What a weird night. There was so much great action at UFC Norfolk, especially on the main card, but a strange series of events left me wanting so much more. The headliner between Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis was exactly what most expected - pure violence - but a Pettis injury derailed what was already an amazing fight.
The two men battled back and forth both on the feet and on the mat, landing huge strikes and a ton of reversals, and there was a ton of blood courtesy of Poirier’s elbows. They were so slippery that Pettis couldn’t even lock up a triangle, despite trying a bunch of times. Eventually in the third round though, Poirier had Pettis in a body triangle and appeared to injure Pettis’ ribs as he transitioned to mount. Showtime was forced to tap, and people were robbed of a really decisive finish. Still though, it was a great fight until then.
- Diego Sanchez was fighting at 170 for the first time in a few years, and taking on Matt Brown is a challenge in its own right. But I wasn't expecting Sanchez to get devastated like that. Brown caught a kick, marched him across the cage, and landed one MASSIVE elbow that sent an unconscious Sanchez slumping to the mat.
- Unfortunately, fans didn't get to see it originally because of some really strange glitch on FS1 where they cut to what looked like the press conference room. You could see Sanchez out cold on the mat, but had no idea why. It was very, very weird.
- Good win for Brown, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he haven't seen the end of The Immortal.
- Most expected Andrei Arlovski and Junior Albini to not go the distance. Those people would be wrong. Arlovski looked good technically. Albini just looked weird, wearing what amounted to a diaper and not doing much at all in the fight. It's good that Arlovski was able to break his long losing streak, but watching that fight just felt uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons.
- Cezar Ferreira and Nate Marquardt didn't do a ton in their fight. In fact, it was pretty boring most of the time. But Marquardt finished both rounds two and three with interesting stuff - a knockdown and an elbow that busted Mutante wide open - so at least there was that. Ferreira won a split decision, then called out Paulo Costa. Yeah, good luck with that one.
- Raphael Assuncao took a risk by fighting a guy much lower in the rankings, but he certainly didn't suffer for it. He absolutely tore up the inside of Lopez's leg with kicks, then knocked him out with a straight right. The best part was right after that though - he wound up and was about to land a massive hammerfist on an already-unconscious Lopez, but he pulled it back about two inches from his face and didn't land it. That was classy, and pretty impressive in itself.
- If someone predicted that Clay Guida would knock out Joe Lauzon early in the first, they're a lot better at this analysis stuff than me. That was a brutal uppercut Guida landed, but the ref let it go on waaaay too long. Lauzon was done, and there was no reason for the extended beating.
- Guida was just as good on the mic, announcing that his fight with Lauzon was the last on his contract and getting the crowd to chant his name after he said he wanted to re-sign and finish his career in the UFC. THAT is using your post-fight interview effectively!
- Marlon Moraes and John Dodson, from start to finish, was one of the weirder experiences in recent memory. Moraes landed a cup shot so hard that Dodson was dry heaving. Gross. Then he poked him in the eye. Then Dodson complained of a clash of heads. I personally thought Dodson won the first, dropped the second, but was winning the third until he got caught in a late guillotine. Then things got truly strange.
- Dodson tapped after the horn, seemingly just to tell Moraes to let go. Moraes thought he won, but he hadn't...yet. The judging was hilariously bad - three 30-27's, one in Dodson's direction, two for Moraes. It wasn't a 30-27 fight at all, in either direction. Then Moraes got on the mic, screaming like an injured pterodactyl into the wrong camera about wanting Jimmie Rivera on December 30th. The funniest thing of the night was Jon Anik pointing him to the right camera.
- Tatiana Suarez is a beast on the mat. She totally dominated Viviane Pereira to the point that I'm not sure Pereira landed a strike in the fight. She didn't show much finish, but she's going to be a force in the strawweight division.
- A lot of people get on Sage Northcutt, but the dude can fight. He's now 4-0 as a lightweight in the UFC and easily dispatched a pretty good striker in Michel Quinones. Team Alpha Male might be the place for him, if they can find anyone as tall as him to spar with.
- Nina Ansaroff and Angela Hill was an awesome fight. They are both very technically proficient and they throw an absolute ton of strikes. Ansaroff got the win, but Hill has nothing to be ashamed of. I'm writing this before the end of the card, but it was definitely the fight of the night up until now.
- Sean Strickland and Court McGee put on a good striking match, but the highlight of the fight was probably that the bout was originally ruled a majority draw with two 29-29 scores. Huh? Eventually it was changed to a rightful Strickland decision win.
- Jake Collier beat Marcel Fortuna in an average fight. Not much to say about it, really.
- In the opener, Karl Roberson showed that he's not a one-trick pony by taking Darren Stewart down with a beauty lateral drop and getting a submission finish. I know it's early in his career, but he looks to be very talented.