BJ Penn On Another Level Against Diego Sanchez

BJ Penn further demonstrated his stranglehold over the lightweight division with this victory.  Diego Sanchez has never been dominated like this, even in the welterweight division, and, much like all truly great champions, Penn made a good fighter look very ordinary indeed.

Much of the damage was done in the first round as he rocked Sanchez in the opening exchanges and then swarming on him with punches.  It’s a testament to Sanchez’s conditioning and heart that he managed to get back up and continue fighting, but it was clear that the spring had been taken out of his step, and he never truly recovered.

Penn is not a fighter who likes to use kicks, but that doesn’t mean he can’t.  In the fifth round, he threw his first head kick of the fight, and instantly opened up a huge gash in Sanchez’s forehead that seconds later would end the fight.

The major concern for Penn now is that there are few genuine challenges left at 155lbs for him.  Can he stay motivated, and in what appears to be the best shape of his fighting career, to fight the likes of Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar?

For Sanchez this is a wake-up call.  Determination and self-belief can get you so far, but he now has to evolve his all-round skills if he wants to compete at the highest level.

Frank Mir Makes Short Work Of Cheick Kongo

In the weeks leading up to the fight Frank Mir said a quick submission win would not be enough, he had to win impressively.  In the end he managed to do both in just 72 seconds.  If the submission came as no surprise, the thunderous left hook that dropped Cheick Kongo just moments before it certainly did.

With it Mir proved that the strikes that had a similar effect on Antonio Nogueira at the tail end of last year were no fluke, and that will give the other top contenders in the division plenty of food for thought.

As for Kongo, losing out on the ground is one thing, but getting beaten on his feet as well will be hard to take, and having now been beaten convincingly in his last two octagon visits he slips down the heavyweight ladder and will consider his next fight a must win.

Jon Fitch Picks Up Another Decision Victory Against Mike Pierce

Jon Fitch has a handy knack of winning fights – he’s proven that 11 times in his 12 UFC appearances.  Unfortunately for him though, he also has a knack for taking his fights to a decision as he proved again here.

He’s a good all-rounder, but he lacks the energy, excitement and emphatic wins that will earn him a second shot at the title.  Until he can, others, like his team-mate Josh Koscheck, will move above him in the pecking order with less impressive records.

Despite losing, Mike Pierce showed himself to be a tough competitor who wasn’t fazed by his first outing on the main card in the UFC.  In the closing stages he came on strong and appeared to have Fitch in trouble, and he will no doubt regret not having done so earlier.

Stefan Struve Claims A Majority Decision Win Over Paul Buentello

In the first round this fight went much as I had expected, with Stefan Struve taking Paul Buentello down, got his back, and worked for a submission.  Unable to finish his opponent however, he succeeded only in burning out his arms.

The next two rounds played out on the feet.  Buentello managed to rock Struve as he jumped in carelessly, but he got back up, and at one stage even engaged in a toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch exchange with the heavy handed striker.

By the third both fighters were running low on gas, but Struve started landing leg kicks with regularity which Buentello seemed uninterested or unable to check, and it would prove enough to win him the round, and claim a majority win.

There’s still question marks over Struve’s game, particularly over his stand-up and punch resistance.  At this time I don’t think he’s ready to be thrown in against the top contenders in the division, but at 21 he still has plenty of time to improve.

As for Buentello, at 35, time is not on his side.  He may be cut after just one fight, or, like fellow UFC veteran Phil Baroni, he may be given one more chance.  Either way his one dimensional approach means he isn’t likely to stick around for too much longer.

Kenny Florian Defeats Clay Guida Inside The Distance.

Kenny Florian started off a little slow in this fight, but once he found his rhythm his class started to shine through against the always game Clay Guida.

Not only was Florian able to outstrike Guida, but he also managed to outwrestle him.  In the first round he was also able to land one of his infamous razor sharp elbows that opened up a significant cut on ‘The Carpenter’s’ hairline, which quickly bathed him in blood.  In the second he dropped Guida with a right hand to to his chin, and quickly capitalized by taking his back and sinking in the choke.

Finishing Guida inside the distance is no easy task, but Florian did an admirable job and once again showed his well rounded skills, which had went AWOL during his title fight with BJ Penn.  A third attempt at the lightweight title may still lie somwhere in his future on the strength of this performance.

Despite two back-to-back losses Guida always gets a great reaction from fans and is in no danger of being cut from the UFC.  He still has work to do on his all-round skills however to take his career to the next level.

Prelims Round-up:

There were some exciting performances to be found in the preliminaries of UFC 107, not least of which was Alan Belcher’s first round TKO of Wilson Gouveia in front of his home-town crowd.  It should be enough to earn him a main card slot next time out.

T.J Grant also put on a show in the evening’s curtain raiser, felling Kevin Burns late in the first and then following in with strikes until the referee was forced to intervene.

Meanwhile TUF 9 finalist Demarques Johnson claimed his first victory in the UFC, surviving both a peruvian neck tie submission, and then strikes in the first round before landing an upkick from his back quickly followed by a triangle choke submission.

Rousimar Palhares finished his fight with Lucio Linhares inside the distance thanks to a heel hook, while Johny Hendricks and Matt Wiman also picked up unanimous decision victories during the undercard portion of the card.