Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 12
Another event held in the APEX facility, lost some fights at the last minute — which is the norm these days — and boasted a line-up that looked like a regional show with a UFC main and co-main event. The event also marked the inaugural debut of the Forrest Griffin Community Award, which was presented to Dustin Poirier for his longstanding dedication to charity work through his Good Fight Foundation.
Despite featuring an undercard that could best described as 4 fights in sequential order, the show delivered a lot of entertainment. Even the heavyweights managed to provide some action without getting too weird or boring. The main card vastly overshot expectations and delivered 3 amazing wars, including a serious contender for Fight Of The Year honours. The notion that all 'bad'-looking cards deliver is still specious, but when fight cards like this happen it's at least understandable why people think this way.
The first main card fight was a serious Fight Of The Night contender, as Sean Woodson and Julian Erosa slugged it out for almost the full 15 minutes of their alloted time. Woodson landed a much higher volume but Erosa would not stop trying to walk down the much taller man. They traded shots until deep in the third round, when Erosa shot for a takedown near the middle of the cage, got Woodson down and locked on to a D'Arce choke to force the tap in a fight I would be hard pressed to score confidently.
Takashi Sato needed very little time to dispatch his last-minute replacement opponent, Jason Witt. After taking about a minute to acclimate to Witt's movement, Sato dropped him with a 1-2 combo and swarmed him for a TKO finish and a flawless victory. Maybe it was just the adrenaline dump, but Witt looked like he was contemplating his future.
Brendan Allen and Kyle Daukaus went to war, giving us another entertaining scrap on the main card. Allen dropped Daukaus with a knee in the first, and cut his right eyebrow open with a grounded elbow. The second frame was a lot more competitive, and largely a grappling contest in which Allen controlled position and threatened chokes — albeit, after Daukaus started asserting himself in the stand-up. Round three was almost all Daukaus, as he took Allen down, scored his own ground-and-pound strikes and threatened chokes with a body triangle for about 4 minutes. Allen reversed the position in the final stretch but couldn't do anything significant. Allen took down the unanimous decision, although he got a ridiculous 30-27 score from one judge.
Gian Villante's transition to heavyweight was a rough one, racking up a late loss — in a fight he seemed inches away from winning — via some form of submission. The official announcement was that Villante tapped to an arm-triangle choke, from the bottom, but the replay was really unclear. It honestly looked like Villante tapped because he was having trouble breathing, either because he was smothered or perhaps the exercise-induced asthma that he commentary team noted. Regardless, Maurice Greene pulled off a Hail Mary submission attempt after being dropped and smashed with a flurry of hard shots. The fight had been a competitive, mid-tempo kickboxing match up to that point, which Greene was likely winning through sheer volume. It was an odd fight, I'm not sure where Villante goes from here, but he seemed to be in Dana White's inner circle so he'll probably be slangin' and bangin' on a fight card at some point down the road.
The co-main event was a bit of a surprise, in that Mike Perry, despite not having anyone in his corner except his girlfriend, completely outclassed Mickey Gall. There was never a point where Gall had any effective offence, he got taken down and mounted, controlled from the top, and soundly outstruck. By the end of the fight, Perry was mauling Gall on the mat, pummelling him with ground-and-pound. I don't know if this performance neccessarily indicates that Perry is a better grappler — or smarter fighter — than before, but I think it's safe to say the Mickey Gall experiment is a bust.
Even with expectations for the main event clash between Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker in the stratosphere, these two managed to exceed them by a leaps and bounds. For 5 rounds, these two threw down, landing combinations of power shots to the head and body, dozens of leg and body kicks. In the back half of the fight saw a lot more wrestling, with Dan Hooker taking Poirier down on several occassions — although he was unable to capitalise on this. Poirier's striking accuracy was somewhere in the 65% range, and he was throwing hard and frequent. Hooker was no slouch either, but was outpaced both in volume and precision. By the end of the fight, both men were completely exhausted but Poirier was able to take Hooker down and end the fight throwing punches from half-guard. A Herculean effort from both fighters; easily Fight Of The Night and a serious contender for Fight Of The Year.
- Dustin Poirier def. Dan Hooker by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46)
- Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante by Submission (arm-triangle choke) @ 3:44 of Round 3
- Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt by TKO (punches) @ 0:48 of Round 1
- Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson by SUbmission (D'Arce choke) @ 2:44 of Round 3
The opening fight as awkward and not all that engaging. The first round was largely contested in the clinch, with Jordan Griffin bullying Youssef Zalal in the clinch for most of the 5 mintues. The second round saw Griffin already starting to tire and Zalal hurt him with a body shot and several strikes. The third saw Griffin, again, trying to clinch and shoot for takedowns but he just took punches, elbows and knees for his efforts. I had it 29-28 for Zalal, which seemed obvious to anyone watching.
Kay Hansen and Jin Yu Frey was a lot more fun to watch, with Frey doing well to counter Hansen with left hands whenever she tried to close distance. Hansen remained undeterred, and managed to take Frey down and control her for most of the second round. The third was a mix of both previous rounds, with Frey landing accurate shots and a hard counter, but Hansen was unshakable. Hansen managed to take Frey down, threaten an armbar, transition to a triangle and then back to the armbar to secure a tap. Impressive work from Hansen, beating the Invicta FC atomweight champion.
The first heavyweight fight of the night was mercifully short, as Tanner Boser needed only a couple of minutes to separate Phillipe Lins from consciousness with an overhand right. Boser landed another half-dozen punches before Lins even hit the ground. A great KO for the highlight reel, and Boser's first stoppage in the UFC. We got a good post-fight interview out of Boser, who called out Maurice Greene — fighting later in the card — in the event he won his bout.
The final prelim was a fun back-and-forth between Luis Pena and Khama Worthy. The first round was a close stand-up battle of opposing stances, with Worthy landing some good punches, but taking return fire in equal volume. The second round was all Pena, who scored an early takedown and dominated Worthy for the rest of the round, transitioning between mount and back control, threatening head-and-arm triangles and rear-naked chokes. In the third, Worthy stuffed 2 takedowns, landed a number of hard body shots, and snagged an exceptionally tight guillotine choke seemingly out of nowhere, forcing Pena to tap. Another solid win for an impressive prospect in his second consecutive upset win.
- Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena by Submission (guillotine choke) @ 2:53 of Round 3
- Tanner Boser def. Phillipe Lins by KO (punches) @ 2:41 of Round 1
- Kay Hansen def. Jin Yuh Frey by Submission (armbar) @ 2:26 of Round 3
- Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Easily an "A" level show, and just shy of perfect. A great showing from Julian Erosa, a massive underdog who got to redeem his 0-3 UFC record somewhat. Mike Perry keeps the world guessing, and Dustin Poirier gave us the third epic war of his career.
Published: June 28th, 2020.