Main Card (Tim)
Wow. Just wow. I am almost speechless about the main event, and this card in general. Charles Oliveira sure showed Justin Gaethje he has some heart, surviving two knockdowns in the first round at the hands of Dustin Poirier in the UFC 269 headliner. He popped up both times, fired right back, and kept coming.
In the second, he took Poirier down off of a nice scramble and kept him firmly on his back for the whole rest of the round eating elbows. It was 1-1. Round 3 had a lot of anticipation.
Oliveira jumped his back early though and sunk one of his signature finishes - a standing rear naked choke. Poirier was stuck, and didn’t even try to spike him or drop to the ground. He tapped. It was an incredible fight, the perfect cap on one of the best fight events I’ve seen in a long time. Poirier isn’t going anywhere in this division, but Oliveira securing his legacy is brilliant. So much fun to watch, so captivating. I loved it.
- Oh my god. I really don’t know what happened in the co-main event. Julianna Pena is the new women’s bantamweight champion. I don’t want to take anything away from Pena, that was awesome and she’s got nerves of steel engaging with the GOAT like that. But it seemed like Nunes got hurt early in round two and tried her best to no-sell it. She kept engaging, and Pena touched her up. But the takedown, the choke, nothing about that is right. Amanda Nunes tapping to a no-hook choke instantly? She grabbed her ribs three times during the post-fight interview. Something isn’t right there.
- Again though, I don’t want to take anything away from Pena. I loved her reaction to winning, I loved that she showed Nunes such respect, and she was very eloquent with her post-fight interview. Pena-Nunes 2 is going to be very good.
- Santiago Ponzinibbio and Geoff Neal went a lot differently to me than the judges had it. I had The Ponz taking round one closely and round two handily, before dropping the third. The fact that a judge had it 30-27 Neal is a joke to me. But it wasn’t a blowout either way. It was a decent, technical fight that featured some good action but wasn’t outstanding. Nice win for Neal though.
- There were a lot of questions about Cody Garbrandt’s move to flyweight. How would his chin hold up? Would he retain the power in his hands? Would he just actually learn to not get dragged into brawls? I’m honestly not sure if any of those questions were answered by this fight with Kai-Kara France. KKF just caught him with a picture-perfect right hook, and Cody wasn’t coming back. Kara-France stayed on him with accurate, savage shots and put a former 135-pound champion in a heap on the mat. That was awesome, and KKF deserves a really big flyweight fight next after that.
- Sean O’Malley needed a great performance to earn himself a ranked contender, and he delivered. Paiva was a good matchup for him, a guy that needed to put him on the floor to make him think he might be in any danger. And Paiva didn’t even try. Once Suga Sean hurt him, it was already over. The guy might be divisive among fans, but there’s no denying his killer instinct. He threw like a 19-punch relentless combo and expertly mixed in a couple of body shots before turning Paiva’s lights out. I don’t think he can do that against the elite of the division, but it’s certainly fun to watch against marginally-ranked guys.
- Josh Emmett’s long awaited return to the Octagon was a successful one. The heavy-handed featherweight drilled Dan Ige with his vaunted right hand barely a minute into the opening round, but Ige is as tough as they come and he survived that initial onslaught. It was back-and-forth really for the remainder of the contest and Emmett came out the winner by decision. Ignore that idiotic 30-27 Emmett score as Ige clearly won round two and the final round was extremely close. Great scrap as anticipated and hopefully Emmett can stay healthy and get back into title contention.
- Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz had to overcome a huge early scare in the form of two first-round knockdowns and otherwise outstruck Pedro Munhoz to win an entertaining unanimous decision. No doubt that he’s still got quite a bit left in the tank which is extraordinary given how much time he lost to serious injury. Will he get one more shot at the title? He’s not too far off at this rate, and he largely picked apart Munhoz outside of those knockdowns. Also, fair play to him for not extending his Daniel Cormier commentary diss into the post-fight interview (I kid, I kid).
- GOOD GOD! Tai Tuivasa was on the cusp of being bounced from the UFC with three straight losses and now he’s won four in a row. He wrecked Augusto Sakai just seconds into round two and was 100% ready for his celebratory shoey. I think that might have been the quickest he’s done that. What a career turnaround for the Aussie heavyweight and he has clearly established a fanbase with his personality and fighting style. Next year we’ll see if he can really make a run towards the upper-end of the division.
- Bruno ‘Blindado’ Silva is fun as hell. Three knockouts in six months after having his UFC debut delayed due to a USADA suspension. Jordan Wright was always going to bring the chaos and after a reasonably bright start he found himself flailing and flopping on the mat and done in 88 seconds. Silva hits that hard and Wright is that defensively porous, which is great entertainment for us. We’ll see if Bruno can crack the top-15 next year if he keeps this up.
- Another day, another armbar win for Andre Muniz. The Brazilian submission specialist famously broke Jacare Souza’s arm back at UFC 265, and he’s followed that up with an easy first-round sub of Eryk Anders. Muniz is 4-0 in the UFC as part of an overall eight-fight winning streak, and he continues to put the middleweight division on notice.
- Erin Blanchfield could very well be challenging for the women’s flyweight title within two years. The 22-year-old just completely bossed Miranda Maverick virtually from start to finish for the shutout victory. Terrific wrestling and grappling and just total physical dominance over Maverick, who was unlucky to lose to Maycee Barber a few months back and had a very clear loss tonight (and as an injury replacement for Barber, at that!). But Blanchfield is the story here, as she’s won both of her UFC appearances in one-sided fashion and has established herself as a name to watch in 2022.
- Ryan Hall got back in the win column with a decision win over fellow featherweight grappler Darrick Minner. Unfortunately for Minner, his willingness to grapple with a true jiu-jitsu sensation was... not advisable. The only credit you can give him is that he didn’t get submitted, otherwise he was just inferior to Hall on the ground.
- Bantamweight Tony Kelley looked outstanding against the always exciting Randy Costa. Just when it looked as if Costa was turning things around in round two, Kelley drilled Costa with several knees to the body that had Costa in major trouble. Ground-and-pound (especially heavy elbows) sealed the deal in what’s his most impressive UFC win to date.
- Despite Priscila Cachoeira’s horrible eye gouging of Gillian Robertson, the Brazilian did relent and tap out after Robertson sunk in a tight rear-naked choke. Robertson had her way with Cachoeira on the mat, and Priscila’s blatant fouling didn’t deter her from beating the buzzer to end it in the opening round. That’s a two-fight losing streak snapped for the Canadian women’s flyweight in what was a stylistic lay-up.