FightWatch: UFC Fight Night Uruguay
Back to the Octagon in this edition of FightWatch! I've actually just finished watching UFC 241, which was an excellent card. There'll be another FightWatch later this week for the big PPV that was headlined by the Cormier vs. Miocic rematch and the UFC return of Nate Diaz, but for now, we look at the UFC's first ever trip to the country of Uruguay! It was also headlined by a championship rematch, where UFC Flyweight Women's Champion, Valentina Shevchenko rematches someone she fought 9 years ago at bantamweight. I actually watched and wrote 90% of this review last week, but life got in the way and I watched and reviewed the top 3 fights following my live viewing of UFC 241. Better late than never, I guess.
So current writing plans go like this- tomorrow I'm writing an article on WWE reviving the King Of The Ring tournament, then comes FightWatch for UFC 241. Then, a viewing guide for NJPW's G1 Climax tournament, which concluded the day after Summerslam last week. Then, I need to review PWA Green Label: Quack To The Future, that I should be able to watch live tonight. Being a wrestling fan is a full time job, being a fan of both pro wrestling and MMA is like juggling 2 full time jobs!
Anyway, UFC Fight Night in Uruguay. Everytime Uruguay comes to mind, all I can think of is Homer from the Simpsons:
-Veronica Macedo vs. Polyana Viana (Women’s Flyweight 125lbs)
- Joe Martinez on announcing duties. He’s a good announcer, but bringing him in is always a big tell that UFC don’t really see a fight card as a big deal, not using the legendary Bruce Buffer. It’s not just because it’s an international show- Big Bruce has made the trip to Australia for many cards. Although Joe was there for the TUF Smashes Finale- where current UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker earned his contract.
-Bisping on commentary. Begrudgingly starting to like him. Viana prevented a would-be mugger with a fake gun a few months ago. Badass.
- Viana with an immediate takedown. Commentary note that it’s a terrible start for Macedo, Viana being a jujitsu world champion. Viana staying heavy, but Macedo staying active from the bottom, looking for an armbar… and she gets it! What a start to the card!
Winner: Veronica Macedo via submission (armbar) at 1:09 of Round 1. These two fighters were unranked here, but as a fairly shallow division, victories like that go a long way in getting Macedo ranked in the top 15. Also gains additional spotlight within the division, occurring on the same card as the Shevchenko vs. Carmouche title fight.
Worth A Watch? First round finish, underdog victory, great submission technique. Hell yeah, watch it!
-Kazula Vargas vs. Alex da Silva (Lightweight 155lbs)
-Vargas came out aggressive with a head kick attempt, and da Silva immediately took him down. Back control, short ground strikes and submission attempts, Vargas defends but is basically shut down. He escapes and lands some ground and pound with 30 seconds left, but clearly 10-9 da Silva in R1.
-R2 more of the same. Brief exchange on the feet, but they end up back on the ground as the result of a Vargas takedown, but da Silva gets top position. Blanketing attack with some ground and pound, this time Vargas can’t get back to his feet. Funny moment during an attempt at a headscissors submission- Bisping says he’s caught that submission on children, before clarifying that it was when he was a child himself. 10-9 Da Silva
-R3 a more tentative start, with Vargas not wanting to commit himself too heavily to an attack and expose himself for a takedown. Da Silva gets it anyway halfway through the round. Ground control until the final horn. 10-9 da Silva.
Winner: Alex da Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27 X 3). Da Silva found a clear path to victory and went with it, having superior ground skills. Dominant, clear win.
Worth A Watch? Eh. Once you’ve seen the first round, you’ve seen it all. Vargas had enough defensive ability to prevent da Silva from finishing, but not enough skill to create his own offensive opportunities. So nothing here in the way of drama or memorable moments.
Geraldo de Freitas vs. Chris Gutierrez (Men’s Bantamweight 135lbs)
-5.5 inch reach advantage for de Freitas. Both men trying to find the reach on the feet early, Gutierrez with some nice leg kicks. De Freitas closes distance with body kicks and hook attempts. Forward pressure pays off, nice foot sweep followed by clinch work opens the door for a late de Freitas takedown. 10-9 de Frietas.
