Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 161
Earlier in the week, there was a significant amount of concern that the main event might be derailed due to weight cutting issues. These concerns ended up being overblown, as Joanna Jędrzejczyk made weight successfully, which means people on MMA Twitter had to deal with discussions about the weight of breast implants for no reason. Good times; not creepy at all. Anyway, the card was very well matched from top to bottom and ended up delivering on every fight. The main event played out almost exactly as expected, with Joanna Jędrzejczyk showing us she's far from done. The whole card was really good, though, and the last 3 fights all staked a claim to Fight Of The Night.
The main card opened with a sloppy middleweight fight between Eryk Anders and Gerald Meerschaert. It was basically 3 round of Anders lumbering after Meerschaert, throwing the same wild right hook and straight left over and over again. Anders sprinkled in some wild high kicks, but none of them landed. It was a typically middleweight fight, in that it was pretty bad and Anders managed to make a striking contest with Gerald F'ng Meerschaert way closer than it should have been. Anders eeked out a split decision and, after he was wobbled at the end of the third, it looked like he might even lose the fight for a bit. Not a great showing for either guy
Luis Pena and Matt Frevola had a crazy back-and-forth fight. The first round was incredibly close, and probably a Frevola round although Pena was able to finish strong, including threatening with an obscure buggy choke. The second was a dominant round for Pena, but not one-sided enough to be a 10-8 despite rocking Frevola with an amazing flying knee and a barrage of punches. The third was another closely contested round, but Frevola outworked Pena and earned a hard fought split decision win. Pena's lack of finishing power is
Making a surprisingly quick turnaround after giving birth to her first child, Mackenzie Dern ended up dropping a decision to Amanda Ribas. Dern was picked apart at range, was unable to close distance and clinch or land any strikes of significance, and Ribas didn't give her much opportunity to work when the fight did go to the ground. Dern looked really sloppy, and absorbed a lot of strikes. Ribas handed Dern, a decent prospect, her first loss so we'll see if she can build on that while Dern needs to clean up some ring rust and refine her striking quite a lot.
Niko Price and James Vick was a short, violent battle. After a brief feeling out process on the feet, James Vick ended up in Price's full guard following a scramble and then, suddenly, he was blasted completely unconscious with an upkick. Vick was out for quite a while afterward, as Price spoils his welterweight debut. I wasn't neccessarily sold on the theory that James Vick would have a better chin at welterweight, but the kick that finished him would have taken anybody out. Still, that's 3 savage KOs in 4 consecutive losses in a row; there is a very real chance that Vick ends up cut from the UFC, where he has competed for over nearly 7 years.
Cub Swanson and Kron Gracie went to war. The third generation Gracie was persistent in his approach, lumbering after Cub, who circled away for most of the fight but landed a huge number of strikes. Kron was unable to initiate any useful clinches, failed at dropping and pulling guard, and mostly showed off a really, really impressive chin. Korn did hit Cub with a decent number of strikes, some of which did wobble him, but this seemed more an indictment of Cub's waning durability rather than indicating Kron has much in the way of punchig power. Cub won a 30-27 fight, but incurred a lot of damage in the process. If Cub had been fighting a more proficient striker, I think he would have been finished.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson was not very competitive, but it was a strong showing for the former strawweight champion. Despite all of the mid-week concerns about whether or not she would be able to make weight, Joanna turned in a classic performance. Waterson was tough as can be, absorbing a lot of strikes, and even threatening a rear-naked choke at the end of the third round, but ultimately was outclassed. Joanna was able to dominate the clinches, bully Waterson, and rack up a high volume of strikes. Waterson was outclassed, but she didn't seem overwhelmed or in a position where her corner should have thrown in the towel. Joanna indicated she damaged her foot in the second round, and it looked very swollen by the end of the fight, making her win even more impressive.
- Joanna Jędrzejczyk def. Michelle Waterson by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
- Cub Swanson def. Kron Gracie by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Niko Price def. James Vick by KO (upkick) @ 1:44 of Round 1
- Amanda Ribas def. Mackenzie Dern by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Matt Frevola def. Luis Pena by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Eryk Anders def. Gerald Meerschaert by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Deiveson Figueiredo didn't need much more than 3 minutes to choke out Tim Elliot with an arm-in guillotine. There isn't much else to say here, beyond the fact that Figueiredo appears to be the real deal. Definitely someone to keep an eye on, in this extremely crowded modern UFC roster.
