December 30, 2016
Las Vegas, Nevada from T-Mobile Arena
Live on UFC Fight Pass (7:30 PM ET), Fox Sports 1 (8:00 PM ET), and pay-per-view (10:00 PM ET)
UFC closes out their year with a bang and the return of Ronda Rousey tonight. Keep it locked in here for top to bottom coverage of the entire event. Michael Grocke has you covered for the prelims and then Mike Hiscoe takes over when the pay-per-view goes live. Be sure to check out Grocke’s preview of the event to get you up to speed. Be sure to follow Michael and Mike on Twitter and Enjoy the fights!
Fighters’ MMATorch rankings are included beside their name in the listings.
Fight Pass Prelims
(1) Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means (Welterweight 170 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Means take the center of the octagon. Means comes out with two kicks. Spinning kick misses for Means. Oliveira shoots but Means turns it around and scores. Knee lands for Means. Left hook for Oliveira. Kick to the body for Oliveira. Spinning back kick lands flush for Oliveira and Means goes down. Means is back up as Oliveira works in the clinch. Oliveira scores a takedown. He has one hook in. Means to his feet. Means turns into Oliveira and scores a takedown. Means in top control. Very fast pace to start this fight. Means lands an illegal knee to Oliveira’s head and Oliveira is hurt. The ref calls for time. Oliveira has been down for a while. The fight is stopped as Oliveira can’t continue. An accidental knee and the fight is a no-contest.
Result: No-contest (3:33 of Round 1- Accidental knee to a downed fighter)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: A lot of confusion. Rogan disagrees with Oliveira being considered a down fighter. Means thought he was in a two-point stance. The ref saw it differently. Regardless, it’s called a no-contest. Means tells the MMA media at cage side that he can wrestle and for them to put down their laptops. Odd.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
(2) Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price (Welterweight 170 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Inside leg kick for Thatch to start. Both land right hands. Thatch lands a right. They trade puches. Price rushes Thatch to the fence and goes for a takedown. Big knee to the head for Thatch. Price scores a takedown. Thatch works to full guard. Thatch looks for Kimura. Price mihght be in trouble. Price gets to side control. Thatch tries take Price’s back but Price reverses and has top control. Thatch tries to get to his feet and Price grabs his neck. Thatch rools out of the RNC, Price now has an arm triangle. He’s got it locked in. Thatch taps.
Result: Price by submission (4:30 of Round 1 – Arm triangle)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Strong grappling from Price here. That was an impressive debut from him. This is a brutal loss for Brandon Thatch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get cut after tonight.
(3) Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia (Welterweight 170 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Garcia comes out and takes center octagon. Pyle circles right. Pyle misses a big right. Big kick to the body for Garcia and he follows with a takedown. Pyle defending well. Garcia moves to side control. Knees to the body for Garcia. Pyle staying patient. He turns and explodes up. Back to center of the cage. They exchange jabs on the feet. Garcia misses a big overhand right. Knee to the body for Pyle. Huge right hand drops Pyle as he was coming and he is out cold before hitting the canvass. Pyle’s eyes rolled back and his head bounced off the mat hard. The ref stepped in before Pyle hit the mat to prevent any further damage.
Result: Garcia by TKO (3:34 of Round 1)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: Garcia caught Pyle coming in and dropped him with a devastating right hand. Pretty scary watching Mike’s head bounce off the canvass like that. Glad to see him up and coherent. Nice win for Alex Garcia who’s now looking for a top 10 fight.
(4) Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marvin Vettori (Middleweight 185 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Vettori comes out and misses two quick jabs. Carlos accidentally pokes Vettori in the eye and time is called seconds into the fight. He takes a couple minutes and the fight resumes. Carlos misses a jab. Big leg kick from Carlos. They trade jabs. Vettori pushes forward. Kick to the body for Vettori. Carlos with another eye poke. Straight left for Vettori. Vettori now pokes Carlos in the eye. Leg kick for Vettori. Carlos returns the favor with a kick of his own. Carloss with a heavy kick to the leg. Carlos goes for a takedown but Vettori defends it well. Carlos works in the clinch against the fence. They trade knees to the body. Right hand lands for Carlos. Carlos goes to take Vettori’s back. Carlos takes Vettori down, but Vettori is ip quickly. They clinch against the fence and Vettori ends up getting a takedown and the round ends with him on top.
