UFC 189 Co-Main Event & Undercard Preview

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Given the relentless hype for the main event, it’s been easy to forget that there is actually an undercard to UFC 189 on Saturday but that undercard would probably be amongst the best PPV cards of the year even if both Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes suddenly got injured.

The co-main event itself is a fight worthy of headlining any MMA card as Robbie Lawler (25-10, 1NC) looks to make the first defence of his UFC Welterweight title against Rory MacDonald (18-2).

Robbie Lawler’s career would make an excellent movie trilogy, all the way from the youthful prodigy through his journeyman years in the wilderness to his triumphant UFC return and title victory.

6-1 since returning to the UFC and dropping back down to Welterweight, Lawler seems to have reached a point in his career where natural talents, coaching, experience and a maturity have moulded him into a complete martial artist where his always dangerous striking is fully in accord with his grappling game, cardio and mentality.

By contrast, Rory MacDonald has seemed like the heir apparent to the welterweight throne for years. A protégé of former champion Georges St-Pierre, it seemed that MacDonald was always the new big thing at 170lbs even as losses to elite fighters Carlos Condit (losing to a late KO after dominating the fight for three rounds) and Lawler (via split decision) checked his progress towards the seemingly inevitable title shot.

Nonetheless, MacDonald rebounded from both losses by becoming a more dangerous, more complete martial artists and in the five years since first tasting defeat in that fight against Condit.

Now, one of the sports most beloved and skilled veterans faces off with one of the preeminent examples of a modern, well rounded, cerebral and above all, professional MMA fighter with the belt on the line. What more could you ask for?

Well, a promoter would ask for one of them to be a bit mouthier and turn a credible sporting contest into a bit more of a media sensation, but a certain Irishman seems to have pegged the market in that field. In any case, for true fans of mixed martial arts as a sport, this is as credible a title matchwith as compelling a sporting narrative as any you are likely to find.

The main card is filled out with a few excellent fights, all of which could be expected to headline a Fight Pass card in their own right. Firstly, a featherweight contest between two guys who are no stranger to ‘of the night’ bonuses and had been on the outer edge of title contention before some recent losses in the shape of Dennis Bermudez (14-4) and Jeremy Stephens (23-11). A win for either man really places them back in the mix.

Next we have two rising welterweight prospects who met defeat in their last bout against experienced opposition as the exciting Brandon Thatch (11-2) meets smooth Icelander, Gunnar Nelson (13-1-1) looking to recover from losses to Benson Henderson and Rick Story respectively. Both are highly regarded by UFC brass, the media and the fans so the winner here could find themselves a win or two from a title shot.

Opening the main card, Brad Pickett (24-10) returns to 135lbs following a disappointing 1-3 run at Flyweight and is rewarded with the dubious honour of facing undefeated prospect Thomas Almeida (18-0). Pickett would be the biggest scalp of Almedia’s career to date, while a win over the impressive youngster would immediately rehabilitate Pickett to his former spot in the top ten of the bantamweight rankings.

The preliminary card also has it’s share of great fights as ‘Immortal’ Matt Brown (19-13) faces the surging Tim Means (24-6-1) and with a hefty 28 knockout wins between them I don’t think anyone is expecting a dull fight…

We’ve also got former Cage Warriors champion Cathal Pendred (17-2-1) looking to impress after a lukewarm start to his UFC career when he faces the ever-game veteran John Howard (22-11) and Neil Seery (15-10)continues his UFC fairytale against Louis Smolka (8-1) knowing that a win would likely place him in title contention given the shallow waters in the flyweight division.

For once this is a card which actually seems worth staying up late for so let’s hope it lives up to the hype.

UFC 189 Main Event Preview: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

UFC 189 Main Event Preview: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

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Subtitle:  A Hell of a Plan B

Like most MMA fans, I was eagerly awaiting the scheduled collision between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, with the extended promotional campaigning combining with the excitement at the meeting of one of the greatest mixed martial artists of our time and the fastest rising star in the sport.

