Main Card (Tim)
UFC Vegas 3 is in the books, and while it featured some really great action, the main event was not one of those fights that delivered. Many expected what actually happened - Curtis Blaydes dominating Alexander Volkov with his wrestling and taking a wide decision. The scores weren’t as wide as they maybe should have been, but it certainly didn’t mean there was much to discuss in terms of what happened in the cage.
The first three rounds were pretty pedestrian, with Blaydes taking Volkov down against the cage and frustrating him by holding him there. Volkov did hold him off a bit in round three, and particularly in round four, where he was actually able to get some striking in. He landed a big head kick in round five too, but it clearly wasn’t enough.
Blaydes is a clear-cut contender for the UFC heavyweight title. That’s for sure. But if he continues to fight this way and is never anywhere near a finish over 25 minutes, fans are not going to get behind him. Is it effective? Yes. Is it exciting? Nope.
- WOW. I’m a bit speechless in regards to Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos. That was a definite fight of the year candidate. Neither man slowed down for the entire 15 minutes, beating the hell out of each other with shots that would knock out virtually every other featherweight. Emmett in particular landed some ridiculous right hooks. Burgos has a hell of a chin. He did go down twice in the third, but it was because Emmett switched it up and surprised him with straight lefts. Burgos was even smiling as he fell to his butt the first time. I haven’t seen a fight that vicious in a long time. You NEED to go watch this fight if you missed it tonight.
- Oh, and it should be pointed out that Emmett hurt his knee in the first 15 seconds of the fight. His coach thinks he may have torn his ACL. How insane is that? Emmett fought one of the best guys in the world, lit him up with ridiculous shots for 15 minutes, and even threw a bunch of leg kicks, with what is probably a major knee injury. People will come out of this talking about Shane Burgos’ chin, and they should. But what Josh Emmett did tonight is an example of true toughness and heart that is rare in any sport, much less cage fighting. My hat is off to you, Mr. Emmett. That was incredible.
- Raquel Pennington brought it tonight. Her striking was on point and she was touching up Marion Reneau in the Thai clinch with knees and short elbows, and putting together some great combinations. The first round was pretty even, but Rocky took over for the last two rounds and earned a well-deserved decision win.
- Belal Muhammad and Lyman Good put on a hell of a fight. Good came out a bit flat and Muhammad took it to him in the first two stanzas. Good had his moments, but he wasn’t winning rounds. In the third though, Good dropped Muhammad and he looked to be in serious danger, but he weathered the storm. A late takedown and full back control might have saved Muhammad from dropping a 10-8 round and ending up with a draw. That was not the case though, and Muhammad picked up a well-deserved victory in what was my fight of the night to this point. Obviously that changed a little later.
- I lose all objectivity when my favorite fighters enter the Octagon. This is not a secret. Just because I write about this stuff doesn’t mean I don’t fanboy now and again. GSP and Takanori Gomi and Tatsuya Kawajiri might be done, but there’s one other guy that I get all giddy about whenever he competes - Jim Miller. The Sparta native has always captivated me with his fighting style and just how nice he and his brother Dan are. So when I saw he was on the card tonight, I got excited. This was my main event. And it was awesome, because he won! In his 35th UFC fight, Miller picked up a nice armbar victory over prospect Roosevelt Roberts. I may or may not have jumped out of my chair and used some choice language and scared the bejesus out of my sleeping dog. But I don’t care, because that made my week. It’s odd to call a win like that heartwarming since he nearly broke a man’s arm, but...it was heartwarming.
Preliminary Card (Mookie)
- Bobby Green would not be denied by the judges this time. He clearly outstruck Clay Guida and was able to withstand Guida’s barrage of takedown attempts to get a unanimous decision win. Green entered Saturday night with a 1-5-1 record over his last seven, but a couple of his losses arguably should’ve been victories, so it’s good that there was no controversy on this occasion.
- Back against the wall, strawweight veteran Tecia Torres turned in an outstanding, dominant performance against Brianna Van Buren. She ended her four-fight losing streak with excellent takedown defense and fast, high-volume kickboxing that left Van Buren flummoxed and out of ideas. That was easily one of Torres’ best showings of her UFC career at a time when she absolutely needed a win.
- In a presumptive “loser gets cut” fight, Canadian middleweight Marc-Andre Barriault ripped apart Oskar Piechota and got the TKO late in round two. He jacked Piechota’s jaw repeatedly with uppercuts and was the faster, stronger, and more powerful fighter. While Barriault got his first UFC win in four attempts, Piechota has now lost four straight and that’s got to be the end of his UFC career.
- Gillian Robertson just totally dominated Cortney Casey on the mat and got the rear-naked choke with just under 30 seconds left in a fight she was going to win by decision anyway. Great performance by the Canadian to exploit Casey’s issues with defending takedowns and then get the tap.
- WOW! Justin Jaynes wasn’t on the UFC roster on Wednesday, but when Matt Frevola was pulled from his bout with Frank Camacho, Jaynes seized the opportunity and blasted out Camacho in just over 40 seconds. That’s a hell of an upset on very short notice. It might be a costly defeat for Camacho, who is 1-4 in his last five and he missed weight for this too.
- Lauren Murphy continued her successful spell at 125 lbs with a unanimous decision over Bloody Elbow’s own Roxanne Modafferi. Murphy landed the better strikes, stuffed Roxanne’s takedowns, and denied her the opportunity to utilize her dangerous top game. Lauren has won three straight and a title shot really shouldn’t be that far away for the 36-year-old.
- The night got off to an unexpected start, as lightweight Austin Hubbard spoiled the debut of prospect Max Rohskopf, who quit on his stool at the end of a lopsided round two. Max was getting beaten up on the feet and unable to successfully impose his grappling on Hubbard, and when trainer Robert Drysdale repeatedly refused to stop the fight on Roskhopf’s request, Max told the referee he was done and that was that. I’m not considering that a corner stoppage, but rather a rare TKO (retirement) ending that we rarely see in the UFC. Rohskopf was fine in the opening frame but the way round two transpired it was not going to get any better. I don’t think Rohskopf should catch any flak for that decision, and hopefully he learns from this bout after taking it on short notice and getting outclassed. I also hope not to see Drysdale cornering anyone again after that scene.