Fight Notes: UFC 245
The UFC's final pay-per-view card of the year happened to conflict with a Christmas party I attended, so my observations are from seeing a portion of the main card as it unfolded and watching what I missed over the course of the following days. Considering how long the main card ran — almost until 2:00AM EST — this seemed like a wise decision in hindsight. The event was great, though, and UFC 245 was a strong night for young prospects.
A returning Urijah Faber showed a lot of toughness in a rough, one-sided loss to Piotr Yan. From the opening bell, Yan had Faber backing up and reacting to every feint he threw. They exchanged hard shots, but Yan no-sold all of them and landed hard return fire. The second round was even worse, as Yan dropped Faber with a standing elbow, punches, and badly damaged his right eye. Somehow Faber survived to the third round, but was quickly finished him with a sneaky head-kick. A signature win for Yan and a brutal setback for Faber after a quick win over Ricky Simon in the first fight of his comeback tour.
Debuting at bantamweight, Jose Aldo looked better than I expected. Marlon Moraes came out throwing a lot of kicks, and staggered Aldo twice in the opening round. Aldo showed a sturdy chin and good conditioning, going all 3 rounds with Moraes. The second round was clearly Aldo's, as he was landing more — and not just backing Moraes up, like he'd done throughout the first. The third was a really, really close fight, with both having success in the stand-up and Moraes also secured a takedown near the very end of the fight. The judges were split, but awarded it to Marlon Moraes. I had it a draw, with Moraes taking the first, Aldo the second, and the final round being a draw. Aldo looked pretty good, but the weight cut is still concerning; I'd love to know what Aldo actually weighed in the cage.
The first of the fight card's 3 title fights saw Amanda Nunes have to dig deep though 5 rounds. At first, it looked like we were on our way to yet another violent stoppage for the champ, but Germaine De Randamie was able to survive a 10-8 first round. In the second, Nunes mixed in some takedowns once GDR started landing punches and clinch knees. Nunes attempted an arm triangle, but GDR was able to survive somehow. The third was another one-sided round, but Nunes was stunned by an upkick briefly. In the fourth round both fighters were tired, and De Randamie very nearly caught Nunes in a triangle / armbar choke, but was unable to pull it off. For the remainder of the fight, Nunes kept De Randamie on the mat and maintained top position. The fight petered out near the end, but Nunes showed impressive conditioning and proved she's capable of more than just quick, vicious KOs. If GDR had better grappling, she may have pulled off a huge upset.
In the co-main event, Max Holloway ended up getting soundly outboxed by Alexander Volkanovski. I figured that he had it in him, but he would need more time to develop his game. Not so much. Volkanovski battered the champ's legs with kicks, forcing him to switch stances often, and showcased an amazing boxing game. Max's propensity for volume and stalking his opponents was completely neutralised as Volkanovski kept him guessing with feints and superior footwork. The only round I scored for Holloway was the fourth, in which he managed to put together his punches and back Volkanovski up. But that was it, as the challenger resumed his domination in the final round, earning a unanimous decision win and becoming the new featherweight champion. Volkanovski's performance was exemplary, his win over Jose Aldo proved he was a very good striker, but this is incredible — besting Aldo and Holloway, in back-to-back fights is absurd.
The main event ended up being one of those fights where a pair of wrestlers end up having a kickboxing match. It was a lot more nuanced and fast-paced than you'd expect, and Kamaru Usman showed a very sharp stand-up game. Colby Covington was initially able to fluster Usman take the first round in my opinion. The fight was very close, and Colby's stand-up has looked better each time out, and this was no exception. Usman was able to figure him out, though, and put an early emphasis on body shots that really began to pay off in the later rounds. Colby actually began to tire, something we've not seen before, and Usman took full advantage. By the fifth round, Colby was marked up and fading pretty badly. Usman's cardio seemed endless, and he put a beating on Colby, blasting him with right hands, eventually dropping him and pounding him out for a very late TKO win. If the fight had not been stopped, that was a 10-8 round for the defending champion. Both fighters looked good, but Usman was on another level tactically.
- Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington by TKO (punches) @ 4:10 of Round 5
- Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 50-45)
- Amanda Nunes def. Germaine De Randamie by Unanimous Decision (49-44, 49-46, 49-45)
- Marlon Moraes def. Jose Aldo by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Petr Yan def. Urijah Faber by TKO (head kick) @ 0:43 of Round 3
Matt Brown and Ben Saunders, both long-time UFC veterans, had a bit of a throwback fight. Saunders held Brown in a triangle attempt for several minutes, and then transitioned to rubber guard and for a while. Brown was slowly able to advance position, and land a few ground strikes. The second round was briefly spent standing, until Brown used a bodylock to take the fight to the ground. Saunders, again, spent a lot of time using a defensive guard, but seemed to be tiring. Brown was eventually able to get through with punches on the ground and KO a fading Saunders with only a few well placed shots. A successful return for Brown and yet another KO loss for Saunders,
Omari Akhmedov and Ian Heinisch had a grindy, back-and-forth 3-rounder. Heinisch seemed really outgunned throughout the first, but rallied back over the next 2 rounds. Akhmedov remained dangerous, however, landing a lot of hard right hooks and stopping Heinisch from gathering momentum. It was a wrestling-heavy fight, and Akhmedov took the decision, but it was a good effort from both — and especially decent for a middleweight bout.
Irene Aldana and Ketlen Vierra looked to be settling in to a kickboxing match in 4-ounce gloves until Aldana flattened Vierra with a left hook. A couple of hard follow-up punches were all it took to end a fight that looked very competitive until the finish materialised out of nowhere. Aldana looked really sharp, and Vierra was competitive until the sudden ending.
Geoff Neal needed a minute-and-a-half to stagger Mike Perry with a pair of head kicks, follow him to the wall of the cage and melt him with punches. A savage win for a rising prospect and another harsh setback for Perry, who was trying to bounce back from a loss to Vicente Luque in August.
- Geoff Neal def. Mike Perry by TKO (head kick and punches) @ 1:30 of Round 1
- Irene Aldana def. Ketlein Viera by KO (punches) @ 4:51 of Round 1
- Omari Akhmedov def. Ian Heinisch by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Matt Brown def. Ben Saunders by KO (elbow and punches) @ 4:55 of Round 2
The opening fight between Sorriano and Oskar Piechota was short and extremely violent. After exchaging big hooks early, Piechota got dropped and swarmed on. Piechota was able to recover, use a kimura to get back to his feet, where they resumed throwing down. Piechota got backed against the cage and utterly separated from consciousness by a huge right hand that spun him around. Great showing for Sorriano; rough setback for Piechota.
Viviane Arujao and Jessica Eye had a fun, back-and-forth fight. Aside from a couple of takedowns, which didn't lead to much offence as Eye got back to her feet fairly quick, it was a closely contested kickboxing match. Eye threw a lot of heavy, winging shots that missed a lot, but found success with leg kicks and body shots that got more voluminous in the later half of the fight. Eye won a unanimous decision, although she did miss weight — coming in 4 pounds over the bantamweight limit — and brings the win record of fighters missing weight up to something like 90% for the year.
Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France was nuts. The first round was all Kara-France, landing a straight right over and over. After that, however, Moreno just took over the fight. Moreno's output increased significantly, he began leading, and began to land combinations to the head and big single shots to the body. Kara-France remained competitive, but was thoroughly outstruck over rounds 2 and 3. A great fight and excellent return for Moreno.
Chase Hooper and Daniel Teymur was just under a round and really tense. Hooper shot for a takedown early and ended up stuck in what looked like a tight guillotine choke, but he managed to escape and then begin a process of mauling Teymur with submission attempts. After taking Teymur's back, he came very close to choking him out with an impressively tight rear-naked choke. Teymur survived the choke only to end up mounted, in a triangle, being bludgeoned with elbows and punches and forcing a stoppage. Hooper is vicious.
- Chase Hooper def. Daniel Teymur by TKO (elbows) @ 4:34 of Round 1
- Brandon Moreno def. Kai Kara-France by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jessica Eye def. Viviane Arujao by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Sorriano def. Oskar Piechota by KO (punch) @ 3:17 of Round 1
A really good pay-per-view to end off the year. The card had a good mix of quality match-ups, easily an A-level show. My only complaint is that it ran really long, a result of running 3 title fights that all managed to either go to decision or — as in the case of the main event — end in the final minutes of the 5th round.
Published: December 18th, 2019.