The third installment of UFC: Live on Versus gave the fans of Louisville, Kentucky and viewers at home all the bang without the buck this past Thursday night. More acquisitions from the WEC/UFC merger made their UFC debut and put their divisions on high alert, a newcomer made his UFC debut within weeks of taking a fight on short notice, two middleweights pleaded their case on their ascension to the top of the 185lbs. division mountain, and two welterweights battled in a possible “Fight of the Year” candidate. Though the undercard also had its share of the action, here are some possible match-ups that should happen for the victors off the UFC: Live on Versus 3 main card.
“Last Call” Danny Castillo (10-3) defeats “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-12) via Unanimous Decision
Able to survive Stevenson’s takedown attempts and patented Guillotine Chokes, “Last Call” Castillo passed his first UFC test with flying colors. The Facebook-featured match showcased Castillo besting Stevenson with wildfire striking and staggering the former lightweight challenger during the 15-minute contest. If approaching the closing bell there were any doubt beset as to who the fight would have gone to, the final takedown of the match was executed by the former WEC standout “Last Call” and accompanied by Stevenson receiving an unwelcome rain of fists from above, further aiding in handing him his third loss in a row.
With one win in the UFC books and now a three-fight win streak to his name, Castillo is set to stake his claim in his new home promotion’s lightweight division. Fellow 155er Evan Dunham (11-2) is currently on a two-loss skid but with that as his motivation, having these two go at it would be another barn burner worthy of the main card. Dunham presents solid boxing with phenomenal Jiu-Jitsu that will stand off against Castillo’s boxing and wrestling. Do not be surprised though if the name Michael Johnson (15-6) shows up as a candidate to take on “Last Call”. The Ultimate Fighter 12 runner-up was the first pick in his cast and made it to the finale for good reason. If it is a wrestling match the crowd wants to see or boxer-on-boxer, Johnson can share the sophomore spotlight with Castillo.
Brian Bowles (9-1) defeats “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-7) via Guillotine Choke, Round 1, 3:30
August 3, 2008: Both Bowles and Page met in the center of the WEC cage and after three minutes and 30 seconds of the first round, Bowles stood the victor with a Guillotine Choke submission victory. Now three years later – only this time in the UFC Octagon – history repeated itself to a T when Page fell victim to the same choke, same round, and oddly the same time as in the first bout. Damacio Page sees himself 2-2 in his showings since the first encounter but if anything is certain, it is that Brian Bowles has his number.
What’s next for Bowles? The former WEC Bantamweight Champion is a bit away from getting a chance to regain his title. His ability to stay calm yet explode on Page with strikes, including a devastating uppercut, ultimately led Bowles to his second victory over Page and showing that his year-long lay-off had no ill effects. What’s next for him? Even before the merger, the bantamweight class was fairly stacked. Long before he gets a chance to take on current 135lbs. champ Dominick Cruz (16-1), given he still holds the belt at that time, a fight with the recent challenger, “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (10-3), or the winner of former champions “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4) vs. Eddie Wineland (17-6-1) may be in order. Bowles is back but a few more fights will help show where he stands in respect to the overall title picture.
Chris Weidman (5-0) defeats “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-8) via Unanimous Decision
The UFC rookie deserves some accolades – he took a fight on two weeks’ notice and won. What makes this special? He defeated the seasoned veteran and heavily favored Italian boxer, Alessio Sakara. With an early graze to initially cut open Sakara, Weidman used his wrestling to bring down the American Top Team stand-out and open up his scalp via ground-and-pound. Despite giving the first round to Sakara, Weidman was able to establish dominance over “Legionarius” for the rest of the match with constant takedowns and by maintaining control. It might not have been the most impressive debut but with only a short amount of time to prepare for such as dangerous striker, credit must be given where it is due.
