The prelims provided some solid entertainment and didn't have a single fight that would induce a comatose state. Maybe I'm a light judge, but that is generally what produces a successful card for me. There were a couple of subs and a TKO which is always a welcome occurrence. Considering not as many people care for the prelims than I'm gonna cut the intro shor
I knew that Latifi was a strong dude... but damn! He bullrushed a single leg on Diabate that wasn't surprising, but was still able to get the lanky Frenchman down. The fact he went for a guillotine wasn't surpring either. But the fact he didn't have an arm under and was able to finish with a power guillotine was impressive. That really sums up the fight as Diabate was too tentative for his own good and didn't land a single strike. Sad way for Diabate to go out as he announced beforehand this would be his last fight.
Latifi may only be one more victory away from entering the top 15 of the division, which goes to show more than anything how shallow that the division is. Not to take anything away from the Swede, but Diabate (as already stated) looked... I don't want to say nervous but don't want to use tentative again. Screw it, Diabate looked nervous in there and has never possessed the best takedown defense. But he earned a UFC victory and that gives him some more respectability regardless. Jan Blachowicz was recently signed to the UFC and has yet to be matched up with an opponent for his debut. Blachowicz has been one of the top fighters in the European scene for a while and would want an opponent with some legitimacy. Latifi's victory should give him just enough to fill the bill.
As stated earlier, Diabate announced his retirement effective after the fight. As a world class striker for 20 years, he couldn't have gone out in a more disappointing way (barring injury) without a strike being landed. Diabate will likely be around the sport as a striking coach, so I don't think he will completely disappear from the scene. No matter what he does though, I'm sure everyone (including myself) wishes him well in whatever he pursues at this point in his life.
It was a highly entertaining bout that took place strictly on the feet with a lot of leather being thrown. In other words, most fans did (or would... depending on if you saw it) enjoy it quite a bit. Nilsson was able to work inside of Barnatt's range early in the fight and had him rocked with multiple clean shots before Barnatt was able to regain his composure by utilizing the clinch. Some back-and-forth took place before Barnatt landed a left kick to the head through Nilsson's hand that wobbled Nilsson before Barnatt swarmed in with fists to finish off the Swede.
Barnatt showed he still has holes in his striking defense and hasn't fully realized how to utilize his reach to keep opponents at a distance. But he showed that he has power and improved technique in his kicks and punches and now owns a decision, submission, and TKO victory in the UFC to show some versatility. He isn't ready to face the elite of the division yet, but does deserve someone who has earned some staying power. My favorite match for him by far is to match him up with Clint Hester. Both are from TUF 17, both were their teams first picks on the show, both are still raw, and both own 3-0 UFC records. What else makes more sense?
Nilsson underestimated the power that Barnatt possessed (I'm sure plenty others would have too) and ended up paying the price. I'm shocked he didn't attempt to take the fight to the ground as he is a very well versed grappler. Maybe he was trying to prove a point, which more often than not isn't the best thing to do. But it was a fun fight and he certainly got the better end of the exchanges at times. Brad Scott fought a competitive fight on the card as well only to fall short. Scott is more than willing to trade if Nilsson wants to try and do that again and I would expect a fun fight to be the result of these two being paired.
Claudio Henrique da Silva defeated Brad Scott via Decision
The fight was going exactly as I expected it to through the first two rounds with Silva landing some takedowns in the first round and trying unsuccessfully to score a submission with Silva gassing in the second and allowing Scott to begin landing some big punches and taking control of the fight. The third is what was unexpected. Silva was able to catch a second wind and did just enough to control Scott with an attempted standing RNC and top control to end the round.
Even though Silva walked out with a somewhat surprising victory, I don't think that he looked his best in this contest. I'll give Scott credit for showing good submission defense, but Silva never really threatened with a sub and that is unusual for him. Silva was considered to be a top prospect a few years ago, but will need to greatly improve his striking technique to come anywhere close to fulfilling the expectations that were thrust upon him at one point and time. The wild strikes he throws are best served to force his opponent to move backwards. Though it works well with his style, it certainly hurts his overall game. A fight with the winner of UFC 171's Bubba McDaniel-Sean Strickland bout is the best option for him at this point.
Scott lost the momentum he had from his impressive victory over Michael Kuiper and will have to re-evaluate his cardio. grappling game and his fight IQ. When he seemed to catch Silva with a groin shot, the referee never stepped in to give Silva a breather. Scott should have jumped all over that opportunity. Maybe he deserves sportsmanship points, but I'm sure he'd rather have the W and likely would have had it had he taken advantage. As tired as Silva was, he should have owned the final round as well but allowed him to gain the position advantage throughout the round which is what doomed him in the end. Mats Nilsson also lost on the card and would likely be more engaging on the feet than Silva was if they were to face off.
Though there was very little quality striking in this fight, I enjoyed the scrap a lot as both were aggressive in going for submissions and showed patience in working their way out of one anothers attempts to get the other to tap. In the end, Araujo maintained the top position for the majority of the fight and throw a lot of short punches to stay busy enough to earn an easy victory. The highlight had to be when Mitchell didn't panic and was able to patiently work his way out of the triangle choke Araujo slapped on. Though Araujo was the clear winner, Mitchell didn't embarrass himself at all and made the fight competitive.
Araujo is carving out a nice identity as a crafty veteran who grinds out his opponents and could end up settling into a nice role as a gatekeeper. He'll never be a title contender, with his savvy he'll be a tough test for any youngster on the roster. The fact that he showed more aggression going for the finish this fight will end up reflecting well on him and may result in a higher caliber opponent. Once Jason High has sufficiently recovered from his ruptured appendix, Both have won two in a row and considering the amount of fights under their belts have similar records.
Mitchell showed some solid kicks, but little else with his striking. Its a good thing that his grappling was well above par as Araujo is a very experienced BJJ practitioner and came close to ending it. Mitchell showed aggression in looking for subs himself including a leg lock that left him open to some shots from Araujo in the first round. Showing the willingness to take some damage to go for the W will always get you in Dana White's good graces. Albert Tumenov is another recent UFC debutant who is coming off a competitive and entertaining fight. Best thing to do is to guarantee one of them gets back on the right track.
Well that didn't last very long. Gaudinot was able to sink in a guillotine to a standing Phil Harris and get him to tap once he fell to the ground in just over a minute into the fight. While you must obviously give credit to Gaudinot for capitalizing on the opportunity, Harris failed to recognize the sub coming and he should absorb more blame for the loss than Gaudinot receives credit for stealing a victory as Gaudinot took his time to sink it in.
I'm sure that I'm going to come across as a hater, but this victory really shouldn't move Gaudinot very high up the standings. If anything he may actually move down in the standings with Brad Pickett having made his flyweight debut. I love the fighting spirit that he has and if you ever want to know what Gaudinot is all about, just watch his upset victory over John Linekar. But he still has a lot to prove. If he is to receive a ranked opponent, it shouldn't be a highly ranked one. I like the idea of Gaudinot facing the winner of Will Campuzano and Justin Scoggins. Whoever wins that may enter the rankings... and would be appropriate level for Gaudinot.
Harris may be done in the UFC as he now owns a 1-3 record with the lone victory over a guy no longer employed by the UFC and without a UFC victory himself. Harris is another game fighter (he was dumb enough to try going toe-to-toe with Linekar) and I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him in the Octagon again. Considering the UFC's reluctance to release anyone as of late, he could get one more opportunity. Maybe some will think I'm being dumb, but I would love to see an England vs. Australia match-up with Richie Vaculik.