Fight Notes: UFC 232
The final pay-per-view and UFC event of 2018, and it was a stacked card that delivered a lot of good fights and very few lulls. Even with all the drama surrounding the change of venue and Jon Jones' USADA troubles, the fight seemed unaffected. The UFC ends its partnership with FOX and will be moving to ESPN in the new year, and the final televised prelim was an oddly fitting send-off. UFC 232 saw the best fighter of the modern era return to form, and some of MMA's old guard get picked off by aspiring contenders. UFC 232 pretty much had it all; here's how things went.
Light Heavyweight Title Fight
Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 2:02 of Round 3
The first round was pretty close, as Jones spent a lot of time circling away from Gustafsson but still managed to outland him. In the second, Jones did much the same, staying out of range and landing shots, and throwing knees to the body whenever clinches occurred. Jones was throwing a lot of diverse strikes, body-kicks, elbows, leg-kicks, etc. At one point, Gustafsson's right leg looked like it buckled from a hard leg-kick and his mobility was impaired from that point forward. In the third, Jones seemed to have things all figured out and shot a takedown which Gustafsson was unable to defend — possibly due to his leg issue. From there, Jones mauled him with a half-nelson which lead to a back-take and a rear-naked choke attempt. When that didn't work, Jones switched to some vicious ground-and-pound and the fight ended right there.
Women's Featherweight Title Fight
Amanda Nunes def. Cris Cyborg (C) by Knock Out (punch) @ 0:51 of Round 1
So... uhh.... Cris tried to walk Nunes down and exchange with her and summarily got demolished in under a minute. Nunes landed a half-dozen killshots before the final one put Cyborg out completely. Just a completely shocking ending; I did not give Nunes nearly enough credit coming into this fight, but I don't think anyone saw it ending like this. All credit to Amanda Nunes, who has now rendered unconscious the best that women's MMA has had to offer thus far: Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and now Cris Cyborg. I am in awe.
Michael Chiesa def. Carlos Condit by Submission (kimura) @ 0:56 of Round 2
Condit came out swinging from the opening bell, but Chiesa was having none of it and immediately clinched and took "The Natural Born Killer" down. On the mat, the two exchanged some really slick grappling sweeps and counters, and Condit even threatened an armbar at one point. Chiesa had more top control, but Condit threatened a finish and ended the round in positional control so I gave him a close round. The second frame looked to be progressing the same as the first when Chiesa was able to secure mount and horribly wrench Condit's arm, earning a very quick verbal tap. As a long-time fan of Condit, this was unfortunate to see — he looked very good right up until he got submitted. Credit to Michael Chiesa for making an impressive statement in his welterweight debut. Father time continues to make long-time MMA fans sad, however.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Corey Anderson def. Ilir Latifi by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Despite being both a light heavyweight bout and one that went all 3 rounds, this was pretty decent. Latifi took the first frame, chopping down Anderson's lead leg with kicks and staggering him with big shots. In the second, Latifi was visibly tiring and Anderson began to assert control and handily won the round. I honestly thought Latifi was going to keel over from exhaustion by the end of the second, but he came out for the third and still managed a lot of offence. Anderson was able to avoid Latifi's winging punches and stuff the takedown attempts, all while landing clean strikes. A competitive fight, but Anderson clearly won last 2 rounds.
Alexander Volkanovski def. Chad Mendes by Knock Out (punches) @
After a tentative first round, where both fighters were feeling each other out, the second round really picked up the pace. Throughout the whole fight, Volkanovski was pressing forward, though Mendes seemed to be holding his own. Despite secure several takedowns throughout the first two rounds, Mendes was unable to hold Volkanovski down. By the mid-point of the second round, both men had their faces busted up pretty badly. Undeterred, however, Volkanovski kept pressing forward and began wilting Mendes with body shots and hard punches. The end came swiftly, after a body shot and right-hand combination slumped Mendes to the mat. Volkanovski made a huge statement with this win, handily dispatching a perennial contender in the featheweight division. A great fight for all that it lasted.
Walt Harris def. Andrei Arlovski by Split Decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Ugh.... This was, ostensibly, a fight... The UFC / FOX era ends, bookended by both extremes of the heavyweight division: Junior Dos Santos sparked out Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds to usher in the era, and it ends with a tedious, unremarkable heavyweight bout which saw Walt Harris outpoint Arlovski in a fight I look forward to erasing from my memory. I have no idea how one judge gave every round to Arlovski, by puzzlement is eclipsed by my lack of interest in thinking about the bout further. The right winner was declared, let's never speak of this again.
