This was the most Swayze of all the UFC cards this year. Just like many Swayze movies, it was disparaged by many before it happened, and then it went out and gave us more finishes than decisions and provided excitement and entertainment. That sounds a lot like many of Patrick Swayze’s sleeper movies in his career.
Even movies like Ghost and Dirty Dancing were not expected to be big hits before their release. This card provided more excitement than most people thought. It gave us a lot finishes and a couple of exciting fights that went to decisions. Let’s take a look at the fighters who made this event so very Swayze.
In the main event Alexander Gustafsson defeated Jimi Manuwa via a TKO in the second round. For his effort Gustafsson takes home a Nomad. In his last fight Gustafsson established himself as the number one contender. It was the fight that announced his arrival as an elite fighter.
For Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing was that movie. It really established his career. After dancing his way into America’s heart as Johnny Castle, Swayze followed that up with his role as Nomad in Steel Dawn. It was not what the fans of Dirty Dancing were expecting.
Going into his fight with Manuwa most people were not predicting an early finish for Gustafsson. Manuwa was undefeated coming into this fight with all his wins coming via stoppage. He was taking a huge jump in competition in taking on Gustafsson and most people were predicting a win for ‘The Mauler’ but not one in which he was so dominant and violent. With this definitive victory he has established himself as the number one contender at light heavyweight.
In the very first fight of the night Louis Gaudinot takes home a Bodhi. In the movie Point Break, Bodhi was always looking for excitement. Whether it was robbing banks, sky diving or playing beach football, Bodhi did it with his Buddha/surfer style and coolness.
With his green hair, Gaudinot has a little bit of a surfer look to him. He showed some of that style and coolness when he nodded to his corner after he had locked in the guillotine choke. He then showed some surfer skill as he kept the choke locked in as he rolled with Phil Harris to the ground. Once they were there, Harris had no choice but to tap out. It was slick, quick and set the tone for the night.
The next award goes to Luke Barnatt who takes home a Dalton for his performance against Mats Nilsson. In the movie Roadhouse, Dalton controls where the fights take place. He is an expert at getting fighters outside with his brains as much as his brawn. Barnatt continues to show similar intelligence in the octagon.
Nilsson is a grappler and Barnatt was able to keep this fight standing. Not only did he keep it standing but he did an excellent job of using his height and length. Barnatt also mixed up his attacks, threw a lot of different combinations and utilized some excellent feints and fakes. He continues to grow as a fighter and he has a bright future.
He and Dalton also share another trait. They both live a simple, almost spartan lifestyle. For Dalton he lived above some horses in a barn. Barnatt slept on the mats of the gym when he first started training. He does not have to do that any more thanks to his success during his first year in the UFC.
For me Ilir Latifi takes home a Jim Cunningham for his surprising first round submission win. In Donnie Darko Swayze surprises with his first real bad guy in his career. Cunningham is despicable and Swayze did a great job playing him. It was just surprising to see him play such a horrible character.
Going into his fight with veteran Cyrille Diabate it was thought that Latifi would need to get the fight to the ground. No one was expecting him to do it so quickly and in such a dominant way. Latifi was patient and went for the takedown and got it. Once the fight went to the ground he quickly locked in the choke for the win.
The next Swayze goes to Gunnar Nelson who takes home a Charles Baxter for his spectacular return to the octagon. For Swayze the role of Baxter was a return to greatness. Donnie Darko came out in 2001 and from then until the Beast in 2008 Swayze played some less than spectacular roles in some less than amazing movies. The Beast was one of the finest things he did in his career and Baxter was one of his best roles.
This was Nelson’s first fight back since the only decision win of his career last February against Jorge Santiago. It was a solid performance but it did not match the pre-fight hype for him. This fight was a return to the spectacular and expect the hype train to get re-started.
His opponent, Omari Akhmedov, was coming off of an impressive first round TKO/KO in his UFC debut. It was thought that he would give Nelson some trouble in this fight. Instead, Nelson made it look very easy. He had no trouble on his feet and once it went to the ground, he methodically beat Akhmedov up until he got the submission win. He announced that he was back and ready to resume his role as the next big thing at welterweight.
Neil Seery takes home a Johnny Castle for his efforts in his loss to Brad Pickett. Before Dirty Dancing Swayze had been in a couple of decent things and was making a name for himself. He was thirty-five years old when the movie came out and really changed his career and life.
The same can be said for Seery who was making his UFC debut at the age of thirty-four. He has been on the fringes of the UFC for a couple of years and finally got his chance when Ian McCall went down with an injury. Not many fighters are looking to take on someone like Pickett on only two weeks notice. Seery did not hesitate and signed a four fight deal with the UFC. He took the loss on this night but he fought hard the whole fight, and made it competitive against a guy who is close to fighting for the flyweight title.
Dirty Dancing and the role of Johnny Castle established Swayze as a star and had fans anticipating his next movie. This fight did the same for Seery. Afterwards, fans were excited at the prospect of what Seery could do with a full fight camp. We will get that chance in the near future.
The final Swayze goes to Michael Johnson who takes home a Truman Gates. The Melvin Guillard and Johnson fight should have been one of the more exciting fights of the night. It had all of the ingredients for a great fight instead it was a disappointing one. Their were other fights that were possibly more boring but none that had the expectations of this fight. As the UFC reminded us every chance that they could these two fighters were numbers one and two when it came to KO’s in the lightweight division for the UFC.
Just like a movie can have all the elements to make a great film sometimes it just does not happen. This was the case for Next of Kin. It has an excellent cast which includes Liam Neeson, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Ted Levine and is directed by John Irvin. It is not a horrible movie but it had higher expectations than the final product. The problem was not Swayze who did all that he could with the part.
For fighters they need another fighter to make a great fight. Normally Guillard is an aggressive fighter but not on this night. Johnson tried to turn it into an exciting action filled fight but Guillard would not do the same. The result was one of anticipated action that never really happened. Johnson did what he could and for that he earned himself the Gates.
Those are all the Swayzes for this week. Up next is UFC 171 and there are some exciting fighters who exhibit a whole lot of Swayzeness. It should be a fun one. Have yourself a very Swayze Sunday.
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