By Mike Calimbas | Photo by UFC.com / Getty Images
Melancon, Craig, Kennedy Score Pivotal Wins; Oliviera Gains Respect At UFC 162
LAS VEGAS, NV, July 7, 2013 – Coming out of last night’s UFC 162 PPV event held at the MGM Grand in Sin City most people will be talking the “glitch in the matrix” that was Chris Weidman’s emphatic knockout over a showboating Anderson Silva but there were plenty of other exciting moments to complete a great night of action at arguably one of the UFC’s best cards of the years so far in 2013.
Specifically for the lone star state, all four of Texas’ representatives can walk out of UFC 162 with their heads held high, secure in the fact that they all have bright futures in their MMA career following their performances at this event.
Let’s go through them one by one.
Brian Melancon Batters Bacynski
Making his UFC debut against “Polish Pistola” Seth Bacynski, longtime TXMMA veteran Brian Melancon would be fulfilling a lifelong dream. It wasn’t too long ago when it was thought that Brian would be eschewing his MMA career for good after going 1-1 in Strikeforce, unsure if his contract would get picked up after UFC parent company Zuffa purchased the organization and instead resuming his successful career in physical therapy. He would only come back after getting the call to compete at this event just a few months ago.
Heading into the cage, PPV-viewers would think that the Houstonian was being brought in just to lose considering how UFC announcers were talking up his 6’4” opponent a 7-fight UFC veteran who has beaten the likes of Matt Brown and took surging Mike Pierce to a close decision not too long ago. Good thing for Brian he was not listening in the beginning and now he was the one who they’d be talking about in the end.
Once the fight started it didn’t take long before Bacynski noticed who Brian Melancon was as well. No doubt a testament to longtime sparring sessions with close friend and current Legacy FC 170 lbs. champ Jeff Rexroad, the powerful Houstonian was able to quickly close the distance on his much taller opponent and landing one of those vicious left hands to put him on notice. From there it was Brian’s fight as he put Bacynski on his heels and took him completely off his gameplan. It was with one second left in the first round that Melancon took Bacynski out for good and put an emphasis on his UFC debut courtesy of the kill shot into his opponent’s guard that put the Polish Pistola out for good.
Afterwards Melancon would pay homage to MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko calling the Russian his favorite fighter and that’s probably how the rest of the UFC welterweight roster might be viewing him as well following this performance.
Something tells us he won’t be so underestimated next time.
Andrew Craig Rebounds From First Career Loss Against Veteran Chris Leben
Next up for Texas on the UFC on FX prelims was another Houstonian in Team Tooke’s Andrew Craig making his fourth walk to compete in the UFC octagon. This fight with Chris Leben was a pivotal one at UFC 162. Not only was “The Crippler” Andrew’s biggest-name opponent to date, he was also the guy he needed to rebound against after suffering the first loss of his career this past January against Brazilian Ronny Markes.
Fighting a smart fight against a veteran opponent, Andrew Craig would show a well-roundedness and some veteran composure of his own in this fight- overcoming Leben’s early offensive momentum and punishing him back every time he would try and come forward.
It was that type of back-and-forth fight for the duration of the three rounds of action with the two going back-and-forth on the feet. The difference seemed to be that Craig landed the bigger shots overall and dropped him twice in the third. To his credit Leben survived some tenious moments but it was Andrew Craig who won out in the end, picking up the split decision win and bringing his record to 9-1 overall (3-1, UFC).
Austin’s Tim Kennedy Takes Convincing Decision Over Roger Gracie To Win UFC Debut
To his credit and following famed uncles like Renzo and Royce, Roger Gracie is the latest in his family to want to test himself against the best of the world but in this fight Austin-area resident Tim Kennedy proved you need to have more than one specialty to be able to hang in today’s era of high-level mixed martial arts.
Tim would try to crack Roger right off the bat with strikes in this one but his taller opponent found a way to gain position later in the first, taking Kennedy’s back while the Texan import defended well.
It would go much better for Kennedy in the second round with his momentum growing as Roger’s cardio and offense slowed down. Not only was Kennedy outpacing the Brazilian on his feet but he wasn’t scared to work his own offense in trying to take him down on the floor at times as well. It was more of the same in the third as Kennedy went into the final frame the much fresher fighter. With the last of his energy sapped, Roger could do not much more that survive as he wasn’t able to impose any of his game on his busier opponent, who threw one punch for his every ten. The judges final scorecards for this one would read 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 as Tim Kennedy finally picks up his long-awaited first UFC win.
Charles Oliviera Loses To Frankie Edgar But Gains Respect In The Process
Going into this fight against former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar not make people were giving Gold Team’s Charles Oliviera a snowball’s chance in hell at winning against such a highly-decorated opponent. Now the 23 year old didn’t accomplish the upset but it has to be believed that he at least gained some modicum of respect in this one after putting in an admirable performance over the course of three rounds with one of the world’s best.
The pace was fast and furious from the get-go in this one as the two looked to go to work early. With Frankie’s boxing against Charles’ Muay Thai, this fight was certainly a crowd-pleaser early on and it went that way for all three rounds. It was close and competitive on the feet with both scoring their moments. Oliviera would have his moments on the floor as well, trying for both a calf slicer and a guillotine that both looked like good attempts, but in the end the difference maker seemed to be how Edgar was able to mix things up and take his opponent to the floor following some of those striking exchanges. Oliviera took some great shots from Frankie and delivered some of his own as well but lost the decision in this one, giving Frankie Edgar his first win since stopping Gray Maynard in October 2011. As for Charles, at only 23 years old he’s still got a world of potential ahead of him despite dropping his last two fights so we’ll no doubt be seeing him again after this ‘Fight of the Night’ contender.
UFC 162 – Quick Results
UFC 162 – Main Card (PPV):
Chris Weidman def. Anderson Silva by KO at 1:18, R2
Frankie Edgar def. Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Tim Kennedy def. Roger Gracie by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28))
Mark Munoz def. Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
Cub Swanson def. Dennis Siver by TKO at 2:24, R3
UFC 162 – Preliminary Card (FX):
Andrew Craig def. Chris Leben by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Norman Parke def. Kazuki Tokudome by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Gabriel Gonzaga def. Dave Herman by KO at :17, R1
Edson Barboza def. Rafaello Oliveira by TKO (leg kicks) at 1:24, R2
UFC 162 – Preliminary Card (Facebook):
Brian Melancon def. Seth Baczynski by KO at 4:59, R1
Mike Pierce def. David Mitchell by TKO