Instant Reaction: UFC Fairfax

Apr 4, 2015

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3:59 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Somehow I feel like if Mendes wants that elusive third shot at Jose Aldo, he'll have to go through Frankie Edgar, should Edgar take out Urijah Faber in the Philippines in May. I just hope if and when it happens, it's a Fight Night headliner or something lke that, and we aren't denied 25 potential exquisite minutes.

Of course, should Conor McGregor beat Aldo in July, it's a whole different ball game. Or rounders game, or whatever the Irish call it.

3:57 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Boo yaa, a sensational first-round knockout performance by Chad Mendes. Mendes lands a quick right-hook counter and puts Lamas down and follows up in expert fashion for the stop. The official time is just 2:45 of the opening frame.

Most importantly, after Lamas was hurt and desperately shooting, Mendes methodically took his time, stuffed his takedowns, let him get back to his feet, hurt him again, rinsed and repeated. With Lamas turtled up and in major peril, he hit him with the Cain Velasquez and Dan Henderson-style uppercuts underneath the armpit, right to the chin.

Dan Miragliotta gave Lamas every reasonable chance to recover, let him go out like a top-five main event fighter should. Ironically, it was Mendes doing exactly the sort of thing to Lamas which I mentioned Lamas excelling at before the fight: hurting an opponent on the counter and knowing how to nail the coffin shut perfectly.

3:42 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Oh yeah, there's still a main event to be had after that bit of Debbie Downerism.

It's time for Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, undisputed top-five featherweights, to do their thing for up to five rounds. In spite of both being elite guys with a good tenure at 145, Mendes is greater than a -500 favorite in some places in this fight. More than anything, it's a reflection of stylistic nuances making the difference: they're both good boxers and wrestlers, but Mendes is the superior striker in most dimensions and certainly a more decorated and accomplished wrestler in and out of MMA.

The major thing that Lamas has going for him in this fight is that he's got 25 minutes to make something happen, and he's an outstanding finisher. Lamas isn't a one-hitter quitter and isn't overly aggressive, but when he lands a good counter and hurts his opponent, he's top-notch at sealing the deal and getting a finish. He's got devastating ground-and-pound, even from full guard and can get a submission on wounded prey. Very curious if he can make any sort of lightning strike against the Team Alpha Male product.

3:35 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Wow. Al Iaquinta just won scores of 29-28 twice and took a heinous split decision. The dissenting scorecard was 30-27 Masvidal. Then, he screams profanity at the booing Virginia crowd, walks out on Jon Anik's postfight interview and shoves a camera. This after trashing his hotel room in Las Vegas in Janury.

A ridiculous decision by two of those judges and ridiculous antics by Iaquinta after. A disappointing end to what was a very fun fight, a ballsy showing by Iaquinta and a technically dominant performance by the robbed Jorge Masvidal.

3:32 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Due praise to Al Iaquinta, he fought with appropriate urgency in the third round and hit Masvidal with some good, clean right hands. Still, it's 30-27 Masvidal for me. Too sharp, too technical, too defensively savvy.

Masvidal still gets caught lalligagging and admiring his work and even after smashing Iaquinta's face open, showed no real desire to force the issue in rounds two and three and kept working off the counter. Far be it from me how to tell a hardened street fighter-turned-MMA elite how to fight his fights, but I don't think it's beyond his capability to batter foes like Iaquinta, Krause and others into stoppages when he's superior like this.

3:23 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Iaquinta has hit Masvidal over the first 10 minutes, but he's been picked off with harder counters and can't get takedowns when he needs them. More critically, he rushed into a hard right-hand counter late in the first round, nearly got finished and got slashed wide open by a Masvidal elbow underneath his right eye, so he's streaming profusely. This is a 20-18 Masvidal showcase so far. Iaquinta is going to need a stoppage against a fighter that has been technically, defensively ahead of him the entire contest.

Still, Masvidal might be well-suited to turn up the heat at some juncture in this contest, as it's becoming similar to his recent dominant outings, where he shows flashes of brutality, then is content to style on his opponent.

3:25 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Another heads up: we've got a Bruce Buffer error in the Chiesa-Clarke bout. There was only one 29-26 scorecard, turned in by the self-professed “judging genius” Douglas Crosby, giving Chiesa a 10-8 first round. Judges Dave Tirelli and Cardo Urso both had 29-28 cards.

