A pretty good night of fights overall, unless, of course, you were rooting for the hometown favorites.
Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin: This time around, Franklin managed to actually mount some offense. He avoided the Thai clinch at times, scored a takedown, and escaped the first round...barely; with just seconds left in the opening round, Silva connected with a hard right hand that dropped Franklin, whose legs gave out from under him. That's when you kind of knew it was over.
Round 2 was virtually a carbon copy of their first fight, capped off once again by Silva ruining Franklin's night with an overwhelmingly strong clinch and a couple of very nasty knees that busted up Franklin's nose (yes, again). Silva punished Ace with about a dozen unanswered shots and left the former champion battered and defenseless next to the cage, forcing Big John to step in and call the fight. Silva's striking, once again, was too strong and too precise for Ace.
The always professional Silva seemed almost apologetic for winning the way he did in Franklin's hometown. In fact, just before Bruce Buffer officially declared Silva the winner, you could see Silva say to Franklin, "I'm sorry," before the two embraced. Nice guy.
My prediction: Silva, TKO Rd. 3
Actual result: Siva, TKO Rd. 2
Tim Sylvia vs. Brandon Vera: Vera has all the tools to have won this fight. I knew that and his coaches knew that. Unfortunately, Vera didn't listen to them and lost the unanimous decision to a less than stellar performance by Sylvia.
In Round One, Vera immediately got inside of Sylvia's reach but didn't do any real damage from the clinch and wasn't able to get the big fella down to the ground. Vera scored a takedown about 3 minutes into the second round but again couldn't get good position for ground-n-pound or for a submission. Late in the round, Vera landed a huge knee to the head as Sylvia climbed back to his feet. Sylvia, however, still had a knee down, so referee Yves Levigne issued a warning to Vera. With just seconds left in the round, the action resumed and Vera conneted with some big-time kicks that rattled the former champion and fired up the crowd.
Vera looked tired in the third, which is when Sylvia started to let his hands go and stole the fight. Vera, who clearly doesn't like getting hit, suffered a broken left hand in the first and resorted to close-range elbows, none of which really connected.
I expected Vera to feed Sylvia a healthy dose of leg kicks and overhand rights throughout this fight- and it sounds like his coaches did also - but what do I know.
Two things about Tim Sylvia: 1) All the talk about him looking to knock guys out now that his back is healthy is all bullshit. He once again showed little urgency n going for the KO, this time against a smaller, weaker opponent with a busted hand. 2) Why is he calling out Cheick Kongo? Be gracious in victory, thank the armed forces men and women like you always do, thank the crowd, and then leave. Instead, he goes on about how Kongo has been "picking on people." Picking on people? Kongo? Stupid.
Up next for big Timmy is Big Nog for the title.
My prediction: Vera, unanimous decision
Actual result: Sylvia, unanimous decision
Jorge Gurgel vs. Alvin Robinson: Heading into this fight, I said that I'd never been impressed - not even a little bit - with Gurgel, and he did nothing last night to change my mind.
As expected, Robinson came out strong and aggressive, but after an early scramble, Gurgel wound up on top and controlled the rest of the round from side control and half-guard. Gurgel's jiu-jitsu looked strong (no surprise there), but Robinson managed to keep Gurgel from attempting any real submissions and suffered no damage otherwise.
Gurgel and Robinson traded some shots to kick off Round 2 before Robinson secured a takedown and starting pounding on a tired Gurgel. Round 3 brought more of the same - a very strong Robinson smashing away at Gurgel's mangled face.
I know Gurgel is from Cincinnati and he trains Franklin and everything else, but enough is enough already. He's had trouble stopping some of the lower-tier lightweights and proved to be no match for the powerful Kid Robinson.
My prediction: Robinson, TKO Rd. 1, 2
Actual result: Robinson, unanimous decision
Stephan Bonnar vs. Eric Schafer: Bonnar escaped a couple of choke attempts and a near kimura in the first round before getting dominant position on Schafer in the second. Bonnar seemed to have a hard time passing Schafer's guard but managed to maintain superior position and unleashed a series of furious strikes to pick up the TKO win in the second round. Despite the loss, Schafer impressed me with his relentless submission attempts.
The highlight of this fight for me was when a victorious Bonnar forgot the name of the bar/club where his after-party was held.
My prediction: Bonnar, TKO Rd. 2
Actual result: Bonnar, TKO, Rd. 2
Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher: Round 1 brought plenty of action. Belcher fired off some knees, popped right back up after being taken down by Starnes, and kept attacking. Belcher smiled off some hard shots from Starnes in Round 2 and smacked him with some big elbows, one of which opened a crevasse on Starnes' head that prompted the ringside physician to wave this one off. Belcher's Muay Thai looked strong, Starnes was enjoying some success with the jab, and I would have liked to see this fight continue (not that I have a problem with the stoppage).
My prediction: Belcher, TKO Rd. 2
Actual result: Belcher, TKO, Rd. 2
Actual result: Belcher, TKO, Rd. 2
Demian Maia vs. Ryan Jensen: No surprise here really. Maia got Jensen's back in the first round,worked to get his hooks in, secured the rear naked choke, and forced an overmatched Jensen to tap.
My prediction: Maia, submission, Rd. 1
Actual result: Maia, submission, Rd. 1
Other Undercard Fights:
Yushin Okami def. Jason MacDonald via unanimous decision
Josh Burkman def. Forrest Petz via split decision
Matt Grice def. Jason Black via unanimous decision