GOOD: Daniel Weichel vs. Emmanuel Sanchez
This was a fairly entertaining fight. Above all else, it was very close. I think the tension added a bit to things. Weichel won a close split decision.
GOOD: Emily Ducote submits Bruna Vargas
Vargas dominated the first round, but Ducote dropped her early in the second, locked in a rear-naked choke and got the submission. Good toughness on display from Vargas, to battle back from a bad first round. The fight turned on a dime, with that big punch from Ducote.
GOOD: Melvin Guillard stops David Rickels
Rickels came out looking good in the beginning, but then Guillard caught him and dropped him. From there, Guillard just ground-and-pounded his way to his first victory in a few years. Good win and nice aggressiveness shown from Guillard. He missed weight and said after the fight that he’s moving up to welterweight and challenged Paul Daley. Even with it being Bellator, he’ll probably have to win another fight before that happens, but it’d be an interesting fight.
BAD/GOOD: Joe Taimanglo submits Darrion Caldwell
I really wasn’t all that much into this fight. Caldwell was controlling Taimanglo with his wrestling, but it was just all right. He dominated Taimanglo for two rounds. Then, in the third round, Caldwell shot in and Taimanglo grabbed a guillotine and forced the tap. It was completely out of nowhere and happened so fast it was ridiculous. This was such a huge upset. Caldwell was being talked about for a title shot. It was completely nuts. However, it was a very appropriate way to end things for a night of upsets.
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GOOD: Felice Herrig submits Kailin Curran
Herrig came out and was all over Curran from the start. She landed some kicks, took her down, and then locked in the choke to force a tap. Big win for Herrig, and a nice way to start the main card.
BAD: Francis Ngannou stops Bojan Mihajlovic
This was bad. Mihajlovic kind of just fell down while going for a takedown and Ngannou threw a bunch of punches and referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop things. It was an early stoppage, but I truly don’t care. The ref saved Mihajlovic from taking more punches but, more importantly, he saved all the viewers from having to watch anymore of this crap. Next.
GOOD/BAD: Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
This was a mixed bag. There was some really good work (Barboza’s legkicks) and some really bad work (at times the action slowed to a crawl). Barboza was lighting up the lead leg of Melendez with some vicious kicks. He dropped him or spun him around more than once. I would have liked to have seen Barboza be more aggressive towards the end of the fight. He had the decision clearly wrapped up so I can’t blame him for wanting to be cautious, but he could have kept up with the legkicks and got the finish. Melendez was struggling to get inside with two good legs, so after his left leg had gotten busted up there was even less of a threat there.
Still, this is another good win for Barboza and he said he’d like to fight either Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rafael dos Anjos, or Tony Ferguson next. That’s assuming he doesn’t get the next title shot himself, which he won’t, but he should absolutely fight one of those three guys next. Moving into armchair booker mode here, I’d give the next title shot at UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez to Tony Ferguson. Rafael dos Anjos would fight Edson Barboza. And Khabib Nurmagomedov would fight Will Brooks, with one of those two winners getting the next title shot, depending on who looks the most impressive. I know a rematch for dos Anjos would be a little awkward considering how he just lost to Alvarez, but if he were to beat Barboza in impressive style, I think a title shot is fair.
BAD: Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
I was pretty disappointed in this fight, to be honest. By about a minute or so into the second round, you just knew that it was going the distance and that not much was really going to happen. Holm won the first round, and did fairly well. Shevchenko won the next four rounds, though, and was just the better fighter. Neither fighter was doing much damage to the other. The biggest damage came from a headbutt that opened up a cut on Holm’s eyebrow. There was a good amount of movement, but nothing happening. It was like a guy in the crosswalk pumping his arms like he’s hustling through when he’s actually just casually strolling.
I don’t know, maybe I’m being too hard on this fight, but they could have ended the fight after three rounds and saved us all some time. The result would have been the same. This wasn’t a very good way to end what’s supposed to be a big network card. I know things happen and the UFC can’t always control them, but more people watch these shows than have ever watched a UFC pay-per-view. The point of these network cards should be to grow the brand, or at least try to. Shows like this aren’t exactly the UFC putting its best foot forward.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank