Posted on: October 24, 2009 4:08 pm

UFC 104 Live Blog

I'll have live round-by-round coverage and analysis of UFC 104 tonight beginning shortly before 9 p.m. ET.

The top seven bouts will be covered in great detail, and I'll provide quickie results for the other remaining undercard fights (probably before the round-by-round begins, so if you're hoping to avoid spoilers for fights that could air on the broadcast as filler, there's your warning).

The big one, of course, is the main event pitting UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

Machida (15-0-0, 7-0-0 UFC) is not only undefeated, but he's never lost a single round in the UFC. He is among the best when it comes to avoiding damage during a fight. Machida was somewhat unfairly tagged as a boring fighter after his earlier UFC bouts, but I guess that will happen when you're not allowing your opponent the chance to tee off on you. Machida's last two wins (including the title win over Rashad Evans) came via convincing KO, so the "boring" criticism has all but died down.

Shogun (18-3-0, 2-1-0 UFC) got off to a terrible start in the UFC after a very successful run in PRIDE, losing to Forrest Griffin via submission. Since that fight, he's won two in a row, looking progressively better with each victory.

With Rua, it's important to remember that his loss to Griffin was the exception to the rule. Before that, he had won 12 of his last 13 fights in PRIDE. Since the Griffin loss, he's won two straight. Then again, his recent wins were against an aging Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. One can safely assume that Machida will be a much more difficult puzzle to solve than either of those opponents for Rua.

Machida is a very difficult guy to damage in a standup duel, but he's no pushover on the ground either. But still, taking the fight to the canvas is probably Shogun's best path to victory. Aside from his karate pedigree, Machida is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so just because Rua is skilled on the ground does not mean that Machida is toast if the fight goes there. It certainly makes the fight more winnable for Rua, but that may not be saying much.

The full card for tonight's UFC 104:

  • UFC light heavyweight title bout: Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
  • Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell (265)
  • Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer (157 -- catch)
  • Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher (155)
  • Anthony "Rumble" Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (176 -- catch)
  • Ryan Bader vs. Eric "The Red" Schafer (205)
  • Antoni Hardonk vs. Pat Barry (265)
  • Yushin Okami vs. Chael Sonnen (185)
  • Jorge Rivera vs. Rob Kimmons (185)
  • Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan (205)
  • Stefan Struve vs. Chase Gormley (265)

Tibau vs. Neer ended up at a catchweight of 157 after both men slightly missed weight. Anthony Johnson came in at 176 for a 170-pound bout (and looked severely drained even at that weight), but Yoshida agreed to fight him at 176 anyhow.

Johnson will be fined 20 percent of his purse for missing weight by such an excessive margin.

See you shortly before 9 p.m. ET for the UFC 104 live blog.
Posted on: October 2, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2009 12:53 pm

Trading places: Kimbo Slice and Big Country

Maybe you heard, but Roy Nelson beat Kimbo Slice on The Ultimate Fighter. It was kind of a big deal. The fight broke Spike TV ratings records, but when Kimbo gets into the cage with cameras present, that's usually what happens.

People watch. Records break. You know. That old chestnut.

But what follows every Kimbo Slice fight is an avalanche of micro-analysis from a wide swath of humanity, from journalists all the way down to the marginally interested casual TV viewer that happened to catch the fight while flipping channels. As the opinions flooded the internet over the past few days, a few things became abundantly clear:

  • The fight itself was a letdown.
  • Kimbo seems just as genuine today as he did in 2008.
  • Unlike in 2008, people are now willing to give Kimbo credit for that.
  • When he's not fighting in the main event of a non-UFC show, Kimbo Slice is suddenly way more likeable.

Perhaps the biggest turn of events: When it comes to objects of ridicule and scorn, Roy Nelson is the new Kimbo Slice.

Roy Nelson (UFC) Prior to the season premiere of TUF 10, MMA fans roundly (and rightly) accepted Nelson as one of the favorites to win it all. He was a well-established, successful heavyweight outside of the UFC already. His bulk was a problem for opponents and his skill set was good enough to consider him a moderate threat from any position, standing our on the canvas. But in praising Nelson as the guy to beat -- and in the week leading up to the show, as a fighter far more impressive than Kimbo Slice -- informed MMA fans may have helped set up casual MMA watchers for disappointment.

