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This Week in MMA

by on June 27, 2011

By Daniel Galvan

To say that this MMA weekend was newsworthy would be a massive understatement. Not only did the top three major American MMA promotions have events, but one of the more prominent UFC fighters, Nate Marquardt was cut after not passing the medical exam administered by the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. Due to Pennsylvania State laws, the only person that can reveal what Marquardt failed in is Nate himself. So as of this point we can only speculate, but it was made clear that the cut did not result from Marquardt not being able to make the cut to welterweight. Via Twitter, which was the same social networking site that announced his release, Nate informed the public that he will discuss what exactly led to his cut from the number one MMA promotion in the world.

The best fight of the weekend had to be Pat Barry vs Cheick Kongo which headlined UFC Live on Versus 4 after the Nate Marquardt incident. The heavyweight slugfest will go in the history books as one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history. It looked to be the end of Kongo after Barry destroyed him with an over-hand right that appeared to have knocked the French man unconscious, but Kongo survived a barrage of strikes and was able to catch Barry with an uppercut while Cheick was still rocked himself. The fight walked the line of being stopped as Kongo looked out cold as he was falling to the canvas, but it seemed as though Barry woke him with more punches. It was so close that referee Dan Mirgliotta’s leg and arm touched Barry for about half a second as he was about to jump in to call the fight, but it was Dan’s patience and recognition that led to a knock-out comeback that topped Pete Sell vs Scott Smith at The Ultimate Fighter Finale for Season 4. I felt as though this was a better comeback than Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen just because of the action, and the fact that we witnessed three knock-outs in a single round. While the knock-out is probably not better than Anderson Silva’s KO over Vitor Belfort at their UFC 126 encounter and the fight may not be the best of the year, this fight will be remembered for quite some time.

 

The main-event was not the only magnificent story of the night as Charlie Brenneman, who was the home-town hero, upset Rick Story after a one day notice. Charlie took the fight on short notice after TJ Grant had to pull out of their undercard scrap, and Nate Marquardt pulled out of the Rick Story fight. Brenneman defeated Story after taking down Story and out-wrestling him for the first two rounds. While Story did make the third of the fight very exciting by threatening multiple submissions the Spaniard was able to out-point Story and pull off the upset. Personally, watching the fight I felt as though Story was the better fighter, but it was Brenneman’s night. The main card saw another upset as Matt Brown defeated John Howard in a fight that almost everyone predicted that Doomsday would topple the 11-10 fighter. That was not the case as Brown out-worked Howard with the stand-up and grappling for the first two rounds and won the fight via decision. This was a very bad performance by Howard as he gassed after working for a take-down that resulted in nothing against the “Immortal One”.

Matt Mitrione continued his progression in the heavyweight division as he showcased his athleticism and improved striking in a second round KO win over Christian Morecraft. Mitrione actually knocked Morecraft down twice in the first round, but Christian was able to survive the round, but it was only a matter of time before “Meathead” knocked him out. Mitrione continued to ascend as a star as the fans in Pittsburgh chanted “Meathead”. Mitrione can be a big star for the UFC, but his progression as a fighter needs to be handled correctly.

 

The under-card was extremely exciting and it’s a shame that none of the fights made the main card. Michael Johnson showcased improving striking as he defeated Edward Faaloloto in the first round via TKO. Michael definitely made a statement as he didn’t really rely on his wrestling background. The first round finishes continued as Lamas was able to knock-down Grice with a kick and multiple strikes to get the finish with about twenty seconds left in the first period. Lamas was impressive because he was able to out-wrestle Grice for the short period that wrestling was a factor. Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz was the fight of the night and deservedly so even though the ending was controversial. Lentz got the early take-down, but Oliveira show-cased how explosive he was by out-grappling Lentz and threatening multiple submissions. Lentz was also able to survive a barrage of strikes and an anaconda choke that looked to be the end of him. Unfortunately, the second round saw Charles dominate again, but Oliveira unintentionally landed an illegal knee to Lentz who was still on the ground. The controversy here is that the referee didn’t see it, and Oliveira immediately capitalized on his illegal maneuver and locked on a rear-naked choke for the submission victory. It will be seen later if the commission reverses the fight to a DQ or a No Contest. Rich Attonito out-wrestled and out-struck Daniel Roberts in his three round decision win. Attonito’s wrestling, striking, and conditioning were impressive as Rich nearly got the finish after a series of strikes and ground and pound in the third round. It will be interesting to see where Attonito goes from here. Joe Lauzon wasted no time as he overwhelmed Curt Warburton in the first two minutes of the fight, and cranking on a kimura to a submission win. Lauzon looked very impressive in his first round victory. Javier Vazquez put on a grappling clinic out-grappling The Ultimate Fighter winner Joe Stevenson in all three rounds. While Manny Gamburyan out-struck Tyson Griffin in the first round, Griffin was able to win the latter two rounds with superior striking and leg kicks.

