Fight Notes: UFC Fight Night 175
The UFC's cavalcade of pandemic fights continued apace, as UFC Fight Night 175 ran with an abbreviated line-up of only 10 fights. The UFC's pandemic protocols looked to be as loosely enforces as they were at UFC 249 (Fight Notes) just 3 days prior. The mask usage was inconsistent, physical distancing was effectively ignored — I'm wondering if the pandemic playbook was just some rough drawings of jacked guys punching a virus.
It should also be noted that this would technically be the 171st UFC Fight Night event, but event cancellations related to COVID-19 scrapped a number of them. Despite rescheduling UFC 249, to keep numbering consistent, they didn't bother with the Fight Night cards.
Kicking off the main card was Michael Johnson, entering his 10th (!!!) year in the UFC, taking on Thiago Moises. The first round was all Johnson, as he sprawl-and-brawled his way to an easy 10-9 round, landing good shots, picking the right openings and avoiding the ground game. The second round was absurd, as Moises just charged out, dove for a leg and proceded to submit Johnson with an ankle lock in short order. A shocking end to a fight that looked to be handily in Johnson's control, and a rough way to return to lightweight after a failed featherweight run.
Andrei Arlovski turned in one of his typical late-career bad fights, but mercifully spared us the sight of him getting finished. Arlovski weathered some hard shots, did well to use a southpaw style to stifle a lot of Phillipe Lins' offence and managed to steal a decision. Not an atrocious fight, but 3 rounds of minimal action resulting Andrei Arlovski taking other arguable decision. We also got treated to a cringe-inducing groin kick, as Lins threw a low kick that missed the mark and made an unsettlingly loud noise as it smashed Arlovski's junk.
Ray Borg and Ricky Simon picked the pace back up, with the latter handily dominating the wrestling portion of their fight and logging a lot of control time. The stand-up battle was fairly even, and Borg landed some nasty-sounding body shots in the final round, but both fighters kept their wits about them. Simon had a significant physical size and strength advantage, but Borg wasn't completely nullified either. The judges were split, which I didn't think was right — I thought it was down to whether or not Simon won 30-27 or 29-28. They got the winner right, even if it was a split decision.
Alexander Hernandez and Drew Dober kept things violent. The initial minutes of the fight looked pretty even, although Dober seemed to be quickly adapting to Hernandez and was able to masterfully defend all of the takedown attempts he coaxed out. By the end of the second, Dober was beginning to land counter-lefts with regularity. Round two didn't get any better for Hernandez, and Dober could smell blood in the water. Dober rocked Hernandez several times, forcing him into instinctive, desperation takedowns. While Hernandez was able to get Dober to the mat, he couldn't keep him there. After being staggered and dropped a few more times, the referee called it off. Drew Dober's progression continues to impress.
The co-main event was exactly the awkward, unsatisfying three-round slog rational fans expected. To paraphrase Connor Ruebusch of Heavy Hands, "this was a fight between 2 guys who do weird submissions, because those are the only submissions they know." It ended up being mainly a bad kickboxing match with long stretches where Ben Rothwell just leaned on Ovince Saint-Preux. The move up to heavyweight didn't do OSP's cardio any favours, and Rothwell was the same lumbering, unerring ogre he's always been. For a while, it seemed like OSP was going to get finished simply due to extreme exhaustion, but he manged to land some visibly counters, although Rothwell said they were slips as opposed to knockdowns. The fight ended in a split decision, which was mind-boggling as there is no way in Hell that OSP won that fight by any measure.
The main event was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, as former light heavyweight title contenders Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira dispensed a lesson in brutality. The first round-and-a-half of the fight were all Anthony Smith, as he pieced Teixeira up with a consistent jab and a steady assault of kicks. In the second round, though, things started to fall apart for Smith. First, Teixeira began to counter jabs with hooks, and began to catch Smith. In the third, Smith seemed to be tiring and then a blatant low-blow — a literal punch in the dick — completely changed the tenor of the fight. Teixeira got a break from a very bad position, where he was getting barraged by Smith, and the groin shot looked to be really hard.
Smith never got back into the fight and Glover, as he is wont to do, got stronger as the fight wore on. The beatdown intensified, and Smith did all he could to survive until the end of the round as Glover rained punches down from mount. The fourth round went even worse, as Teixeira just picked up where he left off in the third. Smith was dropped and bludgeoned, offering nothing but marginally effective defence. Despite a potential 10-7 round, and saying "my teeth are falling out," Smith's corner decided to send him back out to get beaten even more. Referee Jason Herzog finally waved off the fight. A horrific spectacle, and utter negligence on the part of Smith's corner.
- Glover Teixeira def. Anthony Smith by TKO (punches) @ 1:04 of Round 5
- Ben Rothwell def. Ovince Saint-Preux by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Drew Dober def. Alexander Hernandez by TKO (punches) @ 4:25 of Round 2
- Ricky Simon def. Ray Borg by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Andrei Arlovski def. Philipe Lins by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 292-28)
- Thiago Moises def. Michael Johnson by Submission (heel hook) @ 0:25 of Round 2
Chase Sherman, a late-notice replacement, was able to snag his third UFC win in dominant fashion. His opponent, Villenueva, got shweed up with knees and punches throughout the first, and was quickly stopped with a standing elbow against the cage and vicious follow-up punches. A reasonably quick, violent heavyweight fight.
Brian Kelleher and Azur was a solid scrap, for as long as it lasted. After a back-and-forth opening rounded, contested entirely on the feet, Brain Kelleher was able to adjust and starch Azure with a left-hook. Brutal finish, and the sound of the follow-up shots. Kelleher earns his fifth consecutive win with a great performance. Azure looked eager to strike but his porous defence did him in.
Up next was another intense stand-up battle, as Gabriel Benitez and Omar Morales exchanged savage leg kicks and hard shots. Benitez was working the body well in round 1 but abandoned that in the second. Morales managed to smash a literal chunk out of Benitez's leg — giving us an awful visual — and ende dup winning a very close fight with a unanimous decision. It was a tough fight to score, both of them are going to be feeling this one tomorrow.
The final prelim saw Sijara Eubanks bully Sara Moras for the entirety of their 3-round fight. Eubanks got the better of the stand-up, blasting Moras with power shots repeatedly throughout the first. Moras' only success came when she would try and pull guard, nearly catching Eubanks in an armbar once per round. When the armbars failed, however, Eubanks would rain down punches after escaping. The scores were all over the place, but they were unanimously for Eubanks. Since finally moving up to bantamweight, Eubanks seems to be putting everything together.
- Sijara Eubanks def. Sarah Moras by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Omar Morales def. Gabriel Benitez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Brian Kelleher def. Hunter Azure by KO (punches) @ 3:40 of Round 2
- Chase Sherman def. Isaac Villanueva by TKO (elbow and punches) @ 0:49 of Round 2
In a normal world, UFC Fight Night 175 would be a typical event. The absence of a crowd, making the strained breathing and impacts of strikes easily heard, made everything feel more brutal. This was exceptionally true in the case of the main event, a sustained beating that had no business going on as long as it did. There would be a lot of discussion after the fact regardless, but Anthony Smith's beatdown at the hands of Glover Teixeira ended the show on a somber note — I honestly felt a little dirty after processing what I had seen. The only bad fight was a heavyweight tilt, which is to be expected. A decent show but the main event and the laughable COVID-19 protocols leave me no choice but to give this one an "F."
Published: May 14th, 2020.