UFC 253 was certainly interesting at times. At and others, it wasn’t at all. Two title fights that I was really looking forward to, and I thought were pretty even fights going in, were pretty much completely one-sided. Especially the main event.
What the hell was Paulo Costa doing? He ate shots, taunted Israel Adesanya, and...didn’t do anything in return. Adesanya absolutely jacked up Costa’s front leg really early, and Costa just let him do it. He clowned his way into getting dropped and finished late in the second round. I feel kind of robbed, because he didn’t even try.
With that being said, Adesanya looked the best he ever has. He called out Jared Cannonier afterward if he can get through Robert Whittaker. That’s cool and all, but doesn’t exactly scream PPV magic.
- Wow. Jan Blachowicz made that look easy. The left body kicks left a massive bruise on Dominick Reyes’ ribcage in the first round. Reyes looked okay, but a step behind. Blachowicz put together nice combinations, and landed twice as much. Reyes looked better in the second, but when he finally tried to wade in an exchange with Blachowicz, he was getting clipped a ton, very quickly. Then his nose got smashed. Then he was on chicken legs. The the fight was over.
- I loved Blachowicz’s reaction to winning. It was like it took a couple of minutes for it to really hit him. And I like him calling out Jon Jones too. I mean, what else are you going to do? You can’t just say “oh he’s gone now, bring on the next guy”. No, you call out the guy that gave up the belt in the first place. Overall, a great performance for Blachowicz and I’m happy for him.
- Kai Kara-France and Brandon Royval was straight fire. Knockdown off a right hook for KKF. Royval gets up, drops to a knee, gets up again, and drops Kara-France with a picture-perfect spinning elbow! Then went for a gogoplata! They brawled their way around the cage for the rest of the first in one of the best rounds of 2020. And early in the second, Royval secured a guillotine and got the finish. That was so much fun!
- Can we get Brandon Royval vs. Brandon Moreno please? That sounds bonkers.
- Ketlen Vieira and Sijara Eubanks put in a pretty decent fight, but nothing too crazy. Vieira’s length seemed to mess with Eubanks over the first two rounds, and while she got her shots in, they were clear Vieira rounds. Eubanks finally put it together in the third, peppering Vieira with all sorts of different forms of offense. Unfortunately for her, it was too little too late, and Vieira took the UD.
- Hakeem Sawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov was a strange fight. Tukhugov started very slow, eating some leg kicks and generally not doing anything. Once he got loose though, he cracked Dawodu with some beautiful right hooks and I thought it was enough to take a lackluster first round. Tukhugov looked way more busy in the second, but in the third, he did nothing again. In fact, he ran for pretty much the whole round. Dawodu was actually swearing at him, begging him to engage. It didn’t happen though, and it cost him the fight. Dawodu took a split decision, and his winning streak is at five.
- Brad Riddell is a very, very good fighter. He seemed surprised by Alex Da Silva’s quick start, and Da Silva managed to control most of the first round. But Riddell adjusted, started working in some takedown attempts, and took over the striking over the final two rounds. Good win for Riddell and he has a ton of potential.
- As expected, Jake Matthews basically dominated a soft Diego Sanchez. Sanchez played right into Matthews’ strength, getting caught with counters and having no defense for The Celtic Kid’s right hand. Matthews did a good job mixing in hooks with straight shots, and dropped Diego early in the third. He probably could have made Diego get back up and finished him on the feet, but he decided to batter him on the ground instead. He took a 30-26 decision on all three scorecards.
- Do you want to see Diego Sanchez fight again? Personally, I don’t.
- Holy hell, Ludovit Klein. Shane Young is a tough man, and Klein just destroyed him with his boxing and a nasty head kick. It was over in 76 seconds, and Klein is going to have some hype behind him going into his next bout.
- I liked the fight William Knight put on against Aleksa Camur. He mixed in some sweet trips and ground work, and he’s obviously tremendously strong. I thought he broke Camur’s arm with a key lock at the end of the second round. I was impressed with two other things about Knight - his cardio, and his eloquence. That was a very good post-fight interview, and he could be a problem for some people at 205.
- Juan Espino and Jeff Hughes felt like old school MMA. A bit sloppy, but exciting. And a finish with a scarf hold/neck crank (even though Bruce Buffer called it an arm-triangle choke for some strange reason). The TUF 28 winner is already almost 39 so it’s not right to call him a prospect, but we’ll see how it plays out for him in the future.
- Danilo Marques and Khadis Ibragimov was an awful, awful card opener. Marques won, but you can skip this one if you’re going to watch the card later on.