The Rickety Old Shack

Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 162

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Since this event took place in Singapore, it didn't exactly air at a convenient time for North American audiences. The prelims began at 5:00am EST, with the main card starting at 8:00am and featuring 6 fights. The main event wasn't the most compelling on paper, but was certainly an interesting fight to contemplate as a style match-up. The whole event ended up being quite good, with a solid line-up of fights that made up for their lack of divisional implications with quality MMA action. I didn't watch the event live and, judging from the empty seats I saw throughout the event, neither did many other people, but the show was really fun to watch after the fact. Here's how it went down:

Main Card

The main card opened with an interesting battle between Muslim Salikhov and Laureano Starpoli. At first, it looked like Salikhov was just going to demolish Staropoli and put him away in the first. The first round ended up being a lot more conservative than I would have expected, but Salikhov greatly picked up the pace in the second. Staropoli has a strong chin, to be sure, but did little more than survive a beating. Salikhov was measured and devastating with his attacks, and I honestly don't know how Staropoli didn't get TKO'ed — especially during a flurry in the second round. Nonetheless, it went to the scorecards and Muslim Salikhov easily took a unanimous decision. I was impressed with Staropoli's durability and composure, even in the face of such a huge striking deficit. Salikhov looked great.

France's Cyril Gane put on a showcase performance, brutally outclassing Don'tale Mayes over the course of 15 minutes. Despite battering him, dropping him twice and looking like he was second aways from a finish before the first round ended, Gane almost went to the scorecards. Mayes was tough, but accomplished little more than showing us he can absorb a wicked amount of punishment. In the final minutes of the third round, Gane had Mayes visibly hurt with a body kick, and took him down in the last 30 seconds. It looked like Gane was just making sure Mayes had no chance to mount any offence as the clock burned down, but then, suddenly, Gane transitioned to an armbar and forced Mayes to tap. Gane looked excellent, putting on a striking clinic, showing decent wrestling and finishing the fight — which he was handily winning, 3 rounds to none — with a submission in the final seconds.

Beneil Dariush didn't need much more than 2 minutes to choke out Frank Comacho, shooting for a single-leg and using the attempt to take Comacho's back and drag him to the mat. From there, Dariush fished for a rear-naked choke and sunk it in very quickly. Comacho is a game fighter, so it was a bit of a shock to see him tapped out so quickly. This was a good rebound for Dariush, who has had mixed results in his UFC run.

Michael Johnson versus Stevie Ray was a very interesting pairing of 2 of the most snakebit fighters on the UFC roster. The first round was incredibly close, although I scored it for Johnson as I thought he was slightly more effective with his strikes and dictated the pace of the round. The second, I also scored for Johnson as he looked like he was really settling in and was blasting Ray with counters and jabs — busting his face up quite badly. The third, though, was all Stevie Ray, who managed to take Johnson down early in the round and even take his back at one point. Ray was able to threaten a rear-naked choke and completely dominate Johnson for the whole round and take a decision on the judges' scorecards. It was a really fun fight, and it's unfortunate one of them had to lose. Both worked really hard in this fight and have records that don't reflect their actual talents as MMA fighters. The fact it was a majority decision doesn't surprise me — and a draw would have been fine too.

The main event was quite the surprise. Demian Maia and Ben Askren ended up having a kickboxng match, for the most part, although there was a brief ground battle at the end of the second round — with both of them trading positions, with Maia throwing submission attempts. I had Maia up 2-0 going into the third, as I thought he was more effective in the first, landing better strikes and pressuring more. Askren had more success in the second, although never established himself or racked up any meaningful control time. In the third, both seemed to be tiring and Maia was showing more accumulated damage from the stand-up exchanges. At one point, Askren took Maia down, but was reversed, had his back taken and eventually had to submit to a rear-naked choke — well, technically, as he was actually rendered put to sleep. It looks like the Ben Askren experiment is officially over, and Demian Maia serves notice that he might be over 40 but he's not done yet — not even close.

