This Weekend in Fights! (February 4th) saw an annual UFC tradition with their Superbowl weekend fight card. UFC 143 emanated from the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada in front of just over 10 000 people on Saturday night for the crowning of a UFC Interim Welterweight champion, the octagon return of Fabricio Werdum, and the UFC debut of undefeated Steven “Wonderboy” Thompson.
In the main event of the evening Carlos Condit was crowned the UFC Interim Welterweight champion with a unanimous decision in a five round affair 48-47, 49-46, 49-46 over Nick Diaz. The UFC decided that because Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was unable to defend his championship due to injury that an interim champion will be crowned in the mean time. Diaz was the favorite going into the bout, but Condit had a great game plan of constantly moving around, not allowing Diaz to corner him off against the cage and land combos. While moving around Condit scored points by landing leg kicks and soft combinations. Condit was always back peddling and counter striking, and in doing so frustrated Diaz. Diaz was always stalking Condit, but could keep him still long enough to land shots, and received shots in doing so. Diaz got a take down and took Condit’s back late in the fifth round, attempting both a rear naked choke and an arm bar, but it was too late. Some can make a strong point that Diaz won rounds 1,2, and 5, due to “octagon control” but Condit was awarded the bout for landing more strikes. After the bout an extremely frustrated Diaz announced his retirement from MMA, which is yet to be seen, as he stated: “I’m sick of this shit” due to a decision loss to an opponent that ran away from him for 25 minutes.
The man that broke the myth of Fedor Emelianenko; Fabricio Werdum returned to the UFC now that STRIKEFORCE has dissolved their Heavyweight division to take on “Big Country” Roy Nelson. Werdum won a very impressive unanimous decision victory over Nelson by showcasing his much improved standup skills. Werdum utilized the Muay Thai clinch, connecting with some of the most devastating knees ever, blooding up Nelson pretty bad. Nelson proved to have an extremely tough chin and heart by not getting knockout, and continuing the full three rounds, in which he almost ended the bout with a standing guillotine. For this all out war both fighters received bonuses for “Fight of the Night” award.
Bantamweight phenom Renan Barao took out #2 ranked Bantamweight Scott Jorgensen in a three round war, that saw Barao dominate from bell to bell. Barao improves his record to 28-1, 3-0 in the UFC. Barao picked Jorgensen apart with his excellent kicks, and take down defense. With a sense of urgency, Jorgensen began to push the pace in the third round , but was unable to fend off the counter strikes of Barao. Barao won all three rounds, and now waits on the sidelines for a potential title shot.
4-0 undefeated newcomer and last minute replacement fighter for Ricardo Lamas, Max Holloway was now match for top 10 Featherweight Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut. Holloway opened up with his strong point; strikes forcing Poirier to take it to the mat. Once on the ground, Poirier attempted an arm bar, transitioned to a triangle and added an arm bar to tap the 20-year-old fighter with impressive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and earn the “Submission of the night” award.
Josh Koscheck had a very lackluster split decsion victory over Mike Pierce. Koscheck was able to defend the take down attempts of Pierce, get take downs of his own, and control the bout with his strikes. While measuring his strikes, Koscheck poked Pierce in the eyes multiple times, forcing referee Herb Dean to verbally caution him on three occasions. Why a point wasn’t deducted from Koscheck after the third warning is baffling.Koscheck stated post fight that this camp was his last a AKA, and would be doing his own thing from now on.
Ed Herman won his eighth UFC bout, with a rear naked choke submission over previously undefeated Clifford Starks. Herman pushed the pace in a brawl style fight, looking to finish early. Starks however continued to counter Herman, and connect with multiple straight rights, that stunned Herman in a very close first round. In the second round Herman gets a trip take down while clinching, moves to full mount. Starks turns top break free, but gives up his back, in which Herman slapped on a rear naked choke, forcing Starks to tap.
On the Facebook preliminary card, Steven Thompson made his UFC debut with in impressive fashion by getting the “Knockout of the night” award. Thompson now 5-0 in MMA and 57-0 in kickboxing, kept the bout standing against the tough grappler Dan Stittgen. Thompson immediately went into a side karate stance, forcing Stittgen to back peddle with kicks. With an opening Thompson landed a classic karate fake low, kick high and lasted Stittgen across the face knocking him out cold with 47 seconds left in the first round. (Full UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit event results below.)
Carlos Condit def. Nick Diaz via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – wins interim welterweight title
Fabricio Werdum def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Josh Koscheck def. Mike Pierce via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Renan Barao def. Scott Jorgensen via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ed Herman def. Clifford Starks via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:43
Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway via submission (mounted triangle-armbar) – Round 1, 3:23
Edwin Figueroa def. Alex Caceres via split decision (28-27, 27-28, 28-27)
Matt Brown def. Chris Cope via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 1:19
Matt Riddle def. Henry Martinez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Rafael Natal def. Michael Kuiper via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Steven Thompson def. Dan Stittgen via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 4:13