Let’s be honest: there weren’t any ground shaking occurrences at this UFC Fight Night 83 event, and even if Tim Means hadn’t pulled out, it’s doubtful there would be anything that captured the casual fan’s attention. Donald Cerrone wanted to erase the memory of his loss to Rafael dos Anjos as quick as possible, and did just that by earning a quick submission over Alex Oliveira in the main event; meanwhile, Derek Brunson scored a relatively easy win over Roan Carneiro in the co-main.
The action on the card was was pretty fast and furious, as there were four first round finishes on the main card, along with quality performances from both James Krause and Shane Campbell in a fight that went the distance. But due to the lack of star power on the card, it will likely go down as just another event from a historical point of view. Here are my thoughts…
Donald Cerrone defeated Alex Oliveira via submission at 2:33 of the first round
Had the fight gone on longer it might have been considered a more entertaining bout, but I’m not going to bitch about what we did get. Oliveira showed no fear in going after Cerrone and tried to attack the body with knees in the clinch, but Cerrone overcame and was able to trip up Oliveira and cinch in a triangle choke from mount that forced Oliveira to tap almost as soon as Cerrone rolled to his back. It’s hard to know what Cerrone does now as he has stated that he is willing to fight at both 155 lbs and 170 lbs. My guess is that whoever gives Joe Silva a call and wants to add a big name like Cerrone to their list of victims will get the next shot as Cerrone appears to just be fighting for the fun of it now. Oh yeah… and for the money. Oliveira should go back down to lightweight where he can utilize his size advantage, as he really is a massive dude at lightweight. He has been in the UFC for less than a year and already has five fights under his belt. Stepping up the way that he did will only further endear him to the UFC brass, and he was already a favorite of theirs. I kind of hope he’ll stop dabbling at 170 lbs so he can make the type of run I think he is capable of at 155. Of course that isn’t my call though…
Derek Brunson defeated Roan Carneiro via KO at 2:38 of the first round
I don’t want to be raining on Brunson’s parade, but this victory was more on account of Carneiro slipping to the ground on a whiffed punch than anything Brunson did. Nonetheless, Brunson deserves credit for capitalizing on the mistake while not falling into the trap of going into Carneiro’s dangerous guard where he could have been potentially subbed by the BJJ expert. The bottom line is that the win puts Brunson at 6-1 in the UFC with the lone loss coming to Yoel Romero. He can’t be ignored any longer, and deserves a chance to be fighting a top ten opponent at this juncture. The easy choice is to give him the winner of next week’s fight between Gegard Mousasi and Thales Leites, which I fear won’t be made simply because it makes too much sense. I think those who follow the sport will know what I mean. Where exactly Carneiro fits in the scheme of the division is still very much a mystery. His lone victory since his return came against a worn down Mark Munoz, and this loss was due to his over-aggression more than anything. He isn’t in any danger of being cut yet, but it’s very difficult to know what to do with him from here.
Cody Garbrandt defeated Augusto Mendes via TKO at 4:18 of the first round
As soon as I started thinking that Garbrandt wasn’t looking as impressive as I was expecting, he explodes and lands the punching combination that put Mendes flat on his back to pick up a hell of an impressive win. I’m not saying he looked bad before the finish, but I didn’t think Mendes looked very impressive coming into the fight at less than optimal shape due to the short notice of his call. Garbrandt looked light on his feet in utilizing his vaunted boxing, and was able to avoid Mendes’ desperate takedown attempts. Still, I’m not sold on Garbrandt yet, as he hasn’t defeated a quality opponent in the UFC to date (Mendes, Enrique Briones, and Marcus Brimage represent his UFC victories). I expect the UFC will try to re-book him against John Lineker, which is what was supposed to originally take place before Lineker puller out due to Dengue fever. Here’s hoping the fight sticks this time. Mendes didn’t look good at all, but very few expected him to. His next appearance will be much more telling of his abilities, but he’s starting out his UFC career in a hole now.
Dennis Bermudez defeated Tatsuya Kawajiri via unanimous decision
Bermudez admitted it himself, it wasn’t his usual barnburner performance. To be honest though, if you were looking for progress in Bermudez this was exactly the type of performance that you wanted to see. Bermudez has lived and died by his aggression and lately it has been more dying than living. Seeing that he can harness his aggression and pull out a measured performance, weathering the early storm from the Japanese legend to earn an impressive victory, even if it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing performance. Kawajiri implemented his takedown driven strategy early, and even offered some pretty spinning strikes that didn’t connect before gassing hard. That allowed Bermudez to score his own takedowns and ride out a big chunk of the fight from the top.
