Fight Notes: UFC 236
Live from Atlanta, Georgia, UFC 236 delivered a few lows but was capped off with some spectacular MMA action. The main and co-main events delivered some of the best fights I've seen in recent memory. The preliminary bouts were a mixed bag but none of that really matters because of how good the 2 title fights were. Here's how the night went:
The pay-per-view card kicked off with a quintessential light heavyweight fight between Nikita Krylov and Ovince Saint-Preux. After a really sloppy grappling battle throughout the first round, OSP seemed exhausted for the second round and was lit up on the feet, taken down and submitted in a fight he seemed assured to win. OSP's fall from grace continues, while Krylov — a personal favourite of mine — gets a much needed win in what was a very dubious rematch.
Alan Jouban and Dwight Grant sucked all the air out of the room as they waged a low output, low action fight that I'm not going to need much help purging from memory. Grant narrowly edged out a split decision in a fight that does nothing for either's fighter's stock. This was followed by Khalil Rountree decimating Eryk Anders for their whole fight, including scoring 4 knockdowns in the second frame. Anders' corner, the referee and ringside physician all dropped the ball in letting Anders come out for the third round. Rountree looked excellent, but it's hard to gague what that means given how limited his opponent has turned out to be.
The co-main event ended up being an insanely entertaining fight, with Kelvin Gastelum hanging with Israel Adesanya on the feet for much of the fight. Kelvin managed to drop Adesanya a couple of times, with a punch and a surprising head kick. Going into the final round, I had things tied; Adesanya was able to slowly assert himself as the fight progressed, while Kelvin enjoyed a lot of early success but lost momentum as the fight entered the championship rounds. The fifth was a big showing from Adesanya, as he rallied back and battered Gastelum to the point where the referee should have stepped in but didn't. Israel Adesanya appears to be the real deal.
Somehow, the main event was just as violent and engaging as the previous fight. Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway went to war, with the latter getting battered throughout, accumulating a lot of facial swelling and an enormous forehead cut that was spraying blood for almost half the fight. Holloway absorbed a lot of punishment but was undetered, managing flurries pf offence as Poirier tired from the frantic pace they'd been keeping. It was really hard to score the rounds, so I didn't bother. All 3 judges gave Poirier 4 rounds, which I think is wrong, but I still had him winning. Holloway put in an incredible performance as well, it just wasn't enough.
- Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
- Israel Adesanya def. Kelvin Gastelum by Unanimous Decision ()
- Khalil Rountree def. Eryk Anders by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Dwight Grant def. Alan Jouban by Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
- Nikita Krylov def. Ovince Saint-Preux by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:30 of Round 2
After some underwhelming early prelims, the rest of the under card got things back on track as Khalid Taha annihilated Boston Salmon in a 25-second KO victory. Up next was another violent battle, as Max Griffin and Zelim Imadaev traded hard punches and wrestled quite a bit. I was surprised to see the referee, George Allen, deduct a point for 2 consective cage-grabs from Imadaev — pleasantly surprised, that is. I thought Imadaev clearly won the last 2 rounds, making the fight a draw but only one judge agreed and Griffin won a majority decision.
The violent streak continued as flyweight prospect Alexandre Pantoja only needed just under 2.5 minutes to dispatch veteran Wilson Reis. After dropping Reis with a stiff, straight right-hand, he followed up with uncontested ground-and-pound which forced referee Jason Herzog to intervene. Pantoja continues to live up to the hype while Reis likely bought himself a ticket to free agency, now standing at 1-4 in his last 5 fights — an in a division the UFC is quietly erasing by cutting the loser of each bout.
One of the few fights I was specifically looking forward to, Jalin Turner versus Matt Frevola was really fun to watch. They both traded takedowns and submission attempts, although at no point did either of them look to be on the verge of securing a tap. I felt Frevola did slightly more in the first 2 rounds, and since he managed to avoid a point deduction for an obviously illegal upkick, I gave him the fight 29-28. The judges agreed with me on the winner, but unanimous awarded Frevola all 3 rounds. I couldn't get over how massive Turner is at lightweight and wonder how long he'll continue to be able to make weight. I also wonder if Turner will ever figure out how to use his ridiculous size advantage...
- Matt Frevola def. Jalin Turner by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alexandre Pantoja def. Wilson Reis by TKO (punches) @ 2:28 of Round 1
- Max Griffin def. Zelim Imadaev by Majority Decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
- Khalid Taha def. Boston Salmon by KO (punches) @ 0:25 of Round 1
Fight Pass Prelims
The early prelims were mostly not great. The opener was a nice round-and-change of violence, as Brandon Davis pieced up a debutting Randy Costa and choked him out early in the second round. Things slowed down considerably as Poliana Botelho and Lauren Mueller logged 3 sloppy rounds of middling WMMA action. Montel Jackson turned in 3 very one-sided rounds as he rolled over Andre Soukhamthath, notching a solid win but one far less violent than the 6:1 odds would lead one to expect. Finally, welterweight prospect Curtis Millender had a good opening round against Belal Muhammad but got taken down and abused for the next 2 frames. I was happy to see Muhammad get back in the win column but the whole set of early prelims were mostly forgettable.
- Belal Muhammad def. Curtis Millender by Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-26)
- Montel Jackson def. Andre Soukhamthath by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
- Poliana Botelho def. Lauren Mueller by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Brandon Davis def. Randy Costa by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:12 of Round 2
Mediocre early prelims were redeemed by the rest of the under card. The pay-per-view was unremarkable until we got a pair of Fight Of The Year contenders in the main and co-main events. I have to give this an A grade just based on that alone.
Published: April 14th, 2019.