Tonight, the UFC returns to Fuel TV with a card headlined by “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, who takes on Dustin Poirier in a featherweight matchup. Also featured is Donald Cerrone in what should be a great scrap with Jeremy Stephens. I’ll be here live-blogging my reactions to those and the other main card fights beginning at 8pm ET/7pm CT. Make sure to refresh your browser every few minutes to follow along. (All times given are CT.)
7:05pm- Welcome, everyone! I’ll be live-blogging the fights tonight as soon as we get a few gratuitous commercial breaks out of the way. Even when you aren’t paying for fights, you’re still paying for them, know what I mean?
7:12pm- Just 12 short minutes after the “start” of the event, we’re ready for our first bout! “Filthy” Tom Lawlor is apparently as big a fan of Chad Griggs as the rest of us are. Meanwhile, Jason MacDonald is…Jason MacDonald. Not so adventurous, that one.
7:14pm- Lawlor lands a left on the chin and a right hook tucked nicely behind MacDonald’s ear to drive him face first into the canvas and prompt a well-timed stoppage. At 36 years old and 1-3 in his past four UFC bouts, you’ve gotta wonder if that will be the last time we see MacDonald in the Octagon.
7:20- Lawlor is entertaining, as usual, in his post-fight interview. “You guys are definitely one of the best 50 states to fight in,” he tells the Virginia fans, who cheer wildly at the idea of receiving such an honor.
7:23- Those Little Caesar’s customers sure are excited to save a few dollars.
7:25- Next up: Igor Pokrajac vs. Fabio Maldonado in a battle of fighters whose names I don’t really enjoy typing. Just for fun, Jon Anik uses completely different pronunciations of “Pokrajac” during the live broadcast and the pre-recorded video package.
7:29- Zagreb, Croatia and Florianopolis, Brazil renew their ages-old rivalry here. The fight hits the mat instantly as Pokrajac works feverishly on the mat. He knows that with “Standin'” Dan Miragliotta reffing the bout, he hasn’t much time to waste.
7:33- The fighters are up through no intervention of Miragliotta (see, Dan? They can do it themselves!), and both fighters land hard, flush shots but Maldonado is much better off and tees away on Pokrajac. Beautiful body shots against the cage by Maldonado. I love it.
7:38- I’m continually impressed by Pokrajac’s smart use of knees from the Thai clinch. Between them and Maldonado’s digging body shots, I’m a happy man.
7:41- Reversal on the takedown attempt by Pokrajac seals the round for Maldonado, who has done a superb job against the cage working in hooks and uppercuts to the head and body on Pokrajac.
7:44- Standin’ Dan couldn’t make it through the whole fight without separating the fighters at least once. He moves them away from the clinch, where all the best action of the fight has happened. Pokrajac is really turning it around in this round, either way.
7:46- “He’s not just coming forward and not throwing,” Kenny Florian says as Maldonado comes forward without throwing. Maldonado is too passive for my taste through much of the third round. Pokrajac landed the best shots of the final stanza and may steal one from the judges. I favored Maldonado in the first round because of striking damage, but I think I’m in the minority and most would give it to Pokrajac, with all of his positional and grappling dominance in the round. Really, this could go either way.
7:49- I’m okay with the fight going Pokrajac’s way, but how in the WORLD do you give that second round to him? Every time you think that MMA judges are starting to get it, they remind you that no, they aren’t anywhere close.
7:54- Judges’ names weren’t announced, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting finding out who turned in the awful 30-27 scorecard from MMADecisions.com later. Also, for all of Joe Rogan’s faults, I wish he had been on the mic just now, because at least he would have skewered that awful scorecard.
7:57- The show goes on. Yves Jabouin takes on Jeff Hougland in our next bout. Again, Anik tries out different pronunciations between the live feed and the pre-recorded video package, which is weird. Not as weird as when Frank Mir called himself “Mur” in his first UFC appearance, but weird.
8:02- Hougland looks like Mini-Alessio. Hopefully, for his sake, he fares better than his larger counterpart did recently. A lot of feeling out early on before a spinning kick lands for Jabouin.
8:08- Uneventful round until Jabouin lands a beautiful spinning back kick that drops Hougland. Afterward, referee Todd McGovern actually steps between the two of them, getting in Jabouin’s way and costing him precious seconds as he tries to move in to follow up on the strike. He can’t finish but wins the round, nonetheless.
8:13- Another round is in the books, and Hougland is way too passive. He’s following Jabouin around but not actually throwing anything. That’s not gonna get it done. 20-18, Jabouin.
8:16- Jabouin catches Hougland with a left hand and again looks extremely close to finishing the fight, but Hougland is just rolling around too frantically for Jabouin to land the shots he needs. McGovern is really letting it go, so Jabouin would have likely had to knock him out cold to get a stoppage, at any rate.
