So another major night of fights in the UFC has now passed and on reflection it was a solid event which had it’s share of ups and downs.

One of the things that strikes me about the event was that, despite the hype surrounding the big name fights on the main card, it was the likes of Jim Miller Vs Mark Bocek and Kurt Pellegrino Vs Fabricio Camoes that provided some of the best entertainment on the PPV portion of the card.

The main event was not a thriller, but hats of to Shane Carwin in the co-main event for stepping back into the octagon after over a year out and picking up right where he left off.  The top of the heavyweight division is a very interesting place indeed right now.

See below for a full analysis of UFC 111’s main card bouts.

Georges St.Pierre Dominates Dan Hardy To Retain The  Welterweight Title

The Fight:

Would Georges St.Pierre risk standing-up with Dan Hardy?  The answer became apparent quickly in this fight as the champion took down the Brit early with ease.  From their on in it became a matter of how long Hardy could survive on the mat.

At first it looked like he wouldn’t make it out of the first as GSP swarmed over him and locked up a deep armbar late in the opening round, but Hardy showed there’s more to him than just some snappy one-liners and a solid stand-up game as he refused to tap and managed to escape.

The following rounds played out in much the same way with Hardy’s lack of takedown defense making him easy prey for the champion.  Unlike in previous fights it was clear that St.Pierre was focused on getting a submission, and so much of his fight became a battle for position and searching for openings which resulted in little action and a feeling of restlessness among the fans.

The fight was close to ending in the fourth when GSP cranked on a painful looking kimura attempt, but Hardy was in it for the long haul and again managed to escape, and went on to survive all five rounds.

Thoughts:

St.Pierre was never in any danger, but in the end Hardy will be the fighter who emerges from this fight with more plaudits for his heart, determination and impressive defensive display.

Going in against the toughest competitor of his career to date will undoubtedly be an eye-opener for the Brit though, and if he can work on his weaknesses like his wrestling and takedown defense the 27 year old can still be a significant presence in the upper-reaches of the division.

From GSP we saw another impressive display of his wrestling acumen, his ability to stick to a game-plan, and as a result he adds a fourth successful title defense to his resume.

His overall stock may have taken a hit though after heading to another decision – his 3rd in his last 4 fights, and failing to put on the kind of eye-catching performance that his fans crave.

There will now surely be calls for him to fight at 185lbs, but I believe his immediate future will remain at 170lbs.

Shane Carwin Bulldozes Through Frank Mir To Earn A Fight With Brock Lesnar

The Fight:

Any doubts about whether Shane Carwin could successfully make the step up to fighting the best in the heavyweight division were quickly laid to rest in the co-main event of the evening as he demolished former champion Frank Mir in his trademark quick and devastating fashion.

Normally happy to stand and trade strikes with his opponents in the middle of the octagon, it was clear that in this fight Carwin was respectful of Mir’s own punching power and instead opted to clinch up against the fence instead and implement some dirty boxing.

It was a smart strategy, with his superior size, strength and wrestling background essentially nullifying Mir’s offense.  Even at this close distance Carwin’s punching power was clearly evident.  Like current champion Brock Lesnar he is able to generate an enormous amount of force behind a relatively short strike, and mid-way through the round he unleashed a series of jack-hammer style uppercuts to Mir’s chin, buckling his legs.

Mir tried in vain to go for a single as he fell to the mat but Carwin’s assault is relentless and he continues to rain down heavy leather on his opponents head.  At this stage the fight is clearly over but for some reason referee Dan Miragliotta lets the action continue.

It’s a terrible judgement call as Mir continues to take unnecessary blows even while flattened out on his front and making no attempt to defend himself.  Finally the fight is called as Mir appears to be knocked out, though he appears to be conscious only moments later.

Thoughts:

For Carwin this is the perfect platform from which to go on to fight Lesnar in the summer, a fight that should be a huge pay per view draw.

He’ll still have his work cut out for him against the champion however who stood opposite him in the cage after the fight and looked to be the bigger, more imposing fighter.

