The main event may or may not have salvaged the UFC Fight Night 82 card (this was a very poor card in terms of entertainment), but it was absolutely a shocker that sent shockwaves throughout the welterweight landscape. Seeing as how Johny Hendricks hasn’t exactly been a favorite of the UFC management, perhaps they should send Stephen Thompson a gift basket, as he eliminated the proverbial red-headed stepchild from the title scene with a surprisingly dominant performance.
The rest of the card lived up to expectations, which is a bad thing. Well… Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer put on a good show, but the rest served as a good cure for insomnia. Kind of sad to say that reading about it here will probably be more entertaining than watching it was.
Stephen Thompson defeated Johny Hendricks via TKO at 3:31 of the first round
About the first 45 seconds or so went according to how most thought it would. Everything else afterwards was completely shocking. Hendricks had never before been finished in his career with two of his three career losses controversial decisions (GSP and the second Lawler fight). Thompson started picking the former champ apart by using his length to great effect and took away Hendricks’ desire to push forward. Hendricks pretty much turned into a punching bag at that point as Thompson started throwing everything except the kitchen sink at him. Some might say the beginning of the end was when Thompson landed a spinning back kick into the gut of Hendricks, but the writing was on the wall long before that. It was about two minutes into the fight that it was obvious Hendricks had no answer for Thompson’s unique and diverse striking repertoire.
Thompson may have removed Hendricks from the picture, but he inserted himself into that spot and he may damn well have the best case for the title shot which was calling for. He has now won six in a row with a win over a former champion on his resume. That is impressive. So now the UFC has a conundrum. Who gets the title shot? Is it Thompson? Tyron Woodley? Or does Carlos Condit get a rematch with Robbie Lawler? Condit’s talk of retirement provides him leverage in terms of receiving the rematch that most fans crave to see. If that happens, a fight between Woodley and Thompson makes all the sense in the world. I have my thoughts on how that will go, but that is for another day to state. In the case of Hendricks there is one obvious fight to make at this point: Rory MacDonald. Both have been hovering near the top of the division for quite a while now and are coming off of TKO losses. Somehow, they have never fought. The winner will be back on the road to receiving a title shot as they are both starting back at ground zero. It makes too much sense not to make this fight.
Roy Nelson defeated Jared Rosholt via unanimous decision
By far the worst Roy Nelson fight ever. Normally he gets a KO or loses by eating an ungodly amount of punishment. Didn’t happen here. Rosholt was so damn weary of Nelson’s locked, cocked, and loaded right hand the entirety of the fight that he was reluctant to pull the trigger himself in any which way. I recall two takedown attempts from the former NCAA All-American wrestler. TWO! He really didn’t even fake them to either open up his striking or future takedown attempts. Nelson was pretty tentative too, but was pretty easily the more active fighter as he looked to land his right hand. He didn’t get the highlight KO, but he landed more strikes and prevented Rosholt from taking him down on those two attempts which was all he needed for the win.
It’s hard to figure out what to do with Nelson. He clearly isn’t an elite heavyweight as he has lost to all but two of the fighters ranked ahead of him (Cain Velasquez and Travis Browne) and neither of them seem like they are in the right position to be fighting him. So it’s clear he needs to be a gatekeeper… but who is proven they should be earning a chance to advance up the division? Maybe Derrick Lewis? I don’t know. Let the division play out a bit more and we’ll see. The one good thing I can say about Rosholt is his combinations looked improved, he just didn’t throw them enough. There were jokes that he could get cut with a loss before the event took place even though it would drop him to a still impressive 6-2 due to his boring style, but I don’t think that is happening. He fights not to lose rather than to win and that won’t find him any success as he tries to climb the ladder.
Ovince St. Preux defeated Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante via unanimous decision
I suppose I need to give OSP credit for fighting through a leg injury he incurred in the first round, but I’m more disgusted by Feijao’s horrible performance knowing that his job was on the line and that his opponent was injured. Other than throwing a few leg kicks after the injury immediately happened, Feijao did nothing in the fight. He didn’t try to sweep once OSP took him down, he didn’t try to stand, he didn’t try to submit OSP… he did nothing! He did nothing on the feet other than those few leg kicks and a few wild swings in the third round. Feijao’s body language screamed that he didn’t want to be in there. OSP didn’t look overly impressive either, but he did rock Feijao after his injury and was able to shake it out and finish the fight strong. I’ll give him that, but not much else.
OSP is stuck in a weird spot as he has proven that he isn’t an elite fighter, but he is beating the names that hovered around the top in yesteryear in addition to those not yet ready for prime time. Some still want to call him a prospect without realizing he has 26 fights under his belt as well as the fact he turns 33 in April. He can still improve, but I don’t see him becoming elite. Let him play gatekeeper for a bit before he gets another shot at the elite. The winner of Corey Anderson and Tom Lawlor sounds as good as any current option. As for Feijao, I don’t want to see him fight again. Ever. He doesn’t want to fight and no one enjoys watching that.
