UFC 164 Main Card review
1. Benson Henderson is not the lightweight champion anymore.
An obvious statement, but even days after the event, it just seems odd to say.
Henderson severely underestimated Anthony Pettis’s submission skills. He probably didn’t underestimate Pettis as a fighter, and if he did, those kicks to the body probably woke him up to reality in a hurry. But Henderson fought five rounds with Pettis before and he’s gone up against some very good submission guys like Jim Miller and Nate Diaz. Pettis was damn good, but getting caught in a first round armbar was as much a mental slip on the part of the champion as much as it was a fantastic attack from the challenger.
Pettis and his camp stated that Pettis “had Henderson’s number” and boy were they right. Henderson tore through the LW division after he lost to Pettis and joined the UFC, and defended his title against the best in the world, albeit in very close fights. Pettis finished him in the first round. He clearly had him a little shaken with those unblocked body shots and then submitted him from the bottom with relatively little effort. It was stunning to see a fighter of Benson Henderson’s caliber lose like that.
2. Early stoppage in Mir vs. Barnett? Maybe. Unreasonable? No
Barnett came out of the gate like a hound from hell. The guy took a lot of punishment to take the fight to Mir, and eventually it paid off. All that talk about fighting and being a warrior was not for show, Barnett fought like the fight was only for one round and his life depended on it. The assault eventually wore on Mir and that knee flattened him. It made him drop.
Now, the ref could have given Mir some time to recover and show he was still in the fight. But looking at the position they were in, it looked like Barnett was ready to put the hammer down on Mir. He had him against the cage, postured over him, with Mir on his hands and knees, stunned and looking down. We will never know what would have happened had the fight not been stopped right then, but we can probably guess and we would probably be right.
3. Mendes pulls a…Mendes.
It took three rounds and it took a lot more time, effort and patience, but it happened once again. An opponent succumbed to the striking power of Chad Mendes. Clay Guida has never been knocked out before. While Mendes didn’t put him out cold, he definitely made Guida defenseless. That makes four in a row. Four fighters, each better than the previous guy and Mendes has four knockout finishes. Another shot at the title is justified now. Mendes looks amazing and he seems like a completely different fighter from the guy who got knocked out by Jose Aldo. He was patient and didn’t panic against Guida’s frenetic style. He just kept pursuing Guida and eventually tagged him, and once he got caught against the cage, it was lights out. Guida was a very good test to see how far Mendes
4. Rothwell calls out Browne.
This matchup, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does sound like a great matchup. Browne is well on his way up the ladder of the heavyweight division, while Rothwell hasn’t quite cracked the top ten. His performance and eventual finish of Brandon Vera was impressive, but let’s be real here, Brandon Vera is not close to being an elite fighter. Take a look at his record and Rothwell did what he was supposed to do, he didn’t pull off some kind of shocking upset. Rothwell himself has trouble stringing together back to back wins.
That being said, these two guys are big and strong and would probably put on a nice show with a violent KO ending. Even though Rothwell did the calling out, it’s likely he would be the victim in that one.
5. Poirier and Koch put on a show.
Strange, but very awesome to see two top ten featherweights setting off the main card. These two were headed for title shots in the recent past, and their current rankings merited a higher spot on the card than some of the other guys. Their actual fight was what everyone thought it would be (Dennis Green: they were who we thought they were!) and entertained for the full 15 minutes, from the first second to the last.
This was a battle. Poirier established control for the majority of the fight after a scary moment in the first round. He essentially dominated the middle portions of the fight until Koch took over in the third. They both showcased great striking, clinch work and submission offense and defense. There were a few moments where it looked like it was over for both of them, yet they survived. This fight was a lot closer than it looked and both guys deserve a ton of credit for taking risks and putting everything out there. The fans were the real winners in this one.