8:23- Jabouin wins the decision easily and is gracious in his post-fight interview. Hougland could not be interviewed, as he is now unable to form complete sentences, thanks to referee Todd McGovern.
8:26- By the way, two judges failed to give even one 10-8 round to Jabouin. MMA judging, ladies and gentlemen!
8:32- Next up is tonight’s best matchup and should-be main event, Donald Cerrone vs. Jeremy Stephens. I guess a loss against Nate Diaz bumps you below Amir Sadollah on the pecking order, though.
8:38- Cerrone controls first round through impressive use of range and great kicks to every level of the body. At the end of the round, he’s chasing Stephens and throwing running kicks. PROTIP: That’s why you don’t say that you’re going to “break” Donald Cerrone.
8:44- This fight is all Cerrone so far. On another note, Cerrone is really going out of his way to mock and play around with Stephens. Will the fans hold it against him, or do they only mind when Rashad Evans does it?
8:48- Cerrone kicks Stephens hard in the berries; Stephen rests for a minute then continues. Anik gushes about Cerrone making a gesture of apology to Stephens. Apparently, it’s now a “nice display of sportsmanship” to apologize for kicking someone in the balls. Let’s set our standards a little lower, why don’t we?
8:53- The third round ends, as does a dominating performance by Cerrone. Stephens never got comfortable and never became aggressive, as toward the end he looked as if he just wanted it all to be over. Cerrone looks to be back to form after his puzzlingly-listless performance against Nate Diaz.
8:56- Cerrone predictably wins the unanimous decision. Fun Fact: In the closing seconds, Cerrone (who was just complimented on his “sportsmanship” by Jon Anik) yelled, “Come on, bitch!” at Stephens.
9:00- Next, in the Amir Sadollah division, Amir Sadollah (the reigning champ of the division) will take on…umm, hold on, let me look…oh, here it is: Jorge Lopez. Your “co-main event”, ladies and gentlemen! Yes, much more worthy of the spot than Cerrone-Stephens.
9:07- Sadollah is stalking Lopez, but Lopez has been hard to hit and has been landing some decent strikes. Sadollah ends up on the mat after giving up his takedown defense to go for a guillotine choke that he ultimately couldn’t hold onto.
9:14- Finally, something to care about! Sadollah goes for the high standing guillotine and Lopez takes him down and spins his way out of it. Then, back to fence-leaning monotony.
9:16- Kenny Florian, please stop encouraging this nonsense that a takedown with 30 seconds left should matter in any way to the judges. Why should a takedown with half a minute left where the offensive fighter does nothing at all afterward affect the outcome of a five-minute round?
9:21- We’re told that Sadollah has “five times as much UFC experience” as Lopez has. Um, Sadollah has eight UFC fights, while Lopez has had one. I may be wrong, but that’s eight times as much UFC experience. Okay, I’m not wrong, I’m just being snarky. But still.
9:26- Kenny Florian also said that was a “great fight”, so we know now not to trust anything he says. Anyway, Amir Sadollah retains his title in the Amir Sadollah division with a split decision victory over the tough, highly-regarded, extremely well-known Jorge Lopez. At this pace, Sadollah will be ready to challenge for an actual UFC title by the time he’s 40.
9:37- Should be a good main event, as both men like to “war”, as Lorenzo Fertitta might say. Chan Sung Jung coming out to the song “Zombie” is always a nice touch.
9:43- Lively finish to a fun first round. Glad Standin’ Dan is actually letting the two work on the mat.
9:46- Jung looks absolutely great tonight. Good, opportunistic takedowns, nice ground and pound, dynamic striking and plenty of aggression.
9:48- Just after I entered that, Jung lands a flying knee, counters a double-leg takedown by rolling with it into a sweep to the mount, goes armbar to triangle back to armbar, and elbows the crap out of Poirier’s head. After all that, people still chant “U.S.A.!” Morons.
9:54- Jung is really testing Poirier’s heart with some of these body shots. Vicious kick to the body just now that made Poirier step back and take a big breath.
9:57- Scoring always seems secondary during a great fight like this one, but for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve got Zombie up 2 rounds to 1 after a nice comeback round from Poirier.
9:59- Jung lands a beautiful uppercut, a flying knee and uses the damaging strikes to initiate the fight-ending D’Arce choke in what was an instant classic. Just a great fight and an outstanding performance by Jung, who has evolved past his former status as a fan favorite-slash-brawler into a legit contender.
10:02- Jung, through his interpreter, says that Poirier had him in trouble in the 3rd round, and the thought of giving up was in his head, but he pushed on, nonetheless. Rare candor from a professional fighter.
10:03- The fights weren’t all winners, but there was some solid action and those who stuck around were rewarded with yet another classic performance by The Korean Zombie, who has evolved before our eyes. Great stuff. Thanks for joining me and make sure to check for my UFC on Fuel 3 Parting Shots later this week.