UFC 159 played out with only a couple of genuine surprises, and the fights with top billing played out more or less how most people predicted. However, there were a few things that caught the eye (and not just wayward fingers).
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship – Jon Jones def. Chael Sonnen via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:33
Everyone expected Jon Jones to win this fight handily, but perhaps not quite with such completely ruthless efficiency.
Sonnen came out and took the fight to Jones right out of the gate, but the champion tackled that by countering fire with fire, and taking the fight to the mat.
The challenger put up a spirited fight for a short time, but once Jones really let loose with ground and pound the fight was always going to be moments from its climax. Some observers complained that the stoppage was a little swift, but Sonnen was going nowhere and he was only going to eat more and more devastating shots.
As a little caveat to the fight, Jones fought with this nasty little injury, only realising his toe was hanging off once Jo Rogan stepped in to interview him. Then, he even went and completed his post-fight press conference obligations. He has stones for sure, and I could be wrong, but I think fans are finally starting to warm to him. Not before time too.
Jones is the greatest light heavyweight of all time, and is surely not far away from building a resume that compares to Anderson Silva’s or Georges St-Pierre’s.
Michael Bisping def. Alan Belcher via technical unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Again, the way this fight played out was entirely expected with Bisping out-landing Belcher on the feet.
What was unexpected was Belcher’s strategy of holding his hands down and just allowing Bisping to punch him repeatedly in the face.
The Brit was unlikely to get the KO, but that did not matter as he racked up punch after punch.
Of course it was unfortunate the fight had to end with that gruesome eye poke. I hope that Belcher can recover soon, because for all of his flaws, he is still an exciting fighter, and belongs just outside the middleweight top 10.
Roy Nelson def. Cheick Kongo via KO (punch) – Round 1, 2:03
Cheick Kongo doesn not have the best chin. Roy Nelson is good at stepping inside and connecting his hayeymakers with people’s chins.
Combine those two ingredients and you get this fight, entirely predictable.
Big Country will never win the UFC belt, but he’s going to knock out all but the division’s elite and remain a beloved and entertaining figure while he’s at it.
Phil Davis def. Vinny Magalhaes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Another disappointingly predictable fight. Phil Davis kept the fight standing for the most part and used his superior (though still far from outstanding) striking to out-point the BJJ ace.
Pat Healy def. Jim Miller via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:02
Now this was a shock. Jim Miller was the hot favourite, a top-10 ranked lightweight with an outstanding record and level of consistency.
He came out of the gate as you might have expected, taking control of the fight and winning the first round.
The second round started, and it was like a switch had been flicked. Miller had no answer for the striking and grappling of Healy, and the New Jersey crowd was silenced as the new arrival from Strikeforce controlled position, and battered his opponent from bell to bell. There was no let up in round number three, and all chance of a turn in the tide were suffocated by ‘Bam Bam’.
He closed the show with a submission that Miller was powerless to stop, and secured himself a nice double fight and submission of the night bonus.
The preliminary fights didn’t provide too many highlights, but there were a couple bright spots in a series of bouts marred injury weirdness dull MMA.
Sara McMann suggested she could be a major player in the women’s 135lb division with dynamite wrestling and a impressive killer instinct. Once she had Sheila Gaff locked in that mounted crucifix she rained down a barrage of punches that forced the finish.
The other extremely impressive performance on the undercard was that of Bryan Caraway. I didn’t give him much of a chance against Johnny Bedford, who had lived up to his ‘Brutal’ moniker very nicely so far in his UFC appearances. I was shocked to find that the shy, retiring, often nervous wreck of a fighter that had often appeared when Caraway stepped into the octagon was nowhere to be seen as he completely dominated his opponent, and secured the finish with seconds to spare.
Rustam Khabilov def. Yancy Medeiros via TKO (thumb injury) – Round 1, 2:32
Ovince St. Preux def. Gian Villante via majority technical decision (30-28, 30-29, 29-29)
Sara McMann def. Sheila Gaff via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:06
Bryan Caraway def. Johnny Bedford via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 4:44
Cody McKenzie def. Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Steven Siler def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
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