3:03 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Now we've come to the real meat and potatoes here in Fairfax with our 155-pound co-headliner between Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta. This isn't a title eliminator, but it's maybe like a title eliminator eliminator eliminator. The lightweight division is stacked, but the winner of this bout takes a big leap forward while the winner gets knocked back into the morass.

I think Masvidal is the more well-rounded, dynamic fighter. He's one of cleanest boxers in the sport, is great at countering and attacking the head and body. He's got sneaky good kicks. He's an underrated wrestler and can finish with sudden submissions. Skill-wise, Masvidal stacks up with the creme de la creme at 155 pounds. However, he does no gameplanning, no strategizing and just goes into the cage blind on his opponent, trying to outscrap them like it's the Miami boatyard.

Meanwhile, Iaquinta is a converted wrestler with sneaky good kickboxing combos and probably the more outright power. Plus, Masvidal has been dropped in three of his last five fights. All of this to say: expect a fun, back-and-forth fight with solid technique, but Iaquinta will probably have those big punches and takedowns that sway the judges in a close fight. Gimme ol' Long Island Al in a squeaker.

2:56 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Two 29-26's and one 29-28 are your official scores for the winner by unanimous decision, Michael Chiesa. Please come back again soon and entertain us, sir.

2:51 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: 30-26 Chiesa on my card, complete domination. I wouldn't bank on him ever being a title challenger at 155, but he's not going anywhere. He's still improving fight-to-fight and his game is so much more than the sum of its parts. His relentless, indefatigable attack opens up so many scramble opportunities for him to take the back and threaten with that rear-naked choke, and even if he's still reckless on the feet, he finds ways to land quality strikes. His striking technique needs to keep cleaning up, but he's another always-exciting component at 155.

2:46 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I literally just thought this fight was over and that was the third round. Chiesa is just mauling Clarke off of the Canadian's desperate takedown attempts. Chiesa is such an outstanding scrambler and he's one of the best takers of the back in MMA. He's been backpacking on Clarke all night and threatening with rear-naked chokes so long already it felt like 15 minutes.

2:40 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: It's worth pointing out that the nicknames in this fight are “Maverick” and “Danger Zone” for a full Top Gun theme. I'm sure this isn't lost on Joe Silva, the man who made Dennis Hallman-John Howard because it was “Superman” versus “Doomsday.”

2:23 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Speaking of TUF winners from Spokane, Wash., it's time for Michael Chiesa. Chiesa is on the comeback trail after having a bit of a meltdown over the doctor stopping his September bout with Joe Lauzon due a nasty cut. Chiesa is a -400 favorite against Canadian grappler Mitch Clarke, who now trains out of the MMA Lab in Arizona. Clarke, of course, threw a monkey wrench Al Iaquinta's way, choking him out cold last May. However, in the process of choking him out, Clarke blew his elbow out and has been off for 11 months.

Chiesa's the far better striker and wrestler, it should be his fight to lose. However, Clarke's could catch him with a submission on a counter, similar to the Iaquinta fight, so there's at least a real element of underdog danger here.

2:25 p.m. ETMike Sloan Pena looked strong in her first bout back since destroying her knee. It's far too early to tell how viable she'll be in terms of being championship material, but this is a great continuing point for her. We'll see what transpires in her next bout.

2:20 p.m. ET Jeff Sherwood: Impressive comeback fight for Julianna Pena, which is a good sign for the UFC women's division: they need as many quality fighters as possible.

2:16 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Now, that is what I'm talking about. Pena stuffed Dudieva's first takedown with some athletic takedown defense, got up from a second one, then got top position for herself off of a single-leg, quickly passed to full mount and simply beat the brakes off of the Russian. Referee Keith Peterson gave the gritty Dudieva every chance to escape, but Pena was relentless with her punches and elbows. Fantastic performance from a talented prospect. Here's hoping she stays healthy and can quickly factor into the top-10 picture at 135 pounds.

2:00 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Up next, “Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 winner Julianna Pena returns from her nightmarish complete knee explosion to face Milana Dudieva, who is little more than a sacrificial lamb here after unjustly winning her UFC debut against Elizabeth Phillips in August.