To ensure Weidman’s victory was not a one-time event, he is going to have face an opponent that is not going to take that ride down to the mat so easily. Cue: “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (8-1). Sakara was set to meet him originally but because of injury, Falcao had to pull out. A black belt in Jiu-Jitsu himself and a Muay Thai specialist, Falcao’s takedown defense with explosive striking would present Weidman threats all throughout the fight should they meet. With Falcao dismantling the superior wrestler “The Hurricane” Gerald Harris (17-4) at every aspect in his debut at UFC 123, the timing for these two to square off might come in sync.
“The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (8-2) defeats “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-3) via TKO, Round 1, 0:54
“Wrecking Machine” is nothing short of an understatement to describe how Mark Munoz won his fight against fellow middleweight CB Dollaway last night. In less than a minute Munoz landed a flush right hand that sent Dollaway to the mat; Munoz pounced, delivering crushing hammerfists until the referee intervened and called a stop to the bout. Initially there were outcries that the fight was ended prematurely, but footage of the fight showed Dollaway was in no state to defend himself. No controversy is solid enough though to dampen this victory for the Team Black House protégé. Munoz’s improved stand-up handed him his fifth victory inside the Octagon.
Munoz is now on the fence with the upper echelon of the UFC middleweights. Here, his next fight is pivotal. If he wins, he is heading towards more headlining cards and more importantly a title shot. If he takes a loss, back down the list he may go. Munoz could find himself pitted against the winner of “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-10-2) and “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-4). Marquardt’s recent performances are questionable after having given up a decision victory to “Thunder” Yushin Okami (26-5) and being accused of greasing his leg in his victory against “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (13-5) last September (Marquardt was dubbed innocent, though the incident still may have had a telling impact on his reputation). Akiyama is 1-2 in the promotion and though known to give a crowd-pleasing fight, the Japanese MMA transplant and Judo expert has not truly shown his dominance at all in the UFC since debuting in July 2009. With Munoz’s striking improving drastically and honing his already formidable wrestling skills to boot, he can be found well equipped against either man. “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) looks to return to the Octagon in a huge fashion after a career-threatening eye injury. A talented ground artist and striker himself, a battle with Munoz would do wonders for both. A win over Belcher would solidify Munoz in the top ranks of the 185lbs. division. For Belcher, defeating Munoz would not only assess where he is at in the class but possibly steal Munoz’s slot.
“The Dream” Diego Sanchez (23-4) defeats “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-5) via Unanimous Decision
In what is easily one of the most entertaining fights already in 2011, a bloodied “The Dream” (formerly “The Nightmare”) Diego Sanchez outpointed “The Hitman” Kampmann to win a controversial Unanimous Decision victory. Despite getting hit with the more technical striking of Kampmann and failing to secure takedowns throughout the match Sanchez was able to control the Danish welterweight by turning the fight in a slug fest, catching Kampmann a few times during exchanges. When the scores were read, a plethora of boos followed as Sanchez was awarded the decision victory. Though Kampmann came up on the losing end of the bout, his job in the UFC is safe. If anything, this loss will only harden Kampmann.
As for Diego Sanchez, being pitted in another match with a technician would suit him well. “The Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-7) holds virtually an identical skill set as Kampmann when it comes to Muay Thai. He also yields a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and if his victory over “Doomsday” John Howard (14-6) tells anything, a bit of wrestling as well. It might seem redundant though to have Sanchez fight someone like Kampmann again but unlike the Dane, the Brazilian Alves tends to stick with gameplans and will follow through until an adaptation is needed. Should Alves be out of the picture after his fight with “The Horror” Rick Story (10-2) at UFC 129, a rematch with “Kos” Josh Koscheck (15-5) down the road would be an entertaining fight for the fans and a fight of validation for Sanchez in the 170lbs. class. In their first encounter Koscheck defeated Sanchez via Unanimous Decision and handed him his first loss. If Sanchez can derail the former top welterweight contender and get revenge, “The Dream’s” decision to return to welterweight might just prove the best decision for his career.
For the full list of UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann results, click here.