“We’re fighting for the gods of war / but tell me, what the hell are we fighting for?”
It’s far and away the biggest MMA fight of the year, and that’s pretty much a literal statement.
It’s no surprise that UFC PPV revenue has been down all year round. Although the company blames the downturn in Pay-Per-View buys on the fact that they started running their shows an hour early - no seriously, that’s the official excuse they tried to sell us - I think we ALL know the reason why PPV money has been down in ‘11.
Say what you will about Brock Lesnar, but the dude is all sorts of money as a marketing hook. Last year, he became the first dude since MIKE FREAKING TYSON to headline two pay per view cards that drew a million buys a piece. Since Lesnar’s last fight - which was Oct. of 2010 - the company hasn’t had a single PPV break the one million buy mark.
Well, it looks like the UFC aims to end 2011 on the highest note possible, as the promotion’s final show of the year features far and away the sport’s biggest money-maker in his first bout in almost fifteen months. A lot’s riding on Lesnar’s mammoth, muscular, Minnesotan shoulders, and this New Year’s Eve, we might just have ourselves some early fireworks. . .or perhaps, a grim harbinger of future miseries for the MMA world. . .on display for all to witness.
Forget Saturday night…I reckon Friday night is an even better one for fighting. Welcome all, to the Rocktagon Recap of UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem!
As always, we’re calling this thing from the quaint and lovely Bailey’s in K’Saw, Ga. I’ve got to say, the Friday night throng is a lot different than the Saturday night one. For one, the waitresses have far less knife scars, I’m noting.
The over-under for the waitresses finding the remote to change over from the Spike TV prelims to the PPV portion of the evening is about plus three minutes. I ended up falling short by two, and even then, we came THIS close to watching the Spanish language simulcast of the event. On the plus side, however, it was kind of interesting to find out that Cain Velasquez may or may not be associated with a ruthless Hispanic gang from Nashville. Thanks a billion, lackluster basic cable programming!
Nam Phan (17-9-0-0) vs. Jimy Hettes (9-0-0-0)
Nam Phan, who is sometimes called the “Vietnam Phenom” - despite being from, you know, the United States - is a dude that’s probably best known to UFC fans for his two fights against Leonard Garcia. In 2010, he had a bout in which he was pretty much robbed blind by the referees, and earlier this year, Phan exacted a small measure of revenge when he bested Garcia in a rematch at UFC…135, was it? Or 136? Eh, it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is, Phan won, and he’s looking to add another W to his record this evening. Then again, that does kind of go without saying, I guess. I mean, shit, it’s not like he’s really aspiring to go out there and lose, is he? Last time I checked, Hue Jackson isn’t his coach, so, no.
Jimy Hettes (yes, that’s with only one m in Jimy) is a relative newcomer to the UFC, and a dude that’s amassed a fairly impressive professional record thus far. Not only is the dude undefeated, he’s won EVERY SINGLE one of his fights up to this point by submission. That, and his nickname is “The Kid,” which I can only imagine is some sort of reference to “Purple Rain.” Which, yeah, it probably isn’t, but still.
Nam Phan has arguably the nicest head of hair of anybody in the UFC. Hettes, on the other hand, looks sort of like an elongated Michael Cera. If these Zuffa guys were keen on tapping into that youth market, they would repackage him as “Scotty Pilgrim” and give him an automatic title run.
Hettes begins round one by tackling Phan about forty seven times in secession. Hettes slaps on a guillotine, Phan rolls over, and THE GROUND AND POUND, IT IS ON. Phan escapes, and Hettes chases after him. He has him pinned up against the cage, and he goes buck wild with the elbows and uppercuts. Phan with a connected shot, and Hettes says “no way, Jose” and hip tosses him halfway across the cage. Hettes in the full mount, and looking for an armbar. With twenty seconds to go, Hettes just blasts Phan over and over with hammer fists. Phan is a lucky, lucky human being to survive this round.
Easy 10-9 for Hettes.
