Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 153
Taking place in Stockholm, Sweden, UFC Fight Night 153 kicked off with a solid set of preliminary bouts and lead into a strong main card. We got a lot of violent finishes and even the fights that went to a decision were engaging for the most part. Easily the UFC's best show in Stockholm, even if the hometown fighter in the main event dropped to 2-2 lifetime fighting in front of his fellow countrymen. Some great performances all around and the midday time slot made things all the better, this was a great event.
The main card opened with an amazing first round between featherweights Daniel Teymur and the debutting Sung Bin Jo. Teymur poured on the aggression, staggering Jo, taking him down and generally just dominating the first round. The second frame was ... it was god awful, to be honest — it was the polar opposite of the first round, with almost nothing happening. The third round was a half-way approximation of the previous ones, with Teymur pressuring Jo and displaying a vastly improved gas tank as compared to his past fights. Jo had a rough debut, looking competent but hardly noteworthy. If Teymur can have this level of conditioning going forward, he could be a real threat at 145 pounds. Teymur's post-fight comment of "listen everyone, believe me I respect my opponent .... Tom Bing Yung... what's his name?" killed me.
Christos Giagos mauled Damir Hadzovic for the better part of three rounds, though he did begin to fade near the end of the fight — which wasn't too surprising given the pace he kept. Hadzovic was taken down repeatedly, despite being able to get back to his feet often. Giagos' activity level looked to be too much for Hadzovic, who was bullied to the point where two judges awarded a 10-8 round. To his credit, Hadzovic wasn't at all discouraged but he just couldn't stop Giagos' persistent pressure and takedowns.
We got our annual Makwan Amirkhani fight, as "Mr. Finland" came out strong with a flying knee attempt, but Chris Fishgold was prepared for it. The majority of the first round was a conservative striking fight, until Amirkhani changed levels and expertly took down a charging Chris Fishgold. Fishgold threatened submissions from the bottom, but never came close to locking anything up. The second round was playing out like the first until Fishgold took a kick to the groin that made me wince. Shortly after the fight resumed, Fishgold attempted a guillotine choke but was reversed on the groud and ended up in an anaconda choke. Fishgold tried to defend, but was eventually forced to tap. Another great showing from Amirkhani and another rough fight for Fishgold, who drops his second consecutive fight.
The co-main event of the evening was over in shockingly quick fashion; up-and-coming prospect Alexander Rakic starched Jimi Manuwa with a left high-kick to the head that sounded like a shotgun blast. Manuwa collapsed to the floor, his head bouncing several times in a sickening visual, and he remained down for a significant amount of time. Considering how much damage he has taken over a fairly lengthy career, it looks like it's time for Manuwa to at least consider hanging it up. Conversely, Rakic looks like he may be living up to the slow-boiling hype building around him. The light heavyweight division is so devoid of talent, Rakic easily moves his name into the upper rankings.
The main event started off with very low ouput from both Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith, as the former spent much of the round circling away and evading any sort of exchange. The second round was much the same, but a visibly annoyed Smith was more aggressive and was able to connect on a few good shots. The third round started off with an exchange that saw both fighters land stiff shots and was a much more active round which ended with Gustafsson taking Smith down and moving to side-control. The fourth round was rather shocking; things looked like they were going to carry on as they had in rounds prior, when Gustafsson failed on a takedown and a throw, only to have his back taken and end up getting submitted with a rear-naked choke following some harsh ground-and-pound. Anthony Smith notches the best win of his career by far and Alexander Gustafsson's stock takes a huge hit as he was losing the fight, in my opinion, all the way up to the finish.
- Anthony Smith def. Alexander Gustafsson by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:38 of Round 4
- Alexander Rakic def. Jimi Manuwa by KO (head kick) @ 0:47 of Round 1
- Makwan Amirkhani def. Chris Fishgold by Submission (anaconda choke) @ 4:25 of Round 2
- Christos Giagos def. Damir Hadzovic by Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
- Daniel Teymur def. Sung Bin Jo by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
The opening fight started off as a really tentative stand-up fight, with Joel Alvarez using his height advantage to keep Danilo Belluardo at bay. Eventually the fight went to the ground, and submission attempts were exchanged. The end came swiftly and violently in the second round, I ended up getting distracted by some things going on in my home, and returned to see Alvarez in the midst of smashing Belluardo with a combination of elbows and punches to earn a stoppage.
