By the time we had access to Pay-Per-View for UFC 99 (the first UFC in Germany), most of the first round of the bout between Marcus Davis and Dan Hardy was over. Davis did look as though he had received more damage. These two guys had had an on-screen hate going over Hardy’s comments about Davis’s “The Irish Hand Grenade” nickname. Davis is American and Hardy had called him a fake Irishman. I guess this was to be good for television.
Round two began with kicks and a knee from Hardy resulting in Davis’s hitting the floor. Hardy went after him, but Davis managed to recover. While Hardy was in Davis’s guard, Davis tried a variation on juji gatame, but Hardy extricated himself.
Davis took Hardy down at the fence and when in Hardy’s guard did some ground and pound.
Round three, started with a good left from Davis. Hardy went down and Davis was in his guard applying elbows. Davis also tried heel hooks, but Hardy spun out of them successfully.
Hardy then had a take down and was in Davis’s guard using elbows to do damage to Davis’s eye and cut his nose.
They were made to stand up and both tried strikes.
Split decision in Hardy’s favour. Davis’s face was a mass of blood. Interestingly, in the post-fight interview, Hardy said his comments about Davis were, essentially, psychological warfare in order to affect Davis’s game plan. I think it worked: Davis wouldn’t shake hands afterward.
The next fight was between Spencer Fisher and Caol Uno. Fisher wins most bouts by knockout and Uno tends to win by submission. Both men have had dozens of professional fights.
The match went the full three rounds with Uno’s trying to take Fisher to the ground every couple of minutes, and Fisher’s stuffing the take downs with good sprawls, and then fighting in the clinch.
While in the clinch both guys used knees and small, close strikes. The men were holding each other off, gripping wrists, trying various ways to get control. There didn’t seem to be much action, but the manoeuvres were all tactical. When Fisher got a hand free, he would strike; Uno would knee Fisher’s legs.
Both men tried sasae tsurikomi ashi at one point, with Fisher’s version succeeding in getting Uno to the ground and landing on the bottom.
Standing again, Uno kneed Fisher’s head.
Round three had Fisher striking a huge left to Uno’s head. Uno tried an ankle pick take down at the fence and spent a great deal of time trying to complete it. Fisher had the fence to help him and fought the take down, basically sitting on one leg with his back against the fence.
Eventually Uno was in full mount at the fence and used hammerfists and elbows. Fisher rolled from his side, to his back, and to the side again. This was the only time in the match that Uno was in control, but too late. Unanimous decision in Fisher’s favour.
By round three the audience was almost continually booing. What we saw were two professional athletes with different fighting styles, one wanting to go to the ground, and the other, determined not to go there, but both knowing how to work to get to their favourite positions. (This fight could have been extremely boring, with the fighters never actually connecting, e.g. Anderson Silva versus Thales Leites in UFC 97. Leites wanted to go to the ground and Silva avoided it to the extent that they rarely touched each other.) They were very closely matched, both just happened to be equal in their strength levels, and knew how to counter each other’s moves. I thought the audience might have been uneducated as to MMA. Perhaps they are more familiar with K1, Muay Thai, or some other martial art. These two fighters did not deserve the disrespect shown them by the audience. (Should some of you think that I am bigoted against Germans, please know that I am German, having come to North America when I was three.)
Next up were Mike Swick and Ben Saunders. Swick’s background is Guerilla Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing; Saunders wins about equally with knock outs and submissions.
Round one started with Saunders taking Swick down. They were on the ground for quite some time, with Swick holding Saunders in butterfly guard and Saunders just on top, not doing anything. There was some trash talking between them, quite audible as they were right by the announcers. Since nothing much happened here, I was wondering why the audience wasn’t booing.
Standing again, Swick kicked Saunders’s leg. In the clinch, Swick used knees and foot stomps.
Round two had Saunders attempting a head kick, which Swick blocked. In the clinch, Swick used knees again. He then took Saunders down and the men ended up in the same position as round one.
