FightWatch- UFC 268
One of the biggest cards of the year. Madison Square Garden. I actually get to watch this one live on a Sunday so writing this in real time! I was planning to go out to a pub and watch this blockbuster card, but unfortunately came down sick this weekend. Got the test results and it's not COVID, so we ride!
Fight Pass Prelims
Fight 1: (125) Ode Osbourne def. CJ Vergara via unanimous decision (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Entertaining striking battle here. Vergara came in with a bit of hype from Dana White's Contender Series, finishing his opponent in 41 seconds, but Osbourne showed no fear, going straight at him with a flying knee. In R3, Vergara got top position after a scramble on the ground, but he was largely pieced up and dragged into deep waters in the first two frames.
Fight 2: (145) Melsik Bagdasaryan def. Bruno Souza via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Kind of a weird fight. The whole thing was on the feet, which is usually a recipe for fun. Unfortunately, both fighters went through spells of inactivity. There were flashes of exchanges that showed the potential of this fight, but then they would put the brakes on again. Ultimately, Bagdasaryan was that bit more active, and landed some sharp leg kicks throughout that gave him the nod.
Fight 3: (205) Dustin Jacoby def. John Allan via UD (29-28 X 2, 30-27)
Thoughts: Nice active stand up fight. Jacoby was sharper with jabs that would often get through the guard. Allan had his moments, but Jacoby is the more established fighter in the UFC and fought like it. Adding to how impressive Jacoby's performance was, he took the fight on 4 days notice. To look that polished straight off the couch basically... bodes extremely well for his upside at this stage of his career.
Fight 4: (265) Chris Barnett def. Gian Villante via TKO (spinning wheel kick) at 2:23 of R2
Thoughts: This was crazy! Barnett is a ball of charisma, dancing his way to the Octagon and doing a front flip after getting the finish. This was Villante's last fight, with the former light heavyweight ballooning up to 260 pounds, but he may have actually edged the first round. Then, right as Din Thomas chimed in wanting more activity from Barnett... he unleashed the spinning wheel kick from hell to get the awesome highlight finish. Classy post-fight interview too where he got Madison Square Garden to give Villante one last ovation. Chris Barnett could be a major star with the combination of ability and personality. Like a more athletic Derrick Lewis.
Fight 5: (170) Ian Garry def. Jordan Williams via KO (punches) at 4:59 of R1
Thoughts: Garry is a young Irish man with similar confidence to Conor McGregor, predicting a first round finish. Well, damn, he just snuck it in there! Williams made it dicey in the early going blitzing him. He had a bloody mouth and may have even been losing the round before the perfect counter punch landed. Like Paddy Pimblett earlier this year, I'm not quite sold on him yet. Rogan said "the hype is real"... I think Garry will struggle based on this first showing. Great finish though.
Fight 1: (185) Nassourdine Imavov def. Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO (elbows) at 4:42 of R2
Thoughts: Shahbazyan looks a world away from the prospect he once was early in his UFC run. Coming off two high profile losses, this marks 3 straight, as Imavov was just better in every area. The best thing that could be said about Edmen in this fight was his toughness, as he escaped some very deep chokes. Eventually though, Imavov trapped him in the crucifix and started bouncing elbows off his skull. Dominant display by Imavov.
Fight 2: (185) Chris Curtis def. Phil Hawes via TKO (punches) at 4:27 of R1
Thoughts: Holy upset! Hawes was dominating this fight until the final sequence, where Curtis landed a left hook- after offering virtually nothing in the way of offense before that- and that made Hawes do the chicken dance. With Hawes' legs turning to jelly, Curtis swarmed and got the stoppage!
Fight 3: (155) Bobby Green def. Al Iaquinta via TKO (punches) at 2:25 of R1
Thoughts: Green has been very active in recent times. Iaquinta has not. The fight played out in the way that you might expect given that information. Green was sharp and fast, Ragin' Al was slow and sluggish. Green was teeing off at will and easily avoiding any attempts from Al. Statement victory in MSG for Green!
Fight 4: (185) Alex Pereira def. Andreas Michalidis via KO (flying knee) at 0:18 of R2
Thoughts: Former kickboxing champion Pereira is best known for KOing Israel Adesanya in a kickboxing match, but his move to MMA was a great one here in the Garden. Andreas stuck to him like glue in the first, purely grappling, but Pereira had no time for that shit in the second, blasting him with a devastating knee. Awesome UFC debut.
Fight 1: (155) Justin Gaethje def. Michael Chandler via UD (29-28 X 2, 30-27)
Thoughts: That was an absolute classic. Everything we thought it would be and more. Both men swung for the fences, with the only surprise being that we made it to the final horn. Violent, chaotic, amazing. Technique often went out the window, fight IQ was largely non-existent (besides Gaethje chopping Chandler's legs up), but dammit, it was so much fun. Writing this one in real-time, but hard to think this doesn't get Fight Of The Night!
Fight 2: (145) Shane Burgos def. Billy Quarantillo via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Incredible display of heart by Billy Q. Burgos was the better boxer, and also managed to destroy Quarantillo's leg with low kicks, but he just kept coming forward and attacking. The crowd were quiet for a lot of this, but I think the previous fight just burnt them out a bit. On any other card, THIS would probably get FOTN and a huge ovation.
Fight 3: (135) Marlon Vera def. Frankie Edgar via KO (front kick) at 3:50 of R3
Thoughts: Edgar had early success with takedowns, but in R2 Vera was able to get back up and put pressure on the veteran. In R3 the takedown defence was way improved and Vera started throwing with intent. Edgar protested the stoppage- he wasn't completely out but the kick landed clean and he fell face first. Great win for Vera though, maybe the beginning of the end for Edgar?
Fight 4: UFC Women's Strawweight Championship- Rose Namajunas def. Zhang Weili via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46)
Thoughts: Rose seemed to have trouble dealing with the power and striking acumen of Weili early, but got it together as time went on. Speed and technique gave her the nod in a razor close fight. After dropping two straight fights to the champ, it seems uncertain where Weili goes from here- normally a fight this close would merit a rematch, but it'd be tough in this circumstance. Her stock definitely doesn't drop, even in a loss.
Main Event: UFC Welterweight Championship- Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington via UD (48-47 X 2, 49-46)
Thoughts: Much like the first fight, this was a war. Towards the end of R2, it looked as if Usman was going to close the show early, but Colby gutted it out to the horn. He came back and amazingly had some big moments of his own through the rest of the fight. The final horn actually saw the two heated rivals show each other respect. Covington might be corny, and he did come out to Kurt Angle's music, but he definitely doesn't suck.