Fight Notes: UFC 228
After a really disappointing first half of the year, the UFC has another exceptionally violent event in the books. UFC 228 delivered far, far more than was expected of it. The general feeling was that the undercard had some better fights than the pay-per-view, and instead there was exactly one bad fight — and it involved John Dodson which means it shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. Literally every fight made a strong case for extra bonus money, if it were up to me I'd be cutting everyone cheques and cutting John Dodson, I cannot remember the last time he had a good fight. Anyway, here's how things went down:
Pay Per View Main Card
Tyron Woodley def. Darren Till by Submission (D'Arce choke) @ 4:19 of Round 2
The first round was fairly uneventful, though Woodley was more active than we've seen him in recent fights, and referee Dan Margliotta seemed annoyingly eager to break-up clinches along the fence. Till was extremely reserved throughout the first, while Woodley was clearly the aggressor and was trying to drag Till down to the mat. It looked like we were on our way to another paintakingly slow Tyron Woodley title defence until he cracked Till with a solid shot that put him down, followed him to the mat and them proceeded to just lay down an absolute beating on the challenger. Till did well to defend himself for most of the round but eventually found himself stuck in a sneaky D'Arce choke and tapped before passing out. I'll be writing a lot more about this in my Post-Fight Thoughts column, but suffice it to say Tyron Woodley put on an amazing performance and embarrassed Darren Till for having the temerity to even ask for the title shot — he landed zero significant strikes in this, his first professional defeat.
Jessica Andrade def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by Knock Out (punch) @ 1:58 of Round 1
Andrade swarmed on Karolina almost immediately, tagging her with several punches in a flurry. Kowalkiewicz was able to recover, circle away and attempt her own offence. Andrade was pressuring non-stop, however, and was staggering Kowalkiewicz when she landed, while Karolina's strikes seemed to have no real effect. Then, out of nowhere, Andrade starched Kowalkiewicz with a one hitter quitter and likely stole the next strawweight title shot from Tatiana Suarez. Jessica Andrade has made quite a case for herself since dropping down from bantamweight and possesses power in her fists well beyond her peers. You just don't see KOs like that at lower women's weights.
Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Brandon Davis by Submission (modified kneebar) @ 3:46 of Round 2
Davis held his own for most of the first round, although it was still a very close round. In the second, Zabit opted for a more grappling / wrestling-heavy attack, and was eventually able to take Davis down and get his back. After failing to lock-in a rear-naked choke, Magomedsharipov dove for a kneebar from the back mount and forced Davis to tap. The fact we got two such kneebars on a single fight card defies all odds. Magomedsharipov continues to astound and build his fanbase.
Jimmie Rivera def. John Dodson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
This fight was a typically dreary John Dodson bout. Rivera won by doing slightly more, while Dodson spent 3 rounds mostly feinting and avoiding doing anything remotely resembling fighting. This fight was horrible, which was only magnified by its placement on such a violent fight card. If I never see another John Dodson fight again, it will be too soon.
Abduk Razak Al Hassan def. Niko Price by Knock Out (punch) @ 0:43 of Round 1
Price came out and immediately tagged Al Hassan with a hard punch, and Al Hassan reciprocated with several hard shots of his own. After pushing Price against the fence, Al Hassan uncorked a devastating kill shot that slumped his opponent against the cage. What a crazy sub-1-minute fight. Al Hassan notches his 10th first round knock out and looks like a straight killer at this point. Wow.
Tatiana Suarez def. Carla Esparza by Technical Knock Out (strikes) @ 4:33 of Round 3
There's not much to say here, except that Suarez utterly dominated and mauled Carla Esparza. The fight wasn't close, at any point, it was a one-sided beating. Suarez' wrestling is second to none, and she smothered Esparza in a fashion similar to how Khabib Nurmagomedov has routed his opponents in the men's lightweight division. Esparza didn't even need to be sent out for the final round, I had her losing 20-16 with literally no chance of winning. Suarez may be en route to a title shot already and I have no qualms with that, she's got strength and legit wrestling skill that will be difficult for anyone at 115 pounds to contend with. What a beating...
