East Rutherford, New Jersey’s Izod Center saw a rip-roaring UFC card, televised on Fox 3 and FuelTV, this weekend. On a night of so many cracking bouts that no less than fourteen fighters were suspended for medical reasons, ranging from CT scans for facial-bone injuries to X-rays on hands, to routine 30-day suspensions for suffering TKOs, two bangers arguably rose to the top: Nate Diaz and Johny Hendricks. Each did it in very different style, however.
Nate Diaz was arguably the weekend’s biggest winner – the way he dominated a strong opponent in Jim Miller was quite unanticipated. Though we know Diaz forced a submission on a guillotine choke during the fifth minute of the second round, what gets overlooked is that prior to that point he had softened up Miller by dishing out a good pounding.
With two losses in three fights, Miller faces an uncertain future at the top. About to turn 29 and his record showing defeats, albeit on points, to Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar, Miller cannot afford another loss.
As for Diaz, given his impressive showing opinion is unanimous: he is now seen as a beast; a beast who’s a contender. A match with the winner of the Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar fight should be in talks soon. Diaz deserves this fight.
The Johny Hendricks vs Josh Koscheck brawl showed that the welterweight division is just as competitive as lightweight. Indeed, I’d say they’re currently the two ‘glamour divisions’ in MMA. And perhaps the Hendricks vs Koscheck fight signalled the emergence of a superstar: Johny Hendricks.
With Johny and Josh splitting the first two rounds, it came down to what you liked better in the last stanza: Johny’s flying fists or Josh’s grappling superiority. This “pick ’em” fight resulted in a “pick ’em” decision, splitting both the fans and the judges. Two saw it 29-28 for Big Rigg while the third went for Kos by the same scoreline. No matter which one the judges would have voted for, it was bound to cause some controversy.
Johny demonstrated a Jake LaMotta-like iron chin as he had to withstand some huge shots from his tough foe before turning the tables. As for Kos, even in losing I’d say he won. He won kudos and respect for his never-say-die attitude, and such a razor-thin loss should not affect his ranking by more than a spot or two.
A nod also to John Dodson and his warrior’s heart as he beat a rugged opponent in Timothy Elliott with just one good hand. John broke his left hand in the first round but fought on to clinch victory unanimously, but by the narrowest of margins: all three scorecards read 29-28.