Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 172
The UFC machine schedule continues unabated, as "Fight Island" hosted the first Fight Night since UFC Fight Night 171 (Fight Notes) back in mid-May. I'm not sure what distinguishes a 'Fight Night' from a 'UFC on ESPN' event, although I would suspect it's related to specific contractual obligations to ESPN. The main event was a re-do of a fight that was meant to crown a new flyweight champion, however Deiveson Figueiredo won the fight in the cage but lost the battle on the scale — coming in over the championship weight limit.
There was just one catchweight fight on the card, a preliminary bout between featherweights Grant Dawson and Nad Nairmani. The reason for the catchweight was never specified, but I will assume it had to do with the last minute nature of so many fight bookings these days. Amir Albazi, for example, immediately got on a plane to Abu Dhabi after receiving his call from the UFC — they really do mean last minute.
The first fight of the main card was an absurd battle between Askar Askarov and Alexandre Pantoja. The fight opened with Pantoja jumping for a guillotine, failing, and then shooting for 3 triangle attempts afterward — all within the first minute. Askarov was not dissuaded from trying to grapple, though, and continued to shoot for takedowns without cease. The second round was a non-stop grappling battle, but Pantoja looked to be fading as fight progressed. The third round featured the most stand-up exchanges, and Askarov clearly had the conditioning advantage. This was a great fight, and I had it 2-1 Pantoja, due to all of his submission attempts but the judges awarded it to Askarov.
The next fight was a stark contrast to the main card opener, as Ariane Lipski quickly advanced on Luana Carolina, put her on her back against the cage and started grappling from full guard. Lipski ended up giving her back in a puzzling sequence that saw Carolina attempt a calf slicer, only to be countered with a standing kneebar that looked horrific. Carlolina screamed and tapped immediately. To quote my Twitter feed: triangles and kneebars — we're partying like it's 2008!
Rafael Fiziev and Marc Diakiese gave us a technical, engaging war that went to the judges' scorecards. The striking exchanges were fairly even, though Fiziev had some masterful — and incredibly loud — body work, especially in the first round. It was Fiziev's clinch and takedown that ultimately won him the fight, outworking Diakiese for a clear 29-28 win, dropping the last round to a resurgent Diakiese. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough, and this was another setback for Diakiese, who had finally got back on a winning streak after a rocky start to his UFC tenure. Rafael Fiziev looks like yet another dangerous addition to the lightweight roster.
We once again followed-up an exciting 3-round war with a quick finish — and via another form of archaic leg lock! Jack Hermansson wasted no time, ducking a right-hand from Kelvin Gastelum, securing a bodylock, only to be reversed and thrown. As Gastelum rose to his feet, Hermansson grabbed ahold of a foot, grapevined the leg and tightened up a vicious heel hook. A great rebound for Hermansson after a TKO loss to Jared Cannonier in his last outing. Unfortunately for Kelvin Gastelum, his goal of rematching Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title just got further away.
The pattern was broken with a brutally one-sided main event. Deiveson Figueiredo simply beat the shit out of Joe Benavidez, before finally strangling him unconscious in the first round. Joe got dropped early, and valiantly fought off 4 really good rear-naked choke attempts before getting back to his feet. Things just continued to spiral out of his control, however, as Figueiredo pieced him up on the feet, dropping him 3 times with power shots, finally swarming on him with ground-and-pound before locking his violently contorted body into an inescapable rear-naked choke. Benavidez struggled to escape but ultimately fell unconscious, leaving a horrifying sight as the fight ended. If this had gone to a second round, that should have been a rare 10-7 round for Deiveson. Benavidez looked slow and never settled into the fight, a retirement would not surprise me at this stage of his career. We'll see what happens with the flyweight title next, I still think it will remain cursed until Demetrious Johnson returns to the UFC.
- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Joseph Benavidez by Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 4:48 of Round 1
- Jack Hermansson def. Kelvin Gastelum by Submission (heel hook) @ 1:18 of Round 1
- Rafael Fiziev def. Marc Diakiese by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ariane Lipski def. Luana Carolina by Submission (kneebar) @ 1:28 of Round 1
- Askar Askarov def. Alexandre Pantoja by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The pacing of the show was very quick, Montel Jackson and Brett Johns took their positions in the cage about as fast as possible after the last early prelim. Johns did well to implement a clinch-heavy attack, holding Jackson against the cage although failing to score any takedowns despite having bodylocks and deep single-legs. Jackson likely won the first with the only damaging offence, a few elbows and a counter that dropped Johns. The second and third were, in my estimation, Johns rounds as he dominated the position and kept Jackson defending takedowns and struggling to get back to his feet when he did get brought to the mat. Johns dug deep and persevered through a really tough fight.
The collapse of Joseph Duffy appears complete. After trading heavy leg kicks with Joel Alvarez, Duffy shot for a takedown but got wrapped up in a very tight guillotine and tapped less-than half-way through the opening round. A great win for Alvarez, but this brings Duffy to 0-3 in as many fights, with this being his worst loss yet — decisively dropping a fight to a complete unknown. I have no idea what this means in terms of Alvarez's talent level, we'll have to see what his next couple of fights look like.
Grant Dawson just mauled the shit out of Nad Niramani. There's not much to say here; it was 3 rounds of Dawson taking Niramani down with ease and dominasting him on the mat. Niramani did well to defend rear-naked chokes and avoid being finished, but he did little else. Dawson earned a clear 10-8 round in the second, completely changing the course of what looked like a competitive fight in the first round. Dawson looked gigantic at the 150-pound catchweight, and I wonder if he should even stay at featherweight in the future. The scores were every permutation possible while still getting the winner correct — gotta love that MMA judging.
The final preliminary bout took a while to progress to any sort of action. But, once it did, the fight ended in a violently abrupt manner. Roman Dolidze measured Khadis Ibragimov with a few leg kicks and spent a lot of time circling away from him. Then, as the two closed distance, Dolidze threw a high-kick that landed a knee flush on Ibragimov's jaw and crumpled him into a heap. Dolidze landed a few follow-up shots before Herb Dean stepped in, and Ibragimov seemed completely out of it for a while afterward. Great debut for a light heavyweight prospect.
- Roman Dolidze def. Khadis Ibragimov by TKO (knee and punches) @ 4:15 of Round 1
- Grant Dawson def. Nad Narimani by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
- Joel Alvarez def. Joseph Duffy by Submission (guillotine choke) @ 2:25 of Round 1
- Brett Johns def. Montel Jackson by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The show began with unheralded heavyweights Sergey Spivac and Carlos Felipe having a your typical heavyweight fight: stand-up at 3/4 normal speed, clinching, and a middling ground game. Spivac had the superior stand-up through the first round, dropped the second, and dominated the third by taking Felipe down and battering him against the cage. A good win for Spivac, and bad fight for viewers. I don't have any earthly idea how a judge had this fight a draw — Felipe absolutely did not win 2 rounds. Regardless, arguing over the scoring of this fight requires thinking about it and I'm not very keen on that.
The action picked up considerably in the next bout, as Arman Tsarukyan logged a clear unanimous decision win over Davi Ramos. Tsarukyan's wrestling was too much for Ramos in the first 2 rounds, while going for broke in the stand-up in the final round didn't pan out very well either. Tsarukan's striking was enough to counter Ramos and sit him down with a punch, and then cut his face up in the final minutes of the fight. A complete performance from Tsarukyan, who I gave all 3 rounds.
Amir Albazi needed just under 1 round to submit Malcolm Gordon, incurring little more than a mouse under his left eye. After the fight went to the ground, Albazi's grappling advantage was clear. After controlling the position the ground and progressing to mount, Gordon tried to push Albazi off and get to his feet but ended up caught in a transition to a triangle choke. It only took Albazi a few seconds to adjust the hold and lock it down, forcing the tap. This was, according to the commentary team, the first triangle choke of the year.
- Amir Albazi def. Malcolm Gordon by Submission (triangle choke) @ 4:42 of Round 1
- Arman Tsarukyan def. Ravis Ramos by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sergey Spivac def. Carlos Felipe by Majority Decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Another fun event emanating from "Fight Island," I would have to give this an "A." We got a title fight, complete with an ultra-violent ending, and a fight card filled with entertaining fights. The heavyweights still suck, but we got that trash out of the way at the start of the show.
Published: July 18th, 2020.