The Rickety Old Shack

Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 169

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As an 8-week stretch of events continues apace, the UFC's stop in Norfolk, Virginia, looked absolutely abysmal on paper. Lacking any significant name value, save for a main event in a division the UFC has been trying to kill for years. Despite this, UFC Fight Night 169 delivered an entertaining night of fights, even if it was — for all intents and purposes — a regional MMA event with a UFC headliner. Still, we got a good show even if there are significant critiques of the overall quality of this offering. I don't have any problem with regional-level MMA, but I don't confuse it with the UFC's usual quality level either.

Main Card

The main card opened with another one-sided fight, as Grant Dawson mauled Darrick Minner for a round-and-a-half before submitting him in the second frame with a back-take transition to rear-naked choke. Dawson was relentless, controlling every aspect of the fight — the stand-up and grappling — and looked very, very good.

Up next was a women's featherweight scrap between Megan Anderson and newcomer Norma Dumont. After a clinch-heavy first few minutes, Megan Anderson slept Dumont with 1 perfectly timed punch. Some cursory follow-up punches sealed the deal, but Dumont was already well on her way to the astral plane. Presumably the winner of this fight is now in line to get wrecked by Amanda Nunes. Still, a solid win for Anderson in any event.

Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev started off quick and violent, with the Russian landing a headkick that looked to daze Cutelaba. Ankalaev followed up with more kicks to the head and body and the referee stopped the fight bizarrely, despite Cutelaba still being on his feet and reacting. Cutelaba looked hurt but was absolutely still viable in the fight, the stoppage was ridiculous and an immediate rematch needs to happen. I will admit that Cutelaba didn't look to be in great shape, but he was returning fire had not even been knocked down. Awful.

The co-main event was a shocking mismatch in talent as Veronica Spencer easily overcame a significant size deficit to brutalise Zarah Fairn and TKO her within a single round. Fairn is a legit featherweight in terms of size, but had absolutely zero awareness once the fight went to the ground. The state of the women's featherweight division remains dire as Spender, an obvious bantamweight, easily dismantled her opponent. I know the talent pool is going to take a while to develop, but this was still a ridiculous mismatch.

The main event was another example of how I can predict the objectively worst outcomes in MMA with shockingly good accuracy. Joe Benavidez turned in a quality first round in a title fight where he was the only one to make weight. Regardless, Deiveson Figueiredo made it to the bell, regrouped in the second and was able to put Benavidez away after he leaned into an accidental headbut. Benavidez was cut open right away, backed against the cage and ended up walking into a straight punch that put him out cold. Unfortunately this means the flyweight division still has no champion, as Figueiredo came in at 127.5 pounds and was ineligable to win the belt.



Luis Pena and last-minute replacement Steve Garcia had a fun back-and-forth battle. Garcia was busy early in the fight, pressuring Pena and shooting for takedowns. Garcia's energy waned a little and Pena's own grappling took over. The last 2 rounds played out fairly similarly, with Pena getting Garcia's back and alternating between fishing for rear-naked chokes and throwing punches. Garcia briefly threatened with a triangle from the bottom in round 3, but was otherwise dominated in his UFC debut. Still, a fun fight.

Marcin Tybura and Sergei Spivac had a tedious, three-round heavyweight slog. Tybura outwrestled Spivac and did little besides maintain positional control and throw minimally damaging ground strikes.

Tom Breese had a harsh return to the octagon, getting dominated by Brendan Allen's wrestling before being finished with ground strikes in the second round. Allen improves to 2-0 in the UFC and looks to be a serious prospect at middleweight.

Gabriel Silva and Kyler Phillips went to war for 3 full rounds, putting on a high-level display of truly mixed martial arts. Phillips was able to build momentum throughout the fight and slowly overcome Silva, ending the fight mauling Silva on the ground and threatening submissions in between raining down strikes. Another exciting fight, even if the combatants were almost complete unknowns.


Early Prelims

Ismail Naurdiev and Sean Brady split the first two rounds, the former backing Brady against the cage with strikes, and the latter dominating the second round with wrestling and ground control. The third was another Brady round, as Naurdiev simply could not get back to his feet. A decent fight between prospects, but nothing exceptional.

The next fight was a violent beatdown, as Spike Carlyle ran through Aalon Cruz. Carlyle walked him down, landed a headkick, a standing elbow in the clinch that severely wobbled Cruz, and then let loose a flurry of punches that wilted him and ended the fight. Caryle's post-fight speech was incredibly cringe-worthy, but his debut performance was extremely impressive.

TJ Brown was taking it to Jordan Griffin for the better part of 2 rounds, outstriking him and dominating with a relentless takedown attack. Griffin threatened a couple of chokes from the bottom in round 1, and then — seemingly out of nowhere — reversed a takedown attempt from Brown into a guillotine that put him out cold. While Brown's output was fading and his takedowns were getting more laboured, he was absolutely dominating the fight before he got choked out. Great work from Griffin, securing an extremely rare guillotine, from the bottom, while in side-control.


All-in-all a good fight card, a lot of finishes and some good performances in the fights that went to decision. I'll give this event a B+ since the main event saw a winner miss title weight and make an already controversy-marred division even murkier. Still, a good night of fights in general even if the line-up had absolutely zero name value outside of one half of the main event.

—by Derek

Published: February 29th, 2020.