The UFC’s second card dedicated to the men and women of our Armed Forces couldn’t have gone better for the promotion. UFC Fight for the Troops 2 came out guns blazing with a card stacked with not necessarily the top fighters in their divisions, but certainly some of the most exciting and the show did not disappoint. All of the main card bouts and the majority of the prelims featured bell to bell action with several potentially career-changing performances for the men in the cage. While there were a few close calls involving an absentminded referee and the occasional lackadaisical late round fighter, the card delivered in a big way for the fighters, fans, and most importantly, the troops live at Fort Hood. However, it can’t be all wine and roses for everyone involved, so MMA Gospel is here with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Fight for the Troops 2.
Yves Edwards (40-16-1): The Thug-Jitsu master has had a long and rocky on-and-off career with the UFC. The organization has spent the last several years bringing Yves into the Octagon for one-off fights where they seemingly use his exciting style to hype the lightweights they want to build. However in his most recent return, Edwards has put away two such prospects and has now set himself up for a serious second run at the UFC’s lightweight division. It wasn’t pretty, but his come-from-behind submission win over Guillotine expert “The Deadliest Catch” Cody McKenzie (12-1) was certainly enough to put him back on the map.
Cody McKenzie: McKenzie was choked completely unconscious by Yves Edwards at UFC Fight for the Troops 2, but not before answering several questions about his own abilities and drive. Many fans have criticized McKenzie’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to fighting and his supposedly one trick pony style since his time on The Ultimate Fighter just this last year. When he pushed for a second fight so soon after his first UFC match, it seemed that maybe he took fighting seriously after all. Against Edwards, he showed an eclectic and unpredictable ground game that saw him dominate much of the fight, and he showed tenacity in his takedowns and an ability to weather the storm on the feet and through submissions.
“Handsome” Matt Wiman (13-5): Wiman was an underdog in his match against “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-5), as very few people gave him much of a chance of doing more than surviving. After all, Miller was the new rising star in the lightweight division and he certainly wasn’t afraid to tell everyone who would listen. And Wiman certainly didn’t listen as he clearly didn’t know he was supposed to lose Saturday night. “Handsome” exploited Miller’s key weakness for three rounds. Miller shuts down under pressure and that’s exactly what Wiman gave him – constant, relentless pressure. Now, for the second time in his UFC career, Matt Wiman is poised for a run at the top.
“The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7): A win ensured that Mark Hominick was next in line for the UFC Featherweight Championship. That is a lot of pressure to perform under, and performance under pressure is an issue that “The Machine” has struggled with his entire career. It didn’t matter that his WEC and UFC history showed him to be a far higher caliber fighter than his opponent George Roop (11-6-1), Hominick came into the fight with a history of beating himself when it counted most. That wasn’t the case Saturday night when Hominick put on an absolutely flawless display of kickboxing prowess and KO’d Roop in under a minute-and-a-half. If Hominick has truly learned how to handle his nerves this well, “Junior” Jose Aldo (17-1) will have the toughest fight of his career on his hands for the UFC featherweight crown.
“Hype or Die” Pat Barry (5-3): Pat Barry is another fighter whose laid-back, humble, and lighthearted personality gets him labeled as weak, soft, or not dedicated. While everyone was busy talking about how Barry was too busy worshiping “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-9-2) to remember to fight or how he treated everything as a joke and didn’t take his career seriously, he was in the gym at Roufusport getting ready to prove them wrong. 25 years after losing his father, a member of the US Army, he came out ready to prove something against “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-4). Pat Barry brutalized Beltran with some of the most ill intentioned leg kicks since “The Rock” Pedro Rizzo (18-9) ruled the Octagon and, despite seeming to lose focus in the later minutes of the fight, pushed hard to finish and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that he belongs in the UFC.
“Meathead” Matt Mitrione (4-0): The whimsical and to some oftentimes irritatingly smug Matt Mitrione has been on a tear since he closed out TUF Season 10 with a TKO victory over “Big Baby” Marcus Jones (4-2). The former NFL lineman has dedicated himself to his training with a near obsessive fervor and his skills have developed at a truly frightening pace. Mitrione moved like a lightweight and hit like a train wreck as he systematically dismantled “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4) in just under three minutes. This marks the second time in a row that Mitrione has put a clinic on a far more experienced fighter and it may be time for the UFC to throw him in with the rest of the sharks.
