Thoughts on UFC 143

Another UFC PPV is in the books. Overall, I enjoyed the card, although I must say I was expecting more out of Nick Diaz. More on that in a bit. It wasn’t the best UFC card I’ve seen live (that honor goes to UFC 139), but it was a solid card. I watched the event in a “sports” bar with two very casual UFC viewers, and my fiancee. The crowd in the bar was far from interested in actually watching the fights, and more interested in socializing.

Now, the 1st fight I started actively watching was the brawl between Edwin Figueroa and Alex Caceres. I liked it for what it was. Basically, it was two very evenly matched guys fighting a pretty even fight with the exception of two nut shots, and a head kick that knocked Caceres into next week. The moment of the fight came when referee Herb Dean deducted 2 points from Caceres for the aforementioned nut shots. Without the hefty deduction (which is well within Dean’s rights), Caceres would have won this fight. But, as it stands in the record books is a split decision win for Figueroa. It was a sloppy fight, sure. But, it was also enjoyable and exciting.

Next up was Dustin Poirier beating newcomer to the UFC, Max Holloway. Poirier used a mounted triangle arm choke to get the win at 3:23 in round one. That was a sweet finish to a great, dominating performance.He would also go on to win Submission of the Night honors.

The PPV portion of the card then started with Ed Herman winning with a sweet submission of his own over previously undefeated Clifford Starks. After a close 1st round, Herman took Starks’ back and wrapped on a tight rear naked choke at 1:43 of round 2. Having watched Season 3 of TUF, I always liked Herman and felt he should have been the winner of that season. It’s always good to see guys start to make their way back and get some wins. Herman’s submission game has always been top notch in my book.

The following fight between Scott Jorgensen and Renan Barao was one of those back and forth, too close to call fights that I always cringe while watching with casual fans of the sport. While I liked and appreciated the fight for what it was, I always fear that someone I may be watching it with may be turned off by what seems as a boring fight. I don’t really think it was a boring fight at all, it’s just the perception for someone fresh to MMA may think it is. Barao won the unanimous decision 30-27 by all three judges.

I was hoping for more in the Koscheck/Pierce fight. Here was a classic story being told where a rookie (for lack of better word) in Mike Pierce was calling out the veteran in Josh Koscheck. I’m not a big fan of Koscheck, but I do respect his accomplishments that includes wins over Matt Hughes, Paul Daley, and others. But, what happened here was a fight in which Koscheck did just enough to win while Pierce did not do enough to impress the judges. Koscheck didn’t dominate, but he had the elusive Octagon control and had a few takedowns. Koscheck would win via split decision 28–29, 29–28, 29–28.

In what would ultimately win Fight of the Night honors, Roy “Big Country” Nelson fought in a losing effort to Brazillian Fabricio Werdum. I’ll be brutally honest and just say I am not a fan of Werdum’s. After that God awful fight with Overeem in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix last year (which saw Werdum pull guard about 57 times), it became my goal to actively hate every fight this guy is in. And, in contrast, I am a huge fan (no pun intended) of Roy Nelson. The guy simply does not quit. He never backs down regardless of the odds, and you have to respect that.

For three rounds, Werdum pounded away at Nelson with kicks, knees, and combinations. Werdum hit at least 5 to 10 shots that would have knocked out nearly any other human being on the planet. But, despite bleeding from a nasty gash, and despite already losing an uphill battle, Nelson continued fighting. He pressed forward and even landed a few heavy handed shots of his own. Although he would lose by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27), I’m sure Nelson gained the respect of his employers, peers, and fans. It was one of those legendary gutsy performances you hear about, but are likely to never witness. Roy Nelson has the heart of a lion and in even in defeat somehow managed to emerge a winner.

The Main Event of the night was another one that I had such high expectations for, but just didn’t deliver to me. The issue I have with it is Carlos Condit played a chess game. In fact, he played a perfect chess game by staying away from Nick Diaz and striking back with power strikes when he needed to. According to fightmetric.com, Condit did outstrike and outperform Diaz in nearly every way (Diaz won the takedown battle). But, I was hoping to see the Condit that KO’ed Kim in his last fight. Likewise, I was hoping to see the Nick Diaz from so many previous battles he’s had and prevailed in.

What we got instead was the MMA equivalent of a strategy game. The better, smarter fighter prevailed in this case. Diaz tried in vain to take Condit out of the fight with his trademark trash talk and various forms of shenanigans. But, Condit had a gameplan and stuck to it. It really was a masterful performance even if I didn’t quite agree with it. He would win after 5 grinding rounds by unanimous decision (48–47, 49–46, 49–46) to win the interim UFC Welterweight Title.

The biggest issue I had coming from the fight and Diaz’s gameplan was I didn’t get why Diaz didn’t go for the submission earlier. In the post fight interview, Diaz said, “had I thought I wasn’t ahead I probably should have finished that armlock.” Well, why not go for the finish anyway if you could have finished the fight? Diaz rarely makes sense, and it makes even less sense when you actually support a fighter that has the emotional intelligence of a child. Further proving my last point, Diaz effectively quit the MMA “game” because this fight didn’t go his way.

It’s a shame if Diaz does retire this. He’s a joy to watch when he’s on the top of his game. He’s an effective trash talker. He’s an effective “heel” for the sport of MMA. There really isn’t much to really like about the guy besides the fact that he’s usually in the most exciting fights on the card. But, he comes off as such a dick (for lack of a better word) and unlikable. His post fight retirement most likely won’t stick because he is a fighter at heart, and he will one day want to avenge this loss. This is a guy that won his last 11 fights before this one. Maybe the sting of defeat was too much for his psyche to handle just moments after losing. Whatever the case, I just doubt he meant it.

Overall, it was a pretty good night of fights. While I was hoping for more in the three top billed fights, it was still another night of quality UFC action.

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