The Rickety Old Shack

Fight Notes: UFC On FOX 31

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The UFC's final broadcast on FOX puts a bow on a 7-year partnership that brought with it many fun fights, extremely frustrating event pacing, and overall a mixed bag when it comes to the legacy of mainstream MMA. While the FOX deal provided MMA fans with a significant amount of content, the debate still rages as to whether it's been a net positive for the average fight fan. Fittingly, UFC On FOX 31 was the typical mixture of solidly entertaining fights and some truly tedious moments as well. Overall, it was a good fight card, with some exceptional fights in the lighter weight classes. Here's how things unfolded:

Main Card

Lightweight Fight
Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

This was a very closely contested fight, with the most reasonable scoring having it tied-up going into the fifth round. Iaquinta won the first and fourth, while Lee was able to grab the second and third frames by way of takedowns and back-control. Iaquinta was very patient and composed throughout the fight, racking up a lot of damage and soundly outboxing Lee who, for whatever reason, did not use his wrestling as much as expected. It may have been a issue of stamina management, as Lee was able to avoid fatiguing in the later rounds, even when he was absorbing heavy shots which rocked him but didn't send him reeling or scoring knockdowns. The judges scored things correctly — as I think you could make a good case Lee didn't even win the third — and Al Iaquinta reminds the world that he's not to be overlooked. Kevin Lee seemed shocked he lost the decision, which was bizarre, given his lack of success in the stand-up and going 2/4 on takedowns.

Lightweight Fight
Edson Barboza def. Dan Hooker by Technical Knock Out (punch to the body) @ 2:19 of Round 3

When Hooker started off the fight by trading leg-kicks with Edson Barboza, I knew we were going to be in for some madness. Barboza did well to pick his spots and not waste too much energy by spamming kicks. In the second, Hooker had brief moments of control when it looked like Barboza might be tiring, but eventually the accumulated damage to his right-leg forced him to switch stances. I was very disturbed that they let Hooker go out for the third, wherein he was completely demolished by body shots, kicks and punches. Hooker had no offence, and was fighting purely on instinct before he finally crumpled to the mat after a devastating body shot. The ending of the fight undermined what was otherwise a really exciting, violent fight. Dan Hooker is amazingly tough but he should not have been sent out for the third round, his corner, the referee and ringside doctor should all be ashamed of themselves — that was a life-changing beating he took.

Bantamweight Fight
Rob Font def. Sergio Pettis by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

This was 3 rounds of domination by Font; Pettis stayed tough and was never in danger of being finished, but had no answer for Font's takedowns and striking. Font was landing his jab at will, and looked really, really good throughout the fight. The fight was so one-sided, there really isn't much else to say. Team Roufusport — going 0-4 in front of their home crowd — and the Pettis brothers take another 'L' to close out 2018. That's got to sting...

Lightweight Fight
Charles Oliveira def. Jim Miller by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 1:15 of Round 1

So... uh, Oliveira just came out, picked Miller up, dumped him on the mat and took his back. It took Oliveira about 45 seconds to finally sink in a rear-naked choke and make disturbingly short work of a veteran in in Jim Miller. Impressive performance from Oliveira, but a little disheartening to see see Jim Miller — a fighter I've enjoyed watching for about a decade — get steamrolled like that. (To be fair, Oliveira has also been on the roster for a long time as well.)

Preliminaries

Welterweight Fight
Zak Ottow def. Dwight Grant by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

This fight was very bad. The first two rounds were low on action, with Grant out-pointing Ottow with better striking, but little of consequence happened. For reasons I do not comprehend, Ottow's corner implored him to keep Grant against the fence and shoot for takedowns — seemingly wanting to see their fighter lose 29-28. Ottow had a fairly dominant third round in a fight he clearly lost in my eyes. Somehow, 2/3 judges scored it for Ottow anyway... I'd be upset but that means thinking about the fight some more and that is not something I am prepared to do.

