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UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann 3/3/11

This free event on Versus channel was one of the best UFC cards in recent memory.  All of the televised fights showcased energetic output and skilled technique. The main event equalled its top billing and even the announcers couldn’t have faked their sincere enthusiasm for the action taking place in the cage.

Brian Bowles def. Damacio Page:  This is a rematch from 2008 at WEC 35, where Bowles defeated Page with a guillotine choke in round 1, while many feel that Page led in the fight up until he left his neck exposed.  In round 1, Page misses on big haymakers, but a looping round kick lands flush as both the viewers at home and the surrounding crowd could hear the impact.  A jumping knee grazes Bowles, but Bowles counters with straight rights and hooks to the body and head.  Page continues his aggressiveness and is sloppy, but effective in connecting.  Page attempts a jumping back leg side kick to which does nothing.  Page misses again with a haymaker, follows with a brutal leg kick, and pays for it when Bowles lands a perfect right hand counter.  Page has no problem landing hard leg kicks, while Bowles remains in range to land right hands and hook punches at will.  3:00 remain in round 1, and already the action has been nonstop.  Page clumsily grasps a loose Thai-clinch, but lands a knee to the head.  Bowles continues to show his power in what appears to be his favorite combo, straight right to left hook. Bowles changes levels with this combo effectively to both the head and body.  At about 2:00 remaining in round 1, both fighters exchange with little regard in the middle of the cage until Page slips.  Bowles in top of guard starts reigning ground and pound.  Page attempts an arm bar from the bottom.  While standing and with Page still on his back on the mat, Bowles traps an exposed neck and cranks a guillotine choke to end the fight at 1:30 in Round 1.  Page does not tap out and is rendered unconscious on the mat before the ref steps in.

Igor Pokrajac def. Todd Brown:  Brown looks to be the looser fighter in standup compared to Pokrajac.  Brown remains calm while defending.  Pokrajac lands jabs at will with his length.  A solid lead left hook to straight right lands from Pokrajac.  With his height, Pokrajac is throwing straight rights over the top of Brown’s boxing guard.  Brown goes for an upright standing tackle and gets over-under hooks while Pokrajac has his back against the cage.  Pokrajac works to get double under hooks.  Brown lands a few knees to the inside leg of Pokrajac.  Both separate off the cage and engage back in the center as Brown lands a big right hand which leaves Pokrajac retreating.  Brown attempts a half hearted shoot, but barely changes levels.  Both clinch against the cage for the second time and again, Brown is active with throwing knees.  Pokrajac lands a jab, right, back leg round kick to the head.  At first take, it looks like the kick grazes, but on further review, the impact seems much harder.  Pokrajac cleanly lands a big right hand and the second one floors Brown.  Both stand back up.  With his back against the cage, brown eats a heavy knee to his chin and crumbles to the mat.  With 10 seconds remaining in round 1, Brown appears to be saved by the bell.  However, the doctor stops the fight just before the start of round 2 as Brown continues to lay on the mat, clearly still hurt from the knee.

