Join Will Cooling at 9PMET/6PM PT for live coverage of UFC 121, headlined by Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez in a finely balanced and eagerly anticipated fight for the World Heavyweight Title. With Jake Shields’ UFC debut and the return of Tito Ortiz the Honda Center in Anaheim, California will play host to what could be the biggest UFC event of the year.
The full match list is as follows:
Main Card, broadcast live on Pay Per View from 10PM ET (click on the link to read Inside Fights’ match preview)
- Champion Brock Lesnar (264Ibs) vs. Cain Velasquez (244) for World Heavyweight Title
- Martin Kampmann (170Ibs) vs. Jake Shields (170.5Ibs)
- Diego Sanchez (170.5Ibs) vs. Paulo Thiago (170.5Ibs)
- Matt Hamill (203.5Ibs) vs. Tito Ortiz (206Ibs)
- Gabriel Gonzaga (254Ibs) vs. Brendan Schaub (239Ibs)
Preliminary Card, broadcast on Spike TV from 9pm ET
- Ryan Jensen (185Ibs) vs. Court McGee (184.5Ibs)
- Patrick Cote (185Ibs) vs. Tom Lawlor (185Ibs)
Preliminary Card (un-aired)
- Sam Stout (155.5Ibs) vs. Paul Taylor (155Ibs)
- Mike Guymon (170Ibs) vs. Daniel Roberts (170Ibs)
- Chris Camozzi (185Ibs) vs. Dongi Yang (186Ibs)
- Jon Madsen (254.5Ibs)vs. Gilbert Yvel (249Ibs)
Welcome fight fans to our live coverage of UFC 121. We start with the first of tonight’s live pre-lims on Spike, Patrick Cote taking on Tom Lawlor. The latter of which may be fighting to stay in the organization.
Patrick Cote (185Ibs) vs. Tom Lawlor (185Ibs)
We start with what is also the return to UFC PPV for John McCarthy. The two engage early, Lawlor pushing Cote up against the cage and is looking for a takedown. Lawlor is working the leg over with the knee, trying to waken Cote and set up the takedown. Lawlor drops down low and gets the takedown. Cote has him in a full guard, and Lawlor is struggling to find the space to work his ground and pound. This is really good defensive grappling from Cote, didn’t know he had this in him. That said it doesn’t make for the most excitinvg fight. And the crowd is boring what is nothing more than a stalemate. McCartney takes a long look at the two, and Lawlor tries to move up the gears. He briefly moves into side control but Cote is able to move him back into half guard. Lawlor is finding more success with his ground striking. Lawlor gets an arm triangle applied, but Cote rolls through and escapes. To that Cote has to give up his back and Lawlor goes for a rear naked choke. He doesn’t get it and Cote is able to throw some bombs from the top as the buzzer goes. 10-9 to Lawlor.
Disgusting stuff highlighted by the UFC production team in the round break with highlights showing that Cote clearly grabbed onto the cage to escape from the arm triangle. A clear illegal move to escape what was probably a match-losing position. That should have been a docked point at the very least. Lawlor quickly gets the takedown and starts imposing himself on Cote. Cote isn’t taking much damage but he is being clearly controlled. Cote gets back to his feet but is quickly trapped against the cage and taken down again. Lawlor is working over Cote, Cote half goes for a kimura but can’t get it applied. The crowd starts booing and McCarthy stands them up. However Cote doesn’t make the most of it, doing little standing before the round ends. 20-18 to Lawlor.
