BY: JOHN CARLIN
A title challengers legitimacy cemented, and the disastrous debacle of another’s…. all in a nights work for the worlds biggest MMA organization.
UFC Fight Night: 50 saw the return of the UFC to Connecticut after a near decades absence with the promise of a stacked card that didn’t fail to deliver both on drama and excitement, with the judges assistance not needed on a main card that saw 3 finishes and a doctor’s stoppage.
The main event pitted former Strikeforce middleweight champion and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu phenom, Ronaldo Souza, against the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi knew going into this fight that he had to keep the fight standing and avoid the submission attempts of Jacare, but he proved unable to do so, as Jacare managed to get Mousasi down and control him from top position for the first two rounds, occasionally threating with a submission, but ultimately it was the third round that proved to be decisive, as a clearly exhausted Mousasi left his neck open for Jacare to pounce on and lock in a fight ending arm-in guillotine. With that impressive victory Jacare will most likely face the winner of Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort when they collide in December at UFC 181.
The co-main event saw heavy underdog Ben Rothwell upset the MMA apple cart with a first round technical knockout of the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Alistar Overeem. Overeem started off well, electing to keep his distance and pick his shots, landing a couple of nice knees and kicks to the body of the American. However after Rothwell landed a hard right uppercut which visibly wobbled Overeem, the writing appeared to be on the wall, and after Overeem over extended with a left hand Rothwell came over the top to land a hard right hand counter to the temple, which dropped the Dutch stand out striker, Rothwell then proceeded with a succession of unanswered strikes which gave the referee no choice but to stop the contest. A disastrous performance from Overeem which surely now signifies his inability to take big shots anymore. Rothwell on the other hand can look forward to rising in the rankings and being booked against another of the sports top heavyweights following an impressive if not surprising victory.
The second fight of the main card saw two heavyweight powerhouses collide as Matt Mitrione faced Derrick Lewis. Mitrione was the underdog coming into the fight with the bookmakers but it’s hard to imagine he was viewed in that same light by the majority of educated MMA fans, as his performance showed, scoring a knockout win in under a minute of the first round, backing Lewis up against the cage before hurting “the beast” with a short right hand which lead to the finish. Mitrione may only be viewed as a gatekeeper right now, but he is still a tough gate to get past.
Joe Lauzon and Michael Chiesa kicked off the main card in a fight many fans correctly predicted would claim fight of the night honours. After an even and entertaining first round, which saw both guys land significant strikes and trade advantageous ground positions back and forth, the fight was stopped midway through the second round on the advice of the cageside doctor, when Lauzon landed a knee to the head of Chiesa opening a nasty cut above the ultimate fighter winners right eye. After the fight Cheisa called for a rematch, which after the show the two put on would certainly be a popular match up again for the fans.
There were a number of highlights in the prelims as John Moraga tapped out rising prospect Justin Scoggins in a fight that Scoggins was winning, until he initiated a takedown in the second round and fell right into a tight Guillotine choke which gave him no choice but to submit to, putting Moraga back into the win column following his TKO loss to John Dodson, and subsequently leave Scoggins on a 2-fight losing streak.
Al Iaqunita scored a late stoppage victory of tough Brazilian veteran Rodrigo Damn, as Iaquinta kept the fight standing eventually wearing down the Brazilian with his constant pressuring style scoring an impressive late TKO finish.
Rafael Natal came away with a close and somewhat controversial split decision over the always durable Chris Camozzi.
The prelims also saw a decision win for Chris Beal, and a very admirable victory from Chas Skelly, who while visibly exhausted from completing two weight cuts in 2 weeks, dug in deep and used his wrestling to control Sean Soriano to earn a unanimous 30-27 decision.
Middleweight Ronaldo Souza def. Gegard Mousasi Submission (guillotine choke) 3 4:30
Heavyweight Ben Rothwell def. Alistair Overeem TKO (punches) 1 2:19
Heavyweight Matt Mitrione def. Derrick Lewis KO (punches) 1 0:41
Lightweight Joe Lauzon def. Michael Chiesa TKO (doctor stoppage) 2 2:14
Preliminary card (Fox Sports 1)
Flyweight John Moraga def. Justin Scoggins Submission (guillotine choke) 2 0:47
Lightweight Al Iaquinta def. Rodrigo Damm TKO (strikes) 3 2:41
Middleweight Rafael Natal def. Chris Camozzi Decision (split) (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) 3 5:00
Bantamweight Chris Beal def. Tateki Matsuda Decision (unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) 3 5:00
Featherweight Chas Skelly def. Sean Soriano Decision (unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) 3 5:00
The following fighters were awarded $50,000 bonuses:
Fight of the Night: Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa
Performance of the Night: Ben Rothwell and Ronaldo Souza