The UFC’s first show in Belfast, Northern Ireland since UFC 72 in 2007 (!!) is all wrapped up, and presumably the Gegard Mousasi vs. Uriah Hall “rivalry” has been put to bed. Mousasi took Hall down late in round 1 and then punched him in the face with his right hand over and over until Marc Goddard stopped it. These were all unanswered shots, so while Hall wasn’t out cold, he wasn’t even remotely close to getting out of that bad spot.
This rematch gets Mousasi on even terms with Hall, who knocked him out in a stunning upset last year. Tonight’s outcome pretty much reconfirms that last year’s fight was that 1 instance out of 10 times that Uriah Hall wins a fight against someone like Gegard. He’s not a contender and Mousasi very much is. Simple as that. As for Mousasi, presumably he’s 1-2 wins away from a title shot, and he’s been excellent this year. I can’t wait to see him back in there again.
More thoughts on today’s Belfast event.
- UFC Fight Pass shows are so great with pacing. We went through 13 fights in about 5 1⁄2 hours. Meanwhile, the Sao Paulo show will last more than 6 hours for 12 fights.
- I had Stevie Ray beating Ross Pearson 30-27, but I also thought it was a closer fight than a 30-27 would suggest. That said, the 30-27 in Pearson’s favor was ... interesting. Can’t really see a case for Pearson winning round 1. Ray bounces back from his first UFC loss, while Pearson has lost 3 in a row, and that may sadly be the end of his UFC career.
- I don’t agree with Alexander Volkov getting the decision over Timothy Johnson, but it was a fairly close enough fight where you could make the argument for round 2 going to Volkov, who was nearly KO’d in the 1st round. The 30-27 for Johnson when he definitely lost round 3 was a head scratcher.
- Artem Lobov turned in the best performance of his UFC career, halting the hype train of the ... eccentric? Yeah, let’s go with the eccentric Teruto Ishihara. Apart from that 3rd round knockdown, Lobov dominated the fight with big punches, patient and diverse attacks, and punishing low kicks. Conor McGregor was in attendance to celebrate the decision win with his teammate.
- Welsh MMA had a hell of a day. Brett Johns winning by decision earlier on the prelims, then middleweight Jack Marshman halted Magnus Cedenblad’s four-fight win streak with a terrific 2nd round TKO. The three-punch combo that finished it was impressive, and he more than made the most of his Octagon debut.
- Kyoji Horiguchi turned in a complete, workmanlike performance in getting a shutout win over Ali Bagautinov. While his striking is lauded, his clinch control, takedown defense, and grappling skills were on display against Bagautinov. He may not be ready to rematch Mighty Mouse, but he’s got the makings of a future champion.
- Kevin Lee absorbed multiple heavy body shots from Magomed Mustafaev, but he put on a wrestling clinic and then put his opponent to sleep with a rear-naked choke. Lee followed that up by (among other things) shit-talking Conor McGregor, and really made the push to get himself bigger fights at 155.
- Amanda Cooper survived a 1st round knockdown (in a round she was otherwise in control of) and took over in the 2nd half of her fight with Anna Elmose to get a deserved unanimous decision. A fun strawweight battle between the TUF 23 runner-up and Denmark’s Elmose. Cooper later told Dan Hardy she was disappointed that she wasn’t talking to Joe Rogan, to which Hardy apologized for not being Rogan.
- Justin Ledet was billed as a boxer, and had previously never completed a takedown in an MMA fight. Logically, he took Mark Godbeer down, later outgrappled him in a scramble, then won by rear-naked choke. He’s 2-0 in the UFC and that was a good performance by the 28-year-old Texan.
- Zak Cummings vs. Alexander Yakovlev wasn’t a particularly exciting fight, but Cummings finished the Russian with a fantastic straight armbar, right after thwarting a takedown attempt like Yakovlev was a small child.
- Marion Reneau brutally beat up Milana Dudieva in the clinch at the end of round 2, then put her away with ground-and-pound from full mount in round 3. A nice win for the Belizean Bruiser, snapping a two-fight skid in the process.
- Undefeated bantamweight Brett Johns won a fun scrap vs. Kwan Ho Kwak through dominant wrestling and very crisp boxing. The Welshman was very emotional in the post-fight interview. Keep an eye on Johns down the road.
- Abdul Razak Alhassan wrecked Charlie Ward with about a billion right hands in under a minute. Alhassan is 6-0 and was an absolute beast tonight in his Octagon debut.