Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 144
The UFC's second event in the ESPN era, and it was quite the show. First off, I feel it necessary to commend the pacing of this show; so far, the ESPN era seems to be rectifying the pacing issue that was synonymous with the UFC's stint on FOX. Secondly, the actual fight card was both well booked and delivered the goods as promised. The prelims and main card were rife with violent finishes and action, with only a few lulls — regretably in both women's fights. A UFC card that delivered a lot of entertainment and ended before 10:30pm EST: I don't think I could have asked for anything more. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come!
Marlon Moraes def. Raphael Assuncao by Submission (guillotine choke) @ 3:17 of Round 1
Initially, this fight looked like it was going to be a complete do-over of their first encounter, as both Moraes and Assuncao were fairly tentative with their striking. Moraes didn't take long to figure his opponent out, however, cracking him with 2 hard shots and putting him on his back. From there, Moraes was ruthless in searching for the finish as he jumped into Assuncao's guard and tried to land ground-and-pound. Eventually, Moraes was able to land some shots and grab Assuncao's neck as he tried to change position. From there, Moraes snatched a quick tap with an extremely deep gullotine choke. What a performance, and an amazing end-cap to the most efficient Fight Night card I can remember. Tough luck for Assuncao, who has been criminally overlooked and underappreciated throughout his entire UFC stint.
Jose Aldo def. Renato Moicano by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 0:44 of Round 2
The first round was really tentative, with Aldo holding back as he has tended to do in the latter half of his career. Moicano wasn't overly aggressive either, and I have no idea who actually won the first round — I probably would have scored it a draw. The second round was an entirely different beast, as Aldo seemed to figure out Moicano and landed a hard counter and then, sensing his opponent was hurt, just swarmed him with pinpoint shots. Moicano never recovered, and Aldo have him no quarter, landing every single follow-up punch, then a knee, and finally more punches that forced his fellow Brazilian to turn his back and make the referee call the fight off. Jose Aldo once again serves notice that he's still every bit as good as we old MMA fans make him out to be. What an amazing win for a legend of the sport.
Demian Maia def. Lyman Good by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:38 of Round 1
This was all Demian Maia; just when many thought the Brazilian veteran was in the twilight of his career, he schooled a rising young talent with relative ease. It didn't take long for Maia to take Good's back, forcing his opponent to wear him like a backpack as he fished for a rear-naked choke. Good did his best to defend himself but was simply unable to counter the slickness of a jiu-jitsu master like Maia and was forced to tap shortly after the mid-point of the round. This was heartening to see, as Maia has been a joy to watch over the years and doesn't even like hurting people. Maia's career longevity has been one of the few pleasant surprises MMA has given us.
Charles Oliveira def. David Teymur by Submission (anaconda choke) @ 0:55 of Round 2
Within the first 10 seconds of the fight, Teymur managed to gouge Oliveira in the eyes with an incredibly blatant foul. I was surprised that the referee actually deducted a point, but I firmly believe it was the right call. Teymur almost immediately poked Oliveira in the eye again, but the action continued. Immediately after that, Oliveira seemed to poke Teymur in the eye with one of his toes after throwing a jumping kick ... what a bizarre opening 2 minutes... With the Three Stooges ritual out of the way, the fight finally started to get good; Teymur dropped Oliveira and then, like a madman, lept into his guard for a bit. Teymur didn't stay there for long, however, the two saw fit to spend the first of the round waging a stand-up war. The second round was pretty brief, with Oliveira getting the better of the striking, he finally staggered Teymur — whose right-eye was looking really bad — with a beautiful stepping elbow, and then promptly strangled him with the second anaconda choke of the evening. What a fight; Charles Oliveira was able to outstrike David Teymur and then tap him out, just a complete rout.
Light Heavyweight Fight
Johnny Walker def. Justin Ledet by Technical Knock Out (spinning back-fist and punches) @ 0:15 of Round 1
Uh, so Walker threw a head-kick which stunned Ledet, followed that up with a spinning back-fist and then pounded him out — after missing what would have been an egregiously illegal kick had it landed — for an incredibly quick win. I figured Ledet had his hands full in this match, but I certainly was not expecting such a quick, one-sided win. Johnny Walker seems to be a light heavyweight worth keeping an eye on, which puts him on a very, very short list.