-Lots of feints and trying to find opportunities to strikes as R2 begins. Gutierrez lands a couple of nice leg kicks- to the calf rather than the thigh- that buckle and drop da Freitas briefly. Takedown by de Freitas, but Gutierrez is able to scramble out after roughly a minute of control. Brief top control and ground and pound, 10-9 Gutierrez.
-Round 3. Jumping knee busts up the face of de Freitas. More leg kicks by Gutierrez having great effect. Fight paused to check a cut on Gutierrez- turns out it was incidental from a headbutt. Fight goes on. Intensity picks up, de Freitas coming forward with wild looping hooks but Gutierrez answers with some nice work of his own, including some spinning back fists. Both guys fall to the mat in an attempt at more spinning shit as the final horn blares. Tough one to call, but 10-9 Gutierrez.
Winner: Chris Gutierrez via Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28). Close fight, I thought de Freitas started strong, but the leg kicks were a powerful weapon that really helped Gutierrez rally in the 2nd and 3rd.
Worth A Watch? Yeah, this really picked up more and more as time went on. The 3rd round especially was some fun stuff.
Rogerio Bontorin vs. Raulian Paiva (Men’s Flyweight 125lbs)
-Bontorin #8 Flyweight, Paiva #14 Flyweight. I don’t know if it’s an indictment of the flyweight division, or my recent MMA fandom, that I’m not familiar with either of these guys.
-Paiva cracks Bontorin with a left hook, Bontorin responds with a big takedown. Turns out the hook bloodied him up pretty well, so the fight is paused to check the cut. He’s good to go, fight restarted on the feet, so Bontorin loses his dominant position. Ref Osiris Maia realizes he fucked up and puts the fighters back in position on the ground. Paiva escapes anyway and they exchange big strikes on the feet. Now Paiva has a cut and the fight is paused again. Bisping says “c’mon ref, let them fight!’, but on closer inspection that’s a really bad gash in his eyebrow. Fight is called off per doctor’s orders.
Winner: Rogerio Bontorin via TKO (doctor stoppage) at 2:56 of Round 1.
Worth A Watch? Absolutely, that was some violent, bloody, intense action as long as it lasted. I don’t know if they’ll run it back, it’s a valid victory for Bontorin, but based on what we saw, I’d love to see a rematch.
Tecia Torres vs. Marina Rodriguez (Women’s Strawweight 115lbs)
-Torres #8 Strawweight. I know this ranked fighter. Tecia’s fought some big names, like Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson, and been around for a long time. She comes into this on a 3 fight losing streak, though.
-Big size disadvantage for Torres, but that’s nothing new for her. She spends a lot of R1 working her way inside with body shots and low kicks. Rodrigues is a Muay Thai style fighter and has some success with the Thai clinch, but Torres takes the opportunity to land shots in close as well. Round ends with Tecia pressing forward, but Rodriguez locking up the Thai clinch and getting some hard shots in herself. Close one, might lean towards Rodriguez on the strength of her last 30 seconds or so there. 10-9 Rodriguez.
-Rodriguez pulls away with the advantage in R2. Torres is game with trying to get inside and land takedowns, but Rodriguez shrugs her off fairly easily with good technique and her lanky frame. Kicks and knees land essentially at will. 10-9 Rodriguez.
-More of the same in R3. Rodriguez experiments a little by countering takedown attempts from Torres with unique submissions- a standing D’Arce choke and a standing arm triangle. Torres escapes but finds herself against the fence in the Thai clinch, and here Rodriguez does her best work. Punches, elbows, knees… and in the final 10 seconds a particularly hard elbow almost puts Torres out. 10-9 Rodrigues.
Winner: Marina Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26). Big coming out party for Rodriguez. One judge even gave her a 10-8, maybe that final round? She really put it all together there.
Worth A Watch: Definitely. Although this now means Torres has lost 4 straight, she was competitive here and constantly trying to put pressure on Rodriguez. It was kind of fascinating to watch someone be such a specialist in one particular martial art in modern day UFC, as Rodriguez was with her Muay Thai.
Ciryl Gane vs. Raphael Pessoa (Heavyweight 265lbs)
-Straight from the smaller divisions to the biggest one of all, I don’t know either of these gentlemen, but I can’t see it being a 3 rounder.
-Brazil vs. France. Jujitsu vs. Thai Boxer. Pessoa at 5-0 against Gane’s 3-0, but Gane is the heavy favourite at -500 while Pessoa is a +350 underdog. Gane must have some serious upside to be signed at 3-0, you don’t often see fighters with records that short in UFC- with the obvious exception of CM Punk. Gane has a chiseled physique while Pessoa looks very flabby, but we know- especially at heavyweight- to never judge a book by its cover. Look at Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt.
-Gane looking to establish a jab. Pessoa throws a kick but Gane catches it and dumps him on his ass. Pessoa back up throwing WILD hooks. Awful technique, but as Fitzgerald and Bisping note in the booth, it doesn’t really matter when you have that kind of power. Clinch by Gane, gets a nice trip, and locks in an arm triangle! The boxer makes the jujitsu specialist tap! Damn!
Winner: Ciryl Gane via submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:12 of Round 1. Well, that was a shock. Not the victory, but the method.
Worth A Watch? 100%. Could be looking at a real heavyweight prospect. Of course, we’ll have to see how he goes moving forward against higher level competition.
Gilbert Burns vs. Alexey Kunchenko (Welterweight 170lbs)
-Kunchecko opens with a leg kick, Burns returns with one that drops him, followed by a jumping knee. Kunchenko lands some more leg kicks, Burns again fires back with a flurry of his own. Big takedown by Burns, control and ground and pound for the remainder of R1. Impressive start. 10-9 Burns.
-Bit more output from Kunchenko to start R2, but nothing of significance landing on either side. Burns catches a Kunchenko kick and hits another low kick, causing a limp. Burns uses the break in momentum to get a takedown with 2:00 to go. Again, control and ground and pound, also a guillotine attempt. 10-9 Burns.
-Burns opens with some combinations in the final round,but looks a little tired. Kunchenko fires back with some of his own, and he’s starting to land and gain momentum. In a role reversal, Kunchenko drops Burns with a leg kick! Burns gets Kunchenko against the fence going for a takedown, but Kunchenko lands a series of little punches and elbows. They separate and exchange a little to wrap the fight up. 10-9 Kunchenko.
Winner: Gilbert Burns via Unanimous Decision (29-28 X 3). Great win for Burns, going to welterweight for the first time in 5 years, and handing Kunchecko his first ever loss- he was 20-0 coming in, with wins over Thiago Alves and Yushin Okami. Big statement.
Worth A Watch? Very good, high level, technical fight. Had a little bit of everything. Not a FOTN, but really well contested.
Enrique Barzola vs. Bobby Moffett (Men’s Featherweight 145lbs)
-Lots of footwork, feints and movement around the cage early on. Moffett gets Barzola’s attention with a nice uppercut. He begins to fire a right hook/left high kick combination that finds some success. Stiff jab snaps the head back of Barzola. Barzola gets a takedown with 15 seconds left, but Moffett pops right back up. 10-9 Moffett.
-High pace in this one, Barzola goes for a takedown early but is shrugged off. Barzola landing more in this one but it’s back and forth. One of Moffett’s kicks goes low, and Barzola comes out with a strong left hook. They fire up as the round winds down, lots of trading with some significant lands on both sides. Late takedown from Barzola again, once again Moffett gets up but I actually think Barzola had the round before the takedown. 10-9 Barzola.
-They swing, they trade, they’re holding nothing back in R3. Barzola seems to have more in the tank right now. He’s tired and bloody but pushing forward. Moffett still in it and cracks Barzola to stop his forward momentum. The pace of this fight is kinda ridiculous. Late takedown for Barzola, and like in R2, I think he had the round even before the takedown. But it’s a smart strategy to put an exclamation point on the round, and the fight. 10-9 Barzola.
Winner: Enrique Barzola via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Hell of a fight. Incredible pace and action.
Worth A Watch? 100%. Both guys poured everything they had into that. Really gritty battle.
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Oskar Piechota (Middleweight 185lbs)
-Vieira is an absolute unit. First fight in the UFC, can’t help but wonder if he’d pass a USADA test. Strong jab from Vieira snaps Piechota’s head back. Vieira lands a big takedown but Piechota scrambles up. Vieira gets another one soon after and this time secures it. Some ground and pound, Piechota defends pretty well but spends a lot of the ground on his back. 10-9 Vieira.
