Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 141
I'm still a bit surprised that the UFC celebrated their 25th anniversary with an early-morning fight card emanating from mainland China, but that is exactly what happened. On paper, the fight card for UFC Fight Night 141 didn't look incredibly inviting, though the main event certainly carried some interest due to the UFC booking one of their formerly surging contenders in a sink-or-swim rematch against a tough stylistic match-up he already won 2.5 years ago. Still, the fight card delivered some entertaining fights and ended up being far better than my pessimistic pre-event assessment.
Francis Ngannou def. Curtis Blaydes by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 0:45 of Round 1
This was short and to-the-point, as Ngannou very quickly tagged Blaydes with a massive overhand right that sent him down to his knees. The former title-challenger moved in for the kill, flurrying with punches at close range. Blaydes did well to try and recover, even reflexively grabbing at a takedown, but he was simply too stunned. Ngannou poured on the pressure, staggered Blaydes another couple of times, and the fight was correctly waved off. Francis Ngannou seemed to have been booked into a corner here, having to fight a guy he already beat, another strong wrestler, after back-to-back dud fights. I have absolutely nothing against Curtis Blaydes, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the UFC's spiteful matchmaking blow up in their faces here.
Alistair Overeem def. Alexander Pavlovich by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 4:21 of Round 1
Things started off at a fairly measured pace, as Overeem has been wont to do in the later stages of his career. After spending a few minutes in a clinch battle against the cage, Overeem was able to disengage, land a hard right-hand and then take his opponent to the ground. From top position, Overeem was careful to pick his spots before cracking Pavlovich with a massive right-hand that setup the fight-ending flurry of hammer-fists and punches. Even with an extensive fight record and double-digit KO losses, Overeem still proves to be a very dangerous opponent for anyone, handing the Russian prospect his first career loss. Overeem looked as good as ever, composed and defensively sound, executing an intelligent gameplan to secure a dominant win.
Song Yadong def. Vince Morales by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
A fairly competitive fight in the 135-pound division, things were close throughout each round though Yadong easily appeared to the be more aggressive fighter — instigating the majority of the exchanges and backing Morales up quite a lot. Aside from a single takedown in the the third round, by Yadong, the entire fight was contested on the feet. Even when he secured the takedown, Yadong was unable to do anything of substance with it and Morales got back to his feet after briefly threatening a leg lock. A decent fight, just lacking moments where either fighter looked to be in any real danger of being stopped.
Li Jingliang def. David Zawada by Technical Knock Out (body kick and punches) @ 4:07 of Round 3
After dropping Jingliang once in the first round, and likely taking it on all score cards, Zawada was slowly overtaken by his opponent's unrelenting pressure in the following frames. Jingliang was able to pull way ahead in striking, and backed Zawada up quite a bit. Then, out of nowhere, in the final minute of the fight Jingliang landed a side-kick to the body which crumpled Zawada against the cage. Jingliang followed up with a flurry of punches to earn the stoppage in a fight he was otherwise on his way to winning 29-28 in my books. For a late replacement, Zawada didn't look too bad, Jingliang seemed to just figure him out and make him pay for it.
Alex Morono def. Song Kenan by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight was all Alex Morono, who used the first round to counter Kenan very effectively despite doing so with windmill-like punches. Morono was a lot more composed in the second frame, though no less effective. Kenan's face was leaking quite a bit to open the third round, but to his credit he gave it his all in the final round. Morono was still outstriking Kenan, but his desperation lead to some risk-taking that paid off. In the final minute of the fight, Morono received a nasty — albeit very accidental — eye-poke that looked like it might have sent the fight to the scorecards as a technical decision, but thankfully he was able to continue. Morono won a decisive clean sweep on every scorecard, in what was a respectable featured prelim even if neither fighter ever left second gear.
Women's Flyweight Fight
Wu Yanan def. Lauren Mueller by Submission (armbar) @ 4:00 of Round 1
What looked to be shaping up into a typical strawweight kickboxing match ended abruptly when Mueller caught Yanan off balance and followed her to the canvas. Yanan quickly countered Mueller's ground-and-pound attempts with a slick armbar and cinched a quick win in front of a hometown crowd. An unfortunate loss for Mueller, but a definite feather in the cap of Yanan who adds her name to the list of female strawweight prospects to keep an eye on.