Then Aldo got injured and the UFC had to look for a replacement. My immediate preference would have been for Frankie Edgar to get the call, firstly as he’s one of the biggest stars in the lighter weight classes.   Secondly as he has only lost to Aldo once and has put a top notch 5-0 streak together since, he makes a more compelling potential interim champion than the eventually chosen Chad Mendes who has twice lost to the champion, with the most recent encounter coming less than a year ago.

Howevr, the more I think about it, the more I’m liking the McGregor-Mendes matchup.

Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor (17-2, 5-0 UFC) was celebrated in Europe before ever being called up to the UFC, winning the Cage Warriors championships at both Featherweight and Lightweight to earn his call up.

Since coming to the UFC, his exciting style and personality have catapulted him up the rankings with a 5-0 UFC streak including four TKO finishes and with the one decision victory came with McGregor injured and against a fighter who has since gone 6-0 to stand close behind the Irishman in the rankings – Max Holloway. That’s a fight I’d like to see again…

McGregor’s fighting style is based around movement and angles, using a wide variety of kicks and punches to disorient his opponent before finding an opening and swarming in to earn the TKO. McGregor also displayed high level grappling skills in his bout with Holloway and in his CWFC tenure showed a Donald Cerrone like ability to translate striking dominance into a submission victory.

On the other hand, McGregor is unproven against a top level wrestler, with the likes of Darren Elkins, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Clay Guida all bypassed en route to title contention. McGregor is also willing to take a punch in pursuit of his opening and has been tagged and dropped several times in his UFC tenure (especially in his recent bout against Dennis Siver) even if he has quickly recovered and gone on to win.

Both of these potential flaws in McGregor’s arsenal are likely to be questioned by his opponent on Saturday.

Chad ‘Money’ Mendes (17-2, 8-2 UFC) started his MMA career with credentials as an All American wrestler and his initial 11-0 streak was characterized by decision victories where those wrestling skills earned the win, especially once swimming in the deeper waters of the WEC & UFC.

That led to his first challenge at Jose Aldo’s title which was lost via a highlight reel head kick knockout in the first round.

Undaunted, Mendes sought to improve his skills and the addition of Duane Ludwig as coach at Team Alpha Male had a profound affect on Mendes’ striking skills, with the power which had always informed his wrestling now turned towards knockouts and complemented by a wider variety of strikes and combinations.

The new, improved Mendes went on a 5-0 streak including four knockouts – most impressively against the tough-as-nails duo of Darren Elkins and Clay Guida – to earn a second title shot.

That title shot saw him press Aldo more than any challenger before, losing out to a decision in what proved to be the Fight of the Year for 2014 and while Mendes dropped to 0-2 against the champion and with a third title shot seeming contingent on Aldo losing the belt, he won a lot of fans in the process.

Bouncing straight back, Mendes rebounded by knocking out Ricardo Lamas – another grappler who had lost a decision to Aldo – in the first round. At that point, it was expected that Mendes would go back into the mix at featherweight, looking to face top ten fighters such as Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway or Charles Oliveira while the Aldo-McGregor showpiece went ahead as planned.

However, the injury bug and UFC brass had other plans and Mendes now finds himself close to championship gold faster than he could possibly have hoped as the decision was read out in Aldo’s favour last October.

Mendes’ main strength is his wrestling which combines a wide array of takedowns with positional sense, strength and excellent level changing to make him capable of taking down or smothering any opponent. Over the past few years this has been augmented with a dangerous striking game, with high level boxing augmented by tactical use of leg kicks and tuned to take advantage of his natural wrestling talents.

Mendes now uses the level change that was once all about the takedown to close distance for striking and force his opponent to drop their guard and if he secures the takedown his ground & pound is more effective than ever.

On the face of things, we have a striker vs. grappler matchup here, but both men possess well rounded mixed martial arts games so it’s not simply a case of McGregor getting a TKO win or decision if he keeps the fight standing or Mendes getting the win if he can get McGregor down.

