Fight Notes: UFC 240
On paper, UFC 240 looked like a hard sell as a pay-per-view. Aside from the title fight in the main event, and the potential to see Cris Cyborg demolish some hapless victim, the fight card offered little in terms of name value or intrigue. What we got was a mixture of forgettable fights and some impressive moments. The pay-per-view side of the card was rocky, and really did not live up to tempered expectations. There were flashes of excitement and a lot of lulls.
The opening fight of the pay-per-view was a complete chore. Krzysztof Jotko won a plodding, tedious decision over Marc-Andre Barriault. I have nothing further to add to this, I'm just glad to have this fight slowly fading in my rear-view mirror. Prior to the fight, Joe Rogan noted that the middleweight division has been on fire. I'd argue that it's been closer to a burning pile of damp leaves and hair but something is indeed burning.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Arman Tsarukyan gave us another 3 rounds of clinch-heavy tedium, with a sparing few moments of excitement such as when Aubin-Mercier staggered Tsarukyan briefly in the second, and a couple of escapes from the grappling exchanges. The fight was just not very fun, and another weak showing on the pay-per-view side of the fight card. These last 2 fights were a brutal indictment of the current state of Canadian MMA at the highest level.
Things picked up with the welterweight tilt between Niko Price and Geoff Neal. The first round was an intense brawl, culminating in a double knockdown that lead to Price getting top position for most of the round, only to be swept by Neale in the final minute. The second round picked up where things left off, only Neal was able to batter Price from full guard, eventually doing enough damage to warrant a TKO stoppage. Geoff Neal is a serious prospect at 170 pounds.
The co-main event delivered some surprises, although Cris Cyborg did prevail over her significant underdog opponent. Still, Felicia Spencer showed an impressive chin — taking Cyborg's best shots in stride — and gave the former featherweight champion some difficulty in the clinch. Everyone expected a one-sided murder, but instead we saw Spencer prove to be one of the toughest human beings on the planet. Still, Cyborg took each round, even notching a 10-8 (on my card) in the third. A good return to form, after a violent upset at the hands of Amanda Nunes. Meanwhile, Felicia Spencer is someone to keep an eye on moving forward.
The main event didn't quite deliver the expected level of violence, though it was still a good fight in many respects. Max Holloway was simply too smooth for Frankie Edgar, shucking off every takedown attempt, save for one. The only round that was close was the first, but I still gave all of them to Holloway. Edgar's speed was sufficient to make Holloway a lot more hesitant than usual, but not enough to keep him from pressuring for the entirety of the fight. Holloway outlanded Edgar, dishing out the most significant strikes of the fight, and took down a hard earned unanimous decision. I have serious questions about how one judge had it 48-47 Holloway, but whatever...
- Max Holloway def. Frankie Edgar by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47)
- Cris Cyborg def. Felicia Spencer by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Geoff Neal def. Niko Price by TKO (punches) @ 2:39 of Round 2
- Arman Tsarukyan def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
- Krzysztof Jotko def. Marc-Andre Barriault by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The prelims kicked off with a bang, as Deiveson Figueiredo and Alexandre Pantoja waged a war throughout all 3 rounds of their fight. This one had everything, firefights, clinching, wrestling, ground scrambles and really highlighted the athleticism of the flyweight divison. It's too bad 125 is basically crumbling away, as the UFC sheds more and more flyweights without making any moves to replace them. Pantoja looked good, but a little rough — and utterly fearless. Deiveson was just a little better everywhere, dropping Pantoja and controlling the majority of the fight. An early contender for Fight Of The Night.
Up next, Gavin Tucker spent 2 rounds mauling Seung Woo Choi with a strategy heavy on clinching and takedowns. For whatever reason, Tucker decided to throw a clearly illegal knee at Choi, while he was a downed opponent. This cost Tucker a point, which meant the fight was most likely a draw going into the final round. Tucker seemed enervated by this, and put his pedal on the gas, eventually taking Choi down, mounting him — forcing Choi to surrender his back — and locking up a rear-naked choke in short order. Tucker looked really good, a stark contrast to the pasting Rick Glenn gave him in his last fight, 22 months ago.
The next fight took a while to get going, as Hakeem Dawodu seemed content to just follow a 100% defensive Yoshinori Horie as he moved almost exclusively backwards while throwing almost no strikes. This got pretty grating over the course of 2 rounds, but Dawodu was undeterred and was able to put offence together in the third. Horie slowed significantly and Dawodu burned him down with knees to the body before finally dropping him with a headkick which prompted the referee to wave the fight off. A frustrating fight with a satisfying ending.
The featured prelim saw women's MMA veteran Alexis Davis get pieced up by Viviane Araujo for the bulk of 3 rounds. Davis had moments of success, such as when she secured a takedown and some top control time in the second round, but she was visibly battered throughout the fight. By the third round, Davis' face was a mess and she kept eating punches while failing to take down a visibly exausted opponent. Aruajo took the third, and won 29-28 in my books.
- Viviane Araujo def. Alexis Davis by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Hakeem Dawodu def. Yoshinori Horie by TKO (head kick) @ 4:09 of Round 3
- Gavin Tucker def. Seung Woo Choi by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 3:17 of Round 3
- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Alexandre Pantoja by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Fight Pass Prelims
In the opening fight of the show, Erik Koch made his welterweight debut after an 18-month layoff. Kyle Stewart put up a good fight over the course of 3 rounds, but was overwhelmed by the clinch-heavy strategy of Koch. The constant grappling took its toll; by the latter half of the second round, Koch was able to get Stewart down and maul him. The process continued through the third, with Koch ending the round in full mount, raining punches down. It was a solid win for Koch, who began his UFC tenure at featherweight, even if it wasn't the most thrilling fight to watch.
The second early prelim saw Gillian Robertson opt to battle Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Sarah Frota on the mat, a plan which ended up proving quite successful. Frota was initially able to defend very well, throwing up inverted triangle attempts and keeping Robertson on the defensive immediately after securing takedowns. But Gillian's defence held up and Frota tired from the pace. In the second round, Robertson took Frota down again and bludgeoned her with ground-and-pound to secure her first T/KO win. Robertson looks promising at flyweight.
- Gillian Robertson def. Sarah Frota by TKO (punches) @ 4:13 of Round 2
- Erik Koch def. Kyle Stewart by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Decent early prelims, good televised prelims — including the absurd clash between Alexandre Pantoja and Deiveson Figueiredo — and a rough pay-per-view main card add up to a C-level show. UFC 240 had a lot of flaws, but still ended up delivering some fun moments. Overall, not a great show.
Published: July 28th, 2019.