Heading in, the event didn't look to be of particular interest but it delivered content in spades. Below are a few things that may have tugged on muscles that aren't often used when watching MMA.
Gutierrez Vs Colares
The corner of Gutierrez offered brilliant and honest advice. It was a great example of how engaging the corner work can be, and the impact it can have on a fight. Using a couple seconds to let the fighter settle; acknowledging his dominance; calling out a way they need to improve that is simple enough to absorb in the frenetic moment...you could see the adjustments being made in real-time.
The movement of Gutierrez was truly a wonder to watch against the striking that Colares had to offer, topped with a fun injection of personality as each used tools other than their 8 limbs to find an advantage. And after all of that, we had one of the most heartfelt moments to succeed a fight that I can recall. To so perfectly follow a fight that focused on the coaching that was involved in the action...it was a truly special moment.
Mazo Vs Agapova
A few awards are due to Agapova for her facial expressions. With this being my first exposure to her, I noticed how quickly I was becoming a fan with the character she was exuding in the precious moments she had on camera before the fight even started.
Agapova came out strong, landing huge power shots consistently and with exceptional efficiency. It felt like the only shots that missed were those that intended to. Mazo was constantly looking for attacks yet Agapova calmly thwarted all of them. How Mazo was never phased by those strikes is beyond my understanding.
Then the moment presented itself. For Agapova to so quickly pounce on a submission within a second of landing an incapacitating strike...has there been a quicker submission follow-up and subsequent tap as that?
Lastly, I think Agapova's hair could quickly become iconic, a la Liddell...those tightknit blonde streaks were intimidating.
I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that it's unfortunate to hear about another fighter dealing with financial struggles. A person with the talent that Agapova demonstrated, on a worldwide stage, should be living comfortably with the entertainment she provided.
Elliot vs Nicolau
Elliot's karate kid offense was creative in a way that I thought fighters might approach particular opponents more often these days, but rarely happens. Tim evoked Oliveria storylines with his performance, until the scorecards were read. If he can keep this up, I will be on the edge of my seat for all of his fights. His constant posturing is in the realm of Diaz. Still, it was Nicolau that got he W, and it was a well deserved one.
Brown vs Gooden
Gooden had the killer instinct, but Brown was in control the entire time. A checkers vs chess match. Brown embodied the modern age Diaz: brash; disregard of his opponent; belief in himself. Brown showed why the mental game is closer to 80:20 than 90:10.
Dern vs Rodriguez
Watching Dern walk out with her family was shockingly powerful. I'm sure this isn't the first (or is it?) but it felt like a breakthrough moment.
Dern truly brings something unique to the ground attack game. But Rodriguez showed how specialists can overcome dabblers. Dern came up short, as she should have. But for someone that is transitioning to an entirely new sport, she's giving us signs of an exciting prospect. In the meantime, Rodriguez clearly established herself as a contender by neutralizing such a dangerous foe.
The number of ranked fighters was lacking, but the matchmaking was excellent. Every fight felt like it was in a 10' cage.
I generally like how Anik fills the role he has, and thought Felder was one of the more promising commentators. Last night might have been a wedding proposal, as the two of them were in synch the entire night, and made every fight better with what they had to offer.
Felder coming out party
Felder had a brilliant night, doing an excellent job of guiding the viewer to the moments of intrigue. He pointed towards Gutierrez' slipping and responding. Statements like:
- "at least in translation"
- "She's ahead even than me"
You don't hear these often from a commentator, and I love them. He provided consistent commentary match to match. Described Agapova as an assassin. On the fly questions to Brown, and responding well to a fighter that didn't call out a specific person. Clearly this event was the night I became a Felder fan through and through.