Tuesday, 31 December 2013

UFC 168 Weidman vs Silva 2 - TV Review

It's time to step into the Octagon for the last time in 2013 as we take a look at the much anticipated Middleweight title re-match between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva at UFC 168, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

As always we begin with the preliminaries and the welterweight encounter between John Howard and Siyar Bahadurzada.

This proved to be a good three round affair. It began with the usual water testing period, and as time went on both guys got in good shots, with Howard's boxing looking great and Bahadurzada doing a good job stuffing the takedowns.

Although the action seemed quite close coming out of the first round it was in the second that Howard began to impose his will on the proceedings. He rocked his man early on, although he was on the receiving end of a few good blows himself. Later on Howard came up with the move of the fight, lifting Bahadurzada onto his shoulders before slamming him to the mat.

But by the end of the second Bahadurzada looked exhausted, and as soon as the third began his flat-footed approach did him no favours. He was easy pickings when Howard simply barged him down to the mat, and there was very little he could do when Howard took the mount and then took his back, content to see out the round.

There were no surprises from the judges as Howard took the unanimous decision.

Featherweight action followed as Dennis Siver took on Manvel Gamburyan.

The last fight of the show that went the distance proved to be a very entertaining battle in which both fighters had their moments.

Siver, as is his custom, put on a great striking display, a display which was easily matched by his grappling, as evidenced by his work in the first round when he took Gamburyan's back. The man from Armenia did a good job of defending against this though, especially when he got back to his feet.

Gamburyan's best work came in the second after he'd taken the fight to the ground. His ground and pound opened up a nasty cut on Siver's forehead, and his work here was probably the best chance he had to win the fight.

That chance seemed to slip away when Siver took control in the third with his ground work. Gamburyan looked a little out of ideas as Siver did his thing, scoring with the impressive takedown and taking his man's back, and as the clock ticked away and Siver held his man in position it was becoming more and more apparent who was going to win this thing.

As for the judges they continued with their agreeing ways as Siver took the unanimous decision.

It was up to lightweight for the next fight as Gleison Tibau went up against Michael Johnson.

This was a pretty enjoyable striking affair. Johnson's footwork looked good from the moment the fight started, and although Tibau tagged him a couple of times with that big left of his he did a good job of keeping out of the Brazilian's way as Tibau looked to unleash that big blow once again.

Johnson continued his good work into the second round, and when he connected with a quick left/right combination Tibau crashed to the canvas. Johnson followed him down for a brief moment of ground and pound until the referee stepped in to give Johnson the knockout win.

The final preliminary fight featured middleweight action as Chris Leben took on Uriah Hall.

We had an explosive start to this one when a flying knee from Hall straight of the bat sent Leben down to the mat. The Crippler quickly got back to his feet, but within seconds it was obvious that Hall was making the veteran fight his fight.

For the rest of the round Hall constantly backed away from Leben, making him chase him around the cage and connecting with numerous counter shots, and it wasn't long before Leben was showing the scars of battle. It was also like watching a lawn mower racing a sports car, because while Hall was light on his feet throughout Leben moved around as if he had a ball and chain around his ankle.

As the round neared it's final seconds Hall connected with a big right that dropped Leben. He followed up with a few well-placed ground and pound shots before, as the old saying goes, Leben was saved by the bell.

In actuality he wasn't. As Leben sat on his stool being checked over by his corner men he said "I'm done", with the referee waving the fight off to give Hall the TKO win.

The main show began with what was meant to be a featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao, but with Brandao missing weight by seven pounds it was turned into a catchweight affair.

This certainly was a great way to start the show. Both guys started connecting with shots as soon as the fight began, and while Brandao always seemed to be looking for that one big blow Poirier was more calm and measured in his approach.

Brandao's best moment was when he tagged his man and sent him to the canvas momentarily. He also enjoyed a small amount of success with his takedowns. The only problem was that as soon as he hit the canvas Poirier got back to his feet.

Poirier began to really unload with a series of body shots as the first round entered it's final minute, and it wasn't long before Brandao found himself on the ground. The Diamond followed him down for some ground and pound Brandao offered nothing in reply to a barrage of blows, and with just six seconds of the round remaining the referee stepped in to give Poirier the TKO win.

Then it was back to lightweight as Jim Miller faced Fabricio Camoes.

The great action continued with this feet. Both fighters got off some good blows during the feeling out period, with Camoes getting the better of the exchanges, especially when his left sent Miller back a few paces.

