This is the only life you get…so live it.

UFC 128 Mauricio Rua vs. Jon Jones 3/19/11

Spike TV Live Free Card

Edson Barboza def. Anthony Njokuani:  Hands down this might be the most skilled standup fight I have seen from TWO fighters in the cage.  Both fighters are adept at throwing a myriad of techniques at any height and from any combo.  Plus, the velocity and power of the punches and kicks shows refined technique.  Put it short, there needs to be a rematch and then a trilogy, regardless of the outcome; and just for the audience’s entertainment, extend the fight to 5 rounds.  I had seen a few fights from Njokuani in the WEC and had heard that Barboza possibly had more variety to his standup, but never did I expect such sustained skilled action.  In round 1, both show super acceleration when throwing leg kicks, but only Njokuani lands.  Both throw believable feints.  Njokuani does a double feint followed by jabs.  A big back leg round kick crushes Njoukani’s ribs followed by a straight right.  Njokuani fall from the right, but gets up quickly.  Barboza lands a front leg step round kick to the body. Njokuani is the taller fighter and tries to land a 1-2 over the top.  A huge right cross lands and Njokuani stumbles, but remains on his feet, but he also eats a back leg round kick to the head.  Njokuani comes back with a right handed cross.  The best leg kick of the round is scored by Barboza.  Both fighters are striking and moving beautifully. Njokuani keeps switching his stance to attempt different angles with his punches and kicks, but it seems to be throwing his rhythm off as he is less in range when doing so.  Barboza misses with a straight right as Njokuani bobs his head perfectly and transitions into a counter straight right.  Another body kick from Barboza who is finding his range.  Both fighters stay in the center of the cage during the exchanges.  Njokuani keeps rubbing his eye and even ask the referee for a TO at one point which was denied.  Clearly losing the round, Njokuani tries to hype himself up, but is fruitless in his pressing.  A hard check of Njokuani’s kick makes me cringe at the force behind the block. Barboza wins round 1.  In round 2, the first 1:00 involves a lot of missed and blocked strikes.  Both fighters showed the ability to easily add kicks to punching combos at any height.  Barboza lands a nice turn side kick to the chin.  Njokuani catches a lazy leg kick and throws Barboza down to the mat and follows with standing ground and pound.  After absorbing some damage, Barboza gets back to his feet.  Both land leg kicks thrown at hyper speed.  Njokuani is having a very confident and successful round.  Both land grazing back leg round kicks to the head.  Njokuani lands a beautiful back leg fake front kick to round kick and follows with a spinning elbow.  With 2:00 remaining, both clinch where Barboza misses with an elbow.  Njokuani is in a good rhythm and has not switched his stance unnecessarily as he did in round 1.  Barboza misses with a spin hook kick after breaking the clinch. A perfect double leg takedown surprises Njokuani, but it is a little too late to score further points for Barboza.  Njokuani wins round 2.  In round 3, Barboza begins with a front kick to the head which misses.  Njokuani is pressing slightly and lands a leg kick, then superman punch to leg kick.  Njokuani throws another leg kick which is checked by Barboza who counters with a hard straight right.  Njokuani switches his stance frequently as he did so ineffectively in round 1.  Barboza capitalizes with a left hook to straight right, then 2 consecutive straight rights land flush.  With 2:00 remaining, Njokuani is landing punches to the head and body.  Barboza is also mixing it up nicely at this point.  Just as I was thinking that a takedown would seal the close round, Barboza attempts a double leg takedown.  Njokuani lands a knee during the shoot.  Still a close round, Barboza puts an exclamation point on the scoring with a spin hook kick smacking Njokuani’s chin just as the final bell rings.  Barboza wins round 3.  Official judges score:  29-28.  Highly skilled standup fighting for 3 action packed rounds from both fighters.  Njokuani is respectful in the loss.  I want a rematch.

Luiz Cane def. Eliot Marshall:  In round 1, Marshall starts with an obvious takedown attempt.  Cane looks comfortable in his fighting stance and is clearly the more skilled stand up fighter between the two opponents.  Marshall lands a lumbering straight right and misses with a back leg round kick to the head.  Cane lands an inside leg kick to straight left from the southpaw. Another single leg takedown attempt from Marshall does nothing.  Cane has very quick and heavy hands.  Marshall’s lunging straight right crosses miss.  Cane stays in the pocket and lands a 1-2, a big straight left, and again is in range for a 1-2.  In an attempt to avoid more damage, Marshall lunges forward to attempt to jam Cane, but gets caught and dropped by an uppercut.  Marshall is on his back on the mat.  Cane follows by putting his knee on Marshall and starts to tee off with punches for :20 before the ref finally stops the fight at 2:47 in round 1. Just my opinion, but it’d be hard to see Marshall compete in the UFC again with that kind of performance.

