Sunday, 5 February 2012

UFC 143: Best of the Rest Recap

Josh Koscheck vs Mike Pierce

Josh Koscheck could have been forgiven for feeling a little let down to be fighting Mike Pierce at UFC 143.  He was supposed to be fighting Carlos Condit before GSP's injury.  Instead he was left facing a game, skilled opponent with a much smaller name.  To gain new momentum from this bout, Koscheck needed to beat Pierce and beat him well.  As for Pierce, this is another opportunity to prove himself against a top level welterweight.  He has slipped up against opposition of this calibre in the past, but a win against Koscheck could elevate him well up the pecking order.

via fiveouncesofpain

The Fight
This was a tense and ugly fight.  The standup exchange was decidedly close, but it seemed that Pierce managed to land the most significant shots as Koscheck waited to throw a big right hand.  That big right hand never really happened and this left plenty of doubt going in to the decision.  The difference may well have come from his ability to take Pierce down.  He took Pierce down twice, albeit without being able to make anything of it.  Koscheck took the decision by a split decision in a fight that could have gone either way.

What's Next?
This is one of those fights that does little for either fighter.  Mike Pierce looked gritty, durable and rugged against another top opponent, but he lost again.  Maybe he would be a good fight for Jake Shields to take next, should he win in Japan.  As for Koscheck, he is still a while away from another shot at the welterweight gold, especially if the belt still belongs to GSP.  I would like to see him be the next test for heavy handed wrestler Johny Hendricks.

Renan Barao vs Scott Jorgensen

Barao came into this fight on a gigantic 27 fight win streak, most recently submitting Brad Pickett.  Most saw his dominance of the Brit as his coming out party and there is now considerable hype and momentum behind him.  In Jorgensen, he would face a fighter with experience against the highest level of bantamweight fighters.  Would Jorgensen's wrestling might well prove to be Barao's kryptonite, or would the Brazilian be dynamic and aggressive enough to overwhelm the American?

via mmaweekly
The Fight
Well, this fight seemed to confirm what everyone had long suspected.  Renan Barao is here to stay as a major contender in the bantamweight division and Dominic Cruz had better take notice.  He seemed to be a more tamed kind of crazy in this fight as he intelligently controlled the distance with a variety of kicks and a lovely stiff jab.  For his part, Jorgensen failed to take the Brazilian down due to the great defense he came up against and in the end resorted to pulling guard.  With the Brazilian on top, Jorgensen did enough to stay out of trouble but had nothing to offer offensively.  There were some lovely spinning back kicks and combinations as well as a relentless work rate and controlled agression.  The Brazilian took the unanimous decision.

What's Next?
As I said, Dominic Cruz had better be ready.  I feel like with Pickett and Jorgensen on his resume and his mammoth win streak, Barao is absolutely ready and deserving of a title shot.  The only barrier is whether he wants to wait for Cruz and Uriah Fabar to tape the Ultimate Fighter and have their own fight for the title.  If he does not want to wait, who wants to risk their own rise to contention against an opponent like Barao?

As for Jorgensen, he looked durable but flummoxed by the creativity and movement of the Brazilian.  He suffered the same fate against Dominic Cruz when they fought.  It seems like Jorgensen is destined to reside just below the elite at bantamweight.  As for who he fights next, we might have to wait and see how the dust settles in that division, including the outcome of the fight between Miguel Torres and Micheal MacDonald.

Other thoughts
Stephen Thompson looked awesome in his UFC debut.  Sure, it's his first fight and he might well face opposition can get punches off against him, but it was fun to see a guy stand in an out and out karate stance and land a beautiful kick.

The new UFC intro is absolutely awesome.  I really love the concept and the execution and it is nowhere as annoyingly cheesy as the gladiator intro.  Finally I can show the UFC to friends right from the beginning of the broadcast.

Video: New UFC pay per view intro.

How impatient was Herb Dean in the Koscheck vs Pierce fight?  Seriously, he was stressing me out as a spectator, how must the fighters have felt?  If the guys are battling for position, then that counts as work.  Some techniques have to be slow, leave them to it.

Did Joe Rogan need to say that the women's bantamweight title fight was going to be the hottest title fight ever?  That was annoying.  Yes, they are both pretty ladies.  But immensely more important is that Miesha Tate is an incredible fighter and Ronda Rousey might well be too.  That's going to be a great fight.

Other UFC 143 recaps on Jimma

UFC 143: Diaz vs Condit Recap
UFC 143: Werdum vs Nelson Recap

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