Fight Notes: UFC 231
The second-last pay-per-view of 2018, UFC 231 served up some exceptional highs and a few lulls, but otherwise made for a fun night of fights. We got some good finishes, a Round Of The Year contender, as well as a pair of title fights which showcased some very high-level MMA. The main event especially delivered the sort of general violence one expected given the match up — but still managed to exceed those expectations by a wide margin nonetheless. As a whole, it was a good fight card, save for some underwhelming action on the televised prelims.
Featherweight Title Fight
Max Holloway (C) def. Brian Ortega by TKO (doctor stoppage) @ 5:00 of Round 4
For the first pair of rounds, Holloway was soundly outstriking Ortega, using superior footwork to dodge any returning fire, and accumulating a large volume of strikes. By the end of the second round, Ortega's nose was severely broken and leaking a lot of blood, while Holloway was seemingly landing at will. In the third, Ortega rallied back very well, rocking Holloway a number of times, though the champion remained very composed. The fourth round saw Max Holloway reassert himself in extreme fashion, just laying a beating on Ortega who absorbed a ridiculous number of shots. Ortega wasn't finished, but that's about all you can say. Ortega's left eye was a complete mess and the fight was called off before the final round began, with Max Holloway putting on a virtuoso performance and defending his title.
Women's Flyweight Title Fight
Valentina Shevchenko def. Joanna Jedrejczyk by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
This was complete domination on the part of Valentina Shevchenko; while Joanna Jedrejczyk wasn't battered from pillar to post, at no point was she making a case for winning the fight — or even a single round. Shevchenko's strength advantage was considerable, allowing her to hold Joanna against the cage, throw her to the mat, and otherwise dictate the position and pace of the fight over all 5 rounds. Joanna Jedrejczyk seemed gunshy from the start and slowly turned up her striking volume, but it wasn't enough. Shevchenko's size advantage seemed like the major difference in this fight, putting Joanna Jedrejczyk's future up in the air given losses to the champs at both weights she can fight at, 115 and 125. It's got to be bittersweet, being the second-best fighter in two weight classes.
Gunnar Nelson def. Alex Oliveira by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ of Round 2
This was quite an interesting fight, with Gunnar taking an early lead by taking Oliveira down — after being warned for grabbing the cage to prevent a takedown — and threatened submissions. Oliveira was able to recover, and start punishing Nelson with some heavy ground-and-pound. In the second round, Gunnar charged out of the gates and secured Oliveira's back after a clinch battle. From there, Gunnar took his time and managed to land the most damaging single elbow strike I can remember seeing. Oliveira's forehead was gashed open, immediately covering his face in blood, and Nelson quickly secured a rear-naked choke and a tap. Oliveira's wound was horrendous and took forever to stop bleeding. An impressive comeback from Nelson, after his deflating loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Hakeem Dawodu def. Kyle Bochniak by Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
I'll be completely honest, this fight failed to stick in my memory very well. The first round was very competitive, though I Dawodu clearly won it by landing better strikes. After that, the fight slowed considerably and turned into a bit of a grind. Bochniak probably broke his left hand — or injured it in some way — but Dawodu was never able to threaten a finish. It was a decent showing for Dawodu, and a setback for Bochniak, who just seemed outclassed in every area, but not the most watcheable fight.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Thiago Santos def. Jimi Manuwa by KO (punch) @ 0:41 of Round 2
My god, what a fight this was! Manuwa and Santos came out swinging, both managing to hurt the other significantly in the first round. Somehow, both managed to retain a grip on consciousness, but that pace was not something both could sustain. The second round saw Santos blast Manuwa with some hard shots, back him against the cage and starch him with an uppercut and a right-cross. For as long as it lasted, this was an amazing fight — one of the best rounds of the year perhaps.