I would not be surprised to see Mendes score a TKO victory or (less likely) McGregor submitting Mendes from the bottom, or even a tightly contested five round split decision…

The stakes here are huge. A win for McGregor could finally elevate the Featherweight division to the box office realms enjoyed by heavier weight classes and justify the UFC’s investment in him, while also silencing the critics who doubt his top class credentials.

A win for Mendes would be a vindication of all McGregor’s naysayers and a personal triumph for the Team Alpha Male fighter, booking a third bout with Aldo with more momentum and star power in his corner than ever before.

However it pans out and despite the late change of opponent, this is THE big fight of the summer and I can’t wait.

Time To Take A Stand Against PEDS

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There is something very wrong with our sport.

We’ve all known it for a while but by and large we’ve taken each failed PED test as an isolated incident, shaken our heads about cheats and tried not to think too hard about it.

We can’t do that anymore. With Jon Fitch, Hector Lombard and most shockingly of all… Anderson Silva, the Greatest of All Time failing drug tests, it’s clear that cheating is endemic in MMA and the sport as a whole has to do something drastic about it now, or else risk it’s very future.

It’s clear that we can’t rely on all the promotions to do it because drug testing is expensive and can cost you your star attraction, both of which can sink a lesser company. We can’t rely on the many governing bodies to do it, because as we’ve seen so often, they are directly beholden to the promotions for their funding and you don’t bite the hand that feeds.

So, is an international governing body the answer?

No. For one thing, such a body would be almost impossible to create in a meaningful fashion. For another, it’s been shown that international governing bodies tend to be far from corruption and bias free (yes FIFA and the IOC, I’m looking at you.)

In a sport which is dominated by one brand, it falls to the UFC to put their money where their mouth is and take a stand. They need to institute a broad ranging, transparent, out-of-competition testing regime, probably using one of the major independent anti-doping organisations like VADA or WADA where their fighters can be tested at any time.

These test results would be released to UFC officials and the public simultaneously, with set punishments for each drug infraction. A failure for PEDS should result in a ban of no less than a year and immediate stripping of any titles, while a failure for other drugs like painkillers or recreational drugs should receive a lesser, if still considerable penalty which includes mandatory rehabilitation treatment.

If the UFC – as the highest paying, most prestigious organization in the world – makes a stand against cheating, that you will be caught and your career will suffer considerable harm, then the use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport will diminish and at the very least, the sport will be seen to at least be trying to self police and keep itself clean.

Fighters with aspirations of UFC careers will be discouraged from juicing and promotion seeking to emulate the banner-brand’s sheen of respectability will follow suit insofar as they can.

If the UFC’s announcement today is anything less than something this far reaching, then the prospects for the sport as a whole are not pleasant.

MMA needs to be seen to be a clean, fair sport in order to maintain (let alone increase) it’s tenuous hold on mainstream acceptance. Any shirking from the contest ahead, against the sport’s inner demons could spell the end for MMA as a legitimate sport.

Silva vs. Diaz: A Super Fight…

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Saturday’s collision between Anderson ‘the Spider’ Silva (33-6) and Nick Diaz (26-9) in the headliner of UFC 183 might not qualify as a Superfight (neither man is a champion and both are coming off a brace of losses) but the star power and enigmatic nature of both men, combined with so many unknowable factors make this a fight to get excited about.

A year and a half ago, Silva was the no.1 pound for pound fighter in the world and the consensus Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) but a knockout loss to Chris Weidman and a broken leg in the rematch dimmed his star and led to over a year on the shelf.

Now that he has returned, we can only wonder if Anderson can be close to the near-mystical figure he once presented in the Octagon. Will the first back-to-back losses of his career, a horrific injury and lengthy spell on the sidelines have diminished his skills, his passion?

It’s also worth remembering that Silva turns 40 in April, which is a truly impressive vintage for an elite level fighter, especially coming up against one of the most renowned cardio machines in the sport.

