UFC: London delivers, plus Dana White recovers from night in Dublin
With the first UK bill of the year now well and truly in the books we look back at a solid London card and ask “what next?” for some of its protagonists. We also hear from UFC President Dana White as he recovers from a night in Dublin’s Temple Bar.
Prior to Saturday night and the Wembley Arena show I called UFC supremo Dana White for his take on all things MMA. White is exuberant about his latest trip to Ireland and particularly about the Irish fans and their unrestrained demands for another UFC event to be held there. He also goes on to detail the amount of local liquor his entourage consumed (it was admittedly impressive) and the huge number of local fans who have discussed SBG Ireland product Conor McGregor’s upcoming UFC debut with him. White too expressed his eagerness to see McGregor in the Octagon and adds that if Joe Silva likes you then “something must be up… as he’s the most miserable little f’’’er I’ve ever met”.
The UFC President is of course en route to last week’s presentation at Trinity College Dublin of it’s Philosophical Society’s Gold medal of honorary patronage. In contrast to his taking ill later in the day the one man PR machine and de facto heartbeat of the Ultimate Fighting Championship is in fine fettle.
But onto Saturday night and an eventful card which didn’t disappoint. The UFC’s first trans-Atlantic foray of the year was an undoubted success and in fairness White has again put his money where his mouth is by squeezing in a spicy European event prior to this weekend’s UFC157.
Nelson a work in progress
Gunnar Nelson’s UFC debut created quite a buzz amongst the MMA fraternity. Almost “Fedor-like” with his stoic gaze and disdain for the superfluous “Gunni” was more the martial artist than cage fighter and we liked it. Many cast aside doubts about his still evolving stand-up to declare that he was within touching distance of being “in the mix” in the welterweight division. Now those very same observers are presenting his admittedly unorthodox stand-up game as the reason that he will never escape the suffocating clutches of mid tier mediocrity. Firstly, Nelson never made any statements regarding his pretentions of grandeur in the UFC’s shark tank 170lb division. Secondly and more importantly the 24 year grappling wizard has just earned his stripes with a three round decision win over former Sengoku champ Jorge Santiago. Dana White probably put it best when he stated at the post event presser:
“It’s one of those things. You don’t rush the kid. He’s a young kid. He just had his first three rounder in the UFC, second fight here. He’s got plenty of time. He’s got nothing but time.”
Riddle plays it safe in the Lion’s Den
Elsewhere Matt Riddle surprised no-one with his takedown heavy bore-fest against Che Mills. The Englishman must have known that Riddle would attempt to lay and pray his way out of hostile territory and will be disappointed that he wasn’t able to thwart Riddle’s one dimensional but effective game-plan. White had some choice words for Mills in the bout’s aftermath:
“If you’re f’’’ing tired in the last 39 seconds of a fight you can win…then go get a different job… Mills should have went ape sh’t on him… that was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen, almost like he gave up, quit and walked away”
Barao peerless at bantamweight?
Renan Barao has proved beyond doubt that he is the next in line to face Dominick Cruz at 135lbs. The Brazilian blended power, technique and speed seamlessly as he weathered anything Michael McDonald had to offer. McDonald will at a mere 22 years old be back at the top table vying for UFC titles again in the future but the night rightly belonged to the Nova Uniao product. Barao was devastating against Brad Pickett in his last trip to these shores and put on a power packed performance on Saturday night to illustrate that he is among the very best in the world at the weight. Whether Cruz is, or ever will be ready for such a test after a long injury lay off is highly doubtful.
Watson makes it count on the big stage
Tom Kong Watson enjoyed one of the finest nights of his storied career when he brought home the bacon in the form of $100,000 of bonus cheques. The former BAMMA champ had too much for Stanislav Nedkov and will be relieved more than anything else that he has started to fulfil the promise that was so evident in other promotions.
Te Huna makes entrance to remember
Final word this week goes to New Zealand’s James Te Huna. The imposing light heavyweight made quite the entrance prior to a gut check decision win over the dangerous Ryan Jimmo. Could this be the best UFC walk-in ever? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OZl5th2X7M
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