Wednesday, 17 August 2011

UFC Hardy vs Lytle on Premier Sports - TV Review

With ESPN unwilling to cough up a few extra quid to show UFC shows outside of their regular contract it was Premier Sports who stepped in so British fans could watch Chris Lytle’s final fight against Dan Hardy in the early hours of this past Monday morning.

The broadcast began in the welterweight division as Amir Sadollah faced Duane Ludwig.

This proved to be an intriguing three round encounter. Ludwig did a great job in the striking department in the first two rounds, his big left hook rocking Sadollah a number of times, and when Sadollah went for the take down Ludwig was able to escape quite easily.

Although Sadollah upped his game a little in the third he still looked a step behind Ludwig. He scored with a couple of good kicks but his punches looked slow and sluggish, the fight ending with Ludwig scoring with a take down.

So with the fight going the distance it was over to the judges, with all three giving the fight to Ludwig. Awesome performance.

It was down to the lightweight division for the next fight as Charles Oliveira took on Donald Cerrone.

A short feeling out period at the beginning of this one saw both men testing the waters with punches and kicks. There was a brief pause following Cerrone’s inadvertent kick south of the border, but when the action began the striking just got better and better.

The end came when Cerrone scored with a hook to the body. Oliveira went down, and Cerrone went in for the kill with the ground and pound, the referee stepping in to give Cerrone the impressive TKO win.

The lightweight action continued with Jim Miller against Ben Henderson.

Henderson put in a tremendous performance here. For the first two rounds Miller went for a variety of submission attempts, from chokes to leg locks to arm locks, but Henderson managed to escape each and every time, coming back with some wicked looking ground and pound, busting Miller open with an elbow in the second round.

Miller dropped his man in the third, but Henderson and looked even better than he had in the first two rounds, controlling the fight on the ground and almost getting the win with a rear naked choke, as well as unleashing with more awesome strikes.

Once again the judges were called into action, with all three giving the fight to Henderson. Surely the former WEC champion is ready for a UFC title shot now!

The main event featured welterweight action as Dan Hardy faced Chris Lytle in Lytle’s last ever fight.

This proved to be a great main event. For nearly fifteen minutes Hardy and Lytle engaged in a tremendous striking battle. Hardy tried a kick early on, but when Lytle caught his leg Hardy never threw another kick again, preferring to box with Lytle instead.

Both guys had their moments throughout the fight, but the fact that Lytle was getting Hardy to fight his kind of fight said a lot about his tactics, and just when it looked like Hardy was upping his game in the final moments of the fight Lytle went for a guillotine on the ground. The Brit tried to fight back but it wasn’t long before he tapped out in the final minute of the fight to give Lytle the submission win. A fitting ending to one of the UFC’s best fighters.

In conclusion - for a while it looked like Brits would have to sit in front of their computers or look for a download site to see this show until Premier Sports came in at the last minute, offering this show for free, and I’m glad they did, because this was a great show.

The four fights featured here certainly delivered, but I can’t decide if Miller/Henderson or Hardy/Lytle was the better fight.

As for Premier Sports coverage, kudos to this subscription channel for giving British fans the chance to see this for free, even if they did suffer from the ESPN problem of coming back late from commercial breaks a couple of times.

But who knows, maybe this will be the proverbial kick up the backside ESPN needs, because I know a lot of people only subscribe to the channel to see the UFC, and if they thought that Premier Sports (or Sky Sports for that matter) might bid for the rights when ESPN’s contract is up they may consider sticking their hands in their pockets and buying the rights to the shows that weren’t in their original contract.

So in all the UFC’s fifth foray onto America’s Versus channel gets the thumbs up from me for it’s all round quality.