ROUND TWO: Carlos throws a right hand and follows with a takedwon. Vettori is up quickly. Back to center cage. Heavy kick to the body for Carlos. Leg kick for Carlos. Vettori closes distance and pushes Carlos to the fence. Vettori works in the clinch. Carlos is out and back to the center of the cage. Carlos misses a wild head kick. They trade jabs. Vettori scores a takedown. Big elbows from Vettori and has a guillotine. He loses it and lands big right hands from top position. Carlos tries to take the back but Vettori is on to it. Big left hands land for Vettori. Up kick from Carlos but Vettori is right back on top of Carlos. Vettori stands and lands a few kicks to the body while Carlos stays on the mat as the round ends.
10- 9 Vettori
ROUND THREE: Carlos comes out and misses two quick jabs. Left hand misses for Carlos. Kick to the body for Vettori. He follows with a Superman punch but misses. Carlos pushes Vettori against the fence and works in tghe clinch. Carlos scores a takedown. Vettori tries to work back up but Carlos drags him back down. Hard knees to the body for Carlos. Vettori turns into Carlos and pushes him away. Back to center cage. Vettori goes for a knee and slips but Carlos can’t take advantage. Carlos clinches against the fence. Vettori working hard to get off the fence but Carlos takes him down. He takes Vettori’s back. Vetorri tries to get to his feet. Carlos goes for a guillotine as the round ends.
Result: Carlos Junior by UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: The first round was tough to score and I can see it going to either fighter. The second round was clearly Vettori’s, while the third was Carlos Junior’s. Both fighters displayed good grapppling, it was Carlos Junior’s takedowns that made the difference.
(5) Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny (Catchweight 173.5 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Magny opens with a front kick. He follows with a side kick. Magny workin the kicks. Hendricks rushes in throwing punches and Magny cirlces away. Hendricks trying to cut off the cage and close distance. Hendricks with a leg kick. Magny throws a punch and follows with a kick. Hendricks clinches and scores a takedown. Hendricks looks for ground and pound inside Magny’s full guard. Magny defending well from the bottom. Magny goes for the sweep but the cage gets in the way. Magny goes for a triangle. It”s not deep but he’s landing big elbows from bottom. The round ends with Magny landing punches and elbows to Hendrick’s head.
ROUND TWO: Magny Goes for a kick but misses. Hendricks misses a left but scores a takedown. Magny almost up but is pulled back down. Hendricks works for side control. Magny bucks up and is almost out but Hendricks has his neck. Magny scrambles and is up. Hendricks with another takedown. He takes Magny’s back. Magny works up to one knee. Hendricks lands a few knees to MMagny’s thigh. Magny turns into Hendricks and is taken down again. Hendricks in top position. Big John urges Hendricks to do something. Magny postures up monetarily. Hendricks has Magny’s neck against the fence. Right hand lands for Johny. Magny turns into Hendricks and stands. Hendricks lands a few more punches in the clinch as the round ends.
ROUND THREE: Front kick lands for Magny. Hendricks misses a big left. Hendricks misses a combination. Magny looking to mix it up here in the third. Magny throws two jabs and circlws away. Hendricks rushes Magny to the fence and works in the clinch. Magny defends well and pushes Hendricks off. Back to center cage. Low kick for Magny. Hendricks throws two wild punches and misses. Front kick lands for Magny. Hendricks with a left hand and follows with a double leg takedown. Magny lands big elbows to Hendrick’s back. Hendricks works in the clinch. He picks up Magny and slams him to the mat for a takedwon. Magny explodes up but Hendricks pulls him back sown. Hendricks works from top control. Magny goes for a triangle and has it. He unloads big elbows to the top of Hendrick’s head as the round ends.