Pena is still green, but a fantastic athlete. But, we haven't seen her in action for 13 months, and her timetable for recovery after her bizarre, notorious training accident was initially 18-24 months. How will she look athletically? And given how novice she still is, will we see real improvement since her time on the show, given the quick recovery and nature of the injury? Dudieva's no-position grappling style should be easy pickings for Pena, the question should be how dominant and skilled she can look in winning.

1:55 p.m. ETMike Sloan It'd be cool to see Guida capture a UFC title. He's had such a great career, but he never got the ultimate prize. He's the UFC's version of Barry Sanders, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Chuck Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Steve Trout, no? *Sarcasm*

1:55 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Well, if you've seen a Clay Guida fight -- and not of the insane Roger Huerta or Tyson Griffin variety -- that's what this fight was like. It's 30-27 Guida on my card, and it's 30-27 across the board on the judges' scorecards, giving “The Carpenter” the unanimous nod.

But, most importantly! As I foreshadowed, with his dedicated grinding and relentless spamming of takedown attempts, Clay Guida should now be your all-time leader in takedown attempts in UFC history. We'll see how many they credit him with, but I counted somewhere between 11 and 13 unofficially.

Also, Guida gave a rambling, incoherent postfight interview that you should probably check out a Vine of or something like that. Rambling answer about staying at 145 pounds as well as a callout of Barack Obama. The spirit of Jacob Volkmann is strong.

1:51 p.m. ETMike Sloan Close fight, and a good one at that. Methinks "The Carpenter" gets the nod. He was more aggressive and with those takedowns plus the near submission in the third, he'll have his hand raised.

1:40 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I don't have the stats in front of me, but the thing that's crazy is that Maia is not even in the top 10 for takedowns landed, but he's the tops in attempts. The other guys in the top five are all guys like Frankie Edgar and Tito Ortiz. Shoutouts to when Maia was 1-of-22 on takedowns against Rory MacDonald.

1:38 p.m. ET Mike Sloan Well, that's one attempt down, ten to go. I think the entire MMA world is on the edge of its collective seats, hoping to see him pass Maia. It's like when Rickey Henderson was looking to pass Lou Brock's stolen bases record and Emmitt Smith was about to pass Walter Payton's rushing record. I don't know about you, but I can barely breathe.

1:28 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: As well, a judging update: it was the trio of Elvis Bollo, Dave Tirelli and Cardo Urso who gave Carmouche the unanimous nod over Murphy, 29-28 on all cards. All three of them gave Carmouche the second round. Very, very dubious.

1:27 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Also, Guida is fourth all-time in UFC competition with 146 takedown attempts. If he just shoots, successfully or not, 11 more times, he'll pass Demian Maia's mark of 156 for the promotional record. What better record for Clay Guida to have than all-time takedown attempts? Clay Guida will never be champ, but dammit, he always attempted.

1:25 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: We head 10 pounds south on the scale to the featherweight division, where Clay Guida will try to move his UFC divisional mark to 3-2 and rebound from his resounding loss to Dennis Bermudez this past July. Peralta seems like a perfect mark for Guida's heavy-wrestling style, but homie can definitely crack and very much has the proverbial puncher's chance. It will also be compelling to see what technical or strategic wrinkles Peralta has having worked at Tristar MMA for the first time for this camp.

1:16 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Fantastic first-round stoppage for Poirier in his return to 155 pounds, finishing Carlos Diego Ferreira off for the first time in his career, with a bevy of clever, clean left hands and follow-up ground-and-pound.

Really, though, it's more of the same from Poirier. We know he is offensively gifted and can style on opponents standing when he's throwing. However, Ferreira still clocked him flush a few times. The defensive liabilities are still likely to show up again for “The Diamond” as he faces more fighters in MMA's deepest, most skilled weight class. That said, he's a dynamo and will always be entertaining as hell to watch in the cage regardless of weight class or win-loss record.

1:06 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Main card time. Dustin Poirier, who was the unfortunate and sobbing component of the aforementioned 2012 “Fight of the Year” in this very arena, is moving up to 155 pounds. He meets Carlos Diego Ferreira in his return to the lightweight division. I like the matchup: it favors the offensively-gifted Poirier, but Ferreira has sneaky accuracy and power in his windmilling punches and is an aggressive, scrambly grappler.