“The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (26-8-2): Guillard has experienced a renaissance of sorts in his career. Since returning for his suspension due to a positive post-fight drug screen, “The Young Assassin” has gone 6-2 in the Octagon. His only kryptonite so far has been a seeming inability to handle anyone with even the slightest hint of a ground game. Evan Dunham (10-2), like Nate Diaz (12-7), was on paper the kind of opponent that leaves Guillard slapping the mat to escape a choke hold. Guillard not only put Dunham away on the feet, but proved to be very difficult to takedown throughout the entire fight before obliterating the highly regarded prospect with knees from the clinch halfway through the opening round. Guillard called for a title shot after the match and though he won’t likely get it, he can’t be more than a win or two away now.
Joey Beltran: Joey Beltran is tough as a coffin nail, of that there is absolutely no doubt. He climbed in the cage with Pat Barry and refused to so much as switch his stance after three rounds of vicious leg kicks. Barry even said of Beltran after the fight “if we had five rounds, he’d hop out on one foot” referring to the grit and fortitude of “The Mexicutioner” who could barely stand at the final bell. None of that, however, changes the fact that Joey Beltran took a colossal beating. Anytime a fighter loses so completely that the only positive thing to be said of their performance is “he has a great chin” or “man he has a lot of heart” it’s a very bad thing. A warrior’s mentality may have saved Beltran’s spot on the UFC roster, but he likely won’t be fighting again anytime soon.
George Roop: Roop will likely lose his job in the UFC for a second time following his brutal KO at the hands of Mark Hominick. Simply put, Roop isn’t skilled, gifted, or cerebral enough to compete at the UFC level. This loss brings Roop’s record with Zuffa to 2-3-1, 1-2-1 since his return after dropping to featherweight and the odds that he will receive yet another chance from Dana White are borderline astronomical, especially after being completely outclassed. Roop was tenacious and managed to get a second shot, but it appears that maybe he should have taken some time off to work on his flaws before getting back into the cage with UFC caliber talent.
Cole Miller: Cole Miller talked a lot of trash coming into his fight with Matt Wiman and continued to talk trash throughout the bout. He also continued to get soundly thrashed throughout the entire fight, spending the vast majority of the fight curled in the fetal position desperately trying to secure a leg while Wiman beat his head in. Miller is talented, of that there is no doubt, but his ego writes checks his body can’t cash and Matt Wiman was quick to prove it. The only thing worse than a fighter with a big mouth who hasn’t made it big yet is a fighter with a big mouth who hasn’t made it big yet and loses to boot. Perhaps this thrashing will teach the young submission ace not to look past his current opponent in the future.
Tim Hague: Hague is another member of the UFC second chance club who is likely on the way out of the organization. Hague was very excited about getting a second chance in the UFC and put in the extra time and work at the gym to show it. Unfortunately for Tim, so did Matt Mitrione, a much more athletic and disciplined heavyweight who is better than Hague at what he does best. It took just 2:59 for Mitrione to KO “The Thrashing Machine”, just an hour or so longer than it took Hague to do the Twitter equivalent of beg for his job to Dana White. Hague knows he blew it and it was apparent in his face after his loss.
Evan Dunham: Nothing says “overrated” like losing two fights in a row against fighters who have struggled their entire careers against fighters of one’s own template. Dunham is a rangy, crisp striker with a supposedly world class submission game, the exact brand of fighter that has shut down “The Muscle Shark” Sean Sherk (34-4-1) for years. He also, as was mentioned before, has a top notch ground game, the exact kind of fighter who has always been Melvin Guillard’s worst nightmare. Against Sherk, there was some controversy over the decision and a fighter can easily get past that kind of loss. But Guillard left no such avenue of escape. Dunham could not take his opponent down, the one time he did he failed miserably to do anything with it, and his reach was almost a hindrance as he couldn’t keep Guillard out of the pocket. Evan Dunham was left crumpled against the cage after a series of brutal knees along with what hype was left surrounding him.