Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 138
After a short — and much appreciated — hiatus, the UFC returns to the airwaves with UFC Fight Night 138. The last few events have been uncharacteristically packed with violent finishes, while this card hews much closer to the typical fare. A number of close fights and decisions punctuated a card with only a few stoppage wins. This was a respectable fight card, but ending at 1:15am EST took a bit of shine off the whole event. Here is what I thought of the fights:
Anthony Smith def. Volkan Oezdemir by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:26 of Round 3
The first round was fairly one-sided, with Oezdemir demonstrating far superior power to Smith. The second was more of the same, with Smith absorbing some pretty heavy shots but still staying in the fight. As the fight wore on, Smith began shift the momentum in his favour. By the third frame, both were really tired, but Smith dug deep and really turned the tide as he started to land more and more on Ozedemir. As both men seemed utterly exhausted, Smith shot for a takedown and was able to quickly transition to Oezdemir's back. After a brief struggle, Smith locked in a rear-naked choke and coaxed a tap. Anthony Smith has developed into a very fun fighter to watch, while Oezdemir seems to be yet another striker who either kills dudes in the first round or gasses out and gets submitted.
Michael Johnson def. Artem Lobov by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
This fight went about as one would expect, despite Michael Johnson taking the fight on 2 weeks notice. Lobov was persistent and unwavering in his forward pressure, but Johnson was simply too fast and slick for "The Russian Hammer." Johnson never really had Lobov in danger of being finished, but he definitively won the fight. I'm still not sold on Johnson at featherweight, but I think we've got more than enough evidence than Artem Lobov doesn't belong on main cards.
Misha Cirkunov def. Patrick Cummins by Submission (arm-triangle choke) @ 2:40 of Round 1
This fight was mercifully short, as Patrick Cummins took a heavy shot early and shot for a takedown immediately. They ended up clinching for a bit, and Cirkunov had a guillotine position for a while but didn't seem overly committed to the hold. Cirkunov eventually began throwing knees to Cummins' body as they jockeyed for position and, after a half-dozen really hard knees, was able to take Cummins down, secure full mount and immediately secure an arm-triangle choke and a tap. Light heavyweight is still a terrible division, but at least Cirkunov managed to turn in a quick, dominant win — the division needed that sort of outcome.
Andre Soukhamthath def. Jonathan Martinez by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)
Soukhamthath put a beating on Martinez for the entirety of the first round, making the fight look like a complete and utter mismatch. In the second, Soukhamthath resumed the beating he started laying down in the first frame, and looked close to finishing the fight when referee Jarin Valel stopped the action during a flurry and then immediately resumed the fight. The stoppage gave way to a huge momentum shift, as Martinez was able to take Soukhamthath down and land quite a lot of ground-and-pound strikes. The third round again saw Soukamthat bullying Martinez, opting to grappling for the majority of the round despite dominating the stand-up. Martinez showed a lot of heart but was hopelessly outmatched; Andre Soukhamthath continues to display possibly the worst fight IQ.
Gian Villante def. Ed Herman by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was... your typical plodding light heavyweight fight. Both Villante and Herman are incredibly slow, though the latter is so lumbering that he actually made Villante look fast in comparison. I don't know how I would score each round, both exchanged punches and moved around the cage for 15 minutes — that's about all I can say, the fight was dull. The split decision lead to an awkward post-fight interview when all I wanted to do was begin the process of purging this fight from memory.
Court McGee def. Alex Garcia by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-28)
I won't lie, I was distracted by the late dinner I was cooking during this fight. I felt as though Garcia took the first round with better striking, McGee took the second by sweeping Garcia and maintaining top control for most of the round. The third saw McGee try for several takedowns, end up getting taken down himself, only to reverse Garcia and control the majority of the round and seal the win. They may not be pretty, but Court McGee continues to notch wins depsite seeming overmatched in every fight. Alex Garcia continues to struggle in fights that progress into later rounds.
Sean Strickland def. Nordine Taleb by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 3:10 of Round 2
For the first round, Strickland was the one applying all of the pressure — backing Taleb up and initiating all of the exchanges. That said, Taleb was doing a very good job countering, and likely won the first round based on landing more effective strikes. The second round saw Strickland flip the script, crack Taleb a number of times, eventually dropping him and securing a TKO finish. Taleb protested the stoppage but I felt the referee made the right call; we did not need to see Taleb take more punches, the fight was over.
Nasrat Haqparast def. Thibault Gouti by Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26)
This was a really good, back-and-forth fight, with both guys countering each other and landing good shots overall. Haqparast threw seemingly endless combinations of power punches, while Gouti was content to throw a higher volume but acknowledge that the jab is in fact a punch you can throw. For the first two rounds, the fight was fairly even with a slight edge to Haqparast for landing the more visibly impactful shots. In the third, Gouti was nearly finished with body kicks but somehow managed to survive, although lost what I would say was an obvious 10-8 round. Great fight. I was surprised Haqparast didn't run out of energy, the way he was throwing — all power shots all the time. Also, credit to Gouti for taking all those strikes and keeping his composure and footing.
Calvin Kattar def. Chris Fishgold by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 4:11 of Round 1
Fishgold, a newly-signed Cage Warriors champion, came out extremely aggressive while Kattar remained composed and looked for opportunities to counter. Both men cracked each other pretty good, but Kattar eventually landed an overhand right that dropped Fishgold to the canvas. Kattar swarmed with heavy ground-and-pound and scored a sudden, violent TKO in a fight that looked to be fairly evenly matched. Fishgold gets a brutal welcome to the UFC, and Kattar looked confident and extremely composed throughout the fight.
Talita Bernardo def. Sarah Moras by Unanimous Decision ((30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
I missed most of this fight due to some Internet connection problems and a door-to-door solicitor wasting my time. I only caught the 3rd round, and though Moras rallied enthusiastically in the final leg of the fight, I will assume she spent most of the first 2 rounds getting taken down and controlled just like she was in the first.
Fight Pass Prelims
Don Madge def. Te Edwards by Knock Out (head kick) @ 0:14 of Round 2
Edwards was rocked early but managed to recover and secure a takedown. Madge was able to secure an armbar looked to briefly hyper-extend Edwards' arm before he escaped. The second round saw Madge stagger Edwards with a left high kick and then finish him off with a right high kick as he circled away. Great showing by Madge, a significant underdog in pre-fight betting odds who thoroughly dominated a touted prospect.
Arjan Bhullar def. Marcelo Golm by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Bhullar spent the better part of 1.5 rounds eating kicks to the lower portion of his lead leg as he tried to close distance. Bhullar had marginal success landing shots, but took over in the 3rd round when he finally secured a takedown and kept Golm grounded until the last 10 seconds. Close fight; I gave it to Bhullar, 29-28. I think Golm would have likely won had he not fractured something in his right foot. Bhullar seems undersizded for heavyweight. Not a great showing for either.
Stevie Ray def. Jessen Ayari by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
R1 was mostly Ray landing leg kicks and Ayari countering infrequently and backing Ray up throughout most of the round. More of the same through round 2. Same with round 3, except both were landing a bit more frequently. I gave Ayari all 3 rounds of a very close fight, but the judges disagreed and rendered an utterly absurd 30-27 scorecard for Ray. Ayari looked very good in his lightweight debut, and I am surprised the judges gave Ray's leg kicks as much merit as they did.
Published: October 28th, 2018.