While UFC 113 proved to be a spectacular night for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, it was the “unexpected” that carried the card. The event featured three stars who didn’t quite live up to their expectations. Emanating from the Bell Center in Montreal Quebec, Saturday, May 8th was a night of anticipation for answers to the following:
1. Can a Bahamian-born, Miami-bred street fighter make the full conversion into a mixed martial artist?
2. Which deadly hand, between a Englishman’s left and a Pennsylvanian’s right, will place its owner into contention for the Ultimate Fighting Championship Welterweight title?
3. In a much anticipated rematch between two Brazilians, which one will not leave the decision in the judges hands?
In looking at this fight, no adage is more applicable than, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts”. Despite an eye opening kick to the head, Kimbo Slice was able to start off strong. He shook off Matt Mitrione’s opening attack and responded with a right hook. Mitrione goes for another kick, only for his to be caught by Slice who forced him to the ground with a slam. Mitrione, the former Minnesota Viking and New York Giant offensive lineman, was able to work out of the slam and apply a triangle chokehold to Slice. With patience, Slice was able to work his way out of the submission and throw in some head and body punches until Mitrione was able to work his way back to a standing position. Again, Slice forces Mitrione to the ground with a single leg takedown. Mitrione counters with another triangle chokehold, but Slice is able to counter and get to his feet. The two square off and Mitrione begins chopping away at Slice with chin kicks. As the assault continues, you can see Slice grimacing in pain. If Mitrione appears as the next face of Brawny products, don’t be surprised, because like a lumberjack, he chopped Slice down to the canvas with shin kicks. “TIIIIMBEEER”! Mitrione followed the knockdown with an anaconda choke, but Slice was able to hold on long enough to survive the first round. In the second round, Mitrione focused on what was already exposed with more shin kicks. At this point, Mitrione outwitted Slice in every aspect of the fight. Sticking with his lumberjack approach, he was able to get Slice to the ground and get in some mounted punches. Mitrione goes for a submission, but after realizing he couldn’t’ lock it in, he went back to the mount strikes. Slice was inept in warding off the attack and at the 4:24 mark of the second round, referee Dan Mirigliotta had seen enough. So to answer the first question, no! The former street fighter has not yet made the full conversion to mixed martial artist, but a former offensive lineman has.
Going into this fight, the sales pitch was, “Whose hand was deadliest, Englishman Paul Daley’s left or the cocky Pennsylvania native Josh Koscheck’s right?” Looking at all the pre-fight talk, this proved to be the disappointment of the night. I’m not sure if Daley was inspired by Mitrione’s opening in the previous fight, but he too chose a kick (of the jumping form) as his opening attack, but much like In Living Color’s Handy Man, he missed horribly. Daley redeemed himself with a left jab to Koscheck’s midsection, followed by another. Those proved to be eye openers for Koscheck, as he took the smart route, reverting back to his mat wrestling background, taking Daley down. Daley tries to wiggle his way out, but his efforts were rewarded with a vicious slam. Kosckeck gets side control and pounds Daley’s head with right hands. The two work their way to the cage, Koscheck knees Daley’s body and tries to mount Daley by way of a half guard, but to no avail. While Daley wanted to impose his will with strikes, he was forced to fight Koscheck’s fight, and lost terribly. Koscheck’s ground game, while not breathtaking, proved to be his bread and butter in the three-round bout. The match did not go without controversy. In the first round, the fight was halted due to a questionable illegal knee call on Daley when getting up from a grounded position. After further review, the judges decided the knee was legal and no points were taken. The next controversial moment took place in the third round when Koscheck rubbed salt in Daley’s wound with verbal taunts while on the ground, as if outlasting the Englishman in mat wrestling wasn’t enough. That would lead to the icing on the controversy flavored cake. At fight’s end, referee Dan Mirigliotta pulled the two apart and Daley was anything but happy with what went down. UFC witnessed what kind of affect Daley’s right hand would have on Koscheck. The problem is, the match was over. Daley cheap shotted Koscheck, cutting his right eyelid. Mirigliotta quickly restrained Daley, looked at him and shouted, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” He already lost, so it was pointless for him to cause further damage to himself and that Daley did. On ESPN2’s “MMA Live” recap show, it was announced that UFC President Dana White officially cut Paul Daley from the roster. “He’s done”, White confirmed. “I don’t give a $#!* if he’s the best 170 pounder in the world, he’ll never come back here again.” Good news for the bleach-blonde, curly head Koscheck, he’s now the number one contender for the UFC Welterweight Championship. In addition to that, he’ll be the next trainer on Spike TV’s reality show “Ultimate Fighter”. The bad news, he will face arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, George St. Pierre, for the highly coveted title. Good luck with that one!
After a questionable decision in their first match in October 2009, where many, including UFC President Dana White, thought Rua won the fight, the two were pegged in the most anticipated rematch of 2010. On Spike TV’s UFC 113 Countdown, a prefight series synonymous to HBO Boxing’s 24/7, Machida’s co-manager Ed Seares said the following after the first match, “I don’t think Shogun did enough…you have to beat the champ…you can’t win a fight by kicking someone in the legs. He kept kicking, kicking, kicking, but with no finish.” I don’t know what Seares had for dinner prior to the fight, but he was bloated after Rua forced him and every other naysayer to eat those words. Shogun picked up in the rematch where he left off with a shin kick. Machida sees another low kick coming and counters with a right hand. Machida trips Shogun to the canvas and tries a halfguard hold on him, but Shogun counters, pushing The Dragon into the cage. Rua charges, but is stopped with a right hand. An exchange of punches ensue, but Shogun gets the best of it by forcing Machida to back off after his last punch of the flurry. Machida trips Shogun again and lands a knee on Rua, then steps back. Maybe the Dragon should’ve stayed on Shogun. He didn’t and that’s when the Dragon lost his flame. Shogun catches Machida with a right to the temple that turned his legs into spaghetti. Rua continues the assault, knocking the defending champion out and forcing referee Yves Lavigne to call the fight with 1:25 left in the first round. The light heavyweight championship will stay in Brazil, but will change cities. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is your new champion, making this the ninth time the title has changed hands since June 2003. White’s motto says, “Never leave the decision in the judge’s hands”, and looking at the quick work Shogun made of the Dragon, it’s safe to say the new champion got the memo.
What lesson came from this card? Despite the results, each participant will have a chance to expand their brand. Paul Daley, however, not so much. It will be interesting to see if other MMA franchises such as World Elite Cagefighting (WEC) and EliteXC will give him a chance of redemption. Until then, get ready for UFC 114 on May 29th, which will feature a bout of heated rivals, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Sugar” Rashad Evans.
By Antoine Hoffman