Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 143
Debutting on ESPN and ESPN+, UFC Fight night 143 is the beginning of a new era in the promotion. Things started off amazingly, with the UFC's preliminary card getting delayed so ESPN could broadcast the completion of a college basketball game. I can't wait for this to become just another accepted norm of watching UFC events. That being said, the vast majority of the fight card was very good. The pacing could have been better, but it wasn't worse than a FOX event. (I know, that's a really low bar.) Luckily, the 6-fight main card ended before 12:30pm, and overall I would say the show was a success. The UFC may not have gotten their preferred outcomes in the main and co-main events, but the show was very entertaining.
Flyweight Title Fight
Henry Cejudo (C) def. TJ Dillashaw by TKO (punches) @ 0:32 of Round 1
This was quick... Cejudo came out and tagged Dillashaw with a shot almost immediately, that staggered the bantamweight champion. Cejudo was relentless, pouncing on Dillashaw and dropping him with another hard shot and following up with more punches. Dillashaw was helpless to defend himself, and the referee correctly waved off the fight just 32 seconds in. Dillashaw protested the stoppage but he was done; unsurprisingly, a guy shedding an additional 10 pounds of body mass above and beyond a normal weight cut had little-to-no durability. Cejduo's performance was elite, and while I don't think many people believe he really beat Demetrious Johnson, the fact remains that he has the former flyweight and the current bantamweight champions as back-to-back wins on his resumé.
Allen Crowder def. Greg Hardy by Disqualification (illegal knee) @ 2:28 of Round 2
This was precisely the sloppy, garbage fire I was expecting. Hardy threw a lot of big, winging punches, but wasn't able to put Crowder out. Crowder was able to take wear Hardy down in the clinch, and even managed to take him down. By the end of the first, Hardy was visibly exhausted and completely spent. The second round was tentative to start, as both fighters seemed winded from the 'action' in the previous round. Crowder started walking Hardy down and talking trash to him, which provoked a reaction from the disgraced ex-NFL player. After failing on a takedown attempt, Crowder was on the receiving end of an egregiously illegal knee to the head from Hardy. The fight ended in a disqualification, and the UFC got exactly what the paid for — Greg Hardy proving too violent to remain within the confines of the rules. The best part of the whole thing was Hardy being clowned on by a terrible fighter.
Gregor Gillespie def. Yancy Medeiros by TKO (punches) @ 5:00 of Round 3
Gillespie just smothered Medeiros for the the entirety of the fight, grabbing ahold of him and taking him down, controlling position, and just generally ragdolling him. It wasn't the most exciting fight, but it did end in a finish in the closing seconds of the fight. Gillespie was able to take Medeiros' back and finish him with a final surge of ground-and-pound. Gillespie didn't turn in the most exciting performance, but it's hard to imagine many lightweights handling his wrestling — he's got a lot of potential as a future champion. If the fight had not been stopped, the final scorecards would have been a sweep of 30-26's as a best case scenario for Medeiros.
Joseph Benavidez def. Dustin Ortiz by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
This was a really hard fought, closely contested fight. The whole fight was basically a grappling match, with Benavidez taking the first round with superior positional control, and Ortiz returning the favour to take the second. The third round saw Benavidez demonstrate just how good his grappling game is, as he ended taking Ortiz's back and locked up a body triangle for several minutes. While Benavidez was dilligent in fishing for rear-naked choke attempts, Ortiz' defence was just too good. The third round expired and I had it 2-1 for Benavidez, a score shared by all 3 ringisde judges. Ortiz did well to hang in there with a talent like Benavidez, and it was good to see that Joe is still a top-shelf flyweight fighter.
Women's Flyweight Fight
Paige Van Zan def. Rachel Ostovich by Submission (armbar) @ 1:50 of Round 2
This was quite a back-and-forth fight, contested almost entirely on the mat. PVZ and Ostovich took turns reversing each other, while fishing for submissions. I'm honestly not sure who I would have given the first round to. The second, however, saw PVZ begin to take over the fight and dominate the ground positions. After taking Ostovich's back, PVZ alternated between ground-and-pound and fishing for a submission. Despite being really high on Ostovich's back, PVZ was able to secure an armbar and force a tap while also breaking Ostovich's arm in the process. The replay looked absolutely horrible; Ostovich has not had the best 2 months in terms of injuries...
Light Heavyweight Fight
Glover Texeira def. Karl Roberson by Submission (arm triangle choke) @ 3:21 of Round 1
In the opening moments of the fight, Glover rushed Roberson and pushed him against the fence. As he was attempting a double-leg takedown, it honestly looked like Roberson had KO'ed Texeira with elbows to the side of the head. Somehow, I don't know how, Glover was able to recover and survive a flurry of ground-and-pound fron Roberson. Texeira was eventually able to reverse the position and choke Roberson out with an arm triangle, a complete reversal of fortunes in a fight I thought would be another grim reminder that Glover is washed as a fighter. I'm still not hot on Glover's future prospects, but this is light heavyweight — there are enough marginal fighters for him to keep plodding along, beating anyone outside the upper echelon.
Donald Cerrone def. Alexander Hernandez by TKO (punches) @ of Round 2
This fight was nuts, with far too much action to remember or transcribe. Hernandez started off strong, trying to walk Cerrone down and work him over with body punches and kicks. Ever the tenacious veteran, though, Cerrone was able to defend himself — and rely on a sturdy chin that has withstood the test of time — and slowly assert himself into the fight. By the second half of the first, the tide was shifting in Cerrone's favour. In the second, Cerrone took over completely, countering Hernandez with a right knee every time he tried to close distance, busting him up with punches and eventually dropping him with a headkick. Cerrone finished Hernandez with a flurry of ground-and-pound, in an impressive performance for such a tenured UFC fighter. I honestly thought Hernandez was surging at just the right time to take out Cerrone, who was dropping back down to 155 for this fight. I continue to be the literal worst at forecasting Donald Cerrone fights.
Women's Flyweight Fight
Joanne Calderwood def. Ariane Lipski by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Lipski had moments of success with her superior stand-up skills, but for the most part, she was either being clinched against the cage or defending against a succession of submission attempts from Calderwood. By the second round, Lipski had been worn down by the grappling and was getting tagged by Calderwood. Lipski demonstrated good composure and submission defence, but was never able to get any offence going. Calderwood scored a very one-sided victory, and edges closer to a flyweight title shot. Tough debut for Lipski, whom I'd like to see fight again.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Alonzo Menifield def. Vinicius Moreira by TKO (punches) @ 3:56 of Round 1
Another quick finish, as Menifield spent several minutes press up against the cage, as Moreira attempted to take him down. Menifeld was able to stay standing and eventually broke free, tagging Moreira with hard punches. After dodging a spinning back kick attempt, Menifield sat Moreira down with a straight-right, followed-up with 3 more right hands and the ref waved the fight off. Given the dearth of talent at 205, pretty much anyone half-decent could be considered a prospect, but Alonzo Menifield looks like a genuine talent to keep an eye on. Decent takedown defence and heavy hands can take a guy pretty far at light heavyweight.
Cory Sandhagen def. Mario Bautista by Submission (armbar) @ 3:31 of Round 1
Bautista, who turned pro a mere 20 months ago, was very quickly overwhelmed in his UFC debut. Cory Sandhagen was able to drag the fight to the mat and chain submissions together, going for an inverted triangle, then a guillotine, and finally snatching a tight armbar and forcing a tap. Sandhagen improves to 3-0 in the UFC, and makes me want to see them rebook the fight he was supposed to have with John Lineker. Bautista also deserves another shot, facing a guy like Sandhagen on effectively zero notice is a rough debut.
Fight Pass Prelims
Dennis Bermudez def. Te Edwards by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Edwards had some early success, landing a couple of big shots that staggered Bermudez, but was ultimately overcome by a savy, veteran grinder. Bermudez's repeated takedown attempts began to add up, and Edwards eventually got taken down. From there, Bermudez threatened submissions and utterly dominated the fight. Edwards' submission defence was very good, however he was too willing to concede the position and remain on the bottom for lengthy parts of each round. Bermudez announced his retirement from MMA in an emotional post-fight speech, also akcnowledging an uncle who was afflicted with cancer. It's hard to believe that it's already been 7 years since Bermudez's UFC debut.
Geoff Neal def. Belal Muhammad by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Muhammad did his best to make things competitive, but Neal was simply too much for him. Neal was able to dominate the position of the fight, stuff 8 takedown attempts, and piece Muhammad up on the feet. Belal found moderate success with body shots near the end of the second round, but was not able to capitalise. The damage really began to add up in the third, as Neal blasted Muhammad with straight-lefts and a headkick, dropping him several times, but was unable to finish him. A good fight, and Neal is really impressing me with his performance here and in his previous fight against Frank Comacho. Muhammad showed a lot of heart and a ridiculous chin, but ultimate was outclassed in every aspect of the fight.
Chance Rencountre def. Kyle Stewart by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:25 of Round 1
The UFC's first bout on ESPN featured a groin-kick in the first 15 seconds. Recountre was able to recover from the foul quickly, and immediately shot for a takedown. Stewart defended initially, but Rencountre was able to slowly work his way to his opponent's back and then brought things to the mat. Stewart was unable to defend for long and Rencountre secured a rear-naked choke and a quick tap. Rencountre improves to 2-1 in the UFC, while Stewart picks up a loss equally deserved due to his poor grappling defence and the fans he spells "guns" in his nickname with a 'z.' Gunz. Come on, man — what do you think this is, the 90s?
Published: January 20th, 2019.