Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 6
The UFC's 498th event took place in Boston, Massachusetts, and featured a lot of hometown talent. The veterans turned in mixed results, with Joe Lauzon looking very rejuvenated after a long layoff, while former middleweight champion Chris Weidman got demolished in short order. Greg Hardy won an MMA fight but lost another battle with some pretty simple rules. The rest of the card was quite entertaining, here's how things went down:
Opening the main card was Deron Winn and Darren Stewart going all 3 rounds. Winn put in a lot of work, taking Stewart down repeatedly, battling hard for each takedown. Stewart had some decent offence from his back, and cut Winn's head with an elbow from the bottom position in the first round, but had a lot of trouble getting back to his feet. Winn seemed to be tiring by the midpoint of the fight, but continued to lunge for single legs and wade into range with looping overhand rights. The rounds were close, so the split decision wasn't a big surprise, although I thought Winn's takedowns and control were enough to win. Winn seems really undersized for middleweight, and I think he would be a terror at 170 pounds. Stewart persevered and did well to overcome a huge wrestling deficit.
Maycee Barber TKO'ed Gillian Robertson fairly quickly, after Robertson tried to clinch and tie Barber up, only to get flurried against the cage. Barber was picking Robertson apart at range, tried for a single-leg takedown and then transitioned to the clinch, but Barber was just too strong. Some hard punches and a standing elbow were enough to prompt the referee to intervene. I thought it was an early stoppage, the sort Aspen Ladd was complaining about in her hearing with the California State Athletic Commission — even if her fight was in fact stopped correctly. I think Robertson was most likely done, but no referee would have stopped a men's MMA fight in that same circumstance. Regardless, the Maycee Barber hypetrain rolls on, while Robertson takes a tough, one-sided loss.
This next fight really surprised me, as long-time UFC veteran Joe Lauzon absolutely wrecked Jonathan Pearce. There was a very brief feeling-out process on the feet, and then Lauzon cracked Pearce with 2 big punches that rocked him. Lauzon moved on, grabbed a bodylock and eventually got Pearce down and tied him up in a half-nelson position. From there, Lauzon unloaded punches Pearce was physically incapable of blocking and also had his right shoulder cranked. After 559 days out of the cage — and looking really shopworn in his last performance — this was a very impressive rebound for a guy with 44 professional fights.
Greg Hardy and Sousoli was an atrocious heavyweight fight with the added bonus of Greg Hardy illegally using an inhaler between rounds, which ended up getting the result — a decision win for Hardy — overturned and changed to a no contest. Hardy looked somewhat improved, but still terrible; Sosoli was way outsized, and Hardy was talking about fighting Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou and he couldn't even finish another hand-picked opponent. As for the inhaler, this is now the second time this guy has managed to break some pretty basic rules. I doubt this will stop the UFC from continuing to try and build Hardy up, but it makes them look pretty foolish.
Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez did not disappoint. This do-over of the main event of UFC Fight Night 159 (Fight Notes) was a fast-paced battle for the entire 15 minutes. Rodriguez was very aggressive, landing a lot of kicks in the first round, and dropped Stephens in the second with a devastating kick to the body. Stephens survived, somehow, a 2-minute onslaught and even managed to take Rodriguez down and dominate the latter half of the round. The third was a clear round for Stephens, who took Yair down and mauled him for the bulk ofthe final frame. I had it 2-1 for Rodriguez, who rightly earned the judges' nod. A great fight, it's too bad we didn't get the 5-round version we were originally promised.
The main event went almost exactly like I expected, only even quicker. Dominick Reyes was able to defend Weidman's takedown attempt at the beginning of the fight, and after a little over a minute of defending against the cage, was able to get some separation. Weidman moved in with a straight punch and got dropped with a counter left. Reyes pounced and quickly finished off the former middleweight champion with a pair of hammerfists. Dominick Reyes adds a huge name to his resumé, and Chris Weidman looks like his MMA career is pretty much over — this is his 5th KO loss in 4 years, a run that includes only a single win. Both Weidman and Luke Rockhold, the first man to beat him, just made harshly unsuccessful moves from middleweight to light heavyweight, and and it now looks like both are completely shot. MMA is such an unforgiving pursuit.
