Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Overdose Recovery: UFC 128, Bellator 37, Bute vs. Magee [Boxing], NCAA D-1 Wrestling Championships

You can never get too much combat sports...

Three sports, four shows, one-and-a-half six packs, two Monster energy drinks, and four Tylenols later, and I've finally recovered enough to jot down a few notes on my combat sports-filled Saturday night. It'll probably be a while before we get the best in wrestling, boxing, and MMA all in one night. So, let's take it all in.

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UFC 128: A young king is crowned.

UFC 128 blew the doors off of the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The UFC showcased a stacked card, but it was the main event that stole the show, as rising star Jon Jones defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in electrifying fashion. Jones put on a cat-like display of Muy Thai striking mixed with a solid ground game, complete with plenty of smothering and his trademark elbows to take home the UFC light heavyweight strap. Some more observations:
  • There was plenty of homegrown talent in the building. Eliot Marshall, Kurt Pellegrino, the Miller brothers -- Dan and Jim Miller, and Nick Catone all represented the Garden State in the Octagon. Of the five Nick Catone and Jim Miller walked away victorious. Jimmy's TKO win over Kamal Shalorus should shortlist him for a title shot given at least two more victories. Meanwhile, another Jersey representative, Brazilian transplant Ricardo Almeida lost to Mike Pyle.
  • Brendan Schaub took it to Mirko Cro Cop. So far, he's made a showing against fading competition (yeah, face it Cro Cop is on his way to the retirement home), but does Brendan Schaub have what it takes to compete with the Cain Velasquez'es and Brock Lesnars of the UFC big boys division?
  • Urijah Faber is on a bantamweight takeover. The UFC's sub-lightweight posterboy started his professional MMA career as a bantamweight, and his return to the weight class was a smart move. The former WEC featherweight champ is now 2-0 as a Zuffa 135 lber. A meeting with UFC 135 lb. titleholder Dominick Cruz is definitely on the horizon.

Bellator 37 Action:

Bellator 37 was the perfect warm-up for UFC 128. The event got Bellator's featherweight tournament underway, as veterans Wilson Reis, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, and Georgi Karakhanyan returned for the promotion's second featherweight competition. Freire, a tournament finalist last season, KO'd Karakhanyan in the third round to move on to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket Wilson Reis only needed one round to submit Zac George.

Meanwhile, tournament first-timers Daniel Straus and Kenny Foster both advance following wins over Nazareno Malegarie and Eric Larkin respectively. But, perhaps the biggest news from Bellator 37 comes from Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren's announcement that he will enter next season's 135 lb. tournament. Warren's inclusion in Bellator's featherweight roster adds to big expectations for next season's 135 lb. tournament, as the promotion recently signed former Sengoku Featherweight Champion Marlon Sandro.

Bute retains IBF Super Middleweight title.

Unsurprisingly, IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute took it to Irish challenger Brian Magee. Bute put the press on Magee from the gate, but Magee kept coming back, even after hitting the canvas three times. Bute finally stopped the Irishman for good in the tenth round, dropping him with a stiff uppercut. With the victory, Magee remains undefeated, extending his flawless record to 28-0 (23 KOs).

March Matness comes to a close. Penn State tops competition in team points criteria.

The best in Division I college wrestling closed out a phenomenal season as Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center hosted the championship round of the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships last night. Undefeated wrestlers Anthony Robles (125 lbs, Arizona State), Jordan Oliver (133 lbs, Oklahoma State), Kellen Russell (141, Michigan), Jordan Burroughs (165, Nebraska), and Jon Reader (174, Iowa State) all captured championship crowns. Of note, 133 lb. champion Anthony Robles, an Arizona State wrestler who was born with one leg, received Outstanding Wrestler honors. From a mixed martial arts perspective, eyes should keep a look out for 157 lb. champion Bubba Jenkins who has already claimed a future in MMA. Also, 165 lb. Champion Jordan Burroughs' Olympic aspirations are very much attainable, but should he take his wrestling prowess to the cage, he could be a threat in the welterweight division. Others under the MMA radar: Frank Molinaro (runner-up, 149, Penn State), Ryan Flores (runner-up, 285, American). Full championship results follow:

NCAA Division I National Wrestling Championships
Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 19, 2011

Final  Team Standings:
Penn State 107.5, Cornell 93.5, Iowa 86.5, Oklahoma State 70.5, American 65, Arizona State 62.5, Minnesota 61, Lehigh 58.5, Boise State 57.5, Wisconsin 54.5.

Championship Round:

125 lb. Division
No. 1 Anthony Robles (Arizona State) dec. No. 2 Matt McDonough (Iowa), 8-1

133 lb. Divison
No. 1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 2 Andrew Hochstrasser (Boise State), 8-4

141 lb. Division
No. 1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) dec. No. 3 Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly), 3-2

149 lb. Division
No. 4 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. No. 2 Frank Molinaro (Penn State), 8-1

157 lb. Division
No. 4 Bubba Jenkins (Arizona State) pinned No. 3 David Taylor (Penn State), 4:14

165 lb. Division
No. 1 Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska) dec. No. 3 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma), 11-3

174 lb. Division
No. 1 Jon Reader (Iowa State) dec. No. 7 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford), 10-3

184 lb. Division
No. 9 Quentin Wright (Penn State) dec. No. 2 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh), 5-2

197 lb. Division
No. 4 Dustin Kilgore (Kent State) pinned No. 2 Clayton Foster (Oklahoma State), 4:56

285 lb. Division
No. 1 Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. No. 3 Ryan Flores (American), 2-1

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