As the UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige fight card played out, Dana White’s voice rang in my head. I could hear him saying things such as “no fight card is bad,” and “don’t judge a fight card before it happens.” Sometimes White delivers those words after events that are not so good. Other times White delivers those words with a sneer. The voice I heard in my head tonight was the latter. For a card that lacked name recognition, Wednesday’s fight card delivered.
The six-fight prelim card delivered five stoppages and one dominant decision win. All five of the main card bouts went the distance, but they were all memorable scraps which delivered some memorable moments such as Mounir Lazzez’s excellent win over Abdul Razak Alhassan and Taila Santos showing a lot of growth and development over her UFC debut with her win over Molly McCann.
As for the main event, Kattar and Ige delivered the striking matchup expected from them. By the end of the 25-minute scrap, both fighters wore some damage. Ige’s right eye was swollen shut and Kattar’s nose sported a slight redesign compliments of his opponent’s striking.
It was a good night of fights, the kind of night where fans don’t regret that they stayed up until 1 a.m. ET on a work night in order to catch the entire card.
Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige: Any fight fans who tuned into Wednesday’s fight card as the scores from the main event were about to be read probably assumed that Kattar would get the nod. After all, Stockton rules — “look at his face” — were clearly in his favor. He did, but Kattar didn’t escape the five-round scrap without some damage of his own, as Ige reshaped Kattar’s nose a bit in the second round.
Kattar fought well and he’s likely to face an opponent ranked inside the top five of the featherweight division in his next fight. As for Ige, his six-fight winning streak might have come to an end, but he hung in there for 25 minutes with one of the better boxers in the 145-pound division. Yes, he was the worse for wear after the fight, but his stock should not drop much, if at all, after his bout opposite Kattar.
Tim Elliott: Elliott ended a three-fight losing skid on Wednesday with a fast pace and high output. The decision seemed a bit controversial because his opponent, Ryan Benoit, landed the heavier strikes and did more damage, but the judges scored it for Elliott and that should keep him in the top-15 of the flyweight division. With the win, Elliott will probably be matched up against a higher-ranked fighter in his next outing and that has proved to be a problem for Elliott during his latest run with the UFC.
Jimmie Rivera: Rivera’s job might not have been on the line on Wednesday night, but his standing in a stacked division was. Rivera opened his UFC career on a 5-0 run, but had gone 1-3 in his next four fights. Yes, those losses were to highly ranked opponents Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling and newly crowned bantamweight champion Petr Yan, but they were losses nonetheless. That Rivera took his fight against Cody Stamann on short notice showed how badly he wanted to get back into the octagon. Rivera had to know the risks involved with the matchup, but he accepted the fight and walked away with the decision victory. Now that he’s back in the win column, it will be interesting to see if Rivera can work his way up the rankings.
Talia Santos: After her win over Molly McCann, Santos said she didn’t show 10 percent of her ability in her February 2019 UFC debut. Santos lost that fight by split decision. Well, Santos showed a lot more in her second UFC bout. Her Muay Thai was excellent and she looked slick on the ground as well. If Santos, at 27, is still developing her skills, she should be someone to keep an eye on in the women’s flyweight division.
Mounir Lazzez: During the intro to Lazzez fight we learned that a friend of Dana White’s son suggested the UFC take a look at the 9-1 middleweight. The UFC might want to give that individual a job as a UFC scout. Lazzez took everything the heavy-handed Abdul Razak Alhassan had to offer in the first round and then turned the tables in the next two rounds. Lazzez mixed up his striking targets well and seemed to land step-in elbows and knees to the body in close at will. Lazzez moved to 10-1 in his UFC debut with the decision win and judging from social media, he picked up a ton of fans on Wednesday. That number might have increased during his post-fight interview when he called out “that idiot” Mike Perry.
Khamzat Chimaev: Wow. Chimaev started out fast. He landed a head kick seconds into his fight opposite John Phillips and then went directly for a double leg takedown. Once the fight hit the mat, Chimaev then drove Phillips to the cage and kept himself busy by bloodying Phillips with relentless striking while also working toward getting hooks in. When the submission did not appear, Chimaev just kept landing strikes to the head of Phillips. When the first round ended, Chimaev had landed 118 of 133 total strikes. Chimaev blasted another takedown to start the second stanza, landed some more strikes and then sank a D’Arce choke to wrap things up.
Chimaev is a confident young fighter and if this fight was any indication, he is someone to watch. It also needs to be noted that Chimaev usually competes at welterweight and this fight took place at middleweight.
Lerone Murphy: Murphy’s UFC debut ended in a draw in September 2019. He did not need the judges in his second UFC bout as Murphy scored a nasty first-round knockout over Ricardo Ramos.
