The main card for UFC 114 wasn’t the best that the organization has ever seen, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. It has its ups and downs, but what probably most sets it apart from the other events the organization has held is the number of surprises it created.
The first fight on the main card was between Diego Sanchez and John Hathaway. Diego was the big favorite here, despite coming off a huge loss to former Lightweight champ BJ Penn. Diego is one of the winners of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and has had many memorable matchups where he wound up dominating his opponent. John Hathaway, a relatively new face to the sport, needed to step up his game in order to beat this fan favorite.
During the match, color commentator Joe Rogan wondered how much the loss against Penn affected Sanchez mentally. Diego has always been known to be a very strong willed and mentally tough competitor, and though he has had losses in the past, none of them were as bad as his loss to Penn was. In that match at UFC 107, Diego was completely dominated by Penn, something that no other fighter had ever been able to do to him.
The fight against Hathaway was actually very similar to the Penn fight. Diego was hit early on with a knee strike and went down. Though he managed to recover, he would look sluggish and slow throughout the rest of the fight. Hathaway thus became the more aggressive fighter throughout the match, and, with his much larger frame, manage to overpower Diego in almost every situation. John Hathaway wins the bout with a very convincing unanimous decision.
The first surprise of the night: Diego Sanchez becomes mentally weak, causing him to become much less aggressive and powerful than usual, and loses the second straight time in the UFC.
Did the early hit bring back terrible memories of the Penn encounter that would haunt Diego the rest of the round? Or did he simply never conquer the fact that he was dominated so badly by another fighter? Whatever the case, this is the second straight loss for Diego, so if he doesn’t do something soon to adjust his game, his career with the UFC might be in jeopardy. After seeing him be constantly overpowered by a much larger opponent, Dana White suggested that Diego Sanchez move back down to the Lightweight division.
The next fight was between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jason Brilz. Nogueira, known by fans worldwide as “Little Nog” is the twin brother of UFC heavyweight fighter Antonio Minotauro Nogueira. He has a very illustrious fighting career, from PRIDE to the Pan Am Games, to the UFC. Jason “The Hitman” Brilz, on the other hand, despite having been involved in the sport for ten years now, has yet to really make a name for himself, and is up against a strong fan favorite.
Nogueira was originally scheduled to fight Forrest Griffin, but Griffin had to pull out because of an injury suffered during training. Brilz thus stepped up and took the fight on short notice. Taking that and his opponent’s well known skills into account, pretty much no one gave Brilz a chance and almost everyone predicted that Nogueira would dominate the matchup.
The second surprise of the night: Jason Brilz, a relative newcomer to the sport who took the fight on short notice, dominates veteran Rogerio Nogueira during much of the fight.
The fight was incredibly exciting because of Brilz’s immensely improved stand up and ground games. He would manage to counter and outmaneuver Nogueira throughout almost every turn, and almost wound up finishing him on some occasions. Despite this, Nogueira still tried his best to become more aggressive than his opponent, and even came close to finishing at times as well. People were on the edge of their seat for this one. Would this be another Rocky moment where a severe underdog would beat a dominant favorite?
Unfortunately for Brilz, the answer was no. Nogueira won the fight via split decision, but even he was surprised by the result. Brilz could be seen smiling throughout the match, as he was very pleased with himself for being able to easily stand toe to toe with a legend of the sport. Even he thought he was going to win. Despite the loss, though, Brilz succeeded very well in elevating his name throughout the rankings, which is definitely more than most people ever expected.
A heavyweight matchup between Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow was next on the card. Both fighters were known to have extreme punching power, and so most people thought this match to be more or less even. If one of these monsters ever landed a clean hit on the other throughout the matchup, he would win via knockout. Duffee, though, looked to be the more impressive one going in the Octagon because of his bodybuilder – like build. Color commentator Joe Rogan even joked that the two were like a “before and after picture”.
Duffee was, predictably, the faster and more aggressive of the two during the first round. Predictions were wrong, though, as he managed to hit his opponent cleanly a few times, but Russow always survived. Duffee clearly slowed down during the second and third rounds, though, and Rogan attributes this to his very muscular frame. All those muscles have to be constantly fueled, and if you’re fighting a 15 – round MMA bout, they can actually hinder you by making you tired more quickly.
Russow, though, fulfilled all of expectations of him and almost defied logic by knocking out the much more dominant fighter during the middle of the third round. Despite slowing down during the second and third rounds, Duffee was still the clear aggressor, and still managed to hurt Russow throughout the fight. Russow, however, needed only one clear shot to put his opponent away. Duffee crumples to the floor, earning Russow the win.
Third surprise of the night: Mike Russow defies all odds by not only surviving all of Todd Duffee’s extremely powerful punches, but manages to knock out his opponent near the end of the fight despite being dominated throughout most of the match.
The final match before the main event was Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller. A classic striker vs. grappler matchup, everyone expected Miller to take Bisping to the ground very early on and utilize his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Wizardry to dominate his opponent. Everyone, that is, except Dan Miller.
Fourth surprise of the night: Dan Miller, a very talented Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, chooses to stand with opponent Michael Bisping throughout the entire fight.
No surprise, he lost the match. Bisping, though, never capitalized on any opening because he was tentative for literally the entire matchup. He, as well as everyone else, was prepared for Miller to shoot out at any moment. This, however, never happened. If Bisping knew all along that this was going to happen, he would have most probably become much more aggressive and dominated Miller early on, earning him a finish of some sort. As it stands, he played it safe throughout the entire matchup, to be sure that he could defend against Miller’s takedown attempts. This was the smarter move for “The Count”, especially after his loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110.
It really is very odd that Miller chose to stand with Bisping throughout the entire fight, especially considering that Bisping was the more dominant striker and Miller didn’t seem to have improved on his standup game very much. Very weird, but whatever. I’m happy: my pick won.
Even the main event had its own surprise for the evening: In what many considered a very even and close matchup, “Sugar” Rashad Evans dominates Quinton “Rampage” Jackson throughout most of their fight, earning him a very convincing unanimous decision win.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that's the most surprises in a single UFC card I've ever seen. Again, though, not the most exciting card, because of various reasons. Sanchez lacked pep in his fight, Duffee and Russow slowed down throughout much of their matchup (though Russow ended the fight with a very extraordinary knockout), and Bisping was tentative throughout his. The Nogueira / Brilz fight and the main event were both spectacular, though, and making this UFC event a winner for me.
Check out part one of my review of UFC 114 where I delve into the main event of the night: Rampage vs.Rashad, and part three for my review of the preliminary fights!
And take a look at more outstanding photos of UFC 114 over at the official UFC website!