The Rickety Old Shack

Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 4

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The UFC's 4th ESPN-exclusive event started off with a mixed bag of fights, as all of the undercard fights went to decision and weren't exactly all Fight Of The Night contenders. The main card continued the trend, with a decent heavyweight scrap, one of the worst robberies in MMA history, and then run a of violent finishes. The main event wasn't the best, but was a good showing for an up-and-coming fighter. Not an abject disaster of an event, but not great by any means either.

Main Card

The main card opened with a heavyweight brawl between Andrei Arlovski and Ben Rothwell, a rematch of their 2008 battle on Affliction MMA's first pay-per-view titled Banned. Arlovski was far more active in this fight than any previous bouts, throwing — and landing — more punches in the first round than probably his last half-dozen fights. Rothwell could do little besides lumber forward, absorbing a significant amount of damage, but wasn't able to back Arlovski off. This continued for most of the fight, though Rothwell mounted an unsuccessful rally late in the final round. Arlovski took a unanimous decision and gets back in the win column, looking much better than he has in a long time. Arlovski's movement and striking volume were quite impressive.

Alexander Hernandez and Francisco Trinaldo didn't do much to change the trajectory of his event, turning in another 3 rounds of tepid action. It seemed obvious to everyone that, while the fight was light on action, Trinaldo was the aggressor and landed a lot more shots on Hernandez. Somehow, though, the judges awarded the fight to Herndandez, including a pair of 30-27 scores which was just ridiculous. This may have been the biggest robbery in recent memory, just unreal.

The first finish of the night came in the form of a violent 1-2 combo from Dan Hooker, who handed James Vick his third consecutive loss — and second nasty KO — in the first half of the opening round. Vick was demolished, while Hooker gets back on track after his gruesome loss to Edson Barbosa. It's hard to feel empathy for Vick, given his unshakable loyalty to a disreputable person like his coach, Lloyd Irvin.

Greg Hardy made short work of Juan Adams who, after landing a couple of effective jabs, shot for a terrible single-leg takedown where he basically hip tossed himself. Hardy flurried him with a dozen or so hammer fists and the referee correctly waved the fight off. Adams protested but I'll assume he was just stunned, because he was just eating punches and doing nothing to defend himself. As loathsome as he is, Hardy continues to run roughshod over the middling opposition the UFC puts in front of him.

The co-main event was over in the blink of an eye, as Walt Harris clipped Aleksi Oelinyk with a jumping knee and then put him to sleep with a follow-up big left hand. In addition to being KO'ed so quickly, Oelinyk landed really awkwardly on his right leg and was seen limping from the cage afterward.

Rafael Dos Anjos ended up getting dominated by Leon Edwards in the main event. After being taken down and controlled for most of the first round, RDA was peppered with punches at distance and brutalised by elbows. One elbow managed to cut RDA's eyelid, almost badly enough to end the fight, but his cutman was able to keep him in the fight. Unfortunately, all that really meant was Edwards continued to stifle him with clinches and racked up a lopsided significant strike differential. RDA kept trying valiantly to stage a comeback, but just could not string any offence together. Edwards fought essentially the perfect fight, notching the biggest win of his career.



Roxanne Modafferi and Jennifer Maia kicked off the preliminaries, and the former looked completely outclassed. Maia was able to stuff every single one of Modafferi's takedown attempts, forcing her to rely on her awkward striking — which didn't go so well. Maia tagged Modafferi with punches with regularity throughout the full 15 minutes of the fight. To her credit, Roxanne continuously pressed forward but was entirely unsuccessful with everything she tried. It's unfortunate that Maia came in 4 pounds over the flyweight limit because this was otherwise a dominant, quality win.

The streak of bouts going to decision continued, as Sam Alvey did typically Sam Alvey things and gifted us a dreary 15 minute slog. Klidson Abreu was able to shut Alvey down completely, and consistently land strikes on him while maintaing a good defensive range. Alvey had little-to-no success, save for a few brief moments where he just rushed forward, swinging. Abreu won the fight, but it wasn't compelling to watch. The most tension we got was Alvey nearly getting KO'ed at the very end of the first round, the rest was slightly more engaging than a sparring match.

Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana took a while to get things going, as the first round of their fight consisted of both of them missing on the vast majority of their strikes. I'd give the first to Pennington, but Aldana was able to assert herself throughout the second round and the third was almost a stalemate. Aldana was threatening leg submissions, from the bottom, for the majority of the third round; depending on how you score Pennington's top position control versus Aldana's submission attempts — none of which were very close to being locked in — determines the winner. I gave it to Aldana, the judges were split and gave it to Pennington — no complaints from me.

The final preliminary was yet another decision. Alex Caceres and Steven Peterson had a decent fight, but it was a bit frustrating to watch given every previous fight also went to a decision. Peterson spent the majority of the fight plodding forward, getting lit up by Caceres' punches. Peterson got Caceres' back in the first round and had a couple of close rear-naked choke attempts. That was the extent of his success, however, as Caceres was able to outpoint him over the next 2 rounds despite having a broken lead right hand. Caceres took a unanimous decision. Peterson showed a sturdy chin, some decent grappling and a lot of flaws.


Fight Pass Prelims

Things kicked off with a fun scrap between Domingo Pilarte and Felipe Colares. It was a clinch-heavy fight with some fun grappling scrambles on the mat, with Colares able to keep Pilarte stuffed against the cage and took him down several times. Pilarte was resilient, and made a lot of submission attempts from his back and any time Colares made sloppy takedown attempts. In the final round, Pilarte turned the tables, took Colares down and stayed on his back — complete with a locked-in body-triangle — for the majority of the round. Colares was able to take a split decision win in a very close fight; round 2's scoring was the difference maker. Pilarte did not look anything like a 4:1 betting favourite, which is what he was prior to the fight.

We got even more bantamweight action and an early contender for Fight Of The Night the form of a 3-round brawl from Mario Bautista and Jin Soo Son. There was minimal clinching and wrestling, as both men took turns blasting each one another with hard punches to the face and kicks to the body. By the third round, Son's face was very swollen while Bautista looked much fresher. It was a closely contested fight, but Bautista was able to land the more damaging shots while absorbing a lot of heavy return fire. It was a really fun fight, easily deserving of a bonus in my opinion.

Ray Borg got back in the win column, outgrappling newcomer Gabriel Silva for the bulk of their 3 rounds. For much of the fight, Silva was stuck wearing Borg like a backpack, forced to exert a lot of energy defending choke attempts. Silva's defence and composure were good, but Borg's pace and tenacity were simply too much. It was a feel-good story for anyone who has been following Borg's difficulties, from fight cancellations to his infant son's struggle with hydrocephalus.


I'd give UFC On ESPN 4 a C+ grade. We got zero finishes and a lot of forgettable action until the third fight of the main card, had to endure Greg Hardy crushing another can, and then another grindy decision in the main event.

—by Derek

Published: July 21st, 2019.