FightWatch- UFC 270
The first UFC PPV of 2022 is here! Headlined by the heavyweight heavy hitters, with some interesting backstory. Francis Ngannou won the UFC Heavyweight Championship by beating Stipe Miocic last March. 9 months is a fairly normal span between fights for champions, but Dana White apparently doesn't have love for Ngannou, deciding to throw together an interim title fight when the champ didn't want to fight in August. So Ciryl Gane defeated Derrick Lewis to win the interim heavyweight championship.
Gane and Ngannou are former training partners, and this is the last fight on Ngannou's UFC contract, and he has said he's leaving after this fight. High drama.
Also, we get the trilogy fight between flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo. The first fight was a Fight of the Year candidate that ended in a draw, the second one was far more one-sided and saw the underdog Moreno finally capture UFC gold. The attention of fight fans is mostly on the heavyweight clash, but this could be a show-stealer. Notably, the first trilogy in UFC history to occur back-to-back-to-back.
Fight 1: (W-125) Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Kay Hansen via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 X2)
Thoughts: Impressive UFC debut by Jasudavicius. She enjoyed a size advantage, which she used to impose her will in grappling on the young standout Hansen. Hansen tried to fight from her back, but was largely shut down. In the third round, Hansen had some success on the feet, but needed a finish and she couldn't gain that kind of advantage. Solid start to the prelims.
Fight 2: (W-115) Vanessa Demopoulos def. Silvana Gómez Juárez via submission (armbar) at 2:25 of R1
Thoughts: What an amazing comeback! Demopoulos got dropped with a massive right hand, but somehow recovered and got control from the bottom, eventually locking in the armbar. MMA is crazy like that sometimes, what a freaking wild sequence! Must-watch fight. Vanessa was extremely excited to be interviewed by Joe Rogan post-fight, which was kinda adorable.
Fight 3: (155) Matt Frevola def. Genaro Valdez via TKO (ground and pound) at 3:15 of R1
Thoughts: Hard to see this getting topped for Fight of the Night. Definitely round of the year, that was insane! Both men came out swinging, and both landing hard. Frevola landed the more impactful shots dropping Valdez, but he just kept getting up and swinging back. After 5 huge knockdowns, Frevola finally got him in a position on the ground where he couldn't move enough to fight back. Absolutely awesome.
Fight 4: (135) Tony Gravely def. Saimon Oliveira via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Gravely essentially blanketed Oliveira for 3 rounds. Oliveira made it vaguely interesting by constantly going for guillotine chokes, but it became apparent as time went on that Gravely was able to fend it off with little trouble. The choke attempts probably saved Oliveira from dropping 10-8 rounds here. I'd skip this one if you're looking to cherry-pick fights to watch on this card.
Fight 5: (170) Jack Della Maddalena def. Pete Rodriguez via TKO (punches) at 2:59 of R1
Thoughts: Another massive UFC debut coming off the UFC debut. Maddalena was set to fight Warlley Alves originally, which shows where the UFC see his talent level, and he delivered in the early stoppage of late replacement Rodriguez. Jack busted Pete up with jabs, making his face look like roadkill, before a power shot led to the finish. Hailing from Perth, Jon Anix touted Maddalena as the man to take the torch from Volkanovski and Whittaker... hold on, let's not talk like those boys are close to retirement! Great first impression though.
Fight 6: (135) Victor Henry def. Raoni Barcelos via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Bit of an unexpected three round war here. Barcelos was the heavy favourite, with many UFC victories and Fight of the Nights to his name, but Henry absolutely brought it with non-stop aggression and movement. Combined 300 or so strikes over 15 minutes. Incredible.
Fight 1: (170) Michael Morales def. Trevin Giles via TKO (punches) at 4:06 of R1
Thoughts: Huge win for the 22 year old Morales in this PPV opener. Giles was dropping from middleweight to welterweight, and he definitely looked good early, but Morales fought his way back and scored with his strikes with greater speed and accuracy. Giles looked upset afterwards, but the ref gave him plenty of chances to move and defend. Morales moves to 13-0 with 7 first round finishes. A scary prospect at 170.
Fight 2: (135) Said Nurmagomedov def. Cody Stamann via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:47 of R1
Thoughts: Like a hot knife through butter. Stamann went for a takedown and Nurmagomedov immediately blocked, transitioned and locked in the choke (they called it a guillotine but it seemed more like a D'Arce to me). Unreal highlight reel finish! Said beat a tenured guy at bantamweight and made it look easy.
Fight 3: (170) Michel Pereira def. André Fialho via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Tricky first round for the unorthodox Pereira, but he rebounded in fantastic fashion in R2 and 3 to claim the victory. Constant activity and mixing up attacks, whereas Fialho was consistent with his hands but failed to mix things up. Fun and action packed fight. Every fight on this card is a first round finish or a decision, but this decision wasn't dull by any means!
Fight 4: UFC Flyweight Championship- Deiveson Figueiredo def. Brandon Moreno (c) via UD (48-47 X 3)
Thoughts: Excellent fight, I had Moreno winning but Figgy's power shone through, with a couple of knockdowns swaying things for the judges. Moreno was far more accurate and effective, and seemed full of confidence with a rabid crowd behind him. Figueiredo had a smart gameplan of attacking the lead leg which pulled him back into the fight after a strong start by the champ. Pretty close fight so I wouldn't call this a robbery by any means, but still a fight that should have gone Moreno's way in my opinion. Do it a 4th fight, screw it.
Fight 5: UFC Heavyweight Championship- Francis Ngannou def. Ciryl Gane via UD (48-47 X 2, 49-46)
Thoughts: Of all the ways for this fight to go, I would have never predicted it to be Ngannou showing off his grappling prowess to slow down the faster, sharper Gane. There was a strange novelty in seeing Francis go that route, and seemed to be a necessity given the knee injuries the champ had- he was wearing knee sleeve and noted in his post-fight interview that he had damaged his ACL and MCL. Rogan pressed Ngannou on his future plans, which got a "I'll think about it." Interesting...
The prelims were great value, as was most of the main card. Moreno vs. Figgy 3 was a very good fight, but not to the level of their classic first fight, and the big heavyweight clash was a surprisingly pedestrian affair, but still interesting to see the developments in Ngannou's game. Not a classic show or anything, but a decent start to the UFC's PPV outings in 2022.