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UFC 152: Explanations

Now that I’m near my UFC 152 coverage let’s start covering some after-math details. First of all, I thought UFC 152 was a fantastic card. It had a lot of 1st round stoppages, some crazy upsets, and some barn-burner throw-downs; what more can you ask for?

This part of the event coverage will be about why things happened the way they happened. If you caught my UFC 152 analysis (In case you didnt; click here), you know that most of these fights came down to one or two questions; the answer to those questions would then depict the winner of the bout. So let’s jump into the first match up of the card:

Kyle Noke vs. Charlie Brenneman – Kyle Noke via TKO :45 into Round 1

This fight surprised me in the fact that I didn’t think Kyle could pull it off. The outcome doesn’t surprise me because I knew that it was either going to be Noke via TKO, or Brenneman via decision; however, I have a landslide advantage to Brenneman based on his wrestling skills. I was expecting Brenneman to shoot in the beginning moments of the first round, and he didn’t. Instead, he chose to trade hands with Noke with lead to him being dropped hard.

I’ll go ahead and voice my opinion on the stoppage as well. At the time the ref initially stepped in to stop the fight; Brenneman was clearly out. I think this was one of those times where the fighter gets hit, goes out, then wakes back up as the ref is stopping the fight and tries to continue. Could the fight have continued? Probably. Brenneman is a tough guy and was shooting for a takedown, however it was explicit that the shot that dropped him and the follow-up uppercuts stole his conscious away.

This fight happened the way it happened because Brenneman was overly confident on the feet, and didn’t get the fight to the ground before Noke established his rhythm and was able to land his shots to put Brenneman down.

Walel Watson vs. Mitch Gagnon – Mitch Gagnon via Rear Naked Choke 1:09 into Round 1

Now this fight was a shocker. I’ll admit, I was counting Gagnon out and boy was a wrong. He looked really good this fight, both on the feet with his timing and power, and of course on the ground where he specializes. First of all, Watson has a HUGE reach advantage (7 inches) and he did not use it. At the beginning of the fight you saw both fighters wanting to the be the one pushing the pace, and they collided with exchanges. However, Watson didn’t establish his reach, while Gagnon did. Watson was moving forward throwing punches that were too long, and missing. All Gagnon had to do is time a big counter punch and that’s what happened.

Watson rushed forward with a superman punch, and Gagnon countered with a big left hook to put Watson down. From there, Gagnon’s ground expertise came into play and he was able to take advantage of the situation and get the choke sunk in. Gagnon probably could have finished with strikes if he fully committed, but he’s a ground guy and so his instincts told him to stop punching and move in for the choke.

This fight happened the way it happened mainly because Watson was too aggressive on the feet,and didn’t establish the distance where he had a huge advantage; which led to him being dropped and choked out in the first round.

Simeon Thoresen vs. Seth Baczynski – Seth Baczynski via KO 4:10 into Round 1

Another first round stoppage on the prelims and yet another very unexpected outcome. First of all, both fighters are submission specialists which led me to believe that whoever had the better takedowns would be trying to take control and win points; but that didn’t happen at all. Instead they both seemed willing to strike with eachother. Baczysnki was the one throwing more volume, and was definitely the stronger puncher of the too, however he was missing a lot of punches. Thoresen on the other hand was doing damage with accurate strikes, not throwing a lot, but doing damage to Baczynski’s lip which was cut open early in the fight. With all of this exchanging going back and forth, the fighter who threw more punches and who threw more power won over; Seth Baczynski. I think Thoresen was banking on this fight going into deeper territory, which is why he wasn’t throwing as much and was very conservative. However, he needs to work on his striking defense because you can’t expect to strike 15 minutes and not expect your opponent to try and knock your head off.

This fight happened the way it happened because Seth Baczynski had stronger punches, and threw more volume which gave him more opportunities to land a KO punch. This fight didn’t go to the ground like I was expecting it to; either way Baczynski probably would’ve been able to stuff any takedown attempts as he looked physically a lot bigger and stronger.

Marcus Brimage vs. Jim Hettes – Marcus Brimage via Unanimous Decision

Now this fight was an upset. I knew Brimage had the power and the explosiveness to pull it off, but I just thought Hettes was too crafty and too slick to let happen. Brimage definitely looked like the more prepared fighter and a guy who had a gameplan and stuck with it while Hettes was just improvising as he went, and it showed. Hettes was a step behind Brimage when it came to punching exchanges and just did not do any damage on the feet. Hettes however was able to win the second round as he scored two take down attempts and got the back, but once again Brimage had a defense ready and was not allowing Hettes to get anything off of him and was able to escape without taking any damage. The one thing that Hettes did show that was very good was his chin. He took some haymakers from Marcus Brimage and was just able to walk through them and push the pace, but he didn’t do anything with it. He was walking Brimage down the whole time the fight was on the feet, but wasn’t landing anything and wasn’t trying to pursue any takedowns which ultimately lost him the fight on the score cards.

