UFC 159 takes place Saturday night from Newark, New Jersey. The event is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title bout between champion Jon Jones and challenger Chael Sonnen.
UFC light heavyweight title: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
Jones is one of the most skilled and dominant fighters in the history of the sport, even at an early age. He seemingly has no weaknesses, mixing great wrestling with dangerous striking and a winner’s mentality. However, he hasn’t connected with fans in the way that UFC would have hoped for such a successful champion. Sonnen is one of the sport’s most colorful characters and best trash talkers. A very good wrestler, he gave Anderson Silva great difficulty in the middleweight division. However, few believe he has any chance against Jones. He has no UFC wins at light heavyweight and his strengths are likely to be negated by Jones’. The fight was made so that Jones and Sonnen could coach opposite one another on the Ultimate Fighter television series.
Round 1. Sonnen presses forward. Jones changes levels and takes Sonnen down. Sonnen stands up and they exchange punches from inside the clinch before separating. They clinch again and Jones takes Sonnen down. Sonnen has a butterfly guard near the cage. Sonnen works his way back up and they clinch next to the cage. Jones looks for a lift but Sonnen blocks it. Jones goes for a spinning back elbow but it misses. Jones then moves in and grabs a deep double leg that he uses to slam Sonnen back down. Jones begins throwing punches and elbows from inside Sonnen's guard. Jones drops down elbos and pins Sonnen's arm. Sonnen covers up and Jones begins dropping down heavier elbows. Sonnen is bleeding. The fight is stopped.
Winner: Jon Jones, TKO, round 1.
Jones has a broken foot and only realized it at the beginning of his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. Sonnen says he agreed with the decision to stop the fight and that Jones was the better fighter.
Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher
This is a crucial fight for each man. Bisping has long sought a middleweight title shot but following a loss to Vitor Belfort, it looks like he may never receive it. He desperately needs a win here to stay in the title picture. Belcher is in a similar boat. He won a series of fights that got him mentioned as a potential contender but looked unimpressive in losing to Yushin Okami in his last fight. He needs a win to make fans forget about that.
Round 1. They feel each other out early, with Belcher establishing range via kicks. From close range, each man lands a shot. Belcher has thrown a number of hard head kicks but thus far Bisping has been able to block all of them. Bisping connects with a right hand up the middle that is his best shot of the fight. A little bit later Belcher lands a nice that connects very well to the chin of Bisping. Bisping blocks a takedown at the end and lands a couple punches. Very close round. 10-9 Bisping.
Round 2. Bisping starts off the round well. He lands a low kick and a jab and then hits Belcher with a hard straight punch. Bisping is over time throwing more than Belcher, which is changing the tempo of the fight. Bisping lands a nice hook. Bisping loads up a straight right up the middle that lands well. Halfway through the round, Bisping is now firmly in control. Bisping lands an overhand right and then counters nicely when Belcher looks for a shot of his own. Bisping lands another right to the jaw moments later. Belcher goes for a takedown and Bisping stuffs it. Belcher connects with a hard punch shortly thereafter and another after that. Bisping does answer with a good combination to close the round. 10-9 Bisping.
Round 3. Belcher moves in aggressively and immediately gets countered by Bisping with a punch. Belcher is smiling at Bisping and Bisping responds with a hard punch in response. Bisping is pressing the action and throwing frequent shots, but not landing with much power. He's very effective at making Belcher pay when Belcher moves in looking to change the tone of the fight. Bisping lands a nice hard overhand right and then goes to the body with a few additional shots. Belcher goes for a takedown and is blocked with ease. Bisping catches Belcher with a bad accidental eye poke that goes deep into the eye. Belcher is bleeding badly from the eye and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Michael Bisping, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo
The charismatic and popular Nelson has built a fan following with exciting fights and by playing up his rotund physique. Kongo is one of the sport’s biggest anomalies. He has arguably the most impressive physique in the sport and an excellent skill set but throughout his career he has always found ways to lose fights.
Round 1. Nelson catches a leg kick and goes for a takedown. He presses Kongo against the cage but isn't able to get any further than that and the referee separates the action. Nelson drops Kongo with his big overhand right and then knocks him unconscious as he tries to get up. That was a spectacular finish.
Winner: Roy Nelson, KO, round 1.
Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh
Siler, an Ultimate Fighter veteran, was building momentum in the featherweight division with wins over Cole and Micah Miller. However, he suffered a setback in his last contest with a unanimous decision loss to Darren Elkins. Holobaugh is a Strikeforce veteran who was undefeated heading into a loss in his last fight against Pat Healy. Both fighters will look to turn around their recent fortunes in this bout.