Chris Weidman def. Alessio Sakara:  On 2 weeks notice, the highly touted and young wrestler, Weidman took on a seasoned vet in Sakara.  Weidman needs to improve in standup and is out classed by the pro Sakara in that regard.  In round 1, Sakara throws a perfect hand to leg kick combo which he repeatedly does throughout the round with effectiveness.  A phantom shot which I couldn’t even see in replays, cuts Sakara over his right eye.  I’m serious, Weidman hasn’t landed anything yet and Sakara is already bleeding.  Sakara lands the hands to leg kick combo again.  Weidman throws a nice head high round kick to gain a clinch against the cage, before missing with an elbow.  Sakara reverses off the cage and both fighters resume in the center.  A hard straight right is landed by Weidman, who looks comfortable with his punches when in range.  When Weidman is forced to press, he looks awkward in bridging the gap. Sakara strikes again with the same combo of head punches to leg kick.  A double leg takedown is stuffed by Sakara.  Sakara is striking to the head and to the body with accuracy and thump.  Another shot by Weidman is stuffed to end the round.  Chants of “U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.” by the crowd is ignorant and unnecessary.  Round 1 goes to Sakara.  In round 2, Weidman finishes off a single leg takedown and Sakara is in guard on his back.  An elbow is landed by Weidman who then stands to land more punches from the top.  Sakara is bleeding heavily from the elbow.  Weidman passes to side-control and spins to north-south position.  Another big elbow is landed from Weidman who is actively punching from side-control.  Weidman tries to trap an arm for a crucifix but Sakara takes advantage and tries to hip escapes out of danger.  Weidman shows good control over Sakara’s hips.  Now in half-guard, Sakara beautifully reverses out from the bottom and is now on top of Weidman.  Sakara stands up and immediately punishes Weidman with a jab, straight right to leg kick.  In the clinch, the powerful Weidman tosses Sakara to the mat.  Both are back on their feet and the ref stops the action with 1:13 remaining in round 2 to assess the bleeding of Sakara.  The proud Sakara wipes his bloody face on the referee’s shirt, before the doctor can check the cut.  The crowd approves of the gesture which.  After clearance from the doc to continue the fight, Sakara swings for the fences and looks wild.  Both are in the center of the cage and beautiful exchanges ensue just before the end of the round.  Sakara lands a jab, straight right, dig to the body and repeats that.  Weidman throws a textbook jab, straight right, hook punch to leg kick.  Weidman wins round 2.  In round 3, Sakara starts out effectively punching to the body and head, specifically landing uppercut style hook punches to the ribs.  Both are in the pocket and exchanging in range.  Weidman scores a double-leg takedown and advances to side-control. Both are active on the mat.  Sakara tries to hip escape, but Weidman again shows good control of his opponent when on the ground.  Prematurely and maybe due to restlessness from the crowd, the ref stands both fighters up with 2:00 remaining.  Weidman gets Sakara on his back with a double-leg take down.  More scrambling and moving of his hips while on his back, but Sakara is unable to break free from Weidman’s side-control.  Sakara avoids damage of ground and pound from Weidman.  Dumb chants from the crowd again, “U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.”  With 0:28 remaining, Sakara manages to escape and get back on his feet.  Weidman finishes the fight with another takedown.  Round 3 goes to Weidman.  I have no idea what all 3 judges were thinking in awarding round 1 to Weidman, with the official score being 30-27 to Weidman.

Mark Munoz def. C.B. Dollaway:  In round 1, Dollaway shows great technique and power in his leg kicks.  Both tangle and end up on the ground.  Munoz attempts a guillotine choke and Dollaway pries his head away from danger.  Dollaway on top in Munoz’s guard.  Both roll around until Dollaway confidently allows Munoz to get back on his feet.  In the center of the cage, both swing wildly.  Munoz connects with a perfectly timed rear handed uppercut to left hook. This drops Dollaway and Munoz ends the fight with hammerfists from top control. Ref stops the fight at 4:05 in round 1.

Thiago Tavares def. Shane Roller:  In round 1, Roller lands a stiff jab to begin the fight and comes out aggressively.  Tavares does a good job of staying away from danger.  Roller misses with many of his combos early in the round.  Tavares misses wildly with his punches.  Joe Rogan seems to think Tavares is relaxed on his feet and Roller is awkward with his striking, and I totally disagree with that analysis.  To me, Roller looks confident and calm, while Tavares may be relaxed, but misses wildly with big haymakers from out of range.  Roller keeps his distance away from danger and shows prowess in blocking.  Both fighters are heavy handed when they connect.  Roller lands a few punches before grazing Tavares’ chin with a back leg front kick.  This sends Tavares to retreat despite not being in danger or suffering any damage from the attack.  Tavares stuns Roller with a beautiful combo of a lead hook, straight right, hook, to back leg round kick to the head.  Roller fends off most of the damage, but is fighting going backwards until he meets the cage.  Both are missing on most of their strikes, but there are many attempts with 2:00 remaining in round 1.  The defense is solid from both fighters and each stays out of range of danger for the most part.  Tavares lands a leg kick and Roller starts to tighten up at the end of the round with desperation in his attacks and takedown attempts.  Tavares wins round 1.  In round 2, both fighters show skilled stand up, but again, little scores.  Tavares scores a takedown, but can’t keep the wrestler down as Roller gets back to his feet.  Out of nowhere, Roller lands a perfect lead hook to a 1-2 for the TKO.  The ref calls the fight at 1:28 in round 2.

