THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
It’s time for the UFC to show the wares on free television again, and this time they’re doing it twice in a week! With a review of the Ultimate Fighter Finale 8 to come, this review will look back at Ultimate Fight Night 16: Fight for the Troops, shown this past Wednesday live on Setanta Sports here in Britain. As usual, our hosts for the evening are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
First up, action from the lightweight division, with Matt Wiman facing Jim Miller. Round one, and both fighters swung earlier, trading some good combinations. It wasn’t long before they got into a clinch up against the cage, with Wiman taking Miller down to the mat. But the aggressor was in trouble immediately as Miller synched in a guillotine choke. Wiman was able to escape, although he was warned several times for holding Miller’s shorts. Miller then ended up in the guard, working all the time, looking for an opening as Wiman tried to defend himself. Miller looked like he was getting the upper hand, having opened up his opponent and almost taking his back before Wiman escaped and took the guard. But this ultimately went nowhere, and a moment later both fighters were back on their feet trading blows, and after Wiman got in a couple of good shots, he staggered when Miller connected with a good kick to the body, going for a second guillotine afterwards, which again didn’t succeed. As the clock ticked down in the final round both fighters began to look tired, although they still tried to trade shots.
Round two began in the same was as the first round. Miller then tried to take Wiman down, but didn’t quite succeed. The fight went back upright, with Miller landing some good combinations which clearly hurt Wiman, before another clinch up against the cage that went nowhere. After this, Miller teed off against Wiman, whose only defence seemed to be pushing Miller away. Seconds later the fight went down to the mat, with Miller on top. By this time Wiman looked like he was just trying to survive as Miller exerted his control, simply overwhelming his opponent. All Wiman could do was use his feet to push Miller off, but the moment he did that Miller went right back in, and that was the story for the rest of the round.
Round three, and Wiman came forward and landed with a few good shots. Miller’s response was to take Wiman down immediately, but things didn’t stay down long, and when they got back up, Miller connected with a big left as he continued the job that began earlier. Moments later the fight was back down on the mat, and although Wiman showed some good defensive moves, Miller was in control. Eventually, Miller was able to take side control, where Wiman showed some more good defensive moves. A brief return to a standing position followed, before it went back downstairs. Wiman’s defence was starting to get better, although a few moments later Miller was able to take his back, and with both hooks synched in, he went for a submission, but found Wiman defending himself well once again. The final few seconds of the fight saw Miller attempt another guillotine, which he applied until the end of the fight. So with the fight going the distance, it went to the judges, with all three giving the fight to Miller, and rightfully so, and a little surprising considering he took the fight on a week’s notice. A very good outing for Miller here, who has able to put Wiman on the defensive for the entire fifteen minutes.
Then it was up to the middleweight division, with Tim Credeur taking on Nate Loughran. Round one began with the usual feeling out process, although Loughran caught Credeur with an inadvertent low blow. No rest period was needed, so both fighters continued to test their opponents with kicks and jabs until a clinch up against the cage. Both fighters connected with knees as they moved around the side of the cage, but the clinch ultimately went nowhere. With the fighters back in the middle of the cage, both men connected with some good combinations, and it was hard to tell just who was getting the upper hand, it was that even, but as the round went on Credeur seemed to be getting the better of the exchanges, with his right hand seeming to be his most potent weapon, which staggered Loughran late in the round, which finished with both guys grappling for position on the mat.
Round two began in the same was as the first, before Loughran went for a take down, before pulling Credeur into his guard. Credeur then began to work for position, with Loughran looking good as he defended himself, although he had to put up with a cut eyebrow, courtesy of Credeur’s hard punches. However, when the pace slowed down, the referee stood the fighters back up, so it was back to exchanging punches and kicks from the fighters. Loughran then inadvertently poked Credeur in the eye, which clearly bothered him for a few moments before he began to up his game, pushing the pace and connecting with a couple of good shots that staggered Loughran, with, again, his right hand proving to be his best weapon as the round ended.
Round three never happened. With Loughran not getting off his stool and verbally tapping out, with Credeur getting the win via TKO. A good performance from Credeur here, and a shame it didn’t get to the third round.