Next up was a decent light heavyweight bout between Darko Stosic and Devin Clark. It was fairly closely contested, with Clark spamming takedown attempts — going 2/11 on them throughout the fight — and Stosic being the one to get his opponent down. Clark dropped Stostic twice in the first, but couldn't capitalise on that. All 3 rounds were fairly close, but I expected Stosic to take the nod and was surprised when all 3 judges scored it for Clark. Not a great fight, but by light heavyweight standards it could have been much, much worse.
Unknown female bantamweights Bea Malecki and Duda Santana had a tepid first round of their fight, with very little happening outside some conservative, low-grade striking. In the second, Santana clinched Malecki against the fence but had her takedown attempt reversed and ended up fully mounted. Malecki transition to Santana's back, fished for a rear-naked choke and drew a very quick tap once she secured the choke. Not a great fight but it ended quickly enough.
Nick Hein and Frank Comacho put on a fun lightweight scrap, with Comacho working over Hein's body with kicks, punches and even elbows. Hein was unable to string together a lot of offence, and Comacho kept him circling against the cage and stuffed all of his takedowns. By the middle of the second round, the body work was really taking its toll. Comacho fought with patience not previously displayed, took his time and finished a weakened Hein with a flurry of punches in the final seconds of the round.
In another lightweight fight, a returning Leonardo Santos needed less-than half-a-round to starch Stevie Ray with a highlight reel one-punch KO. Santos lured Ray in, parried his shots and crumpled him with a single, pinpoint accurate right hand. Santos then ran, screaming, from the octagon and had to be rounded up and brought back for the official announcement. An impressive showing for Santos, given how many saw his KO win over Kevin Lee as a fluke and the fact he has not competed in 2.5 years. Santos doesn't appear to have lost a step at all, we've got another dangerous lightweight back on the active roster.
Lina Lansberg got her UFC career back on track with a one-sided mauling of veteran Tonya Evinger. Lansberg cut Evinger open with an elbow early in the first round, resulting in the octagon being liberally sprinkled with blood. Lansberg took Evinger down and bludgeoned her with elbows and punches for the majority of the last 2 rounds. Evinger had moments of offence but they were extremely fleeting. Evinger picks up her third consecutive loss and will probably be cut after this. While both women are 37 years old, Evinger seems to be falling off and commentary noted that she has a full-time job to manage as well — her fighting days may be limited. Lansberg looked better than in any of her previous UFC appearances, hopefully she can build on this.
Newcomers Sergey Khandozhko and Rostem Akman had a very close fight in the feature prelim. Akman kept the Russian backed against the cage for the majority of the fight, though he did get staggered a few times in striking exchanges. Akman seemed to have the better gas tank, although Khandozhko was able to start rallying in the latter half of the fight. I thought the rounds were close, but had it 2-1 for Akman. The judges had the reverse score, which surprised me quite a bit. The fight was closely contested enough that I'm certainly not going to call it a robbery, though. Also not the sort of fight I'm going to go back and rewatch.
- Sergey Khandozhko def. Rostem Akman by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lina Lansberg def. Tonya Evinger by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
- Leonardo Santos def. Stevie Ray by KO (punch) @ 2:17 of Round 1
- Frank Comacho def. Nick Hein by TKO (punches) @ 4:56 of Round 2
- Bea Malecki def. Duda Santana by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:00 of Round 2
- Devin Clark def. Darko Stosic by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Joel Alvarez def. Danilo Belluardo by TKO (elbows and punches) @ 2:22 of Round 2
Solid prelims, easily the best of any card the UFC has held in Stockholm previously. The main card delivered good fights and breathed some life into the light heavyweight division, even if some of that came at the expense of headlining Swede Alexander Gustafsson. I give this show an "A," I couldn't ask for much more.
Published: June 1st, 2019.