What was supposed to be the UFC’s first real ‘super fight’ at UFC 158 resulted in a one-sided beat down as GSP, in his typical trademarked style, overwhelmed, dominated and bullied Nick Diaz to record his 11th straight win and retain his Welterweight title.
As the lights dimmed, and the partisan crowd booed as loudly for Diaz as they cheered for GSP it felt like a big fight, Bruce Buffers outrageous introductions only added to the occasion. The fight didn’t live up to its much hyped potential however, as GSP employed his tried and tested game plan of completely neutralising his opponents strengths.
From the opening bell it was clear Pierre had no interest in trading with ‘the best boxer in MMA’, if you were to believe commentator Joe Rogan’s hyperbolic claims, as he took down the Stockton native with ease. From there on out it was auto-pilot for GSP as he jabbed, elbowed and kneed a hapless Diaz for the full five rounds to earn a shutout 50-45 decision on all 3 judges’ scorecards.
Diaz did have his moments in the fight though, namely in the third round where he caught Pierre with a nice bodyshot that seemed to knock the wind out of the champion. GSP never really looked in danger and easily executed takedown after takedown whenever he felt the slightest change in momentum, a routine GSP fight, some would say, and while it might not earn him any new fans, it only helps secure his legacy as one of the all-time greats.
Fighting in his native Canada, it was always set out to be GSP’s night, but it was heavy handed Hendricks who stole the show with a fight of the night performance over former title challenger Carlos Condit. While it was Hendricks who secured his status as the number one contender to GSP’s crown, both men can hold their heads high as they put on one of the most exciting fights of the year so far.
Hendricks game plan is an obvious one, he has a huge left hook and he likes to use it, a lot, often throwing consecutive shots with his left without so much as a flinch from his right. With the power he possesses it’s easy to forget just how accomplished a wrestler Hendricks is, but he utilised all his skills as a mixed martial artist on Saturday night as he took Condit down again and again, 12 times in total.
To Condit’s credit he managed to pop up every single time and the two would trade blows, the majority of the exchanges being won by the ever improving Hendricks, before being taken down again. It was pretty much the story of the fight; blow-for-blow exchanges, Hendricks takedown, Condit gets up, blow-for-blow exchanges etc.
It made for one hell of a fight, with all three judges scoring it for Hendricks, his 6th win in a row. He has now all but guaranteed a title shot with St. Pierre sometime in the not too distant future.
Immediately prior to the Hendricks-Condit fight however, it wasn’t looking quite as clear as to who deserved the next shot at the title; as Ellenberger, who is almost a carbon copy of Hendricks albeit a right handed version, destroyed returning UFC veteran Nate Marquardt in the first round.
Ellenberger, like Hendricks, has a very predictive game plan, but when it’s so effective, and seemingly so hard to nullify, why change it? After a tentative feeling out process, In which Marquardt got the better of the opening exchanges, Ellenbergersaw the one opening he needed and duly took it. One big right hand floored Marquardt before a flurry of uppercuts left him with his head buried against the cage and Ellenberger’s hand raised.
Ellenberger has quietly amassed eight wins in the UFC, and with one more over a big name such as Carlos Condit or Rory MacDonald, he is surely next in line for a shot against the winner of GSP/Hendricks.
All-in-all it was a great night of MMA action, one of the better cards of the year, with outstanding fights, brutal knockouts and dominating performances.
After another successful night for the burgeoning promotion, here are the main talking points to take away from BAMMA 12.
- BAMMA 12 looked to be a card that was slowly getting torn apart by injuries. With Lightweight champ Rob Sinclair pulling out of the main event, Luis Santos pulling out of his fight with Jimmy Wallhead and TUF veteran Bola Omeyele getting injured and subsequently scrapping his fight with Wayne Murrie altogether, it was looking like a rather makeshift card. The fighters who did turn up at the Metro Arena, however, managed to put on a fantastic card from top to bottom with slick submission and brutal knockouts.
- After a hit-and-miss stint with Bellator, ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead came into his fight with veach looking in shape and motivated, and his performance backed that up. In probably his best performance to date Wallhead took the fight to Veach from the bell, overwhelming him and taking a bloody first-round submission win in the process. Still only 28 and with a number of wins over some tough UFC veterans, a call to the big show can’t be far away.
- Rob Sinclair’s planned title defence against Curt Warburton was one of the more anticipated fights in UK MMA, so after Rob had to pull out of his fight with an Achilles injury, Warburton’s replacement, Steven Wray wasn’t given much of a chance by the pundits, and Warburton didn’t give him much of one in the cage, either. In a fight that won’t be on any highlight reels anytime soon, Warburton still executed a professional performance that ensured his status as the number one contender to Sinclair’s crown was still intact.
- BAMMA is fast emerging as the number 1 MMA organisation in the UK, if not Europe, and has some of the best young UK talent to boast too. With impressive performances from James Macalister, Thomas Denham and Scott Askham it was Ryan Scope who stole the show with a slick triangle submission . Still only 21, Scope (7-0) has the looks, style and personality to go a long way.
- Leeroy Barnes is one of the most outspoken fighters in MMA, and he has a big personality to match his huge frame, however we saw a new and improved fighter against Steve Watson. After admitting that his almost overly muscled body saw him have no problem getting the girls, he conceded it wasn’t helping him get the all important W on his record, not on a consistent basis anyway. Having dropped a shed load of muscle mass, and apparently improving his cardio ten-fold, Barnes put on an outstanding performance, rocking Watson in the opening exchange before jumping on him and submitting him via guillotine in 47 seconds. An impressive performance that’s hopefully laid the foundations for Leeroy to rack up a few wins and get the big fights he wants.
- Ken Shamrock’s turtleneck…just no.