UFC 271 Main Card (Tim)
What a main event. It might have been a bit uneventful for some, but I found it fascinating. It was a true tactical battle, and Robert Whittaker couldn’t find a way to get through the champ. Israel Adesanya never got put totally on his back, and his stance changes and superior standup game kept him at bay. Whittaker did everything he could, and that would have probably beaten every other middleweight in the world. But Adesanya is just on another level.
What’s next for Adesanya though? Whittaker is the 1A of the division, there’s no one really close to them. Is it Jared Cannonier? Read below, but that doesn’t exactly scream PPV sales.
- How cool was Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa? The crowd was on fire. The fight was fire. Tuivasa showed some new wrinkles in his game, dodging big shots and not totally engaging in murder death kill exchanges. Lewis getting slept in his hometown wasn’t ideal, but Tuivasa did some effective work and earned the love of the crowd. I loved it. That wasn’t what I expected, but it was very cool.
- Jared Cannonier looked bad until he didn’t. Derek Brunson had a great first round and looked to be in control, but all it took was one big shot to change up the dynamic. He pounded Brunson out and likely cemented himself as the next title challenger. Good fight.
- Renato Miocano and Alexander Hernandez was fun while it lasted. Hernandez arguably won the first but once Miocano got even the smallest advantage, it was game over. At 145 or 155, he’s a finisher. Nice win, though I’m not sure it will lead to a ranked fighter next or anything.
- Bobby Green may have put forth his best UFC performance yet, and that’s saying something. He used the same old hands low, odd jabbby stuff he’s made a career of, and Nasrat Haqparast had no real answer for it. He had his moments, but Green touched him up on the regular and took a dominant decision. I liked it a lot.
- Yeah, Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa went exactly the way you thought it would. Arlovski won a split decision. Robert Alexander was the dissenting judge, but that wasn’t his worst card of the night.
- Roxanne Modafferi’s retirement fight unfortunately did not end in a win, but she certainly made flyweight prospect Casey O’Neill work for this one. All but maybe 30 seconds of the fight was contested on the feet, which was to O’Neill’s advantage but Roxy gave her a black eye and a bloodied nose. One judge gave Modafferi the fight, which was... not correct, but I wouldn’t have been upset if she got a robbery win! It’s a legitimately good win for O’Neill against the #12 ranked contender, and she continues her rise towards the top. O’Neill was booed by the fans — she seemed to embrace it, too! — for beating a universally beloved fighter, whereas Modafferi was showered with cheers in her post-fight interview. She’s a women’s MMA pioneer, a great person, tough as hell, and a shining example of perseverance when you consider the state of her career about nine years ago. Happy retirement to the Happy Warrior!
- ...Seriously though, Robert Alexander was inexcusably bad and the UFC lambasted him for it. Texas, y’all.
- Kyler Phillips is so fun to watch. The 26-year-old bantamweight rebounded from his loss to Raulian Paiva with a comprehensive display of MMA against Marcelo Rojo. Phillips bossed the fight on the feet and had Rojo’s lead leg jacked up through a steady diet of kicks, then he took the fight to the mat in the 3rd round and transitioned from a triangle to the fight-ending armbar. Phillips is a dangerous opponent for damn near anyone at this weight class. As for Rojo, the dude has fought Charles Jourdain (up at 145) and Kyler Phillips back-to-back... can he get a step down?
- Carlos Ulberg vs. Fabio Cherant was a very bad fight. Cherant had a flash knockdown at the end of Round 1 but otherwise barely threw and Ulberg wasn’t that much more aggressive. Ulberg clearly won, light heavyweight is bad, Cherant is surely getting cut from the UFC, we move on.
- What an almost comeback! Ronnie Lawrence knocked down Mana Martinez three times over two rounds and for all the world it looked as if Martinez had nothing left. Through James Krause’s advice, Martinez went for broke in the final round and it nearly paid off. He put Lawrence down with a spinning backfist, then dropped him again with a right hand and later almost submitted his foe with an armbar. No win for Martinez but it’s one of the best near-comebacks I’ve ever seen. Again, men’s bantamweight is amazing.
- Jacob Malkoun just wears you out. A.J. Dobson started brightly but his resistance to Malkoun’s wrestling steadily eroded and he was thoroughly beaten over the final two rounds. Malkoun should’ve had a 10-8 at least for the 2nd round but a win is a win nevertheless for the middleweight prospect.
- What a comeback! Douglas Silva de Andrade got thrashed, knocked down, and split open in the first round against Sergey Morozov, and it felt like round two would just be the finishing touches on a great performance by Morozov. Not so fast! Douglas dropped Morozov multiple times in round two in a crazy war, then put him to sleep with a rear-naked choke. An unbelievable comeback and a tremendous fight by both men. It is impossible to criticize the quality of the men’s bantamweight division. Impossible, I say!
- Not the UFC debut that City Kickboxing prospect Mike Mathetha aka ‘Blood Diamond’ wanted. I mean he almost won by complete accident when Jeremiah Wells comically ran and just about fell into the fence, but after that it was domination. Wells spent over half the round trying to get a rear-naked choke on Blood Diamond and he was able to put him to sleep with under 30 seconds left in the opening frame. Two fights, two finishes in the UFC for the welterweight Wells.
- William Knight missed weight by 12 lbs for his short notice fight vs. Maxim Grishin, and he looked out of his depth against Grishin in the fight itself. Maxim pretty much had his way with Knight — he hurt him multiple times — and did well to prevent Knight from getting into any sort of an offensive rhythm, and the end result was a shutout on the scorecards.