THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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It was one of the most hyped fights of the year, the most controversial fighter in mixed martial arts against the brash, trash-talking challenger in the main event of UFC 117: Silva v Sonnen, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The big boys began the show as Roy Nelson faced Junior Dos Santos in the heavyweight division.
There was a part of me that wanted Nelson to win, but deep down I knew that Dos Santos would be too much for him. The Brazilian had a tremendous first round, rocking Big Country a number of times. But as the fight progressed and as Dos Santos continued to tee off he just couldn’t put Nelson away. Nelson had his moments, but they were few and far between.
No surprise with the decision here, Dos Santos all the way with a dominating performance.
It was down to the welterweight division for the next fight as Matt Hughes took on Ricardo Almeida.
The latest inductee into the Hall of Fame put on a vintage performance. After both men tested the waters Hughes sent Almeida down with a big left hook. Hughes followed him to the ground and immediately went for a guillotine. Almeida was out of it seconds later, giving Hughes and outstanding submission win, and also giving his doubters a lesson. Write him off at your peril.
The lightweights were up next as Clay Guida faced Rafael Dos Anjos.
This proved to be another enjoyable encounter. There were some nice exchanges early in the first, with both guys getting in some good shots. From there we had some good ground work in round two.
The ending came in the third round. After Guida scored with a big take down he took control of Dos Anjos’ head and arms. That was enough for the Brazilian. His jaw broken, he just couldn’t take any more and tapped out. Another great encounter, and a good performance from Guida.
The only filler material of the evening saw Stefan Struve going up against Christian Morecraft.
The proverbial back and forth affair saw Morecraft dominating in the first round with his ground and pound, to the point where the doctor considered pulling Struve out because of his cut and badly swollen bottom lip.
This just seemed to fire up the big guy as both men began the second round swinging, with a big right from Struve knocking Morecraft down, with the referee stopping the fight after a few seconds of ground and pound. A remarkable comeback from the big guy.
It was back to the welterweight division for the next fight as Jon Fitch took on Thiago Alves.
A bit of controversy before this fight even began saw Alves failing to make the weight limit by just half a pound, forfeiting twenty per cent of his purse.
A re-match four years in the making saw some good ground and pound work from Fitch as he dominated the grappling side of things. It was as if he was able to take Alves down at will. Alves managed to get in a couple of good shots in the striking game, but in the end the weight cut seemed to take too much out of him.
In the end all three judges scored in favour of Fitch, the only decision there could be really.
The main event saw Chael Sonnen challenging Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title.
Now this is what a championship fight should be about. For over four rounds Sonnen took it to Silva, and did something that nobody else has managed to do in the UFC – he made Silva look human.
But then, with just two minutes of the fight left, and with Sonnen looking like he was going to win, it turned. Silva synched in a triangle choke, and seconds later Sonnen tapped. It was all over. The greatest fight I’ve seen this year was done, and Silva was still the UFC Middleweight Champion.
In conclusion – I know I say this almost every time, but this was a great show. The five undercard fights delivered big time, while the main event, well, what more can I say?
It was an outstanding fight, with the sort of drama you only get to see in Hollywood blockbusters, and if Chael Sonnen doesn’t get a re-match with Anderson Silva after that performance then there really is no justice in this world.