Fight Notes: UFC 235
UFC 235 was an interesting fight card, host to some awesome finishes, referee weirdness and a stunning upset in the co-main event. Both Herb Dean and Marc Goddard were having off nights, with the latter getting very impatient with fighters actively working in the clinch, and the former bungling a stoppage in the Lawler / Askren fight. Still, the event was very good and a massive improvement over the UFC's previous pay-per-view card. Here is how things went:
Light Heavyweight Title Fight
Jon Jones (C) def. Anthony Smith by Unanimous Decision (48-44, 48-44, 48-44)
The first round was tentative, but Jones easily won it with volume. The second saw Jones get busier, stinging Smith with kicks to the legs and body, and much cleaner punches than the winging shots he was throwing in the beginning of the fight. The third saw Jones hold Smith against the fence and beat him up before taking him down and finishing the round with Smith curled in a ball against the cage. The fourth was an outright mauling, but Jones hit Smith with an egregiously illegal knee while he was a downed opponent. Jones was inexplicably docked 2 points for the foul, but luckily Smith chose to let the fight continue. The fifth was more of the same, as Smith was unable to pull the trigger on anything and Jones kept landing strikes virtually at will. It wasn't Jones' flashiest performance, but it was a dominant title defence and a beatdown nonetheless. Credit to Smith for his durability and competent defence, he was supposed to be squashed in a few rounds and instead withstood the best Jones had to offer and at least made it to the score cards.
Welterweight Title Fight
Kamaru Usman def. Tyron Woodley (C) by Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-45)
Immediately, Usman began pressuring Woodley who was able to defend the takedowns but didn't get any offence of his own going. Woodley countered an early takedown with a guillotine attempt, which is always a terrible idea and it didn't pay off at all. In the second round, Usman landed a hard elbow as he broke from the clinch, took the champ down and spent the rest of the round smothering and beating Woodley up. To start the third, they clinched almost immediately and Usman landed 19 consecutive body shots. Usman held Woodley against the cage and peppered him with body punches and knees. Going into the championship rounds, Woodley was down at least 30-27, and more likely 30-26 due to a 10-8 second round. The fourth was another 10-8 round, with Usman rocking Woodley with punches and the two of them exchanging like madmen. The final round saw Usman continue to dominate Woodley, holding him against the fence before taking him down and mauling him on the ground some more. At no point did Woodley look to be in the right, as we was completely routed by Kamaru Usman.
Ben Askren def. Robbie Lawler by Technical Submission (bulldog choke) @ 3:20 of Round 1
Things got ridiculous almost right away, as Lawler reversed a takedown attempt and slammed Askren to the mat. Lawler then proceeded to blast Askren some some extremely heavy ground-and-pound, but Askren somehow managed to survive and get back to his feet. After holding Lawler against the cage and trying to secure a single-leg takedown, Lawler gave up his back in an attempt get away and Askren first went for a rear-naked choke and then switched to a bulldog choke. It appeared as though Lawler briefly went out, and Herb Dean called off the fight. In the replay, it seemed quite clear that Lawler wasn't out. Dean made a bad call, although it was somewhat understandable give the angle he saw things from. Still, a great fight was marred by an officiating error. The result should be overturned and they should run the fight back, in my opinion.
Women's Strawweight Fight
Weili Zhang def. Tecia Torres by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
I wasn't into this fight at all, and my attention wandered a lot. What I do recall was a spirited, albeit incredibly sloppy bunch of grappling exchanges which Zhang got the better of more often than not. I'm just going to assume the judges got the score right and move along; this fight wasn't truly terrible but I just couldn't keep focused on it. I think there were almsot a half-dozen head-and-arm throws, too. Torres was unable to adjust to anything Zhang was doing, which seems to be a consistent issue she has.
Pedro Munhoz def. Cody Garbrandt by KO (punches) @ 4:52 of Round 1
This was a fairly close fight until Garbrandt decided to just plant his feet and trade shots with Munhoz. Both fighters spent the final minute of the fight blasting each other with huge punches, though Garbrandt was just a split-second slower and it cost him dearly. Munhoz eventually cracked Garbrandt and spun him around as he fell to the ground. Munhoz then quickly pounced on his dazed opponent and put him out completely.
Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Jeremy Stephens by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
This fight was a lot more competitive than expected. Jeremy Stephens tried valiantly to pressure Zabit, but was whiffing on the majority of his punches throughout the fight. Zabit's footwork kept him safe while he accumulated a lot of body kicks and left-hand counters. Stephens' best round was the third, but he otherwise lost the fight due to Magomedsharipov's superior striking defence and wrestling. Stephens didn't get dominated, but he was always a few steps behind Zabit.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Johnny Walker def. Misha Cirkunov by TKO (flying knee and punches) @ 0:36 of Round 1
Walker, fighting for the second time in a month, managed to notch another ridiculously quick win. This time, Walker melted Misha Cirkunov with a flying knee and the follow-up punches that ensued as Cirkunov crumpled to the canvas. Walker's post-fight celebration seemed to do more damage to him than has last 2 fights combined...
Cody Stamman def. Alejandro Perez by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
This fight was a bit difficult to watch; a closely matched affair, Stamman was able to keep pressuring a tentative and low-output Perez for the first 2 rounds. Perez finally found some motivation in the final frame, but it wasn't enough to win the fight. I am not sure how one judge gave Stamman the last round, but the fight was low-stakes and unremarkable enough to not really warrant much additional thought.
Diego Sanchez def. Mickey Gall by TKO (punches) @ 4:13 of Round 2
Quite a surprise as Diego Sanchez showed there was still a little bit of gas left in the tank. Gall tried to swarm Sanchez early, but didn't manage to do a whole lot. He also seemed to tire himself very quickly, and Sanchez took him down and began sapping what remained of his stamina. Gall looked exhausted at the start of round 2, and Sanchez just pounced on him. By the midpoint of the round, it was such a one-sided fight that the towel really should have been thrown in. Instead, Sanchez beat Gall up for another 2 minutes before Marc Goddard finally intervened and stopped the fight. Gall looked terrible, I really don't think this is a sign that Sanchez' career is seeing a second — or possibly third — wind, but rather that Mickey Gall is not very good.
Fight Pass Prelims
Edmen Shahbazyan def. Charles Byrd by TKO (elbows and punches) @ 0:38 of Round 1
Byrd dove for a takedown and Shahbazyan just demolished him with a few elbows to the side of the head> Byrd slumped to the ground and Edmen only needed to land a few more cursory blows to earn a stoppage in his second UFC appearance. In two UFC appearances, Shahbazyan has a tough decision and a quick stoppage win under his belt — not bad for the Ronda Rousey-managed newcomer.
Women's Bantamweight Fight
Macy Chiasson def. Gina Mazany by TKO (punches) @ 1:49 of Round 1
This was short and sweet. After some brief exchanges on the feet, they ended up in a clinch battle against the fence. As Mazany tried to circle away after breaking the clinch, Chiasson followed her and landed a series of punches that dropped her to the mat. Chiasson followed-up with a flurry of undefended shots on the ground and the fight was over. I was a little surprised to hear it was announced as a TKO, Mazany looked completely out when she initially dropped. Ignoring that, Chiasson makes an impressive debut at 135 pounds after dropping down from featherweight.
Women's Strawweight Fight
Hannah Cifers def. Polyana Viana by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
A decent fight, Cifers was able to outwork Vianna over the course of 3 rounds. In the first, she reversed a heel-hook attempt into a lot of time in top position, dropped Viana later in the round and had her backing up most of the time they were on their feet. In the second, Viana had Cifers in her guard for quite a while, trying to make submission attempts, but nothing really came of it. The third was a fairly close stand-up fight and ended with both women standing in front of each other and throwing with reckless abandon — it was pretty cool. I gave Cifers rounds 1 and 3. It seems like 2 of the judges agreed with me.
Published: March 3rd, 2019.