UFC Thoughts- Can't Stop A Zombie
Second time I'm doing a UFC Thoughts blog! As I touched on with the WME-IMG blog, things have slowed down dramatically with the new owners. I heard a while back that they were look to cull at least 10 events per year off the schedule, whether that's occurred yet or not, I'm not sure, but it sure feels like a long time between fights. Fortunately, it's a good one with the return of the featherweight fan favourite, "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. In the co-main, hyped strawweight Alexa Grasso gets a chance to make a statement at the expense of veteran Felice Herrig.
Light Heavyweight- Daniel Jolly (5-1) vs. Khalil Rountree (5-2)
Result: Rountree by KO (knees) at 0:52 of Round 1
Thoughts: After a brief feeling out process, Jolly tries to exploit Khalil's weak ground game with an early takedown attempt. The takedown is stuffed and brutal knees put an end to Jolly's night in less than a minute! Huge highlight reel victory for Khalil, and an exciting way to kick off this card from Houston. It occurs to me that Texas is fucking spoiled, between Takeover and the Rumble last weekend, to UFC this one... lucky bastards.
Welterweight- Alex Morono (13-3) vs. Niko Price (9-0)
Result: Price by KO (punch) at 5:00 of Round 2.
Thoughts: Even technical striking through the first round, Price delivering a slightly more varied attack with punches and kicks, while Morono sticks to the hands. Big counter left drops Price momentarily. Back to standing and trading, and Morono scores another knockdown as the round ends. Price has a swollen eye. Back and forth striking in R2, no one with a clear cut advantage until about 3 minutes into the round when Morono lands a nice flurry of punches punctuated by a body kick. 30 seconds later, Price uses a half-hearted takedown attempt to lower Morono's defenses slightly and land a few shots of his own. Clock ticking down, and Price KO's Morono right on the buzzer! Price was likely heading into the third being two rounds down, excellent comeback there. Good action so far on this card.
Strawweight- Tecia Torres (7-1) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-5)
Result: Torres via unanimous decision (30-27 X3)
Thoughts: Pure domination. Torres outclassed Rawlings. Rawlings might be an Aussie, but I was glad to see her lose. Always thought she came across as a total bit... of a nasty person since seeing her on TUF. Wicked speed and cardio from Torres, and a more striking heavy approach than I've seen from her in recent fights. She maintains her position at the top of the division.
Bantamweight- Ricardo Ramos (9-1) vs. Michinori Tanaka (11-2)
Result: Ramos via decision (29-28 X2, 30-27)
Thoughts: Ramos looked good, no signs of jitters in his Octagon debut. He had a good reach advantage and utilised it well. Well rounded with the solid use of both wrestling and striking, although his gas tank could use some work- a better fighter than Tanaka might have capitalised on how tired Ramos was in the 3rd.
Lightweight- Chas Skelly (16-2) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (13-1)
Result: Skelly via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:01 of Round 2
Thoughts: Skelly simply was the stronger guy with the superior ground game throughout. He's got a good squeeze on the choke, he wasn't even completely under the chin, just kept cranking and putting that pressure on the jaw.
Heavyweight- Adam Milstead (8-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (6-1)
Result: Blaydes by TKO (knee injury) at 0:59 of Round 2
Thoughts: Unfortunate end to a fight that Blaydes was dominating anyway. We've seen his punching power in previous fights, here he displayed his wrestling acumen strongly. The injury occurred on a trip that would have counted as Blaydes 9th takedown of the fight. Hella impressive.
Strawweight- Jessica Andrade (15-5) vs. Angela Hill (6-2)
Result: Andrade via decision (30-27 X3)
Thoughts: What a gritty fight, extreme display of toughness to open the main card. Andrade was like a buzzsaw all fight, but Hill refused to stay down. Andrade absorbed all the Hill offense like a sponge and continually rocks Hill with a variety of strikes. Post-fight, Andrade declares herself the Invicta champion- seeing as Hill is the current champ- and calls out Joanna Champion in a fight I'd love to see. We've seen in the second Galdeha fight that Joanna can bounce back from adversity, but Galdeha did slow down in the later rounds. Can the champ handle Andrade's relentless pace?
Heavyweight- Anthony Hamilton (15-6) vs. Marcel Fortuna (8-1)
Result: Fortuna via KO (punches) at 3:10 of Round 1.