Lightweight Fight
Drakkar Klose def. Bobby Green by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

This was a very *cough* close *cough* fight. Green had success with takedown attempts but was unable to keep Klose down on the mat. The stand-up exchanges were fairly even, though Klose was almost always the fighter moving forward. I honestly thought Green took the decision, 29-28, but all 3 judges had it the exact opposite. Neither fighter dominated the other, so while I disagree with the decision it certainly wasn't a robbery by any stretch of the imagination. (Maybe a bit of home cooking.)

Lightweight Fight
Joaquim Silva def. Jared Gordon by Knock Out (punches) @ 2:39 of Round 3

This fight was absurd! Gordon nearly scored an early KO, but somehow Silva maintained his faculties and actually ended the round on his opponent's back. The third round was much the same, with Gordon landing takedowns and probably winning the stand-up exchanges — although Silva seemed to be finding more success as the fight progressed — but ended the round in a kneebar with Silva on his back. After being saved by the bell in the second, Gordon's leg seemed compromised from being stuck in the previous submission. Silva and Gordon went to war in the middle of the cage, exchanging a lot of punches. Silva worked the body hard and eventually backed Gordon up with hard shots and knocked him out standing against the cage. An amazing fight, easily a Fight Of The Night effort from both fighters.

Middleweight Fight
Jack Hermansson def. Gerald Meerschaert by Submission (guillotine choke) @ 4:25 of Round 1

This was straight-up domination from Hermansson, who got Meerschaert down and kept him there. Hermansson was able to effortlessly cut through Meerschaert's guard and took full mount on two occasions, and rained down some heavy ground-and-pound. Meerschaert was unable to get back to his feet and Hermansson eventually locked up a guillotine and forced the tap. A performance like that ought to earn Hermansson a ranked opponent next time out.

Middleweight Fight
Zak Cummings def. Anthony Smith by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

The first two rounds of this fight were impossible to remember, as both guys just exchanged single shots periodically and spent a lot of time moving in and out of each other's range. They were both looking busted up, but the fight was very slowly paced. In the third, Cummings dropped Smith with a hard shot and inexplicably dove after him, and got reversed trying to take his back. Later in the round, Cummings was backing Smith up with strikes and then shot for a takedown and was reversed, again, when trying to take his back... Cummings still won the fight, but it was a fairly unremarkable one outside of his baffling tactical decisions in the third.

Featherweight Fight
Dan Ige def. Jordan Griffin by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Kicking off the prelims, this fight really delivered. A lot of back-and-forth action, with both fighters having periods of control throughout the first 2 rounds. Going into the third, I had it tied with Ige taking the first and Griffin rallying back in the second. Ige was able to edge out the final round on my card, but the whole fight was really entertaining. Ige showed a lot of heart after seemingly exhausting himself by the second round, and Griffin's grappling was quite crafty, allowing him to sweep and threaten chokes multiple times.

Fight Pass Prelims

Light Heavyweight Fight
Mike Rodriguez def. Adam Milstead by Technical Knock Out (knee to body and punches) @ 2:59 of Round 1

A very short fight, which Rodriguez controlled from start to finish. Rodriguez dropped Milstead with a left early, and then beat him up on the ground for a bit before Milstead was able to get back to his feet. Rodriguez didn't let up, and dropped Milstead with a punch to the body and a knee to the liver. Milstead dropped like he'd been shot and took a few more follow-up punches before the referee waved the fight off. A very good showing for Rodriguez.

Heavyweight Fight
Juan Adams def. Chris De La Rocha by Technical Knock Out (punches) @ 0:58 of Round 3

This was... a heavyweight fight. Both men were exhausted by roughly the 6-minute mark of the fight, and it degenerated into the expected sloppy brawl. Adams mercifully ended the fight with a barrage of shots on a completely spent Chris De La Rocha. This fight was pretty much exactly what everyone expected — which isn't a compliment in this case.

—by Derek

Published: December 15th, 2018.