As with all UFC events based in Europe, the promotion's first venture into Glasgow, Scotland brought with it a bonanza of brutal stoppages sprinkled throughout the afternoon's action. While undoubtedly a UFC event, the Euro-events have taken on a life of their own, as they feature prospects from the region, boisterous crowds and breathtaking locations/venues to host the proceedings. They may not regularly feature the UFC's top talent, but it is certainly an enjoyable night of fights for fans in attendance and watching at home.
The Scottish Crowd in attendance should certainly take a bow for making an average event seem far more special. Given that there is only so much a promotion can do to replicate energy at each event, it becomes clear when you listen to these European crowds just how much they can impact an event through boisterous chants and songs. It is the football (soccer, not the other one) culture that has crossed over to these European MMA events and really puts to shame the crowds in most North American events. Between Ireland, Sweden and now Scotland, the UFC is running out of excuses not to trade in some North American shows for European ones.
Michael Bisping earned a characteristic decision win in the main event after being wobbled early on in the fight. HIs striking came together as the fight went on and he took form in the final round of the contest. Although it was announced as a split decision win, many had the fight clearly scored for Bisping (3-2 or 4-1) so it was an important win for the Englishman. Given that Bisping is adamant regain his spot as a top competitor in the division, he cannot afford to lose fights to mid-tier middleweights.
Evan Dunham produced one of his most complete showings in recent memory when he defeated Ross Pearson via unanimous decision in the co-main event of the evening. For the first time since 2012, Dunham has managed to compile a two-fight win streak. What is even more impressive is that his sudden resurgence comes on the heels of a three-fight losing streak.
Joseph Duffy continues his impressive climb up the lightweight ranks, as he earned the ninth submission win of his career in the form of a slick triangle choke against Ivan Jorge. The Irishman appeared confident and loose throughout the fight and controlled the striking from range before taking the fight to the mat to close out the contest. Apart from the overused billing as the "last man to beat McGregor," Duffy is an exciting fighter with a swagger about himself that will make him a fan favourite in no time.
Joanne Calderwood fought the fight of her career on Saturday afternoon and eventually earned the emotional victory in front of a rowdy hometown crowd. However, it was far from easy, as Calderwood looked as though she lacked confidence early in the fight and simply forgot how to implement her striking defense, which almost lead to an early upset. However, Calderwood fought on valiantly and came into her own in the second round. Her calculated Muay Thai made an appearance late in the fight and she became the entertaining, violent fighter that fans were once excited by. While Calderwood likely has a lot of anxiety and confidence issues to deal with based on her recent performances and telling interviews, she showed that she is a determined fighter who can take some serious damage. Where she ranks amongst the elite strawweights, however, is yet to be determined.
Steven Ray added to the slew of first round knockouts on the Glasgow card with his violent finish of Leonardo Mafra on the main card opener. Ray came out to the incredible support from his fellow countrymen and harvested that emotion to secure a devastating TKO win against the Brazilian. Maftra even wobbled slightly before collapsing on the ground, which seemingly made the Scottish crowd explode with delight. It was an emotional win for Ray, who was clearly overwhelmed with the entire situation as well as his successful homecoming.
Ilir Latifi needed just 56 seconds to steamroll through Hans Stringer on the preliminary card. The Swede landed several right hands early on that dropped Hans but it was the final right hand shot that ended the fight in ferocious fashion. While Latifi is by no means a top contender, he is an important cog in the UFC machine, as he serves the role of the gatekeeper. Against top competition, Latifi looks confused and out of place, yet against lower level talent, he appears to gain confidence and land the necessary blows to end a fight. Keeping him around as a gauge for other acquired talent seems like an intelligent decision.
Jimmie Rivera wasted little time taking on the role of the aggressor against Brimage in the second fight of the evening. The two traded punches for the better part of a minute before Rivera landed a left hook that dazed Brimage before swarming in for the kill. It was a confident and violent UFC debut and moved Rivera to 17-1 with 16 consecutive wins. The Bellator and WSOF veteran appears to be an exciting addition to the bantamweight division.
Ross Pearson looked as though he lost a step in his most recent showing and was lucky to escape relatively unscathed, particularly following an opening round where he nearly sacrificed his own arm. The British fighter has now alternated between wins and losses since 2013 and his most recent four wins are against fighters who are no longer with the promotion, which does not bode well for his chances against the current crop of UFC fighters.
Two judges during Calderwood fight decided to hand the local talent 30-27 scorecards even though Calderwood nearly had her head knocked off in the opening frame. While the right fighter won in the end, the only acceptable scorecard would have been a 29-28 based on JoJo winning the second two rounds. Although I find myself repeating this nearly every event, there ought to be more accountability for awful judging. After all, they have ONE job -- do it right.
Marcus Brimage simply can't catch a break. Now 1-4 in his last five Octagon outings, the ‘Bamma Beast' has been used as a stepping-stone for many of the blue chip prospects entering the UFC. It began with Conor McGregor, who stunned him several years back to complete a picturesque promotional debut. While it is unlikely that his latest loss will guarantee his exit, Brimage will need to face much lower ranked competition to find his footing once more.
Cortney Casey took a fight against a local talent on short notice and almost earned the upset in the process. Even though most counted her out before the contest based on JoJo's repertoire, Casey came in and blasted Joanna repeatedly early on with surprising precision. Had she decided to keep up the pressure instead of pull guard (!?) then maybe she would belong in the winner column instead. While hindsight is always 20/20, Casey has earned her place in the UFC and will get to prove herself the next time around with a full training camp.