FightWatch- UFC 269
UFC normally delivers a blockbuster PPV at the end of the year, and that's what they booked at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with UFC 269 (nice nice). Two big title fights, as new lightweight champ Charles Oliveira puts the gold on the line against The Diamond, Dustin Poirier, a fighter who exploded into superstardom in 2021 with back-to-back wins over global superstar Conor McGregor.
In the co-main, arguably the women's GOAT (and it's hard to argue otherwise) Amanda Nunes goes back to bantamweight, putting one of her two belts up against top contender Juliana Pena. Some bad blood here as Pena has accused Nunes of "fighting cans". Say what you want about Ronda Rousey and her downfall, but she was no can, and the Cyborg win speaks for itself.
Originally, the BMF, Jorge Masvidal, was scheduled for this card, but had to withdraw due to injury. But with name fighters like Cody Garbrandt, Sean O'Malley, Dominick Cruz and Tai Tuivasa on the billing, there's a lot to love here. A stacked card!
Let's do this!
Fight Pass Prelims
Fight 1: (W-125) Gillian Robertson def. Priscilla Cachoeira via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:59 of R1
Thoughts: Ground fighting excellence by Robertson. Cachoeira landed some hard strikes early, but Robertson adjusted and got the takedown, and from there it was pure domination. Cachoeira missed weight, and blatantly tried to gouge Robertson's eyes to avoid the choke. Horrible.
Fight 2: (135) Tony Kelley def. Randy Costa via TKO (ground and pound) at 4:15 of R2
Thoughts: Just constant pressure by Kelley. Costa never got his offense started, and Kelly swarmed him with striking and constant clinch work. Kelly dropped him in the second with some striking in the clinch, and ground and pound ended it soon after.
Fight 3: (145) Ryan Hall def. Darrick Minner via unanimous decision (30-27 X 2, 29-27)
Thoughts: An odd fight where Minner pressured, but Ryan Hall was the more active and aggressive from his back, constantly rolling for kneebars and heel hooks, plus triangles and guillotines all fight. Hall remains a specialist, but when you're a damn wizard on the ground, who needs striking?
Fight 4: (W-125) Erin Blanchfield def. Miranda Maverick via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Over 10 minutes of ground control in a 15 minute fight. Blanchfield was on another level, and Miranda Maverick is someone touted as a prospect, but Blanchfield just ran through her. Maverick was tough, and escaped a dangerous crucifix position and several submission attempts, but couldn't generate offense of her own. The judges only giving 30-27 was shocking, as 2 of those rounds should have been 10-8s.
Fight 5: (185) Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via submission (armbar) at 3:13 of R1
Thoughts: In the theme of the night, more ground wizardry from Muniz. Anders defended a bit and was able to get back to his feet after getting taken down, but fell victim to the same armbar technique that Muniz used to defeat Jacare Souza. Very impressive. In the post-fight interview, Muniz called out Darren Till. Interesting...
Fight 1: (185) Bruno Silva def. Jordan Wright via TKO (punches) at 1:28 of R1
Thoughts: Finally, some striking fireworks to open the ESPN prelims after a grappling-heavy stretch on Fight Pass! Both men wasted little time swinging bombs. Some brief, but nice, clinch work from Wright that saw him land a knee to the head, but on the break Silva landed some hard hooks that gave Wright wobbly legs. Herb Dean tried to give Wright a chance but he was out of it.
Fight 2: (265) Tai Tuivasa def. Augusto Sakai via KO (punches) at 0:26 of R2
Thoughts: Little bit of a slow start with Sakai chipping away with leg kicks and getting involved in clinch work which slowed down the action. Towards the end of the first, Tuivasa started opening up, and in the second landed clean with some brutal hooks that put Sakai out cold! Massive pop for the win and the post-fight shoey. Eshayyyyy.
Fight 3: (135) Dominick Cruz def. Pedro Munhoz via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Really high quality, technical and competitive fight. Munhoz almost finished Cruz in the first with some great counter striking, but the former champ survived the onslaught. Cruz then came back in the next two rounds fully recovered, with great speed and aggression unloading flurries and avoiding any return offering. Extremely fun fight, and an impressive performance in all aspects by Cruz.
Fight 4: (145) Josh Emmett def. Dan Ige via UD (29-28 X 2, 30-27)
Thoughts: Much like the previous fight, Ige was hurt badly and dropped early, but rallied in the next two rounds. Emmett was always dangerous with his power, but Ige seemed a step ahead with his technique, while Emmett was looking for the kill shot constantly. A razor close third round saw the nod go to Josh Emmett. 30-27 is a bit ridiculous. I was writing this blurb as we were waiting for the decision and fully expected 29-28 Ige, although could see a case for 29-28 Emmett. Good fight though.
Fight 1: (135) Sean O'Malley def. Raulian Paiva via TKO at 4:42 of R1
Thoughts: Well. Welcome to the Sugar Show. O'Malley battered Kris Moutinho last time out, but Moutinho wasn't a tenured UFC fighter. Paiva is a proven commodity, and O'Malley put him out. Suga Sean showed some patience and used feints and movement to find his openings, but once he had that figured out, it was a show-closing flurry that made Paiva faceplant.
Fight 2: (125) Kai Kara-France def. Cody Garbrandt via TKO (punches) at 3:21 of R1
Thoughts: What a statement by the Kiwi! Joe Rogan immediately came in with the excuses for Cody, talking about the weight cut affecting his chin- first, Garbrandt's chin has been suspect for a long time, and two, Kara-France was landing bombs. Awesome finish!
Fight 3: (170) Geoff Neal def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Thoughts: Solid stand-up battle where both had their moments. Ponzinibbio seemed like the more aggressive fighter, until Neal's coach read him the riot act before R3, and Neal got his head in the game for a good 3rd round. Hard to call either way, and not the kind of statement win that would give either fighter a huge boost in the rankings.
Of note, before the co-main event, UFC showed a shot of "free agent" lightweight fighter Kayla Harrison in the crowd. She's had talks with the UFC about potentially coming in to face Amanda Nunes. Looks like those talks went well...
Fight 4: UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship- Juliana Pena def. Amanda Nunes via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:26 of R2
Thoughts: Holy shit! First round was expected Nunes domination, then in R2 Pena started landing shots. Then more. Then more. Then Nunes got tired and flat-footed. So Pena just kept swinging until Nunes dropped to the floor. Choke locked in, and the women's GOAT has finally been stopped after 5 years atop the division. Incredible.
I feel like the guy at ESPN MMA's social media that had to make that graphic thought, "well, this graphic is going to waste, this is pointless work"... but damn. A whole new world out here!
Main Event- UFC Lightweight Championship- Charles Oliveira def. Dustin Poirier via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:02 of R3
Thoughts: Fantastic back and forth battle. Poirier stunned Oliveira with his power, Oliveira stayed in it with his technique. Big first round to Poirier standing, big second round to Oliveira on the ground. Then in the 3rd, much like the fight with Efrain Escudero that made me a fan of Du Bronx, the champ took the back with lightning speed and got the standing RNC on the challenger. Awesome!
Amazing card of fights. Delivered all the way and then some. The prelims were extremely entertaining, to the point that a couple of the main card fights could have shit the bed and it'd still be a highly recommended show. But that wasn't the case. Some big finishes, including a history changing result with Amanda Nunes losing for the first time in 7 years, and Charles Oliveira cementing himself as champion with a huge first title defence that wasn't without adversity. Loved it!
Until next time, take care,