FightWatch- UFC: Smith vs Spann
14 fights on this card, and in a move I don't recall seeing before on a UFC broadcast, we begin with both fighters already in the cage, ready to start the first fight. Ordinarily there's a good 10-15 of fluff before the first bout. A nice change.
Fight 1: (W-125) Hannah Goldy def. Emily Whitmire via submission (armbar) at 4:17 of R1
Thoughts: Great display of jujitsu by Goldy. Whitmire looked good early- faster and shaper on the feet, and when Goldy initiated a clinch, she turned it into a beautiful judo throw and got top control. Goldy stayed patient on the bottom and eventually found the opening for the submission finish.
Fight 2: (135) Alatengheili vs. Gustavo Lopez ends in an Unanimous Draw
Thoughts: This was aggressive to start, got a little quieter in the middle, then more action-packed again to finish. But the reason for the draw was that we had a point deduction in R3 after about 5 blatant fence grabs from Alatengheili to prevent a takedown. Disappointing end to an otherwise solid fight.
Fight 3: (170) Carlston Harris def. Impy Kasanganay via TKO at 2:38 of R1
Thoughts: Harris' fighting style is announced as "lucha libre". I didn't know that was a legitimate thing outside pro wrestling. Harris cracks Kasangany with a right hook and just overwhelms him with the ground and pound, forcing the ref to wave it off. Not a lot more than that to this fight but an impressive win for Harris.
Fight 4: (W-125) Erin Blanchfield def. Sarah Alpar via unanimous decision (30-25 X2. 30-26)
Thoughts: Total domination from Blanchfield. First getting in Alpar's face and pushing her into the fence with striking, then taking her down and beating her up some more, continually looking for a finish, but Alpar somehow survived. With almost 10 minutes of ground control time, a very impressive UFC debut for Blanchfield.
Fight 5: (135) Montel Jackson def. JP Buys via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Jackson was a huge betting favourite, and the fight played out that way, with 4 knockdowns. Buys was game and had some high level grappling exchanges with Jackson, but the strength difference almost looked like a man vs. a boy at many points.
Fight 6: (155) Rong Zhu def. Brandon Jenkins via TKO at 4:35 of R3
Thoughts: Overwhelming performance by Rong Zhu. Jenkins looked decent early, but missed a spin kick and was flattened with a counter right. He survived a lot of big shots after that, both standing and on the ground, but ultimately wilted before the final horn. Good battle.
A tribute to Joseph Benavidez airs. Benavidez decided to retire this year after being a perennial top contender at flyweight for his whole UFC career.
Fight 7: (W- 135) Raquel Pennington def. Pannie Kianzad via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: This was A LOT of clinch work. Good in spurts with some hard elbows and knees, but also a little tedious in parts. Not the world's most exciting fight. Looked like Kianzad had the better of the fence battle in R1, Pennington in R2, and R3 was back and forth, but "Rocky" got the nod.
Fight 8: (205) Tafon Nchukwi def. Mike Rodriguez via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Couple of heavy hitters trading shots, but Nchukwi was throwing and landing more often. Rodriguez just seemed to have trouble pulling the trigger, but had enough defence and stamina to last 3 round. Decent action.
Fight 1: (185) Joaquin Buckley def. Antonio Arroyo via KO (punch) at 2:26 of R3
Thoughts: Close, almost uneventful fight until the finish. Major size difference, with Buckley being 5'9 to Arroyo at 6'3, so Buckley was having trouble getting inside. Arroyo just wasn't active/urgent enough, but a late blitz brought the energy levels up on this one!
Fight 2: (135) Nate Maness def. Tony Gravely via KO (punch) at 2:10 of R2
Thoughts: What a comeback! Maness was almost rendered unconscious in the waning seconds of the first round, and somehow turned it around in the second in an almost identical fashion with a brutal punch that sent Gravely into the fence, followed by relentless ground and pound.
We get a recap of this past week's Dana White Contender Series, with a big focus on Perth prospect Jack Della Maddalena. Aussies taking over!
We then get a tribute video to another fighter who retired this week, Carlos Condit. One of the most violent and exciting fighters to ever enter the Octagon, and one of my own personal favourites. Thanks for everything, Natural Born Killer.
Fight 3: (155) Arman Tsarukyan def. Christos Giagos via TKO at 2:09 of R1
Thoughts: Great pressure and aggression. Just came forward throwing heat until Giagos couldn't take anymore. Statement performance, and he called out Dan Hooker post-fight. That'd be a banger.
Tribute to Suzy Friton, the make-up artist for the UFC who passed away this week. Touching words from everyone, making it clear she was a integral part of the UFC and loved by all.
Fight 4: (W-125) Ariane Lipski def. Mandy Bohm via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Lipski was just levels above, with ground control and ground and pound for much of the 15 minutes. Bohm was tough and crafty enough to escape some positions, but didn't really have an answer. Strong victory which will lift Lipski up the rankings.
Fight 5: (205) Ion Cutelaba def. Devin Clark via UD (30-26, 29-26, 29-27)
Thoughts: I don't know how Cutelaba didn't get 30s across the board, he controlled every aspect of this fight. The only reason he didn't get a finish was the pure toughness of Clark. Ion used more wrestling than we're used to seeing from him, but it was extremely effective. Clark also had his bottom row of teeth mangled by the onslaught, but still chose to go out for a 3rd round. Respect.
Fight 6: (205) Anthony Smith def. Ryan Spann via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:47 of R1
Thoughts: Spann started swinging wild, but the veteran Smith caught him with a huge counter shot, and after that, seemingly every punch Lionheart landed sent his legs to jelly. Smith got it to the ground and wasted no time locking in a choke. Smith was very angry post-fight, feeling like Spann had disrepected him pre-fight. He did cool down enough to show respect to Spann after a couple of minutes.