After the first four fights at UFC Fight Night 85 went to decision, it seemed like it could be a long night. Then the finishes started coming hard and heavy as only one fight of the last eight went to decision to give us a fun night of fights, including a candidate for FOTY (I still stand by Lawler-Condit, but Magny-Lombard was awesome) that solidified Neil Magny as a potential contender. I’m not ready to proclaim Mark Hunt has made himself a contender once again, but I still believe he is one of the most entertaining heavyweights in the game… when he is in shape. Anyway, here’s my thoughts:
Mark Hunt defeated Frank Mir via KO at 3:01 of the first round
It felt like it was just a matter of time. It proved to be the truth. Mir couldn’t get inside of Hunt for the takedown that he was looking for which he needed as no one believed he was going to out-strike the former K-1 champion. Hunt was reading Mir throughout the fight, getting his timing down. Once he had it, he caught Mir going in for a takedown and landed a hard right to the head which put Mir on the ground. Hunt simply walked away, knowing that Mir was done long before the referee realized it. He is the King of the Walk Off KO after all.
Hunt has looked good in two consecutive fights after a disastrous showing against Stipe Miocic; he came into that fight in horrible shape, but has looked much fresher and patient here and in his rematch with Bigfoot Silva, and the patience has led to early KOs. Could he make another run at the title? It is still too early to tell. In order to set up a fight that would allow him to move forward, he’ll need to wait for a few fights to play out as everyone who is ahead of him is currently tied up with a scheduled bout. I can’t imagine he’d want to wait long as he’ll be 42 in a few days and he knows his time is short if he hopes to get another title shot. Perhaps he keeps himself in shape for the possibility of filling in on short notice? I’ve got my doubts, but feel that would be a wise thing to do on his part.
There were talks from the broadcast sports desk about whether or not Mir should retire after yet another stoppage from punches. This wasn’t one of the worst looking KO’s he has suffered, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t damaging at all. Mir has faced these talks before and I can’t help but think he’ll continue to ignore them. There are still plenty of wins out there for him to pick up… so long as he is willing to play the role of gatekeeper as he is no longer a contender. Then again, hasn’t Mir heard those talks multiple times in the past? I’m sticking to my guns on this, but won’t be too surprised if he proves me wrong. I like the idea of matching up with fellow grappler Jared Rosholt.
Neil Magny defeated Hector Lombard via TKO at 0:46 of the third round
This was one hell of a battle! The fight went as good as can be expected for a fight that went exactly as expected. I know that is a weird sentence, but it really is accurate. Lombard is notorious for being a fast starter and he did just that by flooring Magny seconds into the fight and couldn’t have come any closer to finishing him as referee Steve Perceval gave Magny an extremely long leash to recover as Lombard landed punch after punch on Magny without retaliation. Somehow Magny survived though and Lombard had punched himself out by that point. Magny began picking apart Lombard in the second round only to stick around Lombard’s range for too long as Lombard floored Magny with a haymaker again! Lombard sealed his fate though when he went for an ill-advised leglock which Magny easily escaped from to get top position, allowing him to rain down punches from mount. Again, Perceval gave a long leash, this time to Lombard which allowed him to survive to the end of the round. According to the announce team, he warned Lombard he wouldn’t do so again and lived up to his word once Magny again got mount early in the third to land punches, with the stoppage coming less than a minute into the round.
Perceval is at the center of a controversial storm now as many believe he should have stopped the fight much sooner than he did. The question is whether or not he should have stopped it in the first or second round. I’m not going to take sides in this as fighter safety is supposed to be his priority, and had he stopped it strictly based on that, he wouldn’t have gotten to see this fight evolve into what it became, though I don’t want to see fighters take any more damage than needed. It’s a delicate balance, and one that an armchair quarterback like me isn’t qualified to state the appropriate action.
It’s impossible not to be impressed with Magny’s run since the beginning of 2014 as he has won 10 of 11 since that time with this one being the most impressive as Lombard proved he is still a beast (at least early on) as Magny overcame severe adversity. He shows improvement every time out making it hard to believe he won’t continue to improve. His loss to Demian Maia is still pretty fresh, but wins over the likes of Tyron Woodley (seriously buddy, you need another fight before you get your title shot) or Dong Hyun Kim would assuredly put him in the mix of contenders. Those are the most likely available opponents for Magny if he hopes to continue moving up the ladder. Lombard isn’t finished as a fighter, but no one believes he is going to contend for the title after his long layoff only to return with a loss at the age of 38. I think he can still be a high level gatekeeper for another year or two before the decline becomes too steep to ignore.