Bermudez said he wanted either a rematch with Ricardo Lamas or a bout with the returning B.J. Penn. Let’s be honest though, neither of those seem likely. What I really want to see is a bout with submission ace Charles Oliveira. Of course, Oliveira needs to prove he can make weight after missing the mark three times… and the last time wasn’t even close. If Oliveira can get his weight cuts under control, a fight between him and Bermudez would not only help determine who gets a shot against the divisional elite, but should be a favorite for FOTY. Kawajiri still has enough left in the tank that he can win fights, but he needs to be honest with himself and realize that a title run isn’t happening in the waning years of his career. I’d love to see what Brian Ortega can do against the Crusher.
Chris Camozzi defeated Joe Riggs via TKO at 0:26 of the first round
I don’t know if the story of the fight is that Camozzi looked better than ever or that Joe Riggs seriously needs to consider retirement, but Riggs simply doesn’t have the durability anymore to wage the wars that he used to. Camozzi stunned Riggs with a basic jab which had Riggs covering up. Camozzi capitalized with a barrage of knees that were getting through, even as Riggs covered, and it wasn’t long before Riggs collapsed in a heap with the referee awarding the win to Camozzi. Riggs has been fighting for 15 years and has almost 60 fights on his ledger. He has lost three of four since returning to the UFC, with the lone win coming via DQ. For his own health, he needs to seriously consider calling it a career. As for Camozzi, he did look good… but he beat up one of the more fragile fighters in the game. Perhaps he can escape from the middling middle of the middleweight division (yes, overly punny, but also incredibly accurate), but he’ll need to string together a few more wins in impressive manner for me to believe that he has made enough changes to be a player.
James Krause defeated Shane Campbell via unanimous decision
I don’t know why Krause is so damn upset with himself as he isn’t fighting nobodies… he’s fighting in the preeminent MMA organization in the world and that should mean no easy fights! Krause spouted a lot of crap about not being happy with his performance, but the truth of the matter is that was the best 15 minutes he has ever put together by far. He showed a continuation of the slick trips that he showed against Daron Cruickshank, utilized some submissions that didn’t take due to Campbell’s own savvy rather than anything Krause did wrong, and held his own for two rounds against a noted kickboxer in Campbell. I haven’t always been crazy about Krause, but I might be jumping on the bandwagon now. I wouldn’t give him a ranked opponent yet, but he is one more victory away from that in my book. What made Krause’s victory that much more impressive is that was the best Shane Campbell that we’ve seen thus far. His submission defense was at its best and he landed the hardest shots throughout the course of the fight in addition to a greater volume. Yes, the loss hurts, but not nearly as much as I would have thought heading into the fight. He appears to still be improving and could become a mainstay as an action fighter.
Sean Strickland defeated Alex Garcia via TKO at 4:25 of the third round
Up until the final minute this was a close and competitive fight that could have gone either way. Strickland took the first round by scoring an early takedown and scoring some good ground shots despite Garcia’s late reversal of control. The second round could have gone either way as Garcia landed a late takedown in addition to the harder punches, while Strickland landed a high number of jabs from the outside that didn’t seem to have a lot of power behind them. The third round was a continuation of the second round, with Garcia landing a few hard shots and getting a brief takedown while Strickland landed shots from the outside. Garcia ended up eating a jab right on the chin from Strickland that stumbled him late, and Strickland capitalized, laying on the punches thick without getting into Garcia’s wheelhouse before scoring a knockdown TKO. The win separates Strickland from the middle of the welterweight pack and he could very well get a fight with a ranked opponent next. His jab was much more consistent and he showed good takedown defense too. I’m impressed by his progress and will admit that his ceiling is higher than I had thought. Garcia’s lack of range and fading gas tank prevented him from getting the win here and it will probably establish his ceiling right about where he is at. He is a powerful wrestler, but struggles to get past the range of longer opponents. This loss really doesn’t bode well for his future.
Oluwale Bamgbose defeated Daniel Sarafian via KO at 1:00 of the first round
Impressive. Very impressive. Bamgbose landed a hard head kick that knocked Sarafian flat on his back despite Sarafian blocking the kick. Bamgbose followed up with some strikes to the head of Sarafian on the ground and Sarafian went out cold, even if just for a short time. Bamgbose claimed to have heavyweight power in the post-fight speech, and it is hard to argue that after that kick landed. I can’t name an undisputed better athlete than him in the division off the top of my head (Uriah Hall comes close, but I still favor Bamgbose) and if he gets the proper coaching and seasoning, Bamgbose could be a serious player in about two years. Let it be noted that is a lot of “ifs” that need to come to pass though. Still, keep an eye out for Bamgbose. Sarafian has received Leonard Garcia treatment thus far which is why I’m reluctant to say that he is done in the UFC even though I’d cut him loose. His last two losses haven’t been close, and his last win was a bit of a fluke as it came due to a dislocated finger for his opponent. We’ll have to see what happens.