Made to stand, Swick kneed Saunders and then started attacking with a flurry of strikes, at least fifteen, one of which was to Saunders’ left temple causing Saunders to crumple. Knock out of the night.
The heavyweights were up next: Mirko Cro Cop versus Mostapha Al-Turk. Al-Turk had a four inch reach advantage, does jiu jitsu, loves ground and pound, and wins most of the time by knock out. Cro Cop is a kickboxer, who wins by knock out with both hands and feet.
The match started with Al-Turk looking jittery, nervous, busy. He tried huge strikes and a leg kick and then attempted a take down. Cro Cop followed Al-Turk around the octagon, looking for the perfect moment to strike. When Cro Cop connected, in among his strikes, was an inadvertent poke to the eye. Al-Turk covered his face and turned his back. Neither Cro Cop nor the referee realized what had happened. Cro Cop continued the attack until the referee stepped in for TKO.
In the post-fight interview, Cro Cop said that he hadn’t realized he’d poked Al-Turk in the eye, but that Al-Turk would have lost either way. This is probably true, but after having watched the eye poke multiple times in slow motion, it’s a terrible way to win a match.
The first co-main event was between Cain Velasquez and Cheick Kongo. Velasquez came in at 5-0 and had won all his matches by knock out. Kongo, at 3″ taller and 5″ reach advantage, came in with 24-4-1. He generally wins by knock out.
Once again, the match went the distance. In each round, Kongo came out strongly for the first thirty seconds, actually winning the round with huge strikes. Unfortunately, Velasquez is very difficult to subdue: in round one, Kongo rocked Velasquez with two huge strikes, but got taken down himself. Velasquez had side control, then full mount; Kongo rolled over and stood up, just to be taken down again.
Kongo really seemed helpless on the ground. Velasquez quite smartly took Kongo down whenever he wanted and applied strikes and elbows. At one point, they were in the clinch at the fence, with Velasquez slightly to the front of Kongo and Dave said that Kongo was going to get thrown with harai goshi. Velasquez tried it, but it wasn’t successful.
By the third round, as Kongo came out strongly again, instead of continuing with his stand up which was so powerful, he went after Velasquez and let himself be taken down again. Everyone on our boat was yelling, “Don’t go to the ground!”
The end of the match had Velasquez take Kongo down in the center of the octagon and, while in full mount, doing some ground and pound. Velasquez had opportunities for submission: Kongo had his arms flailing wildly as he turned away from the assault, so Velasquez could easily have applied a juji, resulting in a win. Kongo could have put his feet under him, lifted his hips, and thrown Velasquez off balance enough to get free. Neither of these things happened. Kongo is incapable on the ground. At this stage in his professional career, he should be working on all aspects of MMA so as not to get caught. He needs at least a year of solid groundwork. Velasquez could have finished the fight with a submission, ensuring a win, just in case Kongo had managed to get free to stand up (where he is extremely dangerous).
Unanimous decision in Velasquez’s favour.
The other co-main event was between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva. This, too, went the distance. Franklin said he was looking forward to this fight as he likes to fight from standing and so does Silva.
The first round began with combinations from Silva and a take down using kuchiki taoshi. Later in the round, Silva tried a triangle choke from standing, but while doing a butt flop, lost the choke.
When standing, Silva had his hands down and Franklin connected through the gaps.
Round two had Silva applying a body kick, with a counter from Franklin. Franklin tried a head kick which Silva caught. He then used a combination of kicks and punches. One jab caught Silva and took him down. Franklin controlled the round with strikes and punches.
Silva attempted many strikes, most of which Franklin ducked. At the end of the round, a left high kick from Silva rocked Franklin.
Round three had Silva throwing an inside leg kick and both men striking. Franklin kicked to Silva’s ribs. While in the clinch, Silva tried a knee to the head, a body kick and a head kick. After a burst of strikes from Silva (to cheers from the crowd), Franklin took Silva down.
Unanimous decision in Franklin’s favour. Fight of the night.
June 15, 2009