Erik Koch def Raphael Assuncao:  In round 1, Assuncao begins with a questionably placed inside leg kick, but apologizes for hitting Koch in the groin.  Koch shows no reaction to the mistake.  A left legged, back leg round kick lands from the southpaw Koch.  Koch throws another head kick but misses and Assuncao counters with a straight right.  Looks like throwing kicks to the head will not be a problem for the much taller, Koch.  At 3:38, both fighters are still feeling each other out.  Another head kick is thrown by Koch, but is blocked by Assuncao.  Assuncao is struggling with the reach differential and is landing very little with his strikes.  Koch lands a back leg round kick to the body and avoids any danger from Assuncao by moving just out of reach every time a strike is thrown.  Assuncao lunges in for a left hook to straight right and is countered with a right hook from Koch.  Assuncao drops to the mat.  Before Koch can jump on top to inflict further damage, the ref stops the fight at 2:28 in round 1.  Assuncao is unconscious on his back, but it looks like the bouncing of his head on the mat might have added to the damage.

Live Pay Per View

Brendan Schaub def. Mirko Cro Cop:  During the introductions, the pro Cro Cop crowd boos Schaub.  In round 1, it’s clear that Schaub is circling to his left to avoid the thunderous back leg round kick from the southpaw Cro Cop.  Schaub lands a jab and misses with an explosive head high kick.  Schaub is showing improvement in his standup.  Cro Cop remains calm.  For 1:00, both fighters remain in a clinch against the cage.  Schaub is warned for striking in the back of the head.  Cro Cop lunges in for a straight left which is met with a double-leg takedown from Cro Cop.  In guard, Schaub keeps his hip down on the mat while walking outward to break guard into almost half guard.  Schaub stands up and is met with an up-kick from Cro Cop off his back. Schaub avoids the rest of the kicks and jumps back into guard at 2:24.  Schaub is clearly comfortable keeping the fight on the ground and tries to posture up against the grabbing from Cro Cop behind the neck.  Schaub lands a few right hooks, but Cro Cop is very adept at blocking strikes and avoiding danger off his back.  Cro Cop reverses his position on the ground and both fighters stand back up.  An elbow grazes off Schaub’s face to end the round.  Round 1 goes to Schaub.  In round 2, Schaub throws big punches and misses badly.  Cro Cop gets a huge reaction from the crowd after he lands a head high back leg round kick with his left leg; one of the signature moves of MMA.  At 4:30, Schaub handles the kick and drops for a double-leg takedown.  Cro Cop is on his back and defends well against ground and pound from Schaub.  Cro Cop creates space with an up-kick to the body, then connects with another up-kick to the face, but the second one is illegal as Schaub’s knee was still grounded. A warning is issued by the ref.  Both stand and land knees in the clinch.  Many knees are thrown and over-and-under positioning is switched frequently by both fighters.  Schaub’s nose is bloody.  Again the ref gets involved and deducts Schaub -1 point for a punch in the back of the head.  Cro Cop lands elbows to end the round.  Cro Cop wins the round.  In round 3, Cro Cop lands an inside leg kick to the groin.  The ref calls a timeout.  Cro Cop misses with a lead straight left, and after getting in brief clinch, another lead left from Cro Cop separates the two.  Cro Cop misses with another straight left, and Cro Cop capitalizes with a double-leg takedown. While in guard, Cro Cop kicks Schaub off to stand back up.  Schaub immediately reacts with another takedown.  Cro Cop is on his back again at 4:00.  at 3:10, Schaub passes to half guard.  Both stand and Cro Cop is fighting with more urgency while missing with a big straight left.  Schaub shoots for a double-leg takedown and Cro Cop sprawls into a guillotine choke attempt.  At 1:17, as Cro Cop lunges in, Schaub throws a pushing right cross to help Cro Cop fall to the ground.  Cro Cop lands awkwardly on the mat and his head bounces.  It is not clear whether the punch and/or his head hitting the mat caused Cro Cop to be dazed.  The ref stops the fight at 1:17 in round 3.  A nice embrace follows the stoppage.  Schaub yells to a battered Cro Cop, “you’re the reason I got started, Mirko.”