Alex Morono and Max Griffin had a really entertaining fight. Most of it was a kickboxing match, with Griffin only shooting for takedowns — and actually having a lot of success — and it was, shockingly, after being on the wrong end of a 10-8 second round. Morono hit Griffin with a head kick, a flurry of punches and knees to the head, and even a spinning backfist, but somehow Griffin stayed standing. Morono won 29-27 in my books; a great fight to watch.
Up next was a really disturbing fight, to be honest. Thomas Gifford got absolutely wrecked by Mike Davis; this was such an incredible mismatch and Gifford was failed not only by his corner — which included his own father — but the referee as well. You could have genuinely scored the first round a 10-7 and the second a 10-8. There was no reason to send Gifford out for the third round, but they did anyway and he got battered even further and eventually knocked out. Everything after the first round was wholly unneccessary; I felt gross watching it unfold. The referee and Gifford's corner did no one any favours.
Ryan Spann took a bit to get going, but once he did it wasn't long before Devin Clark was in serious trouble. Spann had Clark backing up against the cage for most of the first round, but didn't throw much in the way of volume. In the second, he maintained the same approach until he staggered Clark with a huge right hand, flurried him a bit more and then snatched a quick standing guillotine choke. Spann's composure and accuracy were noteworthy, and his finish came just in time to keep the show schedule on track.
- Ryan Spann def. Devin Clarkby Submission (guillotine choke) @ 2:01 of Round 2
- Mike Davis def. Thomas Gifford by KO (punch) @ 4;45 of Round 3
- Alex Morono def. Max Griffin by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28)
- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Tim Elliot by Submission (guillotine choke) @ 3:08 of Round 1
I missed the opener, between JJ Alrdrich and Lauren Mueller due to a mix-up over the show's start time. From perusing some recaps and my Twitter feed, it doesn't seem like it was a Fight Of The Night contender, but had a spirited opening round.
Marvin Vettori took a clear 3-0 decision win over Andrew Sanchez. The first round was a blowout, the following 2 were close but still clear rounds for Vettori, and that's all she wrote. Sanchez absorbed a lot of strikes but was never in danger of being finished, though his cardio faded a lot after round 1. Marvin Vettori looked vastly improved in this fight and huge for 185 pounds.
Miguel Baeze needed 1-and-a-half rounds 2 carve up Hector Aldana. Baeza was fairly conservative in the first round, and closed it out with a takedown in the final seconds. In the second round, Aldana was almost completely passive and kept eating leg kicks and punches. A calf kick dropped Aldana and Baeza followed-up with some nasty ground-and-pound elbows to earn the stoppage. Very impressive.
Marlon Vera and Andre Ewell had a fairly close first round, with the former almost catching Ewell in a standing head-and-arm triangle choke. Ewell reversed the position and ended up sitting in Vera's full guard for a few minutes, but did nothing there. I would have given the first round to Vera, for being way more activeon the bottom. The second round was clearly Vera's, as he started lighting Ewell up with kicks to the legs and body and a lot of punches. Vera continued to turn up the pressure in the third, got Ewell down with a guillotine attempt and pounded him out for the TKO win. Marlon Vera runs his current winning streak up to 5-0 and continues to be one of the UFC's most entertaining fighters.
- Marlon Vera def. Andrew Ewell by TKO (elbows and punches) @ 3:17 of Round 3
- Miguel Baeze def. Hector Aldana by TKO (elbows) @ 2:32 of Round 2
- Marvin Vettori def. Andrew Sanchez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- JJ Aldrich def. Lauren Mueller by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
I've got to give this an A rating. None of the fights disappointed, the show pacing was as quick as one could reasonably ask for, and the only sour note was the conclusion of the Thomas Gifford / Mike Davis fight. The referee for that bout was pulled from the James Vick / Niko Price match, which was good, but does little to erase the grisly spectacle that was allowed to unfold on the prior fight. Gifford was transported to the hospital and was reported to be in good condition, but who knows what long-term damage was done...
Published: October 12th, 2019.