Tuesday, 17 December 2013

UFC Johnson vs Benavidez 2 on BT Sport - TV Review

It's time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look as Demetrious Johnson takes on Joseph Benavidez for the second time in the UFC's penultimate show of the year, shown live this past Saturday night/Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

We begin with the preliminaries and the lightweight encounter between Abel Trujillo and Roger Bowling.

This certainly was an explosive way to start the show. Fought at a somewhat frantic pace both fighters got in some good shots in the early seconds, but as the fight went on Trujillo took control and dominated the rest of the proceedings. His strikes looked perfect, and this, allied with a couple of takedowns, cemented his control, and you just had to look at Bowling's face at the end of the first round for evidence of that.

Trujillo's dominance continued into the second with his striking and an early takedown, and after he moved his man towards the fence and postured up Trujillo connected with a series of big rights that cause Bowling no end of trouble, and even though he managed to get back to his feet Bowling had no answer to this onslaught, which is why the referee stepped in to give Trujillo the TKO win.

More lightweight action followed as Sam Stout went up against Cody McKenzie.

The first of many three rounders proved to be a great example of getting a fighter to fight your fight. McKenzie did well early on when he scored with the takedown, but as soon as Stout got back to his feet he began to impose his will on the fight.

A kick to the bread basket followed up by a few more shots to the body forced McKenzie to change tactics, and this played right into Stout's hands. His constant circling to his left forced McKenzie to move in the direction he wanted him to, and with his hands held low to protect his aching body he left his head undefended.

McKenzie tried to shake things up a few times as the fight went on with a few more takedown attempts, but Stout managed to defend against most of these, although McKenzie did managed to grab hold of his man's leg in the third round. This, and a couple of choke attempts from Stout where the only real ground action after the early first round exchanges, mainly because Stout wanted to keep the fight standing.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called up for the first time during the broadcast, and unsurprisingly they were in complete agreement as Stout took the unanimous decision.

Then it was down to flyweight as Scott Jorgensen faced Zach Makovsky.

This was the tale of the two debuting fighters, with Makovsky making his promotional debut and Jorgensen making his divisional debut, and it certainly proved to be an interesting encounter.

Jorgensen got the better of the early exchanges, but when Makovsky connected with a big left uppercut that rocked his man it showed that he wasn't overawed by the big lights of the Octagon. A few moments later he connected with another big left that put Jorgensen on the back foot.

As the fight went on Makovsky's striking began to look better and better, but on the ground his luck was a little mixed. Jorgensen went for a couple of guillotines which ultimately led nowhere, and he did a good job of reversing the positions on a couple of occasions.

It wasn't all one-way traffic on the ground though, especially towards the end of the fight when Makovsky took control and took Jorgensen's back. The tattooed one managed to survive this particular scare as the fight came to an end.

As for the judges they agreed once again as Makovsky took the unanimous decision.

It was back to lightweight for the next fight as Bobby Green faced Pat Healy.

This proved to be a very good encounter. Green began his night looking like the most relaxed man in the building with his arms down by his waist, but even though this left him wide open his speed allowed him to get off some good shots, which proved to be somewhat frustrating against a grinder like Healy.

But as the fight went on Healy began to come into it a little more, especially when Green began to tire. He was now able to roll off a few good combinations of his own, as well as finishing a few takedowns, which was something he just couldn't do early on.

The final round was probably the most interesting, mainly because Green was playing Healy at his own game a couple of times when he was grinding him down in a clinch against the fence. Green later scored with the takedown, but with the clock ticking down Healy managed to reverse the positions and unleash with the ground and pound as the fight came to an end.

Which meant more work for the judges as they agreed again and gave Green the unanimous decision.

Yet more lightweight action followed as Danny Castillo took on Edson Barboza.

This one was definitely worth the price of admission. For three rounds these two gave us a great three round encounter, and I suspect that many of the fans in attendance were on the edges of their seats watching this one.

The early going clearly belonged to Castillo when his three punch combination rocked the Brazilian, and when the fight went to the ground moments later Castillo went all out to get the stoppage, mixing in a couple of choke attempts with a relentless barrage of ground and pound, which opened up a nasty cut on Barboza's forehead. It looked as if the fight was going to stop there and then, but thankfully for Barboza he managed to survive until the end of the round.

Then, from the second round onwards, Barboza managed to impose his will on the game. He finally began to unload with those lethal-looking leg kicks of his, and with Castillo visibly slowing he came into the fight more and more. Castillo was still getting some shots in, but they were nothing compared to what Barboza was doing, especially when he was connecting with a couple of spinning back kicks to the mid-section.

