THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
So can Anderson Silva once again prove he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Or will Patrick Cote upset the apple cart and take his title? Well, that’s what I intend to find out by once again tuning into the world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as, just one week after UFC 89, UFC 90: Silva v Cote, makes it way to a live showing on Setanta Sports here in Britain. As always the hosts for the evening are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The broadcast begins with action from the lightweight division, with former champion Sean Sherk taking on Tyson Griffin. Round one began with the fighters looking for an opening, and Sherk soon found it, taking Griffin down and quickly taking his back. But then Griffin got to his feet, walked across the cage, and proceeded to throw Sherk down to the mat. It wasn’t long before Sherk took Griffin down again, but after Griffin got to his feet, nothing much happened, so the fight returned to the centre of the cage where the fighters engaged in a punching battle. Some good shots followed, but as Griffin went for a take down, Sherk got control, quickly taking his opponent’s back again, but nothing really came of it, and as the clocked tick down towards the end of the round both me scored with some great punches.
Round two, and Griffin began the round with a cut just above his left eye. Sherk went for a quick shot, and soon got Griffin down. But it didn’t last long as they returned to the previous tactics, looking for the knockout blow, and although Griffin managed to get in some good shows, Sherk always looked one step ahead of him. As the round went on Griffin began to get more aggressive, scoring with a couple of good blows, but Sherk was able to counter with his own display as Griffin began to slow down a little. Sherk seemed to up his game a little, while Griffin began to swing for the trees. Sherk then attempted another take down, and after defending against this Griffin seemed to get another wind, connecting with some good blows and a high leg kick, and this went on as the round came to an end.
Round three, and things began quickly. Griffin came out like a house a fire, and it looked as if Sherk didn’t know what had hit him at first. Eventually things slowed down a little as the fighter circled each other, getting off shots whenever they could. Unlike the previous rounds, the exchanges here looked pretty even. It was great to watch as each fighter looked for the blow or exchange that could make the difference, with Sherk seemingly abandoning his take down plan, and Griffin looking more relaxed because of it, and the exchanges continued until the very last second of the fight. So the decision was now down to the judges, with Sherk getting the unanimous decision, which didn’t exactly please the crowd in attendance. A good fight, a good way to open the show, but a little surprising that Griffin didn’t get much from the judges.
Then it was up to the big boys in the heavyweight division, a battle of the Brazilians with Fabricio Werdum and Junior Dos Santos. The first round began with the usual testing of the waters with punches and kicks. But then Dos Santos connected with a huge uppercut. Werdum slumped to the mat, with the referee stopping the fight as Dos Santos went in for the kill. Explosive stuff from Dos Santos, especially considering that Werdum was rated as one of the top heavyweights in the UFC at the moment, and was in line for a title shot.
So after that quickie, it’s back down to the lightweight division, with Rich Clementi facing Gray Maynard. The first round saw over thirty seconds pass before the first exchange after the fighters circled each other, and this continued for a few moments, with both men getting off the occasional blow or kick. In truth, watching the two fighters dancing around and hitting air didn’t make for interesting viewing, and this state of affairs lasted well into the fourth minute until Maynard got a take down. We then saw the most action of the round as both men tried to work on the mat.
Round two, and after a quick exchange, the fighters returned to their previous tactics. A brief clinch against the cage led to nothing, and, thankfully, Maynard scored with another impressive take down. After Clementi tried to escape, Maynard attempted a standing guillotine, before they went back down to the mat, with Clementi trapping Maynard’s arm. Maynard soon escaped, but Clementi soon had hold of his arm again. But after nothing came of it, the fighting slowed down a little, with Maynard maintaining control throughout, and this was how things remained for the rest of the round.
Round three, and once again Clementi began punching air. This didn’t last long as Maynard slammed him down to the mat again. Clementi tried to scramble up, but Maynard soon regained the guard position. Every time Clementi tried something, Maynard was able to escape, and it began to get a bit annoying when the referee kept warning the fighters about inactivity when they were clearly active. As the fight entered it’s final two minutes Clementi got to his feet, but was soon back on the mat. Maynard looked in total control, even when Clementi briefly took his back, while the referee’s pleas for more action continued to annoy. The fight ended with Maynard working on top. So a fight that began slowly got going in the second and third, and the unanimous judge’s decision in favour of Maynard was more or less a given. Good performance from Maynard, and a slightly disappointing one from Clementi.