Casual fans are notorious for not enjoying or appreciating ground fighting. When Nelson took Kimbo down, held him in a crucifix and used a series of light punches to stay active enough to win via stoppage since Kimbo couldn't move, MMA fans understood what he was doing. It was fair, it was legal, and under the circumstances, it was a great strategy. But to most of the casual fans watching on TV, it was a turn-off.

Nelson used a combination of his formidable girth and good technique to win that fight. But many of the casual fans watching didn't pick up on the technique part of it. All they saw was that bulbous belly. All they saw was a fat guy laying on top of a superstar and love-tapping him until the referee decided the fight was over. And when Kimbo got up, he didn't even look hurt.

There was technique involved, but a person new to MMA typically isn't going to pick up on that. If MMA is to convert all of those new eyeballs into full-blown MMA fans, it will not be with a fight like that, nor with a fighter like Roy Nelson.

In South Florida -- Kimbo's turf -- popular morning drive DJs Paul Castronovo and "Young" Ron Brewer, who rarely discuss the UFC, talked about the fight before it aired. The morning after, Castronovo called Nelson's win the "gayest thing I've ever seen on television." Once intrigued by Kimbo, the hosts blew him off for not being able to beat a big, fat guy who didn't appear to be hurting him at all.

Aside from their lessened opinion of Kimbo Slice (most people seem to like the guy more now in spite of the loss, and the UFC is going out of their way to build on that for obvious reasons), Paul and Ron echoed a lot the same opinions I've heard and read from new viewers that saw that fight. The majority opinion from the non-MMA crowd is "That fat guy who asked the promoter for a cheeseburger is a real MMA fighter and Kimbo Slice isn't? Check please."

That's not Roy Nelson's fault. If he went out of his way to make the fight more exciting, he would have abandoned his game plan and exposed himself to a greater chance of defeat. It's not the fault of knowledgeable MMA fans for building up Nelson as a respectable MMA fighter, because he is (doughy physique notwithstanding).

If the new viewers were turned off by Nelson, it seems as if the UFC and Spike TV turned that negative into a positive by helping Kimbo Slice repair his own image. All things considered, that was the big victory here. Win or lose, Roy Nelson was never going to be a breakout superstar. The money -- and the potential new fans -- always rested with Kimbo, and they've done as good a job protecting that investment as possible given that the guy didn't win his first (and potentially last, but they're teasing otherwise) fight on TUF.

A year ago, longtime MMA fans hated Kimbo Slice for being a street fighter soiling the sport's reputation by waltzing right in as a main eventer on network TV. Today, the casual fans hate Roy Nelson for being a chubby guy that puts on boring fights. We know Nelson is the exception to the rule, but they don't. The trick is getting them to tune in again to find otherwise.

What's worse for the potential growth of MMA in the mainstream: An exciting one-trick pony like Kimbo, or a well-rounded fighter that bores the casual fans and doesn't look the role of a true athlete? What's more likely to turn away potential new fans?

At what point does the sport have to make concessions for the casual fans in order to grow the business, and where would you draw that line? I'm interested in your opinions, so fire away.

Follow Denny Burkholder on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DennyBurkholder

Posted on: August 10, 2008 12:14 am
Edited on: August 10, 2008 12:56 am

UFC 87 live results: St. Pierre vs. Fitch

The main event up next, as Georges St. Pierre defends the welterweight title against Jon Fitch, who still hasn't lost in the UFC.

Round 1: GSP immediately takes Fitch down with a double leg. Fitch with a closed guard. GSP working elbows and fists to the head but Fitch is defending very well. GSP with a pair of fists to the jaw as Fitch tries to get up. Fitch gets upright for a split second before GSP takes him to the canvas again. Fitch back up. Fitch throws a kick and eats a big right hand that rocks him. GSP follows him down with a series of hard punches to the face. Fitch absorbs a ton of shots before working to scramble back to his feet. Fitch gets up but he's on rubber legs. St. Pierre with a series of punches that brings Fitch back to his knees. GSP follows him down and strikes him with elbows. GSP passes Fitch's guard, with is the first time anyone in the UFC has ever done that. The round ends with Fitch struggling to improve his position. 10-9 St. Pierre, maybe even 10-8.

Round 2: Fitch looks to trade. St. Pierre with jabs. Punch to the ribs by Fitch. GSP landing more jabs. Fitch with a body shot and tries to throw a knee but misses. GSP with jabs and a body kick. Fitch throwing lots of fists and knees but not connecting with much. GSP with a spinning back kick, then back to the jab. Fitch's nose is bloody. Fitch with a nice left hand. Fitch is more aggressive now. GSP shoots and Fitch stuffs it. GSP with a left and Fitch answers with an uppercut. Right hand and spinning back kick by GSP as the round ends. GSP 20-18, although Fitch seems to have recovered nicely from the disasterous first round. He's still in it.

Round 3: GSP rocks Fitch with a big right counterpunch and Fitch crumbles to the canvas. GSP takes Fitch's back and tries to get the hooks in, but Fitch scrambles to top position and GSP takes guard. Fitch with punches to the ribs and the side of GSP's head. GSP closes his guard. Fitch keeps busy with punches to the body and head. GSP sweeps and escapes to his feet, then takes Fitch down. GSP on top with Fitch's head back against the fence. Fitch gets to his knees and GSP hits him with a right before letting him up. Leg kick by GSP and Fitch counters with a fist. Fitch throws a leg kick and GSP tries for a takedown. Fitch punches his way off the cage. GSP lands a nice head kick and a knee to the left side of Fitch's head and Fitch falls again. He scrambles back to his feet but GSP has him cornered and is banging away. Takedown by St. Pierre and the round ends. 30-27 St. Pierre, but you have to admire Fitch's toughness. He should have been knocked out long ago.

Round 4: Fitch throwing knees and kicks. St. Pierre is now bleeding near his left eye. Fitch with a body kick. Fitch shoots for a takedown off a jab and St. Pierre stuffs him. Left jab by St. Pierre. Fitch with a left jab of his own. Fitch works the left cross and aims for GSP's cut. Fitch with another takedown attempt and GSP won't go down. Fitch fights for the takedown and finally lets the leg go, as GSP takes him to his back. GSP works some ground and pound with Fitch's head against the fence. GSP tries and fails to take a leg as the round ends. GSP 40-36.

Round 5: St. Pierre with a nice left hand. He mixes in a leg kick with more fists. Spinning backfist by St. Pierre connects on the button. GSP takes Fitch back to the canvas and throws body and head punches. St. Pierre drops two heavy left hands down on Fitch. GSP with elbows to Fitch's jaw. GSP lands another pair of lefts as Fitch powers back to his feet. St. Pierre takes him right back to the mat and throws more elbows to the face. St. Pierre spends the rest of the fight stifling Fitch's attempts to get back up and throwing short strikes. 50-45 St. Pierre. A dominant performance by a tremendous athlete, and Fitch was most definitely a worthy opponent.

Winner: Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via unanimous decision (50-43, 50-44, 50-44) after five rounds to retain the UFC welterweight title.
Posted on: August 9, 2008 11:38 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2008 12:10 am

UFC 87 live results: Lesnar vs. Herring

Here we go with the big boys: Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring is next.

Round 1: Lesnar runs out with a flying knee that misses. He circles a bit before dropping Herring with a right hand and rushing in for a guillotine, which isn't sunk in well. Herring has Lesnar against the fence. Lesnar shoots and gets an easy takedown with Herring back against the cage. Lesnar stands over Herring and tosses his legs aside. Herring to his hands and knees with Lesnar on his side. Herring turtles up. Lesnar throwing punches to the sides of Herring's head. Herring is bloodied. Herring rolls over briefly trying to take guard but Lesnar keeps that from happening. Lesnar still busy with punches and elbows to the head. Knee to the body by Lesnar. Lesnar is controlling Herring with an ankle pick and a wrist, textbook amateur wrestling style. Herring can't get off his knees. His left eye looks like it's swelling. Lesnar just holding Herring in place and striking at will as the round ends. Lesnar 10-9, easily.

