Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 163
Another early morning card, the UFC's return to Moscow, Russia, started at the respectable hour of 11:00AM EST. The fight card was packed with a lot of unknown, local talent; there was little-to-no name value to prop up the card. The headlining bout had some mild intrigue, with Zabit Magomedsharipov getting a showcase opportunity. The co-main event brought the usual controversy that comes with a Greg Hardy booking. Aside from those fights, the rest were good match-ups with no significant implications for their respective weight classes. The end result was a decent MMA card, though lacking in a significant Fight Of The Night offering or a hugely memorable highlight.
The main card opened with a mostly unremarkable light heavyweight bout between Shamil Gamzatov and Klidson Abreu. Neither fighter had much output, but Abreu slowly conceded the fight as it wore on. Gamzatov didn't blow my socks off, but he at least demonstrated some intention to try and win the fight. Abreu had a few good counters and combos, but didn't do enough and ended up dropping a split decision. The fight wasn't entertaining enough for me to care to question the decision, let's just move on.
Anthony Rocco Martin overcame a nightmarish style match-up against Ramazan Emeev. Martin was able to defend most of Emeev's takedowns, and countered a couple of attempts by rolling for a kimura — including a really close attempt in the early minutes of the fight. Emeev tagged Martin with a lot of good punches, but got his left calf destroyed by kicks, and couldn't stop Martin from constantly pressing forward. Martin rightly took the decision win, and seems to have found his stride as a fighter.
We were treated to more 205-pounder action, as Ed Herman and Khadis Ibragimov gave us more of that clinch-heavy MMA we all know and love. Despite holding Herman against the cage for most of the first round, Ibragimov took a lot of damage from knees and elbows. Between rounds, it appeared that Ibragimov's nose might be broken, and he was bothered by it throughout the second round. Both were quite tired by the third, and Herman continued to hurt Ibragimov in the clinch. By the end of the fight, Herman was wearing a good amount of Ibragimov's blood, and had busted his face up terribly. A clean sweep for Herman, winning a brutal war of attrition.
Danny Roberts and Zelim Imadiev turned in 2 really tough rounds, with a lot of clinching and back-and-forth exchanges. Both fighters had moments of success, but this was a very evenly matched fight. Just as the second round was coming to a close — and it looked like we were on our way to a third — Roberts flatlined Imadiev with a massive right hand. Imadiev was spun around before he faceplanted into the canvas; a highlight reel KO for Danny Roberts in hostile territory. I don't know what the scores were going to be, but it seemed like Imadiev was slowly taking over the fight before he was finished.
Alexander Volkov comfortably outpointed Greg Hardy for 3 rounds. There wasn't much going on, as Volkov was able to maintain distance for the whole fight, picking Hardy apart with kicks to the body and a consistent peppering of jabs. Hardy appeared to injure his right hand in the first round and, lacking his one actual weapon, he did little more than absorb strikes for 25 minutes. Hardy was rocked a few times, but never anywhere close to being finished. He showed a good chin and a lack of diversity, without the ability to throw big right hands, his he had no way to win. It was a decisive, albeit safe win for Volkov. I mean, get it; there is no reason to give a fighter like Greg Hardy opportunities to cash in that puncher's chance ticket, it just wasn't a very thrilling fight. Hardy turned in a performance that somehow managed to disappoint both his detractors and his supporters — it was too boring to energise anyone one way or the other.
The main event was only 3 rounds, which was a shame, because it just started to get really interesting at the end of the third. For the first 2 rounds, Zabit Magomedsharipov was able to keep Calvin Kattar on the defensive, confusing him with a wide variety of strikes and a lot of pressure. Kattar's defence was quite solid, so he didn't get too beat up, even if he did drop the first 2 rounds to Zabit. In the third, Zabit was noticeably slowing and more fatigued, and Kattar capitalised on this well. Kattar closed out the round and the fight stalking, taking down and battering Zabit. We need to see them do this again, in a 5 round fight.
- Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Calvin Kattar by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Alexander Volkov def. Greg Hardy by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Danny Roberts def. Zelim Imadiev by KO (punch) @ 4:54 of Round 2
- Ed Herman def. Khadis Ibragimov by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Anthony Rocco Martin def. Ramazan Emeev by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Shamil Gamzatov def. Klidson Abreu by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Bantamweight openers Davey Grant and Anatoli Popov had a decent scrap. I'll be honest, though, the fight didn't really hold my attention and I was distracted throughout. It looked like a close fight, but Grant was just a little more active — both in the striking and grappling. No one was ever in danger of being finished, and Grant's striking activity did fall off a lot near the end. A generic preliminary bout, with Grant taking a split decision win.
