UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs Munoz Review
The UFC headed to Manchester for UFC Fight Night 30. There were knockouts, submissions, awkward moments and results that demand attention from top tier fighters and fight fans alike.
Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida vs Mark (The Filipino Wrecking Machine) Munoz
This looked more like a scene from a Kung-Fu movie than it did a competition between two elite athletes. Machida rattled Munoz’s ribs before knocking him out with a flawless head kick. Munoz is one of the most aggressive and destructive fighters in the UFC, especially in the Middleweight division, making this a fantastic Middleweight debut for former Light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Machida also walked away with the coveted Knockout of the Night award.
Machida’s Sumo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background made it nearly impossible for even elite Light-heavyweight wrestlers to take him down. Despite being one of the smallest men in the division, he was a star knockout artist at 205 lbs. Machida is also one of the least struck fighters in UFC history, so it’s not likely that he’ll be caught on the chin by a wild right hand. If Weidman loses his title to Anderson Silva in December, don’t expect a title run for Machida, him and Silva are training partners and are unlikely to ever fight each other. If Weidman successfully defends his belt against Anderson Silva in December, he’ll have to deal with Machida in 2014, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Machida brought the belt back to Brazil after that match.
It’s beginning to look like Mark Munoz is the gatekeeper of the Middleweight division. I don’t see him getting a title shot any in the near future, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with for anyone who thinks they belong among the elite at 185lbs.
Melvin (the Young Assassin) Guillard vs Ross (The Real Deal) Pearson
A win for either man in this match could have meant a title shot and either man could have given current Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis a run for his money, but this match ended in an awkward no contest. Pearson sustained a fight ending cut caused by an illegal knee from Guillard early in the first round. I’d like to see a rematch between these two, Pearson’s natural toughness makes for a good match against Guillard’s lightning hand speed.
Ryan (Big Deal) Jimmo vs Jimmi (Poster Boy) Manuwa
Manuwa was eager to clinch with Jimmo and despite being the smaller fighter, he had no problem manhandling Jimmo. Manuwa bombarded Jimmo’s thighs with heavy knees up against the cage for most of the first round. Early in the second round, Jimmo collapsed after taking a knee to the head, but based on his body language and the time delay between the strike and the collapse, it appeared to be a leg injury that brought down the huge Canadian, an injury which was probably aided in development by Manuwa’s brutal knees.
Manuwa is growing by leaps and bounds in terms of technique and features extraordinary athleticism. Manuwa can be a major force in the Light-heavyweight decision, but I don’t think his current skill set and attributes could send him on a serious title run in this division.
Jimmo has had some impressive finishes in the UFC, but they were against weaker opponents. He’s fun to watch, but he lacks the strength and durability to stand among the best at 205lbs.
John (Super Saiyan) Tuck vs Norman (Stormin) Parke
Tuck came out aggressive in the first and but Tuck expended all of his energy early on. With Tuck exhausted, unable to dodge or fire off his own assault, he last two rounds consisted of Parke landing jabs and one-two combinations to Tuck’s head at will and led to a lopsided decision.
Norman Parke walked through some vicious strikes early on as if he didn’t feel them, but was unable to finish his gassed opponent. It’s unclear whether he lacked the power to finish Tuck or if he was employing a conservative strategy to avoid being knocked out by a counter strike. The Lightweight division is one of the richest divisions in terms of talent and Parke didn’t do much to prove that he belongs at the top of this division, but maybe a step up in competition will encourage a bit more aggression in him.
There are acceptable ways to lose a fight and there are unacceptable ways to lose a fight, losing because of poor cardio is the most unacceptable way to lose. Tuck’s plan was solid, he was causing visible damage to Parke’s leg, but he messed up the execution by spending too much energy. Tuck is young and relatively inexperienced, he has time to get better and could very well make a name for himself in at 155lbs.
Alessio (Legionarius) Sakara vs Nicholas (Nico) Musoke
This fight was some serious fun. Both fighters rocked each other in the first sixty seconds, and both fighters threw each other from the clinch in the first three minutes. After a ridiculous and explosive reversal from Sakara which left him on top of the younger smaller Musoke (who was making his UFC debut) it looked like Musoke was in real danger. Somehow, in between repeated strikes to the face, Musoke latched onto one of Sakara’s arms, locked in an arm-bar forcing the Italian veteran to tap in the first round, securing the Submission of the Night Award in his UFC debut.
This was almost the best thing Musoke could have done in his UFC debut, he recovered quickly after being staggered, rocked Sakara from the clinch, threw a bigger, stronger opponent to the ground and demonstrated great grappling abilities from top and bottom positions. He struggled a bit with Sakara’s power. Musoke could move up quickly through the Middlewight ranks if he improves his speed and head movement, but he could be a real terror if he moved down to Welterweight, but I’m not certain if he could make weight or if he even wants to.
Sakara’s tough as nails and brutally strong, but he lacks the technical skill to really stand out in at 185lbs.
John (Hands of Stone) Lineker vs Phil (Billy) Harris
Harris was meek and employed an awkward defense which led to Lineker running roughshod over him to an early first round knockout. It was hardly a real competition.
Lineker is at most one fight away from getting a title shot against current Flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson, but standing in his way will likely be the equally powerful knockout artist John Dodson. The main issue here however, is that Lineker came into this fight nearly three pounds overweight, if he can’t make weight, he wouldn’t be allowed to fight for the title, so he may need to move up to Bantamweight where he might not enjoy as much of a power advantage.
Harris needs to improve quickly if he wants to stay keep his name on the UFC roster, he can’t even be considered as a title contender right now.
Andrew (Highlight) Craig vs Luke (The Big Slow) Barnatt
Barnatt used his enormous reach advantage to stay outside of Craig’s reach and pepper him with jabs. Craig would land the occasional big right hand to Barnatt’s head which staggered him once, but Barnatt levelled Craig late in the first but hesitated to finish the fight, allowing Craig time to recover and escape to the second round. Barnatt floored Craig again in the second with a devastating uppercut, but hesitated yet again to finish the fight with strikes on the ground, but was able to lock in a rear naked choke and submit his wounded opponent. This fight earned Barnatt Fight of the Night from the UFC.
Barnatt is a head taller than most opponents in the Middleweight division and has a reach to match, if he can learn to string together combos from range and develop a better instinct for finishing the fight when the moment is right, then he could make a serious title run. I don’t see Barnatt beating current champion Weidman or current number one contender Silva right now, but he has time to grow.
Craig has serious power in his right hand, but that just isn’t enough to make someone a real contender in the UFC.