Round 2: Lesnar charges forward for a takedown and Herring avoids it. Herring throws a fist and Lesnar ducks under for a body lock takedown. Lesnar gets Herring right back to his knees. Herring rolls over and Lesnar takes side control. Herring turns to his knees again. Lesnar gets full mount but Herring rolls back to his knees. Lesnar hammer-fists Herring in the face. Lesnar with knees to the body. Herring rolls to his back again. Herring tries to take half guard but Lesnar maintains side control. Herring fights to his feet. Lesnar with another guillotine with his back to the fence. Lesnar knees Herring in the body. Herring with a couple of knee strikes and throws a combo of fists that miss the mark as the round ends. 20-18 Lesnar.

Round 3: Both of Herring's eyes are swelling and he looks in rough shape. Lesnar throws a kick to the head. Herring throws fists and forces Lesnar against the fence. Lesnar reverses it and throws more knees to the ribs. Lesnar takes Herring to the mat again and resumes punching Herring in the face from the side. Lesnar with big knees to Herring's ribs and shoulder. For those wondering about Lesnar's stamina in a long fight, he looks completely fine at this point. Herring rolls to his back and Lesnar takes full mount again. Herring rolls back to his knees. Lesnar is manhandling Herring on the canvas. Herring sits on his backside and Lesnar tries a to force a rear naked choke, but Herring slips out and gets back to his feet. Herring throws a couple of strikes that miss and Lesnar takes him down again. More fists to the face by Lesnar. Herring rolling back and forth but he just can't escape. Lesnar with full mount again. Lesnar hears the ten second warning and starts celebrating early, letting Herring back up as the buzzer sounds. 30-27 for Lesnar, by my estimation. Lesnar has clearly improved since the Mir fight.

Winner: Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26) after three rounds.

"I fell off the horse against Frank Mir, and tonight I got on that horse and rode it out of town, baby!" a jubilant Lesnar says after the win.

The UFC has got to be happy with that performance, and while Lesnar still shows the need for improvement in certain areas (he had full mount numerous times and couldn't do anything with it except control position), he's coming along just fine for a rookie.
Posted on: August 9, 2008 11:10 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2008 11:19 pm

UFC 87 live results: Gamburyan vs. Emerson

Next up is Manvel "The Anvil" Neidhart Gamburyan vs. Rob Emerson.

Round 1: Gamburyan comes out aggressive and Emerson stuns him with a right hand, then follows with a pair of lefts on the ground. The second one flattens Gamburyan out on the mat for the stoppage. Fast KO win for Emerson.

Winner: Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via KO due to a left hand at 12 seconds of Round 1.
Posted on: August 9, 2008 10:37 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2008 11:06 pm

UFC 87 live results: Florian vs. Huerta

A lot of anticipation for this next fight: Kenny Florian vs. Roger Huerta.

Round 1: Florian is playing it more careful than usual. They circle for a bit with leg kicks and no real significant strikes before Florian gets a takedown against the cage. Florian gets his back. Huerta stands up and escapes. Florian throws a combo ending with a knee. Huerta returns with a combo and shoots for a takedown. Florian stuffs it. Florian clinches and then uses a Muay Thai clinch to land a knee to the head. Huerta tries the Superman punch twice. The round ends, and I've got it 10-9 Florian, but it's real close and neither guy was ever in much trouble.

Round 2: Florian throws leg and head kicks. Huerta forces him against the cage and Florian stuffs the takedown again. Florian shoots for a single leg and Huerta tries to take a kimura while defending. Florian trips him down with a body lock and gets Huerta's back quickly. Florian lands some strikes before Huerta escapes out the back door. They stand again, and Florian uses a leg sweep to trip Huerta down, but can't capitalize before Huerta gets up. Huerta with a straight right. Huerta fakes a Superman punch again. He does it yet again and take a body lock against the fence. Florian with a Muay Thai clinch and some elbow strikes. They exchange punches as the time expires on Round 2. Florian 10-9 again, but still, it's very close.

Round 3: Florian with a straight kick to the chest. He tries a guillotine and Huerta escapes. Florian comes alive, throwing flying knees and fists. Huerta clowns him a bit, but Florian's not joking, so he throws another flying knee in mid-mock. Florian muscles Huerta to the mat and takes his leg, but can't do anything with it. Huerta escapes. Florian with another knee. They exchange and Huerta largely misses while Florian connects. Florian tagging Huerta with jabs. Huerta with a combo. Huerta with a straight right. Florian with a knee to the body. Huerta lands a body kick and slips doing so. He's back up. Florian with a right hand and a takedown. Huerta stands up and Florian hits him with a series of knees. Florian dances away from Huerta and tags him with jabs to the face as the time runs out. I've got the fight 30-27 Florian.