Women's Featherweight Fight
Megan Anderson def. Cat Zingano by Technical Knock Out (toe to right eye) @ 1:01 of Round 1
This fight ended very quickly, and in a very unfortunate way. As Cat circled away from a head-kick thrown by Anderson, she was caught in the eye by a toenail and immediately winced in pain and turned her back on her opponent. The referee correctly waved off the fight, and Anderson racked up a wholly unsatisfying win. It's a little weird that you can poke someone in the eye with a toe and it's legal, but I understand you can't really curl your toes like you can a finger. A terrible ending to the fight and one that is emblematic of Zingano's horrendous run of luck in the UFC. Hopefully there is no lasting damage to Cat's eye and they can run this fight back ASAP.
Petr Yan def. Douglas Silva De Andrade by Technical Knock Out (corner stoppage) @ 5:00 of Round 2
Yan just wrecked shop in this fight. While the first round was reasonably competitive, though obviously won by Yan due to his ability to dictate the pace and position of the fight throughout the round. In the second, Yan just continued to build his momentum, overwhelming De Andrade with strikes, knees to the head, and ending the round with brutal ground-and-pound that left De Andrade a bloody, swollen mess. I was genuinely shocked — and equally heartened — to see De Andrade's corner call the fight off before sending him out to take more damage. I had Yan up 20-17 after two, as the Russian continues to awe fans and likely terrify his fellow bantamweights. No shame in De Andrade's corner rightfully calling the fight off, they did exactly what they should do and protected their fighter.
Ryan Hall def. BJ Penn by Submission (heel hook) @ 2:46 of Round 1
This fight was less depressing than I expected, but still served as a reminder that BJ Penn really should not be fighting anymore. While Penn was initially very focused, pressuring Hall with strikes and closing distance fairly well, it ultimately did not matter. After initially failing to entice Penn into leaping into his guard, Hall was able to get ahold of Penn's leg after an Iminari roll, and forced a quick tap with a nasty heel hook. Penn's knee didn't look so good after the hold was released, and the quick loss — while not nearly as violent or protracted as Penn's past few losses — was still disheartening to see. Hall's a good talent, and MMA is built on the young eating the old, but it's rarely something that is easy to watch.
Fight Pass Prelims
Nathaniel Wood def. Andre Ewell by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:12 of Round 3
Both fighters were quite game, but Wood always seemed a step ahead of Ewell throughout the fight. Ewell's lead leg got damaged by a number of leg-kicks, and Wood was able to stay at range and outstrike him, sealing each round with takedowns and decisive top control. As the third round came to a close, Ewell seemed to tire a little and began making mistakes. Wood was able to take Ewell down and take his back, but was initially unsuccessful with his rear-naked choke attempt. As Ewell scrambled back to his feet, he left himself wide open and Wood re-applied the choke and forced his opponent — whom he then flatted out — to finally tap. A great showing from Wood, another prospect to keep an eye on.
Uriah Hall def. Bevon Lewis by Knock Out (punch) @ 1:32 of Round 3
This fight looked to be playing out like most of Hall's losing efforts, with him being outpaced by a more active opponent who applied constant pressure and avoided Hall's one-shot counters. Lewis came out fast to open the fight, but dialed things back when a finish was not forthcoming. Throughout the first 2 rounds, Hall was unable to land much of consequence and Lewis kept racking up landed shots. The fight changed in an instant, however, in the third, as Lewis threw a right-hand and ate a brutal counter uppercut that crumpled him to the mat. Marc Goddard waved off the fight before Hall could follow up with more shots, and Lewis was unconscious for quite a while. Hall continues to be a confounding fighter, but scored a devastating win tonight in a fight he was clearly losing.
Curtis Millender def. Siyar Bahadurzada by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
For the first two rounds, Millender did an excellent job of keeping Bahadurzada at range and avoiding the majority of his strikes whenever he would charge in, swinging like a madman. Bahadurzada was visibly irritated throughout the fight, and in the third round the two ended up exchanging a lot more than in the prior rounds. Millender was able to rock Bahadurzada and seemed very close to a finish until he got taken down. Millender was unable to stop any of Bahadurzada's takedown attempts in the previous rounds, but this time was able to reverse the position and end the round with top control. Millender looked really technical and composed, and I thought he took every round. Bahadurzada showcased a hell of a chin, but had no answer for Millender's management of distance.
Catchweight Fight (137 lbs)
Montel Jackson def. Brian Kelleher by Submission (D'Arce choke) @ 1:40 of Round 1
This was a really quick fight. Jackson was able to keep Kelleher at the end of his jab for the opening exchanges and then dropped him with an elbow to the side of the head during a clinch against the cage. Kelleher's legs gave out, and Jackson followed him to the mat with ground-and-pound. As Kelleher tried to get to his feet, Jackson quickly snatched a front headlock, transitioned to a D'Arce and forced a tap as his opponent was unable to circle out of the hold due to being pinned against the cage. A great showing for Jackson as he notches his first UFC — I can't wait to see him fight again.
Published: December 30th, 2018.