Sunday, 4 March 2012

UFC Alves vs Kampmann on ESPN - TV Review

It was time to step into the Octagon once again as Dana White’s crew travelled to the land down under for their latest offering, Alves vs. Kampmann, shown in the early hours of this past Saturday morning on ESPN here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the middleweight division as Court McGee went up against Costa Phillipou.

This very entertaining opener took a while to get going, but when it did we saw a great display of striking from Phillipou.

Phillipou had the making of McGee for the first two rounds with some crisp blows, bloodying his man’s nose and ear. McGee tried for the takedown a few times but Phillipou’s defence was too good.

McGee upped his game in the third, improving his striking performance and finally scoring with the takedown, only for Phillipou to pop straight back up, and while the striking game looked more even Phillipou’s performance was just a little better.

So with no finish it went down to the judges as Phillipou took the unanimous decision.

Then it was on to the semi-finals of the Flyweight title tournament, beginning with Demetrious Johnson against Ian McCall.

This was the first flyweight fight I’ve ever seen in MMA, and boy was it good. The fast paced action was enjoyable throughout, helped by the performances of those concerned.

Johnson’s striking looked great as he used his tremendous speed to move in and out like a fiddler’s elbow, his best punch coming in the first when a big right staggered McCall momentarily.

McCall was able to keep up with him though, allying his striking with some sound work on the ground. He didn’t have much luck early on with his takedowns with Johnson putting in some great defensive work but when the third round started his chances improved as it looked like he was going to get the stoppage win late in the fight when he took Johnson’s back and unleashed with the ground and pound.

For the second time in the evening the judges came into the equation as Johnson was announced as the majority winner, although it was later revealed that a mistake on the scoring cards meant that the result was changed to a majority draw.

The tournament action continued with Joseph Benavidez taking on Yasuhiro Urushitani.

The fast paced action continued into this fight. Both guys got off some good strikes early on, but when Benavidez scored with the takedown the nature of the fight changed entirely.

Benavidez dominated on the ground, putting on a great display as he worked his way from the half guard so he could take Urushitani’s back so he could go for a rear naked choke. He would have surely taken the submission win had the horn not sounded.

It didn’t matter though. Just a few seconds into the second round Benavidez scored with a big right that sent the Japanese fighter crashing to the mat. Benavidez followed him down for a brief moment of ground and pound before the referee stepped in to give Benavidez the TKO win.

The main event featured welterweight action as Thiago Alves went up against Martin Kampmann.

This was a perfect example of how a fighter can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Apart from a front kick that connected to Alves’ jaw in the first round Kampmann looked out of it. Alves quickly recovered from that particular blow to score with the takedown, taking the mount and holding Kampmann down so he was powerless to do anything.

Alves continued to dominate in the second. His leg kicks were crisp and hard, and allied with his punching he was more than a match for Kampmann, so much so that Kampmann needed a minor miracle to take the win.

So when Alves scored with a takedown early in the third Kampmann rolled with the motion and locked in a guillotine. Alves had no choice but to tap out within seconds, giving Kampmann the unexpected submission win.

In conclusion - the first “second string” show to be taken to an overseas audience proved to be another enjoyable outing for the UFC crew. The fans down under were certainly treated to some great action, particularly from the flyweights, who without doubt will become a more than welcome addition to the always growing roster.

So in all the UFC’s latest offering gets the thumbs up from this particular writer, although I’m a little disappointed that the next show is over a month away!