In a battle between women's bantamweights, rematching a bout from Invicta FC 13 in 2015, Pannie Kianzad proved to still be far too much for Jessica-Rose Clark. Kianzad just bullied Clark for all 3 rounds, manhandling her in the clinch and picking her apart with harder, more accurate strikes for the whole fight. Clark has improved since their first meeting, but the skill gap between her and Kianzad remains the same. All 3 judges got it right, with a sweep of 30-27s for Pannie Kianzad.
Rising newcomer Roosevelt Roberts gave Alexander Yakovlev a lot more than the UFC vet could handle. After Yakovlev narrowly took the first round with superior wrestling and grappling once the fight got to the mat, Roberts remained dangerous throughout the fight. At one point, Yakovlev was nearly caught with an armbar from the bottom, and Roberts threatened guillotines repeatedly. As the fight wore on, Roberts' persistence began to pay off as Yakovlev began to fade and get bested in scrambles and grappling exchanges. Roberts won the last 2 rounds in my books, to take down a clear 29-28 win over a very stiff challenge in Alexander Yakovlev. The judges agreed and the crowd wasn't happy with the outcome.
Next was a shocking upset, as Abubakar Nurmagomedov went from dominating David Zawada to suddenly getting stuck in a triangle choke, from guard, and tapping. The cousin of UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov was a highly touted prospect going into this fight, and got sloppy on the ground — in a fight he was handily winning — and ended up getting submitted by a huge underdog. That's why we watch these fights! I was more than a little confused, post-fight, when half my Twitter feed took the outcome of this fight to have some bearing on how to beat Khabib. The MMA fanbase has some peculiar ideas...
Karl Roberson looked to be on his way to handing 8-0 rookie Roman Kopylov his first loss, via decision. Roberson smashed Kopylov's lead leg up with kicks, compromising his mobility and looking like he might even score a leg-kick TKO. Kopylov lost a point for a blatant eye-poke in the third, and tried his best to capitalise on it by rushing Roberson when the fight resumed. Roberson stayed composed, landed more hard shots, took Kopylov down and quickly secured his back and locked in a rear-naked choke. A great finish from Roberson, who was on his way to a 30-26 sweep — he didn't need to risk going for a finish, but did so anyway.
Rustam Khabilov and Sergey Khandozhko was pretty boring. The first round was consumed almost entirely by Khabilov shooting for a single-leg takedown, failing, and holding Khandozhko against the cage. The second round was equally frustrating, with more clinching against the cage and failed takedowns attempts. Khandozhko tried to make a last ditch effort at a finish, but the third saw him taken down and easily controlled by Khabilov. It was a smothering win for Khabilov, but very boring to watch. Since his shocking debut — where he KO'ed Vinc Pichel with a brutal series of German suplexes — in 2012, he has 2 finishes in the following 11 fights.
The featured prelim was really fun. Light heavyweights Magomed Ankalaev and Dalcha Lungiambula had a back-and-forth kickboxing match for the most part, with some clinch stalemates thrown in here and there. Lungiambula's wild strikes missed their mark far more often than not, and Ankalaev was picking him apart at range. After 2 rounds I had solidly for Ankalaev, the he ended the fight just 29 seconds into the final round with a beautiful front kick and a single follow-up punch. Lungiambula crumpled to the canvas and the fight was over. A very impressive finish for the Dagestani prospect.
- Magomed Ankalaev def. Dalcha Lungiambula by KO (front kick and punches) @ 0:29 of Round 3
- Rustam Khabilov def. Sergey Khandozhko by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Karl Roberson def. Roman Kopylov by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:01 of Round 3
- David Zawada def. Abubakar Nurmagomedov by Submission (triangle choke) @ 2:50 of Round 1
- Roosevelt Roberts def. Alexander Yakovlev by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Pannie Kianzad def. Jessica-Rose Clark by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Davey Grant def. Grigori Popov by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
I guess I would have to give this show a B grade. It wasn't terrible, but the main event really suffered by not being a 5 round fight, while the co-main event failed to deliver a finish and instead left fans on either side of the fight dissatisfied. Aside from some lulls in the Khabilov fight, the card didn't get boring it just never got tremendously exciting either. A decent fight card, no more and no less; I don't think I'll remember much from this by the end of the month.
Published: November 9th, 2019.