Women's Catchweight Fight (123 lbs)
Livia Renata Souza def. Sarah Frota by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This fight was.... difficult to watch. The first 2 rounds were mostly clinch and ground stalemates, and the third saw Souza begin to assert herself in the stand-up, but overall the fight was really tepid and lacking in any real action. Souza won a split decision, although I thought it was pretty clear she was the winner. Frota looked huge in there, and the idea that she could ever make 115 pounds seems ridiculous — hopefully she moves up to flyweight for her next fight. An unremarkable fight that I am glad is behind me.
Markus Perez def. Anthony Hernandez by Technical Submission (anaconda choke) @ 1:07 of Round 2
This was a hell of a scrap, with Perez lighting Hernandez up with a series of 4-5 flush punches, but somehow Hernandez just ate them and kept his witts about him. By the end of the first, Hernandez had managed to rally and was backing Perez up with shots. The second frame was brief, with Perez staggering Hernandez with a grazing body kick, and then finishing him with an anaconda choke that put him completely out. Michael Bisping called it a D'Arce choke; Joe Martinez announced the submission as an arm triangle and yet it was definitely an anaconda choke — very weird. Rough UFC debut for Hernandez.
Women's Flyweight Fight
Mara Romero Borella def. Talia Santos by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
This was not a very engaging fight to watch. After Santos had some brief success in the first round, Borella was able to shut her down by forcing the clinch and holding her against the cage. This continued for the second half of the first round and most of the second. Santos had little urgency, even in the closing moments of the third round — in a fight she was clearly down 2 round — and coasted her way to a decision loss. Borella did what she had to, and the ref could have broken some of the clinches much sooner — or at all, in some cases. I have no idea how a judge could have given Santos more than the third round, but that's MMA for you...
Thiago Alves def. Max Griffin by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
What a crazy fight; Griffin initially had no respect or Alves, walking him down and battering him throughout most of the first round. Griffin had Alves rocked in the first minute and nearly finished him at the end of the first. Alves, somehow, managed to stage a comeback and began lighting Griffin up, piling up strikes as his opponent desperately tried to circle away and collect himself. I had it tied going into the final round, and Alves still had a lot of gas left in the tank. It was a really, really close round, contested mostly in the clinch and brief moments on the ground. I thought Griffin did just enough to steal the win, but the judges split 2-1 and gave the UFC veteran and hometown fighter, Thiago Alves, the win. This was a great fight; it was nice to see some of the old guard surprise me — I thought Alves was completely done after the opening round. Griffin was more active in the third round, and even threatened some submissions, but I'm not going to protest too loudly.
Jairzinho Rozenstruick def. Junior Albini by Technical Knock Out (head-kick and punches) @ 0:54 of Round 2
After a bit of a scare in the first round, when Albini was able to easily take him down to the mat, Rozenstruick was able to get back to his feet and stay there for the rest of the round. Albini tried to close distance anf clinch, but this proved ineffective. In the second frame, Rozenstruick has settled in and was able to light Albini up with a headkick and finish with a series of vicious punches after he fell to the sage floor. Albini looks like he might be a bust, but Rozenstruick has potential, as despite being a former kickboxer he was able to maintain his composure while working to defend off his back.
Geraldo De Freitas Junior def. Felipe Corales by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
This was a really closedly contested fight, with the majority of the fight taking place in the clinch, against the cage, or on the ground as both fighters had moments of control. De Freitas was able to rally in the final minutes of all 3 rounds, showing a superior gas tank and incredible tenacity as there was no real pause in the action — even the positional stalemates looked tense and exhausting. Felipe Corales was outmatched but not utterly dominated, while De Freitas notches a convincing win in his UFC debut, rightly sweeping all 3 judges' scorecards.
Said Nurmagodmedov def. Davi Ramos by TKO (body kick and punches) @ 2:28 of Round 1
Ramos was never able to settle in, and Nurmagomedov just pieced him up on the feet. After landing a spinning back-kick to the body, Nurmagomedov followed-up with a head-kick and punches as Ramos crumbled to the canvas. A great showing for Said Nurmagomedov and a disappointing setback for Ramos, who was just starting to gather momentum in the bantamweight division.
Catchweight Fight (127 lbs)
Rogerio Bontorin def. Magomed Bibulatov by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Bibulatov was favoured to win this, but complete unknown Rogerio Bontorin proved to be a tough test for the Chechen. After 3 very close rounds, in which both fighters were very closely matched, I honestly felt that Bontorin had the more effective offence — landing a few strong punches here and there. Bontorin was able to stuff all of Bibulatov's takedowns and even took his back by the end of the third. Considering flyweight is likely being phased out, prospects could be grim for Bibulatov's future in the UFC as he also missed weight for the fight.
Published: February 2nd, 2019.