The Reflector’s MMA insider report
Knockouts, upsets and controversial decisions
After 20 years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has expanded globally.
At the end of the day, higher ratings equal higher profit, and Dana White has generated a lot. In 2010, the UFC sold 10 per cent of their equity to a Middle Eastern entertainment company and shortly after held an outdoor event in Dubai.
Unfortunately, the fights were not the most thrilling. The main event featured a gassed-out Anderson Silva circling from Demian Maia at the end of the fifth round, but nevertheless it was a cool idea to hold an event outside in the desert.
The UFC is certainly not losing popularity in Canada, as seen with the reality series The Ultimate Fighter Canada vs. Australia edition starting this month.
Neither is its popularity slowing worldwide. According to MMA Weekly, the UFC’s multi-year partnership with China will bring regular live UFC events to Asia beginning in 2014 — with a series of live events at both the Venetian Macao and Marina Bay Sands. China’s own version of The Ultimate Fighter, with the UFC’s Cung Le as one of the coaches also debuts this month.
Europe has made an impact in the MMA world. On Sept. 21 2013 at UFC 165, Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson almost had gold around his waist after a five-round blood bath against Johnny “Bones” Jones for the Light Heavyweight Championship. Gustafsson is now set to fight English striker Jimi Manuwa in the main event in March of 2014 in England. Irish featherweight Conor Mcgregor has scored a couple impressive wins; don’t be surprised to see him headlining some European cards in the near future.
UFC Fight Night 32 recap Belfort vs. Henderson Saturday Nov. 9 Goiânia Arena in Goiânia, Brazil.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the main event, one that didn’t last long, but delivered as Vitor Belfort continued his winning streak with a devastating head-kick knock-out of opponent Dan Henderson. It was the first knock-out defeat of the veteran Henderson’s career.
While there were no shortages of first round knock-outs on this card, the knock-out of the night certainly goes to Jeremy Stephens, who decidedly defeated The Ultimate Fighter Brazil winner Rony Mariano Bezerra.
The fighter to look out for from this card is Brandon Thatch, with a 11-1 record and all wins coming in the first round including that of Paulo Thiago via body shot. He’ll fit in fine with an already stacked welterweight division.
UFC 167 St. Pierre vs. Hendricks:
UFC 167 took place Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas.
In yet another debatably, and possibly the most controversial decision to date. The main event went the whole five rounds and a virtually unscathed Johny Hendricks lost to a battered Georges St-Pierre via split decision — reaffirming that to be the champ, you have to beat the champ, and not leave it to the judges.
In one of the most impressive performances of his career, veteran Robbie Lawler was able to grind out an upset over rising prospect Rory MacDonald. The cagey veteran came to fight and a somewhat passive Macdonald was overwhelmed.
“Suga” Rashad Evans stopped friend and co-broadcaster Chael Sonnen in the first round, forcing Sonnen to tap from a ground-and-pound onslaught. Rashad looked to be in the best shape of his career and had an impressive fight.
Tyron Woodley landed a devastating right hand followed by a quick combo to knock-out loud mouth Josh Koscheck. While “Kos” put up a good fight, rocking the Strikeforce veteran with some bombs of his own, his inability to cover up and getting persistently tagged eventually cost him the fight. Koscheck has now lost three fights in a row.