The UFC kept up its torrid pace to kickoff the 2009 year with its fifth event in eight weeks, traveling out to London, England for UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson. It was a stark contrast from its 94 predecessor where nine of 10 fights went to the judges scorecards. Instead eight of 10 fights were ended with stunning finishes including five knockouts.
Paulo Thiago perhaps was the most surprising victor, when he caught the over-confident Josh Koscheck with a nice uppercut and left club to send Koscheck to coo-coo land. Thiago entered with very few giving the brazilian jiu-jitsu player and UFC newcomer much of a chance against the… well supremely confident Josh Koscheck for lack of a better description. Alas, it was certainly fun to see Koscheck lying on the ground with a “what the fuck just happened to me?!” look on his face. Classic. Maybe next time don’t act like you’re the best thing since sliced bread and actually watch tape of your opponent? Or not.
Then there was some impressive wins from young heavyweight Junior Dos Santos, lightweight Terry Etim and welterweight Dan Hardy while middleweights Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia made statements for if not immediate title shots, then at least consideration for No. 1 contender matches in the very near future. Both now have to be considered alongside Yushin Okami, the Dan Henderson/Michael Bisping winner and Thales Leites the top contenders for Anderson Silva’s title.
Meanwhile in the main event, neither Diego Sanchez (in his lightweight debut) nor Joe Stevenson came close to impressing this MMA analyst. Stevenson did more to push the pace and excite the action while Sanchez did a lot of running and body punching. While Sanchez earned the unanimous decision [30-27, 29-28, 30-27], it says here that Stevenson won that fight 29-28 with more effective striking.
Regardless of the somewhat lackluster main event, it was once again a stellar free night of fights on Spike TV put on by the UFC and certainly a strong lead-in to UFC 96 which features Quinton “Rampage” Jackson searching for a chance to regain his light heavyweight crown with a win over Keith Jardine.
Diego Sanchez defeats Joe Stevenson via unanimous decision
Dan Hardy defeats Rory Markham via technical knockout (strikes) round one
Nate Marquardt defeats Wilson Gouveia via technical knockout (strikes) round three
Demian Maia defeats Chael Sonnen via submission (Triangle Choke) round one
Paulo Thiago defeats Josh Koscheck via knockout in round one
Terry Etim defeats Brian Cobb via technical knockout (strikes) in round two
Junior dos Santos defeats Stefan Struve via technical knockout (strikes) in round one
Evan Dunham defeats Per Eklund via knockout in round one
Mike Ciesnolevicz defeats Neil Grove via submission (heel hook) in round one
Paul Kelly defeats Troy “Rude Boy” Mandaloniz via unanimous decision