FightWatch: UFC Fight Night- Holm vs. Aldana
Alright! We're back on Fight Island! And honestly, this isn't the most appealing card on paper, but if there's anything I've learnt in almost 20 years of watching UFC, it's that the cards that don't stand out on paper often knock it out of the park on fight night.
So, as the big-ass picture at the top of this post indicates, your main event is a battle of bantamweight contenders in the women's division- former champion Holly Holm looks to fend off the challenge of the young rising star, Irene Aldana. Holm is perhaps best known for THAT head kick that ended the unbeaten run of Ronda Rousey, and Aldana is coming off an impressive KO herself, flattening Ketlen Vieira last December. Wow, that does not feel like 10 months ago. This year has been ridiculous.
Not much else to write home about in the rest of the card. Many unknowns and undercard guys filling up the show... although the featured prelim is interesting. Former Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit is back. From being the man who almost KOed Georges St Pierre and had a Fight of the Year with Robbie Lawler, Condit comes into this one off 5 straight losses. He looks for redemption against fellow veteran, and TUF winner, Court McGee. Weird that this goes on the prelims when the main card is pretty thin. I get that normally they put an enticing fight as the featured prelim to get people to buy the PPV, but this is a Fight Night show. Based on name power alone, Condit vs. McGee could easily be the co-main, even factoring in Condit's losing streak. Anyway.
Let's do this.
Fight 1: Lightweight (155)- Luigi Vendramini def. Jessin Ayari via TKO (head kick and punches) at 1:12 of R1
WORTH A WATCH? Stuff like this is exactly why the prelims are always worth a watch in general. You never know when a newcomer is going to explode onto the scene in spectacular fashion. Brilliant fast finish, and Luigi was very emotional in the post-fight interview.
Fight 2: Bantamweight (135)- Casey Kenney def. Heili Alateng via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
WORTH A WATCH? This was an absolute demolition. The judges that gave Kenney 10-8 rounds had it right, this was incredibly one-sided, but still fascinating with the heart of Alateng, refusing to give up even though he was pelted with brutal kicks for 15 minutes, particularly to the body. Insane levels of bruising to the ribs. Major credit to Alateng for staying tough and not going down, but this was clearly Kenney's night to shine.
Fight 3: Women's Strawweight (115)- Loma Lookboonmee def. Jinh Yu Frey via UD (30-27 X2, 29-28)
WORTH A WATCH? This was a classic striker vs. grappler match, and the striker won out. Lookboonmee displayed exceptional takedown defense and sharp striking, preventing the former Invicta Champion Frey from implementing her gameplan. After losing a tough but competitive fight to Angela Hill, this was Lookboonmee's most impressive showing in the Octagon to date.
Fight 4: Middleweight (185)- Nassourdine Imavov def. Jordan Williams via UD (29-27 X2, 29-28)
WORTH A WATCH? Shades of the Kenney vs. Alateng fight, although on a slightly less vicious scale. This one has a little controversy as they collide heads a couple of times, busting each other open, and there's also a groin strike landed to Williams. Williams is visibly pissed off at these events, which honestly made the fight more entertaining due to the amount of tension. Imavov implements his grappling advantage, going all in on a couple of guillotine attempts which Williams somehow escapes, but is left very fatigued by the effort. Fun scrap with added juice, well, from the blood spilt and the flaring emotion with the fouls in play. Fun to watch in a weird way.
Fight 5: Featherweight (145)- Charles Jourdain vs. Josh Culibao ends in a split draw (30-27 Jourdain, 29-28 Culibao, 28-28)
WORTH A WATCH? This was more competitive that it had any right to be, at least according to the oddsmakers. Jourdain was the biggest betting favourite on the card, but someone forgot to tell Culibao that, because he dropped Jourdain in the first round and came close to a finish! The second round saw Culibao have more unexpected success, but he did slow down in the 3rd. A draw was probably the right call, but this was entertaining seeing the underdog story play out- plus Culibao is a Sydney boy, a training partner of Robert Whittaker. Aussie Aussie Aussie!
Fight 6: Welterweight (170)- Carlos Condit def. Court McGee via UD (30-27 X 3)
WORTH A WATCH? As a long time Condit fan, this was wonderful to see. The first round saw a feeling out process with neither man putting a ton out there, but in the waning seconds, Condit dropped McGee with a hook and shattered his nose! This big moment spurred Condit on, and with a renewed confidence, we saw shades of the old Natural Born Killer, letting the striking combinations flow freely and with aggression. Loved this! After the fight, Matt Brown threw his name out there as a potential next opponent for Condit, and I honestly love the sound of that too.
Fight 1: Middleweight (185) Dusko Todorovic def. Dequan Townsend via TKO (punches) at 3:15 of R2
WORTH A WATCH? Todorovic is an absolute machine! He threw seemingly endless strikes at Townsend, and I have no idea how Townsend absorbed them and threw back heat as long as he did. It's only when Todorovic mixed in the ground game that the TKO was called- he got Townsend in mount and rained down fists of fury- he still wasn't out, but when you take that amount of clean strikes in short succession, a good referee is going to call it. Fun scrap, enjoyed the effort from both. I didn't know Todorovic before this, but he's definitely got my attention now!
Fight 2: Bantamweight (135)- Kyler Phillips def. Cameron Else via TKO (punches and elbows) at 0:44 of R2
WORTH A WATCH? Not too dissimilar to the last fight, actually. Phillips seemed faster and more comfortable on the feet, and it wasn't until the fight hit the ground that we started seeing some urgency from Else, trying to hit upkicks, transitioning and scrambling quickly. Else managed to survive the first frame, but Phillips was clearly the superior fighter, closing the show quickly in the second. A slightly less entertaining- but still highly watchable- version of the previous bout.
Fight 3: Women's Bantamweight (135)- Germaine De Randamie def. Juliana Pena via sub (guillotine choke) at 3:25 of R3
WORTH A WATCH? For the finish if nothing else. GDR, the Muay Thai striker, gets her first submission victory in MMA! A close, competitive fight, it played out in somewhat predictable fashion early- R1 went to De Randamie for the striking, Pena evened things up in R2 by implementing the grappling... then with a minute and change left in the fight, GDR counters the takedown attempt with a guillotine and Pena goes to sleep! Incredible!
Fight 4: Heavyweight (265)- Carlos Felipe def. Yorgan De Castro via UD (30-27 X 2, 29-28)
WORTH A WATCH? Probably the most skippable fight of the whole card. Brief spurts of action, but overall the most entertaining thing was Felipe's shit talking when De Castro was trying to stall the action against the fence... then he smacked him on the ass! The referee was a little off, though. If Joe Rogan was there he would have lost his shit- Kevin Sataki was VERY quick to separate the two against the fence. I actually timed the last one... 19 seconds! Yeah, clinch work isn't the most exciting part of MMA at all, but it's still part of it. Gotta let the fighters work! But yeah... skip this one. Condit vs. McGee definitely should have been here instead.
Fight 5: Women's Bantamweight- Holly Holm def. Irene Aldana via UD (50-44, 50-45 X2)
WORTH A WATCH? This was a clinic. I've seen some people call it boring, I didn't find it boring at all. A lot of footwork from Holm, and that pretty much gave us the bull and matador scenario. Holm avoided being hit, and landed her own strikes at will. Casuals will call it "running", but Holm absolutely picked her spots to be aggressive and bring the pain. It looked as though Holm was going to get a very late finish in the last minute of a 5 rounder, but Aldana survived. Zero question who the winner was, though, complete shut-out. Holm may be 38, with a lot of fights to her name, but she's not done yet!
As I said at the outset, a fight card that looks average on paper often delivers big time, and this one did. The only fight that was a real dud here was the heavyweight co-main. And Holly Holm's technical approach might not be for everyone, but you can't honestly call it a bad fight. Many people (myself included) thought that Holm was going to be a stepping stone for Aldana to become a star, but she completely out-classed her. Some good finishes, several competitve battles, and a true shocking moment with De Randamie's first ever submission. What else could you want from a Fight Night?
Until next time, take care,