by Damon Martin & Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
Decisions reigned supreme in the early fights of UFC 94 as all three bouts leading up to the final 2 fights went to the judges’ scorecards with 21 year old, Jon Jones, stealing the show with dominant takedowns and a strong performance over a veteran fighter in Stephan Bonnar.
Jones impressed many fans with his win over Andre Gusmao in his UFC debut and he did not disappoint on Saturday night after punishing Bonnar with takedown after takedown and some unique striking as well.
In the first round, Jones threw Bonnar around the Octagon with numerous throws and takedowns that obviously frustrated the former “Ultimate Fighter” season 1 competitor. The highlight of the fight came late in the first as Jones released a clinch held with Bonnar and unleashed a vicious spinning back elbow that sent his opponent crashing face first to the mat.
Even UFC matchmaker, Joe Silva, was impressed as the replay showed him jumping up from his seat as Jones followed Bonnar to the ground.
The following rounds slowed a bit but Jones still took the 2nd round with more takedowns and a strong wrestling attack. The third round saw the strongest performance from Bonnar as he tried to utilize a striking attack to catch Jones, but the young 205lb fighter avoided anything dangerous and pulled out the unanimous decision.
Karo Parisyan returned to the Octagon after multiple injuries forced a nine month layoff from competition, winning a close decision against fellow Judoka Dong Hyun Kim.
From the start, Parisyan struggled with Kim’s size. The Korean fighter put the pressure on early, taking Parisyan’s back early in the fight, much like his split decision victory over Matt Brown at UFC 88, hinting at a rear naked choke attempt.
Parisyan escaped the position, and several submission attempts including an armbar and triangle choke as a scramble put him on top of Kim.
An ill-fitting mouthpiece seemed to distract Parisyan from his attack, but in the end, his prediction that wrestling would win the day proved true.
As the fight wore on, Parisyan was able to deal with Kim’s weight, executing a beautiful Judo throw midway through the second. In the subsequent scramble, he nearly locked a kimura, but Kim was able to escape.
On the feet, Parisyan’s counter right hand racked up points, though admittedly, there wasn’t much damage done on either end.
It was a difficult fight to score, but in the end, two judges gave Parisyan the 29-28 nod, while a lone judge dissented with a 29-28 score for Kim.
“I’m happy I got the win and the throw on the judo guy,” Parisyan commented after the fight.
In another closely contested battle, Clay Guida used superior positioning to edge a decision victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” season five winner Nate Diaz.
Facing an eight-inch reach deficit, Guida had success working on the lead leg of Diaz, following with a straight right hand. However, Diaz’s punch count—a carbon copy of brother Nick—stayed high throughout the fight and frustrated Guida whenever the fight stayed on its feet.
Following a brief skirmish in the first, the bout hovered between the clinch and the mat, as both fighters tried to take dominant position.
Guida used his wrestling base to stay out of submission danger, and simply smothered Diaz as the two clinched. Diaz, often fighting Guida at his back, used the constant threat of a kimura to sweep the Illinois native of his feet. However, he was unable to leverage the position to his advantage, as Guida adjusted position and kept the pressure on.
Mostly, the two negated each other on the mat, though Guida was able to inflict some damage midway through the fight with a series of elbows from the top.
In the third, Diaz had Guida on the ropes with a flurry of punches, but “The Carpenter” took the action down again, where the two came to another offensive stalemate.
A close fight by all accounts, one judge ruled a 29-28 score in favor of Diaz, while the other two saw it 29-28 for Guida.
The loss was Diaz’s first since emerging from the reality show.
After a litany of thank you’s to UFC staff, Guida promised he would soon contend with the division’s best.
“I know I wasn’t pretty to win,” he told Joe Rogan. “I’m coming guys, look out for me.”