UFC Fight for the Troops 3 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
It's a busy two weeks for the UFC. The sport's premier promotion will trot out 72 different fighters at three venues in two different countries. And while the highlight of this fist fighting deluge is undoubtedly the welterweight title fight between Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, the most important event might well be the UFC's Fight for the Troops 3.
The event is more than just a charity show for the troops, held at Fort Campbell in front of thousands of soldiers. The UFC has also teamed up with Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to support soldiers injured in service to our nation, including those suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
Matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby trotted out most of their fighters with military ties, including Special Forces sniper Tim Kennedy in the main event. Kennedy alone emerged victorious, his fellow soldiers chanting "USA, USA" perhaps the only time that xenophobic chant might be a little bit OK.
Kennedy, of course, wasn't the only winner on the night, nor his opponent Rafael Natal the only loser. I analyzed each fight on the televised card to determine the real winners and losers. Disagree with my assessments? Let me hear it in the comments.
Tim Kennedy defeated Rafael Natal by TKO at 4:40 of the first round.
The fans chanting "USA! USA!" as their fellow soldier checked on the health of his opponent after a brutal knockout.
America. What a feel-good moment. Kennedy, warrior, was among his people at Fort Campbell. He made them, and the sappy former soldier writing this article, awfully happy.
Kennedy is a terrible opponent for a fighter whose strengths don't include technical stand-up or strong wrestling. He's going to eat that kind of guy alive. UFC matchmakers, of course, knew that full well when making this match.
Kennedy is an interesting fighter. I can't quite picture him among the elite. But he's a pretty darn tough draw for anyone in the bottom half of the top 10.
Alexis Davis defeated Liz Carmouche by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Davis' smile as she was awarded the decision win. MMA judging is so wonky that even a clear winner has to keep their fingers crossed until they hear for sure.
Mediocrity. Many casual fans got the wrong idea aboutCarmouche when she was selected as Ronda Rousey's first UFC opponent. That wasn't because Carmouche was the second-best fighter in the division, far from it.
And though she's improved quite a bit in the last year with full-time training, Carmouche seems unlikely to ever be a top star in this sport. She's a gate-keeper at best. That's a fine way to make a living. But let's be honest about it going forward.
The was just an average fight, the kind of bout you watch and forget all about 15 minutes later. Those are commonplace in MMA—but haven't been to this point for women in the UFC. Not every women's fight is going to be a barnburner. To overcome prejudice, however, they'll need to hit the ball out of the park more often than not.
Yoel Romero defeated Ronny Markes by TKO at 1:39 of the third round.
Romero's wild left hand separated Marks from his senses.
Wrestling. Who needs it? Certainly not Romero. You'd never guess that Romero was once an Olympic silver medalist. You might be forgiven for believing, instead, that he was a dance instructor with a violent streak. The man has music in his hips—and dynamite in his hands.
I have no idea what to think about Romero. He's an old wrestler who refused to shoot for a single takedown. At 36, I'm tempted to write him off as a lost cause, too late to the game to make a difference. Then again, in two UFC fights, he has two knockouts. You can't argue against success—at least you can't do so and win.
Winner: Super Kick
Rustam Khabilov defeated Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Khabilov landed a vicious spinning thrust kick to Masvidal's neck. It wasn't enough to win him the bout, at least not immediately. But it was the kind of strike that makes MMA fun to watch.
Gentleman Chris Adams. By the time it landed, that kick looked a little bit like Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music. with the flat of the foot colliding with the target. But since I'm old school, I'm going with the late "Gentleman" Chris Adams, master of the Super Kick.
Every young fighter needs a contest like this. Masvidal is a tough, veteran fighter who was able to stymie Khabilov at every turn. Fights like this are make-or-break moments for a fighter. Khabilov did what he needed to do to win.
That impressed me even more than the spinning kick. A lot of fighters fall short in that moment. Only the best of the best can succeed even when they are struggling. Khabilov looks like he might be one of those guys.
Michael Chiesa defeated Colton Smith via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:41 of the second round.
The crowd exploded in joy as it appeared for a moment that Colton Smith was about to choke Chiesa out. The celebration was short-lived.
