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UFC 129: Aldo & Machida thrilling finish

UFC 129: Aldo & Machida thrilling finish

May 1, 2011

Aldo batters gutsy Hominick for 20 minutes, survives final-round scare

If the evening’s first title fight, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo defended his belt for the first time, but challenger Mark Hominick wowed an already loyal legion of fans with one of the gutsiest performances in recent memory.

As the fight opened, a bouncing Hominick charged across the cage to engage. However, it was Aldo who pulled the trigger first with a few powerful punches, and his trademark leg kicks. Hominick stood in firm in the pocket, but his strikes were slow to come in comparison to Aldo’s frantic head movement.

A quick catch of a kick saw Aldo topple briefly to the canvas, but he popped immediately back to his feet, where he resumed the assault. Aldo shocked the world with a takedown nearly two minutes into the fight, but Hominick rolled immediately into an armbar attempt that looked dangerously close for a moment. It wasn’t there, and Aldo settled for a ground-and-pound attack inside of the challenger’s guard.

Hominick showed¬† decent defense from his back, but Aldo still scored with his share of short elbows and forearms along tithe the occasional punch. Referee “Big; John McCarthy called or a standup with 30 seconds left, and Aldo ended the frame with another takedown. It wasn’t disastrous for Hominick, but he still looked battered from Aldo’s work.

In the second, Hominick looked lively on the feet and dug into Aldo’s body a few times while defending a pair of takedown attempts. The crowd came alive when Hominick scored in the clinch, but Aldo agains ducked in for a takedown, much to the crowd’s displeasure.

Aldo remained on top until a McCarthy standup with a little more than a minute remaining. Both fighters landed a few quick punches on the feet before Aldo scored another takedown and finished the round in side control.

Bot fighters still looked lively in the third, and while some observers questioned Aldo’s gas tank, the champion did show quick head movement as he slipped punches and ample power in his return strikes.

Hominick did began to find range with his punches as the two boxed in the center, and his jab snapped Aldo’s head back on a few occasions. However, Aldo was delivering the more powerful attacks, including a straight right hand that saw Hominick freeze briefly, wobble, then fall to the canvas. Aldo tried to finish with a dozen or so hammerfists, some of which missed, but Hominick pulled guard and maintained his composure while the champion worked from inside of his guard.

Both fighters wore the damage of the bout as the fight entered the championship rounds, though Hominick was the more dotted of the two.

A leg kick buckled Hominick briefly, and a straight sright staggered hi,. A follow-up low kick caught Hominick on the cup, and Aldo put his hands on hips briefly when the challenger refused to accept his apology glove tap. Moments later a front kick caught the same region and earned Aldo a warning, but the action resumed quickly.

Aldo stepped up the attack as the round wore on, and he landed three leg kicks that left Hominick stumbling. Another straight punch sent Hominick to the floor, and Aldo again pounced with punches. Hominick again gathered his wits, but a massive hematoma on the right side of his forehead erupted quickly after a direct elbow strike and grew bigger as the round continued. McCarthy called the doctor in to take a look, and Hominick was shockingly ruled fit to continue.

A cold compress between rounds brought the swelling to a minimum, and Hominick passed one further examination before he was allowed to see the fifth round. Aldo gave him a respectful high five as the frame began, but there was no mercy from the Brazilian.

A right hand again staggered Hominick briefly, and Aldo tried to end the fight with a guillotine choke. The submission missed, and Hominick set up in top position. With the Rogers Centre roaring, beefing for a miracle from the hometown hero, Hominick began to find range from inside of the champion’s guard.

Aldo left his head flat on the canvas as he tried to used his legs to create distance.A battered Hominick worked the ribs and scored to the chin, and each blow found the stadium reaching a higher decibel level. Hominick stood with 30 seconds remaining and dove back in with a few more strikes to end the round.

Both fighters toss to their feet before hitting the deck to prove a point with a few overtime pushups. When the final bell sounded, there was little question who was going to leave the cage with the belt, but the performance left the challenger with his head held as high as the hematoma would allow.

In the end, the final scores were¬† in Aldo’s favor, though judge Doug Crosby’s score was initially announced as an unforgivable 50-43. Fortunately, the scores were simply tallied incorrectly.

With the win, Aldo (19-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has now won 12-consecutive fights, though his fifth-round performance will unquestionably draw much criticism. Hominick (20-9 MMA, 3-1 UFC) loses for the first time in the octagon and sees a five-fight win streak snapped. Nevertheless, he unquestionably his heart ranks among the strongest in the sport.

“I didn’t throw enough combinations,” Hominick admitted. “I was throwing all single shots. I wanted to get one up on him and I let him get one up on me.

“It’s one of those things, you go back to the drawing board, and I’ll come back stronger.”

Machida evokes “Karate Kid,” sends Couture into the sunset

If UFC 129 was indeed Randy Couture’s final fight, it ended in spectacular fashion. Unfortunately for “The Natural,” it was Lyoto Machida who delivered the fireworks.

With chants of “Randy” filling the arena at the opening bell, Machida took the center of the cage while the UFC Hall of Famer circled on the outside. Machida flashed rapid-fire punches in the early going, and a few rights seemed to catch Couture’s attention. As the round unfolded, it was Couture who held the center of the cage, but he found it difficult to close the distance as Machida was quicker than his foe and consistently able to back away from the advancing MMA legend.

Machida landed a knee that allowed Couture to finally grab hold, but “The Dragon” put a hand on his opponent’s face and pushed away. Machida punctuated the well-fought opening round with a slapping kick to the body and another knee in the closing seconds.

The second round saw more of the same to open, as Machida was simply too quick in retreat for Couture to find the clinch. With Machida in complete control, he appeared ready to unleash a finishing blow. When he did, it was spectacular.

A leaping front kick to the chin that would make Daniel LaRusso proud saw Couture fall backward to the canvas, and Machida followed with two additional punches before referee Yves Lavigne could halt the fight 65 seconds into the second frame. The responsible blow was eerily reminiscent of Anderson Silva’s spectacular UFC 126 knockout of Vitor Belfort, and Steven Seagal’s presence in Machida’s corner again left fans wondering just how much the film star may actually be contributing to these Brazilians’ fight camps.

It was vintage Machida, and it was likely the end for Couture, who lost a tooth in the exchange.

“You’re not going to see me again,” Couture told UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan. “That was it.

“I thought about it after James Toney, but then they gave me Lyoto. He’s a tremendous fighter. I felt like I was standing still out there.”

Couture (19-11 MMA, 16-8 UFC) sees a legendary 14-year career end on a sour note as a three-fight win streak comes to an emphatic stop. Meanwhile, Machida (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) snaps a two-fight win streak and appears ready to again content with the UFC’s very best 205-pounders.

“I had a dream when I was 18 years old that I would fight Randy Couture,” Machida said after the fight. “But I thought I would never get the chance because I was too young.

“It was an honor to fight Randy. He’s the man and a legend.”

Source: MMAJunkie