Round Two. Hettes with a takedown, and I swear to god, it looks like he’s trying to lock in the Sharpshooter. Hell, he’s even wearing the pink and black trunks tonight. No dice on the sub attempt (not surprisingly) so he tries to work in a rear naked choke. Things get standing, and Phan gets bullied against the cage yet again. Hettes with another takedown. We get vertical again, and Hettes just unloads on him. Another takedown from Hettes as the round ends. 20-18 for Hettes.
Round Three begins, and Hettes drops Phan with an uppercut. “The Kid” is for real, no questions there. Phan is bleeding, and Hettes decides to dab away the blood with some opportune knee shots. Phan going for a choke, but it isn’t happening. Hettes flips him over, and now he’s got Phan’s back. But not in the good way, though. Hettes going for an arm triangle as the round ends. He doesn’t get it, so he just pounds Phan’s face into Play-Doh until the bell sounds. A DOMINANT performance by Hettes here.
Unanimous Decision victory for Hettes, even though the scorecard is wonky as all hell (30-25, 30-25 and 30-26?) Needless to say, a star-making performance for the up and coming Hettes, and probably the worst thing an American has done to the Vietnamese since My Lai.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT
Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5-0-0) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (12-1-0-0)
Well, no matter how this bout ends up, we know that at least ONE UFC record will fall this evening - primarily, the fact that there’s never been a fight between two competitors in the Octagon with so many damn letters in their name.
This fight is a clash between two underrepresented European nationalities, so expect brutality and bloodshed for all. Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko - and yes, he even wears a janitor’s jacket to the cage - is a Belarusian ass-kicker last seen turning Jason Brilz’s face into silly putty at UFC 135. Or 136. Shit, I can’t remember which was which now. Uh, anyway, Matyushenko is a dude that’s been fighting pretty much forever, and a win tonight has to put him somewhere in the top ten light heavyweight rankings. Probably at number ten, but. . .digression, man.
Alexander Gustaffson, on the other hand, is a Swedish dude whose only loss was at the hands of Phil Davis, who, yeah, is pretty good. In Gustaffson’s eleven wins, only once has the fight gone to a decision, which probably explains how he got the nickname “The Mauler.” Unless that’s the technical term for what that Swedish chef guy from “The Muppets” does or something, of course. Which, yes, it probably is.
Gustaffson comes out rocking the headphones, so he’s like some Scandinavian Euro-Trash Clubber-Kickboxer. And they say the UFC LACKS gimmick characters! Matyushenko, of course, comes out rocking the janitor ensemble. The age difference for this fight is ridiculous (damn near twenty years), and the reach differential is even crazier (also, almost twenty years difference between the two).
“The Janitor” starts off circling slow, throws a looping overhand, and falls flat on his face. Oh, you kooky Eastern Europeans! Matyushenko charges forward, gets tagged, and is DROPPED by Gustaffson. Matyushenko turtles up as Gustaffson punches him in the face about four hundred and fifty times before the ref jumps in to save the rest of his skull from being turned into a LEGO set.
After that, we have a TON of time to kill, so how about a Dong Hyun Kim bout in the meantime? Yeah, I’m not really interested, either.
Luke Rockhold and King Mo are in the house. If you know who they are, congrats on being a straight up MMA nerd.
Be sure to use your Metro PCS phone to squander minutes predicting who you think will win heavyweight eliminator bouts.
Gina Carano, of the new movie “Haywire,” is in the house, and dancing. GENDER EQUALITY FTW.
Jon Fitch (23-3-1-1) vs. Johny Hendricks (11-1-0-0)
Let’s don’t pretend that we don’t know EXACTLY how this fight is going to end.
Jon Fitch is, simply put, the single most boring fighter in the world. Every single victory the dude has had in the UFC - I mean, every last one of them - has been via unanimous decision. He takes his opponent down, over and over again, and after fifteen minutes, his hand is raised as the victor. If he ever takes on Jake Shields, we’re probably looking at the MMA equivalent of that one Brock Lesnar / Goldberg match from WM 20.
