been to live local MMA events before, but this was the first time that I'd been to a UFC event. I was really looking forward to it, especially as there are so few in the UK each year and it's very rare for one to be relatively close to where I live. Some of them have been in London, for example. If it were there, I wouldn't be able to go as the train and hotel costs would be much more.
I'd been in Nottingham once before - for last year's ADCC Submission Grappling Championships. They were also at the Capital FM Arena. They got me much more interested in the grappling side of things and also made me notice Gunnar Nelson, who was competing at this UFC event.
Before the event
The train journey was painless. It also helped that I'd brought some reading material with me (Forrest Griffin's 'Got Fight?'). What was slightly annoying was that I'd underestimated how far I'd have to walk to my hotel. I didn't want to use taxis as that would be expensive and I wasn't sure about the bus routes. It is so important to make sure you get a hotel as near to the venue as possible and this probably means booking everything ridiculously early. You can't just think of the cost of the event when going to these things.
Before I got to the hotel, I stopped off at a store where there was an opportunity to get a photo with Pat Barry and a signed picture. I found out about this long after I'd booked my train tickets, but was fortunate enough to get to the shop with time to spare. It was great to meet the guy and, although we didn't talk that much, he was a true example of how happy MMA fighters are to meet the fans.
Anyway, by the time I got to the hotel, I had a short bit of time to dump my stuff in the room, have a snack and plan my route, which ended up being a half hour walk.
So, I'm at the arena. After a bit of a wait, the prelims started.
The Jason Young vs Robert Peralta fight ended much quicker than I expected. Young didn't have a perfect run of form going into the fight and demonstrates little more than good striking, but you can tell he has a desire to finish fights. It finished, but with a victory for Peralta after only a few seconds.
Earlier I mentioned Gunnar Nelson. He looked tiny compared to Demarques Johnson. However, Johnson was a late replacement and didn't have much time to drop the weight. It was a Catchweight bout anyway. Although Johnson is very good on the ground, I've seen Nelson before and felt sure he would win if he went there. Sure enough, it happened and he was helped by having a very strong body lock when applying the submission.
An example of poor quality judging was seen in the Andy Ogle fight. He clearly won two rounds to one, with some solid striking and showed some clear progress since TUF. However, the judges gave it to Akira Corassani. Another thing worth noting was the Hominick-esque lump Ogle had on his head for most of the fight. It didn't seem to bother him though.
The other prelims were Tom 'Kong' Watson against Brad Tavares and Jimi 'Poster Boy' Manuwa against Kyle Kingsbury. I thought the Watson fight could go to a decision and, sure enough, it did. Tavares won it though. Kong didn't seem to put enough combinations together whilst on the feet and he did have several opportunities. He also seemed gassed later on in the fight, despite training with Jackson's and Tristar. As for Manuwa, he absolutely destroyed Kingsbury with repeated solid blows and the fight ended with a Doctor's stoppage. Kingsbu's left eye was closed and very discoloured.
The main card
So, the Ché Mills fight ended quickly. Not like the Peralta fight, but still quick. Mills looked to be dominating, but Ludwig injured his leg and the fight ended in a bit of an anticlimactic fashion. Leg injuries seem to bea specialty for Ludwig, but I hope he recovers soon. He was taken away on a stretcher.
The Hathaway vs Maguire fight was bizarre. It started with a group of people shouting "Come on John!" and forgetting that they both have the same first name. It was also clear that Maguire didn't have much to offer on the feet and desperately wanted it to go to the ground. However, Hathaway had Maguire's game scouted well. When it did go to the ground, he was careful avoiding upkicks and made every opportunity to go straight to side control. Hathaway won, but it must have been weird for some fans as they are both likeable Brits, so there's no clear idea of who to support. Another thing was the boos from the crowd. I thought this was uncalled for. Sure, it wasn't anything like the Manuwa fight and defintely nowhere near the standard of Garcia vs The Korean Zombie from the WEC days, but I've seen far worse and there were good examples of technique and strategy. If you want an example of a boring fight, watch Shamrock vs Gracie in the Superfight from UFC 5 or some of the bouts from the second UFC Japan event in the SEG era.
Matt Wiman submitted Paul Sass with an armbar. I was very disappointed as I expected to see another Sassangle. Wiman even tried a cheeky triangle. Obviously he thought that Sass has never tried to defend his own move before. Afterwards, Wiman was very emotional - but I was still disappointed about the result.
Anyone who hasn't seen that Brad Pickett vs Yves Jabouin fight needs to see it now. That one-punch knockout from Pickett was a thing of beauty. Nothing more needs to be said about that really.
Dan Hardy was great in the co-main. It was also great to hear the crowd being so vocal. Even though it wasn't a sellout, everyone was behind Hardy all the way through. Hardy won the decision and this wasn't really surprising really. Sadollah is inconsistent and recently lost to the person that Hardy beat in his last fight. There was even a few takedowns from Hardy, which were very surprising,but effective.
The crowd reaction for the main event wasn't as loud, but both were popular. Miocic clearly wanted none of Struve's ground game. I thought if it was going to stay standing, Miocic would win because of the Golden Gloves boxing experience and the fact that Struve doesn't use his reach properly. However, Struve took advantage of a slip by Miocic and landed several uppercuts for the win.
Summary and Conclusion
That was a great night of fights. There was unsurprising crowd reactions but some surprising results. I still think that Ogle fight was judged very poorly and Kong has looked much better in the past. Shotgun should have done much better too. My favourite fights were the ones with Manuwa, Nelson, Pickett and Hardy.
It's a shame I probably won't be able to go to another UFC event for a while, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's true what they say - it's fantastic when you experience it live.
So, what do you think?