I don't share the enthusiasm many do for Poirier's move to lightweight. I think he's still too hittable with real defensive liabilities, now he's headed into the best division in MMA. However, it is feasible that by draining himself less he'll be more physically robust and competitive in other dimensions. I think he'll at least win an entertaining decision against Ferreira, but the long-term prognosis for lightweight Poirier isn't necessarily spectacular in my mind.

12:59 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I've got it 29-28 Murphy after a late Carmouche surge in the third. The fight was certainly competitive. Murphy was tactically superior throughout the fight, consistently winning the clinch battle against the stronger woman with superior head position, by gaining underhooks and so forth.

All three judges, however, have it 29-28 for your winner by unanimous decision, Liz Carmouche. The crowd boos the decision and I'm curious which round the judges had for the former Marine, as it definitely looked like Murphy carried the first two period. Two tough breaks for Murphy in the Octagon, as she could easily be 2-0 right now.

Carmouche got the win, but she does seem to be plateauing. She was incredibly passive for the first 10 minutes and let Murphy dictate the fight to her. Earlier in her career, when she was green as hell, she had to make up for her deficiencies with aggression and physicality. Since she's become more seasoned, we don't see that sort of gusto any more, and it's a shame. It suits her better. Now, she's just standing around, letting women like Murphy initiate clinches and technically control her. When she actually got after it in the third, she was successful. That said, she still gets her hand raised in our first questionable decision of the night.

12:33 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Up next is our “prelim main event,” a ridiculous concept since this entire card is broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. Nonetheless, it's a quality bantamweight bout betweeen former UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche and Lauren Murphy.

Carmouche is returning from two competitive unanimous decision losses to Alexis Davis and Miesha Tate, while Murphy tasted defeat for the first time in her career against Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann in August via split decision. However, Murphy was hyperactive on bottom and I thought she deserved the nod.

Neither of these women have the tools to mess with ol' Ronda Rousey any time soon -- although Carmouche did come closer to beating Rousey than anyone yet – but this is a well-matched fight that could see us headed to a razor-thin decision.

12:28 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: It's 29-27 Yakovlev on my scorecard, with a 10-8 second round, while your official judges have it 30-27 twice and 29-28 for the Russian, who takes the unanimous nod. More importantly, write a quiet obituary for Gray Maynard: he's done as a UFC-level fighter.

Yes, Maynard could still beat select folks on the UFC roster and he didn't look atrocious in this fight. It's not like Yakovlev is a bad fighter, either, especially moving down to 155. However, Maynard was nearly knocked unconscious for the fifth time in six fights in the second round, by a fighter without much power, then was completely out of sorts in the third round. Also, if we're being honest, Yakovlev essentially outwrestled Maynard throughout the bout, offensively and defensively.

The fighter who fought Frankie Edgar twice is done. Give him a ceremonial UFC job or have him transition into coaching full-time. I haven't much desire to see him get starched up by a mid-level roster dweller six to eight months from now.

12:08 p.m. ET Jeff Sherwood: Jordan please just tell me if I'm supposed to be excited for this fight or not? I remember staying up all night and early mornings back in the day but that was to watch amazing fights that meant something. Amazing how things have changed in MMA. Now we are watching 4-0 fighters that commentators say are not ready for the UFC but they are fighting in the Octagon, then we see heavyweights that could be on a regional show. Now this ... I'm going to take a deep breath before this bout and hope for the best.

12:02 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: And just so it doesn't seem like I'm putting extra harshness on Maynard: Alexander Yakovlev is the only man Demian Maia has ever knocked down in his entire MMA career.

11:59 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Gray Maynard's only win in the last four-and-a-half years is his mind-numbingly miserable split decision win over Clay Guida, which stands as one of the most upsetting modern UFC main events, although the bout's crap factor had nothing to do with Maynard. Outside of the Guida victory, Maynard hasn't won a fight since he beat Kenny Florian in August 2010. He is 1-4-1 in the six fights since the Florian win. Let that sink in.

11:52 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: I definitely won't look a gift horse in the mouth. Not only did we get way more action than I expected in that fight, it ended in the first round. Let's keep our morning moving along, folks.

