Every Wednesday, The MMA Corner’s Duncan Price will bring a view of the MMA world from across the pond in England, covering well-known British fighters within the UFC and Strikeforce, and also looking at significant events put on by British promotions within the borders of the United Kingdom.

UFC 138 Review – UK Special

Much of the British MMA news this weekend centered around UFC 138, which took place at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England, on Saturday night.

In this edition of Brits & Pieces, we will recap the event, evaluate the performance of each British fighter and look at some of the stories that emerged from in and around the event.

UFC 138 – Full Results

MAIN CARD

  • Mark Munoz def. Chris Leben via TKO (corner’s stoppage) – Round 2, 5:00
  • Renan Barao def. Brad Pickett via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:09
  • Thiago Alves def. Papy Abedi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:32
  • Anthony Perosh def. Cyrille Diabate via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:09
  • Terry Etim def. Edward Faaloloto via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 0:17

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • John Maguire def. Justin Edwards via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Philip De Fries def. Rob Broughton via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Michihiro Omigawa def. Jason Young via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Che Mills def. Chris Cope via TKO (knee) – Round 1, 0:40
  • Chris Cariaso def. Vaughan Lee via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC 138 Recap – UK Fighters

Vaughan Lee (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Vaughan Lee

Making his first Octagon appearance, Lee showed some potential. His striking was solid if a tad flashy, but he fell foul to the scourge of the British fighter, lack of wrestling ability. Chris Cariaso did little to finish the fight, but he took Lee to the ground and controlled him for the majority of the second and third rounds.

Verdict: Lee should get one more opportunity to get a win under his belt in a relatively sparse featherweight division, possibly at the rumored event in Sweden in 2012.

Che Mills

Mills kicked off his UFC career with a spectacular knockout of Chris Cope. He showed off his Muay Thai skills with some vicious knees and well-timed punches. To be quite honest though, it is difficult to make a judgement on his future based on this performance, as he was not truly tested by the TUF veteran Cope.

Verdict: With such an impressive performance, Mills deserves a step-up in competition. It is debatable whether the UFC will test him with a foray into the U.S. market yet, but I could see him featuring in Sweden, should that card be made official.

Jason Young

This was a tough match-up for Young as his foe, Michihiro Omigawa, is a highly-skilled judoka with decent hands. Although he started well, Young was unable to capitalise on a solid first round and he found himself in increasingly adverse positions in both the second and third. This ultimately led to the unanimous decision going in favour of his Japanese opponent.

Verdict: This loss takes Young to 0-2 in the UFC, although he has showed skill and heart in both defeats. I feel he will be offered another chance to get in the win column, perhaps in the United States against another guy also at the lower end of the division.

Philip De Fries

Although De Fries came out on top in his tussle with Rob Broughton, he failed to truly impress or excite the crowd. Several times he got into an excellent position to finish the fight only to give it up in an attempt to lock in his signature rear-naked choke. Like his opponent, De Fries seemed to lack elements of the cardio, speed and agility that would normally be required from a top heavyweight contender.

Verdict: A win is a win at the end of the day and it was his UFC debut, so nerves may well have been a factor. I have yet to see anything that would make me think De Fries is going to set the division on fire, but the only way is up. Look for him to possibly appear on the undercard of an event in North America.

Rob Broughton

Broughton stepped into this match-up on short notice, but didn’t do himself any favors with his performance. Unfortunately, my fears over his cardio were well-founded as he was taken to the mat and dominated for the majority of the fight, even though De Fries was unable to finish him off. Who knows what Broughton may have been able to do with a full training camp though.

Verdict: The fact Broughton replaced an injured fighter on this card should garner some goodwill from the UFC. He should be rewarded with another bout in the promotion, but possibly not until the next UK event.

John Maguire

Before this contest even really got going, Maguire was in trouble. He admitted to suffering terribly with nerves leading up to the opening bell and an early knockdown by his adversary Justin Edwards did nothing to help matters. The UFC is where the true warriors come to fight though, as Maguire quickly regained his composure and even won the first round on most scorecards. Throughout the second and third he controlled Edwards and in the end took a conclusive unanimous decision victory.

Verdict: Maguire showed some real promise in his first UFC foray. He showed that he can come back from adversity even under the pressure of the bright lights. The best bet for Maguire at this point would be to tackle a similar level of opponent on a European card within the next six to eight months. He needs to get a couple more wins and build his fan base up a bit before making the next step.

Terry Etim celebrates his win over Edward Faaloloto (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Terry Etim

What else can you say about Etim’s performance other than that it was quick, unforgiving and brutal? Edward Faaloloto left his neck exposed for only a moment when he misguidedly shot in for a takedown. Etim quickly slipped his long arms around his rival’s neck and you just knew he wasn’t letting go until the referee pried him off.

