Joe Stevenson celebrated birthday number 27 this week. Rather than depend on the suspect gifting skills of others, he went and got himself a nice present: the promise of continued employment.
Stevenson trumped Nate Diaz during Saturday’s “Ultimate Fighter” finale, controlling his longer, weaker opponent using reliable collegiate wrestling. With the losses mounting, he desperately needed a solid performance. The nerves didn’t show: relaxed under the eye of noted trainer Greg Jackson, he stayed out of trouble, put the fight where he wanted it, and earned himself some renewed credibility.
Diego Sanchez, the last man to beat Stevenson, butted heads with Clay Guida in the main event: Guida’s loss was almost an afterthought. He fought until the bitter end, absorbing shots that would’ve put a normal human on a respirator, and made Sanchez work for every second he had in control.
Guida doesn’t lose fights: he just runs out of time. I have faith he would out-gut just about anyone without a clock ticking.
Next for Sanchez: Two solid victories at 155 under his belt make a title shot against the winner of Penn/Florian August 8 plausible, but Frank Edgar has been working -- and winning -- longer. I’d like to see Sanchez squeeze another fight in before contention is discussed.
Next for Guida: Jules Winnfield’s wallet.
Next for Diaz: Some weight training: he’s slick on the ground, and his height helps a lot, but he needs to get stronger.
Q: Does Sanchez deserve a title shot?
A: A victory over Guida always impresses, but I’d prefer not to think two wins is all that separates anyone from contention. You can argue Sanchez brings his welterweight credibility moving down, but he wasn’t on any particular roll there.
Q: Whom should James Wilks fight next?
A: Matt Brown or Rory Markham. Rock ‘Em Robots.
Q: Should Guida cut his hair?
A: Maybe. It’s actually a little unfair, since he can toss the mop in front of his face when he’s in trouble, making it harder for his opponent to target the chin.
Kim Winslow became the first female referee to officiate a UFC Saturday when she held court over the Nick Osipczak vs. Frank Lester preliminary bout. Performance in crisis is nothing new to Winslow: she’s a former air traffic controller…during the broadcast, UFC President Dana White confirmed Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua would headline an October 24 card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. It will be very interesting to see what kind of numbers Machida can draw now that the “return of karate” media springboard has revved up engines…the UFC gave three Fight of the Night bonuses to Stevenson/Diaz, Sanchez/Guida, and Chris Lytle/Kevin Burns. Each fighter earned an extra $25,000.…the show netted a paying crowd of 1,800 for a $500,000 live gate at the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas.