FightWatch: UFC San Antonio
The UFC continued their busy July schedule with a trip down to San Antonio. San Antonio is a city in Texas, most famous for the Alamo, or if you're a die-hard pro wrestling fan like me, you know it as the hometown of the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. The Octagon travelled to Texas for a Fight Night show, bringing with it a much stronger card top-to-bottom than the Sacramento, California card. On paper, anyway. Let's have a look at how it went down in practice.
Bantamweight- Felipe Colares def. Domingo Pilarte by Split Decision
Thoughts: Pilarte was physically imposing for a 135er, standing at 6 feet tall! However, that lanky frame simply presented a bigger target for Colares to attack, as he scored repeatedly with body kicks. Colares spent much of the first 2 rounds negating the size advantage with grappling skills, and although Pilarte had a very strong final round, it ultimately wasn't enough. Solid opener with nice technique shown from both men.
Worth A Watch? Yeah, but not a must see. If you're a fan of the bantamweight division, check this out as you could be looking at two future prospects.
BW- Mario Bautista def. Jin Soo Son by Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 2, 29-28)
Thoughts: This was a wild fight! A Korean Zombie reference was dropped, and it was fitting, because both men have shades of Zombie about them. Incredible power, chins and reckless abandon on both sides.
Worth A Watch? Worth multiple watches. This was definitely a FOTN contender. (upon checking, this was actually awarded FOTN. Pleasantly surprised there). The durability, toughness and fighting spirit of the fighters was on another level. How there wasn't a finish here, I'll never know.
FLW- Jennifer Maia def. Roxanne Modafferi by Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Dominick Cruz summed this up perfectly on commentary- it was the striking of Maia vs. the takedown attempts of Modafferi. Roxanne tried with all her might to take this fight to the ground, but Maia was able to prevent it and impose her own game on the "Happy Warrior".
Worth A Watch? I'm gonna say no. Not a terrible fight, just really one-dimensional.
LHW- Klidson Abreu def. Sam Alvey by Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 2, 29-28)
Thoughts: Smilin' Sam was in shock at the outcome, but he fell into the trap that he often does in close fights- he stays on the back foot looking to counter strike, and while he spends a long time looking for the big counter punch, his opponent steadily racks up points, even if they're not doing a whole lot themselves.
Worth A Watch? It's a no for this one. Decisions don't always equal boring, but when there's no sense of urgency as the clock winds down, it's difficult to stay invested.
BW- Raquel Pennington def. Irene Aldana by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28 X 2)
Thoughts: A competitive scrap between two ranked fighters in the women's bantamweight division. I was fearful that the Diego Sanchez Effect would influence the judges- Aldana threw a ton of strikes, especially in the first round, but most of them found air. Better second round by Aldana where she actually finds her range and lands. Pennington has a strong R3, getting the better of a grappling exchange on the mat and lands some nice ground and pound as the fights draws to a close.
Worth A Watch? Yeah. Not spectacular, but a gritty performance by "Rocky" to gain the victory. Really intelligent, high level approach that was enjoyable to watch play out even if it wasn't fireworks.
FW- Alex Caceres def. Steven Peterson by Unanimous Decision (3027, 29-28 X 2)
Thoughts: This was a fun, occasionally flashy battle. Peterson looks to be the hard-nosed brawler type, getting right in Caceres’ face trying to land big shots- then he gets a takedown and nearly gets the RNC! To his immense credit, Caceres fights out of multiple attempts at the choke and makes it to the end of the round. He tells his corner that his left hand is broken- however, he manages to clearly win R2 and 3 with constant footwork and right hooks piecing Peterson up. Terrible fight IQ by Peterson- his coach goes off at him between R2 & 3... but it made my boy "Bruce Leeroy" look like a million bucks, so I ain't mad at it.
Worth A Watch? Hell yeah. I've been on Caceres' bandwagon since his run on TUF in 2010, but this was a genuinely good performance by him. He fought one-handed and it might have been one of his most impressive performances in the Octagon.
Not a single finish as we head into the main card. Still some entertaining fights though. With 3 heavyweight fights set on the main card, I have a feeling the finish rate is about to go WAY up.
Andrei Arlovski def. Ben Rothwell by Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: What. A. War. Andrei moved and hit like he wasn’t 40 years old. Relentless combinations dismantling the face of Ben Rothwell. Rothwell, the larger man, would land a big punch at different points in the fight showing he was still a threat with his size and power. And then towards the end of R3, Andrei showed some fatigue from the amount of offense he unleashed on Rothwell, giving Big Ben the opportunity to land some more himself. Both men finish the fight in the clinch utterly exhausted. A heavyweight classic.