-Round 2, Vieira is visibly tired to start. That’s why you don’t tend to see high level MMA fighters that heavily muscled. Piechota light on his feet and starts landing strikes. Takedown attempt by Vieira, Piechota stuffs it. Vieira gets another takedown through pure muscle, attempts to transition to mount, and Piechota used the opportunity to escape to his feet. Vieira is relentless though, and gets another takedown. He’s obviously very tired but is gutting through it. He postures up and lands some HULK SMASH style ground and pound, weakening Piechota enough to finally give up the mount position. Vieira wastes no time in locking in an arm triangle, and following some resistance, Piechota taps!
Winner: Rodolfo Vieira via submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:26 of Round 2. Credit to the guy. Starting the second round, as tired as he looked, I kind of wrote him off as a musclehead that was all show and no go. But he showed a lot of heart in pushing through the major fatigue, and great technique in ultimately working to the finish.
Worth A Watch? Yeah, it’s fascinating watching someone that powerful smash his way through a credible opponent. I’d be interesting to see how he’d go in a 3rd round, but he definitely has skill and insane physical attributes.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi (Light Heavyweight 205lbs)
-Oezdemir ranked #7 at 205, Latifi #9. Latifi’s come a long way since debuting as a late replacement in the UFC, where on a forum I used to post on, he was affectionately known as “Some Fucker”. But he’s more than made a name for himself these days, and Oezdemir has looked fantastic against just about everyone not named Daniel Cormier. Both men have serious power, and I don’t anticipate this one needing the judges.
- Volkan opens up with a nice hook and knee combo. Latifi catches a kick and uses it to launch Volkan into the air on a huge single leg takedown into a slam. Volkan quickly back up. Big flying knee cracks Latifi, he seems to absorb it and goes for a takedown, Volkan deters him with short elbows. They separate, Volkan cracks him with another knee, Latifi clinches, and this time he fights it off with shoulder barges. Creative. Latifi is busted up, Volkan ends the round strongly. 10-9 Volkan.
-Volkan changes levels with his attack- body shot, low kick, right hook. A more measured approach here from “No Time”, not as aggressive as Round 1. His cardio seems fine so it looks like a more tactical attack. Nice combo in response from Latifi. Volkan looking for openings- and after a slight lull in action, drops Latifi with a huge knee! He follows up with ground and pound but Latifi finds his way back to his feet. He’s hurt and tired, and Volkan is not rushing in. He’s picking shots here without getting over aggressive. Latifi looks up at the clock and takes a hard standing elbow for his troubles. He fires back but not a lot of steam behind his strikes. Left hook from Volkan on the jaw drops Latifi, a follow up left hook knocks him clean out. Fantastic!
Winner: Volkan Oezdemir via KO (punch) at 4:31 of Round 2. Great performance that showed his maturity as a fighter. He didn’t force the finish, he let the finish come naturally through his consistent attacks.
Worth A Watch? Absolutely. An excellent outing from Volkan that firmly establishes him as still a top contender in the light heavyweight division.
Eduardo Garagorri vs. Humberto Bandenay (Men’s Featherweight 145lbs)
- Garagorri is from Uruguay, hence the placement on the card. Crowd LOVES him.
-Feeling out process, Bandenay gets a takedown a minute in, Garagorri springs up quickly. Garagorri draws blood (literally) with a crisp combination, Bandenay stops the momentum with another takedown but Garagorri escapes again. Strikes and clinch work end the round in Garagorri’s favour to the approval of the crowd. 10-9 Garagorri.
-Garagorri with some sharp leg kicks to begin R2 to some good effect. Bandenay cracks him back and they start a wild exchange. The rest of the round seems to be comprised of wild flurries in between general pressure from Garagorri. Bandenay gets a late takedown, but not enough to secure the round. Garagorri 10-9.
-Early leg kicks and body shots from Garagorri. Clinch work leads to a trip takedown for Bandenay but Garagorri won’t stay down. Back on the feet, Garagorri cracking with some nice shots, including a really nice left hook off a Bandenay takedown attempt. They fire up with rock ‘em sock ‘em robots for the last 15 seconds. 10-9 Garagorri.
Winner: Eduardo Garagorri via Unanimous Decision (30-27 X3)
Worth A Watch? Absolutely. Hometown atmosphere elevated it a few notches, but Garagorri seems to be a legitimate prospect, and has an active striking style that will add excitement to any future cards he is placed on.