Diego Sanchez def. Martin Kampmann:  Anyone who follows UFC made note of the significant body change of Sanchez, who was once known for having legendary endurance in the cage based on intense training methods.  While Sanchez did not regress in physical endurance during the entire fight, he certainly looked fat.  It’s weird to see a big belly on Sanchez, and the shaved head looked unfamiliar as well.  In round 1, Kampmann lands a slowly thrown 1-2.   Sanchez tries to clinch then lands a jab to right hook.  After a few jabs landed from Kampmann, both are still feeling each other out.  Sanchez attempts a lumbering single leg takedown and even picks up Kampmann off the mat, but it is stuffed.  Kampmann immediately makes Sanchez pay with a knee to face.  At 3:18, Kampmann drops Sanchez, but Sanchez holds on for an attempted single-leg takedown which is stuffed.   While doing so, Sanchez absorbs a knee from the clinch and a 1-2.  Another 1-2 is landed by Kampmann, followed by a straight right.  A single-leg takedown is stopped by a sprawling Kampmann. Kampmann finds his range with slowly thrown punches, but with very clean technique. Another double-leg takedown is attempted by Sanchez, but again is prevented by Kampmann.  Sanchez keeps pressing to end the round, but is landing very little.  Round 1 goes to Kampmann as Sanchez is left with a bloody face.  In round 2, Sanchez comes out to fight and has blood remaining on his face, chest, and stomach…nice job cleaning up your boy, cornermen!  Sanchez attempts a single-leg takedown and Kampmann spins out of danger.  A lunging jab to double-leg takedown attempt is stuffed by Kampmann.  Sanchez lands a lead hook followed by a counter jab by Kampmann.  Sanchez remains aggressive by landing multiple left hooks.  Both connect with straight rights. At this point, Kampmann is missing a lot with his strikes.  Sanchez lands a jab and shoots for a double-leg takedown, resulting in nothing.  Again, another double-leg takedown is stuffed.  For the first 3:00 of the round, Sanchez landed more punches, although uglier in technique and attempted 4 takedowns.  At 2:00, Kampmann lands harder shots, but Sanchez lands more in this exchange.  Kampmann is not hurt and is very composed defensively while Sanchez remains wild.  Kampmann is cut, but it is unclear if the damage was done by a punch or head butt as Sanchez leads with his head a lot before striking.  Kampmann lands a big straight right.  A double-leg takedown is stuffed by Kampmann.  Both land punches in an exchange in the center of the cage.  Sanchez is landing punches through wild aggressiveness.  A final double-leg takedown by Sanchez is stuffed.  Both fighters finish the round with an exciting exchange. Sanchez wins round 2.  In round 3, the crowd is clearly still excited from the action packed two previous rounds and gives a standing ovation to begin the round.  Sanchez lands a lead hook and is countered by a jab from Kampmann.  Kampmann stuffs a takedown and lands a big straight right.  After stuffing the takedown, Kampmann makes Sanchez pay with a landed knee to his jaw.  Kampmann looks a little winded and his punches slow down.  Kampmann lands a big straight right to counter an attempted hook punch.  A double-leg takedown by Sanchez is stuffed.  Kampmann lands a jab straight right and Sanchez follows with a smothering straight right.  A double-leg takedown is finally scored by Sanchez who passes to side control.  Both stand up shortly afterwards. Kampmann lands 2 consecutive straight rights, but there is little power.  Sanchez throws many punches and lands only a few, but is clearly pressing forward. A dig by Sanchez is countered by a knee from Kampmann.  At 1:00 remaining, Kampmann breaks his hand while landing a straight right.  Round 3 goes to Sanchez.  Both fighters hug after the final bell.  There is no surface of Sanchez’s face which isn’t covered by blood from the 6 spread out open wounds. The judges award the fight to Sanchez 29-28.  Kampmann is clearly disappointed in the post fight interview.

-Shingo

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