Jake Matthews defeated Johnny Case via submission at 4:45 of the third round
Despite the close odds for this fight, I don’t think that many people saw this one coming. While Matthews had struggled to put away Akbarh Arreola in his last appearance, he looked better than he ever has by far against the most difficult opponent he had faced up to this point. The standup exchanges were pretty much even as Case landed a bunch of hard punches to the dome of Matthews while Matthews attacked Case’s body with kicks. Those kicks may have proved to be the difference as Case appeared to slow as the fight went on which allowed Matthews to get Case’s back late in the fight. Case fought off the submission as long as he could (even grabbing the fence at one point) only to succumb with 15 seconds to give the 21-year old the biggest victory of his career. The hope here is that the UFC doesn’t launch Matthews into the upper tier of the division as he is still very young and is one fight removed from a disappointing performance even if it did lead to a victory. There is no need to rush the youngster yet as he has plenty of time to learn and grow. Case never had the look of a top tier fighter and this loss only solidifies that belief. He should still serve as a fine action fighter and gatekeeper as he was competitive and entertaining in this loss. Most like to point to his age of 26 as proof that he should continue to improve, but Case has also been fighting since the age of 18 with 27 fights. That is a lot of miles under his belt and it isn’t often fighters make vast improvements after that many years and fights in the cage.
Daniel Kelly defeated Antonio Carlos Junior via TKO at 1:36 of the third round
Does someone want to tell me how in the hell Daniel Kelly has a 4-1 UFC record? The 38 year old former Olympic judoka is slow and not very athletic at this stage, yet continues to find ways to win fights that no one expects him to win. Things looked incredibly bleak after the first round was completely dominated by Carlos Junior on the mat, as he maintained Kelly’s back for pretty much the entire round. He turned things around in the second round by preventing Carlos Junior from getting the advantage again, landing some good ground strikes and swinging the momentum in his favor. A head kick in the third round as Carlos Junior was trying to get to his feet was the beginning of the end as Carlos Junior was rocked from that, attempting an ill-advised takedown attempt that Kelly easily stuffed to take the back and land ground strikes from there until the referee stepped in. Kelly will almost assuredly be the underdog in his next fight as he has been in every UFC fight thus far. It will be hard to see him winning, but it was hard to see him winning this fight going into it. It’s getting harder all the time to continue to discount him. This loss takes a lot of the shine off of Carlos Junior as a prospect. Yes, he is only three years into his MMA career, but it seems he struggles to overcome any sort of adversity as he crumbled once Kelly got the advantage. His next appearance will be very telling.
Steve Bosse defeated James Te Huna via KO at 0:52 of the first round
Damn. That was impressive as hell. After one of the most deflating UFC debuts, Bosse rebounded with a resounding one-punch KO victory that likely sent Te Huna stumbling out of the UFC. There wasn’t a lot of contact before Bosse’s right landed flush on Te Huna’s jaw, so it is hard to get a feel for where exactly Bosse sits in the landscape of things as that was not only Te Huna’s fourth straight loss, but also his fourth straight time being finished. Two of those losses have come against Shogun Rua and Nate Marquardt, two fights clearly in a sharp decline themselves. He doesn’t seem to have the durability to continue to fight against the best in the world anymore. Retirement is an option he should strongly consider at this point. As for Bosse, the first question that needs to be answered is whether or not he will be fighting at middleweight or light heavyweight. This bout was at light heavyweight, but his UFC debut was middleweight. I’d think 205 lbs would be smarter for him considering the severe lack of depth there as well as the lack of grapplers too. All we can do is see what he does from here.
Bec Rawlings defeated Seo Hee Ham via unanimous decision
I’m fine with Rawlings winning the fight (I scored it for Ham, but can see the other side), but how in the hell did two judges not give a single round to Ham? Whatever. The first round saw Ham landing the greater volume only for Rawlings to land the harder shots that did the greater amount of damage in a round that could have gone either way. The second round seemed to clearly be Rawlings as she scored a takedown and landed some good shots from there while the third went to Ham on the strength of both her volume and the triangle attempt in the first half of the round. Regardless, the first round was very much up for debate (I gave it to Ham as I didn’t think Rawlings punches were that much harder) and I have no problem with Rawlings being the winner. I’m just trying to figure out what two of those judges saw. With consecutive wins, expect the brash Rawlings to get a top 15 fight next. Juliana Lima seems to be an appropriate opponent. Ham will be back for sure and I have a hard time believing that she won’t be the favorite in her next time out.