 

The UFC Live show overall was a fantastic show top to bottom. Sure the Matt Brown vs John Howard fight was nothing to write home about, but fights such as Barry/Kongo, Story/Brenneman, Mitrione/Morecraft, and Lentz/Oliveira surely made up for it. And also the multiple first round finishes and fast-paced decision fights on the under-card didn’t hurt either. As far as match-ups go I think the best fight for Matt Mitrione is definitely Cheick Kongo as both fighters are making their way up into the top tier of heavyweights and that fight will settle which fighter is ready for the elite heavyweights. I could also see Matt fighting Dave Herman. Although Barry lost he still showed some powerful striking, and I would like to see him fight Stefan Struve. Charlie Brenneman definitely deserves some of the better UFC welterweights after this win and I’d like to see him fight the loser of Kim/Condit or the winner of Pyle/MacDonald. Story shouldn’t fall to down the welterweight ladder because of the drastic difference between Marquardt and Brennaman, so I’d like to see him fight the Mike Pierce if Pierce secures a win over Johnny Hendricks. The most impressive fighter on the under-card was definitely Oliveira who continues to showcase so much potential.

 

 

Bellator Fighting Championships also held the debut event of the three-event Summer Series season. The four featherweight quarter-finals were held on Saturday, and the show definitely delivered. It had a WEC vibe to it due to the fast-paced featherweight fights. This show had everything, brutal knock-outs, unusual submissions, and fun decision fights. Ronnie Mann started off the show with an awesome left hand, uppercut knockout in the first round on Adam Schindler that you can see here.

 

 

The reason that I was so impressed by Ronnie’s performance was that he showcased powerful and technical striking. Mann is a very dangerous featherweight as his foundation is his excellent grappling game. Hopefully this isn’t the end of the round for Schindler as he is a solid prospect that just happened to be in the way of an emerging featherweight fighter. Nazareno Malegarie notched up another victory and great fight as he out-grappled and out-struck Jacob Devree. Malegarie was very impressive as he also out-wrestled the wrestler out of Arizona and he threatened multiple submissions. Nazareno showcased his elite condition after he worked hard for a guillotine choke early in the first round, and showed no signs of fatigue throughout the rest of the fight. Malegarie ended up winning with the submission that he attempted multiple times in the fight in the third round. Malegarie was another fighter that looked impressive and could very well take this tournament. The tournament favorite was up next as Marlon Sandro looked to almost finish Genair da Silva in the first round with punches, but da Silva was able to recover. Da Silva put up a solid striking back-and-forth battle that ultimately led to Sandro out-pointing his fellow Brazilian. Curran ended the featherweight quarter-finals with an impressive Peruvian necktie submission. Curran waited to strike, and eventually knocked down Luis Palomino with a couple of punches and flying knee. Curran threatened a D’arce but worked his way to the Peruvian Necktie on the Peruvian, ironically enough. The semi-finals look great as all four fighters looked impressive, and the fighter that turned in the least impressive performance was the tournament favorite, Marlon Sandro. Pretty much any of the four fighters remaining can take the summer series. The semi-finals are Ronnie Mann vs Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro vs Nazareno Malegarie on a show that is headlined by Patricio Freire vs Joe Warren in a Bellator Featherweight Championship Fight on July 23rd. Ricco Rodriguez and Seth Petruzelli and Cole Konrad vs Paul Buentello was also announced for the summer series finale on August 20th.

 

The sixteenth installment of Strike-force Challengers took place as all five main card fights went the distance. The biggest story was Ryan Couture facing his first loss to lightweight prospect Matt Ricehouse. Ricehouse took the fight to MMA legend’s son out-grappling him and outstriking Couture. Ricehouse looked very impressive and I am certainly looking forward to his future fights. The main event saw Caros Fodor continue three fight win streak as he defeated James Terry after controlling the fight with striking. Jason High won a decision over Quinn Mulhern in the battle of the welterweight prospects after he continued to get take-downs and slams but wasn’t able to capitalize on any of them until the third round for three straight rounds. Lorenz Larkin came back after being taken down by Gian Villante in the first round, by winning the latter two rounds. Larkin looked solid, but needs to improve his wrestling game. Women took the cage as Julia Budd defeated Germaine de Randamie in a fun three round fight.

 

 

Overall, it was a great weekend for MMA that produced contenders, prospects and great fights. The two important dates next week are Tuesday, which will be the day that Marquardt announces why he got cut from the UFC, and Saturday, which will be UFC 132: Faber vs Cruz 2.

 

By Daniel Galvan
Follow me on Twitter @DanielGal
Send me an E-mail Dgalvanmma@yahoo.com

 

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