Murphy failed on a takedown against the Brazilian jiujitsu black belt and UFC commentators Michael Bisping and Paul Felder said Murphy would be wise to avoid another takedown attempt. They were still speaking about that when Murphy scored a takedown. From there, Murphy showed his ground striking skills as he appeared to score a flash knockout with an elbow before ending the fight with his punches not long after that elbow landed
Modestas Bukauskas: Bukauskas spent most of the first round of his UFC debut opposite Andreas Michailidis striking at distance. With 10 seconds left in the round, Michailidis went for a takedown. Bukauskas could have spent those final few moments of the first stanza fighting off the takedown, but he showed good awareness and fired off seven elbows to the head of Michailidis, which brought the fight to an end between the first and second round when the referee did not like what he saw from Michailidis.
Jared Gordon: Gordon went through it on the road to Fight Island. Not only did his corner men test positive for COVID-19, which we knew about, but Gordon also revealed that during his training that his girlfriend suffered a miscarriage and tested positive for COVID-19. Just going through all that would have been enough to put Gordon in the winner’s column, but he also dominated his matchup against Chris Fishgold. Gordon, using his wrestling and ground strikes earned three scores of 30-26 in his return to featherweight.
Liana Jojua: Jojua ate some heavy strikes as soon as the fight started, but they did not seem to affect her as she looked positively bored when her opponent engaged her in the clinch against the fence. Diana Belbita then took Jojua to the mat, that was a mistake as Jojua locked up a nasty armbar that drew a verbal submission. Jojua has four armbar submission wins in her six most recent victories. With that, future opponents might want to avoid the mat against Jojua.
Jack Shore: The former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion eased his way to his 13th win in 13 fights with his 12th stoppage victory. Shore made easy work of Aaron Phillips in the opening fight on the prelim card. He was calm and fought an excellent fight, racking up 5:25 of control time in a bout that lasted 7:29. At 25, Shore has some time to work his way up the 135-pound rankings, but if he keeps delivering finishes, don’t expect him to open many more UFC events.
Cody Stamann: Stamann fought for the second time in 10 days when he faced Jimmie Rivera on Wednesday. Stamann fought a bit too defensively against Jimmie Rivera and he was unable to do much with his five takedown attempts. The two fights in such a short amount of time might not have been the best idea for Stamann.
Abdul Razak Alhassan: Alhassan started out fast, but when he didn’t get the early stoppage of Mounir Lazzez, his strikes lost their snap. This fight should serve as a lesson for Alhassan, there are three rounds in an MMA fight and fighters need to be ready to go those full 15miutes.
John Phillips: Philips had nothing for Khamzat Chimaev He landed a single significant strike before he was submitted in the second round. Phillips was totally overpowered by Chimaev, who usually competes at 170 pounds, in this middleweight scrap.
Ricardo Ramos: Ramos busted out some fancy kicking techniques in the early gong of his bout against Lerone Murphy. However, he did not land many of those strikes. Ramos also looked slick on the ground when he scored a nice reversal on the first takedown attempt. Ramos did not stop the second takedown attempt from Murphy and you can bet that he wished he had. Once on the ground, Ramos ate some nasty strikes before the referee waved off the fight.
Andreas Michailidis: Michailidis looked good with his cage control and his striking, which relied on mixing up his targets. However, he made a mistake by letting his head hanging out when he shot for a takedown late in the first round. The end result was that he ate a bunch of elbows to the head which ended the bout between the first two rounds. This was not a terrible performance, but the mistake at the end of the first stanza cost him.
Chris Fishgold: Fishgold showed his affinity for guillotine chokes on Wednesday and it cost him. His opponent. Jared Gordon slipped out of those chokes and then dominated Fishgold on the ground. To make matters worse, Fishgold came in overweight for the 145-pound bout.
Diana Belbita: Belbita came out firing, She snapped Liana Jojua’s head back with those blows. Belbita then made the decision to engage Jojua in the clinch and that’s when things went bad. After a takedown by Belbita, Jojua quickly locked up the armbar and drew a verbal submission. Belbita is 0-2 in the UFC
Aaron Phillips: Phillips had a two fight run with the UFC in 2014. He went 0-2 with two decision setbacks. Over the next five years Phillips went 5-1. On Wednesday. he landed six significant strikes before Jack Shore submitted him in the second round. Phillips had a slow start and he made several critical mistakes on his way to tapping to a rear-naked choke.
Ryan Benoit: Benoit was outlanded by Tim Elliott in their flyweight contest, but it was Benoit who landed the heavier strikes during their co-main event scrap. Benoit also landed at a higher percentage, but Elliott’s pace, movement and attempted strikes seemed to earn Elliott the nod. Benoit was very unhappy after the loss, which was his second straight setback. Knowing what earned Elliott the win, Benoit might need a slight change in his style and up his volume going forward.
Molly McCann: McCann’s three-fight winning streak ended on Wednesday night, but that wasn’t because of lack of effort. McCann got outworked by Talia Santos, but she never stopped trying to win the fight. The way the fight developed could have easily discouraged her, but that did not happen. McCann might never be a UFC champ, but she could be one of those fighters who carves out a respectable career based on effort and toughness.