The good news for us as fight fans is that UFC 241 is next week and that is a great-looking card on paper.
Unfortunately we endured UFC Uruguay, which was a bad card largely lacking in objectively high-quality MMA. It was a slog to get through and even the better fights were essentially regional-level standard and you can get just as much enjoyment out of a Cage Fury or Shooto Brazil show as you would a UFC event. When I tune into a UFC card I expect the highest level of MMA possible. I’m clearly naive because the current model makes that functionally impossible, and you end up with what you just witnessed.
Valentina Shevchenko easily beat Liz Carmouche to defend her women’s flyweight title, and it was one of the most boring title fights I’ve ever seen. Carmouche had a ridiculous gameplan that seemed to have the goal of losing 50-45 from the opening seconds. She was so far out of Shevchenko’s range at times that she was probably out of Montevideo altogether. Shevchenko basically did whatever she wanted on the feet and controlled things on the ground. If you want me to have more in-depth thoughts on a fight this devoid of action then you’ll be greatly disappointed that this is the end of the paragraph.
Shevchenko presumably takes on Katlyn Chookagian next, and I don’t expect that matchup to be that much more interesting than the one we just saw, although it has a low bar to clear in terms of entertainment value. She’s an exceptional fighter in a weight class that is nascent and doesn’t have much in the way of viable, compelling title challengers. And few are going to clamor for an Amanda Nunes trilogy after something that dull, even if it’s probably the best fight to make.
- As expected, Vicente Luque and Mike Perry went to war and beat each other up. I thought it was a terrific fight on a card that lacked any semblance of high-level MMA. That was awesome stuff and while Luque got the split decision (and sixth straight win), I am not bothered if you scored it for Perry. It was close, competitive, violent, and well-matched. That was one of Perry’s best showing (in my opinion) from a technical standpoint, but I also felt Luque made Perry pay with body and leg kicks late in the fight, and he wrecked his nose with a flying knee. Perry probably lost a small lake’s worth of blood when Luque tried choking him out in the final minute.
- Eduardo Garagorri made the local fans happy, as Uruguay’s sole UFC representative won a unanimous decision over the very sloppy and undisciplined Humberto Bandanay. This really shouldn’t have been anywhere near a main card apart from Garagorri being from Uruguay, but Eduardo is at least a reasonably threatening and fun offensive fighter.
- Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir was terrific against Ilir Latifi. He just completely picked apart the popular Swede and then faceplanted him with a couple of lefts for the second-round KO, ending his three-fight losing skid in the process. Latifi was exhausted, beaten up, and out of ideas against what has to be considered the best version of Oezdemir we have seen.
- Rodolfo Vieira and Oskar Piechota are both BJJ black belts. One of these men is one of the best grapplers in the world, and it’s not Piechota. Vieira’s UFC debut was a successful one, as he arm-triangled Piechota in round two to cap off a fairly comfortable performance against a credible opponent. It’s early days, but good luck to most middleweights who have to deal with him on the mat.
- It was a high-paced, grueling striking battle between Enrique Barzola and Bobby Moffett. Both men had their moments and scorecards were understandably all over the shop, but the Peruvian got the split nod. I personally thought Moffett won it largely because I detested Barzola shooting for takedowns to “steal the round” at the end of literally all three rounds. In all seriousness, a good action fight that was too close to call.
- Gilbert Burns’ return to welterweight on short notice paid off, as he started strongly with leg kicks, takedowns, and top control before staving off a third-round rally to get the unanimous decision win over Alexey Kunchenko. If you ask me (which you didn’t), Burns ought to be staying at 170 lbs. There’s zero need for him to keep killing his body to make 155.
- Highly touted French heavyweight Cyril Gane (a friend and training partner of Francis Ngannou) was known for his striking background, but he submitted Raphael Passoa with an arm-triangle choke in the opening round. Pessoa went for a judo throw and was instantly reversed into his ultimate doom. No one could’ve seen that coming. We’ll see how Gane develops and whether he’ll actually be someone worth watching in this talent-starved division.
- Marina Rodriguez really had her way with Tecia Torres, showing great takedown defense and comfortably outstriking “The Tiny Tornado” for the biggest win of her career. Torres is already undersized for strawweight, and with four straight losses, she’s closer to a UFC exit than making a title run.
- Rogerio Bontorin and Raulian Paiva had a strange-ass, fun fight that had an unfortunate ending. Bontorin was cut from a left hook and that side of his face also started swelling. Later on, Bontorin tore open Paiva’s face with a knee and a right hand, and that cut was 1,000 times worse. Fight over, and for good reason.
- Chris Gutierrez edged out Geraldo de Freitas in a bloody bantamweight battle. Gutierrez’s leg kicks and jabs were vital in his win, although he had to survive a headbutt and late rally from de Freitas in the final round.
- Brazilian lightweight Alex da Silva basically beat Kazula Vargas with a lot of top control. It was an insanely bad fight that had no business being anywhere near a UFC cage.
- Veronica Macedo probably sent Polyana Viana out of the UFC with a nice 69-second armbar win. Viana was in half-guard after an early takedown, and when she tried to advance position she ended up getting her arm snatched and she verbally tapped. It’s Macedo’s first UFC win and it’s the fastest submission win in women’s flyweight history.