- Dominick Reyes def. Chris Weidman by KO (punches) @ 1:43 of Round 1
- Yair Rodriguez def. Jeremy Stephens by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Greg Hardy -vs- Ben Sosoli by No Contest (overturned) @ 5:00 of Round 3
- Joe Lauzon def. Justin Pearce by TKO (punches) @ 1:33 of Round 1
- Maycee Barber def. Gillian Robertson by TKO (punches) @ 3:04 of Round 1
- Darren Stewart def. Deron Winn by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The TV prelims opened with bang, as Randy Costa only needed a couple of minutes to blitz Boston Salmon with incredibly quick, hard punches. Salmon absorbed the shots well at first, but as the volume began to accumulate he ended up stunned against the cage. Costa did not let up, dropping Salmon and then staggering him several times before Herb Dean waved the fight off. Salmon protested the stoppage but couldn't even stand without the cage holding him up; Herb Dean absolutely made the right call here. It was a good stoppage, and Costa looked very impressive in this quick, violent win, as he gets back in the win column.
Kyle Bochniak dropped a spirited decision to newcomer Sean Woodson. The latter was able to punish Bochniak at range with a lot of punches, as well as knees when he would try and close distance. Bochniak had effectively no success with repeated takedown attempts, as Woodson's height and defence completely stifled that part of his game. Woodson was composed and very technical, blanking an aggressive — but ultimately ineffective — Kyle Bochniak over all 3 rounds. Woodson appears to be one of the better talents brought in through Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Molly McCann gave Vericona Belbita a rough welcome to the UFC, mauling her with takedowns and holding her own in the strikin exchanges. Belbita did fairly well in the first round, throwing ~150 strikes and landing about 1/3 of them. McCann likely stole the first round with a late takedown and hard ground-and-pound. McCann was having more success with takedown attempts in the second round, and Belbita had a point deducated for grabbing the cage to prevent a takedown. McCann outworked Belbita handily for the rest of the second, putting her on pure defence. The third round was a lot slower, with less action overall; again, Belbita had no effective answer for McCann's grappling. It was a clear win for McCann even without the point deduction, Belbita looked okay but needs to work on her double-leg takedown defence — she seemed to handle single-leg attempts just fine.
Missing weight ended up not helping Manny Bermudez much. Returning after an extensive injury layoff of almost 2 years, Charles Rosa was taken down early but immediately began threatening submissions from his back. Bermudez got stuck in Rosa's guard and got stuck in an armbar that forced a verbal tap shortly after the midway point of the opening round. Bermudez was landing some effective ground-and-pound before Rosa snatched the armbar, it was really quick — and equally impressive.
- Charles Rosa def. Manny Bermudez by Submission (armbar) @ 2:46 of Round 1
- Molly McCann def. Diana Belbita by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Sean Woodson def. Kyle Bochniak by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Randy Costa def. Boston Salmon by TKO (punches) @ 2:15 of Round 1
Tanner Boser was finally able to make his UFC debut, after having his bout at the promotion's Edmonton stop cancelled 2 days before the event. He and Daniel Spitz had a fairly measure stand-up battle, which Boser handily won with higher volume and more accurate shots. Spitz' left knee looked awfully swollen for a while, the result of a few dozen targeted kicks from Boser. The Canadian notched a unanimous decision win for his efforts, sweeping Spitz on all scorecards.
Kevin Holland had a typically sloppy, fun right. He and Brendan Allen had a back-and-forth first round which consisted almost entirely of grappling battles on the mat. Allen was busted open after refusing to let go of a leglock position, but persevered and was eventually able to sweep Holland threaten a rear-naked and guillotine choke. The second round was more grappling, as neither fighter seemed very confident on the feet. Allen's persistence paid off and he was eventually able to get Holland's back, secure hooks and sink in a rear-naked choke for the win.
Court McGee had a very typical fight — a grindy, three-rounder — but came up short against the newcomer, Sean Brady. It was Brady's striking speed and power that proved too much for McGee to handle, and his takedown defence was more than enough to keep the fight standing. McGee wasn't totally outclassed, but he wasn't able to smother and stifle his opponent like he's normally able to. Brady was more successful, landing more volume and better quality strikes; I had it 3-0 for Brady on my scorecard. A good debut fight, McGee is a tough test to pass.
- Sean Brady def. Court McGee by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Brendan Allen def. Kevin Holland by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 3:38 of Round 2
- Tanner Boser def. Daniel Spitz by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
A strong show, even in spite of the Greg Hardy clown show. The main event was a bit depressing, but at least Dominick Reyes managed to erase memories of his frustrating win over Volkan Oezdimir. A strong B+ show, we needed another 2 rounds in the Rodriguez / Stephens fight to really push this one over the top.
Published: October 20th, 2019.