Diaz has long been considered one of the best Welterweights in the world, but frustrating decision losses in title matches to Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre and his typically difficult relations with the UFC management have led to almost 22 months in the wilderness.  However, as Nick is eight years Anderson’s junior and does triathlons for fun, I don’t think we can read too much into that period of self imposed exile.

It is rare that a fight between two competitors on a combined 0-4 run and 35 months worth of inactivity attracts such attention, but in this instance we have a pair of the most popular, divisive and mercurial talents in MMA.  Interestingly, right up until Anderson’s second leg break, this would be considered a drastic mismatch (indeed, many still see it that way) albeit one likely to provide a fun fight whereas now, it seems a little fairer…

Diaz gives up height, reach and weight to Silva and has never possessed the same aura against regularly top class opposition or displayed the same creativity in terms of striking prowess. However, with Anderson ageing and coming off a serious injury, Diaz’ confidence, relentless pressure, endless cardio and top notch boxing could be a nightmare for the returning ‘Spider.’

So much relies on how Silva’s mind and body have recovered from the reverses of the past few years and if either let him down, we could easily see Diaz swarm him and pick up a career defining victory. Nontheless, most will be assuming that Silva will pull off some implausibly creative knockout, as we’ve seen so often in the past…

Either way, we find ourselves with a truly compelling contest between two legends of the sport – and despite the exponential increase in the number of UFC cards and bouts, that’s not something we can say all that often.

Expect middle fingers from Diaz, hands down taunting from both men and a stark contrast between intensity and Zen-like calm.

Oh, and expect the unexpected. This is not one to miss.

Respect the Champ

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I really don’t like Jon Jones (I’ll state exactly why later in the article) but after his measured demolition of Glover Teixeira, the most anti-Bones observer of MMA must admit that he is the Man, definitely in the 205lb division, probably in the UFC as a whole and well on his way to wresting the GOAT title from Anderson Silva unless his stars change in dramatic fashion.

Currently on an 11 fight win streak (could easily be 21 with a different referee in his fight against Matt Hamill) and a record extending seventh defence of the Light Heavyweight belt (now chasing down Silva’s 11 successful title defences in any division) Jones has been the picture of calm as he’s almost casually disposed of all comers.

Whether it’s keeping opponents on the end of his reach and winning comfortable decisions, to stunning them with elbows and choking them out or just plain bullying them to the mat and taking a TKO, Jones has displayed well rounded skills combined with a maturity, versatility and creativity which has stymied.

When taken into deep waters against Alexander Gustafsson, he displayed heart to come back and win the latter rounds and earn the (only partially contentious) decision, while last night against Glover Teixeira, he refused to play it safe and engaged Glover on his own terms up against the cage and took little damage in the process while leaving his opponent a bloodied mess as his 20 fight win streak fell away.

Looking at those achievements, who can deny his quality or fail to get behind him?

Well…

Reasons I Don’t Like Jon Jones

Luck: I can’t get past the idea that Jones record breaking title reign has been facilitated by a generational gap in the Light Heavyweight division. He won the belt from a past-his-peak Shogun Rua who had a year’s worth of rung rust and defended against former champions who were either not elite anymore (Quinton Jackson), effectively Middleweights (Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen) or just didn’t turn up on fight night (Rashad Evans) and then didn’t look at all dominant against the first true contemporary that he faced for the belt.

Reach: While Jones excellent grappling and varied striking are huge parts of his arsenal, the real difference seems to be his reach. His freakish natural physique makes it so that it’s very difficult for a regularly proportioned Light Heavyweight (never mind the natural Middleweight’s he’s been facing as often as not) to damage him. Now, I know that holding a fighter’s natural physique against him is pithy, the way Jones paws out with his lead hand, earning a wearing for eye pokes in almost every single fight (should have been docked a point last night IMHO) doesn’t scan well with me.

Attitude: Lastly and by far most importantly (if I’m honest, the others are based on the fact that I don’t like his attitude and looking for more reasons to hate) Jones’ persona just rubs me up the wrong way.

