Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 13
The second event in the UFC's Fight Island series, UFC On ESPN 13 delivered a card much lighter on name value than the UFC 251 pay-per-view that aired this past Saturday. Still, for a mid-week fight card, there was a lot of quality action and some violent finishes — something for everyone.
A light heavyweight bout between Timo Feucht and Kenneth Bergh was scrapped at the last minute, after Feucht's neo-Nazi associations, including a past arrest, were revealed. A number of other fighters missed weight, including: Abdul Razak Alhassan and Chris Fishgold, but no other fights were lost.
Kicking off the main card was a potential violence-fest that not only lived up to those expectations, but was a lot more nuanced than simply 2 guys throwing haymakers. Abdul Razak Alhassan tried to walk Mounir Lazzez down, and threw looked to land almost 2 dozen power shots very early. Lazzez was completely unimpressed and unfazed, backing against the fence, covering up and rolling with the punches. Alhassan looked to punch himself out and Lazzez began to take over, landing vicious standing elbows and knees to the body. Lazzez calmly dismantled Alhassan and took him down late. Lazzez repeated his performance, minus the part where he got swarmed, for the next 2 rounds and rode to a clear decision win. Referee Daniel Movahedi issued a number of very quick stand-ups and seemed to have no interest in letting fighters work on the ground.
Taila Santos looked markedly improved over her last fight, and cruised to an easy decision win over Molly McCann. Santos had a really varied attack, mixing up head and body strikes and punctuating rounds with quality takedowns and positional control. McCann didn't look out of sorts, but Santos had her number in every stage of the fight and logged a trifecta of 30-27s from the judges.
Jimmie Rivera handily outworked Cody Stamman over 3 rounds, outstriking him, mixing up takedowns and stuffing any that came his way. Not a whole lot to say beyond the fact this was an obvious 30-27, and was rightly scored as such by 2/3 judges. Rivera makes a successful return to the octagon after almost a year off since his last (losing) fight. Cody Stamman didn't look terrible but Rivera did outwork him thoroughly. Not a very memorable fight, though.
In the co-main event, Tim Elliot and Ryan Benoit had a great scrap. They basically split the fight, with Elliot winning the first half, and doing just enough to take the second round, but Benoit was countering very well in the boxing exchanges and threatened a nasty kneebar in the second. Both fighters had great showings, but Elliot logged just a little bit more control time due to his greater success in the grappling exchanges. There's a decent argument that Benoit won the fight, though — everything comes down to the second round.
The main event was a one-sided striking clinic, as Dan Ige got boxed up for 25 minutes but an accurate, unwavering Calvin Kattar. Ige's best work was done in the first 8 minutes of the fight, but aside from the middle of the second round, he was losing the entire time. The fight was far less competitive than the commentary made it sound. Ige did well to circle away from Kattar and avoid getting trapped against the fence, but his counters and overall output fell off a cliff in the back half of the fight. Kattar maintained a composed, consistent assault that won him every round in my books. A 49-46 score is reasonable, but 48-47 — which one judge awarded — is absurd and indefensible under any rule set or scoring criteria.
- Calvin Kattar def. Dan Ige by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
- Tim Elliot def. Ryan Benoit by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jimmie Rivera def. Cody Stamman by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Taila Santos def. Molly McCann by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Mounir Lazzez def. Abdul Razak Alhassan by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jared Gordon dominated Chris Fishgold, who had a brief initial surge which petered out quickly once a guillotine attempt failed to yield a quick finish. It wasn't a very exciting fight, but it was completely one-sided, with Gordon logging a 10-8 in the second round. Fishgold was rendered defensive for the entirety of the fight and acknowledged the loss, even raising Gordon's hand after it was over. Gordon's tribulations leading up to the fight — a miscarriage, his team and corner testing positive for COVID-19 — were numerous and it was a feel-good moment to see him prevail in the cage.
Up next, unheralded light heavyweights Modestas Bukauskas and Andreas Michailidis delivered exactly one round of action. It was a standard MMA kickboxing match in a cage, but Michailidis shot for a takedown near the end of the round. Bukauskas defended and blasted him with elbows reminiscent of the time Travis Browne destroyed Josh Barnett and Michailidis was too hurt to get to his feet after the bell. Michailidis protested the stoppage but he was clearly too hurt to continue.
Ricardo Ramos and Lerone Murphy had a fun scrap for as long as it lasted. Ramos was throwing a lot of spinning attacks, and none were really landing. Murphy seemed to content to let Ramos burn off energy needlessly, then he punched him in the face, took him down and pounded him out. The stoppage honestly came quite a bit late, as Ramos looked like he got flash KO'ed a couple of times before it was officially halted.
Khamzat Chimaev changed levels and took John Phillips down faster than I thought humanly possible. From there, Chimaev just beat the crap out of Phillips, earning a 10-7 round on one judge's score card. The second round opened in similar fashion, only Chimaev mercifully opted to choke Phillips out with a D'Arce — rather than prolong his suffering. Going forward, I think we're just going to call Chimaev "Big Khabib." That was terrifying.
- Khamzat Chimaev def. John Phillips by Submission (D'Arce choke) @ 1:12 of Round 1
- Lerone Murphy def. Ricardo Ramos by TKO (punches) @ 4:18 of Round 1
- Modestas Bukauskas def. Andreas Michailidis by TKO (elbows) @ 5:00 of Round 1
- Jared Gordon def. Chris Fishgold by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Jack Shore needed just a little over a round to bulldoze Aaron Phillips. Shore dominated the fight with takedowns and suffocating ground control, eventually submitting Phillips with a rear-naked choke at the half-way mark of round two. Shore stays on the prospect track, and Phillips probably ends his second UFC stint as quickly as it began.
The second prelim was over in just shy of half-a-round. Liana Jojua ate some early punches and had to battle Diana Belbita in the clinch for a bit, but eventually reversed the position and reversed a takedown attempt into an armbar. Belbita defended initially, bit Jojua was able to adjust and force the tap. What an abrupt reversal and end to a fight that just looked to be heating up. Belbita's decision to try and take Jojua down was very questionable.
- Liana Jojua def. Diana Belbita by Submission (armbar) @ 2:23 of Round 1
- Jack Shore def. Aaron Phillips by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:29 of Round 2
A strong "B" level show; the fights were largely of no consequence, save for the main event giving us a vague indicator as to who is closer to title contention at 145 pounds. The main card was decision-heavy, but there weren't a lot of lulls in the action — at worst, Stamman / Rivera was simply forgetable.
Published: July 16th, 2020.