This fight happened the way it happened because Brimage was the more prepared fighter on the feet, and was able to defend Hettes on the ground the few times it went there. Hettes was vastly out struck and while he was pushing the pace, he wasn’t scoring any offense while Brimage was slinging haymakers like it was his job.

Lance Benoist vs. Sean Pierson – Sean Pierson via Unanimous Decision

Another very entertaining fight here. Both guys went at it for 3 hard-fought rounds and both guys had their moments. Ultimately it was Pierson’s experience and edge in the boxing that won him the fight despite Benoist’s last minute barrage at the end of round 3. Benoist was able to get a very decent ground exchanges, but Pierson was able to stay out of harms way and get the fight back up to the feet. Benoist was definitely going for more kicks, while Pierson stuck to his bread and butter with his jab and his straight. It was a good fight, but the better fighter won.

This fight happened the way it happened because Pierson had better boxing and was just the better fighter; he landed on the feet, in the clinch, and was able to defend himself on the ground enough to win two rounds out of three.

Evan Dunham vs. TJ Grant – TJ Grant via Unanimous Decision

Another big upset here. Wow, this one was shocking. Both guys knew their stuff on the mat and on the feet, and they chose to keep it standing for 3 rounds and it was a barn-burner. Basically it was TJ Grant who was more aggressive and in Dunham’s face, which allowed him to land the bigger punches and do more damage. Coming into this fight, I was predicting Dunham to be able to control the stand up; but I had no idea TJ Grant could scrap on his feet as well as he did (There’s a reason why he is now 3-0 as a lightweight). You saw Dunham take some big knees the head, which eventually opened up a giant gash on his forehead, and I think that was the deciding factor in the fight; that and also the fact that TJ Grant was really bringing the pressure and being more aggressive while Evan was trying to counter strike.

This fight happened the way it happened because TJ Grant brought way more pressure than Evan was expecting; he stayed in his face, stayed aggressive, landed big shots, and also a few knees which did huge damage. Dunham won his fair share of striking exchanges but ultimately the bout was won by the guy who did more damage and was more aggressive; TJ Grant.

Vinny Magalhaes vs. Igor Pokrajac – Vinny Magalhaes via armbar 1:14 into Round 2

Coming into this fight Igor was on a roll and the more and more I thought about this match up, the more I saw Igor being able to land some bombs and get a big KO. However, his poor decision making in this fight was really the reason why he lost. Vinny is a 2nd-degree BJJ black belt and he showcased it this bout. He tied up right away like we all knew he would try and do, and it was like Igor didn’t know why. Vinny got the take down, got some submission attempts in the first round, but was too patient with them and allowed Igor to escape. On the feet, Igor wasn’t establishing distance and trying to pick Vinny apart; instead he lets him tie up and end the round safely. In the second, it wasn’t Vinny who got the takedown, it was Igor. I have no idea why Pokrajac went for a takedown, he is a wrestler but surely he knew he was facing probably the best BJJ practitioner at 205 lbs. His own poor decision making is what got Pokrajac stuck in a triangle, which was then transitioned into a beautiful armbar finish for Magalhaes.

This fight happened the way it happened because Pokrajac made a very poor decision. Vinny is light-years ahead of him on the ground, and Igor was a little too confident in his submission defense and chose to take Magalhaes to the ground which led him to being subbed by a beautiful armbar. On a side note: I think this fight should’ve been Submission of the Night rather than Jon Jones’ keylock, he has enough money.

Charles Oliveira vs. Cub Swanson – Cub Swanson via KO 2:40 into Round 1

This fight was another one that was going to be either one way or the other; Swanson via strikes, or Oliveira via submission. Unfortunately for Oliveira, he stuck around too long with a guy who hit way harder and faster than he did; a lot like he did against Donald Cerrone up at 155. Swanson showcased again his boxing skills as he crushed Oliveira with a left hook to the body, then a picture perfect overhand right that had Oliveira collapsing. Oliveira held his own with his kicks and strikes of his own and got a big takedown, but he let Swanson up and was just too patient with him. I think Oliveira underestimated Swanson’s power and was banking on another chance to get him to the mat, unfortunately he didn’t have another one as he was stopped soon after he gave up the first one.