Women's Strawweight Fight
Nina Ansaroff def. Claudia Gadelha by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
This fight wasn't bad, but was yet another where there never seemed to be a moment where the fight would be finished. Ansaroff did hurt Gadelha in the first, but couldn't close the deal. In the second, Gadelha got pieced-up on the feet some more, but managed to win the second half of the round by taking Ansaroff down and keeping her there. The third was Ansaroff pour on the volume striking against a tiring Gadelha, clinching the fight 29-28 on my scorecard as well as those of all 3 judges. Gadelha looks to be falling off, while Ansaroff puts herself in title contender territory.
Gilbert Burns def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
This was almost complete domination by Gilbert Burns, who dropped OAM about midway through the first round and almost scored a TKO with the follow-up ground-and-pound. OAM survived the first and did much better in the second, though Burns never seemed to be hurt or the least bit discouraged by anything he did. The third was more of what came in the first, with OAM spending several minutes with Burns on his back, threatening chokes and accumulating more strikes. The fight ended up going the distance, but the winner was clear as day, Gilbert Burns scored a decisive and impressive victory.
Women's Flyweight Fight
Jessica Eye def. Katlyn Chookagian by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a really uneventful fight, as Eye spent the whole time advancing on Chookagian. The latter circled away the whole time and threw a lot of strikes, of which almost none were in range to land. Likewise, Eye threw a lot and landed very little. It was a terrible fight for what was put forward as a showcase for the next title contender at women's flyweight. I gave Eye the fight since she was the aggressor for the bulk of the fight but I'll be honest, it was difficult to care about anything that happened in it, let alone determine a winner.
Elias Theodorou def. Eryk Anders by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a pretty typical Elias Theodorou fight; the Canadian spent the majority of his time circling away from his opponent and throwing a lot of kicks at range. Anders was able to land some big shots in the second round, dropping Theodorou 3 times, but somehow didn't earn a 10-8 for that on a single scorecard. The third was similar to the first, only Theodorou landed a bit more volume as Anders began to slow considerably. It was a tedious fight to watch to be honest, and Anders arguably won the fight by having the majority of the effective offence. As rough as it is to watch, Elias Theodorou's high volume, defensive style continues to prove effective.
Fight Pass Prelims
Brad Katona def. Matthew Lopez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
This was a fun little scrap, with Brad Katona managing to effectively outpoint Lopez over the course of 3 rounds. The only close round was the first, which I still scored for Katona as he did the most work, even though he was taken down in the final moments of the round. Lopez seemed to tire while Katona remained fresh throughout the whole fight. At the very end of the fight, Katona was able to take Lopez' back and secure a rear-naked choke. Lopez managed to survive the choke — although there was some debate about whether he went unconscious or not — but lost on the scorecards. I had it 30-27 for Katona, but 29-28 wasn't entirely unreasonable.
Dhiego Lima def. Chad Laprise by KO (punch) @ 1:37 of Round 1
Laprise came out aggressively but that didn't work out too well for him; Lima was able to throw a sneaky left-hook and scored a walk-off KO a little over 90 seconds into the fight. An unfortunate ending for Laprise, who finally got to fight in front of a Canadian audience. Lima has not had the best UFC run, but that win should do a lot to erase those memories.
Diego Ferreira def. Kyle Nelson by TKO (punches) @ 1:23 of Round 2
For a last-minute replacement, Nelson had some good early success against Ferreira. Nelson landed some body kicks and punches that seemed to genuinely hurt Ferreira, but he was unable to follow them up very well. Ferreira was able to recover, bide his time and eventually take Nelson down. From there, it was all Ferreira who switched back-and-forth between ground-and-pound and straight armbar / kimura attempts. Nelson survived the first round but was immediately taken down in the second and was summarily pounded out by Ferreira in the middle of the cage.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Aleksandar Rakic def. Devin Clark by TKO (punches) @ 4:05 of Round 1
This fight was action-packed, with Clark cracking Rakic early and beating him up against the cage. The referee completely ignored a half-dozen illegal knees to Rakic's head when he had not one but both hands on the mat. Rakic was able to rally back, however, and staggered Clark with a spinning back-fist and ended the fight with a flurry of follow-up punches. The stoppage was quite late; the refereeing in this fight was atrocious.
Published: December 9th, 2018.