UFC 127 Review: Ten Things We Learned

Brian Ebersole

Ebersole a Game Welterweight, Colorful Character

To step in and beat Chris Lytle on short notice is an impressive feat, and that’s just what Brian Ebersole did on Saturday night. He also connected with fans thanks to some memorable chest hair and more than a few unique moves inside the Octagon.

The 30-year-old veteran of more than 65 professional fights held his own during the first five minutes of his UFC career, taking the best Lytle had to offer and showing great poise and submission defence during the opening round. While he may have lost the first frame, he shifted the momentum in his favor in the second and never relinquished it the rest of the way.

While Ebersole wasn’t able to finish Lytle after catching him with a massive knee in the second, or the subsequent D’Arce choke he attempted, the second round was a dominant one for Ebersole, and he continued the onslaught through the third as well.

His career is on the upswing, following the hilarious pattern shaved into his ample chest hair on Saturday night. Like Siver after him, few people gave the American now based in Australia a chance to win this bout, but he proved the pundits wrong.

With a wealth of experience under his belt and a UFC win in his debut to propel him, Ebersole could become an interesting addition to the welterweight division, and not just because of his chest hair and cartwheel kick.

Noke Emerging as a Middleweight to Watch

Native son Kyle Noke kicked off the main card with a quick submission of fellow TUF 11 cast member Chris Camozzi, and took home the Submission of the Night bonus for his efforts. While the victory was expected and the bout didn’t last all that long, the 30-year-old Australian still proved himself to be a contender to keep an eye on in the 185-pound division.

Having won three-straight by stoppage since emerging from the Ultimate Fighter house, Noke has taken incremental steps up in competition with each bout, and is line for a large jump after his win on Saturday night. The middleweight division has a plethora of talent piled into the middle tier, and Noke is an intriguing addition, at least to me.

He’s more well-rounded than some of the men he shares space with, having finished fights both by submission and strikes over his last three and evenly throughout his career, and working with the all-star cast of coaches and teammates at Jackson’s in Albuquerque certainly helps his development and preparation as well.

A bout with the likes of Dan Miller or Kendall Grove seems like the logical next step for the Aussie.

Main Event Not the Only Fight that Shows Need for Judging Transparency

While the results of the main event are garnering the most attention following UFC 127, it wasn’t the fight that delivered the most controversial result of the evening. That honor belongs to Nick Ring‘s curious unanimous decision win over fellow newcomer Riki Fukuda.

All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of the Canadian, awarding Fukuda the final round. As with the main event, the round in question appears to be the third frame, as most agree that Ring took the initial five minutes by landing the better strikes.

Personally, I had the fight 29-28 for the DEEP middleweight champion, believing he inflicted more damage and connected with more meaningful blows than Ring in the second. After seeming stiff early on, Fukuda appeared to find his rhythm and loosen up in Round 2, and caught Ring with a couple solid blows. While Ring often countered and landed various leg kicks, the greater impact was delivered by Fukuda, at least that’s how I scored it at home.

More importantly than proclaiming this a brutal decision and charging Ring with robbery is the obvious need to have greater transparency in judging. In addition to needing to clearly delineate the scoring criteria and perhaps be a little more liberal on how rounds are scored, it would be beneficial, both in the short term and long term, to have officials available to explain how they came to the conclusions they did.

I understand why it doesn’t happen, as it opens up a can of worms that should probably remain closed, but it is something that should at least take place behind closed doors to improve the sport moving forward. Judges shouldn’t necessarily have to answer to journalist ready to pen scathing critiques, but they should sit down with their superiors (if such people exist) and go through the fights that are sometimes too close to call.

Tiequan Zhang

Tiequan Zhnag Can Make a Lay-up

With all due respect to “The Mongolian Wolf,” that was a gimme and anyone who says differently wasn’t paying enough attention.

Zhang made quick work of Jason Reinhardt in the first bout broadcast on Facebook Saturday afternoon, hooking his hands together in a tight guillotine before the one minute mark of the opening round. It was a result that was expected, and a bit of a tough bout to watch without feeling funny.

While his record was a shiny 20-1 heading into Saturday’s contest, Reinhardt earned that padded total competing on the regional circuit for a number of years, beating guys the hardest of hardcore fans could not identify. He was given an opportunity in the UFC several years early and suffered the same fate, getting submitted by Joe Lauzon in the opening round at UFC 78.

The 41-year-old had fought just twice since then, and hadn’t competed in more than three years before taking to the cage on Saturday. Meanwhile, Zhang has been very active since signing with the WEC over the summer, winning his debut with the company in September, and dropping his second bout three months later.

I understand protecting prospects and fighters who hold the keys to emerging markets, but there is a difference between giving them winnable fights and handing them a victory. This felt more like the latter to me.

Australia Going to Continue Being a Favorite Destination

Once again, the UFC delivered a successful event Down Under, and that tradition should continue and grow in the future.

There have been discussions of bringing a version of The Ultimate Fighter to Australia, pitting the Aussies against British opponents in a contest nicknamed “The Smashes,” a play on the long-standing cricket contest between the two countries known as “The Ashes,” and Marshall Zelaznik hinted at the possibility of an outdoor stadium show in Victoria if the MMA situation gets rectified there as well.

The fans in Australia have shown their support for the sport and the UFC each of the last two years, and Dana White and the fighters all seemed to enjoy themselves on the opposite side of the world as well. Being able to broadcast the event live certainly helps, but having a knowledgable and receptive audience makes everything easier and the UFC has that in Australia, and they will most likely keep bringing events to them over the coming years.

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