This article originally appeared on WrestlingObserver.com on 9/1/13
Midway through the broadcast of this past Saturday's UFC 164 Prelims on FOX Sports 1, analyst Chael Sonnen blurted out that he'd never been in a half full room that was as energized as Milwaukee's Bradley Center.
The line was meant to convey the sense of excitement Sonnen felt buzzing throughout the arena, but unfortunately it also made the prelims seem like less of a big deal by underscoring the fact that a large number of UFC fans just weren't interested in them. Maybe these erstwhile MMA aficionados were basking in the pride that evidently only comes with Harley ownership and were busy celebrating the motorcycle manufacturer's 110th anniversary down at local watering holes like Straight Shots and Frank's Power Plant? Perhaps they were busy building a shrine to Aaron Rodgers out of cheese curds in anticipation of next Sunday's Packers season opener against San Francisco?
Or maybe they just aren't interested in fighters they don't perceive as stars.
Whatever the case may be, those who showed up late to the Bradley center missed out on some great action. Let's take a look at the highlights below, shall we?
It's Good to be King
About halfway into the first round of Chico Camus' bantamweight bout with Kyung Ho Kang I noticed something I found pretty ironic. As Camus lay on his back absorbing elbows from Kang, every now and again his struggles to work from the bottom revealed a motto tattooed in Gothic script across his upper back. It read: "King of Milwaukee."
Which got me to thinking whether or not a man born outside US soil was eligible to ascend the Beer City throne. Because for the first eight minutes of this fight it certainly looked like the Korean-born Kang was going to be handily disposing of Milwaukee's monarch in front of all his sudsy subjects.
But you don't get to be king by rolling over and playing dead whenever an enemy attempts to lay siege to your castle and steal all your PBR's. After eight minutes spent carrying Kang's weight and being pretty much manhandled, Camus was able to reverse the position. From there he made the most of his opportunity and blasted Kang with hard ground and pound strikes while searching for submissions.
Round three opened with both men exchanging on the feet, including a spectacular flying kick from Kang. After a couple minutes of exciting back and forth action Kang once again took Camus down. It seemed all he needed to do to secure the round at that point was to ride the position out and impress the judges with his positional dominance.
Camus wasn't about to go out like that in front of his hometown fans though. With just seconds remaining he landed a spectacular upkick on Kang that saw the Korean crash to the canvas like he had been struck by a bolt of lighting. Camus swarmed on him and unloaded with a barrage of elbows and punches thrown with the intent of finishing the fight.
He may not have gotten the finish, but the last minute rally was enough to give Camus the round, and the 29/28 victory on two judges' scorecards (one judge must have been imbibing in a little too much Miller High Life before the fight because he was obviously wearing beer goggles when he scored the first for Camus as well).
Which just goes to show any would be regional monarchs out there that an indomitable will is an indispensable asset when it comes to holding onto your crown.
And now a page from the "When Joe Rogan of All People is Criticizing Your Overuse of Kicks You May Want to Reevaluate Things" File.
If there was one takeaway from Ryan Couture's unanimous decision loss to Al Iaquinta it's that, while kicks are a great part of a well rounded mixed martial arts arsenal, if your boxing game isn't up to snuff you better have some decent wrestling credentials to pick up the slack if you hope to hang in the UFC. Unless you're a Demien Maia circa 2009-level grappler, a BJJ-centered game just ain't gonna cut it in this day and age.
Iaquinta ate couture alive on the feet like a tiger tearing into a side of beef thanks to far superior boxing technique. Where Couture threw out tentative jabs with no followup, Iaquinta was throwing his jab to set up power shots with his right hand. By the end of the third Couture was wearing the effects of Iaquinta's fists on his face and bleeding heavily. Although Couture had moments - most notably a couple beautiful flying knees - his over-reliance on leg strikes made him an easy target for the Ray Longo-trained Iaquinta.
With loses in both of his UFC outings to date this may be the end of the line for Couture. A move to Bellator might actually be better for him at this stage in his career given his deficiencies in the standup department.
Iaquinta, on the other hand, looked sharp after nearly a year and a half on the shelf battling knee injuries. At just 26 years old and with a mere 9 fights on his record he's got plenty of room to improve yet, but his official UFC tenure is off to promising start at least.
Lim puts a stamp on Krauss, announces his presence to the UFC welterweight division.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a fighter stuns his opponent with a hard shot but fails to follow up on it, much to the dismay of the announcers calling the action.
Korea's Hyun Gyu Lim wasn't about to let himself victim to that trap when he rocked opponent Pascal Krauss with a hard right hand just minutes into the first round. Krauss was dazed and Lim swarmed on him like a nest full of agitated hornets. Lim blasted the very game German transplant with punches, kicks, and knees. Krauss did his best to fend off the attacks, but Lim remained undaunted and single minded in his pursuit of the finish. He eventually got it by way of a huge knee that dropped Krauss and enabled Lim to begin unloading punches on his prostrate body.
It was the kind of victory that sent a statement to the rest of the undercard level fighters in the UFC's welterweight division: if Lim hurts you, he's going to stop at nothing until you're staring up at the referee and asking what happened.
Elliott shines vs. Gaudiont despite errant mogwai attached to his face
It's a rare Louis Gaudiont fight when the green haired flyweight hasn't made the worst tonsorial decision of the two men in the Octagon, but his Punky Coloured-locks took a backseat in a big way to the scraggly otter's den Tim Elliott was trying to pass off for a beard. There are many questions to be asked about what exactly would provoke a man to grow such an aesthetically unpleasing piece of facial hair - picture one part Abraham Lincoln and one part guy on the street trying to borrow money "to get to a job interview across town" and you're almost there - but one things for certain: you probably don't want to ask them to Elliott's face.
Elliott outclassed Gaudinot at every aspect of the game and in the process delivered a prolonged, one-sided beatdown of the former Ultimate Fighter contestant. Elliott looked fantastic in the fight and showed marked improvement from past outings. Flyweight is far from a deep division at the moment so if Elliot can pull off another performance like this it wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility to see him challenging for the title sometime in 2014. Let's just hope he shaves the beard before fighting on FOX or PPV.
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