Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 5
For whatever reason, UFC On ESPN 5 was broadcast in the middle of the day, despite taking place in Newark, New Jersey. That's not a complaint, just an observation. The card, like most UFC offerings these days, was a bit light on names, but featured a main event with a lot of intrigue. Fan favourite veteran Robbie Lawler would be tested by try-hard Colby Covington, a battle between a man of few words and a man of far, far too many. The undercard produced a lot of submissions, including 3 — yes, three — technical submissions.
The main card kicked off with an absolute stinker between Kennedy Nzechukwu and Darko Stosic. This was a typically plodding light heavyweight fight which also featured repeated groin strikes which cost Stosic a point in the second and third rounds. Aside from a bunch of shots to the junk, there's nothing else notable about this fight and the best part was that it ended. This was a bit of a momentum killer on a fight card with some good finishes.
Scott Holtzman put a beating on a very game and frighteningly durable Dong Hyun Ma. A huge right hand early in the fight caused his eye to begin swelling and Holtzman targeted it with punches throughout the fight. To his credit, Ma was undeterred and even Holtzman's hardest shots left him almost completely unfazed. Holtzman was dominating the fight, but Ma just would not give up. Unfortunately the decision was taken out of his hands between rounds 2 and 3, with the ringside physician calling a stop to the fight when it was apparent that Ma could not see out of his left eye. Another strong win for a surging Holtzman; a rough loss, but valiant showing for Dong Hyun Ma.
Middleweights Gerald Meerschaert and Trevin Giles put on 2 rounds of excruciatingly dull MMA. Giles, for whatever reason, was content to let Meerschaert pull guard, continually shoot for takedowns and try for submissions. It looked like Giles was on his way to winning a decision based purely on positional control, until Meerschaert caught Giles in a scramble, nearly got him with a guillotine before another scramble, an adjustment, and another guillotine attempt. Giles actually got put out cold because the hand he tapped with was on the opposite side of the referee. A lot of people gave Herb Dean shit for how long Giles was out, but I think it was an overreaction and an honest error. A good win for Meerschaert, even if the fight was ugly; Giles is a big question-mark, with this being the second fight he seemingly gave away by playing his opponent's game.
Nasrat Haqparast needed approximately 1 round to figure out Joaquim Silva, and destroyed him quickly in the second round with a brutal left hook. Haqparast baited Silva in, then dropped him with a huge punch and followed up with some perfunctory ground-and-pound. The first round was very competitive, but Haqparast seems like a top prospect and he's earned himself a ranked opponent next. A tough setback for Silva; taking a loss at 155 — in such a phenomenally deep division — is really rough, no matter what.
The general expectation of Jim Miller versus Clay Guida was a frenetic, action-packed battle that was likely going to go all 3 rounds. Nope. We didn't get that; instead, Miller and Guida took turns staggering each other with big punches, then Miller locked in his signature guillotine and choked Guida completely unconscious. This was the third technical submission of the night, which I believe has to be a record. Again, people were harshly critical of Herb Dean's stoppage but I had no issues — he made absolutely certain Guida was out and no harm came of it. Jim Miller seems to be turning back the clock, he somehow looks younger than ever and has been turning in age-defying performances in the cage too. Guida is unlikely to be going anywhere, but Miller is starting to put together a potential title run if he keeps this up.
The main event was harrowing for several reasons. First, Colby Covington routed a very low output Robbie Lawler over the course of 5 excruciating rounds. Covington implemented the expected gameplan of relentless takedowns punctuated by flurries of high-volume boxing. Lawler's defence was actually pretty solid, even when he did get taken down he was able to avoid being mounted and got back to his feet every time. Lawler was also able to block and roll with Covington's punches, incurring essentially no damage despite having some 500+ strikes thrown his way. Lawler just would not — or could not — pull the trigger, and Round 5 Robbie never made an appearance. I can't say Covington didn't earn the win through hard work and a great gameplan, but his shtick is miserable and I'm a long-time Robbie Lawler mark so this was a tough outcome to stomach. I still think Masvidal should get the next title shot, but it's all but certain that the UFC is going to pair Covington up with current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. I'm not saying Lawler is washed up, but this was not a good performance and could be part of the process of declining as a fighter.
- Colby Covington def. Robbie Lawler by Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45)
- Jim Miller def. Clay Guida by Technical Submission (guillotine choke) @ 0:58 of Round 1
- Nasrat Haqparast def. Joaquim Silva by KO (punches) @ 0:36 of Round 2
- Gerald Meerschaert def. Trevin Giles by Technical Submission (guillotine choke) @ 1:49 of Round 3
- Scott Holtzman def. Dong Hyun Ma by TKO (doctor stoppage) @ 5:00 of Round 2
- Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Darko Stosic by Unanimous Decision(29-26, 29-26, 28-27)
Lauren Murphy and Mara Romero Borella were on their way to putting in 3 tremendously unexciting rounds, of which Murphy handily sweeping on the score cards. Then, Murphy cracked Borella with an uppercut counter, chased her down, dropped her with a brutal knee to the head and earned a stoppage with some cursory follow-up elbows. The fight was abysmal but the finish was excellent.
Flyweights Matt Schnell and Jordan Espinosa spent just under a minute-and-a-half in the cage, as Schnell attempted a guillotine choke, quickly transitioned to a triangle and caught Espinosa completely off guard. A great win for Schnell in a division that may or may not actually exist.
Antonina Shevchenko and Lucie Pudilova injected some excitement into the crowd, with a back-and-forth first round that saw Pudilova eat brutal knees to the body, rock Shevchenko with elbows and then nearly get armbarred. The second round continued the war, with Shevchenko managing to choke Pudilova completely unconscious with a rear-naked choke. Easily the best fight of the card up to this point.
Mickey Gall defeated Salim Touhari by decision, in a fight that the judges seemingly did not score any body shots from Touahri — especially the second round. Gall bounces back after an embarrassing loss to the ghost of Diego Sanchez, even if it's aruable that he didn't even win this fight either.
- Mickey Gall def. Salim Touahri by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Antonina Shevchenko def. Lucie Pudilova by Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:20 of Round 2
- Matt Schnell def. Jordan Espinosa by Submission (triangle choke) @ 1:23 of Round 1
- Lauren Murphy def. Mara Romero Borella by TKO (knee and elbows) @ 1:46 of Round 3
Fight Pass Prelims
The show opener was a fairly conservative scrap between Miranda Granger and Hannah Goldy. The former was able to outstrike the latter and dominated the clinch battles that punctuated an overall low-action fight. Not terrible but hardly remarkable. A good debut for Granger, who normally competes at 115 pounds, who took the fight on ~2 weeks notice.
Claudio Silva needed just over 2-and-a-half minutes to maul last-minute replacement Cole Williams, dragging him to the mat, securing back-control and coaxing a tap with a rear-naked choke that looked more like a face-crush. A rough night for Williams, who also missed the welterweight limit by 6 pounds. Silva picks up his 2nd win of 2019, and hopefully can stay healthy. He's been on the roster for 5 years and has been injured for roughly 3 of them.
- Claudio Silva def. Cole Williams by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:35 of Round 1
- Miranda Granger def. Hannah Goldy by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
A decent event. I'd give this a solid "B." There were some tedious fights, and the main event was infuriating to me as a fan of Robbie Lawler, but it was still a masterful performance from Covington. The early show time definitely helped, if I had to stay up until close to midnight to see Robbie Lawler take an "L" I would have been a lot more sour.
Published: August 4th, 2019.