But as good as the striking was the best work came when Camoes took the fight to the ground. The Brazilian looked to take control with some well-placed shots, but all the while he was playing into Miller's hands as he worked towards putting Camoes' right wing in an armbar, and having carefully worked into that position it wasn't long before he cranked down on the hold, with Camoes tapping to give Miller the submission win.

After a second showing of the Tibau/Johnson encounter it was on to the heavyweight division and the fight between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne.

The blink or you'll miss it affair of the evening saw Browne connecting as soon as the fight began. Barnett tried to instigate a clinch against the cage, but Browne was having none of that.

Browne soon took control with a couple of stinging jabs, and when Barnett tried went for a takedown against the cage Browne connected with a series of smashing elbows to the head, and although he was still holding on to Browne's legs Barnett was out cold, so the referee quickly intervened to give Browne the KO win after just sixty seconds.

After a second showing of the Leben/Hall fight it was on to the co-main event as Miesha Tate challenged Ronda Rousey for the Women's Bantamweight title.

So who said women couldn't fight? Because this may well be the fight that put's women's MMA firmly on the mat.

It began with both fighters swinging for the fences before the action settled down a little. Both women managed to get off some good strikes, but it was on the ground where we saw the best action.

While Tate had some success with her takedowns it was Rousey and her judo throws that stood out by far. The champion put in a great stint on the ground, always looking for the submission, be it her favoured armbar or anything else she could use.

But despite Rousey's best work Tate put on a tremendous defensive display, and she accomplished something that nobody else had done by taking Rousey into the second round. It was there that Rousey worked her way into position so she could apply an armbar, and just when it looked like the champion would win the challenger managed to escape, later defending against Rousey's reverse triangle attempt as well.

It wasn't long before the inevitable happened though. After a brief clinch against the cage in the third round Rousey scored with another takedown and quickly moved into position where she could apply the armbar. There was no escape for Tate this time as she quickly tapped to give Rousey the submission win.

The main event saw former champion Anderson Silva challenging Chris Weidman for the Middleweight title.

This is the fight that this show will be remembered for. Unlike their last encounter the more serious Silva turned up this time, and the clowning around at the beginning was nowhere to be seen as they tested the waters before engaging in a clinch against the cage.

Both fighters connected with some hard knees in the clinch, and as Silva pushed off against the fence Weidman connected with a big right to the side of the head that rocked Silva.

The Brazilian went down to the canvas, with Weidman's momentum carrying him down as well, and although the champion sent down a torrent of blows he knew he couldn't get the job done there and then, so he settled down and took the more patient approach, going to work with the ground and pound while Silva tried to make the most of his position with some well-placed blows of his own.

When the second round began Silva began to connect with a few kicks, but when Weidman checked a kick after just over ninety seconds that was it. Silva put his leg back on the ground and crumbled immediately with the referee calling an immediate halt to the proceedings. Then it became apparent to everyone that Silva had suffered a badly broken leg. As for the result, a TKO win to Weidman.

With some time to spare it was on to more filler material in the form of the welterweight encounter between William Patolino and Bobby Voelker.

I'm glad I got the chance to see this fight, because I would have missed what was a great striking display by Patolino.

For three rounds the young Brazilian outclassed Voelker. Everything he did just looked so good, and it wasn't surprising that Voelker looked somewhat second-rate, such was Patolino's dominance.

Voelker tried to up his game a little in the second with a more aggressive attitude, but his main problem was that while Patolino was throwing combinations Voelker seemed content to throw out single shots, and by the end of the round, with a broken nose and a nasty cut between his eyes he had the look of a beaten man.

It looked as if Patolino had dropped down a gear or two in the third. He continued to throw some good shots, adding a couple of takedowns into the mix as well, but with Voelker almost constantly wiping blood away from his eyes it looked as if he was just happy to survive until the final bell.

As for the decision, definitely no surprises here as Patolino took the unanimous decision.

In conclusion - they've certainly ended the year in style again, haven't they?

UFC 168 was a great way for the company to close out 2013. The fights shown ranged from enjoyable to tremendous, and although this show will be remembered for Anderson Silva's horrific injury it will also hopefully be remembered for some of the great action.

As for my fight of the night no-prize that's a no-brainer. Those in the know went for the tremendous Rousey/Tate fight, and I'm in complete agreement with them.

So with all of that out of the way I'm going to conclude the UFC's year by giving UFC 168 the big thumbs up.