FightWatch- UFC: Santos vs Walker
Fight 1: (135) Alejandro Perez def. Johnny Eduardo via submission (scarf hold armlock) at 4:13 of R2
Thoughts: Very impressive comeback from Perez after Eduardo seemed like he was comfortably in control for much of this fight. Eduardo likely won the first round with his striking output, then had a nice amount of ground control in the second round with a takedown. Perez eventually got to his feet and scored a takedown of his own, and once he had top position he just kept attacking with submissions until he found one that worked. Great start to the card.
Fight 2: (W-135) Stephanie Egger def. Shanna Young via TKO (elbow) at 2:22 of R2
Thoughts: Nice clean performance by Egger. I wasn't familar with her before this fight, but I gather from the commentary she was more of a grappler, based on their surprise at her technical stand-up. She managed a great headlock takedown in the first with a little ground and pound to win the first round clearly, and repeated it in R2 with more intensity, forcing the ref to step in after a ground elbow really made Young turtle up. Excellent work.
Fight 3: (135) Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Gaetano Pirrello via KO (punch) at 2:04 of R1
Thoughts: Silva clearly carried a lot of power and intensity with the way he came forward, high guard and swarming in, trying to get Pirrello to bite on feints. Pirrello prevented an early takedown attempt but found himself staring at the lights a few moments later, courtesy of a check left hook. Easy night's work for D'Silva!
Fight 4: (155) Jamie Mullarkey def. Devonte Smith via TKO (punches) at 2:51 of R2
Thoughts: Really fun, competitive fight. Smith was the faster fighter in the first, beating Mullarkey to the punch often in the first, but the Aussie showed no fear, continually plowing forward and throwing shots, especially to the body, until Smith crumbled. Love to see it. Not biased at all.
Fight 5: (138.5- Catchweight) Karol Rosa def. Bethe Correia via unanimous decision (30-27 X 2, 30-26)
Thoughts: Rosa is ranked #15 and this was Correia's retirement fight, and that's how things played out here. A fighter in their prime against a fighter way out of it. Great Muay Thai work from Rosa, particularly some impactful knees. I'll always fondly remember Correia for pissing off Ronda Rousey and looking pretty damn good in shorts. Thanks for the memories.
Fight 6: (W-125) Casey O'Neill def. Antonina Shevchenko via TKO (punches) at 4:47 of R2
Thoughts: This was a really interesting fight. O'Neill's style is to get right in the face of her opponent, but Shevchenko didn't shy away from that, making for a competitive first round. O'Neill turned the heat up in the second, eventually getting the action to the ground and working into mount, unleashing some brutal ground and pound, forcing the ref to save the older Shevchenko sister. Could O'Neill fight Valentina one day?
Fight 7: (155) Jared Gordon def. Joe Solecki via split decision (28-29, 29-28 X 2)
Thoughts: It looked like Solecki was going to shut this one out with his wrestling prowess, grounding Gordon for the majority of R1. But Gordon fought his way back in gritty fashion, gaining some ground control in R2 and mixing things up nicely in R3. Didn't have any jaw dropping moments, yet still impressive how Gordon grinded out the victory after the incredibly one-sided start in Solecki's favour.
Fight 1: (158.5-Catchweight) Alexander Hernandez def. Mike Breeden via KO (punch) at 1:20 of R1
Thoughts: Huge finish to get Hernandez back on track. I don't like him, he's a very cocky fighter and seeing Dad Cerrone humble him was one of my favourite figh finishes in recent memory, but he's undeniably talented and showed it here by destroying the short notice opponent in Breeden.
Fight 2: (185) Krzystof Jotko def. Misha Cirkunov via SD (29-28 X2, 28-29)
Thoughts: Bit of a tentative fight on both sides. Jotko was entering new territory, dropping down a weight class to 185, and was perhaps unsure how his power and gas tank would fare against smaller opponents. Cirkunov appeared more comfortable in the early going, but it was ultimately a strong third round for Jotko, with more striking pressure and a late takedown, that secured him the victory by a narrow margin.
Fight 3: (170) Niko Price def. Alex Oliveira via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Not as exciting as it appeared on paper. Price was able to get Oliveira on the ground and control him for most of the first round, Oliveira was able to turn the tables and return the favour in the second. The final round saw flashes of the potential in the striking realm that this match-up had, but Oliveira fatigued down the stretch, leaving a slightly fresher and more active Price with the win.
Fight 4: (185) Kevin Holland vs. Kyle Daukaus ends in a No Contest (accidental clash of heads) at 3:43 of R1
Thoughts: The big narrative in this co-main event was seeing how the wrestling game of Holland improved, after back-to-back high profile shutdowns against Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori. To Holland's credit, he passed the test, showing notably improved takedown defence and balance as Daukaus looked to take things to the mat early. Before this one could really get going, Holland was essentially face-planted by what turned out to be a clash of heads. Despite the flash knockout, the fight actually continued to where Daukaus submitted Holland with a rear naked choke, but as it happened as a result of an illegal headbutt- albeit accidental- the fight was determined as a NC. Unlucky break for both, but seems likely they'll run it back soon.
Main Event: (205) Thiago Santos def. Johnny Walker via UD (48-47 X 3)
Thoughts: Much like the Price vs. Oliveira fight, this fight was nowhere near as exciting as it could have been. I was surprised it made it out of the first round, and shocked that it went the distance, but both Santos and Walker had a ton of respect for each other's fight ending power, not engaging to a signficant degree for much of the fight. Walker showed great patience and energy conservation, but perhaps a little too much, lacking a sense of urgency in the final round of a very close fight. Both men had a smart gameplan of chipping away with leg kicks and body kicks rather than engaging close with fists flying, but it wasn't an especially fun watch.