How about that card? I was ridiculously excited about the rematch between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann that was set to headline UFC Fight Night 27, and it certainly didn't disappoint. As a matter of fact, pretty much the whole main card delivered in my eyes despite only getting a couple of finishes out of six fights. The only really slow fight in the top six was the Tavares/McDaniel fight, and the undercard exceeded expectations. You can't exactly judge these Wednesday cards off of the first one but if they can deliver at this level in the future, I'll be a huge fan despite them mostly taking place while I'm still at work.
I said in the predictions that Carlos Condit's takedown defense had improved, and I looked pretty stupid for the first five minutes as Kampmann took him down a bunch of times and dominated the round. Condit completely turned it around from then on though, and stuffed pretty much everything Kampmann threw at him. And once he was able to do that, he completely took over with the striking. Kampmann had his moments on the feet, but Condit just has a more diverse attack and never stopped coming forward. If you don't find Carlos Condit entertaining, you might want to find another sport to watch. Diaz fight aside, Condit brings it 100% every time he gets in the octagon, and he's a pleasure to watch.
What happened to Donald Cerrone? He just didn't look like the same smooth kickboxer he usually is, and Rafael dos Anjos beat him because of it. Cowboy never even saw the right hook that dropped him in the first, and he didn't seem to show much urgency at all until halfway through the third round. Dos Anjos was on cruise control by then though, and he absolutely deserved the W. RDA is now a staple of the top-10 at lightweight, something a lot of people would have never believed three years ago. It remains to be seen if he's a title threat, but that was a huge win.
- TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum looked excellent in his first UFC fight at welterweight. His striking was on point and he mixed in his grappling well. I normally get mad at fighters that hurt a guy with strikes and immediately look for a submission - he's hurt, just finish him with your hands! But Gastelum made the right call and got the finish with a submission. Pretty slick for a 21-year-old.
- Court McGee's striking has improved hugely since TUF, and he doesn't look like he's lost an ounce of speed or strength at 170. Some people weren't all that impressed with his bout against Robert Whittaker, but I really liked it. McGee pressures really well, and I like Whittaker's odd slip-and-counter style. I said on twitter that it looked like Whittaker broke his hand in the second round and that's why he was throwing so many standing elbows. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case.
- I've never seen Takeya Mizugaki strike like that. Erik Perez has a ton of talent and a bright future, but his striking was a bit wild and the Japanese fighter took full advantage of that. I was surprised that it was a split, because it seemed abundantly clear to me that Mizugaki won the second and third rounds.
- Brad Tavares and Bubba McDaniel was kind of a non-event. Tavares won the first two rounds with some striking. McDaniel got a takedown in the third but never had Tavares in any danger. Meh.
- The undercard had some pretty cool moments. Dylan Andrews coming back from two rounds down to stop Papy Abedi was great. Brandon Thatch lived up to the hype by absolutely destroying Justin Edwards. Hatsu Hioki proved that he either doesn't understand MMA scoring or just doesn't care, because he was way too happy to lie on his back and lose another fight in the third round, this time to Darren Elkins. Jason High's guillotine ain't nothin' to mess with. And Zak Cummings showed off some talent choking out Ben Alloway.
- One last thing I'd like to mention came in the first bout of the night. Abel Trujillo landed two debatable knees to a downed Roger Bowling in the second round of their bout. The first was clearly legal. The second was less legal, as it seemed to land to the body initially but continued up to catch Bowling in the face. He also connected with a big punch that hurt Bowling before the ref jumped in. The referee was a walking contradiction though - he told Trujillo he thought it was intentional, so he took a point. Then told a corner person that he wouldn't DQ him because he didn't think it was intentional. Then when Bowling couldn't continue, he called it a No Contest because it wasn't intentional. Mr. Referee, you can't have it both ways - if you took the point and told Trujillo he did it intentionally, that's a DQ. Not a No Contest, no matter how you try to spin it afterwards. I felt it was a horrible call. The fight was pretty good before that too, so hopefully can rematch.