LAS VEGAS - Anthony Njokuani had to avoid the takedown and Danny Castillo needed to nullify his opponent's striking. Wrestling usually trumps good standup and it did tonight at UFC 141.
The stronger grappler Castillo took the fight to the ground enough and controlled things on his way to a split decision win, 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28, over Njokuani in the first Spike broadcast fight at UFC 141.
In the postfight discussion, Castillo got a little irked with UFC analyst Joe Rogan, who called the decision controversial.
"It was that close to you?" asked Castillo. "I thought it was close, but not controversial."
Castillo (13-4, 3-1 UFC) got further annoyed when the crowd began to boo. He was quick to point out that in 2011 he took three fights on short notice. The fans in attendance didn't care, they were just booing to boo.
"It wasn't the fight I wanted or the performance I wanted but it's another victory. I came out there to fight. I won that," said Castillo. "It kind of disappointed me that everybody was booing me. I'm an exciting fighter. It's frustrating."
Castillo took this fight on Dec. 7 when Ramsey Nijem had to back out with an injury. He wasn't at 100 percent with his stamina, but he was good enough to control the pace of the fight.
Njokuani (14-6, 1-2 UFC) is a dangerous stand up fighter and his takedown defense has gotten better, but until he shores it up completely he's going to struggle against former college wrestlers.
Njokuani outlanded Castillo 44-33, but was taken down six times in 18 attempts. Judges generally don't reward much for avoiding takedowns. Maybe they should, but reality is that they don't.
"I just have to learn and keep improving. I have to just go in there and be the killer now. No more waiting because apparently you cannot leave it up to the judges. What happened tonight sucked," said Njokuani.