UFC 119: Five things we learned
It happens sometimes that UFC matchmaker
There were intriguing story lines to be sure.
Until Frank Mir (14-5) stuffed his right knee into Mirko Filipovic's jaw with a minute to go in the last minute of the final pay-per-view fight, all of which lasted until the distance save the main event, there seemed to be a very odd pacing about this one. Didn't feel like much of a fight. Didn't look like much of a fight.
"Cro Cop" (27-8-2) seemed focused in countering. But when he had a chance, which wasn't often, not much happened. Mir, again showing how far behind he is in the wrestling department, couldn't get to the Croatian kickboxer's legs. There wasn't any ground work to speak of, though that was fine with Mir, who made a fair point afterwards that he won without using his strength. I won't argue it, but let's not forget he did this against someone far removed from his best work in the sport.
If there was one intriguing aspect about the fight coming in, it was for diehards still clinging to their Pride posters. There was some retouching of the mind to make it happen. UFC and Pride mainstays never had a chance to fight in the middle part of the decade. Maybe this would be kinda like what that should have been. But it wasn't to be.
Before the knee in the 15th minute, I had the fight ready to score at 29-29. First to Mir. A 10-10 tie in the 2nd. And the third to Filipovic. But, alas, there wasn't any need to see the judges' tallies -- each had Mir up 20-18 -- because in this sport, all it takes is one lethal strike.
If we don't answer this now, we'll be forced to later. For a long time I've liked the idea of seeing these two top UFC light heavyweight prospects face off. The winner moves to the next level. The loser regroups for a second trip. Makes sense.
Because Bader, 27, may not have finished Nogueira (19-4) or look overly impressive except in the first round when he unloaded inside the Brazilian's guard, there will be detractors. I'm not among them. I saw a maturing fighter deal well with a much better fighter than
I'd make Jones, sill just 23 years old, a favorite over Bader (12-0). He has more tools at his disposal and is gifted for this sort of thing. But Bader won't make it easy, nor will he come in on a silver platter like
Dunham will be treated as a winner after this one. At least he will be by me, and I imagine the UFC, which should keep him right in the mix. Dunham (11-1) was badly cut above his right eye in the first and suffered a second above his left eye later in the fight. Still, he had more than enough spirit to rally. Or so I thought.
For the first time in several years, it was clear, even though he shouldn't have won, the former UFC lightweight champion -- who lost his belt and failed to regain it after testing positive for steroids in 2007 -- could wrestle again. If his neck holds up under the strain, Sherk, 37, is someone who could get in the way of young fighters like Dunham. Despite being out of action for almost a year and a half because of injuries, he undoubtedly remains dangerous at 155 pounds.