Alan Jouban defeated Brendan O’Reilly via TKO at 2:15 of the first round
Yeah, that pretty much went exactly how everyone expected it to. O’Reilly wanted to make the fight a grinding affair and found a bit of success early on when he scored a takedown. He wasn’t able to keep the fight there, going to a clinch fight which is exactly where Jouban excels. It wasn’t long before a combination of punches and elbows from the former model dropped O’Reilly which led to the ref jumping in and awarding Jouban the victory. This was exactly what the UFC wanted as Jouban has proven to be one of the most exciting fighters on the roster. They got the exciting finish and they got Jouban back on the winning track which ensures he’ll remain on the roster as one of the premier action fighters. O’Reilly might be done in the UFC. His lone UFC victory was over fellow Aussie Vik Grujic who was one of the worst fighters on the roster in recent memory. He could get one more chance as he is not on a losing streak, but I would be surprised as he hasn’t shown much, even in his victory.
Daniel Hooker defeated Mark Eddiva via submission at 1:24 of the first round
Either Eddiva decided not to show Hooker any respect in terms of his submission abilities or he simply didn’t pay much attention to the massive opening that he left. Regardless of what it was, Eddiva paid the price as Hooker saw Eddiva’s neck open for the taking after Eddiva held onto Hooker’s leg and had Eddiva tapping out after several seconds in the deep guillotine choke, ending the fight earlier than anyone expected. The win shows Hooker continues to add to his game which is encouraging for his chances to have an extended stay in the UFC. While it is hard to see him becoming a contender, the potential to be a mainstay as an action fighter is very much apparent as he has also proven himself to be a tough SOB. Eddiva’s UFC run seems to be at an end as that was his third loss in a row. He isn’t that old at 30, but he struggled to find competition outside of the UFC before latching on. If that ends up being the case again, I don’t see him making his way back.
Leslie Smith defeated Rin Nakai via unanimous decision
I don’t think Leslie Smith knows how to be in a boring fight. Nakai tried to dumb down the action with takedowns and top position but even those exchanges were pretty fun as Smith would try to get back to her feet which often allowed Nakai to go for a submission attempt if Smith didn’t succeed. When the fight was on the feet, Smith used her monstrous reach advantage to outland Nakai significantly while rocking her when she opened up with head kicks and power shots. Those were also the times when Nakai was able to use her level changes for a takedown, so Smith returned to a probing jabbing game from there. Both women came out of the fight looking pretty good and it shouldn’t be expected that Nakai will be cut despite owning a 0-2 UFC record. Nakai’s marketability in Japan is something the UFC doesn’t want to lose either. The win ensures Smith will hang around a bit longer to the delight of brawling fans, but to expect her to have too much success going forward doesn’t seem too likely.
Viscardi Andrade defeated Richard Walsh via unanimous decision
He didn’t win any fans in the process, but he did win a pretty clear decision. With Walsh getting the better end of the standup in the second and third rounds, including a knockdown early in the second, Andrade scored takedowns to stall the momentum for the Australian native in addition to sniffing out submissions. Though he wasn’t able to neutralize Walsh early enough in the second round, it allowed him to survive and take the third round by employing the same strategy earlier in the round. The first round was the biggest round up for debate as Andrade found success with strikes earlier in the round before Walsh began to hold his ground and find his own success as Andrade tired after throwing everything he had into those early punches as he looked to put Walsh away. The win won’t do much for Andrade as it doesn’t appear he’d have much success with a step up in competition, but he could get it anyway. Walsh is probably a loss away from being on the outside looking in.
Ross Pearson defeated Chad Laprise via split decision
Though I picked Pearson to win the fight, there is no logical way that I can say I told you so. To the naked eye, it was difficult to discern who was landing more damage as there was almost always a counter for each strike landed which made it difficult to judge each and every round. As a result, it isn’t hard to see where one judge scored the fight 30-27 for Pearson and another 30-27 for Laprise. What made this hardest to score was there was no true standout moment for either fighter as neither were ever rocked or in a precarious predicament. Starting out slow as both remained very technical throughout the first round, the aggression picked up the longer the fight with the crowd getting behind the action. By the end of the third round, flying knees were being thrown as both looked to finish the fight rather than risk going to the judges. Though Pearson walked out with the win, Laprise may have gained more ground as he proved capable of hanging with the established veteran. He’ll get a step down in competition in his next bout for sure as the UFC wants him to get back on the winning track, but knowing he wasn’t overwhelmed by Pearson is good for the UFC to know. Pearson maintains his status as a gatekeeper to the rankings.
Alan Patrick defeated Damien Brown via unanimous decision
This wasn’t exactly the best way to open up the card. Patrick fought a very safe fight by taking down the Australian native every round and scoring a fair amount of damage with punches and elbows from the top position on the ground to take the decision in the eyes of the judges. Whether he saw something in tape study of Brown or fear of being cut had he lost the bout, Patrick did what he had to do to stay employed. It isn’t going to do anything to improve his standings in the division though as he was expected to roll over the short notice replacement and allowed Brown to have his moments, including a stunning hook in the first round. In the end though, it was an overall dominating performance (though not impressive) from Patrick as Brown didn’t really threaten anything beyond that.
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