Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 135
This is the inaugural edition of the Fight Notes series. I've been writing recaps of MMA events for over a decade now, in one form or another. We're starting with UFC Fight Night 135 but this column name will be applied retroactively to all of my recaps from the past and going forward. These will be in addition to the Pre-Fight and Post-Fight Thoughts articles I run on The Rickety Old Shack. Not every one of these will be written directly after an event; some of these will be re-posts; the schedule for these will vary quite a bit.
With that all out of the way, let's get to the fights!
Justin Gaethje def. James Vick by KO @ 1:27 of Round 1
Wow.... What else is there to say; Justin Gaethje maintained his composure in the first minute of the fight, as Vick sought to keep him at range with kicks. Gaethje was able to move in and land a crushing right-hand that crumpled Vick to the canvas, he followed up with another punch and the referee waved off the fight. A brutal ending and a much needed win for Gaethje.
Michael Johnson def. Andre Fili by Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
I wasn't into this fight at all. I would argue that Johnson won the first round, barely, with greater activity. The second round was clearly Fili's, as he took Johnson's back and threatened very close rear-naked chokes and maintained back control for several minutes. Johnson ended the second round in full guard, but did nothing with the position. The final round was close and not very eventful; I had it 29-28 for Johnson when the fight ended. The judges mostly agreed with me, awarding him a split decision.
Cortney Casey def. Angela Hill by Split Decision (30-37, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a fairly close fight, with Casey winning the first and third rounds in my books. I will admit that I can see arguments for a Hill win as well, but I had Casey narrowly edging out the win due to more damage. One judge scored it 30-27 for Casey, which was absurd — I thought the second round was clearly won by Angela Hill.
I don't think this was an especially bad fight, but it had the misfortune of being placed on a fight card with an absurd finishing rate.
Bryan Barbarena def. Jake Ellenberger by TKO @ 2:26 of Round 1
This fight was just sad; I have no idea why the UFC booked Ellenberger again — let alone in his hometown. Bryan Barbarena took control of the fight immediately, showing little-to-no respect for his opponent. Barbarena was able to swarm on Jake with punches, knocking him down twice before putting him away with undefended strikes in yet another lamentable showing for Ellenberger.
Barbarena did what he had to do, but I still question why the UFC even booked this match. Ellenberger has been a shell of himself for years now, and should not have been fighting at all. Hopefully he is serious about retirement, this was yet another lopsided defeat — he's undeniably a shot fighter at this point. I will say, however, it was nice to see Ellenberger get a moment to speak on the mic and properly retire.
I haven't taken pleasure in seeing Ellenberger's decline from potential welterweight contender to racking up a brutal losing streak, but that's just how it goes in the unforgiving sport of MMA. I wish Jake the best and hope he sees success in his post-fighting career.
Deivison Figeureido def. John Moraga by TKO @ 3:08 of Round 2
The first round was a contrast of Moraga landing the better shots during stand-up exchanges, while Figeuredo dominated the wrestling and landed some decent ground-and-pound. The second frame, however, was decidedly more one-sided. Deiveson was able to tag Moraga with some very good punches, dropping him twice — once with a head-shot and once with a body-shot — to secure a TKO win at the half-way mark of the round.
Figueredo looks to be an up-and-coming talent to keep your eye on, given how handily he dispatched a legit fighter like John Moraga. Figueiredo also notched his fourth straight stoppage win, and boasts the longest current winning streak in the flyweight division. Not bad; not bad at all...
Eryk Anders def. Tim Williams by KO @ 4:42 of Round 3
What was otherwise a tepid, uncompelling middleweight bout was abruptly, and brutally ended when Eryk Anders threw a perfect kick just as Tim Williams was getting up off the canvas. What initially looked to be an illegal soccer kick was actually the most perfectly timed head-kick in UFC history.
The downside, however, is that prior to the finish Anders was looking exceptionally one-dimensional and was en route to an incredibly tedious decision. The finish was excellent, but everything else about this fight was terrible.