Lawlor again gets the early takedown and looks for an arm triangle again. He eventually has to give it up but uses it to move to side control. He’s grappling much more offensively than in the previous round, looking again for an arm triangle or possibly an arm triangle. Lawlor moves to full mount, Cote gives up his back to escape. Cote is able to hip escape to half guard. Cote is offering nothing but survival tactics off his back. Lawlor now has much more room to drop big shots from top position. Lawlor goes for a kimura, Cote tries to escape but Lawlor quickly reestablishes top positions. Cote has however managed to move back to full guard. Lawlor is throwing hammerfists from top position and McCarthy stands them up. Well that’s a terrible call from McCarthy who’s had something of a shocker in this fight. How can you justify a standup there when Lawlor is throwing big punches but leave them on the round for all the first round when until the last minute Lawlor could do nothing? Lawlor quickly gets the takedown again, works over his ground and pound (earning a warning for hitting the back of the head) and is able to see out the round with a flurry of big punches. Dominant performance from Tom Lawlor who was in complete control throughout. I have it 30-27 to Lawlor. As do the three judges at cageside.
Tom Lawlor defeated Patrick Cote by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27).
Court McGee vs. Ryan Jensen
There’s been much nashing of teeth about why Fight Night ratings have declined recently, and this is a classic example of one of the big causes. Why is TUF 11 Winner Court McGee or TUF 10 Finalist Brendan Schaub fighting in throwaway matches sixth and fifth from the top on a pay per view where all the attention will be focused on the matches further up the card? Does anyone really doubt that Ultimate Fight Night 22 wouldn’t have benefited more from having these two fights on the televised card than UFC 121? Has the UFC really forgotten the importance of TUF fighters as a television draws?
McGee sets up camp in the center of the Octagon, but Jensen is looking the more comfortable on the feet trying to setup angles. Jensen catches McGee with a big left hand that puts the TUF winner down. Jensen gets back to his feet but quickly gets taken down by Jensen. Jensen gets in some big shots and is clearly fighting at a level above McGee. McGee gets back to his feet but Jensen is able to punish him with some nasty leg kicks. McGee is looking very uncomfortable, not able to establish any rhythm or get his timing right. Jensen opening up with some good high kicks and punches. McGee is trying to get some stuff going, but Jensen looks the more powerful and technically sound fight. Jensen is throwing with real velocity, punches the head and mid-section plus some nasty leg kicks. McGee is however getting more shots in as the round ends. 10-9 to Jensen.
McGee is looking more comfortable at the start of the second round, landing several leg kicks and punches to the mid-section. Jensen tries to throw a short punch, but McGee counters with a big hook. Jensen tries to get the fight to the ground with a weak looking takedown, which is blocked. Jensen has tired significantly, breathing with his mouth and lacking the movement of the first round. They exchange shots but the crowd is not paying attention because they’re busy booing the hell out of Josh Koscheck. Jensen gets a big straight jab through but Jensen is coming on strong, with a flurry including a head kick and a big right hand. The crowd erupts into a big “GSP!” chant. McGee gets a takedown as the round ends. Good round for TUF winner and its all level on my scorecard, 19-19 as we go into the final round.
Oh and by the way, St. Pierre vs. Koscheck is going to do a million buys. Legit.
Jensen charges forward, trying to bully McGee with his boxing. He gets the worst of the exchanges, with McGee landing with several big punches. McGee takes him down and quickly moves into full mount. McGee is throwing huge punches from top position, Jensen tries to move to half guard but McGee is able to maintain position. McGee goes for an arm triangle and Jensen taps at 1:27. Great comeback from McGee who looked outfought and outclassed in the first round.
Court McGee defeated Ryan Jensen at 1:27 of the third round via submission (arm triangle)
They show a quick fight from earlier, Daniel Roberts quickly chokes out Mike Guymon with a D’Arce choke.
That’s the pre-lims over, we’re moving into the main show now.
Tentative opening, Schaub circling to begin while Gonzaga inches forward. Gonzaga rushes in with a leg kick. Schaub throws out the jab, but he doesn’t connect. Gonzaga throws the leg, Schaub grabs the leg and connects with a right hand. He does it again on the counter. Schaub starting to put his punches together, looking very comfortable on his feet. Schaub gets several more overhand rights in, beating Gonzaga to the punch. Gonzaga lands a high kick on the shoulder of Schaub, but he counters with more punches. Gonzaga lands with another leg kick. Gonzaga ducks under a Schaub punch and tries for the takedown. Schaub is able to stuff it though. Schaub connects with another good boxing combination, looking really good. Gonzaga really is being beaten with his foot movement, he’s throwing good single shots but can’t find the angles to put it together. Schaub throws another quick jab and Gonzaga tries to rush in. They exchange, Schaub lands another quick jab and Gonzaga legs buckle. Schaub follows up, chases Gonzaga across the Octagon and knocks down the Brazilian just as the buzzer goes. If the round had 30seconds more to go this fight would be over. 10-9 Schaub, with the TUF finalist looked really impressive there.