Winner: Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via unanimous decision (30-27) after three rounds.

Huerta suffers his first UFC defeat.  Florian says his strategy for the fight was to out-technique Huerta and stay away from fist-fighting him, due to Huerta's toughness. It paid off.

"I didn't want to get into a brawl with him," Florian said. "He's real tough."
Posted on: August 9, 2008 10:09 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2008 10:32 pm

UFC 87 live results: MacDonald vs. Maia

We're kicking things off with Jason MacDonald vs. Demian Maia.

Round 1: MacDonald clinches and takes Maia down early, surprisingly opting for a ground fight. Maia traps him in a deep, tight arm triangle. MacDonald amazingly escapes out the back door after a long struggle and gets Maia's back for a rear naked choke. Maia escapes and takes guard again. MacDonald winds up on his back and locks in a guillotine choke. Maia passes guard to side control to get out. Maia maneuvers into back control and locks in a rear naked choke with a body lock, and while MacDonald can't escape, he fights back long enough to last the round. Tough call, but I'll give it to Maia 10-9 based on being closer to finishing.

Round 2: Maia spends the majority of the round on top of MacDonald working from his guard. Maia takes full mount and tries some ground and pound. Maia slows down his striking for a bit, then uses some elbows to the face. MacDonald trying to escape but can't, although he's defending Maia's strikes very well. He's in a bad position, but he's not really taking much damage other than a cut on the bridge of the nose. MacDonald fights into half guard and finally muscles his way out the back door, finishing the round in Maia's guard. Maia 20-18.

Round 3: Maia with a takedown, which MacDonald escapes for a takedown of his own. MacDonald works on top and briefly gets behind Maia long enough to try a rear naked choke, but Maia escapes quickly. Now Maia has MacDonald's back, looking for a choke. He finally sinks in the rear naked and MacDonald is forced to tap out. Tremendous fight for those who appreciate submissions and reversals.

Winner: Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via submission to a rear naked choke at 2:44 of Round 3.
Posted on: August 9, 2008 9:54 am
Edited on: August 9, 2008 9:56 am

UFC 87 weigh-in results

I'll have a live blog of UFC 87 starting later tonight, at roughly 9:45 p.m. ET. Be sure to check back for round-by-round coverage of the fights.

Everybody made weight on Friday, with Brock Lesnar once again getting a hero's welcome:

PPV fights:
  • Jon Fitch (170) vs. Georges St. Pierre (170)
  • Heath Herring (250) vs. Brock Lesnar (265)
  • Roger Huerta (155) vs. Kenny Florian (155)
  • Demian Maia (185) vs. Jason MacDonald (185)
  • Robert Emerson (155) vs. Manny Gamburyan (155)

Undercard fights:
  • Tamdan McCrory (170) vs. Luke Cummo (167)
  • Dan Evensen (244) vs. Cheick Kongo (235)
  • Andre Gusmao (205) vs. Jon Jones (205)
  • Steve Bruno (170) vs. Chris Wilson (170)
  • Ryan Thomas (170) vs. Ben Saunders (170)
Random thought: If Brock Lesnar loses to Heath Herring, will fans allow him to work his way up from the bottom of the roster like any other rookie would, or will he be crucified for not becoming an elite-level fighter within his first three fights?

My guess is there will be a loud contingent of fans saying that Brock sucks and writing him off for good, just because he couldn't waltz into the top promotion in the sport with a 1-0 record and immediately dominate guys like Mir and Herring. People forget that Brock never really got the chance to work his way up the ladder. The guy has two professional fights on his record as we speak, but he's being talked about as a total bust if he can't beat guys with years of experience.

Brock could smash Herring and all of this would become irrelevant. But if he loses, will UFC fans allow him to start fighting guys with similar experience without crying that he's being "protected"? Something tells me there will be some serious ignorance flying around the internet if and when Brock goes 0-2 in the UFC. Give the guy a chance to learn.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com