(During the break, we were informed that Brandon Pfannenstiel, the referee in the Sandhagen / Alcantara fight, was pulled from officiating further fights. I was heartened by this information.)
James Krause def. Warlley Alves by TKO @ 2:28 of Round 2
After an initial feeling-out process, James Krause began to pour on the pressure and assert himself in the striking exchanges. Alves did well to hold his own, but clearly lost the first round to a busier, more effective Krause.
The second round saw the fight severely tilt in Krause's favour, as he began to piece-up Alves with strikes. After landing a hard counter-knee to Alves' chin, Krause sensed the blood in the water and swarmed on his opponent to earn a TKO win. In contrast to the Sandhagen / Alcantara fight previously, this was an excellent stoppage by the referee.
Krause looks great moving up to welterweight — I am always stoked to see fighters eschew brutal weight cuts and notch wins.
Cory Sandhagen def. Iuri Alcantara by TKO @ 1:01 of Round 2
The fight started off fast, with Alcantara blitzing Sandhagen with punches, staggering him, and immediately taking him down and securing an armbar position. Somehow, despite being stuck in a deep armbar on multiple occasions, Sandhagen persevered and eventually worked his way out of the hold and into Alcantara's full-guard. From there, Sandhagen rained down punches and elbows, eventually wearing down and exhausting the 38 year-old Brazilian. By the end of the first round, Sandhagen had spent a good minute just bludgeoning Alcantara with punches. I have no idea why Alcantara's corner sent him back out, but they did.
Almost immediately, Sandhagen charged Alcantara and rocked him with a punch. He followed him to the ground and resumed the bludgeoning from the previous round, this time with Alcantara's back. The referee was utterly derelict in their duty, and allowed Alcantara to take about a dozen hard, uncontested shots before finally waving off the fight. It was a great 1-round fight, everything after that was just a highlight of MMA's deficiencies at the regulatory level even in 2018.
Andrew Sanchez def. Markus Perez by Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
This fight was sloppy and bad. Your typical middleweight fight, basically. Perez spent the majority of the fight with his back against the cage and Andrew Sanchez won another tedious decision. Next.
Mickey Gall def. George Sullivan by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:09 of Rounds 1
Not much to say here, Mickey Gall dispatched Sullivan with ease. Gall's post-fight interview was a little cringey, and his call-outs of of Sage Northcutt and Diego Sanchez were bizarre — even if they were the best name-value picks you could match Gall with. I see no reason for him to fight Sage again at this juncture and I don't want Diego fighting - period. Anyway, nice choke.
Fight Pass Prelims
Joanne Calderwood def. Kalindra Faria by Submission (armbar) @ 4:57 of Round 1
An interesting fight for all of its duration. Calderwood got taken down almost immediately, and spent about 4 minutes defending off her back. I thought she was going to be stuck there for the whole round, as she seemed way too slow to get up. She kept fishing for a triangle, though, and eventually secured it in the final minute. Faria defended the triangle — which was very deep — but eventually gave up an armbar and tapped at the very end of the round.
I was skeptical about claims we'd see a new version of Calderwood, but she definitely looked better on the ground. In the past, she would have folded and stayed down for the entire round, taking abuse and doing little else.
Drew Dober def. Jon Tuck by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
A decent fight, but nothing extraordinary. Dober soundly out-struck Tuck and took him down in the last 2 rounds and beat him up with solid ground-and-pound. A learning experience for Tuck, who seemed to gas out midway into the fight.
Rani Yahya def. Luke Sanders by Submission (heel hook) @ 1:31 of Round 1
Holy shit, Rani Yahya is a violent little man. He rocked Sanders, took him down, reaped the leg into a heel hook locked it in after a few initially failed attempts. Sanders verbally tapped, and Yahya racks up another impressive submission win.
Published: August 26th, 2018.