From dropping an unconscious Lyoto Machida like a sack of potatoes after the referee had ended their fight to claiming he only went 80% in his closest fight to date against Alex Gustafsson, to just seeming like a complete prick in most interviews Jones just seems like an arrogant, cold, unlikeable kind of guy to me.

It’s not that he’s a heel – I’ve got a soft spot for folks who play the bad guy – it’s just that he seems so damn superior. It’s the kind of bad guy heat that makes me want to see him knocked out in the most brutal fashion possible.

On balance…

… it’s clear that my dislike stems from his persona, not his fighting skills and my other reasons are reaching more than a bit.

When I attempt to be objective, I cannot deny that Jones has impressed beyond measure, is a worthy and dominant champion and should be a clear favourite against almost any conceivable future opponent (apart from maybe Cain Velasquez should that super fight ever materialise.)

While that isn’t enough to override my dislike for his persona (which seems to be broadly shared as Jones has not exactly set the PPV buy rates aflame) and my innate tendency to back an underdog (it’s a Scottish thing) I have to say that Jones has my respect and he is quite simply the fighter at the top of the mountain in all of mixed martial arts right now.

You don’t have to like the champion, but you do have to respect him.

KUMITE European MMA Rankings, April 2014

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Sorry I’m a bit late with the rankings this month, been busy. Anyways it’s been an active month with movement in every division and a few big changes based on fighters being removed due to inactivity or bans. Check it out…

Heavyweight

1- Alistair Overeem (Holland) 37-13 UFC
2- Vitaly Minakov (Russia) 14-0, Bellator def. Cheick Kongo 4/4
3- Andrei Arlovski (Belarus) 21-10, UFC
4- Stefan Struve (Netherlands) 25-6 UFC
5- Cheick Kongo (France) 20-8-2 Bellator lost to Vitaly MInakiv 4/4
6- Alexander Volkov (Russia) 21-4 Bellator def. Siala-Mo Siliga 11/4 UP 1
7- Damian Grabowski (Poland) 19-1 M-1 DOWN 1
8- Sergei Kharitonov (Russia) 22-6 IND
9- Alexey Oleinik (Ukraine) 53-9-1 IND
10- Marcin Tybura (Poland) 10-0 M-1 def. Maro Perak 4/4 UNRANKED

Light Heavyweight

1- Alexander Gustafsson (Sweden) 15-2, UFC
2- Jimi Manuwa (England) 14-1, UFC
3- Attila Vegh (Slovakia) 29-5-2, Bellator
4- Mikhail Zayats (Russia) 22-8, Bellator
5- Ilir Latifi (Sweden) 7-3 UFC
6- Jan Blachowicz (Poland) 17-3, KSW
7- Linton Vassell (England) 12-3, Bellator
8- Stephan Puetz (Germany) 9-1 M-1
9- Maxim Grishin (Russia) 17-6 IND
10- Mikkel Parlo (Denmark) 12-2 def. Johnny Cisneros 4/4 UNRANKED

Middleweight

1- Alexander Shlemenko (Russia) 50-7 Bellator UP 1
2- Michael Bisping (England) 24-5, UFC lost to Tim Kennedy 16/4 DOWN 1
3- Mamed Khalidov (Poland) 28-4-2, KSW
4- Gegard Mousasi (Armenia) 34-4-2 UFC
5- Frances Carmont (France) 22-8, UFC
6– Luke Barnatt (England) 7-0 UFC
7- Michal Materla (Poland) 20-4 KSW
8– Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (Russia) 23-2 M-1
9- Tom Watson (England) 16-6 UFC
10- Sultan Aliev (Russia) 11-2 IND NR

