Three and a half minutes of slow and methodical clinching and positioning and 15 seconds of explosive strikes is all Shane Carwin needed to obtain the win, interim heavyweight belt and a shot at Brock Lesnar this summer.
I was quite surprised at how easily Carwin was able to manhandle Frank Mir against the cage throughout the fight. Although Mir was able to beef up to 265 lb, he’ll likely need to spend more time focusing on his strength training before he can step into the Octagon again with either Carwin or Lesnar. He’s just neither capable of dealing with their size nor their elite wrestling ability. Hindsight is 20/20 but I would have loved to have seen Mir attempt to pull guard so he could have worked his black belt jiu-jitsu abilities. That was likely his only hope in winning.
As for Carwin’s chances against Lesnar? If his destruction of Mir is any measure, the odds of him wearing Lesnar’s heavyweight belt this summer is almost guaranteed. Despite beating Mir at UFC 100, Lesnar’s efforts were in no way as decisive or as convincing as Carwin’s destruction of the former heavyweight champ. I smell an upset this summer.
George St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy: Motivated by chants of GSP throughout the fight, St. Pierre put a beatdown on the trash-talking Dan Hardy for a full 5 rounds to obtain the unanimous decision. It was rough-going this week with fight picks, but this bout was a no brainer. As expected, GSP implemented Ground ‘N Pound 101 from bell to bell throughout the fight; a very effective technique to avoid exchanging with the deadly striker.
GSP has now won 23 consecutive rounds in the UFC and retains his welterweight belt. What’s next for the champ, now that he has effectively cleaned out the division? Hopefully he’ll test his skills at middleweight (185 lb) in an effort to face the other champ that has been untested for quite some time. Anderson Silva vs. George St. Pierre would be the biggest fight in years!
Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes: Camoes, with the upper-hand at the beginning of the first round, was unable to finish Pellegrino with the standing rear-naked choke. Instead, Pelligrino dumps Camoes on to his head and controlled the dangerous jiu-jitsu black belt for the duration of the fight. Likely gassed from round one, Camoes was unable to defend against Pellegrino’s own rear-naked choke attempt and eventually taps out. Pelligrino, now with four wins in a row in the UFC, is quietly making a name for himself in the lightweight division. His second round victory and Submission of the Night award is just what he needed to make a run at the belt. It will be interesting to see who the UFC will have him face next.
Jon Fitch vs. Ben Saunders: This one went as expected; constant and unrelenting pressure by Fitch in the clinch and on the ground in all three rounds. I’m not a big fan of this style of fighting, but you have to give the guy credit. He’s 12-1 in the UFC with his only loss to George St. Pierre via a five round decision. He made easy work of Saunders, who was a last minute replacement for Fitch’s original opponent, Thiago Alves. Fitch is probably the best welterweight in the division excluding GSP of course. In my perfect world, GSP would move up to middleweight allowing Fitch and Josh Koscheck to fight for a vacated belt later this year.
Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek: I fully expected this match to be a lackluster, grind-it-out sort of battle. Although the fight did go to decision, it was far from lackluster. The fight saw some crazy submissions and even crazier submission defense by both opponents. Bocek escaped a really tight kimura, while Miller survived a rear-naked choke that had his body and one arm locked down by a figure-four body lock. Miller was in this position for well over a minute with only one hand available to defend himself from getting choked out. He was eventually saved by the bell and went on to gut out the very close decision win.
Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham: It was all Diaz in this fight that saw him unload his fists early and often. He eventually dropped Markham with a knee to the head where he then finished him with a flurry of punches while on the ground, midway through the first round. If this is the Diaz we’ll see at welterweight going forward, the division should definitely be worried.
Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown: It took a while for Almeida to initiate his ground game, but once he secured the first takedown, it was all over for Brown. It took less than 30 seconds for Almeida to finish Brown with the rear-naked choke in the second round. Great debut for Almeida at welterweight.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Tomasz Drwal: Palhares got the lighting fast heel hook submission after a slip on the ground by Drwal. Palhares wins at the 45 second mark of the first round and secures one of the fastest leg submissions in the history of the UFC.
Rodney Wallace vs. Jared Hamman: In a match of brute force versus technique, the bigger and stronger Wallace had moments where he imposed his will, but his lack of conditioning quickly got the better of him. In the end, Hamman’s superior technique allowed him to overcome Wallace’s strength advantage in order to obtain the decision win. The UFC gave this battle their Fight of the Night award.