Worth A Watch? Duh. Still no finishes tonight, but an incredible battle nonetheless!
LW- Alexander Hernandez def. Francisco Trinaldo (30-27 X 2, 29-28)
Thoughts: Hernandez seemed very tentative coming off the Cerrone loss. Stayed on the outside the whole fight and would dart in and out for one shot. Trinaldo’s game is counter striking, and the approach that Hernandez took didn’t leave much opportunity for counter shots. Hernandez gets the close decision to bounce back from his first UFC loss.
Worth A Watch? There are a lot better ways to spend 15 minutes. Re-watch Batista vs. Son or Arlovski vs. Rothwell again instead.
LW- Dan Hooker def. James Vick (via KO at 2:33 of R1)
Thoughts: Our first finish in San Antonio! 10 fights into the card... damn, I think Hooker just became an honorary Aussie for that one. Bit of an early feeling out process, then Dan The Man just launches a hook at him, follows up with ground and pound... game over, son.
Worth A Watch? Bruh, I might upload this to a certain Hub and get the tissues at the ready, because Vick got fucked up! I do take a bit of enjoyment in that after all the whining Vick did, wanting big fights and main events. First, Gaethje ran through him, and in Hooker, he loses to an unranked, young up-and-comer (who is very talented, but that's besides the point). Love it!
HW- Greg Hardy def. Juan Adams (via TKO at 0:25 of R1)
Thoughts: Adams grabs a single leg, Hardy unloads with shots to the ear. Referee calls for Adams to move, he doesn’t, fight is called. Another quick finish for the former NFL star. Given the depth of the heavyweight division and the absolute ease that Hardy is running through these lower level guys, it might be time to give him a name fighter. Maybe Rothwell?
Worth A Watch? Sure, it's a good demonstration of the crazy punching power that Hardy has. And also, a lesson in defending yourself at all times. Juan Adams protested the stoppage, but he was hanging onto a leg for dear life while he took a good 10-15 unanswered heavy blows to the head.
HW- Walt Harris def. Aleksei Oleynik (via KO at 0:11 of R1)
Thoughts: Flying knee, big punch. It’s over in 11 seconds. Told you the finish rate would go up! Huge win for Walt Harris.
Worth A Watch? You could fit that fight in a GIF! Watch it on repeat, it's a massive addition to the Walt Harris highlight reel. He's been one of those guys kinda "just there" at heavyweight for me- no longer!
WW- Leon Edwards def. Rafael dos Anjos by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 49-46 X 2)
Thoughts: I was originally mad about this because it spoiled my multi bet (got 5/6 on the main card right), but this was a hell of a coming out party for Edwards. It was all about staying calm and composed for the Brit. He just seemed one step ahead of RDA all night. Dos Anjos came out as hard as he could in R5, but it was too little, too late.
Worth A Watch? Definitely. A quality main event battle. It shows the maturation of Leon Edwards, and how these younger fighters can really benefit from a "trial by fire". His main event a year ago in Singapore against Donald Cerrone was a much closer fight, and he barely scraped by Gunnar Nelson last time out. This was a definitive statement of how good Edwards can be when he puts it all together. No three piece and a soda for him this time, he can dine like a king, celebrating a well-earned victory here.
This was a quality Fight Night card, and really got things back on track for the UFC after what I thought was a shaky show in Sacramento, with all the controversy around ref stoppages and all that. This one, despite the lack of finishes early on, finished strong with the heavyweight statements from Greg Hardy and Walt Harris. Plus, Dan Hooker should find himself ranked at lightweight after taking the Texacutioner out in Texas. Heavyweight veterans Arlovski and Rothwell seemingly turned back the clock, and Leon Edwards is set for a showcase fight in the welterweight division next. I wonder how he'd fare against Street Jesus?
Now we look forward to UFC 240 next weekend. A big time battle over the featherweight title main events, as champ Max "Blessed" Holloway defends against the legend Frankie Edgar, and also the return of Cyborg, fighting for the first time since losing her title to Amanda Nunes.
On the pro wrestling side of things, tomorrow I hope to have a review of today's Raw Reunion special, and also a WrestleWatch from the vault as I review WWE No Mercy 2005.
Until next time, take care,