Thoughts: Well, that was a mild shocker for me. I get that it's heavyweights, big men with small gloves, but I saw Hamilton as something of a future contender, and the debuting Fortuna shut that idea up, at least for now. Nice sportsmanship from Fortuna in not following up when he saw Hamilton was out.
Light Heavyweight- Ovince Saint Preux (19-9) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (12-1)
Result: Oezdemir via split decision.
Thoughts: OSP suffered from not being aggressive enough, which is a pattern in a lot of his fights (I was almost screaming at my TV with how passive he was against Jon Jones). This allows Oezdemir, another debuting fighter without nerves, to bring the fight hard for the first two rounds, which gave him the victory on two judges' scorecards. OSP finally remembered he was in a fight with 20 seconds to go in R3, and very nearly finished an exhausted Volkan. Too little, too late, and a big fall from grace for Saint Preux.
Lightweight- James Vick (9-1) vs. Abel Trujillo (15-6, 1 NC)
Result: Vick via submission (D'Arce Choke) at 0:49 of Round 3.
Thoughts: Vick and Trujillo looked like they were in two different weight classes, a 6'3 fighter vs. a 5'8 fighter. Vick has dramatically improved his striking and learnt to use his reach, forcing Trujillo to shoot for takedowns. Abel's ground game has always been suspect. but he fought off a few very strong attempts at the D'Arce in R2. It could only be avoided for so long though, as Vick rocked Trujillo at the very beginning of R3 and was able to reapply the choke in the middle of the Octagon, rather than near the cage as previously, which lead to the tap. Excellent work from James Vick.
Strawweight: Alexa Grasso (9-0) vs. Felice Herrig (11-6)
Result: Herrig via decision (29-28 X2, 30-27)
Thoughts: Grasso was a bit too tentative in her Octagon debut, and while she had a couple of nice moments- like a close heel hook in R1- the veteran Herrig was just more active overall and landed some damaging shots. Grasso did rally late and landed some nice strikes, but it just wasn't enough. Shame for Grasso- while Herrig has experience, she's no world beater, and this loss shows that Grasso needs to go back to the drawing board if she wants to be successful at the UFC level. Dana must be pissed- he's clearly trying to set up some young pretty face as the next big thing for the women after losing Rousey. Paige has taken a couple of bad losses, and Grasso hasn't delivered on her pre UFC hype. The lack of hype and promotional support for Amanda Nunes has nothing to do with her fighting ability, her nationality or her sexual orientation- the harsh truth is that she's not hot enough. Even though that sounds caveman like, it's true. Gina Carano was the first women to get noticed in MMA, then Miesha Tate, then Rousey which made things explode. Even Joanna is fairly attractive by fighter standards. Sorry, feminists, the proof is in history- sex sells to the general public.
Featherweight: Dennis Bermudez (17-5) vs. Chan Sung Jung (13-4)
Result: Jung via KO (uppercut) at 2:49 of Round 1
Thoughts: Damn son! The Korean Zombie is back, and it looks like he never missed a day, despite being away for 3 and a half years. It was speculated that Bermudez, who was on a hell of a roll in Zombie's absence, was too stiff a test after such a long layoff, but nope! He just became a major contender at 145. Two things to remember- this time away was military service, not injury (although an injury was suffered in the Aldo fight, it wouldn't have kept him out this long). The other thing is, Zombie's only 29! He could be a big star for 145 and for South Korea. He'll especially be an asset to the featherweight division if Conor decides he's never going back down there. Amazing power and finishing instincts by the Zombie. Let's sign up Zombie vs. Yair Rodriguez next, I feel like that makes a ton of sense with both 145 pounders coming off huge finishes two weeks apart. Whatever happens, so glad it went down like that. Korean Zombie is the man. Loved his work for years, especially that amazing fight with Dustin Poirier.
Overall, pretty entertaining card from Houston! Some big finishes, big statements made, and a main event conclusion that just boosted the entire featherweight division. Next time I cover a UFC event will be for UFC 208, where Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie fight to see who is the champ in a deep division of... exactly two people right now. More interested to see if Anderson Silva can turn back the clock one more time against Derek Brunson (and why the fuck does Brunson get that marquee fight when my boy Robert Whittaker just knocked him the fuck out in the first round? Yeah, I'm mad about that. Even if Whittaker gets a higher ranked guy like Weidman, having a win over Anderson would have done way more for his profile.) Also, you should enjoy the PPV opener of Jim Miller vs. Dustin Poirier, if you like... have a pulse.
Until next time, take care,