Welterweight

1- Tarec Saffiedine (Belgium) 15-3, UFC
2- Gunnar Nelson (Iceland) 11-0-1, UFC
3- Cathal Pendred (Ireland) 13-2-1, Cage Warriors
4- Nicholas Musoke (Sweden) 12-2 UFC
5- Adlan Amagov (Russia) 13-2-1, UFC
6- Gael Grimaud (France) 19-6, Cage Warriors
7- Nicolas Dalby (Denmark) 12-0 Cage Warriors
8– Paul Daley (England) 34-12-2 BAMMA
9– Andrey Koreshokov (Russia) 15-1 Bellator
10- Karl Amoussou (France) 17-6-2 Bellator def. David Gomez 18/4 UNRANKED

Lightweight

1- Khabib Nurmagomedov (Russia) 22-0, UFC def. Rafael dos Anjos 19/4
2- Rustam Khabilov (Russia) 17-1, UFC
3- Alexander Sarnavskiy (Russia) 26-2 IND
4- Ross Pearson (England) 15-6, UFC
5 – Marcin Held (Poland) 18-3 Bellator def. Derek Anderson 18/4 UP 5 
6- Ivan Buchinger (Slovakia) 26-4 M-1 def. Sergey Golyaev 4/4 UP 2
7- Musa Khamanaev (Russia) 13-3, M-1 DOWN 2
8- Norman Parke (Northern Ireland) 19-2-1 UFC DOWN 2
9- Piotr Hallmann (Poland) 14-2 UFC DOWN 1
10- Mansour Barnaoui (France) 11-2 BAMMA DOWN 1

Featherweight

1- Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (Russia) 21-5, Bellator def. Mike Richman 4/4 UP 2
2- Conor McGregor (Ireland) 14-2, 10-1 UFC
3- Tom Niinimaki (Finland) 21-5-1 UFC
4- Marat Gafurov (Ukraine) 9-0 M-1 NR def. Lee Morrison 4/4 UNRANKED
5- Shabulat Shamhalaev (Russia) 12-2-1, Bellator
6- Daniel Weichel (Germany) 33-8, Bellator
7- Joni Salovaara (Finland) 14-7 IND
8- Sergei Greicho (Lithuania) 15-5-1 OC
9- Niklas Backstrom (Sweden) 7-0 IND
10- Robert Whiteford (Scotland) 11-2 UFC

* Dennis Siver removed from rankings due to PED ban.

Bantamweight

1- Vaughan Lee (England) 14-9-1 UFC
2- Brett Johns (Wales) 10-0, Cage Warriors © def. James Brum 12/4
3- Ronnie Mann (England) 23-6-1 Cage Warriors UP 1
4- Cory Tait (England) 8-2 Cage Warriors UP 1
5- Timo-Juhan Hirvikangas (Finland) 8-2 Cage FC def. Tymoteusz Swiatek 5/4 UP 1
6- James Brum (England) 14-2, Cage Warriors lost to Brett Johns 12/4 DOWN 3
7- Sirwan Kakai (sweden) 9-2, IND UP 1
8- David Haggstrom (Sweden) 7-2-1 IND UP 1
9- Toni Tauru (Finland) 9-1-1 Cage Warriors UP 1
10- Magomed Biboulatov (France) 5-0 IND UNRANKED

* Martin McDonough now a Flyweight

Flyweight

1- Ali Bagautinov (Russia) 13-2 UFC
2- Brad Pickett (England) 24-8 UFC
3- Pietro Menga (England) 11-0 FCC ©
4- Marcin Lasota (Poland) 8-0 Cage Warriors
5- Neil Seery (Ireland) 13-10 UFC
6- Shaj Haque (England) 4-1 Cage Warriors def. Martin McDonough 12/4 UP 1
6- Mikael Silander (Finland) 10-3 The Cage def. Daniel Barez 5/4
7- Rany Saadeh (Germany) 6-1 BAMMA def. Mahmood Besharate 5/4 UNRANKED
8- Kairat Akhmetov (Kazakhstan) IND UNRANKED
9- Kevin Petshi (France) 5-0 IND def. Victor Balica 4/4
10- Phil Harris (England) 22-12 Cage Warriors DOWN 2

Women’s P4P

(Due to the less developed state of Women’s MMA we’re ranking our top ten female fighters from across the weight classes – we hope to expand this section in future.)

