Saturday, September 01, 2007

AfterMMAth : UFC 74

What a nice fight card brought to us by the UFC braintrust. It was solid from top to bottom and all of the fights were keepers. Maybe not truly "great" fights but all exciting and well fought. And then again maybe that Huerta/Crane fight deserves the tag of "great" on second thought.

All of the fights were hard fought but this had to be the fight of the night. Despite having a huge advantage in the striking arts Huerta showed that he was more than willing to go to the mat against savvy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Alberto Crane. The two fought like two anacondas over the last piece of dinner and, miraculously, Roger Huerta seemed to be the better grappler as well. This guy seems to be the real deal and like a Clay Guida always seems to be in the full-on wars. Speaking of Huerta and Guida..............hmm..........damn...I think I lost my train of thought.

Joe Stevenson notched another victory on his way to an eventual title shot when he beat Kurt Pellegrino in a nice little battle that went to and fro. The two grapplers put on an exhibition on par with the one shown by Crane and Huerta. They roamed all over the cage seeking submission attempt after attempt but neither was quite able to finish against his highly skilled foe. Pellegrino really seemed to have the better hands and a lightning jab but there was no way this fight would stay on the feet for long. In the end Stevenson pulled off the unanimous decision but we have not seen the last of Pellegrino.

Some people sold Georges St. Pierre short, questioning his heart after a tough loss to Matt Serra. Frankly, I didn't see it. Anyone can get caught and he did, early. He never recovered and caught a beatdown by a more experienced fighter. Looking back though I remember a truly heartbreaking loss to Matt Hughes where "Rush" could have held on to go to a second round but tapped a little too early. Did that ruin his career, damage his soul or even cause an unsightly blemish on his skin? No, he bounced back and beat BJ Penn in what was probably his most hard fought fight ever. Beat an absolute phenom who himself had beat "the most dominant welterweight in the world." Next up, Matt Hughes and he embarassed the champ on the way to an 2nd round TKO.

So, no I didn't expect to see a hollow man with a fleur-di-lis on his calf. I said going in that he the takedown exchanges would be key and hotly contested. I didn't know how right I would be! Ouch.........damn....ow ow ow.......I think I just dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back. Damn. Okay, I'm going to try and finish this post for you guys with one arm. Where was I? Oh, GSP took down Koscheck (who stated before the fight that he would not be outwrestled) multiple times and stuffed at least one such attempt of Kos' in spectacular fashion. Deciding to put a guy like Koscheck on his back is absolutely the right gameplan and it paid dividends as GSP controlled the fight and indeed did out wrestle Josh Koscheck exhibiting strong takedowns, takedown defense and base. Unanimous decision for the Canadian crusher.

The main event saw Randy Couture continue to be the the real American hero. Though his opponent, Gabe Gonzaga, was a bit over touted by many he was still a legitimate threat. He looked plenty the worse for his time in the Octagon with the Natural but still managed to show promise for the future. Randy tooled him with his patented punch to the face while ducking in for the clinch or for a leg and continued to brutalize him in the clinch and with takedowns.

In Gonzaga's defense an accidental broken nose incurred in one such takedown really made his day much harder as he had to spit blood and breath through his mouth for the duration. With Randy leaning on him the whole time. All in all though Gonzaga looked pretty good on his feet, showing the ability to kick and punch in good timing when coming out of clinches and whenever the opportunities arose. One such kick caught Couture on the head nicely as he leaned in to his left but Captain America simply shrugged it off and took Gonzaga down, scoring more points.

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