Miguel Angel Torres tells the world that he’s a smarter fighter since joining up with Firas Zahabi in Montreal, and he proved it at UFC 126 with a unanimous decision victory over Antonio Banuelos.
The Torres that made his UFC debut wasn’t the same no-holds-barred Torres that engaged in legendary WEC wars. Instead, Torres executed a smart gameplan against the hard-hitting Banuelos, using his reach to stay away and pick Banuelos apart with jabs and hooks. Torres has worked extensively on his wrestling with Zahabi’s camp, but the fight here never even came close to going to the ground.
This was a vastly different Torres than we saw during his run as WEC bantamweight champion. His emotions in the cage have been reigned in by Zahabi, and the result is a much crisper and more intelligent fighter. It wasn’t spectacular, but Torres got the job done.
“I did what my coaches told me to do. I stuck to my game plan. I wanted to use my range and land my shots. I have to be a smart fighter,” Torres said. “I try to be as exciting as possible but I spend too much time in my life on fighting to be reckless. I have a family and an academy to think of as well.”
Torres moves to 1-0 in his UFC career with the win.
ELLENBERGER SCORES SPLIT DECISION OVER ROCHA
Jake Ellenberger added another win to his UFC resume with a split decision win over noted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Carlos Eduardo Rocha.
Rocha, a multiple-time title winner in jiu-jitsu, showed off brilliant grappling technique in the first round. But as often happens in MMA, Rocha decided to abandon his ground game and try his hand at kickboxing. Ellenberger outpointed Rocha on the feet, but the difference maker came on several Ellenberger takedowns. He didn’t damage Rocha on the ground, but he did just enough to sway two of the judges in his favor.
Ellenberger, who was scheduled to face Jon Fitch on this card before Fitch was moved to UFC 127 to face B.J. Penn, likely gets a top contender in the division as his next opponent.
JONES EARNS MARCH TITLE SHOT WITH WIN OVER BADER
The much-hyped battle between two of the UFC’s brightest prospects turned out to be a one-man showcase for Jon Jones – and it was a showcase with a giant pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
No matter where the fight went, Jones easily handled former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader. He outstruck Bader standing, landing the kind of creative strikes (such as a superman elbow) that have turned him into one of the most interesting fighters in the game. He battered Bader’s left leg with lightning-quick leg kicks, and Bader was unable to take the bout to the ground.
Once the fight hit the ground, Jones manhandled Bader, ultimately submitting him with a guillotine from side control in the second round.
After the fight, Joe Rogan informed Jones that Rashad Evans had pulled out of his title bout with Shogun Rua due to a knee injury next month and that Jones would get the title shot. A jubilant Jones dropped to his knees as the crowd erupted in cheers.
“I feel great. God is so good. Hat’s off to Endicott, New York,” Jones said. “I’m going for the title, baby…let’s do it.”
Jones moves on to face Rua in just over a month at UFC 128 in Newark.
GRIFFIN WINS CLOSE DECISION
Forrest Griffin is a huge light heavyweight. Rich Franklin is an undersized light heavyweight. And so goes the story of Griffin vs. Franklin, where Griffin used his considerable size advantage to bully Franklin around the cage on the way to a unanimous decision win.
It wasn’t the prettiest fight in the world. Not even close. And it wasn’t the exciting war that many predicted it would be. But Griffin used an effective striking game mixed in with takedowns and a smothering top game to control Franklin for the majority of the fight. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for the Las Vegas resident.
SILVA KO’S BELFORT WITH SPECTACULAR KICK
Add another entry to Anderson Silva’s highlight reel.
Silva, one of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts, ended Vitor Belfort’s night with a spectacular and creative front kick to the jaw that sent Belfort slumping to the canvas. Two punches later and Belfort was unconscious.
Silva, now 13-0 in the Octagon, has defended his UFC belt a record 8 times.