Result: Magny by UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Grocke’s Viewpoint: I don’t agree with that decision. I think Hendricks’ takedowns and control won him the fight. Nonetheless, a huge win for Neil Magny. As for Hendricks, I’m not sure what’s left for him. Possibly a move up in weight, but it seems his better days are behind him.
That’ll do it for me, thanks for following along. Mike Hiscoe takes it from here.
Pay-per-view Main Card
Good evening fight fans. One quick rant before we get started. I’m really unimpressed with the manner in which Mike Goldberg is being sent off here. He’s far from perfect but I think his contribution to the rise of UFC during the Spike years often goes undervalued. Dana White basically speaking of Goldberg in the past tense in interviews recently was rather disrespectful. Goldberg had the opportunity to walk out on the company for a big paycheck from WWE, leaving the UFC high and dry on the day of a show but he did the right thing and stayed with UFC, the right choice at the time. I hope he finds a good gig elsewhere whether in MMA or not.
(6) Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg (Catchweight 129 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Smolka has a significant height and reach advantage but looks so slim compared to Borg who came in heavy for this fight. Borg slipped and fell after a minute or so of feeling each other out and managed to turn it into a takedown. Smolka was able to get on top and held onto a side headlock but he lost the position. Back on top, Borg worked from side control and took Smolka’s back. Smolka was bleeding from his right eye from an early left hand from Borg. Borg had a leg lock briefly but lost that one. He had Smolka’s back on the ground while Smolka tried to watch the video screen to gauge his position. Borg ended the round on top and Smolka was bleeding pretty bad from both eyes. 10-9 Borg.
ROUND TWO: The cut was actually from an elbow on the ground based on the replays. Borg got an early takedown and Smolka attacked the leg. Borg landed a big shot from the top and got to side control. He landed shots when he had the chance while looking to take Smolka’s back. The worked on an arm triangle and got it in pretty tight. Smolka got to his feet but Borg dragged him down twice. Smolka worked for an armbar but it wasn’t there. 10-9 Borg, 20-18.
ROUND THREE: They clinch right away and Borg took him down. Borg worked hard to pass and got to half guard and put in another arm triangle. It was in pretty tight. The ref checked Smolka’s arm to see if he was awake and he was. Smolka stayed patient and Borg gave up the choke. Smolka managed to get back to his feet and Borg kept the pressure on against the cage. Borg was relentless in looking for the takedown. Smoka defended pretty well late in the fight but Borg has been dominant nearly the entire fight. Smolka looked for a knockout late but time wasn’t on his side. 10-9 Borg, 30-27.
Result: 30-27, 30-26, 30-26 for Borg by unanimous decision
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Very dominant performance for Borg, particularly on the ground. Unfortunately for him, he was several pounds heavier than his opponent, so that could have played a factor. It’s another setback for Smolka who looked to be a solid prospect at flyweight until his loss to Brandon Moreno a couple months ago. Nontheless, a good showing for Borg. He said he may have broken his ankle during the fight but it didn’t show. He said he wants to stay at flyweight despite missing weight and just needs to make a couple of changes.
(7) Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine (Welterweight 170 lbs)
ROUND ONE: Saffiedine with a short elbow early when Kim came out aggressively. Saffiedine tripped him and took his back but Kim stood up. Saffiedine took him down but again Kim got up. Kim had him clinched against the cage. The broke apart and Kim opened up his striking. Saffiedine was on the retreat much of the time and would land some counters with Kim pushing the pace. Saffiedine started landing more as the round went on. Both men looked tired. Kim with some wild swinging punches that whiffed by Saffiedine. Kim clinched him against the cage as the round ended. 10-9 Saffiedine
ROUND TWO: Saffiedine with a knee to the body early. Kim walked him down but wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes given how aggressive his positioning was. They clinched against the cage and the crowed booed as little was happening. Saffiedine landed a hard outside leg kick. Kim clinched again and was looking for a takedown but couldn’t get it. Saffiedine went for a head kick late as the crowd booed some more. 10-9 Kim, 19-19
ROUND THREE: They both threw wildly to start the last round. Kim got him down but Saffiedine got right back up. Kim held him against the cage and threw knees to the leg and body. Saffiedine landed an elbow as they broke from a clinch. Kim kept pressure on and held on looking for a takedown. He got it but Saffiedine was right back up again. They broke and Saffiedine threw some good kicks to the body. Saffiedine went for a takedown but lost position and Kim got up. Kim clinched again and held Saffiedine against the cage and got a late takedown. He did nothing with it as the round ended. 10-9 Saffiedine, 29-28 but a weird fight to score.