1- Joanne Calderwood (Scotland) 8-0 Invicta FC
2 – Marloes Coenen (Netherlands) 21-6 Invicta FC
3 – Katja Kankaanpaa (Finland) 8-1-1 Invicta FC
4- Rosi Sexton (England) 13-4 IND
5- Aisling Daly (Ireland) 12-5 Cage Warriors
6- Milana Dudieva (Russia) 8-3 ProFC
7- Maria Hoegaard Djursa (Denmark) 5-4 IND
8- Shiela Gaff (Germany) 10-6-1 UFC
9- Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (Poland) 6-0 Cage Warriors def. Gemma Hewitt 12/4 UNRANKED
10- Pannie Kianzad (Sweden) 4-0 IND DOWN 1

 

 

The Good, The Bad & the Ugly: UFC on FOX 11 Edition

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Im gradually coming to realise that I might be too old to reliably sit up and watch the fights. I only managed until Thiago Alves’ fight before passing out. Thanks be for sites like -redacted- which allow me to catch up in the morning…

The Good:

First of all, it was awesome to see one of our favourite fighters, Thiago Alves return to the cage after more than two years. Even better, he put in a good performance like he’d never been away and we hope for more ‘Pitbull’ based goodness in the near future.

The card provided consistently good action despite a few less compelling fights, with particular mention going to the awesome flyweight scrap between Dustin Ortiz and Ray Borg, Mirsad Bektic vs. Chas Skelly, Alves vs. Baczynski, the gunfight between Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza and Fabricio Werdum‘s fine performance in the main event to win a title shot.

The Bad:

Aside from some screwy judging – one split decision that shouldn’t have been and one that went the wrong way IMHO – the worst thing was Chas Skelly’s illegal knees to Mirsad Bektic.

Interesting to see the referee give Bektic time, as if it had been a groin shot and take a point before allowing the match to continue. Bektic also deserves warrior points for continuing and giving as good as he got in the remainder of the fight to take the majority decision.

It produced a compelling fight and a new fighter for me to be a big fan of, but was it the right call with fighter safety and the letter of the law in mind?

The Ugly:

For a night that saw it’s fair share of blood, there was nothing especially gory or egregiously uncool from a fighting or officiating point of view. Good work folks.

If We Had The Chequebook…

Fight of the Night:

Easily Dustin Ortiz vs. Ray Borg for a back and forth bout which saw some high impact strikes and some awesome grappling exchanges. For me, this was an advert for all that is good in MMA and it’s lack of acknowledgement in the UFC’s post fight dissection is a travesty.

Performance of the Night:

Mirsad Bektic for being aggressive and entertaining before the illegal knees and having the sheer stones to see the fight out afterwards. Such performances are what makes you a fan favourite.

Finish of the Night:

Donald Cerrone for his quick reactions in hopping onto Edson Barboza’s back and slapping on a tight rear naked choke after rocking him with a nice jab. Even more impressive considering that Barboza had the best of the early exchanges.

Full Results:

MAIN CARD
Fabricio Werdum def. Travis Browne via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45) – Round 5, 25:00
Miesha Tate def. Liz Carmouche via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3
Donald Cerrone def. Edson Barboza via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:15
Yoel Romero def. Brad Tavares via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3

PRELIMINARY CARD
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3
Thiago Alves def. Seth Baczynski via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3
Jorge Masvidal def. Pat Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3
Alex White def. Estevan Payan via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:28
Caio Magalhaes def. Luke Zachrich via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:44
Jordan Mein def. Hernani Perpetuo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Round 3

FIGHT PASS PRELIMINARY CARD
Dustin Ortiz def. Ray Borg via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Round 3
Mirsad Bektic def. Chas Skelly via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Derrick Lewis def. Jack May via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:23