Winners, losers from UFC 119
Cecil Peoples, Glenn Trowbridge lived down to their reputation as poor judges
Expectations for UFC 119 were blown up by Dana White's last-minute bluster
Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway, both ASU alums, acquitted themselves nicely
The fight calendar offers a quick turnaround this week with Jose Aldo's WEC featherweight title defense Thursday in Denver against Manny Gamburyan. Before we turn the page on a busy weekend, let's take a look at who came out ahead and who didn't at UFC 119 in Indianapolis.
Cecil Peoples and Glenn Trowbridge: Two of mixed martial arts' worst judging offenders struck again Saturday night. Peoples and Trowbridge, California- and Nevada-based arbiters, respectively, were brought in by the state of Indiana to work UFC 119 and went unnoticed until Sean Sherk's hand was raised after a split decision against Evan Dunham. By any measure, Dunham, who was unbeaten coming into the fight, should have won.
Peoples and Trowbridge saw rounds one and two for Sherk, and it's the second period that raised red flags. Dunham outstruck Sherk and very nearly finished the fight with a guillotine choke. Final point on this: So often blame for bad officiating in MMA is laid to rest with boxing officials. Peoples' background is martial arts. Trowbridge has judged enough MMA by now -- he began in 2004 and has worked 47 Zuffa-promoted events -- that he should know what to look for. It really shouldn't be so tough to get it right.
Gegard Mousasi: This is probably unfair. Mousasi earned his 30th professional win and became the first two-division champion in Dream with a dominant effort against an underwhelming Tatsuya Mizuno. So he's in the wrong column, right? Well, no. Mousasi, 25, remains one of the most talent-rich young fighters in the sport. But he gets no credit for victories over the likes of Mizuno, who fell to 8-6. Did Saturday's experience do anything to help him solve the puzzle of strong wrestlers? Nope.
The buildup for UFC 119: Expectations were tempered until they weren't. In a last-ditch effort to convince people at home watching preliminary fights on Spike TV to pay for the rest of UFC 119, UFC president Dana White went back and forth with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan about the possibility that every fight on the card could be fight of the night. In theory, all true. In reality, far from. A promoter selling something that's not as good as advertised isn't news. I was simply struck by the ferocity of the selling, and couldn't help but wonder if anyone convinced enough to buy would do so anytime soon.
Kazushi Sakuraba and FEG: Five years since Ricardo Arona bludgeoned him in the ring, Sakuraba, Japan's fighting icon, now 41, continues to take damage. In just over two minutes, Jason "Mayhem" Miller did what he needed to do in Nagoya, Japan, pounding Sakuraba (26-14-1, 2 NC) before securing an arm-triangle submission finish. That's four losses in six fights for Sakuraba, who just keeps getting wheeled out there by his handlers and promoter, FEG, in hopes that the Japanese TV audience will watch like it's 2003. Which it's not.
Kelvin Caldwell: Done well, officiating is a largely anonymous business. If I'm going to lambaste Peoples and Trowbridge for being awful judges, then some credit is due to Caldwell. Working his third Zuffa-promoted event -- UFC 90 and WEC 40 being the other two -- Caldwell was the lone dissenter in Melvin Guillard versus Jeremy Stephens and the aforementioned Sherk-Dunham match. Scorecards in Guillard-Stephens, a lightweight tilt that offered few fireworks, were all over the place, punctuated by a brow-furrowing 30-27 decision by Otto Torriero. Caldwell had it the same as SI.com: 28-28.
Featherweights: Days away from No. 1-ranked featherweight Aldo's return to the WEC against Gamburyan, Dream 16 offered five meaningful fights in the division. Seven of the evening's 10 145-pound fighters were Japanese, and outside of Hideo Tokoro's triangle choke loss to Norway's Joachim Hansen, they all did quite well.
Topping the list: Michihiro Omigawa, who cranked on American Cole Escovdeo's arm to win by submission at 2:30 of the opening round. Hiroyuki Takaya was similarly effective during a stomping of another American, Chase Beebe, at 1:45 of Round 1. Powerful Kazuyuki Miyata and veteran Mitsuhiro Ishida walked away with decision wins over their countrymen. If Bibiano Fernandes can resolve his financial issues with Dream, a bout against Omigawa would be tremendous for New Year's Eve.
Arizona State wrestling: Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway wrestled alongside one another in college. Now they're fighting together as professional mixed martial artists. The pair of Sun Devils won in different ways Saturday in Indianapolis. But the point is, they won -- and continued to represent ASU wrestling, which has cranked out more high-level fighters than any program in the country. Dollaway's rolling, twisting, scrambling choke against Joe Doreksen was a thing of beauty. Bader's points win against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira wasn't as neat, but it was decisive.
Jason Miller: Kudos to Miller for the respect he offered Sakuraba. For a guy who can so easily be misunderstood, for someone brash by design, Miller fought with genuine emotion -- and, weird as it may sound, compassion -- against his Japanese idol. After finishing Sakuraba via submission for the first time, Miller (far removed from that April night in Nashville, Tenn., when he chose to enter the cage during a live broadcast on CBS and challenge Jake Shields) nearly broke down in tears. One man, running up against a dream, reveling in the experience.
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