Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 165
The final UFC card of the year began at the so very accessible hour of 2:00AM EST, and took place in Busan, South Korea. The crowd was very enthusiastic, and they were rewarded with a solid fight card that had a fun mix of close, entertaining fights and brutal finishes. The main event saw a pair of WEC veterans — one very different career trajectories — collide violently, and produced mixed feelings for those of us who have followed both fighters over the years.
Kyung Ho Kang mauled Liu Pingyuan over the course of a 3-round fight that was not particularly close. Kang was able to take Liu down every round, but didn't inflict much damage despite having top control for ~80% of the fight. In the final minute, Liu opened up Kang's face with some elbows from the bottom, but it wasn't nearly enough to turn the tide. Somehow, defying all logic, the judges were split, with one inexplicable 29-28 card for Liu and a 29-28 for Kang (also bad) and a 30-27 (correct). They got the winner right but MMA judging is always going to be a roll of the dice, it would seem.
Jungyon Park turned in another decision win for Korean fighters on the card, outpointing Marc-Andre Barriault with a mix of wrestling and solid boxing. Barriault could never get more than a few single strikes off, while Park was landing shots on defence and offence, and finishing combos with takedowns. Barriault had good takedown defence, but Park's persistence paid off. Good fight, I had it 30-27 for Park, but it seemed like 2 judges gave Barriault the second round somehow.
Da Un Jung starched Mike Rodriguez, throwing a counter-right that wrapped around a pawing lead hand. Rodriguez collapsed to the canvas and was put to sleep with a barrage of follow-up punches. A quick night's work for the Korean light heavyweight, bringing his UFC record to 1-1.
Doo Ho Choi versus Charles Jourdain initially looked like it was going to be another quick finish for the hometown crowd, as Choi staggered his opponent several times and a (T)KO looked to be just a matter of time. Then, in the final minute of what looked to be a 10-8 first round, Jourdain dropped Choi with a straight right and swarmed on him. Choi survived to the bell and seemed to recover, but the fight began to tilt away from him from that point forward. The second round saw Jourdain begin landing strikes with more and more frequency, before he countered an uppercut with a straight right that crumpled Choi. A few follow-up shots were all that was neccessary to spoil Do Ho Choi's last fight before he begins his mandatory 2 years of military service. Great showing for Jourdain, overcoming early adversity and finishing a legit talent in Choi.
The co-main event was a very close battle between light heavyweights Volkan Oezdemir and Alexander Rakic. The first round looked to be clearly for Rakic, who pounced early with a flurry of strikes — including a flying knee — and even a guillotine attempt. Oezdemir weathered the early storm, but was kept at range, and landed very few strikes. The second round was much, much closer, and Oezdemir did significant damage to Rakic's left, lead leg, causing a horrifying amount of swelling to appear. Rakic began to fade a little in the third, with his output dropping, and Oezdemir began to have more success with his striking. The round closed with the two battle in the clinch. I had it 29-28 Oezdemir, but by a razor-thin margin. The judges were split but agreed with my winner. This was a good fight, especially for the 205 weight class.
The main event was a bittersweet affair, as Chan Sung Jung blitzed Frankie Edgar, staggered, then dropped him, spent 3 minutes on his back — with both hooks in — alternating between submission attempts and ground-and-pound. In the final minute of the round, Edgar got back to his feet but Jung swarmed him, dropped him with more punches and finally forced referee Marc Goddard to intervene. A one-sided win over a former champion for Jung, and a harsh setback for Edgar, who took this fight on short notice, filling in for an injured Brian Ortega. I already had concerns about Edgar's potentially waning durability, and a violent loss like this does not bode well if he still intends to cut down to 135 pounds.