Round 1. The fighters exchange low kicks early and immediately initiate a very fast pace. They clinch and Holobaugh lands some nice punches to the body. Siler looks to take the fight to the ground but is prevented from doing so. Siler does land some nice knees to the body and slams Holobaugh down with a hard takedown. He immediately sinks in his hooks and looks to apply a rear naked choke submission. Holobaugh defends well so Siler lands a constant barrage of punches from the inside. Holobaugh stands up but Siler maintains his dominant position and controls Holobaugh’s back from the standing position. They eventually roll to the ground and Siler locks in a really tight rear naked choke/neck crank. With blood gushing from his mouth, Holobaugh refuses to submit. He spits out his mouthpiece and Siler gives up the hold. Siler continues landing punches for the remainder of the round. 10-8 Siler.
Round 2. Siler ducks down and looks for a takedown at the start of the round. Holobaugh grabs a guillotine choke but Siler patiently waits to pull his head out of danger. Holobaugh nicely reverses and takes top position. Holobaugh drops down a solid punch but as he postures up, Siler stands up himself. Holobaugh lands a heavy hook to the chin of Siler. Siler appears a little dazed and shoots for a takedown. Holobaugh defends and takes top position. Holobaugh lands some nice punches from the top while Siler looks to utilize rubber guard. Holobaugh drops down some elbows. Siler finally stands up with a minute left in the round and lands some solid punches from the standing position. Holobaugh answers with a nice hook of his own and Siler shoots for a takedown. Holobaugh defends and looks to isolate Siler's arm for a potential kimura submission. But there just isn't enough time in the round. 10-9 Holobaugh.
Round 3. They go right back to work from the inside, with Siler landing punches from close range and Holobaugh firing back with knees. They then switch, with Siler landing the knees and Holobaugh throwing punches. Siler throws a head kick but Holobaugh ducks under and goes for a takedown. In the scramble, Siler takes top position. He quickly mounts and Holobaugh gives Siler his back. That allows Siler to sink in his hooks and look for a rear naked choke like he did in the first. Siler throws punches looking to open up the opportunity for a submission and Holobaugh throws back punches behind his head in defiance. Siler keeps landing punches as the round comes to a close. 10-9 Siler
Winner: Steven Siler, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Cody McKenzie vs. Leonard Garcia
McKenzie has become something of a cult figure, owing to his heavy reliance on one particular submission: his guillotine choke. Garcia is a fan friendly brawler who has really struggled to score wins in recent years.
Round 1. McKenzie immediately gets a takedown. Garcia stands back up but McKenzie takes him back down and looks to take Garcia’s back. He takes the back and throws some punches from there. McKenzie attempts to lock in a rear naked choke but Garcia is able to block it. McKenzie keeps working. Garcia tries to roll out of back mount. In the process, McKenzie looks for a head and arm choke. Garcia avoids that and ends on bottom with guard position secured on McKenzie. McKenzie passes into side control and Garcia stands back up. McKenzie looks for the guillotine choke but Garcia avoids it. McKenzie lands a nice punch and then goes for the guillotine again. Garcia avoids that so McKenzie attempts a mounted triangle choke. He rolls over and has it sunk in extremely deep but luckily for Garcia time runs out in the round. McKenzie completely dominated Garcia on the ground. 10-8 McKenzie.
Round 2. Garcia throws some jabs and brushes off a takedown attempt. McKenzie attempts it again and presses Garcia against the cage. Garcia drops down looking for a guillotine choke of his own but has McKenzie in no danger. McKenzie has top position but Garcia stands up and gets out of there. They exchange punches from the standup position. McKenzie walks Garcia down so he can go for another takedown attempt. McKenzie eventually pulls down Garcia from behind and locks in a body triangle. McKenzie once again looks for a rear naked choke. McKenzie lands punches and controls Garcia’s body. Garcia tries to stand up and when the fighters drop down, McKenzie lands on his head. 10-9 McKenzie.
Round 3. Each man lands a head kick that doesn’t do damage early. McKenzie looks for a takedown but doesn’t come close. Garcia is throwing wild haymakers knowing he needs to finish the fight to win. Garcia is landing more but hasn’t been able to hurt McKenzie. McKenzie sticks out his tongue two minutes in. McKenzie goes for another takedown but it is blocked. Garcia lands a heavy straight punches and then throws wild hooks that don’t come anywhere close to McKenzie’s head. McKenzie counters with a nice jab. Garcia keeps throwing heavy punches but is so inaccurate. McKenzie finally gets a takedown in the final minute. McKenzie again gets Garcia’s back. 10-9 McKenzie, 30-26 McKenzie.