Anthony Smith defeated Leonardo Augusto Leleco via unanimous decision
Can I say that neither fighter really deserved the win? I largely say that since Smith did absolutely nothing in the third round while Leleco got the crap beat out of him in the first round and was completely out-grappled by Smith in the second round despite landing the better strikes in the round. In Smith’s defense, he took the fight on about a week’s notice and looked great in the first round, stalking Leleco and coming close to finishing him at the end of the round. The late notice hit him in the second after he was stunned early by Leleco, only to shoot for a takedown and do enough damage on the ground to take the round. The loss puts Leleco one more loss away from being cut as his complete lack of a definitive strength looks as though it will haunt him in his UFC stay. Smith could develop into a fun action fighter as his first round was more atypical of what he usually brings to the ball. It should be noted that he has improved quite a bit from his first UFC stint and he could be more than just an action fighter if he continues to improve.
Nathan Coy defeated Jonavin Webb via unanimous decision
I’m still confused as to what happened with Webb here. A much better athlete than the aging Coy, this was one of those fights that I felt strongest about on the card. Even though I gave him the first round, Webb didn’t look right at any point in the bout. He went for risky submissions multiple times only to end up underneath Coy for the remainder of the round once he couldn’t get it in the second and third rounds. More than Coy taking the win, Webb gave it to him as he didn’t have an answer to escape from Coy’s top pressure. Credit to Coy though as he took the fight on short notice and did what he needed to do to pick up his first UFC win of his lengthy career. He won’t be more than a low-level gatekeeper this late in his career, but he seems happy to take that role. Webb will probably be cut which may not be a bad thing for him as most youngsters don’t fight enough to develop quickly. At 26, he has plenty of time to pick up a few wins on the smaller circuit and make his way back… unless he wants to go to Bellator.
Ashlee Evans-Smith defeated Marion Reneau via split decision
I’m not going to say that Evans-Smith didn’t win as the second round was very close and the third seemed to be hers pretty clearly… but how did she earn 30-27 and 29-27 scorecards? I scored it for Evans-Smith 29-28, but there is no way she earned the scores the judges apparently gave her. Something is fishy there. If anyone deserved those scores it was Reneau as she absolutely dominated the first round, staggering Evans-Smith with a barrage of punches and closing the round with a guillotine attempt. It just barely missed being a 10-8 round in my opinion. Evans-Smith showed a lot of improvement in her striking and worked over the mid-section of Reneau with a high volume of kicks, while Reneau took aim at the legs of Evans-Smith with kicks of her own. Reneau also kept her distance to make it difficult for Evans-Smith to establish her wrestling. Then again, her own striking wasn’t all that effective after the first round outside of her leg kicks. It really was a close fight, but the scorecards are gonna be the story here.
Evans-Smith has the higher ceiling between these two, as she is much younger and inexperienced. Even if the judges had given her the loss, I felt she looked good enough to earn a third shot in a shallow division. I’d like to see if she can pull off her wrestling against striking specialist Germaine de Randamie. Reneau isn’t get cut off of a controversial loss like that. She doesn’t look like she has lost a step yet at the age of 38 and came close to ending the fight on two occasions. She’ll be back.
Lauren Murphy defeated Kelly Faszholz via TKO at 4:55 of the third round
Hats off to both ladies as this was a hell of an entertaining fight. Though the action wasn’t quite as blistering in the final round, that shouldn’t be surprising as Faszholz took the fight on about a week notice and it was expected that she would run out of gas. She came out strong though and arguably took the first round before Murphy made some adjustments and slowly took the momentum away from Faszholz before dominating the final round with a takedown at a time when Faszholz was too tired to use her vaunted BJJ. Murphy picked up her long-deserved first UFC win, and should make her way back into the rankings; she’ll also probably get a fight against a ranked opponent. Faszholz is a talent to keep an eye on. She gave Murphy all she could handle early before the lack of preparation for the fight got to her. I hope the UFC takes their time with her as she is still very raw as this was only her fourth professional fight.
Shamil Abdurakhimov defeated Anthony Hamilton via unanimous decision
This was the performance most expected out of Abdurakhimov in his UFC debut. He showed patience and a diverse striking arsenal that left the audience thinking that he wasn’t showing everything. Hamilton quit looking for the takedown early after Abdurakhimov made him pay for it early with a barrage of uppercuts every time Hamilton came in for the clinch or shot. Hamilton didn’t have the skills at range to do much without eating some sort of return from Abdurakhimov and it was academic at that point, even as Hamilton started pushing the pace at the end looking for the KO. Abdurakhimov has the skillset to add some fresh blood into the heavyweight rankings, even if it isn’t exactly young blood at 34. I don’t think the UFC will rush him into that level of competition yet, but another victory could get him there. Hamilton should continue to serve as a welcoming committee for newcomers or those not too far removed from that.
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