Of course, Fitch is a solid fighter, with notable wins over Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago, among others. That said, the dude is still about as predictable as figuring out which leg Heather Mills is going to hop on - and odds are, Johny Hendricks ISN’T going to be the guy to give Fitch his first exciting fight ever in a Zuffa-sanctioned event.
And yes, that IS Johny with just one n. I really hope Hendricks and Jimy Hettes get married one day, so they can raise their three children Bily, Timy and Lary in perfect, splendiferous quietude. Alike Fitch, Hendricks is a very solid wrestler, who was a standout at Oklahoma State. Also, he’s never been finished as a professional, and probably won’t be tonight either. Hey, I’m just calling ‘em like I see ‘em.
Hendricks has the most ridiculous beard I’ve ever seen in an MMA environment, and trust me, that’s saying a lot. Fitch begins the fight by looking for a straight jab and. . .holy hell, Hendricks just OBLITERATES Fitch with a counter right. Fitch is down, Hendricks pops him a few times on the ground, and the referee calls it. DAMN. That’s got to be one of the biggest shockers this year…and an event made twenty million times more awesome by: a.) Fitch trying to guillotine the ref out of confusion as soon as the fight’s called and b.) Hendricks celebrating by having a microscopic piece of his beard cut off in the middle of the cage. For some reason, I’m getting all sorts of a WCW circa 1996 vibe from this card. . .
Nate Diaz (14-7-0-0) vs. Donald Cerrone (17-3-0-1)
It’s pretty stupid to make assumptions about fights, but when you look at this match-up, you HAVE to see it, on paper at least, as a potential fight of the year contender.
Both of these guys are the craziest ass workhorses you’d ever want to encounter in real life. Nate, younger brother of welterweight standout Nick Diaz, is a dude that’s had some difficulty figuring out what his best weight class is. Initially a welterweight, he dropped down to lightweight, then went back up to welterweight, and hey, what do you know, now he’s fighting at lightweight again. In his last fight, he beat Takanori Gomi like a piñata, in one of the most one-sided fights I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching live. Of course, before that, he get flung around the ring by Rory MacDonald like a bitch at UFC 129, but the past, it is the past.
This fight is Donald Cerrone’s fifth in 2011. And he’s currently riding high on a six fight win streak, which goes all the way back to the glory days of the WEC. Up until recently, Cerrone was probably best known for being that dude that could never beat Ben Henderson, but after counting up four victories this year alone, it’s pretty much a given that a victory over Nate Diaz tonight HAS to put him firmly in line for a shot at the winner of this February’s Frank Edgar / Ben Henderson fight. Well, unless Gilbert Melendez jumps ship between now and then, which, let’s face it, he probably will.
Diaz is one of the soundest strikers in the division, and Cerrone is known for some crazy-ass, out of nowhere submissions. And both men are RENOWNED for their abilities to bang it up, so you know what I expect here? Absolute insanity. And also, nachos, but I’ve been waiting on that for a solid half hour now.
LOTS and lots of animosity between these two, and a fight that NOT AT ALL seems to be stirring the race pot here. Shit, how many times can you have a prideful Latino from the streets battling a prideful white boy from the country and NOT have it be all kinds of awesome?
What makes this REALLY fantastic is because I’m sitting right next to this Hispanic woman that’s already screaming “MEGA LO!” at the TV and across the table, there’s this dude that is SUPER HARDCORE pulling for Cerrone, beating the table and looking like he’s about to go Bull Connor on somebody in case of an early stoppage. And just when you think things can’t get any more tremendous, Cerrone decides to flip off Diaz instead of touching gloves with him. Fight of the year already.
Cerrone storms out of the gate, and a minute in, this thing has turned into a grade school slugfest. Diaz is one of the best “dirty boxers” in the sport, so, not surprisingly, he gets the early lead here. Cerrone with some knees, and Diaz with a one-two. Diaz is pretty much connecting with EVERYTHING he throws at Cerrone, whose face already looks the color of cranberry sauce. Cerrone gets backed into the cage, and Diaz is hitting him with everything but the kitchen sink. Wait, I think I saw Diaz sock him over the head with a water faucet just then. Cerrone has absorbed more punches in the last minute than Tina Turner absorbed in her entire marriage - how the guy’s still standing is simply beyond me. Cerrone goes for a head kick, but Diaz just keeps a jabbing. Cerrone has a bloody mouth now. The round ends with Diaz just MURDER-DEATH-KILLING Diaz against the cage. 10-9 for Diaz, without question.