Light-heavyweight action followed, with Steve Cantwell facing Razak Al-Hassan. This one began quickly, with Razak stalking Cantwell around the cage, connecting with kicks and testing the waters with jabs as he moved forward. A clinch up against the cage followed, and after a failed take down attempt, they returned to trading blows. Both men got in some good shots, with Razak’s punches coming in very quickly, although his guard didn’t seem that good. It wasn’t all one way traffic though, as Cantwell got in a few good shots of his own before taking Razak down to the ground, soon transitioning from the guard to side control, soon going to the mount, then going for an armbar. Razak tried to roll out of it, and his arm went back at an extremely awkward angle, and even though he was in an extreme amount of pain, he didn’t tap, and it took the referee stepping in to stop the fight, with Cantwell getting the TKO victory in what was a very good fight, with both men putting in good performances.
Down to the welterweight division next, with Mike Swick facing Jonathan Goulet. Swick came out very aggressively, looking to take the fight to Goulet. His tactic worked. A quick combination dropped Goulet to the ground, whose only defence was to grab hold of a leg. But Swick’s onslaught continued, knocking Goulet out cold, with the referee stepping in to stop things seconds later, with Swick getting the KO. The time, just thirty-three seconds. An excellent performance from Swick, finally showing what he can do at welterweight.
With some time to spare, a fight from earlier in the evening, Ben Saunders taking on Brandon Wolff in the welterweight division. The first thing that happened was Saunders connecting with an inside leg kick that went a little too close for comfort for Wolff. After the permitted rest period, Saunders overwhelmed Wolff with a muay thai clinch and countless knees. A couple of kicks sent Wolff staggering back against the cage, before Saunders continued with the knees. Try as he might, and with his face bloodied up, Wolff just couldn’t get out of the clinch, and when Wolff slumped to the mat, the referee stepped in and called a halt. This was a truly dominating TKO performance from Saunders, showing that if something worked before, then it’s a good idea to try it again.
Main event time, with more welterweight action with Josh Koscheck and Yoshiyuki Yoshida. This one began with the usual feeling out process, with both fighters testing the waters a little, and although very little happened in the first couple of minutes, the explosion was about to begun. Koscheck connected with a two hard rights, the second of which sent Yoshida slumping to the mat. There was no need to go for the ground and pound as Koscheck gained the KO victory in a fight that was slow to get going, but quick to end, with possibly the best knockout in Koscheck’s career.
More action from earlier in the evening followed, another welterweight fight between Steve Bruno and Johnny Rees. Round one saw both fighters begin with an exchange of kicks, before Rees got a muay thai clinch around Bruno’s head a neck, turning it into a standing guillotine, and then a clinch, all up against the cage. Rees then took Bruno down, quickly passing to half guard before both fighters got back to their feet. Rees then threw a kick which Bruno caught, using it to take Rees down and take his guard, before standing up again and then taking side control, going to north south before returning to side control. Bruno then took Rees’ back, but nothing came off it as Rees spun out, with Bruno getting into half guard. Rees then got back up to his feet, only for Bruno to take him back down and take his back. They immediately got back to their feet, but the referee wasn’t happy with the action so separated them. After a brief exchange of blows a clinch against the cage followed, which was how the round ended.
Round two began slowly, before the fighters engaged in another clinch, with Bruno taking Rees’ back, who had a hold of Bruno’s left arm for a moment. Another clinch followed, with both fighters beginning to neutralize each other, which didn’t sit too well with the referee, who separated them. A couple of exchanges followed before the third clinch against the cage, with Rees attempting a muay thai clinch and a couple of knees which didn’t work. Rees then went for Bruno’s legs, and when the take down attempt failed, he connected with a couple of shots. Bruno’s response was to take Rees down, only to find himself in a guillotine position for a few seconds. Seconds later, as they got back to their feet, Bruno took Rees back, sunk in the hooks and synched in the rear naked choke. Rees fought it for as long as he could, but tapped as they slumped to the mat, giving Bruno the victory. A very good fight here, although it was spoiled at times by what Joe Rogan described as a “trigger happy referee” who just wouldn’t let the two fighters fight at times.
In conclusion – Fight for the Troops proved to be a very enjoyable show. We had one round knockouts and three round wars, and at the end of the day it’s this kind of variety that makes for a good mixed martial arts show. Let’s hope we see more of this kind of action at the Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale.