Fight Notes: UFC 247
The UFC's second pay-per-view offering of the year was very light on name value, but provided a thoroughly entertaining night of fights. The main event ended in a highly controversial decision, and the Texas judges were an issue all night — not that this commission hasn't been a running joke in the MMA world for some time. We got some good fights, noteworthy finishes and 2 champions retained their titles, although only one should have.
Kicking off the pay-per-view main card, Illir Latifi made his heavyweight debut in a comedically typical fight for the division. Latifi was able to survive an early flying knee from Lewis, work a clinch and takedown-heavy game that stifled a lot of Lewis' game. Latifi's cardio was actually good at heavyweight, and his chin seemed improved as well. Lewis was able to steal the final round and easily took the first. It's a little strange that Lewis had so much trouble with a blown-up 205'er, but maybe Latifi's wrestling is viable at heavyweight. I thought Latifi should have taken the win due to his successful wrestling and control in an otherwise very close fight.
Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige had a really fun fight where Ige clearly dominated the stand-up but was, for the most part, rendered purely defensive by the ground game. Bektic survived a bad first round to dominate the second and log a lot of control time. The third was a good round for Ige, who again landed some goof shot, but Bektic dragged the fight to the mat in the final minute. The fairest score would be a draw, but the Texas judges were split and gave Ige the nod. 29-28 Ige is not absurd, so I'll say this was probably — within the specific ruleset being used — a correct score, but I still argue it was a draw and a very good fight.
Juan Adams, a warm body even Greg Hardy was able to dispatch with ease, was annihilated by Justin Tafa in under 2 minutes. A flurry of punches, including a spot-on uppercut were all she wrote after a brief exchange. I have nothing against Adams personally, but he is nowhere near a UFC calibre fighter. Justin Tafa himself is only 4-1 after this, but seems to have a good set of hands at least.
The co-main event was a completely one-sided affair. Valentina Shevchenko took a little bit of time to settle in, but was able to maintain her desired range and chew up Katlyn Chookagian's lead leg with kicks, and tag her with punches. Chookagian was unable to solve Shevchenko's defence, got taken down and mauled in the final minute of the first round. Just as the round ended, Shevchenko threw an elbow that slashed Chookagian's head open, just above her left eye. The second round was another route, as Shevchenko peppered her opponent with kicks and punches. In the third, Shevchenko quickly took an advancing Chookagian down, moved into crucifix position and earned a TKO via unanswered elbows and punches.
Dominick Reyes wasted no time, trying to make the most of his time in the cage with Jon Jones. Reyes easily took the first round, closing distance and landing leg kicks and punches. Reyes even briefly dropped Jones in the first, and followed that round up with another solid showing in the second. Jones did well to keep pressuring Reyes throughout the whole fight, and the third round was tough to call. The fourth was easily a Jones round and the fifth, while close, was one I scored for Jon as well. A 48-47 card, either way, was totally fair but somehow, in awarding Jones the win, one judge had it 49-46 for Jones — which is fucking ridiculous. Reyes fought a very good fight, though I think Jones will prevail even more decisively in the likely rematch.
- Jon Jones def. Dominick Reyes by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
- Valentina Shevchenko def. Katlyn Chookagian by TKO (elbows and punches) @ 1:03 of Round 3
- Justin Tafa def. Juan Adams by KO (punches) @ 1:59 of Round 1
- Dan Ige def. Mirsad Bektic by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Derrick Lewis def. Ilir Latifi by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The TV prelims continued the violent streak that began at the end of the early bouts, as Mario Bautista flattened Miles Johns 1:41 into the second frame after a tentative opening round from both. Bautista landed a brutal jump knee that connected perfectly on Johns' chin, and swarmed him with punches before he could recover.
Up next, Khaos Williams (yes, you're reading that name properly) dropped Alex Morono early and flurried him with a series of unanswered shots that ended the fight in just 27 seconds. Another solid UFC debut on this card, as Khaos Williams serves notice to the welterweight division that he has arrived.
Women's flyweights Lauren Murphy and Andrea Lee began their fight with a violent first round featured little in the way of defence. Both women tattooed each other's faces with punches, though Lee accumulated more volume. Murphy's jab just could not miss and she landed some good counter shots. Lee landed a clearly illegal knee at the end of the first, which went completely ignored by the referee. The second round was more of the same; both women just unloaded on each other. Lee kept up her higher striking volume, but Murphy secured takedowns near the end of both rounds. The third was also close, with Lee fighting for an anaconda choke before being reversed by Murphy. The judges were split and Murphy got the nod, including a baffling 30-27 score — most likely from a judge Joe Rogan called out for not even watching the fight. I personally had Lee winning the fight 29-28.
Closing out the prelims was a fun fight between Trevin Giles and James Krause, the latter being as last-minute of a replacement as it gets. Krause initially came to corner opening bout fighter Youssef Zalal and ended up getting licenced and fighting Trevin Giles on 24 hours notice when Antonio Arroyo was hospitalised and could not compete. Krause had a great opening round, avoiding wild strikes from Giles and taking his back. Krause spent most of round 1 fishing for rear-naked chokes, with Giles reversing the position in the final moments. Krause was largely spent by the second round, and Giles landed some hard shots that had visible effect. Krause barely survived until the third, but ended up having a bit more energy than Giles. Still, the actual middleweight was able to land the more significant strikes and took down a close, split decision win. Credit to Krause for doing as well as he did with no training camp and zero advance notice.
- Trevin Giles def. James Krause by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lauren Murphy def. Andrea Lee by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Khaos Williams def. Alex Morono by KO (punches) @ 0:27 of Round 1
- Mario Bautista def. Miles Johns by TKO (knee and punches) @ 1:41 of Round 2
The show opened with a solid featherweight battle between Youssef Zalal and Austin Lingo. The former swept each round with a combination of fast footwork, takedowns and submission attempts. What little striking took place heavily favoured Zalal, who countered well and kept Lingo pushing forward and mostly swinging at air. A great debut showing from Zalal, who hands Lingo his first professional loss.
Next was a great bantamweight scrap between Jonathan Martinez and Andre Ewell. After hurting Ewell early with a body kick, Martinez ended up dropping the first round after his opponent weathered an early storm and then taking over the striking exchanges. Ewell looked to be well in control of the second round when Martinez began to accumulate significant damage on Ewell's lead right leg. Martinez arguably stole the second round, hurting Ewell and closing the wide strike differential in the final minute-plus. The third saw Ewell in a very defensive posture, hiding a damaged right arm and cedeing what was still a close round. The judges were split, and Ewell won, although he was awarded an indefensible 30-27 score by one judge.
The final early prelim was a quick and violent alteraction. Domingo Pilarte went right after Journey Newson, briefly staggering him with a headkick before he got a right jab countered with a devastating counter-right that dropped him. Newson pounced on a dazed Pilarte and quickly finished him off with a short flurry of punches.
- Journey Newson def. Domingo Pilarte by TKO (punches) @ 0:38 of Round 1
- Andre Ewell def. Jonathan Martinez by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Youssef Zalal def. Austin Lingo by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
On paper, this was a really weak offering but UFC 247 ended up being really entertaining, with a solid undercard and a pay-per-view section that delivered dominance and intrigue in equal measure. This doesn't excuse fight cards with weak name value, but the UFC prevailed with a roster that exceeded all expectations significantly.
Published: February 9th, 2020.