The UFC hit Cincinnati, Ohio with a card that delivered a lot action and upsets in the cage but left a lot to be desired in terms of pacing of production. The thirteen fight card is just too bulky of a concept in the first place and to strech that out over six hours with slow production is not a way to really push the product. Putting a non-title main event on after midnight on the East coast is not something that is likely to raise the visibility of the sport.
Now there are larger logistical realities in play here, but with the increasing number of UFC cards taking place it would be really nice as a fan to have these Fight Night cards start to get compressed a bit into shorter events and really avoid cards with more than ten fights on them in general.
That is enough of me complaining about production, on to the fights, which were really fantastic:
- Matt Brown and Erik Silva had a flat out fantastic fight. It was amazing. Silva opened with some excellent body work that really hurt Brown, possibly broke a rib based on how easily Brown was hurt to the body for the rest of the fight. Brown was able to survive giving up his back to Silva and then came roaring back to just beat the tar out of Silva. Brown really showed off his excellent striking both at range and the clinch. He also show cased his underrated Judo with a fantastic foot sweep and a bevy of takedowns, and chained submissions on the ground in addition to having excellent ground striking. Brown has rebounded from injury and cemented his status as being in the title picture.
- Lorenz Larkin went in, traded bombs with Costas Philippou and banked on his chin. That ended up being a huge mistake as Philippou didn't seem to mind Larkin's punches at all and responded with crushing punches of his own. Larkin took the first few well, but soon you saw him starting to flag,and then he was dropped in a big way. Not sure Philippou showed anything new that gives him an edge against the upper levels of the Middleweight division.
- Daron Cruickshank turned out Erik Koch's lights with a fantastic head kick to get a first round knockout. Cruickshank is a crafty striker and he really showed off how skilled he is by setting up that head kick with a varied attacked of both hands and feet. He finished it with an excellent left hand fight followed by the left high kick to put Koch down and Gary Copeland was very late to pull the trigger on stopping the fight. This is a validating win for Cruickshank who was looking to shake the "just an action fighter" label he seemed burdened with. While handing Koch his third loss in four fights doesn't sound impressive, Koch has looked physically healthier at Lightweight and isn't an easy win by any measure.
- Neil Magny and Tim Means had a great scrap where they traded rounds. Magny dictated the first round, and then in the second round Means imposed his faster pace and seemed to taking control of the fight, but Magny wrested it back in the third round and claimed the fight. Magny continues to improve his game each time in the cage, and is consistently staying busy. He'll never be a title contender, but he is carving out a solid place in the Welterweight division.
- Soa Palelei overwhelmed Ruan Potts with a quick takedown, waiting out the adrenaline rush for the UFC newcomer, and then finished him with a sneaky, veteran type ground shot. Palelei is a talented guy, but it is hard to gauge were he is at because Potts is really not on even a mid-tier for Heavyweight.
- Chris Cariaso put an end to Louis Smolka's undefeated record in his professional career. Smolka has some skills and the two put on an excellent scrap, but in the end the Cariaso was just more a polished product.
- Kyoji Horiguchi really effectively displayed he is more than hype, and is a legitimate prospect in this sport. Darrell Montague isn't a great fighter, but he is a very tough test for a young fighter like Horiguchi, and the Japanese fighter walked right through him. Horiguchi could very easily turn into a title contender within in a fight or two, and looks like he could easily hang with any fighter outside of the top three of Flyweight right now.
- Ed Herman took a close fight over Rafael Natal, in a fight few cared enough about to really complain about scoring. Natal seemed to have Herman limping with leg kicks early and just stopped attacking the lower body. It was a plodding affair that either fight could have won, both also could have lost.
- Zak Cummings used technique, striking, size, and cardio to grind down Yan Cabral's grappling edge. The first round was Cabral as he dominated the grappling, but Cummings came on strong in the last two rounds. Cabral rallied at the very end, and Cummings was forced to deftly defend two kimura attempts from half guard. Cumming showed great improvements in his defensive and offensive grappling in this fight and as a result he got a win over a tough Brazilian. Cummings is an interesting fighter who seems to be still improving and coming into his own, worth keeping an eye on.
- Eddie Wineland looked very confident and strong on his feet. Cutting angles, feinting, setting up right hands and none of it mattered as Johnny Eduardo landed a huge right hand that put him down. Wineland was good, and Eduardo was better. Better head movement, better footwork, and better accuracy. Eduardo looked excellent, but don't call him a prospect, he is 35-years-old and will likely be 36 the next time he gets in the cage, his window to win high level fights is closing, and he needs to cash in now, so a quick late summer or fall turn around against a big name would ideal for him.
- Nik Lentz pretty much schooled Manny Gamburyan. Lentz showed off much improved striking, mixing together strikes with is always excellent clinch work and scrambling. Gamburyan had his moments, but this figh was pretty much all Lentz, and he really deserves some upper level matches in the Featherweight division.
- Justin Salas landed some nasty strikes to put Ben Wall away, the best of which was a left hand right now the pipe that put Wall down. Salas very slyly got his lead foot on the outside to set up that strike in a veteran piece of southpaw striking prowess.
- Albert Tumenov showed against Anthony Lapsley why, despite dropping a split decision, is still a prospect worthy of excitement. Tumenov is a very good striker, a good wrestler, and is a young athlete. Ildemar Alcantara exposed issues with Tumenov's bottom game, and while we didn't get a look at if Tumenov had improved that aspect of his game, his take down defense and scrambling looked on point.