The Turning Point: Wiman vs. Danzig

By: Chris Nelson
Oct 3, 2011
Matt Wiman roughed up Mac Danzig on Saturday night. | File photo:

It was the type of contest most easily described in clichés, an “all-out war” (or a “good, old-fashioned scrap,” if you prefer) where “both men left it all inside the cage.” It was also the type of fight where, at the final bell, one would “hate to be a judge right now,” the kind where “it’s a shame one guy has to lose.”

So closely contested was the lightweight rematch between Matt Wiman and Mac Danzig at Saturday’s UFC Live 6 that all three official judges and the majority of the MMA media scored the bout one way, while the live audience at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center was firmly in the opposite direction. Even the black-and-white match statistics could be interpreted in favor of either fighter.

Wiman and Danzig each landed a fair number of blows over the course of their 15-minute encounter, but it was the style of each man’s striking that may have made the difference.

From the opening horn, their approaches became apparent. Danzig wanted to box, firing off tight, multi-punch combinations when in range or uppercuts in the clinch and then circling out and away. Wiman appeared happy to give chase, tie up and look for takedowns, all the while throwing power punches and vicious, close-quarters elbows. The one thing on which both men could agree was body work, as Danzig connected with hard punches to the ribs of Wiman, who answered with a particularly nasty knee to Danzig’s breadbasket.

By the end of the opening round, the tone had been established. According to data from FightMetric, Danzig outlanded Wiman 79-48 in total strikes through the first five minutes, while Wiman scored more “significant” strikes by a margin of 40-31. The trend would hold for all three rounds, Danzig connecting more often and Wiman with greater impact.

When the lightweights were not slugging on the feet, there was danger on the floor. After Danzig plowed his man to the canvas early in round two, Wiman latched an armbar that he came frustratingly close to extending. Danzig remained calm, however, extracting his limb and mashing Wiman on the ground and then unleashing flurries of punches once back on his feet. Danzig took the second round on all three cageside judges’ scorecards, but for all his punching, he could not knock down Wiman.

The faces of both men showed wear as the fight entered the final round, but Danzig’s was particularly marked up, his forehead bearing lumps from Wiman’s constant elbowing. The roles reversed briefly, as Wiman walked down Danzig and peppered him with punching combos, while Danzig thwarted a takedown try and busted up the Coloradan’s nose. As Danzig moved from top position onto Wiman’s back, the fight seemed close to finished, but Wiman’s escape out the backdoor with two minutes remaining would prove his saving grace.

The elbows that Wiman had used so effectively on the feet were now working on the ground, further battering Danzig’s already lumpy face. When Danzig scrambled to his feet in the final 30 seconds, Wiman obliged with a few from the vertical position.

A last-second guillotine attempt from Danzig was not enough to overcome the pounding, as Wiman took the final frame and the fight, 29-28 on all three scorecards. The capital crowd jeered the verdict as it was read; however, five out of six media sources collated by also awarded the bout to Wiman, some by scores of 30-27. Wiman, who has dropped close decisions to Dennis Siver and Sam Stout during his UFC tenure, was understandably anxious prior to the reading of the scores.

“I’ve been absolutely certain that I won two times before,” Wiman said during the post-fight press conference, “and not even one judge gave me the fight in either of those fights.”

“Handsome Matt” may be slightly less dashing from the punishment received in his latest brawl, but his sturdy beard and punishing elbows ensured that he left with the one thing that mattered.

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