Fight Notes: UFC 250
The Pandemic Era continues apace, as UFC 250 was successfully staged in the UFC's Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The lack of the crowd and the smaller venue took some of the shine off of the event; UFC pay-per-views, in normal conditions, always have an element of grandeur to then. Even the rescheduled UFC 249 took place in an arena, even though it had no crowd. UFC 250 felt much more like a finale for The Ultimate Fighter or some new Fight Pass product. This is a very minor aesthetic detail, but a noticeable one nonetheless.
Despite not boasting much in the way of star power, the show delivered a pretty entertaining set of the fights. I have some complaints about the main event, and I will elaborate on them in an edition of Post-Fight Thoughts in the next few days. As far as pay-per-view line-ups go, this one was sorely lacking. By the standards of a typical Fight Night or UFC On ESPN show, this was a geat offering but for $65 during a pandemic? Not so much; I am curious to see what the reported buyrate for this show is.
Sean O'Malley snatched WEC vet Eddie Wineland's soul in just under 2 minutes. A sneaky right-hand shot put Wineland down so assertively. O'Malley safely walked off in highlight reel fashion. This was a showcase fight and it couldn't have gone better, Wineland is a tough out — albeit one lacking any sort of head movement — and O'Malley made it look easy. Post-MMAlone looks like he's got some real superstar potential.
Welterweights Neil Magny and Tony Martin turned in a tough, grindy battle. Martin barely won the first round on my scorecard, but I had Magny winning the next 2 rounds. There weren't any close finishing moments, but there was a lot of clinching and non-stop pressure. Magny just wore Martin down and was dominating by the close of the third round. Magny remains underrated, while this appears to be in line with Martin's ceiling in the UFC. They kept talking about someone named "Rocco," but I have no idea who that was — Tony's brother, maybe.
Aljamain Sterling immediately took Cory Sandhagen down, secured his back with the hooks and choked him unconscious. Total one-way traffic, with the fight ending a shade under 90 seconds. A phenomenal performance for a legitimate prospect who has been, thus far, kept out of the title picture for unknown reasons. Petr Yan and Sterling should be the ones fighting for the vacant bantamweight title next.
The co-main event saw another WEC veteran matched up with a dangerous representative of the new generation of MMA. The first round saw a much more mature and composed Garbrandt keep Raphael Assuncao at range, effectively countering him well placed punches. The round felt fairly even, albeit with Garbrandt showing a significant speed advantage and landing better quality shots. Then, right at the bell to end the round, Garbrandt backed against the cage, ducked, and flatlined a charging Assuncao with a highlight reel right hook that could very well be the KO Of The Year. Assuncao spun around and faceplanted on the canvas, out cold. It's hard to say if Cody Garbrandt has truly evolved as a fighter, although he did look improved if only for 5 minutes. Raphael Assuncao, unfortunately, continues a losing skid and racks up another brutal KO loss in his late 30s.
The event could have ended right now, and it would have been a great show. Instead, the main event consisted of Amanda Nunes beating Felicia Spencer like an insolent sibiling. After 4 rounds of moderate action, all of which was one-way traffic, Nunes got more vicious and broke open a large hematoma on Spencer's forehead and lacerated her severely bruised face in several other places. Spencer never put together anything resembling effective offence and spent 25 minutes at the mercy of Amanda Nunes. While Spencer's ability to withstand the punishment doled out by Nunes, the negligence displayed by her corner — who gave her ridiculous advice like "hit her with a flying fucking elbow" — and referee Herb Dean.
Nunes handily won a decision that was difficult to watch and never, at any point, exciting. Spencer was outmatched and it was obvious from the first exchange. I'm not trying to insult Felicia Spencer here, but she had no business being in the cage with Amanda Nunes, and there is no credible counter argument. I know women's featherweight is a very small talent pool, but that's a problem for the UFC to solve, not me.
