The “Korean Zombie” (file photo) made observers stand up and take notice at UFC Fight Night 24. | Sherdog.com
With Phil Davis’ decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, UFC Fight Night 24 supplied a tough test for the unbeaten light heavyweight on Saturday at the KeyArena in Seattle.
Chan Sung Jung hit the first submission via twister in UFC history, Anthony Johnson decisioned Dan Hardy and four heavyweight prospects battled it out. Let’s take a look at who’s up, who’s down and who’s holding steady in the UFC Fight Night 24 Stock Report.
Phil Davis: In a Bizarro world, everyone will start asking Jon Jones what he thinks about Davis. That’s because in our current one, Davis constantly is asked what he thinks about Jones; in his video blog this week, Davis added that his training partners have to take a shot of booze for every time someone asks him about “Bones,” to boot.
That aside, let’s give Davis a break and some breathing room to develop and cease the constant comparisons with the newly crowned light heavyweight champ.
Davis passed a tough litmus test in decisioning Nogueira, making adjustments after a first round where it looked like he might be in for a rough night. He showed confidence to score with kicks and fine-tuned the timing on his takedowns in the second and third rounds to be effective.
He also was tactically smart, not opening too much in Nogueira’s dangerous guard, instead addressing the key factor in that matchup -- protecting his base to avoid sweeps and negating submission setups.
A distance win like this is a big asset for a fighter at Davis’ stage. The next time he’s in a tough fight, he’ll be able to push it more because he knows exactly how far it can go in a live fight.
Anthony Johnson: Johnson’s always had solid wrestling chops, and despite a slugger’s delight match against Hardy, he opted to use them, completely negating the Brit’s best chance to win.
From a physical standpoint, with stamina, Johnson has the tools to complete with anyone in the division. If he can develop confidence in his gas tank, he’ll be tough to beat.
Amir Sadollah: It’s time for Sadollah to get better competition, as he expertly took apart DeMarques Johnson in two. Johnson, a late sub for Duane Ludwig, came in on two weeks’ notice and, to his credit, went down swinging. Starting fast with an aggressive attack, Johnson looked to have the edge early. But Sadollah was patient, playing the percentages of superior technique while chipping away at Johnson, eventually finishing him with ground-and-pound.
Sadollah’s Achilles heel has been powerful wrestlers who overpower him and camp from top position; for him to succeed at the next level in the division, he’ll have to improve on that. But it’s time for him to move up, because he’s too talented not to.
Chan Sung Jung: The Korean Zombie showed patience, some sweet flying knees and a first-ever twister in the UFC to submit Leonard Garcia. Good stuff from Jung, whose delivery of the hold couldn’t have come at a better point in his career. He used his height and range better than in the first match with Garcia, who was flummoxed in the process.
Mike Russow: He’s big, ungainly, and damned hard to get rid of. And he just keeps coming. Russow is never going to be a body-beautiful heavyweight, and he isn’t going to make a lot of highlight reels with his technique, but it doesn’t matter at this point. Now 3-0 in the UFC and 14-1 overall, he was solid against Jon Madsen.
Mackens Semerzier: In steamrolling an overmatched Alex Caceres, Semerzier showed he is a decent fighter. A match against a mid-level 145-pounder would be nice to see next.
John Hathaway: Hathaway hung tough after a rough opening round against Kris McCray, taking control of the wrestling phase of the bout and simply grinding his man down en route to a pulling-away decision win. Hathaway’s takedown defense is decent, but his standup could use some work; the wild-swinging McCray wasn’t the one to test it.
Michael McDonald: The precise bantamweight buckled down in a tough go with Edwin Figueroa and took a hard-won decision. McDonald’s striking is crisp, and he seems comfortable in exchanges, even when the leather is flying at him.
Christian Morecraft: Morecraft got the W in a must-win showdown with Sean McCorkle. Perhaps cognizant of the need to pace himself, he picked his spots, working strikes and controlling positions while dictating where the match went.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Nogueira looked to be planting the seeds of victory early, disrupting Davis’ attacks with nice counters and, shockingly, stuffing his takedowns.
However, Nog’s style is always going to have problems on the scorecards against powerful wrestlers, at least with the current version of judging criterion in use. He’s a wily vet and asked some good questions of Davis, but the loss relegates him closer to near-gatekeeper status in the division, albeit a very dangerous one.
Dan Hardy: You can’t blame Hardy for the snoozer against Johnson and, to his credit, he tried constant submission attempts while unable to do much else. Hardy remains a heavy-handed entrance exam for anyone hoping to break into the Top 10 of the welters.
DaMarques Johnson: Big props to Johnson for coming in on short notice against Sadollah and coming to win. Given the matchup, a huge push out of the gate was his best chance.
Alex Caceres: “Bruce Leroy” has some gifts. He’s fast, personable and clearly has some fighting ability. But even in his drop to 145, he seemed underpowered in tie-ups against Semerzier. It’ll be interesting to see who they match him up against next, but he’ll need a win regardless.
Edwin Figueroa: in his UFC debut, Figueroa gave a solid effort in dropping the decision to McDonald, fighting on six days’ notice. Despite being nailed and outmatched in spots, he constantly kept battling back, and closed hard in the third round. Now 7-1, he’ll be a fun prospect to watch and a better fighter for the experience.
Leonard Garcia: Maybe it’s the renewed game of the “Zombie,” but Garcia just didn’t have it. Flustered by the range and change-up in tactics, he was unable to land punches and overpowered on the ground. A tough loss for Garcia, who’s typically much tougher to get rid of.
Jon Madsen: This loss derails much of the momentum Madsen has built. His standup was willing but limited, and when you’re a 6-foot heavyweight, that’s going to be exploited.
Kris McCray: McCray will never be a smooth fighter to watch. His movements are herky-jerky, his standup is raw and plodding and, at times, he seems like he’s punching underwater. His ground skills are pretty solid, as he avoided some legitimate submission setups Hathaway might have cinched on a lesser fighter. This loss exposed that lack of standup, along with the need for better conditioning.
Sean McCorkle: McCorkle gets props for toughness, for instead of tapping out to the guillotine, he went to sleep. Lacking effective standup on this night, he was worn down by Morecraft and seemed generally demoralized once Christian simply wouldn’t stop driving him against the fence and taking him down.
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