Joseph Benavidez defeated Zack Makovsky via unanimous decision
It’s getting harder and harder all the time to ignore Benavidez. The dude has won five in row and the whispers of him getting a third shot at the champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson should be started again if they haven’t already started. He had some problems with Makovsky as Makovsky was able to get him to the ground a few times and landed some good hard shots. Then again, Benavidez didn’t let Makovsky do much once he got him to the ground, and Benavidez landed his own good shots as well as landing a hell of a lot more strikes. You could see Makovsky’s frustration between the second and third round and Benavidez really didn’t start hitting his stride until the final round.
There is no doubt Benavidez is the second best fighter in the flyweight division, especially with John Dodson deciding to move up to bantamweight. But when you’ve already lost to the champion twice, it’s hard to get another shot at the belt regardless of whether or not he has earned it. Ask Miesha Tate about that. He called for Henry Cejudo, apparently not knowing Cejudo is already booked to face Mighty Mouse at UFC 197. Maybe he gets next, but I think he’ll need to take at least one more fight in the interim if not more before getting another shot at the belt. I like the idea of fighting Wilson Reis who is coming off an upset win over Dustin Ortiz. Makovsky has lost three of his last four, but they were all against some of the top fighters in the division. I do like the strides he showed in this fight and he could become a better fighter yet if he continues to work with the Tristar camp. If John Moraga can get past his concussion issues, I like that fight. Otherwise I think he’d be best served to let the division play out a bit before making his next fight.
Misha Cirkunov defeated Alex Nicholson via submission at 1:28 of the second round
Cirkunov got a pretty easy win here, but I’m not really impressed by this win. Nicholson walked into the fight with a reputation of that as a punching bag and he pretty much lived up to that. Cirkunov hit him with some hard shots and eventually got the submission finish, but his striking still looks very stiff and he didn’t secure the submission finish most expected him to once he got the fight to the ground in the first round. Well… at least I expected him to finish the fight from there. He is one of the few young fighters who has potential in the light heavyweight division to develop into something special so I fear the UFC will rush him. Here’s hoping they don’t. I’d rather see them take it slow and put him against someone like Francimar Barroso. Nicholson was brought in as a live body and that was about it. While he looks athletic and has a good frame, he showed almost no skills to indicate he should be in the UFC. I anticipate he’ll get another opportunity, but I’m not expecting anything out of him.
Mike Pyle defeated Sean Spencer via TKO at 4:25 of the third round
That was one hell of a fight! Pyle has been pretty damn chinny recently and is now 40 years old, so I didn’t think he’d be able to survive in a dogfight despite knowing Spencer doesn’t have a whole lot of power in his punches. I was wrong. Pyle was knocked down in the first and ate a number of good shots from that point, but never looked like he was on the verge of going down at any point as the knock down was more out of him getting caught off-balance. Pyle had the better all-around game and utilized that to his advantage using his grappling and wrestling at certain times which helped set up his spinning elbow to wobble Spencer. Pyle landed a barrage of elbows and knees from there before the ref finally stopped the fight.
Pyle probably saved his job in the process as he had previously lost two in a row and appeared to be in a decline. He reversed that with the win and should get at least two more appearances out of this win. He shouldn’t be fighting ranked opponents anymore, but fights with prospects like Alex Morono make sense as do middling vets like Court McGee, Alberto Mina, or Santiago Ponzinibbio. Spencer has now lost two in a row and three of his last four which could get him cut. But considering this was a hell of an entertaining bout and he was robbed in his decision loss to Cathal Pendred, I think he’ll get a reprieve and get another shot. He’s an entertaining fighter and Uncle Dana has a soft spot for those guys.
Josh Burkman defeated KJ Noons via unanimous decision
It wasn’t the FOTN performance Burkman had in his previous fight, but he did what he had to do to pick up the win and keep his job in the UFC. Noons acknowledged himself that he was frozen early on by the threat of the takedown early in the fight and Burkman had his way with him the first round and a half before Noons started to wake up. Noons started to land some shots that appeared to rock Burkman in the third round even as Burkman returned fire. Burkman knew that he was ahead on the score cards and slowed down the pace of the fight by looking for takedowns and finally getting a slam with about a minute left that gave him the round in the eyes of the judges (even though I disagreed with that). The win was well deserved and improvement from Burkman should be expected as this was his first cut to 155 and he admitted he had to cut 18 pounds in the last 24 hours. Ouch! Look for him to be a gatekeeper/action fighter from here on out at lightweight. I’d probably cut Noons as he is 3-7 in his last 10 decisions. He doesn’t have the same fire he once possessed and probably has a high price tag for someone clearly in the middle of the division if not lower. To make matter even worse, the two UFC victories he does own have come against guys (Sam Stout and George Sotiropoulos) who haven’t won since their losses to him.
Derrick Lewis defeated Damian Grabowski via TKO at 2:17 of the first round
They don’t call Lewis the Black Beast for nothing. Lewis absolutely overpowered Grabowski, sprawling beautifully on a takedown attempt and getting one of his own as Grabowski spent the rest of the fight on his back. Lewis landed some hard shots in Grabowski’s guard as well as some shots that he launched himself at Grabowski from a standing position. Grabowski wasn’t doing anything to stand up so the ref called the fight after Lewis landed enough of them. Lewis did look good and he did show definite improvement with his takedown defense, but that win can be more attributed to Grabowski giving up. I still think Lewis has the talent to be a player, but he doesn’t show the desire to improve and do that as his half-hearted call out for a title shot pretty much showed. Rather than give him a large leap, how about putting him in there with the savvy Oleksey Olinik. Grabowski will need to show a lot more in his next showing or he is gone. I didn’t expect him to look nearly this poor. Viktor Pesta is another big dude coming off a loss to Lewis. He would make a lot of sense.
