Fight Notes: UFC 237
A violent night of action, UFC 237 saw a trio of veteran fighters rack up losses, and a new champion crowned in supremely brutal fashion. In a vacuum, this was a great event, but as a tenured MMA fan it was very bittersweet to see BJ Penn, Lil Nog, Jose Aldo and Anderson Silva drop fights on their home turf. Aside from Aldo, the fight card featured mostly faded Brazilian names, leading to a series of losses for hometown fighters.
The pay-per-view began with a catchweight fight between Irene Aldana and Bethe Correia. I was really distracted during this fight, and only remember the finish and that I had Aladana handily winning the fight before she was able to submit Correia in the second half of the third round. Back-to-back losses for Brazilian fighters didn't play too well with the crowd.
Thiago Alves continued the Brazilian home team's losing skid, getting outpointed by newcomer Laureanno Staropoli. Not much to say about this one, Alves was a step behind the whole fight and never got into any sort of offensive rhythm. Fighters nicknamed "Pitbull" go 0-2 on the evening.
Things didn't get any better as the legendary Jose Aldo was smothered and outworked by rising contender Alexander Volkanovski. At best, you could give Aldo the first round as it was incredibly close, but that's it. Volkanovski did spend a lot of time holding Aldo against the fence, but when he wasn't doing that he was the one pressing forward and landing more strikes. Volkanovski looks to be the real deal, and makes a strong case for a title shot or contendership fight. Aldo looked great in his last 2 fights, but hit a wall this time out. Aldo wasn't severely outclassed but he lacked urgency and couldn't keep Volkanovski from dictating the pace and location of the fight.
Somehow, the MMA gods found a way to make the night even more of a downer as Anderson Silva was crumpled to the mat with a leg kick at the end of the first round. Jared Cannonier was holding his own against the same, tentative Anderson we've seen in recent years, and landed a kick flush on Silva's right knee and that was all she wrote. Silva cried out in pain and the referee called off the fight. We'll see what the extent of the damage is, but it didn't look good at all. At first, I thought he had broken his leg again, but thankfully that wasn't the case. I'm even less comfortable with seeing Silva continue to fight after this.
Rose Namajunas looked to be working her way towards either a shutout decision win or, possibly, even a stoppage over Jessica Andrade. Namajunas easily won the first round, picking her opponent apart at range and staggering her. Andrade was busted up after the first, and looked to be unable to do anything except lunge forward and wing shots, hoping to land something. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, a tie-up lead to Andrade slamming Rose right on her head, knocking her out cold. It was a sudden and extremely violent KO, and the replay was a little hard to watch. Namajunas seemed to be okay after waking up, despite landing right on her neck.
Credit to Andrade for refusing to be detered, despite Namajunas' excellent use of range and her relentless, pinpoint jab. Post-fight, Rose almost seemed relieved to no longer by champion. I've seen people already making argument about a rematch, as this was some sort of "fluke" outcome but that may not be something she even wants.
- Jessica Andrade def. Rose Namajunas by Knock Out (slam) @ 2:48 of Round 2
- Jared Cannonier def. Anderson Silva by Technical Knock Out (leg kick) @ 4:47 of Round 1
- Alexander Volkanovski def. Jose Aldo by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Laureanno Staropoli def. Thiago Alves by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Irene Aldana def. Bethe Correia by Submission (armbar) @ 3:24 of Round 3
The prelims opened with the shell of BJ Penn getting soundly outworked for 3 rounds by Clay Guida, a fighter that prime Penn would have annihilated within a round. Penn looked decent, considering his most recent performances, but faded after the first round as Guida blasted him with kicks to his lead leg and accumulated striking volume. Guida took the decision win in a fight that was sad more than anything else.
In the second televised preliminary bout, Warlley Alves demolished Sergio Moraes over the course of 3 rounds. Alves shredded Moraes left leg with kicks and outstruck him at range. Moraes was barely able to stay on his feet by the end of the third round and was swarmed and finished with a flying knee followed by an uppercut that put him out cold. Easily the best performance of Alves' career while Moraes racks up another loss in a fight he looked flustered and discouraged throughout.
Thiago Moises and Kurt Holobaugh had a really fun fight that went all 3 rounds. Moises had a perfect gameplan, outstriking, wrestling and outgrappling Holobaugh for the majority of the fight. On Twitter, I called Holobaugh the modern day John Alessio and, sadly, he's now 0-3 in the promotion despite being a very good fighter with a lot of heart. Moises was on point, though, and deserved the unanimous decision nod.
The featured prelim was a grim affair, as we witnessed a 43-year-old Antonio Rogerio Nogueira get flatlined by a relative unknown in Ryan Spann. It was as depressing as it was expected; as dismal as the light heavyweight division is, a 43-year-old Lil Nog just can't compete — there are far too many miles on him at this point. I would hope Nogueira retires at this point, but that means I'll probably see him in Bellator within the year...
- Ryan Spann def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by Knock Out (punches) @ 2:07 of Round 1
- Thiago Moises def. Kurt Holobaugh by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Warlley Alves def. Sergio Moraes by Knock Out (punch) @ 4:14 of Round 3
- Clay Guida def. BJ Penn by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Fight Pass Prelims
Things kicked off perfectly, with UFC newcomer Viviane Aruajo turning in a highlight reel-worthy KO as she slept Talita Bernardo in the third round of their fight. Aruajo, who normally competes at strawweight, outstruck Bernardo throughout the fight and finished things with an overhand right counter. Debuts don't get much better than this: fighting up 2 weight classes, and notching a brutal KO win in a nearly flawless performance.
Next, the men's bantamweight division delivered some violence of its own. Raoni Barcelos needed a round to figure out fellow newcomer Carlos Huachin, taking him down in the second and bludgeoning his way to a stoppage in the final seconds of the round. The stoppage was questionable, as Huachin was defending himself, but I don't think it was egregious and the fighter himself offered no protest.
Closing out the early prelims were womens flyweights Priscila Cachoeira and the debuting Luana Carolina. The former spent the bulk of the fight plodding after her opponent, getting pieced-up in the process and even dropped with a headkick in the second round. Cachoeira showed a amazing durability and very sound grappling defence but was ultimately outclassed over the course of a one-sided, three-round beatdown.
- Luana Carolina def. Priscila Cachoeira by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
- Raoni Barcelos def. Carlos Huachin by Technical Knock Out (punches and elbows) @ 4:49 of Round 2
- Viviane Aruajo def. Talita Bernardo by Knock Out (punch)
This was a solid, B+ show. There were some outcomes I didn't care for, as a fan, but otherwise the event delivered good fights, save for the further decline of BJ Penn and Anderson Silva losing via knee injury.
Published: May 12th, 2019.