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UFC has its own holiday fireworks

Independence Day was on a Friday this year so I enjoyed the extended weekend by watching mixed martial arts fights produce fireworks in addition to the normal American festivities (hot dogs and fireworks, anyone?)
There was a World Series of Fighting (WSOF) event Saturday, as well as an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view later that night and a The Ultimate Fighter Finale (TUF) 19 the next night as part of the UFC’s “Red, White & Fight Week.”
UFC 175 was seen by many as a “good card” in the media and fight fans. This card needed to deliver as the UFC pay-per-view buys had been in a slump after a slew of not-so-great fight cards. It delivered, but only by the saving grace of UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and Middleweight Champion Chris “All-American” Weidman.
The very first thing buyers of the pay-per-view received was an announcement that the only heavyweight fight on the card had been canceled due to a fighter having a feinting spell in the back. The fighter who almost feinted, Stefan Struve, was coming back after a long layoff due to a diagnosed heart condition to face Matt Mitrione.
After that announcement, cameras cut to Rousey getting her hands taped quickly, as she’d likely be fighting earlier than she thought in the co-main slot of UFC 175.
Alexis Davis, the opponent to face Rousey, came out to the octagon and looked almost peaceful. She was happy to be there against Rousey, and was thought to be an actual opponent who wouldn’t get arm-barred by the Judo practitioner because of her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
There’s not much to write about on the UFC’s woman champion Rousey. She came out to her usual Joan Jett “Bad Reputation” and looked like she was ready to mean-mug Davis into submission. When the bell rang, the two women got straight to the center and traded blows – Davis landing one decent shot to Rousey’s face.
From there, though, Rousey stepped back in, threw an overhand right that connected hard to Davis’ temple, as she was stiffened Rousey pivoted and launched a knee into Davis’s midsection, followed by a hard pro-wrestling-shake-the-canvas judo throw, and punches to Davis’ unguarded face. The fight was over in 16 seconds.
In the post-fight interview, Rousey’s only regret was letting Davis land a punch to her face.
Rousey did break her hand and suffered a cut large enough to require nine stitches in the bout. I’m sure she was pleased the fight was over so quickly – it’s now up to the UFC to find another woman who could possibly, maybe try and take the fight to Rousey. The women’s bantamweight champ is still undefeated with a 10-0 record.
After the quick fight, the main event on UFC 175 was next. The champ, Chris Weidman, had previously dethroned Middleweight great Anderson Silva and then beat him again in the rematch. Both victories were seen as fluke-ish, as the first fight Weidman caught Silva while he was dancing and knocked him out cold. The next fight Weidman checked a Silva kick with his knee and Silva crumpled to the mat with a broken leg, a very rare injury.
Weidman was facing former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. If Machida could beat Weidman, he’d be the third man in UFC history to hold championships in two different weight classes.
From the start, Weidman was able to step inside, land punches and get out of the way of Machida’s patented counter attack. Weidman also controlled the “Octagon” well enough to limit Machida’s movement. The first three rounds were easily rewarded to Weidman.
In the fourth round, however, Machida made it look like any punch could end the fight and had Weidman backing up. Machida landed serious blows and won the round, with all the momentum swinging his way as Weidman appeared exhausted after 20 minutes in the cage.
The fifth round was much slower than the first four, and Weidman controlled what action there was until the final 30 seconds of the fight. Machida was desperate and launched an attack when Weidman’s back was against the cage. Elbows, punches rained down on Weidman. Machida stepped backward to assess his work and Weidman stepped with him, giving Machida a “keep coming” gesture as if Machida’s final salvo had done nothing.
The fight was a unanimous win for Weidman. The next middleweight contender appears to be a heavily drug-tested Vitor Belfort.
UFC’s Sunday card featured B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn and his rival Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. Penn had faced Edgar twice in the 155-pound division – the first time he lost his belt in a very controversial decision and the second time Edgar won a convincing decision.
Penn is a legend in the sport of mixed martial arts, arguably the greatest lightweight in UFC history, and was one of the reasons I started watching mixed martial arts.
Penn was chasing Edgar to the 145-pound featherweight division, which was a weight where Penn had never fought (he’s even fought in the heavyweight (206-plus pound) division). Unfortunately, Penn had been fighting welterweights (170 pound) for his previous four fights, winning one, drawing one and losing the last two in beat downs where 35-year-old Penn questioned staying in the fighting game.
Watching the fight was not enjoyable. Penn came out in an upright, strange tip-toe boxing stance – never used before. The Prodigy also used a butterfly guard while he was on the ground, which he places his feet in the hips of Edgar and tries to push off to get space, and allowing a chance to stand up, but he never tried to stand back up, it was all defense.
Those watching the fight saw none of the old Penn, and instead watched a fragile, awkward legend get beat for the third time by Edgar. The fight was ended in the third round after Edgar landed unanswered punches and elbows to Penn’s face, cutting it open.
At the post-fight press conference Penn was asked about his legacy and said, “If I didn’t make this night happen for myself, I would have wondered. I would have went back and forth on whether I should go back in. I needed some closure.”
Edgar, likewise, knew it was the end for Penn and didn’t want to celebrate the victory too much.
“As the finish was going on, it was bittersweet,” Edgar said. “I didn’t celebrate like crazy tonight, because it felt like that wasn’t the most important thing. B.J. will always be mentioned with my name just because we fought three times. When I first got into the sport, B.J. was the guy. He did a lot for the lightweights. We owe B.J. a lot.”
Penn retired with a record of 16-10-2.
WSOF’s main event featured one-armed, undefeated (11-0) fighter Nick Newell facing lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. This fight could have given WSOF a “star” in Newell, but Newell lost in the second round by KO.

Derek Moy is a staff writer for the Sylvania Telephone.