UFC on FOX 30 is in the books, and I’d say this card made up for the trash fire that was UFC 149. Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez had an unwanted no-contest outcome to their first fight, but the rematch was as good as advertised, and this time Poirier was able to put the notoriously tough Alvarez away late in round 2. Of course, this all started with Marc Goddard standing Alvarez up from full mount when he landed a 12-to-6 elbow on the collarbone of Poirier. It doesn’t matter where you land it, a 12-to-6 elbow is illegal, and it appears as if Alvarez’s corner even instructed him to throw it, which is utterly incomprehensible if that was the case.
Totally this guy's fault pic.twitter.com/IbxUK4SXUo— matty waring (@MattyWaring) July 29, 2018
Shortly thereafter, Poirier hurt Alvarez with a knee and several punches, backed him towards the fence, threw everything he could at Eddie, yet still found it hard to get the knockout. Knees, elbows, hooks, the power shots were in full flight and there was Alvarez, battling back as much as he could. But even Alvarez had to succumb to Poirier’s glorious sustained dose of violence, and Alvarez was down and finished after what felt like an eternity of him taking punishment.
These two badasses deserve your respect for how much heart and soul they pour into wars like these. They’re two of the top examples as to why MMA is such an awesome sport, and it was a pleasure to watch Dustin and Eddie engage in another thriller.
There was no belt presented, but Poirier is now the new violenceweight king, and Alvarez enters new UFC contract negotiations on a TKO loss. I truly hope that wasn’t the last we’ve seen of Alvarez in the UFC, as there are still so many great fights for him.
More thoughts on Saturday’s event:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov is surely fighting Conor McGregor next. If that’s the case, PLEASE let’s have Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson on that same card if possible. We need that in our lives, and it serves as a contingency plan for the UFC. I know Poirier wants a title shot, and I’d love for him to get it because he’s such a phenomenally fun fighter with a series of impressive wins, but we know the business aspect of the UFC means Poirier ain’t getting title shot dibs.
- Jose Aldo made my entire night (and probably many others) with his vicious body shot and eventual first-round TKO finish of Jeremy Stephens. It was a very compelling striking matchup, with Stephens tagging Aldo early. Aldo’s combinations looked sharp, and his left hook to Stephens’ liver was a paralyzing punch. The hammerfists finished things off shortly thereafter, putting Aldo back in the win column. He’s not done yet, folks! Jeremy Stephens has only been finished by strikes one other time, so what Aldo accomplished tonight was no easy feat. You could tell how much this meant to Aldo, and I couldn’t be happier to see him remind people that he is one of the sport’s all-time greats.
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk is no longer Joanna Champion, but her decision win over Tecia Torres was a good step back to another strawweight title shot. Torres couldn’t take Jedrzejczyk down, got beaten up in the clinch, and had only sporadic success at range, where Joanna was destined to chew her up with leg kicks and jabs.
- Despite Marc Goddard’s insistence of early stand-ups, Alex Hernandez was able to improve to 2-0 in the UFC with a grueling win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier. His pressure, clinchwork, and grappling wore OAM out, and having been signed on short notice back in March, he’s beaten OAM and Beneil Dariush in his first two Octagon appearances. How can you not love the depth of lightweight?
- It’s consecutive victories for welterweight Jordan Mein, who repeatedly took down the wild and haphazard Alex Morono in rounds 1 and 2, then had to fend off a late comeback by Morono to hold onto the unanimous decision.
- After a disastrous UFC debut, Canadian featherweight Hakeem Dawodu picked apart the defensively unsound Austin Arnett en route to a dominant decision. It was an impressive striking display, which is why he’s been on the radar of many MMA fans on the regional scene, and now he gets his first Octagon win in front of his home fans.
- Islam Makhachev took awhile before taking Kajan Johnson to the ground, but the Russian lightweight dominated once he got there, and was able to transition from full mount to an armbar and force the tap. Presumably a top-15 opponent is next for him, as he’s 5-1 in the UFC.
- Knowing Kajan Johnson’s involvement with Project Spearhead, I reckon he’s getting cut before I even publish this article. That’s terrible to think about, but that’s quite realistic. Fighters, sign your Project Spearhead cards.
- To quote Mike Goldberg, light heavyweight prospect Gadzhimurad Antigulov tried to “impose his will” on Ion Cutelaba... except it gassed him out when Cutelaba kept getting back up from the takedowns, and Cutelaba’s dangerous clinch striking had Antigulov hurt and out on his feet, forcing a standing stoppage. That’s a good performance by Cutelaba, back after serving a six-month USADA suspension. (Sorry Ion, you’re not getting Daniel Cormier next...)
- Veteran lightweights John Makdessi and Ross Pearson put on a hell of a scrap, trading big shots and putting on a fun striking battle. Makdessi is obviously the more well-rounded striker on paper, and that proved to be the deciding factor, but not for a lack of trying by Pearson, who showed off a hell of a chin even as he ate a ton of clean shots in the final round. A deserved decision for Makdessi, but hats off to both men for entertaining the fans.
- Women’s flyweight Katlyn Chookagian won a close decision (ignore that asinine 30-27 scorecard) over Alexis Davis, in what was largely a kickboxing match. Chookagian was content to pick off Davis with counters, whereas Davis was focused on leg kicks. I scored it for Davis, but round 1 really swung the fight, so I don’t have a problem with the call. It’s three straight wins now for “Blonde Fighter.”
- Dustin Ortiz walloped Matheus Nicolau with a beautiful head kick, then knocked him out with punches on the ground. If you had to rank gatekeepers across all weight classes, flyweight Dustin Ortiz might be at the top of the list. Three straight wins, and for someone previously not known for finishing in the UFC, he’s now knocked out two of his last three foes.
- Strawweight Nina Ansaroff made it three straight wins, recovering from a slow start to earn a unanimous decision over Randa Markos, who had no answer for Ansaroff’s leg kicks, and failed to take her down after round one.
- Lightweight Devin Powell was getting torn apart with body shots thrown by Alvaro Herrera, then Powell turned the tables and put Herrera down with two lethal liver kicks to score a first-round TKO. A crazy fight and a great first career UFC win for Powell, especially for those who remember why he’s been out for so long.