Hippies. It seemed like the UFC searched long and hard for the dirtiest hippy-looking guy on the roster to take on clean-cut Army Sergeant Colton Smith. With his scraggily beard and copious tattoos, Chiesa fit the bill well. Unfortunately, this time, he got the better of an American hero.
Shame on you, Mike Chiesa. Don't you support the troops?
Much respect to Smith. He didn't make it easy. But eventually, Chiesa was able to dump him on his head and choke him out. All three of Chiesa's UFC wins have come by way of rear-naked choke. Smith survived one attempt. He didn't survive a second.
Bobby Green defeated James Krause by TKO at 3:50 of the first round.
Joe Rogan assured the fans that Green is not a dirty fighter. He just happened to, you know, kick Krause low three times in a single round.
Testicles. Krause had a really bad night. He expected to get punched and kicked by Green. That's his job. But to take it in the testicles three times in less than five minutes? That's too much to ask of any man.
I'm not sure I understand what celebrity referee John McCarthy was thinking here. The final low blow seemed, watching the replay, to clearly connect with Krause's cup. But instead of stopping the fight and allowing Krause to continue when recovered, he stopped the fight to award it to Green.
Whether or not the blow was low is kind of beside the point. MMA, as this incident indicates, needs a uniform replay policy that makes sense. McCarthy should have been able to separate the fighters and then use the power of television to decide how to proceed. Relying on his split-second and all-too human judgement makes no sense in these circumstances.
Winner: The Army
Francisco Rivera defeated George Roop by TKO at 2:20 of the second round.
A soldier in the audience yelled out what is sure to be a new Twitter meme—"Roop there it is."
The U.S. Army. It is only fitting that this fight took place in front of the troops at Fort Campbell—because Rivera was dropping bombs. Facing a huge reach disadvantage, Rivera solved the Roop puzzle by throwing nothing but winging power hooks and uppercuts.
The crowd here was great. The soldiers, who all have enough Army Combatives training to appreciate the art, enjoyed the fast-paced action and some of the subtleties. Their enthusiasm made a good night even better.
Rivera has now won five of his past six*. And these weren't tepid lay-and-pray affairs. All five were by way of knockout. He punches like a miniature Mack truck. It's unclear just how good he is—but I'm on board to find out.
*Rivera's win over Roland Delorme at UFC 149 was declared a no-contest after he tested positive for an over-the-counter stimulant.
Loser: The Guillotine
Dennis Bermudez defeated Steven Siler by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Bermudez trapped Siler in a variation of the old-school can opener, a neck crank that is incredibly painful, but rarely leads to an actual submission win.
The guillotine choke. Both fighter went for the hold over and over again. Neither managed much, except tiring out their arms. In the end, submission gave way to position. Basic wrestling, and not submission, carried the day for Bermudez.
With five wins in a row, it's time for Bermudez to step into the cage against somebody who matters. He's officially graduated from the preliminaries with this bout. Let's get him in with a name and see what happens.
Winner: Ground Game
Amanda Nunes def. Germaine de Randamie via TKO (ground and pound) at 3:56 of Round 1.
Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight even as de Randamie was actively defending Nunes' ground-and-pound attack.
The ground game. De Randamie won her first bout in the Octagon earlier this year against beloved veteran Julie Kedzie. But despite that auspicious beginning, she's still a kickboxer at heart. Her ground game is a work in progress—something Nunes made abundantly clear once the fight went to the mat.
Nunes is only 25 years old. If she continues to grow, both as a martial artist and an athlete, we could be watching a future champion in action.
Tim Kennedy def. Rafael Natal by TKO at 4:40 of the first round.
Alexis Davis def. Liz Carmouche by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Yoel Romero def. Ronny Markes by TKO at 1:39 of the third round.
Rustam Khabilov def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Michael Chiesa def. Colton Smith via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:41 of the second round.
Bobby Green def. James Krause by TKO at 3:50 of the first round.
Francisco Rivera def. George Roop by TKO at 2:20 of the second round.
Dennis Bermudez def. Steven Siler by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Amanda Nunes def. Germaine de Randamie by TKO at 3:56 of the first round.
Lorenz Larkin def. Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Yancy Medeiros def. Yves Edwards by KO at 2:47 of the first round.
Seth Baczynski def. Neil Magny by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Derek Brunson def. Brian Houston via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:48 of the first round.