Nate Marquardt def. Dan Miller:  It’s important to note that Yoshihiro Akiyama was originally scheduled to fight Marquardt, but was replaced by Miller following the natural disaster which devastated Japan.  Miller took the fight on 1 week notice.  In round 1, Marquardt misses with a straight right which leads to a clinch.  Miller wrestles Marquardt to the ground, but Marquardt shifts into top position.  Miller is in danger of getting choked out from a front choke position, but turns his head to avoid a quick loss. Both stand to a clinch and Miller lands a knee.  Miller attempts a single-leg takedown and holds onto it while Marquardt hops 10x on one leg.  Finally Marquardt runs out of room and trips to the mat.   Miller is grabbing onto both legs to try to pull Marquardt off the cage.  Marquardt wall-crawls to his feet and slams Miller down.  Marquardt pops his head out of Miller’s guillotine attempt.  Marquardt shows veteran defense to avoid getting into Miller’s full guard.  Miller is on his back and attempts the rubber guard and is very active with looking for openings on the ground with jiu jitsu in mind.  Both have earned black belts in BJJ and are proving in this fight to be complete fighters on the ground and while standing.  Ref stands the fighters at 1:04. Marquardt lands a big right cross and scores a double-leg takedown.  Miller straps on a guillotine choke, but the bell sounds. Great action from both fighters in round 1, but I award it to Marquardt.  In round 2, you can hear the corner yelling, “2-3-2” to Marquardt, who obliges by scoring a straight right, hook, straight right and follows it with a head kick, to inside leg kick.  Miller throws a jab, but lands a strong straight right.  Miller blocks a punch and counters immediately with a jab; very advanced technique exhibited here by the fighter most known for his wrestling.  After getting hit to the body with a Jab, Miller tries to counter with a big uppercut, which misses.  Marquardt scores a stiff straight right and head kick.  I can’t tell because of the camera angle whether a jumping knee lands from Marquardt, but Miller grabs for a double-leg takedown.  Marquardt uses a whizzer to help him stand back up at 2:39.  Miller scores a knee to body and Marquardt lands a knee to the head from the clinch. Marquardt starts scoring more at this point with his strikes, landing a 1-2 and countering with his straight right on consecutive exchanges.  Marquardt scores a double-leg takedown and is in side control.  Miller attempts a full guard guillotine , but again, Marquardt pops his head out.  Marquardt finishes the round with multiple elbows from the top and ground and pound. Marquardt takes round 2.  In round 3, Miller leads with an uppercut and follows with a straight left.  Another straight left from Miller lands. In the clinch, Shalorus is kneed in the groin and the ref stops the fight for a second.  Miller scores a huge uppercut at 3:00. Shalorus bends over from the impact.  Miller follows with a knee to the face and drops Shalorus onto his stomach.  Ground and pound ends the fight at 2:46 in round 3.  Shalorus is bleeding quite a bit.

Urijah Faber def. Eddie Wineland:  Both fighters are former WEC champs and are evenly matched.  In round 1, both miss with punches and tussle in the center of the cage to a clinch.  Wineland tries for a sweep.  Faber drops down to grab, slips, and gets punched in the face in the process.  Faber misses with his punches, but scores a double-leg takedown.  Wineland reverses it and stands back up.  In the clinch, Faber tries to hip toss or torque for a takedown, but Wineland stops the attempts with great balance each time.  Wineland tries to sweep Faber’s legs and instead, spins to Faber’s back to slam him onto the mat.  At 2:35, both are back in the center of the cage and neither is committing to get into appropriate striking range.  Wineland jabs and Faber counters with a left hook.  Faber misses with many punches.  A single-leg attempt is stuffed by Wineland.  Both fighters clinch. Faber attempts a hip toss and Wineland reverses it.  Faber is on the mat.  Wineland lets Faber stand back up.  A leg kick miss is countered by Wineland with the best punch of the round.  Faber is coming on stronger at the end of the round.  Round 1 goes to Wineland.  In round 2, Faber is in range but most of his punches and kicks are blocked.  Wineland is missing a lot with his strikes too.  For the first minute, both fighters show their skill in defensive distancing.  Faber avoids a leg kick beautifully.  Faber goes for a single-leg takedown unsuccessfully, but holds on for a kicking sweep for the takedown.  Faber attacks from Wineland’s guard, but Wineland avoids danger from the multiple elbows being thrown.  Faber finally lands the fifth elbow attempt.  Faber picks up Wineland from guard and slams him back onto the mat.  Faber continues his aggression with smothering attacks, but Wineland continues to defend well.  A couple of punches and elbows land from up top, but Faber is doing little damage.  Faber does not try to pass to advance postion at any point.  In my opinion, the majority of the action on the ground for 3:30 was ineffective and if Faber didn’t have a reputation for strong ground and pound, most refs would have stood the 2 fighters up at some point in the 3 minutes and 3o seconds.  The round ends just after Faber lands a big elbow.  Faber wins round 2.  In round 3, both fighters begin tentatively for the first minute.  At this point, it’s safe to say that each fighter respects the other’s stand up ability, therefore are fighting less aggressively from stand up.  Faber shoots for a single-leg takedown which is stuffed.  Faber continues to try to toss Wineland but to no avail.  Both clinch.  In a scramble, Wineland lands a short right hook.  Another single-leg attempt is attempted by Faber at 3:15 which is stuffed.  Wineland has double under-hooks, but is unable to do anything with it against the cage.  At 2:40, both fighters separate.  Faber feints a takedown and Wineland bites hard.  Faber crushes Wineland with a rear handed uppercut after the fake and follows with a straight right.  Faber paws with his jabs.  At 2:05, Faber is glancing with his punches, but at least is more active.  Wineland lands a left hook.  At 1:30, Wineland sprawls to a single-leg takedown attempt.  Both clinch and Faber drops levels for a takedown.  For the remainder of the fight, Faber tries more elbows and punches from the top in Wineland’s guard, but most is blocked and little damage is done.  Both embrace each other on the mat and help one another up.  Faber wins round 3.  Judges official scorecard: 29-28 Faber.

