Mirko Cro Cop vs. Anthony Perosh
It was nice of the UFC to give local Aussie Perosh a shot on the main card, but they didn’t do him much of a favor. Perosh, an Australian of Croatian decent, had to face the Croatian legend headhunter Mirko Cro Cop as a late replacement due to injury. The slim chance for Perosh was to somehow get his idol down on the mat and use his Jiu-Jitsu black belt training to submit him. To do that however he needed to evade the strikes and powerful kicks that made the Croatian policeman a legend in the early days of MMA. He also had a legend that had been beaten down in a few recent fights and had re-dedicated himself recently. Bad timing.
Cro Cop started the fight with absolutely no respect for Perosh, wading in punching and kicking at will. After tagging him with a couple of stiff left hands that dropped the Aussie and avoiding a takedown attempt, it was clear how this fight was going to go. Perosh backed up enough to survive the first round although his nose wasn’t as lucky.
The second round saw more of the same with Perosh assuming the turtle position covering his ears whenever he missed on a takedown attempt, which was every single time. Cro Cop actually got so frustrated he finally jumped into Perosh’s guard to deliver some ground and pound, something few fans had seen in years out of the Croatian kick boxer. His very first elbow cut Perosh wide open above the left eye and Herb Dean, with the doctor saying to stop the fight, decided to ask Perosh if he wanted to keep fighting. Of course the guy wasn’t going to quit in front of 16,000 screaming Australians! He’d have to move off the continent to find any peace if he quit like that!
Thankfully the doctor stepped in at the end of the round and stopped it. There wasn’t any hope for Perosh and the doctor understood there was little point to another round of punishment. Mirko had some nice words for his fellow Croatian/Aussie fighter at the end and thanked him for stepping up to face him. Not much of a fight really and I was left wondering if the UFC isn’t having trouble finding decent injury replacements because they put on so many fight cards every year. No doubt Cro Cop was a little embarrassed by the UFC’s choice of replacement given his status in the sport and Perosh’s lack thereof.
Keith ‘the Dean of Mean’ Jardine vs. Ryan ‘Darth’ Bader
Bader was stepping up in competition against the awkward and grizzled vet Jardine. Entering the arena to the Star Wars theme song that nobody wanted to hear for the millionth time Vader looked ready to rumble. Jardine thankfully updated his past ugly camo look with some nice TapouT attire but kept his trademark woolen head cap.
The fight started with Vader happy to stand up and exchange with Jardine, a bit unusual for the well decorated American wrestler. However it’s that awkward fighting style of Jardine that lulls opponents into thinking they can stand and bang with him. However Bader naturally slid back into wrestling and took Jardine down midround. The rabid Aussie fans went wild several times with Bader grinding on Jardine. The first round ended with a slight advantage to Bader but Jardine was more than game.
Jardine came out cagey for the second round, smirking as he tagged Bader with some winging punches and nasty front leg kicks. Baker looked frustrated as the round came to an end without anything to show for it. The close fight was even again.
The third round pressed on as some more extreme fans booed, feeling that this fight was dragging on too long without any serious punishment being dished out. They weren’t upset for long as Bader tagged Jardine with a strong right hand that staggered him. Showing that top-level killer instinct, ‘Darth’ Bader jumped in for the finish with a flying knee and turned Jardine’s lights out with a left hook. An impressive win by knockout for a wrestling star in the UFC.
Chris Lytle vs. Brian Foster
Foster looked crisp to start the fight as Chris ‘Lights Out’ Lytle went winging for a knockout. However that all changed when Lytle dived down for a rarely used knee bar that he snapped on quickly. When Foster tried to yank his leg out Chris sunk the hold in and literally popped Foster’s knee so fast the ref had no time to stop the fight before the damage was done. Foster lay on the mat for a lengthy time as everyone realized how bad the damage really was in this case. Foster looked good so after many months of rehab so I’m sure he’ll get another chance in the Octagon. Lytle moves on with a well-rounded game but enough holes in his stand up to make for exciting fights in the future.
Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulos
The hometown Aussie hero Sotiropoulos was stepping up big time against Stevenson. The UFC sure didn’t give the Australian fighters any easy ride in their hometown! Cro Cop and Stevenson? However there just aren’t all that many easy fights in the UFC because as soon as you’re an ‘easy fight’ your already out of the UFC. Stevenson came into the arena laughing and dancing his way to the Octagon, clearly not very worried about any Australian. George was much more focused and beefy looking than usual.
The first round quickly saw Sotiropoulos take Stevenson down and demonstrate an excellent ground attack. Stevenson scrambled well however he spent most of the round on his back after being mounted several times and fighting off a Kimura arm bar. It was pretty clear who was serious about this fight after Sotiropoulos dominated the first round. The fans’ wild cheering made it hard for the trainers to talk to the fighters between rounds, easily winning the most rabid crowd award to date for a UFC fight.