Gonzaga lands another leg kick which seems to hurt Schaub and he follows up with a couple more. He goes to the well one too many times and slips, allowing Schaub to recapture the initiative. The round has a simple dynamic – whenever Schaub is able to put his punches together and push the action Gonzaga is completely lost. Twice in this round he puts together flurries that had Gonzaga on the very brink of being finished, in particularly one exchange at the halfway point where Schaub had Gonzaga up against the cage and landed several hard punches including some good uppercuts. But Gonzaga is having some success with his leg kicks that are landing throughout the round. Probably should be throwing it more than he has been. Closer than the first but still Schaub’s round 10-9.
Schaub goes for a takedown but Gonzaga is able to sprawl. Strangely, the BJJ black belt Gonzaga does not sieze on the opportunity to keep the fight on the ground. That’s not the only problem with Gonzaga’s strategy with the Brazilian not making enough of the leg kicks that had proven so successful, instead adopting to fighting on the inside where Schaub’s handspeed and footwork is making him look slow and plodding. There’s not as much action this round, with Gonzaga obviously completely out of ideas and Schaub happy to run out the clock. Schaub is able to stay out the trouble until the closing second, when they starting slugging wildly. Schaub goes for a takedown, Gonzaga sprawls and takes control of Schaub’s back just as the buzzer goes. A bad final round for what was a pretty enjoyable fight. Schaub looked very good and on my scorecard won 30-27. As do all three judges. That may be the last we see of Gonzaga.
Brendan Schaub defeated Gabriel Gonzaga via unamnimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Light Heavyweight Match
Matt Hamill (203.5Ibs) vs. Tito Ortiz (206Ibs)
Ortiz starts aggressively, taking it to Hamill with punches and kicks. The kicks in particular look better than usual. But he throws one too many and Hamill grabs the leg and gets the takedown. Ortiz is able to spin out of from under Hamill and gets back to his feet. They trade big, looping punches. Ortiz follows up with a couple of big kicks. Ortiz already has bruising above his right eye. Big Tito chant. They’re both throwing punches from a distance, not staying in the pocket long enough to put their punches together. Ortiz lands a good inside leg kick but Hamill responds with a high kick. Ortiz throws a spinning back fist! Ortiz really is looking comfortable on his feet. Ortiz tries to push the action, but doesn’t seem to have much success. Hamill gets a right hand in just after the round ends. Close round but Ortiz probably takes it 10-9.
Hamill is starting to take control of the action standing, landing a nice high kick. Hamill goes for a takedown but its stuffed by Ortiz. Neither is showing much workrate or movement in what has degenerated into a pretty sloppy standing battle. Just two guys throwing punches and kicks from long range without really putting it all together. Hamill gets a big takedown midway through. Hamill works over his ground and pound, Ortiz trying to find the space for a submission. Ortiz almost catches Hamill a couple of times, but by being so aggressive he only opens himself up to powerful punches from Hamill. Hamill almost traps Ortiz in a mounted crucifix, doesn’t quite get it but those last two minutes were brutal for Ortiz. 10-9 to Hamill, and its 19-19 on my scorecard.
Both guys look pretty tired and uncomfortable on the feet; just standing and throwing single punches. Neither is showing much in the way of footwork, shot selection or general movement. The crowd starts to boo the fight and who can blame them. Ortiz goes for a takedown but Hamill easily stuffs it. Hamill puts some punches together but nothing really connects. Hamill gets the takedown, and unless something actually happens (which I wouldn’t bet on) that’s surely enough to secure him the victory. Hamill starts dropping down some big elbows from top position. The round ends with Hamill comfortable in top position. That’s surely Hamill’s round and his fight, 29-28. And the judges agree, with all three giving it to Hamill on scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. And that may be it for Ortiz’s career in the UFC.