The official time of the stoppage is 4:57 for Timothy Johnson, who wins his UFC debut while dressed up as a carnival wrestler from the 1920's. Someone tell Ed “The Strangler” Lewis that the man with the mustache and shoulder tattoo wants to challenge him.

11:50 a.m. ET Jeff Sherwood: I would say something about that stoppage but I'm just happy its over.

11:47 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: And as soon as I praise Mike King, he stops the fight with just a few seconds left in round one, with Johnson flailing around from full mount on a tired Abdurahimov, who easily was winning the round. Johnson was definitely starting to assert himself, but a lot of the punches were hitting the forearms of the Dagestani. Love the point deduction, not crazy about the stoppage. Kudos to Johnson for a mini-comeback, though, as Abdurahimov was lighting him up, showing off his sanshou skills on the feet for most of the first period.

11:44 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: I have no idea if Abdurahimov understands referee Mike King warning him for repeatedly grabbing the fence, but King made it pretty clear by slapping his paws off of the cage multiple times. On the third, maybe fourth grab, King takes a point. Figures that the hardscrabble-looking ref with neck tats is the guy who takes a point for swift justice. Solid refereeing, if uncommon by the MMA standard.

11:35 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: The canvas in Fairfax is advertising UFC 186, which apparently still features T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao in the main event. Well, that's a relief. I was worried after hearing about Dillashaw's injury and the insane idea of headlining in Montreal with Demetrious Johnson-Kyoji Horiguchi.

11:32 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: That first fight wasn't exactly a banger, but I like this card overall. There's some real potential fun to be had. However, we're not likely to find much of that fun in our next offering.

Y'all know what that means! We're headed to the heavyweight division for a double debut, where Dagestani wrestler Shamil Abdurahimov and American wrassler Timothy Johnson square off. Neither guy is awful, but neither projects as a major prospect, either. Abdurahimov is a straight forward grinder and is less of a brute on top than Johnson, but he's faced infinitely better competition and is much more schooled on the feet. He should be in the driver's seat in this one, albeit going well under the speed limit for three rounds.

11:23 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Stallings drops Jones with a liver kick in the first 30 seconds, shuts down the takedowns and top game and turns the fight into target practice in round three. 29-28 Stallings on my card, with just the tepid second round for Jones. But, this is MMA, so be alert for these wack 29-28 Jones scorecards.

Jones has a bundle of physical skills, but he's just too green at this point. His takedowns and set-ups are basic, Stallings saw them coming a mile away and showed solid takedown defense. Jones has power in his hands, but his shots were coming wide and gave Stallings ample time to dodge and counter. Stallings was just too veteran for this sort of attack.

Also, that's two fights in the UFC that Jones appeared to be wearing another top-and-bottom boil-and-bite mouthguard, just as he did in the Corey Anderson fight, and he could barely keep it in his mouth. Again, veteranship.

11:25 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: The scores are the very appropriate 30-27 and 29-28 twice for “The Choir Boy” Ron Stallings, a genial, swell guy who earns his first UFC debut. Dreams come true in MMA! Especially when the UFC has nearly 600 fighters with dreams of MMA greatness on roster.

11:12 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: It's been brought to my attention that during the scripted, pre-recorded intro for this fight, it was described by Mike Goldberg as a “light heavyweight fight.” It's actually at 185, after Jones debuted at 205. Even though it's Anik on play-by-play for this card, it's just a reminder that you can't blame Mike Goldberg for every screw-up, even when it's coming out of his mouth. Don't the UFC and Fox Sports 1 have editors?

10:57 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Good morning and afternoon, fight heads of the west. Welcome to fight ni... er, afternoon, where the UFC returns to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., with a high-stakes featherweight headliner between Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas.

It's the UFC's third trip to Fairfax. Last time Zuffa hit the city up was May 2012 and they staged the unanimous “Fight of the Year” between Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier. If only we could be so blessed with our 145-pound headliner this time.

More important than anything, though, it's the morning and afternoon. We can all hypothetically enjoy some fights while the sun in shining, then go off and enjoy our questionable and debauched Saturday nights as we were intended to. I don't know how many afternoon shows the UFC plans to do in the near future and I'm not sure how long it would take to create the new viewing custom of rocking to MMA in the afternoon on quasi-regular basis, but I fully support more of this scheduling.


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