Justin Scoggins defeated Ray Borg via unanimous decision
Scoggins winning shouldn’t be a surprise as he is a hell of an athlete. Scoggins winning as lopsided as he did absolutely is. Borg was never in the fight, which is quite surprising as many people had been proclaiming Borg a title contender in the near future. Instead we had Scoggins screaming into the mic that he wants a title shot before the end of the year after he absolutely dominated all aspects of the fight. He used his length beautifully which forced Borg to shoot for takedowns from a long ways out and telegraphing them ala Ryan Bader last week. Even when Borg did get the fight to the ground, he was unable to initiate any scrambles or gain top position as Scoggins grinded him out, visibly frustrating Borg.
Scoggins is getting ahead of himself expecting a title shot before the end of the year, but probably not as much as many think. Mighty Mouse has cleaned out the top of the division to the extent that Scoggins doesn’t have to jump many names. One more good win will probably do it, but the other part of the equation is how often Mighty Mouse will fight this year and if he will get the superfight that has been rumored with Dominick Cruz later this year. Oh yeah… it’s getting hard to ignore Benavidez too. Maybe Scoggins can face Benavidez later this year in a title eliminator. Kyoji Horiguchi isn’t a bad option either. If the feeling is that he isn’t ready for that type of competition, Louis Smolka would be fun as hell. Borg was exposed as the one-dimensional fighter that he is even though that dimension is pretty damn good. He couldn’t do anything to Scoggins on the feet. A fight with Paddy Holohan would be a fun scrap.
Diego Rivas defeated Noad Lahat via KO at 0:23 of the second round
WOW!!! I did not see that coming at all! I don’t think anyone did. Rivas was absolutely dominated by Lahat in the first round to the point that I would have given Lahat a 10-8 round as Rivas fought out of submission after submission. Knowing Lahat would want to take the fight right back to the ground, Rivas timed a Lahat takedown attempt perfectly and landed a flying knee perfectly on Lahat’s chin and put him out cold to pick up the unexpected win. The medical staff was attending to Lahat for quite a while with Lahat on his back. He did walk out under his own power, so hopefully he will be OK as that was one of the most brutal KO’s seen in a very long time. Rivas has raised the roof on the expectations placed upon him considerably, fair or not. People will be quick to forget the youngster was dominated in the first round and cling to the KO. Hopefully the UFC continues to take things slow with him as he does possess the physical abilities to become a staple in the division which would be an impressive feat for the UFC’s first Chilean fighter. KO’s like the one Lahat ate have changed careers for the worse for the dudes eating the shot. He may never be the same. Hopefully that isn’t the case, but he seems like he’ll be stuck near the bottom for the extent of his UFC career.
Mickey Gall defeated Mike Jackson via submission at 0:45 of the first round
I had zero interest in this bout as I expected it to be fairly sloppy. I came away pretty impressed with what Gall has to offer. Sure, Jackson had zero professional fights on his ledger, but he does have considerable combat experience in boxing and kickboxing. That experience didn’t matter as Gall bowled right through him by landing a hard right hand, jumping on Jackson’s back and sinking in a RNC. The big news coming out of the fight will obviously be Gall earning the right to face CM Punk (or should I call him Phil Brooks?) in the near future, I’m actually more excited about Gall’s actual potential to develop into an actual UFC caliber fighter. His athletic skills were again on display and even though I feel the broadcast overplayed his demeanor heading into the fight, they weren’t wrong. He was calm and collected going into the fight and he will need that moving forward when he does get his chance against Punk. Jackson got what he really wanted out of this fight as his profile for his journalist career will get a boost from that. He won’t be seen in a UFC cage again unless he is taking pictures.
Alex White defeated Artem Lobov via unanimous decision
I fully acknowledge that I had picked Lobov going into the fight, but this outcome isn’t at all surprising. Few MMA pundits would ever say that Lobov had more talent, but he is a hard hitter and White had shown all sorts of defensive deficiencies. The opening two or three minutes of the fight had Lobov landing the harder strikes before White made some adjustments and showed that his long layoff was spent getting better as he finally started using his reach advantage, landing his boxing combinations, and mixing in takedowns to cruise to an easy decision victory. I’m happy to see the improvements out of White as he is a big and talented prospect who was on his last legs. He will carve out a long UFC career if he continues to improve. Lobov started marching down White with about two minutes left in the fight and swinging haymakers in hopes of landing the KO punch. Though he landed a few shots, he didn’t land the kill shot and probably killed his UFC career in the process. Note to UFC: This was a TUF tournament finalist who was given about as winnable a fight as the UFC could give him. This about as good as the tournament produces any more. PLEASE KILL TUF!!!!