Joe ‘Daddy’ came out boxing in round two but Sotiropoulos staggered him with a flash left hand to the chin. Nothing was going Daddy’s way so after some more boxing without any effect, he stepped in and took George down with a nice power slam. Stevenson was methodically searching through his tool box for anything that would work to pull out a win Down Under. However Sotiropoulos showed his excellent Jiu-Jitsu in threatening Joe ‘Daddy’ even from the bottom and ended the round after slapping on an Anaconda choke but not having enough time to do any damage.
Stevenson pressed the action in the final round but just couldn’t seem to be effective against the Aussie. Punching was exchanged evenly and on the mat they rolled and flipped with no winner. In a closer battle than the unanimous 30-27 decision sounds George Sotiropoulos pulled off the biggest MMA upset to date so far in 2010.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping
The co-main event in this young dog / old dog fight night saw the ‘Axe Murderer’ Wanderlei Silva drop down in weight to face Britain’s MMA hero Michael ‘the Count’ Bisping, who actually asked for this fight against the MMA legend. Bisping, who doesn’t want to fight any lower level competition anymore, clearly has an ego bigger than his ability. The question was did he have enough ability to match his words on this night?
Wanderlei looked massive at 185 pounds as he stripped off and stepped into the ring. Not having anything to prove, Silva talked about making a run at the 185-pound championship. A fighter that simply loves to fight and loves to be the best. Wanderlei’s fighting history oddly matches Bisping’s ego for this big MMA clash Down Under.
The first round was back and forth without too much damage being done. Bisping jumped in and out using his speed and precision to rock Silva once early. Silva waded in late landing some shots but nothing too heavy. It was a round too close to fairly judge.
The second round quickly saw Silva grab a Bisping kick and sweep out his other leg, landing on top and laying down some punishment. However the round continued standing up with an even exchange in another close round.
The final round saw ‘the Axe Murderer’ come out swinging. Using that overhand swinging right hand again and again it didn’t seem to work in a very even round again… until the final 10 seconds. That’s when Silva clubbed Bisping behind the right ear staggering him and a second right hand to the same right ear dropped him. Time ran out before Silva could finish off ‘the Count.’ That left enough of an impression with the judges to give Silva the decision over a very big bruised ego from Britain. I guess you should be careful who you call out to fight in the UFC!
Minotauro Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez
This was a huge heavyweight battle with the undefeated Velasquez trying to step up to the top of the division. Velasquez entered the arena to a mariachi band that left the Aussies wondering if the fights were over and a circus had suddenly started. Nogueira came into the fight talking about winning the heavyweight belt, however that just doesn’t seem remotely possible with Brock Lesnar returning to the UFC sometime in 2010 and Shane Carwin lurking in the shadows. Minotauro will likely be the gatekeeper for young fighters who want to get top level fights in the division. Well rounded in striking and Jiu-Jitsu as well as never quitting and having an iron chin Nogueira makes for a nasty gatekeeper no doubt. With the Aussies cheering for anyone wearing fight gloves, the main event started with a ‘no surrender’ stare down under Herb Dean’s watchful eye.
The round started as quick as it would end. Cain came out with combinations and tagged Nogueira a couple times. The veteran never stepped back though and seemed happy to exchange with the young American of Mexican decent. That was a mistake, however, as Velasquez has knockout power to spare and when his right hand dropped Minataruo, he had more than enough time to kneel down beside his fallen opponent and drop four or five more bombs to ensure the night was over early. Cain Velasquez is ready to challenge for the belt now no matter who ends up holding it in the future.
Stephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Bonnar was in typical fighting form even in Australia. He was throwing punches, getting hit by punches, and bleeding early as ‘The Polish Experiment’ Soszynski looked crisp in his standup game. Never one to back up though Bonner kept coming and caught Krzysztof a couple times in a back and forth round. Soszynski, looking more like a Russian mafia kingpin with tattoos covering his body, showed good power though in a fight that clearly could end quickly.
Bonnar came out for the second round loose and ready to throw down some more punishment even though his nose was definitely a little flatter than in the pre-fight introductions. Soszynski seemingly backed off trading with the human piñata and started trying to take Bonnar down to the mat. Both fighters worked the clinch as “the Psycho” Stephan Bonnar is willing to fight anyway his opponent decides to fight. The round wore down as both fighters absorbed damage in a battle of wills.
Soszynski’s first punch in the third round led to a headbutt that cut a huge gash on Bonnar’s forehead. It wouldn’t be a fight with “the Psycho” if there wasn’t huge amounts of blood staining the octagon of course. The ref finally interrupted the fight and the doctor stopped it altogether as the Aussie fans booed the doctor back into hiding. Apparently someone forgot to tell the doctor that Stephan Bonnar bleeds easily and that MMA fans aren’t all that worried about seeing some blood.
Submission of the Night: Chris Lytle for popping Brian Foster’s knee in seconds flat.
Fight of the Night: George Sotiropoulos for upsetting a top contender in Joe Stevenson with a well-balanced attack.