Round Two. Diaz with the jabs, and Cerrone lands a leg kick that sends his opponent ass first on the canvas. More punches, and Cerrone chops him down with another kick. And like that, this brawl went from violently awesome to strategically awesome. Diaz tries to get Cerrone’s back, but nothing comes from it. Diaz with some uppercuts, and ANOTHER leg sweep from Cerrone. This fight is turning into something out of Virtua Fighter now. Cerrone with a flying head kick, but it does more damage to “The Cowboy” than his adversary. Cerrone with yet ANOTHER leg sweep, but Diaz is right back up, rattling off three shots to the face in the process. Diaz is starting to look gassed. He gets a few good shots off before getting swept one more time. Diaz is up, and he lands a solid jab, peppering Cerrone with shots as the round ends. 19-19, with this round deciding all the marbles.
Before the bell, Diaz flips off Cerrone. Oh my god, this fight rules. Diaz with some combo body and head shots. Diaz with a kick and three more shots to Cerrone’s mouth. Cerrone with a knee, and Diaz gets swept again. Diaz bleeding underneath his left eye. Knee exchange, and Cerrone drops Diaz with a solid leg kick. Cerrone misses with a flying knee, and Diaz rattles off a few more combination strikes. Cerrone kicks him down one more time, and the bell sounds. The two competitors hug after the fight, proving once and for all that the only way to remedy ethnic hatred is through controlled violence with the intent of mutual capitalistic gain.
I’d score this one a draw, but the officials give the unanimous decision to Diaz, who dedicates his victory to some person that just died. Pending Gilbert Melendez doesn’t jump ship to the UFC, I think it’s pretty much a given that you have to give Diaz a title shot at the Edgar / Henderson winner sometime this summer. No matter how you slice it, though, this was a damned terrific bout, and something well worth going out of your way to witness.
Interview time with Gina Carano. The best part is watching Mike Goldberg try to mask his boner from a million PPV buyers. Theatrical trailer for “Haywire,” one more hard sell for the main event, and folks.. . .
. . .we are ready to make some heavyweight history.
Brock Lesnar (5-2-0-0) vs. Alistair Overeem (35-11-0-1)
Well, we had to wait until damn near the very end of it, but the absolute biggest fight of 2011 is finally here.
If you’re not that big of an MMA fan, you’re probably looking at the W-L columns here and ultimately deducing that Lesnar is some relative newcomer that’s bound to get his ass handed to him by the cagey veteran Overeem. As far as experience goes, it’s not even close - Overeem has been fighting professionally since 1999, while Lesnar didn’t have his first MMA contest until five years ago (remember the name “Kim Min-Soo”, as it just might win you some money later on).
Overeem hasn’t lost a fight in 2007. Technically, he’s STILL the reigning Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, too. That, and the dude WON the 2010 K1 World Championship, making the Dutch kick boxer a dominant mofo in TWO different spheres of combat sports. He’s got wins over Mark Hunt, Vitor Belfort and Fabricio Werdum. Actually, he’s got a LOSS to Werdum, too, as well as losses to Lil’ Nog, Shogun Rua and even CHUCK DAMN LIDDELL way back when.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, Lesnar has been sidelined for a good fifteen months with some intestinal ailment, and he returns tonight in a number one contender’s bout for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. This fight - expected to be the biggest money maker of the year - is being billed as the biggest Heavyweight fight in UFC history (uh, never mind when they said the EXACT same thing about last month’s Junior dos Santos / Cain Velasquez fight), and all things totaled, this fight here could be something we’ll remember for a LONG time to come.
It’s sort of odd to preview a fight by talking about the competitors’ weaknesses as opposed to their strengths, but for this bout, those negatives may very well be the X-factors that determine the outcome. As we all know, Lesnar really doesn’t have the strongest chin, so a well-placed chip shot from Overeem could send him spinning around the cage the same way Cain Velasquez turned him into a 280 pound dreidel about a year back.