Results:

Preliminaries

The show opened with a decent scrap between unranked heavyweights Rafael Pessoa and Jeff Hughes. The Brazilian was able to keep Hughes at bay for most of the fight, landing a few kicks to his legs and body, and repeatedly backing him into the cage. For whatever reason, Pessoa kept backing off whenever he got Hughes against the cage, but it didn't matter since he won all 3 rounds in my books anyway. The fight somewhat fizzled near the end, but Pessoa showed much improved conditioning in his second UFC fight.

Making her UFC debut, former Invicta fighter Loma Lookboonme put a sustained beating on Alexandra Albu. Albu latter took a lot of liberties with grabbing Lookboonme's shirt and shorts, and somehow avoided a point deduction despite several warnings. Still, it didn't matter a whole lot, as Lookboonme spent all 3 rounds blasting her with copious knees to the body, leg kicks and standing elbows. Albu had almost no success with anything, save for a scissor sweep in the final 30 seconds of the last round. Albu was totally outclassed on the feet and her only response was to clinch, where she got kneed in the body over and over again. A solid debut for Lookboonme, Albu racks up another loss in a fight she wasn't able to bully her opponent. I have no idea how this was a split decision, as 2 judges has it 3-0 for Lookboonme while the other had it 29-28 for Albu. There is no way you can legitimately give Albu a round in this fight.

More unranked heavyweights in Sergei Pavlovich and Maurice Greene, but things were mercifully quick. Pavlovich only need a couple of minutes to figure Greene out, back him up with a stiff jab and pummel him against the fence. Greene recovered briefly , using a single-leg attempt to get back to his feet, but Pavlovich measured him and dropped him again. Herb Dean intervened after Greene was dropped for a second time. Green protested the stoppage but it seemed very appropriate, he was disoriented and was only going to take more damage.

Featherweights Movsar Evloev and Enrique Barzola had a really entertaining fight. Evloev spent a lot more time striking than I would have expected for a wrestler by trade. Evloev's pressure was impressive, and he maintained it throughout most of the fight. Barzola, to his credit, absorbed a lot of punches, was taken down repeatedly, but shrugged off any damage and was able to scramble back to his feet quickly. Every round felt close, with Evloev landing a higher volume of strikes and looking more active, but Barzola wasn't outclassed and seemed to be gaining strength the longer the fight went on. I had it 29-28 for Evloev, and he correctly picked up with decision. Great fight.

Rafael Fiziev spent 3 rounds beating up a tough but otherwise completely outclassed Alex White. It was a fun fight, and White did his best to avoid being steamrolled, but Fiziev was just too precise and unrelenting with his pressure. White absorbed a lot of damage, never mounted any significant offence but managed to survive until the final bell. Fiziev showed very technical striking and a decent wrestling game, making him another welterweight prospect to keep an eye on.

The featured prelim, a women's strawweight clash between Ashley Yoder and Randa Markos, was a decent fight, but I will admit that my attention waned at certain points. The first round was pretty much a grappling battle that began with a head-and-arm throw (*sigh*) and saw both women take turns fighting from the bottom position. Markos, who enjoyed a noticeable power advantage in the stand-up, landed a 40-some strikes in the second round and almost as many in the third. I had it 29-28 Markos, and 2/3 of the judges did as well. A fun fight, even if there were some sloppy exchanges at certain points.

Results:

A good, mid-level UFC fight card. A B+ effort, with a good main event. I've been a fan of Demian Maia for a long time, and it was really nice to see him finally win a fight against a wrestler. I'd let the pessimistic general consensus — that Askren was yet another wrestler who was goign to smother Maia en route to a decision win — sway me from picking Maia and I was so glad to be wrong. The rest of the fights were very fun, even if their outcomes means relatively little in the bigger UFC picture.

—by Derek

Published: October 26th, 2019.