UFC 111 Analysis: The Main Card

The major story coming out of UFC 111, held Saturday in Newark, N.J., is the double standard fans have been using for welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and former challenger Jon Fitch. Both men employed similar tactics in their respective fights, using a conservative, controlled and mistake-minimizing approach that sucks the energy, life and fight out of their opponents. Yet, while St. Pierre gets praised and applauded for flawless performances, Fitch gets booed out of the arena for using the same style.

Also Brazilian Rousimar Palhares has been disciplined with a 90-day suspension for failing to follow the referee’s instruction to a release a heelhook on opponent Tomasz Drwal. While it’s arguable that the Brazilian Top Team fighter could have released the hold a second earlier, it is questionable why the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has suspended him for three months for doing his job -- which is fighting until the referee says break. Not unnecessarily injuring your opponent goes without saying, but hindering a fighter’s work like that is unheard of.

Read on for in-depth analysis of the five main-card bouts, including the interim heavyweight title fight between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir as well as George St. Pierre’s fourth title defense against England’s Dan Hardy.

Jim Miller def. Mark Bocek -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: Even in defeat, criminally underrated Canadian grappler Mark Bocek turned in his strongest career performance against local fighter Jim Miller. Bocek out-wrestled and out-grappled the New Jersey native in a fight that could just as well have been scored a draw or even a win for the American Top Team fighter. What ultimately cost Bocek the bout was the fact that Miller did a little more damage by cutting the Canadian and came closer to finishing the fight with a first-round kimura. Bocek’s best moment was a second-round rear-naked choke attempt that Miller defended well.

Forecast for Miller: Miller, now 6-1 in the UFC, is one of the frontrunners for a title shot, especially should champion B.J. Penn decide to relinquish the belt to pursue the 170-pound title again. To keep him busy until that time arrives, Evan Dunham, Tyson Griffin and Sean Sherk have shouldered their arms to derail the Miller train.

Forecast for Bocek: The red-haired BJJ black belt really impressed with his takedowns and power against former Div. I wrestler Miller. Efrain Escudero, Clay Guida or Joe Lauzon would be interesting future opponents for him.

Jon Fitch def. Ben Saunders -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: Unlike in his last fight against Mike Pierce where he wasn’t 100 percent convincing, Jon Fitch turned in a flawless performance against short-notice replacement Ben Saunders, who jumped in for teammate Thiago Alves. Fitch came in incredible shape for this fight and fought fifteen minutes that would have made a prime Mark Coleman proud by using his wrestling methodically to beat down the dangerous striker. The American Kickboxing Academy standout showed powerful takedowns, good ground-and-pound, effective dirty boxing and also some nice punches and kicks in the brief standup portions of the bout -- a systematic beatdown of his larger opponent.

Forecast for Fitch: It only makes sense for him to take on the elite of the UFC’s welterweight division. Fitch stated Saturday that he will never fight AKA teammate Josh Kosckeck. So, future opponents will likely be recruited from a small group of fighters, which includes Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy and Martin Kampmann.

Forecast for Saunders: Is the UFC burning out the young American Top Team prospect? Of course, he asked for this latest bout, but with the massive potential Saunders has, the promotion may have brought him up a little more carefully. Instead, Saunders has been thrown into the cage with top-10 opponents Mike Swick and Jon Fitch within the last ten months. Saunders, 26, could face Carlos Condit, Anthony Johnson or Dong Hyun Kim in his immediate future.

Kurt Pellegrino def. Fabricio Camoes -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 4:20 R2

File Photos: Sherdog.com

Kurt Pellegrino was at his best
against Mark Bocek at UFC 111.
What happened: New Jersey’s own “Batman” Kurt Pellegrino came out on top of a lively grappling match with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Fabricio Camoes. The Brazilian had a few submission attempts in the first round, threatening with a standing rear-naked choke, a triangle and an omo plata, all which Pellegrino defended well. The turning point came midway through the second round, when the 31-year-old American got the mount position. After frustrating Camoes with a couple of short punches, Pellegrino sunk in the mata leão to end the fight.

Forecast for Pellegrino: UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has fed Pellegrino a steady stream of fellow BJJ black belts throughout his run in the promotion and it’s likely going to continue that way. Chances are good Pellegrino’s next opponent will be recruited from Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night card. Pellegrino should pay particular attention to the fights of Rafaello Oliveira, Ronys Torres and Gleison Tibau.

Forecast for Camoes: Now 0-1-1 in his UFC career and 10-5-1 overall, it’s uncertain if the 31-year-old Saulo Ribeiro student will get another shot in the Octagon, as he hasn’t been able to show all of his skills in his first two fights. If Camoes is invited back again, it’s most likely going to be to launching pad for another mid-carder the promotion wants to elevate.

Shane Carwin def. Frank Mir -- KO (Punches) 3:48 R1

What happened: Despite gaining twenty pounds of pure muscle, according to commentator Joe Rogan, Frank Mir could not prevent Shane Carwin from muscling him against the cage. Just as the notoriously impatient New Jersey crowd was getting restless, Carwin exploded with a series of uppercuts from the clinch. Mir crumbled to the mat and got knocked unconscious with heavy hands from the gut-wrench and back-mount positions.

Forecast for Carwin: Like he said in his post-fight interview, it has to be destiny for Carwin to meet with heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the cage. The fight is tentatively planned to take place at UFC 116 on July 3 the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Forecast for Mir: Previous solid wins over champions Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will make sure Mir remains a prominent feature in the UFC heavyweight division for the next couple of years. Possible future opponents for the outspoken Las Vegan include Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga and Ben Rothwell.

Georges St. Pierre def. Dan Hardy -- Unanimous Decision

What happened: His coaching team of Greg Jackson and Firas Zahabi has completely eliminated any form of risk from Georges St. Pierre’s fighting style. During St. Pierre’s first three years in the UFC, he was still happy to stand and trade with his opponents. But ever since Matt Serra knocked him out in 2007, the French Canadian has become ultra-conservative in his approach. Saturday’s highlights in an affair that was fought at a manageable pace included a first-round juju gatame and a fourth-round Kimura attempt, both of which Hardy survived. Knowing he would eventually get taken down anyway, one would have liked to see a little more risk-taking from the challenger in the brief standup portions of the bout.

Forecast for St. Pierre: The 28-year-old model athlete needs a real challenge and he needs it badly and shortly. If there is no credible contender left inside the promotion, the UFC will have to bring in somebody from outside. Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields’ contract runs out following his fight with Dan Henderson on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., but Sherdog.com has learned it will likely take months for the Cesar Gracie black belt to get into a position to negotiate with the UFC, especially if Shields manages to beat Henderson. The fans would much rather see St. Pierre duke it out with fellow 185-pounders Anderson or Wanderlei Silva anyway.

Forecast for Hardy: Many experts predicted that the likeable Brit was rushed into the title fight with St. Pierre and that one more year of taking on other challengers and, more importantly, working on his game would have given Hardy a much better chance of upsetting the French Canadian. Since it is the fight business and you don’t turn down a title shot unless you’re Karo Parisyan, the “Outlaw” didn’t have much choice, though. Still a top-10 welterweight, the 27-year-old Nottingham native could come up against Alves, Fitch or Martin Kampmann in the not-too-distant future.
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