Then it’s up a division to the welterweights, with Thiago Alves facing Josh Koscheck, who took the fight at two week‘s notice. Round one saw the feeling out process, before Alves suddenly sprang into life, connecting with a left hook that sent Koscheck down early. Alves went in for the kill, but Koscheck recovered quickly, and it wasn’t long before he got off a few shots of his own. It was interesting to watch as both guys had their moments, Alves’ jab and leg kicks meeting up with Koscheck’s boxing. As the round entered it’s last minute Koscheck tried for a take down against the cage, but Alves was soon able to escape.
Round two, and the feeling out process began again. Alves continued with the kicks, while Koscheck, surprisingly, wanted to exchange instead of going to the ground. Koscheck soon rocked Alves, following up with a knee, and then a take down attempt with a clinch up against the cage which ultimately went nowhere. The exchange of combinations continued, with Alves continuing to use the leg kick. Later, Koscheck went for another take down, which Alves was able to defend against in another clinch against the cage, the last meaningful moment of the round.
Round three, and this time things began quickly, with Alves the aggressor. A huge left, followed by a knee staggered Koscheck, and even though he managed to get back to his feet he still looked wobbly. Alves then connected with some more good shots, which Koscheck countered with a clinch against the cage, before trying for another unsuccessful take down. There was a brief interlude after an inadvertent Alves eye poke, and in an ironic twist, Koscheck would inadvertently return the favour a few moments later. As Alves’ left eye began to swell, a leg kick rocked Koscheck again, and despite the eye getting worse as the round came to an end, Alves looked to have the upper hand as the exchanges continued, even scoring a take down as the round ended. The judge’s decision – unanimous in the favour of Alves, and rightfully so. A very good performance from the pitbull, which makes me wonder how long it will be before he gets a title shot.
Main event time, with Patrick Cote challenging Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight title. Round one, and Cote began early with a kick. Silva seemed happy to size the Canadian up as he circled him around the cage. It really didn’t make for riveting viewing, as everyone expected Silva to explode at any moment, and apart from a couple of kicks and a combination, nothing much happened, until the champion connected with a big knee followed by a good combination. The final minute of the round saw it return to type.
Round two, and things were a lot quicker this time, especially Silva. Both connected, although Silva got the better of things, before a clinch up against the fence. When this went nowhere, the exchanges returned, after which Silva avoided a take down attempt and scored with one of his own, getting into the guard. We then got a bit of humour thrown into the mix. As Silva got back up, he wanted Cote to as well, and offered him his hand. Cote refused, but had to stand up anyway after being told to by the referee. Then it took a little while for something else to happen, with Cote catching Silva’s kick, but failing with the take down attempt. The round ended with a clinch up against the cage, and Silva connecting with a series of knees to Cote’s mid-section.
Round three, with Cote taking Silva to this round for the first time in the UFC. As the fighters began to square up to each other, Cote’s knee twisted in an awkward position, and he fell to the ground in great pain. The referee called for an immediate time-out, and despite Cote’s pleas, the fight was called. Silva was awarded the TKO victory, but it looked like he didn’t want the win. An unfortunate end to a fight that looked like it was just starting to warm up. Hopefully Cote won’t be out too long, and hopefully he’ll get another shot at the title when he returns.
So with some time to spare, it’s on to a preliminary fight from earlier in the evening, with Thales Leites facing Drew McFedries in a middleweight contest. Round one saw McFedries land with a big right early, which staggered the Brazilian. Leites came straight back with a take down, soon taking McFedries’ back, synching in the rear naked choke for a quick submission victory. A good performance from Leites, who looked like he was going to be knocked out in the first few seconds of the fight.
In conclusion – two good shows in the space of a week is what makes the UFC so compelling to watch at the moment. Okay, there were some moments that weren’t exactly great to watch, but overall the action was top notch, topped off with an unfortunate ending to the main event, just when things were getting interesting. But now we’re got the big one to look forward to next month, with Randy Couture facing Brock Lesnar for the Heavyweight title, and it’s one I can’t wait for!
THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne