UFC 98 Evans vs Machida had knockouts and tap outs galore.
Sean Sherk fought Frank Edgar for Fight of the Night. Edgar had excellent stamina, moved constantly, attacked with combinations, threw high kicks, feinted punches, and avoided most of Sherk’s punches. Round 1 went to Edgar. Sherk was flat-footed and just followed Edgar around the octagon. Edgar had a five inch reach advantage on Sherk and it was very obvious: Sherk had a hard time connecting. Edgar moved in to attack and then sidled out of the way.
Round 2 had Sherk connecting more, but mostly one-off punches. Edgar had more combos and, again, moved constantly. It was very much a boxing match with few kicks and few takedowns.
Round 3 began by a take down from Sherk in response to punches from Edgar. Edgar got to his feet and had Sherk frustrated again as he missed lots of his strikes. Sherk attempted a take down and ended up with Edgar pulling guard and applying a guillotine right at the bell.
Unanimous decision in Edgar’s favour. Fight of the Night.
The match between Chael Sonnen and Dan Miller covered loads of ground techniques as Miller spent every opportunity trying submissions. I assume this was because Sonnen loses by submission; however, since Miller was on the bottom when on the ground and the submissions weren’t working, Miller was pummelled for three rounds. Sonnen got out of a very tight guillotine at the beginning of the first round, took Miller down heavily in round 2, applied big punches and elbows, took Miller down again in round 3, and just controlled the match. Miller tried guillotine chokes and other submissions, but Sonnen was victorious. Unanimous decision in Sonnen’s favour.
Drew McFedries came out against Xavier Foupa-Pokam with a knockout at 37 seconds of round 1. Both these men are known for their knockout power and McFedries proved it here. Xavier was out on his feet from the third punch and then another ten or eleven connected before the referee stopped the match. Xavier followed McFedries around the octagon, literally hanging on to his leg, but he was out of it. TKO referee stoppage.
Kryzsztof Soszynski fought against Andre Gusmao in a preliminary bout. Gusmao used some inside leg kicks, one of which caused Soszynski to drop to one knee. Soszynski, in turn, used combos and, for a guy who loves arm bars, threw a straight punch and flattened Gusmao. Knockout.
The co-main event between the Matts – Hughes versus Serra – came up next. There was non-stop mention of their hate for each other, et cetera, ad nauseum. Hughes wanted to shut Serra up and Serra wanted to do the same. I guess this makes for good television. They didn’t touch gloves and came out aggressively, such that Serra inadvertently headbutted Hughes (or Hughes munched his chin into Serra’s head) and had Hughes on the run for several minutes. Even at the break, Hughes asked his corner if he’d been knocked down. Despite the headbutt, Hughes controlled the round with a strong takedown and choke attempt from grapevine.
Round 2 had Serra connecting with strong punches, but a takedown by Hughes, with his ending in Serra’s guard, had Hughes pounding Serra and controlling him for most of the round. Serra was on the bottom waiting for the right moment or technique and was dominated.
Round 3 had submission attempts by Serra after another take down by Hughes. Serra trapped Hughes’s arm for an oma plata which didn’t quite work and then tried it on the other arm. He then tried a triangle. Standing again, Serra did a take down. Ground and pound followed as well as an attempt at a kimura. Ridiculously, after all the trash talking, they hugged after the match. Unanimous decision in Hughes’s favour.
The other co-main event was next with Rashad Evans against Lyoto Machida. In our boathold we had four people, three of whom picked Machida to win. I’m for the underdog, so I went for Evans. I find Machida’s fighting style, although extremely technical and effective, to be mostly boring. He moves in for the quick attack and then out again, standing with his upper body leaning away from his opponent. It makes him a far more elusive target, but doesn’t make for a fun fight. (To be fair, I do prefer ground techniques, none of which we saw here; I’m also not technically inclined, so the art of finding the right instant to go in is beyond me.) Evans and Machida spent a good deal of the match tapping gloves; in fact, the first two minutes of the first round was just that. This was so boring that, despite writing notes during the match, I had a difficult time keeping the eyes open. Machida was first to connect with a head kick causing Evans to wobble. Later in the round, Machida’s strike took Evans to the ground and Machida jumped on him.
Round 2 had the men at the fence with Machida using combos and Evans countering. Machida then punched Evans multiple times, such that Evans crumpled with his head flopping to the side. Machida is now the UFC light heavyweight champion. The guys on the boat called this the Knockout of the Night, although Soszynski’s was pretty good. The tapping of the gloves and non-connecting for long stretches makes this NOT the fight of the night.
Another preliminary match was between Brock Larson and Mike Pyle. This match contained the Technique of the Night with Larson doing a lovely kata gatame (arm triangle choke) on Pyle, not something one often sees in the UFC.
Canadian Tim Hague, a heavyweight at 265, but spry on his feet, won his match with Pat Barry. He got Barry in a guillotine and rolled over, staying attached, and ending with Barry on the bottom, legs trapped, neck in guillotine. Tap out. Spry indeed.
UFC 98 Evans vs Machida had a good range of techniques and knockouts, a variety of styles and other than the tapping of the gloves in the Evans/Machida fight (reminiscent of Wladimir Klischko, I think), a good night.
May 24, 2009
P.S. Right now, Machida is considered the most effective fighter in the UFC, not having lost any round and not having been taken down by anyone. My gut feeling is that, as with learning how to counter the Gracies, people will learn how to fight Machida’s style. We’ll see people taking karate or some other kicking martial art and having their coaches work out ways to counter Machida’s karate. ayjay, May 25, 2009