As for Mir this is another major setback that appears to have undone a lot of the hard work that went into his much talked about strength and conditioning program in recent times.

The biggest concern however is one that has followed him for much of his career – that he does not respond well to being hit and often wilts when put under pressure.

Kurt Pellegrino Impresses With Submission Victory Over Fabricio Camoes

The Fight:

Kurt Pellegrino and Fabricio Camoes found themselves promoted to the main card at short notice and made the most of the opportunity by putting on a compelling battle fought on the mat.

The opening round was an exciting back-and-forth affair held at a furious pace with Camoes going on the offensive with a flurry of submission attempts while Pellegrino matched him with some good escapes and began to control the later part of the round after working to top position.

In the second Pellegrino emerges as the aggressor with his superior wrestling a key factor.  Midway through the round the fight briefly goes back to the feet where Pellegrino lands a knee that appears to rock Camoes.   When the fight goes back to the floor Pellegrino takes advantage of his opponents weakened state  by going for his back and sinking in a fight-ending rear naked choke.

Thoughts:

It’s an impressive victory for Pellegrino who showed he was more than a match for the 2nd-degree BJJ black-belt.

The result leaves him four fights unbeaten in the UFC and serves as a reminder that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division.

As far as Camoes goes, he it will undoubtedly have been a disappointment not just to lose, but to lose in the area of MMA that he excels the most.

He now posts an awkward record of 0-1-1 in the UFC which will be another concern for the 31 year old.

Jon Fitch Grinds Out A Decisive Decision Win Over Ben Saunders

The Fight:

Ben Saunders asked Dana White to put him in against Jon Fitch after Thiago Alves was forced to pull out, but as expected it turned out that the former TUF fighter had bitten off more than he could chew.

The fight played out like many of Fitch’s other wins in the UFC as he used his wrestling to good effect to get Saunders to the deck and keep him their.  It quickly became apparent that Saunders had nothing for Fitch on the ground, but nonetheless Fitch took few chances in the fight, seeming content to grind out another decision victory.

And that was essentially that.  As the clock ticked down the final few seconds of the third round he did unleash a little more venom in his ground and pound which seemed effective and led me to wonder why he hadn’t tried to do something similar earlier in the round.

Thoughts:

It appears that Fitch is happy to work within himself though and not really push the boat out to finish his fights.

What that leaves him with is an impressive record on paper, 12-1 in the UFC, but little momentum to push him towards the rematch with GSP he craves.

On reflection Saunders may wish he had stuck with his originally scheduled fight with Jake Ellenberger instead.

He was clearly outclassed on the night but may have learned a valuable lesson in the process that he has to round-out the holes in his game if he wants to compete at the highest level.

Jim Miller Does Just Enough To Edge Out Mark Bocek

The Fight:

It may not have been the most glamorous fight on the card, but Jim Miller Vs Mark Bocek turned out to be one of the best as the two evenly matched competitors engaged in a spirited battle for supremacy over three rounds to open the PPV card on a strong footing.

Both on the feet, and particularly on the mat the two lightweights fought tooth and nail to come out on top, but more often than not it was difficult to pick between them.  In the end choosing a winner likely came down to one key moment in each round.

In the first round Miller threatened with a kimura that had Bocek in clear trouble, but he remained calm and survived.  In the second Bocek took Miller’s back, locked in a body triangle and engaged in a drawn-out battle to secure a rear naked choke but is ultimately unsuccessful.  Finally In the third Miller crucially seized Bocek’s back with just seconds in the fight to go.

I suspect that was why Miller ended up with the decision victory, though in truth Bocek was perhaps a little more dominant throughout the fight and was unlucky not to get the nod.

Thoughts:

With the win Miller extends his  current win-streak to four fights and continues his climb up the lightweight ladder,

He continues to show himself to be a tenacious competitor with well rounded skills, and he will be a handful in the upper-reaches of the lightweight division.

Bocek drops to his first loss in his last four but can console himself with the solid performance he put on in the main card.

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