Verdict: The time has come now for Etim to get a real push in the UFC. His performance was a clear statement of intent, he wants big fights and he wants them sooner rather than later. After nineteen months out, Etim would apparently like to get back into the cage this year or early next year. Joe Silva allegedly has an opponent in mind already, so we could see Etim back in action as early as UFC 142.

Brad Pickett

Although this one-round battle was awarded “Fight of the Night” honours, it didn’t end well for Pickett as he was submitted by rear-naked choke after a little over four minutes. Both he and his opponent seemed happy to trade early on, which was perhaps not the smartest game-plan for Pickett as Renan Barao appeared to have a clear reach advantage over the plucky Brit. As the end of the round approached, Barao landed a crushing knee which sent Pickett sprawling. His enemy then leapt through the air to take his back and cinch in the fight-ending submission.

Verdict: Pickett is an established bantamweight and they are thin on the ground at the moment. He has already expressed an interest in competing on the potential Swedish card early next year, and that would be a good fit for him. As Pickett is both an exciting fighter and entertaining character, he will be a fixture in the division for a long while yet.

Pearson Considered Stepping In For Taylor

Ross Pearson (Sherdog)

One perhaps surprising piece of news was the fact that Ross Pearson considered offering to replace the injured Paul Taylor at UFC 138.

Taylor was forced to withdraw from the event after he was involved in a car accident earlier in the week and suffered whiplash.

Pearson confirmed that he contemplated contacting Dana White to request the fight against Taylor’s intended opponent, Anthony Njokuani, but eventually decided against it.

In a discussion with the ESPN UFC Podcast, he revealed:

“Being around the fight scene, I love being around the whole energy. Honestly, I thought about it. I thought about going down to Dana [White] and saying, ‘I’ll do it’.”

“But Anthony Njokuani is no slouch, this guy’s a tough guy. If I was to fight Anthony, I’d need a proper camp. It would be stupid on my part to take the fight at four days’ notice and fight a seriously skilled fighter.”

“Is it worth the risk of getting a silly loss on my record, having fans start doubting me, having a lot of bad press about me? A lot of fans would say, ‘Yeah, he stepped up to the mark’ but career-wise it wouldn’t be a good idea.”

Pearson has been experimenting with a drop down to the featherweight division, and he will now go ahead as planned and make his 145-pound debut against Junior Assuncao at the end of the year.

White Remains Tough On Daley

Paul Daley (Brian Townsend/Sherdog)

During the UFC 138 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was questioned about the possibility of top British fighter Paul Daley returning to the promotion.

Daley was infamously banned from the UFC after he threw a sucker-punch at his opponent Josh Koscheck well after the fight had finished.

Since the incident in May 2010, Daley has been featured in several explosive fights, including a one-round war with former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.

White had previously said that Daley would never fight in the UFC again, and it seems he is sticking to his guns for the moment at least.

When pressed on the matter, White admitted:

“The Strikeforce-Showtime deal isn’t done yet. We’ll see what happens with that first. I just have a hard time with what Daley did.”

“It’s not like Daley’s been so friendly since that happened, either. Plus, he hasn’t won. The guy’s got to win some fights.”

“I’m not a fan, to be honest. You know that.”

Whilst White appears to uphold his original statement, he was much softer on this occasion with his stance on Daley returning to the organisation. Perhaps there is still a way for Daley to redeem himself and return to the UFC ranks.

Evans Entertains In Birmingham

Rashad Evans answers questions at the UFC 138 Q&A (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Rashad Evans made several appearances throughout the city to promote both the event and the UFC in general. The consensus of opinion between those that met Evans was that he was a genuinely decent guy and it was difficult to understand why so many American fans seem to be dead set against him.

Evans hosted the UFC Fight Club Q&A on Friday afternoon and was well received by the waiting press and fan club members.

During the session, I had the opportunity to ask him why fans in the United States have such a poor opinion of the former light heavyweight champion:

“I think it’s because I beat a lot of their favourite fighters. There has to be a good guy and there has to be a bad guy, so why not make me the bad guy?”

“I used to get upset about it and I used to want to show these guys the kind of person that I am, but I don’t think they are really interested. They’re only interested in thinking the way they want to think about me, so I don’t get bothered by it any more.”

“I figure I’ll just go in there and do my thing, let my fighting speak for itself, and just be me all the way. I can’t stop being who I am.”

Throughout the Q&A he kept the crowd enthralled with his honest answers and extremely funny impersonations.

A small selection of his amusing impressions, which include his mother and boxer Mike Tyson, can be viewed here: UFC 138 Q&A – Evans Comedy

Top Photo: The LG Arena in Birmingham, England (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

This piece was authored by Duncan Price. Follow him on Twitter, @DuncMMA