Mike Perry vs. Vicente Luque (Welterweight 170lbs)
- Both men the same age (27) and similar height. Luque with the 4.5 inch reach advantage though. Predicting this is going to be a violent affair.
- Trademark aggressive start from Perry, throwing strong hooks, with some getting through the guard of Luque. Snapping leg kicks finding a home for Perry. Luque able to cut Perry with jabs. Jumping knee by Luque lands. Perry swarms with 30 seconds left in the round but Luque maintains his composure, guard up. Tough round to score but I’ll say 10-9 Perry.
- Luque opens up by mixing his strikes. Perry bull rushes in with clinch work to halt the momentum. They separate and Luque lands a cracking left hook. R2 contests fairly evenly with both men trading strikes, keeping the guard high but still landing at a decent clip. Perry is especially bloody as the round ends, so… 10-9 Luque.
- They trade leg kicks, looking for openings to start the final frame. Perry goes for a takedown and the crowd boos. Perry flips them off as they clinch on the fence. Brilliant! They separate and Luque comes in with a flying knee, which Perry looks to turn into a takedown, but Luque locks in the guillotine! Holy shit, blood is absolutely pouring from Perry, but he gives the thumbs up and fights his way out of the choke. Ground and pound to end the fight. When the horn sounds, we see that Mike Perry’s nose is shattered in addition to his already bloodied face. What a warrior. 10-9 Luque.
Winner: Vicente Luque via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Worth A Watch? Oh yeah. Starts very technical, and ends up as a violent, bloody war. If nothing else, worth watching just to see how mangled Perry’s nose is. Major kudos for continuing to fight through that.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche
-Extremely uneventful Round 1. Carmouche darts in and out, lands a couple of leg kicks. Shevchenko fires a couple of flurries Carmouche’s way when she got too close. Nothing major landed either side at all, 10-9 Shevchenko.
- R2 begins in a more active way, as Shevchenko lands a couple of jabs and a front kick. Carmouche misses on a head kick, goes for a takedown but is easily shrugged off. Carmouche darts in and out but isn’t throwing or landing anything. Shevchenko is throwing some light punching combinations and kicks. It’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing, so… 10-9 Shevchenko.
-Round 3, both ladies waiting on each other to do something. Shevchenko with some light leg kicks. The Uruguay crowd losing their patience at the level of inactivity. At the 3:00 mark, Shevchenko drops Carmouche with a combination! She kicks her legs on the ground and allows Carmouche back to her feet. They clinch and Shevchenko delivers a bodylock takedown. Control on the ground for the rest of the round. 10-9 Shevchenko.
- Round 4 begins with Carmouche swinging strikes and hitting air. Shevchenko fires back with a nice superman punch/leg kick combination. They end up on the ground, but are stood up for- yep, more inactivity. Spinning back fist drops Carmouche, and ground control gives the round to the champ. 10-9 Shevchenko.
- Shevchenko leading the dance with leg kicks to start R5. Carmouche goes for a takedown, Shevchenko blocks it and ends up on top in full guard. She spends the remainder of the fight blanketing her on top with little pitter-patter shots. She gets off her with 5 seconds left and just walks off, she doesn’t seem too happy about how that fight played out either. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision (50-45 X 3)
Worth A Watch? My usual rule of thumb is that title fights are always worth a watch given the stakes involved. But this one… this was the dullest title fight I’ve seen since Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia. It was slightly better maybe, with the couple of knockdowns by the champ, but it was a very pedestrian 25 minutes. #AndStill for Shevchenko, hopefully her next outing will be a little more dynamic. Carmouche did absolutely nothing, really don’t understand her approach. First title shot since facing Ronda Rousey in the UFC’s first women’s fight, and she completely wasted the opportunity.
Overall, a high quality UFC event, particularly for a free Fight Night card, let down by one of the most lifeless championship fights I've seen in a long time. Thankfully, I'm happy to report that the UFC Championship fight following this event, the rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, is full of great action. I'll be reviewing it, and the whole UFC 241 event, in the next FightWatch this coming week.
And if you're into pro wrestling, I'll be doing an article on the upcoming revived King Of The Ring tournament!! Aiming to get it out before it starts on Raw Tuesday morning.
Until next time, take care,