This fight happened the way it happened because Swanson hits damn hard! Oliveira didn’t take advantage of the first round exchange, lost his chance to pull something off, and lost his chance at the fight. Props to Swanson for getting back up to his feet and racking up yet another stoppage due to his hands.

Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett – Matt Hamill via Unanimous Decision

Well, one snoozer isn’t bad for a full card. Honestly I don’t know why this fight was put on the main card, I think that the UFC was banking on an impressive performance by either Hamill or Hollett, but neither of them looked good. Hamill was slow and innacurate and just didn’t have any explosiveness outside of his takedowns and his ground and pound in the first round where he nearly had Hollett finished. After the first round, Hamill was pretty much gassed and didn’t have energy on his feet, and Hollett didn’t take advantage of it; instead they picked single punches at eachother until Hamill was able to score a takedown and win the second and third rounds ontop.

This fight happened the way it happened because Hamill’s wrestling and ground pound was just too much for Hollet to handle. Hollet couldn’t land anything on the feet, couldn’t stuff takedowns, and couldn’t do anything off of his back but eat shots.

Brian Stann vs. Michael Bisping – Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision

Another pretty good scrap here. The thing that surprised me the most in this bout was how evenly matched they were. For sure I was thinking that either Stann would overwhelm Bisping with his power, or Bisping would overwhelm Stann with his volume and striking arsenal, but neither fighter got the better of eachother. Instead, the bout was purely decided based on Bisping’s takedowns which he got to win the second and third round after being shook by a right hand from Stann in the final moment of round 1. Outside of those major events, they were both very evenly matched. They both landed on eachother and both utilized leg kicks and their boxing. It was a good evenly contested bout but it was Bisping’s versatility that won him the fight on the score cards.

This fight happened the way it happened because Michael Bisping came more prepared with more tools than just his striking. He was able to box with Stann, get good positioning in the clinch, and get takedowns on Stann while all Stann had was some good exchanges and a big right hand in the first round.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez – Demetrious Johnson via Split Decision

First of all, I think Johnson won the fight hands down, there was no need for a split decision at all. This bout was a typical flyweight-bantamweight-featherweight bout where both fighters are so evenly matched and fast that it’s the very little things that decide the fight. Both guys landed good shots and when you look at who came the closest to finishing the fight; it was Benavidez in the fourth round with that guillotine attempt. However, it was Johnson who was able to win the surrounding rounds with his speed and his takedowns in the fifth round. It was a good fight, a competitive fight, but Johnson won it. Props to Benavidez for putting up a good fight but he was out-matched.

This fight happened the way it happened because Johnson was simply too fast. Benavidez spent a lot of his time chasing Johnson around the cage while Demetrious was landing good punches and kicks. Also, the salvo of takedowns in the fifth round definitely helped his case. Joseph came close in the fourth round with that choke attempt, but Johnson’s speed and technique won it over.

Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort – Jon Jones via kimura :54 into Round 4

I have to say, right when Jon Jones took Belfort down in the beginning seconds of round 1, I knew Jones going to play this fight very safe. Jones knew he had to stay away from Belfort’s power, so he utilized kicks to keep Belfort at bay. Although Belfort was at a 12″ reach disadvantage, I felt like he did a bad job of trying to close the distance. Whenever he feinted with punches, Jones immediately put his hands up and backed off; Belfort could’ve used that to time his punches or go to the body, but instead he feinted and than backed off. I think Belfort spent way too much time waiting on Jones, and that closed all hope of him pulling off the upset.

I will say this however; I like how Belfort tried to go for submissions off of his back. A lot of people were wondering why he chose to pull guard and not strike, well I think that he felt he had a better chance off of his back (hence the success in round 1 with that armbar) than he did on the feet. The story of this fight was both of them playing it too safe. Jones stuck to leg kicks and takedowns with some good elbows, and Belfort stuck to pulling guard and trying for submissions. All in all, it was Jones who stayed in control of the fight and was able to finally pass the guard and over-power Belfort with keylock.

This fight happened the way it happened for a number of reasons: Belfort was too patient on the feet and waited too long for his time to strike, Jones was way stronger than Belfort and was able to get takedowns and dominate him on the mat at will, and Belfort just didn’t have any explosiveness in him after the first round. I think Belfort may have gassed a little bit taking all those elbows to the eye, and I think he just didn’t have any heart to get back in the fight and try to surprise Jones with anything.

That sums it all up. I think it was a good card, the prelims were fantastic, only 1 boring fight, the main event was less than spectacular but the result was bound to happen, and it was a good card to come back to after a long lay off of action. Stay tuned for my coverage of future UFC events and other articles on this blog. Be sure to visit MMALinker for all of your MMA discussion.

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