Emotional post-fight interview from Hamill who is obviously very moved to have successfully faced his TUF3 coach and mentor. No interview with Tito Ortiz surprisingly enough.
Matt Hamill defeated Tito Ortiz via unamnious decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Diego Sanchez shoots in for a takedown, Thiago catches him in a guillotine. He doesn’t get the choke, but throws some big knees and then goes for a takedown of his own. Thiago pushes Sanchez up against the cage, connects with some more excellent knees but can’t get the takedown. They separate but Thiago is eventually able to shoot in for the takedown. Thiago is controlling Sanchez on the ground, almost getting a D’Arce choke applied. Sanchez scrambles to his feet, but Thiago nails him with a big knee and goes for another D’Arce choke. Sanchez escapes again and is back on his feet. Sanchez pushes the action standing, goes for a takedown of his own. I’m not sure if I’d be looking to go to the ground if I was Sanchez. Thiago is able to block the takedown and they furiously exchange to close out a good round. Thiago 10-9.
Sanchez tries to go for a one-two combination, Thiago in response lets his hands fly and puts together several good punches. In the exchange however Sanchez lands clean with a left hand. Sanchez goes for a takedown, pressing Thiago up against the cage. Thiago tries to roll through but Sanchez is able to hold him in what Rogan calls a ‘reverse mount’. Thiago moves Sanchez into a butterfly guard but Sanchez is able to move to half-guard. A stop in the action as Sanchez recovers from a rabbit punch. Thiago attacks the arm of Sanchez, but Sanchez is able to stand up and escape. Sanchez dives back into top position, but Thiago is able to roll out, sending Sanchez flying. They’re back to their feet and Sanchez lands a gigantic slam after walking halfway across the thing. That seems to knock the stuffing out of Thiago and Sanchez really works him over. They get back to his feet and the fight ends with Thiago throwing a high kick. Sanchez’s round, and again its all level going into the final round. 19-19.
Thiago is looking very tired. Sanchez rushes in, Thiago tries to respond with a throw but Sanchez ends up on top. Sanchez working from top position, but almost falls prey to a kimura. Luckily for Sanchez Thiago lacked the strength to secure it. Sanchez takes advantage of the opening created by the failed kimura attempt to not only take Thiago’s back but get double underhooks in. Sanchez is trying to go for an armbar. Thiago tries to roll through but Sanchez has complete control of his opponent’s body. Sanchez goes for another armbar, moving into side mount to do. Thiago gives up his back to escape and manages to briefly escape. Sanchez quickly reengages and this is turning into an absolute mauling. Sanchez lays in some huge shots from top position, brutalizing Thiago. Thiago threatens with a D’Arce choke but Sanchez is able to bully his way out of it and close the round dropping bombs from full mount. Should be a 10-8 round. 29-27 to Diego Sanchez on my scorecard. Diego Sanchez wins by unanimous decision with scores of 30-26, 29-28, 29-28. So one judge agrees with the 10-8 score. Great performance from Sanchez, who seems to have regained his form after rejoining Greg Jackson’s camp.
Diego Sanchez defeated Paulo Thiago via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)
Here we go. If Shields wins then he gets a shot to fight for the World Title. If he loses it’ll only add to the question marks around any record of a fighter outside the UFC. Shields goes for a takedown immediately and gets it without too much of a struggle. Quickly passing to side control. Kampmann is able to get back to half guard. Shields is trying to get the leg out of half guard, which he does moving to full mount. Kampmann is able to scramble back to his feet. Kampmann spins and throws several knees to the mid-section. Shields gets another takedown but Kampmann is able to scramble back to his feet. They’re stuck against the cage but Kampmann finally separates. Shields throws a kick, a couple of jabs and leg kicks. Kampmann gets a jab through, Shields goes for a takedown but Kampmann sprawls. Shields is throwing good leg kicks. Shields goes for another takedown but Kampmann sprawls. Shields round 10-9.