The problem with Overeem, however, is that the dude has a gas tank the size of a weed eaters’. If you were unfortunate enough to catch “Uber-Reem’s” last bout this summer, the dude practically fell into a coma after five minutes of fighting Fabricio Werdum. As you can see, this turns the fight into a very, very interesting fire vs.. water scenario.
IF Overeem can land that knockout blow early, it’s a relatively easy “W” for “The Demolition Man.” But, if Alistair throws his best at Lesnar and he doesn’t die in the first round, we’re likely looking at a repeat airing of the Lesnar / Carwin fight from UFC 116 - you know, the one where Lesnar absorbed three tons of shots, only to rebound and choke out his winded adversary in the next round like it was nothing.
Well, that, or we can all wait until Overeem’s piss test comes back. Hell, that right there might just REALLY determine tonight’s winner.
Overeem comes out to some Operatic-Techno sounding stuff. Lesnar out to some twangy country shit. It seems to be a pretty divided crowd tonight - nobody really knows who Overeem is, and everybody hates Lesnar, so what do you do?
Lesnar is bobbing and weaving, ducking a huge Overeem right. Lesnar goes for a single leg, but it’s no good. Overeem is bleeding from his left eye, somehow. Overeem with a knee to the body, and Lesnar backs off. More knees, and Lesnar is looking like he just tasted his own lower intestine.. Lesnar with a left cross, but Overeem - apparently knowing the solution to this riddle - responds with another knee to the body. Lesnar is cornered into the cage, and Overeem throws a kick straight into Brock’s liver, which sends the ex-Heavyweight champ crashing to the canvas like a 300 pound game of Jenga. Overeem throws some rights on the ground, Lesnar can’t defend himself, and it is all over.
Overeem is all cocky and what not after the fight, as we see Junior dos Santos across the cage in a suit and tie. The big news, however, comes from the Lesnar post-fight, where he says that, after a lifetime total of 8 fights, he’s officially calling it a career.
Dana White, in case you couldn’t tell, is a new level of pissed right now, as (for better or worse) the MMA equivalent of Lebron James or Tom Brady has decided to walk out of the business.
Uh…what was a saying about bad omens for the sport earlier?
Well, this was a rather historical card, wasn’t it? I’d really like to say the story of the show was that awesome Diaz/Cerrone fight, or even Jon Fitch getting knocked silly by a dude with a Furby growing on his chin, but really, the whole Lesnar retirement just puts a damper on everything. Granted, the guy was never that popular amongst the ELITE MMA fans, but the dude put asses in the seats, serving as the sport’s greatest potential draw on a global scale. Having Lesnar out of the promotion is a massive, massive blow to the company, and the sport as a whole - whether you like him or not, that is a LOT of star power getting sucked out of the organization, and seeing as how there hasn’t been a fighter on the roster for two years that’s been able to draw a million buys, we’re looking at an absolutely MASSIVE void to fill.
From hereon out, the UFC is going to have to practically rebuild itself from the ground up. You don’t have Brock Lesnar as the face of the company anymore, and since most of the companies’ top fighters have accents the typical Anglo-Saxon can’t understand, that spells UH-OH in bold-faced, glowing red letters from a marketing standpoint.
What happens from here, I imagine, is anybody’s guess.
ROGAN-ISM OF THE NIGHT:
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT’S SHOW:
You can at least ATTEMPT a Scorpion Death-Lock in a real-life fight.
Swedish Euro-Trash club kids are tougher than Belarusian custodians.
It’s customary to shave right after knocking a dude unconscious.
If you flip a dude off, prepare to get flipped off ten minutes later in a display that is not at all poetic justice or anything.
Surprisingly, kicking a dude in his surgically repaired intestines is an effective way to defeat him.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Crank up “Everything Turns Grey” by Agent Orange and “Eight Miles High” by Husker Du, and I’ll be seeing you in a few.
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THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
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