Result: 30-27 Saffiedine, 29-28 Kim, 29-28 Kim by split decision
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Not a good fight at all. Not sure I agree with the decision as if you look at the fight overall, I feel Saffiedine won based on more effective striking. The last two rounds were tricky to score so it’s not a travesty that Kim won on points but it wasn’t a particularly impressive performance.
(8) TJ Dillashaw (#2) vs. John Lineker (#4) (Bantamweight 135 lbs)
Big fight here for both guys. The winner is more than likely getting the next title shot.
ROUND ONE: Dillashaw came out switching his stance and had a lot of swagger. He threw a leg kick and followed up with a headkick that Lineker caught and brought him down. They got back up. Short uppercut by Dillashaw landed. Dillashaw landed an explosive takedown and worked the body from half-guard. He postured up and landed some punches and Lineker scrambled and eventually got up. Lineker landed some body shots as Dillashaw kept his distance, throwing some kicks. They threw down late with neither landing anything big. 10-9 Dillashaw.
ROUND TWO: Lineker went straight for the body right away. Dillashaw was looking to counter and went for a takedown and had his back briefly but Lineker got up. Dillashaw would come in looking to land a big uppercut. He got another takedown and worked the body again from half-guard. He looked to push off and get mount but Lineker’s guard was tight. He postured up and landed some big elbows. Lineker started talking to him in between getting pummelled with elbows. Dillashaw kept raining down elbows and punches. Lineker turned away and gave up mount in the process. Lineker got back to half guard but Dillashaw wasn’t letting up. Dillashaw landed punches and elbows from the top at will to close the round. 10-8 Dillashaw, 20-17
ROUND THREE: Dillashaw ducked a punch and landed a takedown. Linkeker got up and Dillashaw backed him up with a right hand. Lineker motioned for Dillashaw to “come on” and stand and bang with him presumably. He landed a shot but then Dillashaw took him down again. This time he held him down and worked his ground and pound. Lineker got to his feet in a three-point stance and Dillashaw landed knees to his legs and took him back down. Dillashaw went for a calf-crank and Lineker escaped and got up. Lineker landed a couple big body shots that may have phased Dillashaw. Lineker kept going for the body as Dillashaw ran backwards and raised his arms in victory just before the horn. 10-9 Dillashaw, 30-26
Result: 30-26 across the board for Dillashaw by unanimous decision
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Dillashaw proved why he is the deserved #1 contender as he put on a clinic against John Lineker here. Lineker showed some serious deficiencies in his grappling and defense on the ground. Dillashaw is probably the most versatile and well balanced fighter in the bantamweight division. Except for Dominick Cruz of course. Dillashaw called Cruz a bitch and accused him of ducking him. He said he thought Cruz would win and if he doesn’t get the next shot then “this shit is rigged.”
(9) Dominick Cruz (#1, #2 P4P) vs. Cody Garbrandt (#3) (Bantamweight Championship Bout 135 lbs)
Walking out, Cody looked nervous while Cruz was more intense than usual, and very angry looking.
