UFC 127, which went down Saturday night, was a bit mystery in terms of what viewers would get. On the one hand you had top-tier fighters like TUF 3 champion Michael “The Count” Bisping and former welterweight/lightweight champion, welterweight juggernaut Jo BJ Penn fighting on the card. On the other hand, two of those three (Penn and Bisping) haven’t exactly been at the top of their game of late. And much of the card was filled with names less recognizable to casual fans (many of whom were submissions-geared like George Sotiropolous. And there was no title fight.
As usual part of the reasoning for the card was playing up to the locals (in this case the residents of Sydney, Australia). In total five Australian or New Zealand fighters competed on the card.
So how did the fighters fare, and how did the card as a whole shape up? Read on to find out…
The first fight on the card was Chris Camozzi versus Kyle Noke, a reunion of the pair of TUF 11 veterans (who had never competed against each other on the show). Camozzi played the aggressor charging forward early in the opening round. He landed a few blows and then went to a clench, looking to take down Noke. But it was Noke who, shifting his weight came out on top. He quickly scrambled to Camozzi’s back and sunk in a deep rear-naked choke, forcing Camozzi to tap early in the first round.
Noke isn’t exactly a household name among American UFC fans, but his win greatly delighted the home crowd, who erupted when Noke came in to the arena to the song “Down Under” by the Men at Work.
Winner: Kyle Noke, via the submission in the first round
Next up was Chris “Lights Out” Lytle versus Brian Ebersole. Ebersole came into this fight somewhat the underdog with the UFC officials and commentator Joe Rogan hyping Lytle’s “punching power” and inferring that this might be his final step to a title shot.
Unfortunately for Lytle, Ebersole was having none of it. Striking with unorthodox techniques, including a cartwheel kick at the start of the first round, he kept up an intense pace. The first round featured Chris Lytle doing two things — failing booming punches that mostly missed the mark and dropping into guard to attempt a guillotine choke off his back. Both of these things would become reoccurring themes — and unfortunately for Lytle, neither were working out well for him. Ebersole wisely kept turning his head, defending the choke and controlling Lytle from the top.
At the end of the first, Ebersole opened up a cut on Lytle’s face, with what looked like an unusual shoulder strike (!). Then in the second round he staggered the usually sure-chinned Lytle with right knee to the jaw. He wasn’t able to finish Lytle, but he clearly took the round in dominate fashion.
The third round ground along with more of the same — Lytle trying his futile guillotine attempts, Ebersole patiently escaping and attacking from the top. Right near the end of the round it was clear Ebersole had pulled off the upset, but he began to pound Lytle with viscious elbows to seal the deal. Just seconds before the end of the round, one of these elbows connected, opening up a large gaping flesh tear above Lytle’s eye.
A disappointed Lytle, bruised and bloody, watched on as the decision was announced. In retrospect Ebersole’s win perhaps should not have been surprising. After all, he has won 47 fights outside the Octagon over the last 11 years. His strong performance just goes to show you — the gap between “other” MMA organizations and the UFC might not be as wide as Dana White & company would like to have you believe (though the pay gap certainly is).
Winner: Brian Ebersole by Unanimous Decision
Following Ebersole’s win, Denis Siver faced George Sotiropolous. This had all the makings of another crowd pleaser. After all, the Aussie Sotiropolous had chained together eight straight wins — second only to Anderson Silva in the UFC. And what chance did a kickboxer, Siver, have against a savvy submissions specialist?
Apparently, a lot better chance than most people thought. Siver battered Sotiropolous in round one, showing the power in his hands, largely. While he’s known for devastating kicks, it was punches that dropped Siver’s Australian foe to the mat several times during the opening round.
Upset, Sotiropolous came out more aggressive in the second round. But Siver continued to stuff his takedown attempts. While he Sotiropolous seemed to win this round, he did so in nowhere near the dominant fashion Siver had in Round One.
In the final round Sotiropolous seemed gased and Siver exploded with flurries. While many of his punches were missing, he did connect with some and landed some nice leg kicks. And he landed two of his trademark liver kicks as the round wore on. Sotiropolous was largely unhurt by this barrage, but he ended up clearly losing the round.
The judge’s decision gave the fight to Siver, to the sorrow of the home-town crowd.
Winner: Dennis Siver by Unanimous Decision
Next up was the co-main event — TUF 3 champ Michael “The Count” Bisping versus Jorge Rivera (a TUF 4 alum). This fight had a ton of trash talk leading up to it, so it was interested to see how it turned out.
Both fighters came out aggressively. Bisping was largely counterpunching, but was landing some nice blows. Rivera’s shots weren’t landing, but he was shaking off Bisping’s strikes and laughing. Midway through the first, Bisping scored a takedown. Unable to do much damage, Bisping allowed Rivera to get up to his knees in an escape attempt. Then he delivered a vicious illegal kneed to the head of Rivera.