Catchweight Fight (208 lbs) Fight
Rashad Coulter def. Hu Yaozong by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
This was a fairly typical light heavyweight affair, with Coulter almost putting Yaozong away in the first round with some heavy punches. The UFC newcomer managed to recover, despite taking a lot of punishment from a notable hard-hitter. Coulter seemed to fade even before the first round ended, and Yaozong was able to back him up against the cage for most of the second round. Coulter was still landing shots where able, even with a compromised lead leg — the result of calf-kicks from Yaozong — and didn't gas out as many expected. The third round was a bit low in activity, but Coulter continued to press forward and control the pace of the fight while outstriking his very durable opponent. I don't have anything else to say about this fight, neither man will be lighting up the 205 ranks any time soon.
Women's Strawweight Fight
Zhang Weili def. Jessica Aguilar by Submission (armbar) @ 3:41 of Round 1
Weilei just steamrolled Aguilar in this one. After landing an elbow while the two were clinched against the cage, Weili then took Aguilar down, mauled her from side-control before transitioning to a triangle choke attempt. Aguilar was able to defend the triangle attempts, but took about a dozen sharp elbows to the head in the process. Weilei then transitioned to an armbar, and secured a very quick tap from a severely bloodied and utterly dominated opponent. Zhang Weili stakes a claim as an up-and-coming strawweight to keep an eye on, notching a one-sided win over a veteran fighter in Jessica Aguilar.
Liu Pingyuan def. Martin Day by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Both fighters were very active throughout the first round, which I thought Day narrowly edged out with more striking volume and success. Pingyuan attempted a jumping guillotine, the sort of thing which never works in modern MMA, and was expecedly unsuccessful in tapping Day who then maintained top position for roughly 2 minutes. In the second, Pingyuan seemed to slow down significantly, and likely injured his left hand, while Day racked up body shots and counters. Day looked to be cruising to another winning round when Pingyuan cracked him with a perfectly timed counter-right, which sat the Hawaiian down. Pingyuan swarmed and unsuccessfully attempted a D'Arce choke, which was countered by Day with a D'Arce of his own. The third round ended with Pingyuan in mid-transition to Day's back — a stalemate position, really. I gave it 29-28 to Day, but the judges were split and awarded Pingyuan the win in what I'd consider a bit of homecooking even if it wasn't an outright robbery. The fight was fairly close, but I really thought Day did enough to win the first 2 rounds.
Yan Xiaonan def. Syuri Kondo by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Essentially a kickboxing match in a UFC cage, this was a pretty fun fight. Xiaonan threw very high volume, and managed to counter effectively throughout the fight. Kondo kept trying to press forward, but almost every time she did so there were 2-3 counter shots waiting for her. Both women took a lot of shots, but Xiaonan's constant throwing and more aesthetic striking easily won each round on the scorecards. Kondo's persistence was commendable, but she just could not land enough to get her opponent to slow down or stop pelting her with return-fire.
Kevin Holland def. John Phillips by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:05 of Round 3
A tentative first lead to a significant increase in pace in the following round. Phillips staggered Holland, who backed into the fence a number of times, and tried to finish him with several flurries. Holland was able to defend very well by blocking punches with his arms and using good head movement. Holland was landing to the body very regularly, with both punches and kicks. Phillips seemed to be slowing down a lot near the end of the second round. Holland immediately shot for a takedown to open the third round, and proved to be a superior grappler by a wide margin. Phillips was able to get up, but the exertion from the previous round's flurries and Holland's steady body work began to take its toll. In the closing minute of the round, Holland was able to take Phillips' back and, after a couple missed attempts, was able to secure a tight rear-naked choke and force a submission. Team SBG racks up another loss to grappling. Holland looked very composed and calculating, Phillips didn't look terrible by any means but hardly remarkable either.
Louis Smolka def. Su Madaerji by Submission (armbar) @ 2:07 of Round 2
Making the most of his second run in the UFC, Louis Smolka put on a dominant performance in this fight. Shooting for a takedown immediately, Smolka was able to drag Madaerji to the mat and controlled him with a combination of rear-naked choke attempts and steady ground-and-pound. By the end of the first round, the fight was very close to being stopped. Smolka picked up where he left off and secured another takedown early in the second; Madaerji tried to scramble and counter with submissions on the ground, but Smolka was able to reverse an attempt into an armbar and secure the tap before the midway point of the fight. Smolka starts his second UFC tenure in proper fashion, steamrolling a completely overmatched opponent.
Published: November 24th, 2018.