Aljamain Sterling def. Cody Stamman by Submission (modified kneebar) @ 3:42 of Round 2
I missed most of this fight due to some aggravating Internet connection problems, and tuned in just in time to see Aljamain Sterling take Stamman's back and then secure a gruesome-looking modified kneebar for the submission win. The only other time that specific variant of kneebar has been seen, to my knowledge, is when Kenny Robertson used it at UFC 157. Hopefully Stamman's knee didn't suffer too much damage, that was a nasty hold that forced an immediate tap. (Most likely he's going to be banged up for a while, though.)
Geoff Neal def. Frank Comacho by Knock Out (head kick) @ 1:23 of Round 2
This was looking to be a fairly even, measured striking battle for most of the first round. Then, in the final minute or so, Neal blasted Comacho and dropped him. Comacho got up and shot for a takedown, but ended up taking another barrage of punches as the round ended. The second was brief and exceedingly violent, as the two men threw down in a wild exchange. Neal hurt Comacho again, but seemingly couldn't put him away. After staggering Comacho with a few hard shots, Neal threw a left kick that went high and laid Comacho out cold. Comacho showed a lot of toughness and grit, but Neal was just the superior fighter which he demonstrated with brutal efficacy.
Darren Stewart def. Charles Byrd by TKO (strikes) @ 2:17 of Round 2
Byrd seemed to be handily winning the fight right up until Stewart landed a life-changing elbow strike. Stunned, Byrd was unable to get his feet back under himself, and Stewart swarmed with hard shots and eventually crumbled Byrd to the canvas with another vicious elbow to the head. An unreal turnaround to a fight, Byrd went from clearly winning to the ringside physician asking him what day it was in very short order.
Fight Pass Prelims
Diego Sanchez def. Craig White by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight was pretty bad, except for the fact that another old school UFC fighter managed to pull out a win. Diego Sanchez took Craig White down once in each round and held him there, raining down sustained flurry of ground-and-pound and handily won each round. During the brief moments the fight was standing, White landed heavy shots, but he was unable to stop the takedown and did absolutely nothing to get up off his back. This was a bland fight that looked straight from 2006, including White's tattoos and terrible ground work. Many people argued that Diego should have been awarded some 10-8 rounds but I wholly disagree, he maintained dominant position and that is it. I don't think Diego is back to his old form either, and contend that anyone decent by current MMA standards will destroy him. Still, it's nice to not be lamenting another one-sided loss notched against him.
Jim Miller def. Alex White by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:29 of Round 1
This was a short and sweet affair, as Jim Miller warmed the hearts of grizzled vet fans like myself by bulldozing Alex White. Miller opened with a flurry of punches, all of which landed, that sent White to the mat. Miller swarmed with some ground-and-pound and then then quickly secured White's back and sunk in a choke. A vintage performance from a man with 30 fights in the UFC — the most in company history now. Tough break for Alex White, however...
Irene Aldana def. Lucie Pudilova by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This fight absolutely delivered the goods; we ended up getting a serious contender for the Fight Of The Night here, and it was only the second fight on the card. Pudilova won the first with relentless aggression and way more success in a vicious exchange that closed the round. By the second, Aldana was getting a better read on her opponent, better utilising her footwork and starting to accumulate damage over time. By the third, both women were very busted up, had endured the best each had to offer, and put on a very close fight. There are arguments for either fighter as winner, I gave it to Pudilova because she won the first half of the fight and the last minute or so. Regardless, an amazing fight — easily the best women's bantamnweight fight in recent memory. I hope both women got some extra coin for their efforts, those were gritty and violent performances.
Jarred Brooks def. Roberto Sanchez by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a completely forgettable fight. They split the first two rounds of this grappling-heavy affair, and then Brooks came out the much fresher fighter in the third round, secured top position and easily took the round. It should have been an unanimous decision, as there is no way Sanchez won anything but the first round, but this is MMA we're talking about — and in Texas no less — so obviously we got a split decision. At least the right guy won.
Published: September 9th, 2018.