A stunned Rivera required a medical break before continuing. Rivera came out aggressively, taking the fight to Bisping for the remainder of the round. The pair exchanges words as they parted at the end of the round.
In the second round, it was clear that illegal knee had an effect — or perhaps Rivera was gassing. Either way, the result was the same — he was adopting more of a defensive posture and ended up getting rocked by Bisping. Backed into the corner, he turtled up as Bisping rained down blows upon him. Eventually he fell to a knee, prompting the ref to step in and stop the fight.
Again, it was hard to tell how much of an effect the illegal knee had, but one has to wonder whether Rivera was smart continuing, rather than disqualifying Bisping. It was obviously the kind of decision that pleases fans, but it might not have been his best career move.
Winner: Michael Bisping on Technical Knockout due to Strikes
And then at last came the main event — BJ Penn versus Jon Fitch. Well the pair certainly went at it. Early BJ clenched to prevent the reach advantage of Fitch from coming into play. He even scored an early takedown on Fitch. He worked Fitch with short punches and elbows, dirty boxing that would make even the great Randy Couture proud. Fitch responded back in like. The biggest moment of the round came when an elbow from Penn battered the nose of Fitch causing it to erupt in blood, likely broken.
The second round was relatively even, with both fighters scoring takedowns. Fitch seemed a bit more aggressive, but it was closely matched. The final round was all Fitch. Relatively early in the round he scored a takedown and then trapped BJ on the ground. The rest of the round he battered Penn’s face with punches, but the hardy Penn didn’t take as much damage as one might expect and Fitch wasn’t able to secure a referee stoppage.
The fight end with Penn looking defeated and Fitch ecstatic at his strong finish. But when the decision was announced, only one judge ruled it in favor of Fitch, with the other two ruling a draw. So the contest was ruled a draw.
BJ Penn and Jon Fitch Earn a Majority Draw (Fitch won one card)
Two of the most entertaining fights came on the undercard. In a lightweight battle China’s biggest MMA name, Zhang Tie Quan (anglicized to Tiequan Zhang), scored a thrilling submission, when he leapt into a guillotine choke submission of Jason Reinhardt. After all Lytle’s failed guillotine submission attempts earlier in the evening, it was refreshing to see the technique actually work.
Winner: Zhang Tie Quan via Submission due to Guillotine Choke
Equally exciting was Mark Hunt versus Chris Tuchsherer. Most wrote off this fight as the UFC fulfilling its contract obligation to Hunt. But Hunt may just have bought himself some time in the UFC, as he put up a surprisingly entertaining contest. He rocked Tuchsherer early and open a brutal gash on his upper eyelid with another strike.
As Daniel Day Lewis’s recent movie title went “There Will be Blood”. There was blood, and lots of it. After seeing the cut, it was inspected by the fight doctors. The fight was allowed to continue — barely. Spurting like a leaky faucet, Tuchsherer scored a takedown towards the end of round one, but was unable to finish a kimura attempt as he sprayed blood all over Mark Hunt’s arm.
In the second round Hunt came out invigorated and aggressive, pressing the action yet again. Under a barrage of strikes, Tuchsherer wilted, stumbling and falling before the fight doctors mercifully stepped in a second time and stopped the contest.
Winner: Mark Hunt by Technical Knockout due to Strikes
Following UFC 126: Belfort v. Silva, which was capped by Silva’s stunning front kick knockout, UFC 127 had tough boots to fill. While it had some exciting moments, it wasn’t exactly the best card we’ve seen of late — in the UFC or Strikeforce.
Rather than answer questions, the bout just created new ones. Lytle no longer stands to get a title shot, so who will, next — Guida? And is Dennis Siver’s submissions-stuffing devastating performance for real? Or did Sotiropolous just have a bad night? And what’s next for Jon Fitch and BJ Penn? Penn seemed open to the idea of a rematch, but a frustrated Fitch said, in effect, in his interview with Rogan that he’d rather fight for the title.
And what’s next for Mark Hunt as he won, leaving the UFC likely unable to wash their hands of his contract?
UFC 127 for hardcore fans was decently entertaining, but for casual fans it was likely somewhat on the poorer side. The only moment when my local sports bar really seemed to erupt was when Bisping finished Rivera with punches. Otherwise, the smaller than usual crowd, just sedatedly commented here and there.
UFC 127 results: B.J. Penn vsJon Fitch, Jorge Rivera vs Michael Bisping, George Sotiropoulos vs Dennis Siver, Chris Lytle vs Brian Ebersole MMA Fighti
Written By Rana G on Sunday, February 27, 2011 | 5:40 AM
Posted by Rana G at 5:40 AM