Winner: Cody McKenzie, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
Johnny Bedford vs. Bryan Caraway
Bedford and Caraway are both veterans of the sport with wrestling backgrounds. Bedford has won his last two fights in the UFC while Caraway lost a controversial decision in his last fight that would have been his third UFC win in a row. Caraway is also known for being the boyfriend of female fighter Miesha Tate, who is in his corner.
Round 1. Bedford looks to establish his jab early while Caraway throws a series of looping punches that miss. Bedford lands a nice overhand right. Caraway goes for a takedown and ends up pulling Bedford down from behind like McKenzie did to Garcia earlier in the evening. Caraway sinks in his hooks, using both of his legs to control Bedford’s torso. However, he isn’t able to do damage or get a submission and Bedford stands back up. On the feet, Bedford lands a nice kick to the body and punch to the head. Bedford looks for a takedown but is blocked. Caraway then secures a takedown at the end. Close round. Caraway did get the two takedowns but didn’t do much with them and Bedford landed the better strikes. Still, Caraway gets it based on ground control. 10-9 Caraway.
Round 2. Caraway goes for a takedown but it is blocked and Caraway feeds him a knee for his efforts. Bedford is bleeding near his right eye. Caraway lands a few nice hooks and looks for a takedown. It is defended easily. Caraway finally gets a takedown with two minutes left in the round. Caraway lands a few punches from top position. Caraway works his way into half guard but Bedford still retains control of one of his legs, preventing Caraway from passing into the more advantageous side mount position. Caraway finally secures side mount with 20 seconds left in the round and drops down a few punches to close the round. 10-9 Caraway.
Round 3. Caraway holds up his hands briefly like a Diaz brother and then lands a nice hook. Bedford moments later connects with a good left hook that was his best blow in a while. Caraway brushes off a Bedford takedown attempt and then goes for a takedown of his own. Bedford initially puts up great resistance but Caraway follows through and gets the takedown at the halfway point of the round. Caraway is content to maintain position in the half guard of Bedford for a while but he eventually works into side mount and locks up a guillotine choke. He rolls to his back and then rolls back to top position and secures the submission from Bedford. That was a nice late close by Caraway.
Winner: Bryan Caraway, submission, round 3.
Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff
This is an intriguing female fight. The undefeated McMann is thought by many to be the biggest threat to Ronda Rousey, owing to her elite wrestling and Olympic silver medal. However, Gaff possesses excellent knockout power and is a dangerous opponent.
Round 1. McMann immediately takes Gaff down. McMann isn't able to do much at all with the position and the crowd eventually begins to boo. The fight is stood up with two minutes left. McMann immediately clinches again. She eats some big knees to the body while looking to take the fight back down. McMann finally gets the takedown and lands in side mount. She quickly secures a crucifix, locking up Gaff's arms. She then drops a series of punches and elbows until the referee stops the fight. McMann takes a bow.
Winner: Sara McMann, TKO, round 1.
Gian Villante vs. Ovince St. Preux
These are two former Strikeforce fighters, both making their UFC debuts. Both have football backgrounds. Villante got a lot of buzz early in his MMA career, but that hype died off when he struggled in later fights. St. Preux didn't have the same initial notoriety but has shown very good promise in recent fights.
Round 1. Villante connects with a leg kick right at the start that sends St. Preux backwards. Villante catches a St. Preux kick and looks for a takedown. Villante eventually gives up the attempt. St. Preux throws some big hooks but Villante defends well. St. Preux throws another series of hooks a little while later and this time he connects. He appears to have Villante dazed and he hammers him with shots against the cage. Villante clinches and regains his composure. Villante goes for a takedown but St. Preux stops it. St. Preux goes for a takedown but it is easily defended. 10-9 St. Preux.
Round 2. Each man looks for a leg kick early and an off balance St. Preux falls down. Villante starts going to work with hard low kicks that St. Preux for the most part isn't checking. St. Preux goes for a takedown but it is blocked well by Villante. St. Preux's output has really gone down. He's throwing very sparingly and Villante isn't terribly active in his own right. St. Preux lands a nice straight punch. The crowd beings to boo what has been a lackluster round. 10-9 Villante.
Round 3. Villante takes an accidental finger to the eye and needs a moment to compose himself. Referee Kevin Mulhall, rather than doing so, stops the fight. Staggering incompetence.
Winner: Ovince St. Preux, majority decision (30-28, 30-29, 29-29).
Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros
It's a spellchecker's nightmare as the 15-1 Russian Khabilov battles the 9-0 Hawaiian Medeiros. Khabilov looked dominant in his UFC debut and Medeiros has won most of his fights via KO/TKO.