ROUND ONE: Cruz came in and out with his quick foot and head movement. Cody went for big blows to the head. Cruz mocked him a bit. Garbrandt went for some leg kicks. Cruz whiffed on a big right hand and Cody mocked him. Cody landed three right hands but Cruz kept going. Lots of mocking by Garbrandt after almost every exchange. They traded leg kicks. Cruz with a takedown but Garbrandt rolled through and got up. Cruz landed a few shots and Garbrandt stuck his tongue out at him. Garbrandt landed a late takedown and landed a knee as Cruz was getting up. 10-9 Garbrandt
ROUND TWO: Big left hand by Cody in the first minute but then Cruz rocked him with a counter shortly after. Cruz looking more confident with his striking and landed a nice jab. Garbrandt landed a couple right hands. Cody landed a left hook that backed Cruz up. Cruz with a jab. Garbrandt responded with a body kick. Cruz looks to be breathing heavy but isn’t slowing down. Cruz continued with the jab. They traded shots as the round ended. 10-9 Cruz but close. 19-19
ROUND THREE: Garbrandt slipped on a headkick attempt but got up and cut Cruz with a couple of right hands. Joe Rogan said it was a headbutt that caused the cut. Cody hurt him again with a right hand and is mocking Cruz again. Cruz went back to the jab but Cody is countering with rights. Cruz stayed busy but then Garbrandt would come back with damaging combinations. Cruz took a deep breath with two minutes left in the round. Garbrandt dropped him but Cruz recovered quick. Garbrandt showed good head movement avoiding Cruz’ unorthodox striking. Cruz landed a left late in the round. 10-9 Garbrandt, 29-28
ROUND FOUR: Garbrandt countered a leg kick with a straight right hand. Garbrandt knocked him down hard and pointed at Cruz for a moment but Cruz bounced back up. It was a big shot and it looked briefly like Cruz could’ve been out. Garbrandt stayed patient. Cruz lost much of the bounce in his step after that knockdown. Garbrandt started doing some dance moves to mock Cruz, but he needs to be careful. Cruz with a left jab. Hard leg kick by Garbrandt. Garbrandt knocked him down again and hesitated again and Cruz bounced back up. He knocked him down two more times by the end of the round. Huge round for Garbrandt who is running away with this fight. 10-8 Garbrandt, 39-36
ROUND FIVE: Wouldn’t have thought we’d see the fifth round and that Cruz would be this far behind. Cruz came out more aggressive and looks lively for someone who has been rocked as many times as he had. Garbrandt being very patient, not leaving himself open by looking for the knockout. Cruz threw a leg kick and Garbrandt responded by doing a burpee. Not bad for the fifth round. Cruz sticking to his game plan and Cody just trying to run the clock it seems. Garbrandt pushed Cruz up against the cage with less than a minute left. He landed a knee to the body on the break. Cruz landed a leg kick late in the fight and they embraced after the horn but I don’t buy it. Great fight. 10-9 Cruz, 48-46 Garbrandt
Result: 48-46, 48-47, 48-46 for Garbrandt by unanimous decision
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Very good fight and I’d be happy to see them do it again soon. Dillashaw may have to wait out his title shot. Garbrandt was able to solve the puzzle that is Dominick Cruz and showed that he is more than a one dimensional fighter in the process. His power is what got him here and is ultimately what won him the fight but he showed a lot of patience and discipline in dealing with Cruz’ style. Garbrandt gave his belt to a sick kid he brought to the cage with him. Cruz just didn’t have an answer for Garbrandt’s power. Cody said to TJ Dillashaw “come at me motherfucker.” No interview for Cruz afterwards which is disappointing, I was looking forward to how he felt the fight went.
(10) Amanda Nunes (#1) vs. Ronda Rousey (#3) (Bantamweight Championship Bout 135 lbs)
This feels really big.
ROUND ONE: They touched gloves. Nunes peppered her with strikes early. Ronda just kept eating shots from Nunes. She hurt her bad and Ronda had no answer on the feet and Herb Dean stopped it before Ronda could even hit the mat. That was a complete massacre and probably the end of Ronda Rousey. Just like that.
Result: Nunes by TKO at :48 of the first round
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Ronda Rousey looked like she was ready for a fight, until the time to fight actually came. She looked like an amateur in there and one would have to think that that is it for her. It’s hard to watch as there has never been such a sharp decline from such a high perch as we’ve seen from Ronda Rousey. Nunes said “forget about Ronda Rousey” in her post fight interview. Nunes completely proved her worth tonight and made Ronda Rousey look completely out of her league.
And as has been customary all week. Ronda Rousey did not give an interview after the fight.
Thanks for reading everybody. Hope you enjoyed the fights.