FightWatch: UFC Boston- Reyes vs. Weidman
Making a Donald Cerrone-esque turnaround here, it's time for another FightWatch review! Feels like yesterday that I was writing a similar post for UFC Tampa... oh wait. Circumstances working in my favour here as far as timing goes, which is pretty fucking rare in all honesty. I woke up at 6:30am feeling energetic and well-rested, which happens once in the proverbial blue moon. I have Cerebral Palsy and arthritis, my bod generally requires a lot of sleep.
And speaking of a lot of sleep... oh how the mighty have fallen. Chris Weidman was on top of the world 5 years ago. An All-American wrestler who was undefeated in MMA, he quickly rose through the ranks in the UFC Middleweight division and shocked the world when he knocked out the previously untouchable Anderson Silva, ending his record-setting reign as champion of the 185ers. But in recent years, Weidman has been less of a "knockout artist" and more of a "knockout artwork", having his lights shut out by Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Gegard Mousasi and Yoel Romero. The loss to Romero was particularly brutal- not only was it a flying knee that pretty much caved in his skull, it was also his first fight in his home of New York.
It's important to note that there is no shame in losing to the men Chris Weidman has lost to. They're among the elite of the division. And it's also worth noting that he got an impressive finish over top middleweight Kelvin Gastelum in amongst the recent run of losses. But when a fighter gets KOed that many times, something needs to change. For Weidman, he opted to go up a weight class, moving from Middleweight (185lbs/84kg) to Light Heavyweight (205lbs/93kg). Moving up in weight can either be a blessing or a curse. For men like Donald Cerrone and Robert Whittaker, not cutting as much weight is better for their bodies and it allows them to unlock their true potential as a fighter. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be a harsh lesson in physics... men who weigh more typically hit harder, and if your fight career has compromised the durability of your chin... yeah, you can be in for a bad time. That was the case a couple of months ago for Luke Rockhold, another former middleweight champion who opted to ply his trade at 205.
In other action at UFC Boston...
Jeremy Stephens (of "who the fook is that guy" fame) and Yair Rodriguez (of "getting released from the UFC and returning to have a FOTY with Korean Zombie" fame) were set for a main event showdown in Mexico. A potential 5 rounds, we could have gotten up to 25 minutes of two of the best featherweights in the world going at it. Unfortunately, it ended in 15 seconds. Stephens suffered a particularly bad eye poke and was unable to continue. Fans were PISSED. They pelted the Octagon and the fighters with trash. I get being upset, but damn, that was a little classless in my view. Fans (and Yair Rodriguez) were of the opinion that "Lil Heathen" was looking for a way out. Which is pretty ridiculous if you give it more than a second of thought. Why would any fighter go through a training camp, fly to Mexico, and pussy out of the fight in 15 seconds? So the fight was ruled a No Contest and it was quickly re-scheduled to co-main in Beantown.
Boston is generally a great city for a fight card. The Fight Night in 2013 which saw Conor McGregor make his second UFC appearance remains one of my favourite atmospheres ever... and I wasn't even there. The energy was just that palpable coming through my TV. So let's do this!
Fight Pass Prelims
(265) Tanner Boser def. Daniel Spitz via Unanimous Decision (30-27 X3)
WORTH A WATCH? Decent heavyweight scrap. It was refreshing to see a heavyweight fight go the distance without the fighters badly gassing. Boser looks like Roy Nelson if he got in shape, and Daniel Cormier puts over his glorious mullet on commentary. Spitz's leg gets badly jacked up, looks like a tumour coming out of his thigh. I don't know if this will be a memorable fight by the end of the night though.
(185) Brendan Allen def. Kevin Holland via R2 Submission (rear naked choke)
WORTH A WATCH? This is the kind of fight I would show a "Just Bleed" fan who thinks that ground fighting is shit. 95% of this fight took place on the ground, and it was exciting as hell. We got a good amount of blood from some well placed Holland ground and pound, but the fun was in watching them trade submission attempts and some really impressive reversals and transitions.
(170) Sean Brady def. Court McGee via UD (29-28, 30-27 X2)
WORTH A WATCH? This was an outstanding debut for Sean Brady. He was the stronger, faster fighter, while McGee is one of the most durable fighters in the UFC. That's a recipe for a highly entertaining fight. For Brady to have that kind of performance in his UFC debut, shows the sky's the limit for this kid.
(135) Randy Costa def. Boston Salmon via R1 TKO (punches)
WORTH A WATCH? For sure. Nothing like a first round finish to start this portion of the prelims off right. Costa was just extremely accurate with his striking and never let Salmon off the hook. Big time statement.
