Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey retained their respective titles last night at UFC 168, but before the exciting and action-packed main card we had several highly intriguing preliminary card fights. The biggest and most notable matchup was between TUF 17 runner-up Uriah Hall and TUF 1's Chris Leben. Here's a brief recap of all six bouts:
Hall opened the fight with a flying knee that put Leben on the seat of his pants, and really it was just a sad spectacle. Leben was swinging at air as Hall was successfully countering him, and eventually a hard right hand dropped Leben and several follow-up punches seemingly put him out but the horn sounded to end the 1st. Leben asked for the fight to be stopped after the 1st round had concluded and referee Steve Mazzagatti waived it off. Uriah Hall def. Chris Leben via TKO (retirement) at 5:00, round 1.
This was Hall's first win in the UFC and he definitely needed it after two disappointing losses. Leben looked every bit the part of a shot fighter and his future is in doubt. I think we've seen the last of "The Crippler" inside the Octagon.
Tibau cracked Johnson with a left hand early, and the 1st round was largely contested in the striking department. Johnson had the obvious speed advantage but neither man could land a convincing blow. Tibau tried for a takedown late in the round but was unable to get it. The 2nd round was more of the same until a jab by Johnson followed by a big right hand to the temple put Tibau down and out for the count. Michael Johnson def. Gleison Tibau via KO (punches) at 1:32 of round 2.
Johnson has won 2 in a row and 6 of his last 7, while Tibau's attempt at a 3 fight win streak comes to an end. I imagine that Johnson will get another step up in competition after that performance while Tibau ... well nothing really changes for him. He's been a lightweight gatekeeper for years and will remain that way.
Gamburyan surprisingly was the one throwing the spinning back kicks as opposed to Siver, but his best moment came in round 2 when he took Siver down and cut him open with hard elbows from guard. After an accidental low blow to start the 3rd, Siver controlled Gamburyan for much of the round, gaining back mount and landing several (non-damaging) strikes, and it clinched him the victory. Dennis Siver def. Manny Gamburyan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Siver moves to 3-1 at featherweight while Gamburyan sees his two fight win streak snapped.
The pre-fight belief was that we'd have a stand-up war, but we didn't really get that. Sure there were pockets of decent exchanges on the feet, but after a few stuffed takedown attempts it was Howard who got Bahadurzada to the ground. He briefly mounted him before losing position and returning to striking distance to close out the first 5 minutes. Howard ended the 2nd round strongly by slamming Siyar to the mat while he looked for a standing kimura. Bahadurzada was completely out of gas by round 3 and he was mounted after a late takedown, but Howard (who later gained back control) did not opt for the TKO and instead pulled for a possible rear-naked choke. He didn't come close and sort of ran out the clock with the dominant position. Not a fun fight, but a win for Doomsday. John Howard def. Siyar Bahadurzada by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
It's Howard's 2nd straight win in his UFC return, while Bahadurzada drops to 1-2 in the Octagon.
It wasn't close. "Patolino" spent the whole fight pummeling and pulverizing Voelker with knees, kicks, punches, and whatever else he could use. Voelker's face was a bloody mess by the 2nd round and the fight was temporarily halted to see if doctors would allow him to continue. Bobby soldiered on but mounted virtually no meaningful offense and lost a lopsided decision. The Brazilian looked incredibly dominant throughout and probably should've gotten at least one 10-8 on the scorecards. William Macario def. Bobby Voelker by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Macario gets his first win in the UFC after losing in the finals of TUF Brazil 2. Voelker drops to 0-3 in the UFC and it's probably curtains for the former Strikeforce product.
Peralta started out strong with early strikes and two takedowns, but he was swept and spent the remainder of the 1st round on his back. The 2nd round started with the two men engaging mostly in a kickboxing battle, before Payan took Peralta down and worked from top position. Peralta was able to get back to his feet to close out the 2nd, and when his corner said "you need to knock him out" he obliged, and a series of haymaker punches ended the fight just seconds into the final round. Robbie Peralta def. Estevan Payan via KO (punches) at :12 of round 3.
Payan drops to 0-2 in the UFC and he'll probably be cut. Peralta looked far from sharp even including the knockout, but it's a much needed win for him after he lost his last fight and was suspended for a failed drug test. His KO power remains by far his best asset and he showcased that last night.