UFC 295 Review (12/11/2023)
By Mick Robson
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Fight Pass Prelims
Fight 1: (Catchweight- 147) Jamall Emmers def. Dennis Buzukja via TKO (punches) at 0:49 of R1
Thoughts: Explosive finish to kick things off at MSG! Which is virtually empty- one of my biggest pet peeves for fight cards. The commentary team were bigging up Buzukja as a Serra-Longo guy, but as soon as the fight started it was apparent the more experienced Emmers was on point, and he landed on the button. Unfortunately, an early contender for a POTN bonus is prevented by Emmers' weight miss of one pound. Still a huge victory nonetheless, his first finish since 2020.
Fight 2: (125) Joshua Van def. Kevin Borjas via unanimous decision (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Excellent, competitive fight that primarily took place in the striking realm. Borjas hurt and dropped Van in the first to take R1, Van came back in R2 with pressure and body shots to take R2, and mixed up everything with some late grappling to take the decision. Outstanding performance by both, with the nod going to the 22 year old Van.
Fight 3: (Catchweight- 138) John Castaneda def. Kyung-ho Khan via UD (30-27 X 3)
Thoughts: Castaneda was just more active, Kang virtually froze for the majority of the first. As the fight wore on, Castaneda mixed in takedowns with his striking pressure, constantly putting Kang on the back foot. Kang had a bit of a flurry in the last 20 seconds or so, but this was largely a comfortable decision victory for Castaneda.
Fight 4: (155) Jared Gordon def Mark Madsen via TKO (punches) at 4:42 of R1
Thoughts: Wow! Massive turnaround for Gordon. Madsen was absolutely controlling the fight and the round with dirty boxing and grappling. Then Gordon landed an uppercut in close that wobbled the legs of Madsen, then an elbow, then a crushing right hand that dropped Madsen. Extremely impressive by Gordon.
Fight 1: (155) Nazim Sadykhov vs. Viacheslav Borshchev ends in a Majority Draw (29-28, 28-28 X 2)
Thoughts: An absolute war! Both guys threw with bad intentions in the pocket for the majority of the 3 rounds. R2 was a 10-8 to Sadykhov after he rocked Borshchev with a punch, dropped him with a head kick, split him open with an elbow, and Borschev somehow survived the beating and went the distance, even having some striking moments of his own in R3! Awesome stuff.
Fight 2: (Catchweight- 158) Mateusz Rebecki def. Roosevelt Roberts via submission (armbar) at 3:08 of R1
Thoughts: Roberts took this fight on short notice, and it was evident with how easily he was taken down, controlled and finished without a great deal of resistance. Strong victory for Rebecki to maintain his 16 fight winning streak!
Fight 3: (W-115) Loopy Godinez def. Tabitha Ricci via split decision (27-30, 29-28 X 2)
Thoughts: All action, all intensity. Godinez had the numbers on the striking, but Ricci had bigger power, hurting Loopy and rocking her towards the end of the rounds. That was enough for one judge to give it to Ricci, but the other judges rewarded the level of activity from Godinez. Good fight.
Fight 4: (125) Steve Erceg def. Alessandro Costa via UD (29-28 X 3)
Thoughts: Good battle which saw the Aussie newcomer overcome some adversity. While Erceg did well in R1 with technical striking and grappling, Costa changed the game a little in R2 with some wild bombs that landed. Erceg showed solid fight IQ in clinching against the fence and looking for takedowns to swing the scorecards in his favour. Not the most exciting stuff down the stretch, but provided the needed win.
Main PPV Card
Fight 1: (145) Diego Lopes def. Pat Sabatini via KO (punches) at 1:30 of R1
Thoughts: Not much to analyse here. Diego landed a couple of huge punches that dropped Sabatini and the follow up strikes on the ground bounced his unconscious head off the mat. Huge way to kick off the PPV!
Fight 2: (155) Benoit Saint-Denis def. Matt Frevola via KO (head kick) at 1:31 of R1
Thoughts: Another crazy early finish! We had an intense grappling exchange where both men exchanged positional dominance, and as they scrambled up and separated- boom, head kick! Scary and impressive, an instant new top contender at lightweight.
Fight 3: (W-115) Jessica Andrade def. Mackenzie Dern via TKO (punches) at 3:15 of R2
Thoughts: There was an early grappling exchange where Dern almost locked in a guillotine, but apart from that, Andrade avoided all grappling and showed far superior striking skill. Despite showing improved striking in recent fights, Dern looked practically amateur in the way she was flailing punches, akin to Rousey getting destroyed by Amanda Nunes. Dern just survived a little longer. Excellent performance by Andrade.
Fight 4: UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship- Tom Aspinall def. Sergei Pavlovich via KO (punch) at 1:09 of R1
Thoughts: Damn, we might be on track for shortest fight time on a UFC PPV! Big fight feel and tension in the air as these two got going. Sergei cracked Aspinall early, but he returned fire and landed on the temple. Big moment for Aspinall, the third UK fighter to claim UFC gold, and he was quite emotional post-fight. Great stuff.
Main Event: UFC Light Heavyweight Championship- Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka via TKO (punches and elbows) at 4:08 of R2
Thoughts: Huge win for Pereira, who was sharp with his striking from the outset. It took only 4 leg kicks for Jiri's lead leg to be almost rendered immobile. Prochazka went on to hurt Pereira with some good shots, but a counter left hook dropped the former champ to his knees, and rapid fire punches and elbows caused referee Marc Goddard to wave it off. Commentary was dissatisfied with the stoppage. In the replay it's easy to say, but in real time it seemed like Pereira was turning Prochazka's brain into mush. Alex Pereira has had 11 MMA fights, and can call himself a two division UFC champion. Wish the fight was more of a war, but can't take the result away from Poatan.
Until next time, take care.