- Chan Sung Jung def. Frankie Edgar by TKO (punches) @ 3:18 of Round 1
- Volkan Oezdemir def. Alexander Rakic by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Charles Jourdain def. Doo Ho Choi by TKO (punches) @ 4:32 of Round 2
- Da Un Jung def. Mike Rodriguez by KO (punches) @ 1:04 of Round 1
- Jungyong Park def. Marc-Andre Barriault by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Kyung Ho Kang def. Liu Pingyuan by Split Decision (28-29, 26-28, 30-27)
The card opened with a very closely fought bantamweight fight between Alatengheile and Ryan Benoit. All 3 rounds were really close, and Benoit seemed to be winning them with slightly higher volume and the fact he was the one moving forward most of the time, but he got staggered or dropped at the end of rounds 1 and 2. The third was more of the same, but this time Benoit finished strong. The judges were split, and Alatengheili ended up taking the nod. Despite the setback, I thought Ryan Benoit looked good in his first fight moving up to 135 pounds.
Amanda Lemos didn't need long to counter the grappling of Miranda Granger, warding off leg-lock attempts before taking the back and choking her opponent completely unconscious. It was a surprising finish as Lemos had a very unorthodox angle for the choke, but still put Granger to sleep.
Said Nurmagomedov, the cousin UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, had a very close, fight with Ronny Barcelos. Nurmagomedov threw a high volume of strikes, including a lot of spinning kicks and back-fists. Barcelos had difficulty closing distance but adjusted in the second round, and landed some hard leg kicks. Barcelos was able to figure out Nurmagomedov's tells, and force grappling battles in the back halves of rounds 2 and 3. Nurmagomedov defended well, but ceded both rounds on my sccorecard. I had it 29-28 for Barcelos, one judge had it 30-27 which is I thought was a stretch.
Alexandre Pantoja and Matt Schnell waged a very fast-paced, violent fight for as long as it lasted. After opening the bout as if it was a hockey fight, both fighters got a lot more tactical and composed. Both fighters seemed very evenly matched and appeared to be settling in for a long fight. Then, out of nowhere, Schnell moved in, Pantoja sidestepped him and dropped him with a counter-left. Schnell collapsed and a single follow-up shot put him out cold; a highlight reel win for Pantoja.
Dong Hyun Ma and Omar Morales had a somewhat tentative fight, with the first round being a draw in my books — as it felt like half the round was spent in a stalemate kimura attempt from Ma. The second was contested primarily on the feet, and Ma just didn't throw nearly enough volume. The third saw Morales drop Ma with a spinning heel-kick but fail to earn a stoppage, instead ending up in Ma's guard. I had it 29-27 for Morales, who looks very good against an uncharacteristically tentative Dong Hyun Ma.
_ Choi tried his best to buzzsaw through Suman Mokhtarian. He lost a point for repeatedly grabbing the fence to maintain a clinch against the cage, which made the first round a 9-9 draw. In the second, Mokhtarian got absolutely blitzed and dropped, but somehow managed to hold on and survive until the third. Choi continued the one-way traffic, turning in another strong round and clinching a dominant decision win. Mokhtarian showed he's really tough, and that's about it.
In the final preliminary bout, Tanner Boser and Cyrile Gane had a very uncharacteristically agile heavyweight fight. Boser, despite looking about 1.5 weight classes smaller than Gane, withstood a lot of hard strikes, but ultimately came up short. Gane's agility was equally impressive, given his size, and he landed the most damaging shots of the fight. Boser made it to the end of the third, but was soundly beaten. I am not normally one to encourage fighters to cut weight, but Boser gives up a lot of size and that matters a lot more as the level of competition increases.
- Ciryl Gane def. Tanner Boser by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Seung Woo Choi def. Suman Mokhtarian by Unanimous Decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-25)
- Omar Morales def. Dong Hyun Ma by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 29-28)
- Alexandre Pantoja def. Matt Schnell by KO (punches) @ 4:17 of Round 1
- Ronny Barcelos def. Said Nurmagomedov by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Amanda Lemos def. Miranda Granger by Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 3:43 of Round 1
- Alatengheili def. Ryan Benoit by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
The UFC ends the year off with a solid B+ event. I would rate it higher, but the main event was a very unfortunate, one-sided loss for a veteran like Frankie Edgar, and the co-main was a good, technical fight but it didn't exactly get my pulse going.
Published: December 22nd, 2019.