UFC 159 featured Jon Jones' dominant fifth title defense against a game but over-matched Chael Sonnen, along with a serious of unfortunate injuries. From Bruce Buffer's erroneous announcing of Jim Miller as the winner after he was choked out by Pat Healy, to Jon Jones' gruesome broken toe, we were certainly exposed to a plethora of odd occurrences on Saturday night. Let's take a look at the night's biggest action, where the winners go from here, and some of the how's and why's from the night that was with The Aftermen: UFC 159 edition.
Stoppin' fights, Kevin Mulhall Style
Referee Kevin Mulhall pulled a 'referee Kevin Mulhall' on Saturday night (which it will hence forth be known as, should this ever occur again), when he outright ended the fight between Ovince St. Preux and Gian Villante, after Villante admitted to not being able to see immediately after an eye poke from OSP. Although no rule exists to grant fighters time to recover from this specific foul, it is normally the cageside doctor who decides that a fighter can't fight if he can't see. In this case, Mulhall took us down the rabbit hole that is a technical decision, which means that when a fight-ending foul occurs late in the fight, we go to the judges score cards for our decision. Oddly enough, this was the first of two technical decisions on the card.
The Curse of UFC 159
I want to address the two fights from UFC 159 that ended by technical decision, due to accidental eye poke. Both decisions went to the fighter who employed the effective technique of finding your opponent's eye with your outstretched finger. The aforementioned OSP/Villante fight ended controversially due to one, and Alan Belcher gave us all a scare when he was poked in the eye by Michael Bisping in the co-main event fight, causing that one to end, and prematurely go to the judges cards as well. It's certainly worth noting that if referees were more proactive in a pursuit of less outstretched fingers during fights, these eye pokes would be far less frequent. Every fighter knows that an eye poke really can only be called intentional if there's force behind the hand movement, or if it's your second one of the fight. Otherwise, you can just say that sticking your fingers out in your opponents face is just your unique way of setting up a clinch attempt.
Yancy Medeiros was a victim of the Curse of UFC 159 when he dislocated his thumb in the first round of his fight on the FX prelim portion of the card. His opponent Rustam Khabilov was awarded the win via technical knock out, technically. This was a necessary stoppage, because Medeiros' thumb was undeniably dislocated. That thing was in the complete wrong spot, and as injurious as it was, it wasn't the most gruesome thing we'd see on this night.
Two Bonus Checks For 'Bam Bam' Healy
The 'Fight of the Night' bonus on Saturday went to Jim Miller and Pat Healy, who opened up the main card with a grueling war which ended in Healy putting Miller to sleep with a minute left in the fight. Healy also left the Prudential Center with the 'Submission of the Night' bonus for his rear-naked choke finish over Miller. Miller was able to use his striking to a certain degree throughout the fight, but Healy had the size advantage and was able to dictate where the fight took place for the most part. With a minute or so left in the last round, Healy sunk in a rear-naked choke that put the resilient Miller out. It was an impressive outing by 'Bam Bam' Healy, who sent a message on Saturday night to the super-stacked 155-pound division with his win over such a battle-tested contender in Jim Miller. Where does Healy go from here? Deeper into the fray of the UFC's lightweight division, which now also includes Gilbert Melendez.
Phil Davis Remains Among The Elite
Although judge Dave Tirelli inexplicably gave the first round to Vinny Magalhaes against the majority, I had Phil Davis winning a shutout at UFC 159. Davis kept the fight standing and proved that world-class grappling and jiu jitsu alone will not get you a spot at the top of the division. Davis proved to be the better striker against Magalhaes, and looked much better on the feet than his past fights. It is interesting to note that Magalhaes virtually handpicked Davis as his opponent, but wasn't able to mount any meaningful offense. As for where Davis goes from here, I'd be interested in a fight between Davis and Gegard Mousasi.
'Big Country' Notches His Third Straight Knockout
Cheick Kong's nine inch reach advantage didn't seem to aid him much in his fight against Roy Nelson, where he was first pressed against the fence and then knocked out cold by two 'Big Country' right hands in the first round. Nelson came over the top and dropped Kongo, and another right hand put Kongo out, giving Nelson his sixth UFC knockout. Next up for 'Big Country' seems to be Daniel Cormier, which was discussed by UFC President Dana White at the post-fight scrum, but Nelson ultimately wants a title shot next, and mentioned the appeal of a fight against Mark Hunt, regardless of whether or not he wins against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 160. Nelson is knocking on the door for a title shot, and it should only take one more decisive victory to earn him one.
Bisping Out-works Belcher for 14 minutes
Michael Bisping was on his way to a decision when over Alan Belcher at UFC 159 when all of a sudden, with 29 seconds left in the final round, he won the fight by technical decision. An eyepoke caused Belcher to hit the mat instantly and the fight to be stopped. It was Belcher's eyelid that ended up needing stitches. Bisping controlled the entire fight, which consisted mostly of outworking Belcher with footwork, and landing strikes often. Belcher kept his hands down and paid for it, eating 94 strikes thrown by Bisping. Bisping stays locked in just below the top four at middleweight with the win, and I'd like to see him fight the loser of Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman.
Jones Dominates Thoroughly, As Expected
This was a fight where anything other than a dominant performance by Jon Jones would be considered a failure. Even though Chael pressed the action early and got in Jones' face, a feat by itself, Jones was able to get two double leg takedowns on Sonnen and blast Chael with ground and pound. The win came by way of TKO with just under a minute left in the first, but the attention immediately switched to the Jon Jones discovery of a compound fracture of his big toe. It looked like a giant wedge in the champion's foot had occurred, and it was difficult for Jones to concentrate on Joe Rogan's post-fight interview once he was cognisant of his toe. Had Chael made it out of the first round, he would have won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship by doctor's stoppage, because the champion's bone was exposed on his broken toe.
With all the injuries and unfortunate events that occurred at UFC 159, there were still meaningful outcomes. The night's biggest winners are all in much more favorable positions in their respective divisions, and Jon Jones tied Tito Ortiz for most consecutive light heavyweight title defenses. The champ will likely need close to two months to heal his broken toe, but beyond that things are a bit unclear. Anderson Silva's UFC 162 fight with Chris Weidman could yield the first actual 'super fight', if Anderson wins. Lyoto Machida and Alexander Gustafsson both wait in the wings at the top of the 205 lbs division, so there is no shortage of legitimate contenders for the champion.