Alexander Volkov made a splash right into the UFC heavyweight title picture tonight, but it seemed more like Fabricio Werdum failing than Volkov actually succeeding. Werdum basically controlled the first three rounds, looking to grapple as much as possible and doing his regular “please come to the ground with me” song and dance.
But in the fourth, he hit a wall.
After taking some serious damage around the eye in the third, Werdum seemed to run out of gas as the fourth began. He managed to drag Volkov down again, but Volkov ended up in his full guard. He cracked Werdum with two punches, then beckoned Vai Cavalo to his feet. Werdum struggled a bit to get up, then seemed to know that he had little left. He threw a big flurry, but ended up eating a huge uppercut. That sent him to the mat for real. One more big shot on the ground and Werdum was finished.
It wasn’t a bad fight - but it wasn’t a great one either. Volkov will clearly enter the top five here, and Werdum’s campaign for another title shot might have disappeared completely.
- Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa put on a very entertaining fight in the co-main event. Blachowicz had Manuwa badly hurt in the first, but couldn’t finish him off. Manuwa landed some huge shots in the second, but Blachowicz walked right through them, The pace slowed late, yet Blachowicz’s constant jab kept him in control and he took the decision. These men should do it for a third time.
- Tom Duquesnoy is frustrating. His striking, and in particular his kicks, look amazing. But he has some worrying holes in his defense and he just can’t maintain the same striking pace for 15 minutes. I thought Terrion Ware took over in the second half of the fight, and I gave him both the second and third rounds. The judges gave it to Duquesnoy, and that’s fine - it was a very close fight. 30-27 isn’t a good score though.
- Leon Edwards and Peter Sobotta put on a pretty good scrap, with Edwards coming out on top. After getting Sobotta into a bad position late in the third, he kept punching until the ref stopped it - with one second to go. As you’ll read further down, this was the second stoppage of the night with one second to go in a fight. Pretty crazy.
- Charles Byrd absolutely dominated John Phillips. Knowing that Phillips is a big puncher, Byrd immediately took him down and was in mount before 15 seconds had passed. It took him a while, but Byrd was eventually able to secure a choke and send the SBG product back to the drawing board.
- Danny Roberts pasted Oliver Enkamp. Cracked him with a straight left and Enkamp went down in a heap. Just over two minutes. Done.
- Danny Henry pasted Hakeem Dawodu. Dropped him with a huge shot, then choked Dawodu out. 39 seconds. Done.
- I still can’t quite believe that Paul Craig beat Magomed Ankalaev. After being somewhat dominated for 14 minutes and 50 seconds, he threw up a desperation triangle. Ankalaev didn’t take it seriously, and he was able to cinch it up - and Ankalaev tapped in the literal last second of the fight. It was surely one of the greatest comeback wins in UFC history, and completely caught everyone off guard. Including me.
- Kajan Johnson did just enough to beat Stevie Ray via split decision, but I thought he embarrassed himself a bit on the mic after the fight. The crowd was booing, partly due to the lack of action in the cage and partly because Ray is Scottish. Johnson decided to berate the crowd, saying the fight was great and they’re two of the best fighters in the world and the fans should be ashamed of themselves. It was ridiculous, especially since he was on his bike for a lot of the fight. He won fair and square, but he did himself no favors with that little rant.
- Dmitriy Sosnovskiy and Mark Godbeer was bad. It was white-belt grappling, with the two men giving away position after position. Sosnovskiy eventually won via submission - and I was just happy it was over. Not exactly the vaunted prospect I was expecting.