Sunday, July 3, 2011

UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber Thoughts

UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber
July 2nd, 2011
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Attendance: 12,947
Gate: $2,300,000

Another month, another great UFC PPV offering. On paper this was a stacked card in terms of name value, and the show definitely delivered on the promise I saw in it initially when the fights were announced. Everything from the prelims on Facebook to the Spike TV prelims to the PPV itself delivered and then some.

Facebook Prelims

Jeff Hougland vs. Donny Walker was a solid fight to kick off the FB prelims. Hougland is just the kind of "convict turned cleaned up MMA fighter family man" story that the UFC loves to push, so I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him in the coming months, especially with a rather dominant win here over Walker. Not a great fight or anything, but a solid ground war for three rounds and a good win for Hougland.

Anthony Njokuani vs. Andre Winner was probably the best fight on the prelims, and a possible candidate for fight of the night. Njokuani continues to look impressive on the Facebook prelims each month, adding another dominant unanimous decision win to his record. Quite an entertaining fight that the Spike TV prelims wound up re-airing because of that fact. Njokuani looked impressive in his stand-up again.

Aaron Simpson vs. Brad Tavares saw another fight go the three-round distance to a decision victory. Average fight here really, both men were content to lay around and try pushing off the cage in the clinch for the most part. The ref wound up breaking them up a few times and they'd exchange a few nice big swings before going right back into a struggle against the cage. Simpson won all three rounds pretty handily, but as I said, nothing overly exciting here outside of a really nice slam from Tavares in the second round.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Brian Bowles was one of the fights I was looking forward to the most on the card because of my love for a lot of the old WEC guys, but unfortunately this was another fight where there really wasn't much to write home about. Bowles was able to control the pace of all three rounds and while not being overly dominant, he did win the fight rather handily. Mizugaki has to be disappointed with his performance here, but hopefully he gets another chance in the UFC and doesn't get cut because of this loss. He's a fun fighter and he made me a fan during his WEC stint.

Spike TV Prelims

Rafeal Dos Anjos vs. George Sotiropoulous looked to be a good choice for the televised prelims, and Dos Anjos quickly proved that decision wise by knocking out Sotiropoulous with an absolutely devastating right hand 35 seconds into the first round. George barely had a chance to even blink before he was KOed. Great win for Dos Anjos.

To kill some time before the last remaining preliminary fight, Spike TV aires the earlier Njokuana vs. Winner fight, which is well worth watching.

Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller was another solid choice for the televised prelims and another fight where you better not have gotten up to grab a drink or take a piss, because it was over within a little over 2 minutes after Guillard knocked Shane Roller out decisively in the first round. I've been a fan of Guillard's for a long time and I was more than happy to see the longtime UFC vet get a big win here.

Main PPV Card

Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim looked to be a solid choice for the opening fight on PPV, and it wasn't long before Condit proved that by handing Kim his first professional loss by strikes via TKO at around 3 minutes into the first round after a huge flying knee. Impressive victory for Condit, and I'd imagine this should do wonders for the argument of giving him a title shot in the future. Yet another fun KO on a card full of them.

Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader had to be the most shocking fight of the night as the Huntington Beach Bad Boy was able to pick up a severely needed win (his first since 2006) quickly in the first round via guillotine choke submission. It was obvious from the pre-fight hype that Bader wasn't taking Ortiz as seriously as he should have, and he paid for it here leaving himself open for an easy submission for Tito. Being a longtime Ken Shamrock fan, I've obviously never been a big Tito Ortiz fan, but even I found myself smiling upon seeing a UFC legend keep his career alive. It's nice to see atleast one veteran still with some gas left in the tank after having guys like Cro Cop and Couture break our hearts with devastating losses over the last few months.

Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman was one of the more controversial fights of the night, with many people upset by Siver's victory by unanimous decision, including the crowd who booed the decision to the high heavens. Dana White's response to the controversy? He claimed both he and Justin Beiber (who apparently was watching the fight with him) had scored all three rounds for Siver. And after all, who are we to question the all-mighty word of DA BIEBZ? Seriously though, pretty decent fight with a bullshit decision. There's no way Siver won all three rounds, two you could easily make the argument for, but Wiman most certainly atleast won the second round as he bloodied Siver with ground and pound on the mat. I was really hoping we could go atleast one PPV without a terrible decision by the judges, but no dice.

Chris Leben vs. Wanderlei Silva was another one of those heart-breaking fights that I mentioned earlier in my rundown of the Ortiz-Bader fight. I've been a fan of Leben's for awhile, but the Axe Murderer is a legend and as a former PRIDE guy I was rooting hard for him here. Unfortunately it didn't matter, because Leben knocked him out with strikes almost immediately, winning the fight in less than 30 seconds. Impressive win for Leben, but another heart-breaking loss for a former PRIDE legend.

Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber was the big main event that everyone had been anticipating for several months, myself included. Definite "big fight" feeling through all five rounds as a fight finally went to the judges again on this show. First round saw both men looking cautious, dipping and diving all over the place and trying to get in a few big swings. First round was extremely close, Faber looked like he caused more damage with the strikes he landed, but Cruz definitely landed more of his strike attempts. Second round was just as exciting and closely fought, but Cruz may have won it based on a big takedown very late in the round. The third round was just as hard to judge with Faber finally getting a hard-earned takedown only to eat some more nasty kicks from the champ. Both guys really started teeing off in the fourth round on one another but I thought Faber clearly got the better of most of their exchanges. The fifth round is probably what sealed the decision win for Cruz here as he scored several big takedowns on Faber. Faber was still in it until the very end though, getting in his fair amount of shots. Probably the best fight of the night here, and while I'm not sure I agree with the unanimous decision win for Cruz, it was clear to everyone here that this was an extremely close and hard-fought contest and a re-match down the line certainly wouldn't be out of the question. Great fight to officially cap off a really fun show.

Overall this was a really fun show from UFC and continued their unofficial annual tradition of great 4th of July weekend shows. The main event was a great fight even if it didn't clearly provide an answer as to who the better man was in my eyes, and the undercard on the PPV was full of knock-outs and submissions, as nearly every fight seemed to avoid going to the judges scorecards (which can only be a good thing). Even the prelims were worth checking out. UFC continues to deliver on PPV even with all of their roster turnaround, and this show gets another easy Thumbs Up from me.

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