Amanda Nunes is still the women’s bantamweight champion. She put in a dominant performance while taking out Raquel Pennington in round five, but it wasn’t all that exciting. The Brazilian crowd badly wanted something to cheer about it, but they didn’t get much of it in the main event. Pennington’s nose was broken in round four and she told her corner she was done, but they sent her out anyway and she got beat up some more before Nunes finally got the finish.
Nunes got off to a great start, chopping Pennington down with a couple of early leg kicks. Pennington didn’t have much for the first two rounds. She just kept putting her back to the cage and letting Nunes control the fight. She did get a late takedown in round two, but couldn’t do anything with it. She had small segments of effective striking in the third, but it was still Nunes’ round. The fourth looked very much like the third, but Nunes closed strong. Then the fifth was all Nunes and she ended it.
- Ronaldo Souza got off to an excellent start against Kelvin Gastelum, but he seemed gassed out after one round. It was weird. Gastelum easily took the second, dropping Jacare and being seemingly in control. I actually thought Jacare got the better of him in the third though, landing the harder shots despite his fatigue. It was a very close fight and I have no issues with the Gastelum decision - but I thought Jacare won.
- Amanda Cooper didn’t think Mackenzie Dern could strike. She might feel differently now, after she got dropped by a Chuck Liddell-like overhand right. And then she got choked out. I know Dern took a lot of heat for missing weight this week, but you can’t say she didn’t deliver in the cage. That was awesome.
- John Lineker landed that right to the body, left hook to the head combination at least 30 times in his fight with Brian Kelleher. The last one was the best, as he knocked Kelleher (who has a great chin) clean out with the vaunted left late in the third. Nice performance from Lineker there.
- Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort did not put on a good fight for six minutes. But one front kick changed all that, and Belfort was unconscious. It was very reminiscent of the Anderson Silva finish of Belfort, and Machida just standing over him with his hands on his hips was a pretty cool visual.
- I don’t think Belfort retires. His UFC contract is up, but I think he goes elsewhere and fights some of the senior citizens in other organizations.
- Once Cezar Ferreira got on top of Karl Roberson early, he put the fight on lock. It took him almost the whole round to finally find the finish, but it was a nice one - an arm-triangle choke that sent Roberson to dream town.
- How in the hell does Oleksiy Oliynyk continue to finish guys with Ezekiel chokes? And from the bottom again? It’s crazy!
- Obviously jiu jitsu is a huge part of MMA. That goes without saying. But after seeing thousands of fights over the years, it’s really rare now to see something new, or something beautiful. What Davi Ramos did to Nick Hein was beautiful. The kimura fake in to a back take? Gorgeous. The sub hunting and eventual choke finish? Lovely. That was just fun to watch.
- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos may have one of the longest names in the UFC, but I doubt anyone forgets it after tonight. The capoeira guy put his skills on display against Sean Strickland, handing him his first career TKO loss with a crazy capoeira kick (or a spinning heel kick, depending on who you talk to). If there’s one highlight from tonight’s card that you check out, that should be the one. Or Davi Ramos. Or Mackenzie Dern.
- Warlley Alves made Sultan Aliev look like Sultan Alien. Wow, his eye was gross.
- How about the heart of Jack Hermansson. He was seriously injured late in the first round and looked like he was in excruciating pain after an early Thales Leites takedown in the second. Somehow he persevered through a broken rib, and managed to win the fight with some harsh GnP in the third.
- MMA can be pretty visceral at times, but watching a grown man moan and cry in pain after he just sucked it up and knocked out another man was certainly not something I’m going to forget any time soon. Respect, sir.
- Alberto Mina did not look good tonight against Ramazan Emeev. Despite having plenty of time on the feet, he just didn’t throw strikes. Emeev did, and while he tied Mina up against the fence a lot, he did what he had to do to get the W. Meanwhile, Mina’s undefeated run went up in smoke in less than dramatic fashion.
- The show kicked off with a dominant outing from Markus Perez, who looked like a beast in his first-round submission win over James Bochnovic. The highlight of the bout was probably Jimmy Smith calling Bochnovic “Bochniak” about 20 times in the bout. Yeah.