As good as this fight was the one thing missing from it was a finish, which meant that the judges were called upon once more, and for the first time they couldn't agree, with one scoring it as a draw and two scoring in favour of Barboza to give the Brazilian the majority decision.

The final preliminary fight featured welterweight action as Court McGee went up against Ryan LaFlare.

Out of all of the preliminary fights this was probably the most even. It was also a pretty enjoyable three rounder with good performances from both fighters.

Both guys looked particularly good throughout with their striking, and even though there were no big killer punches or game changing blows they were still able to cause quite a bit of damage, as evidenced by the cuts both men suffered.

On the ground it was pretty much the same. No one could gain that much needed advantage. A good example of this was when LaFlare went for an arm submission and McGee went for a kimura almost simultaneously.

So with an even-looking fight like this it was inevitable that the judges came into the equation as McGee took the unanimous decision.

The main show began with yet more lightweight action as Joe Lauzon faced Mac Danzig.

This proved to be a very enjoyable encounter. Lauzon put on a great display of ground fighting, beginning when he scored with a takedown early in the first round, and it was only a few moments later when he went for an armbar as he looked for the early finish. Danzig managed to survive this scare, and had some success in a clinch against the fence, but he soon found himself back on the ground before the round came to an end.

Danzig came back into the fight a little in the second with some nice shots, but it wasn't long before Lauzon took the fight to the ground again, quickly moving into position so he could deliver some well-placed ground and pound shots, one of which, an elbow, opened up a nasty cut on the bridge of Danzig's nose.

It was pretty much the same story in the third. Lauzon's dominance on the ground continued when he used a mounted crucifix to deliver more punishment, before taking the mount and going for another armbar. Danzig managed to briefly reverse the positions, but this didn't do him much good. Lauzon re-took control after a few seconds and opened up Danzig's cut again.

All of this and no finish meant more work for the judges, and it came as no big surprise when Lauzon took the unanimous decision.

It was down to featherweight for the next fight between Chad Mendes and Nik Lentz.

The last fight of the show that went the distance proved to be a very interesting affair. Mendes had a great start when he staggered Lentz with a big right, and it looked like an early finish was on the cards. However, Lentz managed to survive that early scare.

It wasn't long before Mendes began to change tactics so he could score with some takedowns. The only problem was that when he went to ground he didn't actually do much, and even though it seemed as if he was able to take Lentz down with ease Lentz either shut him down or flipped him off.

Lentz's best work came with his kicks to the body, and as the fight went on he seemed to get more confident with his striking. However, towards the end of the fight Mendes went for a guillotine, although Lentz once again managed to survive.

As for the judges their final act of the night was to give Mendes the unanimous decision.

The co-main event featured bantamweight action as Urijah Faber went up against Michael McDonald.

This was a really good fight, and was another example of just how good Faber is. The former WEC king scored with an early takedown, the only problem there was that McDonald did a great job in shutting him down, trapping his left arm at one point. Faber managed to escape this predicament, but it wasn't long before the inevitable referee's stand up.

With the fighters now back on their feet Faber began to take control in the striking department. A big right rocked McDonald, and it was a signal for what was to come in the second round when another big right stunned his man. McDonald managed to regain a little composure, but when Faber landed with a third big blow it put McDonald on the back foot. Faber literally raced after him, and when they went to ground he quickly synched in a guillotine choke. McDonald tried to escape before the inevitable tap out to give Faber the submission win.

The main event saw Joseph Benavidez challenging Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title.

The quickest fight of the night began with both fighters testing the waters with a couple of kicks, and during the early exchanges it looked as if Benavidez was getting the better of the exchanges, especially with his leg kicks.

Then it happened. Johnson connected with a right to the side of the head that dropped his man, and a couple of ground and pound shots later it was all over as the referee stepped in to give Johnson the knockout win.

In conclusion - the UFC's penultimate show of the year certainly pushed all the right buttons.

It may not have been filled with finishes like BAMMA earlier in the evening but it was filled with quality fights and performances throughout. As the old saying goes all the fights definitely delivered, and then some.

As for my fight of the night no-prize the powers that be gave their award to Edson Barboza and Danny Castillo, and while I toyed with the idea of going for the a couple of others I think I'll join them in that decision.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one thing left to do, and that's to give this show the thumbs up.