- Amanda Nunes def. Felicia Spencer by Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-44)
- Cody Garbrandt def. Raphael Assuncao by KO (punch) @ 4:59 of Round 1
- Aljamain Sterling def. Cory Sandhagen by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:28 of Round 1
- Neil Magny def. Anthony Martin by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sean O'Malley def. Eddie Wineland by KO (punch) @ 1:54 of Round 1
Opening the televised prelims was Charles Byrd, who the UFC really likes for some reason, given he's had 2 stints on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series and has been finished in 3 consecutive UFC fights. Byrd's lone UFC win was more-than 2 years ago. After a decent first round with Maki Pitolo, Byrd got buzzsawed in the first minute of the second round. Pitolo landed a 1-2 combo, a series bodyshots and a pair of standing elbows. After tripping Byrd, Pitolo swarmed his visibly defeated opponent and the referee intervened quickly. Amazing finishing sequence from Pitolo.
Cody Stamman put on a really incredible performance against Brian Kelleher. The first round saw Stamman circling at range, countering a kick-heavy attack with punches. The second round was a lot grittier, with striking and grappling exchanges which still favoured Stamman. Kelleher started to come on strong in the third, but Stamman had too much momentum and won a clear 30-27 on my scorecards.
Gerald Meerschart and Ian Heinisch didn't last long at all, as the latter faked a takedown and rocked Meerschart with an overhand right. After a quick follow-up flurry of punches, Heinisch was declared the winner as his opponent could do nothing but cover up in vain. Quality win for Heinisch, who was briefly scratched from the card after one of his cornermen registered a false-positive for COVID-19.
The featured prelim saw Alex Caceres dominate and completely outmatched Chase Hooper. The fight was so one-sided, I got bored and stopped paying attention. Caceres just lit Hooper up on the feet, only failing to finish. Hooper had a couple of brief moments when Caceres let the fight go to the ground, literally allowed it to happen. Hooper is not UFC material — at least not right now.
- Alex Caceres def. Chase Hooper by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ian Heinisch def. Gerald Meerschaert by TKO (punches) @ 1:14 of Round 1
- Cody Stamman def. Brian Kelleher by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Maki Pitolo def. Charles Byrd by TKO (punches) @ 1:10 of Round 2
Evan Dunham returned to the UFC after a 2 year layoff, only to be immediately submitted by Herbert Burns. Dunham had his back taken, he was then tripped and dragged to the mat and, from there, Burns quickly got both hooks in and secured a quick rear-naked choke.
Alonzo Menifield had a good opening round against Devin Clark, where he landed some heavy punches and visibly damaged his opponent's left eye. Most of the round was spent clinching against the fence. Clark managed to rally somewhat over the next 2 rounds, and Menifield faded more and more as the fight progressed. Clark ended up going 1-9 on takedown attempts, but ended up taking the other 2 rounds. By the end of the fight, Menifield was exhausted finally got taken down, but Clark's grappling skill is non-existent, so he awkwardly held positional control. Clark won, although one judge had a bizarre 30-27 scorecard for him. MMA has issues and light heavyweight sucks, nothing new under the sun here.
The final early prelim was another quick one, as Alex Perez demolished perennial top flyweight Jussier Formiga with savage leg-kicks. It only took 4 minutes for Perez to drop Formiga, wincing, to the mat to notch the 11th leg-kick TKO in UFC history. Provided the UFC is serious about maintaining the flyweight division — as it seems like the rankings consist of evert 125 pound fighter on the roster —
- Alex Perez def. Jussier Formiga by TKO (leg kicks) @ 4:06 of Round 1
- Devin Clark def. Alonzo Menifield by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Herbert Burns def. Evan Dunham by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:20 of Round 1
A strong show, although the main event really ended the night on a sour note. The show ends up being a B+, but the highlights it provided are absurd and will be revisited when the time for end of year lists rolls around. A great fight card, but with a steep price tag.
Published: June 7th, 2020.