Round 1. Medeiros keeps lunging in for punches while Khabilov is methodical and feeling out distance. Khabilov is very good about mixing up shots high and low. They clinch and Khabilov looks for a suplex. Medeiros lands on top of him. In the middle of a scramble, Medeiros dislocates his thumb and the fight is called off. That was quite the back-to-back pair of finishes.
Winner: Rustam Khabilov, TKO, round 1.
Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy
Miller is one of the most respected fighters in the lightweight division, a gritty perennial contender with a great ground game and toughness. Healy has had an unusual career. He has a lot of losses on his record from consistently testing himself throughout his career, but almost always puts up a tough fight. He won six straight fights in Strikeforce leading up to this fight, giving him tremendous momentum going into this contest.
Round 1. Healy lands a nice hook early but eats a hard counter as he moves in on Miller. Miller is the big crowd favorite as a New Jersey native. They clinch and Miller uses a trip takedown to ground Healy. Healy looks for an armbar from the bottom but doesn't have much of a grip on Miller. He transitions into an omoplata attempt but Miller is out of that too. As Healy gets up, Miller crucifixes his arms briefly and then looks for a kimura. He transitions into a straight armbar attempt but Healy has his hands nicely locked together and Miller gives it up. They return to the feet and Healy this time scores a takedown. Miller postures up for an armbar but doesn't come close and receives a series of punches from Healy. Miller stands back up but Healy slams him back to the mat impressively. Healy takes Miller's back but isn't able to get both of his hooks so Miller rolls out and takes top position. Healy looks for an armbar but doesn't get it and Miller lands some heavy punches at the close of the round. It looked like he might have been on the verge of knocking Healy out as the round came to a close. Very exciting first stanza. 10-9 Miller.
Round 2. They exchange punches to start the round and Healy closes in for a takedown. Miller defends it and they separate. Healy's face is a mess. Healy grabs a deep double leg and takes Miller down next to the cage. Healy goes to work, landing plenty of punches and elbows while preventing Miller from moving against the cage. Miller tries to stand up but in the process Healy tries to get a rear naked choke. Miller gets out of that but ends up on the bottom of Healy's mount. Miller nicely presses Healy off him and goes to take top position. That was another fun roung of nice ground work. 10-9 Healy.
Round 3. Miller dazes Healy with a punch early but Healy quickly answers with one of his own. Miller loads up a big uppercut but it doesn't connect flush. Miller knocks Healy down with an inside kick. Healy gets right back up and staggers Miller with a punch. He then presses Miller against the cage and gets a takedown. He looks to quickly capitalize with a number of punches from the top. He continues landing elbows and punches. Miller isn't able to answer back as Healy keeps the pressure on and keeps landing shots. He gets the hooks in, sinks in a rear naked choke, and referee Herb Dean stops the bout.
Winner: Pat Healy, submission, round 3.
If a funny moment, ring announcer Bruce Buffer accidentally announces Jim Miller as the winner and has to immediately correct himself.
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Davis is one of the best light heavyweights in the world. His greatest strength is his wrestling but he has added excellent submissions to his game as well. Magalhaes is an interesting stylistic challenge as he is one of the world’s best jiu jitsu practitioners. The usually comfortable ground game could be dangerous territory for Davis here.
Round 1. Magalhes throws a series of kicks early. A couple of low kicks knock Davis' front leg back. He goes for a takedown. Davis blocks it and lands some knees from the clinch before releasing. Davis becomes more active with his offense and starts walking Magalhaes down. But then Davis gets over aggressive and Magalhaes catches him with a takedown as Davis moves in. Davis wiggles out of danger and stands back up. As the fight returns to the standup, the exchanges are relatively even. Davis is more active but Magalhaes' striking defense is solid. 10-9 Davis.
Round 2. After a series of jabs, Davis moves around Magalhaes and takes him down. However, Davis then stands back up. Davis lands a nice 1-2 punch combination that was one of his best of the fight. Davis keeps pressing forward with punches, but they rarely land with much impact. As Magalhaes throws a kick, Davis trips him and lets him back up. Davis connects with a hard punch to the body and then goes back upstairs. Magalhaes connects with a pair of low kicks. Davis lands some hard punches in the final minute of the round and blocks a takedown. Davis has taken over this fight. 10-9 Davis.
Round 3. The round progresses the same as the other two, with Davis walking down Magalhaes and throwing punches high and low. Magalhaes is able to block a large percentage but rarely answers back. Magalhaes looks to pull guard unsuccessfully. And they return to the same pattern. Magalhaes dives in for a takedown but doesn't come close. Davis keeps peppering away to the end. Lackluster fight to say the least. 10-9 Davis, 30-27 Davis.
Winner: Phil Davis, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Follow on Twitter at @toddmartinmma.
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times