(145) Sean Woodson def. Kyle Bochniak via UD (30-26, 30-27 X2)
WORTH A WATCH? Woodson is the tallest featherweight ever in the UFC, at 6'2.5". And the size difference really came into play against the ever-tough Bochniak. Woodson's 79 inch reach really came into play with some piercing jabs, but the real weapon of note was the knee. It wasn't exactly a flying knee or jumping knee- Woodson is so tall that it's more of a stepping knee. Very impressive UFC debut for Woodson.
(125) Molly McCann def. Diana Belbita via UD (30-26 X 3)
WORTH A WATCH? McCann making a great statement in the ever-growing UFC women's flyweight division, frequently landing big strikes on Belbita. Round 2 was especially dominant, and Belbita lost a point for getting desperate and grabbing the cage. Round 3 saw both get tired and the action slowed significantly- so if you're short on time and cherry-picking the best fights, this might be one to leave out, depending on your investment in women's flyweight. But McCann did do some nice work.
(148- Catchweight) Charles Rosa def. Manny Bermudez via R1 Submission (armbar)
WORTH A WATCH? Round 1 finishes always are! Particularly noteworthy is Rosa getting an armbar win over Bermudez, who is a submission specialist in his own right.
(185) Darren Stewart def. Deron Winn via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28 X2)
WORTH A WATCH? First of all, Winn is 5'6" and still managed to miss the 185lb weight limit. Wow. As for the fight...Winn is leaning on grappling, Stewart more striking orientated, but nobody gets a clear cut advantage, hence the split. Probably worth saving time and giving this a miss.
(125) Maycee Barber def. Gillian Robertson via R1 TKO (punches)
WORTH A WATCH? Maycee is a young fighter who seems like a UFC pet project... it's like they're looking for a new Ronda Rousey- a pretty All-American girl who can throw down in the cage. With her aggression and ability to get the quick finish with the rapid barrage of strikes, Barber might fit the bill. Great work.
(155) Joe Lauzon def. Jonathan Pierce via R1 TKO (ground and pound)
WORTH A WATCH? You know how in pro wrestling, they bring back a "legend" (or "old timer") in for a match, and against all odds, they get the heroic victory? That's usually not how it works in MMA, Just ask BJ Penn. Storybook endings are far more rare when you can't script them, funnily enough. And it seems wrong to call Joe Lauzon an "old timer", but he's been around the UFC for a very long time, and based on the damage accumulated and some of his recent fight results, it seemed like he was just about done. And then he came into this fight and absolutely steamrolled the opposition in record time. In his hometown, no less! (Another MMA rarity- ask Chris Weidman) Dana White says that he made a deal with Lauzon that win, lose or draw, this would be his last UFC fight, but after a performance like that, it seems like Joe Lauzon has plenty left in the tank. Total domination and a joy to watch for anyone that's followed his career.
(265) Greg Hardy vs. Ben Sosoli ended in a no contest after illegal inhaler use
WORTH A WATCH? Fuck no! Well... parts of it were entertaining in a car crash kind of way. How bad is Greg Hardy's cardio? At the end of the 2nd round, he requested his inhaler and got it. Technically, inhalers have steroids in them, and although the use of it is allowed by USADA... it's not in the middle of a damn fight! Originally a plodding decision win, where Hardy did at least show a bit more patience and fight IQ, it was a pretty boring bout. Sosoli had nothing to offer but a telegraphed left hook, which Hardy saw coming a mile away. But this was a complete shambles. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
(145) Yair Rodriguez def. Jeremy Stephens via UD (29-28 X3)
WORTH A WATCH? It won FOTN on a pretty high quality card, so that tells you all you need to know. This was the barnburner we expected in Mexico. I actually watched the fight on mute as I got a phone call, and I was so drawn into the action, I started calling the fight myself. Back and forth action, both men got hurt multiple times, especially during the second round. Crazy display of toughness and heart.
(205) Dominick Reyes def. Chris Weidman via R1 KO (punches)
WORTH A WATCH? High stakes, high drama, and a high chance the UFC run of Chris Weidman is coming to an end. I don't expect him to be cut here, the whole "defeating Anderson Silva" thing gives Weidman more rope than most, but you can only have these kind of results in the Octagon for so long. The fight began with Weidman immediately engaging in grappling- in almost a desperate manner- but as soon as Reyes was able to properly connect, it was lights out.
So now I'm all caught up on the UFC! UFC Singapore is this weekend, headlined by a welterweight showdown between grappling aces Demian Maia and Ben Askren. Should be an intriguing clash of styles- watch them kickbox for 5 rounds. Then next weekend, UFC returns to Madison Square Garden in New York City for UFC 244- in the 500th UFC event. Another top welterweight fight is the main event- Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal for the BMF Title- a battle to determine the Baddest Motherfucker in the UFC... I'm not making this up.
Until next time, take care,