Jon Jones def. Mauricio Rua:  When Jones suffered his first loss to Matt Hamill in Dec. 2009, I predicted he would be the next, “big thing” in MMA.  Jones lost that fight due to illegal downward elbows, accepted the loss with humility, and had a look in his eye that he would never lose again.  Even the best fighters and reigning champions suffer losses in MMA, but I’d bet that it’d be at least a few years before anyone will catch up to Jones.  My prediction before this fight. In round 1, both fighters touch gloves and reset, just before Jones attacks with a jumping knee from distance.  A head kick is blocked by the 205 lb. Champion, Rua.  Both fighters clinch, but separate shortly.  Jones misses with a turn back kick.  At 4:34 from clinch, Jones takes Rua down.  Rua advances to full guard after being in half guard.  Rua attempts an armbar/triangle choke.  Jones is still in half guard, but his length allows him to be on the side of Rua.  Elbows are not landing at this point.  Rua puts his arm under a leg of Jones to sweep, but Jones is much too strong to allow this.  Jones lands a few elbows.  Jones has very sharp elbows despite the surrounding muscle.  Rua tries to kick Jones off, but is smothered.  “U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.” chant is strong by the crowd.  At 1:30, Rua stands and gets kneed twice, a left hook, straight right, left hook, and front kick.  Rua finally advances off the cage at 1:15 and is clearly tired and hurt.  From clinch, Jones lands a knee and glances with a left hook.  Another knee is landed.  Jones throws a side kick to Rua’s knee; a technique I don’t understand why we don’t see more of in MMA.  Rua lands a 1-2 and is met with a spinning elbow attempt.  Rua is exhausted and slumps to the mat for a desperate leg lock attempt.  Jones jumps onto top position and head butt’s Rua’s stomach (is this legal?).  Jones finishes the round with a hammer fist to elbow attempt.  Jones wins round 1.  In round 2, a leg kick is checked by Rua, but Jones lands a front kick to the face.  With his back on the cage, Rua gets blasted with a spinning elbow to jab.  Jones hits with a Superman jab.  Rua recovers from the damage and begins to press.  At 3:45, “U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.” chant again is heard, but this time it appears to be a single person in the crowd.  Both fighters clinch, then separate.  Rua grazes with a 1-2.  Jones lands a dig to the body.  Rua scores his own punch to the body.  Jones displays more athleticism with a straight right to Superman elbow, followed by a grazing front kick, leg kick, and a miss with a Superman straight right.  At 2:45, Rua throws a lingering leg kick and Jones catches it before slamming Rua down onto the mat.  Rua is on his back and gets punched by a standing Jones.  Rua tries to extend his legs to nudge Jones off of him, but Jones is hard to push off.  Jones bloodies Rua’s face with a short elbow.  At the end of the round, Jones spins off of top position and attempts a last minute leg lock.  Nothing there, so Jones smacks Rua in the face with a hammer strike just for good measure.  Jones wins round 2.  In round 3, both fighters miss with strikes.  Jones is off balance for a second and Rua takes his back.  Rua changes levels to try to drag Jones to the mat, but Jones doesn’t budge.  Rua grabs Jones’ leg for a lock, but there is no attack.  Jones is forced down and goes for a Kimura attempt, repositions himself and jumps on Rua, forcing Rua to his back.  Elbows are thrown from Jones. From half guard, Jones tries to pin an arm under his knee, but eventually is in full guard.  From there, Jones goes off in brutal fashion. 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, elbow, followed by a left hook, big elbow, and another big elbow from Jones.  Rua covers by rolling over to his knees and protects himself.  Jones stands and knees Rua in the midsection.  At 2:30, Rua stands but is clearly shaken.  Jones lands a dig to knee to the body which ends the fight at 2:23 in round 3.  Jones wins the title in dominant fashion and in the 17 years of UFC is the youngest champion ever.

-Shingo

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