Shields goes for the early takedown but Kampmann sprawls. They’re up against the cage, Kampmann gets the superior position and connects with a big knee that drops Shields. Kampmann goes for a gullointine but Shields is confident that he’s in no danger, pushing forward trying to improve position. They get back to the feet and Shields get the takedown. Shields is comfortable on top position but is struggling to get any clear opportunities for a submission. Kampmann connects with another big knee, this time to the head of Shields. Shields takes a deep breadth. He goes for another takedown and gets it. Shields maintains control, moving to full mount but never real able to threaten with a submission. They get back to the feet, with Shields pressing Kampmann up against the cage. McCarthy calls another nonsense stoppage. Shields takes a deep breadth and is clearly struggling. Difficult round to score given the damage Kampmann inflicted with those knees but most of the round took place on the ground so the effective grappling of Shields seals a close round 20-18.
Shields’ body seems to be shutting down on him, he’s completely exhausted and seems to lack the power necessary to engage let alone pressure Kampmann. Shields goes for a takedown, but its very weak and Kampmann is able to stuff it. Kampmann is able to stuff another takedown and ends up on top. Kampmann tries to apply a choke, but Shields has enough to escape. Kampmann gets some success with elbows but again makes the mistake of trying to submit Shields. With each submission attempt Shields improves his position and comes closer to stealing the round. Shields spends two minutes on top, and the final thirty seconds he’s extremely close to getting a rear naked choke locked in. The buzzer goes and on my scorecard Shields has taken all three rounds. The last two rounds good have gone either way but Kampmann should have taken this fight in the third round given how tired Shields was and how bad his standup is. But Kampmann had the wrong tactics and failed to capitalize. The judges have it 29-28 Kampmann and 30-27 29-28 Jake Shields. The right decision but Shields has a fair way to go if he’s going to be successful against either Josh Koscheck or George St. Pierre.
Jake Shields defeated Martin Kampmann via split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29).
World Heavyweight Title Fight
This is the big one. An undefeated challenger trying to be the first-ever Mexican Heavyweight Champion in combat sports. A holder trying to become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion to successfully make three consecutive defenses. Huge reaction for both fighters who will hopefully put on a contest that sees out a banner year for the heavyweight division.Lesnar looks significantly bigger than Velasquez, far more than the twenty pounds difference on the scales.
Lesnar immediately goes for a takedown but Velasquez is able to stay on his feet. Lesnar lays in some big knees as Velasquez tries to connect with wild punches. Lesnar throws a flying knee! Lesnar gets the takedown but Velasquez scrambles to his feet. Lesnar presses Velasquez up against the cage. Lesnar gets another takedown, Velasquez gets back up and is able to separate. Lesnar is swinging big punches and Velasquez gets the takedown. Lesnar is able to get back to his feet but his composure is broken. Lesnar goes for another takedown but Velasquez is able to evade it and Brock spins out of control. Velasquez siezes on it and establishes total control. Slamming big shot after big shot whilst making sure to pick his punches and maintain a sensible pace. Lesnar’s guard hasn’t improved since the Carwin fight and Velasquez isn’t tiring like Carwin. The end comes with several short punches from the top, Lesnar gets back to his feet but Velasquez knocks him down. Velasquez follows up with vicious ground and pound and Herb Dean calls it at 4:12. Excellent performance from Velasquez. Lesnar looked good early on but seemed over eager to finish the fight early. He could never recover after losing his footing on a takedown defense. Velasquez looked excellent, showing the killer instinct to seize on the mistake of Lesnar and maul him on the ground.
A classy set of interviews, with Velasquez celeberating his title victory whilst Lesnar puts over the new champion and promises to come back stronger.
Cain Velasquez defeated Brock Lesnar by TKO at 4:12
This concludes our live coverage of UFC 121.