UFC on Fox 20 took place in Chicago and had a decent lineup with a great headlining match. There were a couple of first round finishes which lead to long breaks of empty analyst talk and an abundant amount of commercials, but I think I am getting used to the subpar production of Fox. I liked the earlier start time for this card which allowed me to watch all of the fights without getting sleepy towards the end. In-between the Bud Light and Harley Davidson ads, there were some good fights.
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Heavyweight – Luis Henrique def. Dmitry Somliakov – Submission rear naked choke
Featherweight – Jason Knight def. Jim Alers – Decision Unanimous
Welterweight – Alex Oliveria def. James Moontasri – Decision Unanimous
Preliminary Card (Fox)
Lightweight – Michel Prazeres def. J.C. Cottrell – Decision Unanimous
If I see a fighter with a “No Regrets” tattoo, I instinctively root for him to lose. Even if it is an ironic tattoo (I don’t think it is), Cottrell did not make a great first impression. This fight was dominated by Prazeres. He took Cottrell to the ground several times and almost got a shoulder lock submission in the first round. Cottrell was able to cartwheel out of the shoulder lock and played good ground defense all three rounds. Having great ground defensive skills is great, but he needed them because he was brought to the ground a lot. Both fighters used up a lot of energy and stamina in the first round. Prazeres took Cottrell to the ground, or attempted to, every time Cottrell attacked and missed. At the beginning of the third round, both fighters not only touched gloves, they bumped chests and hugged, I have never seen that before. The fighters looked exhausted and by the end of the third round, Cottrell’s kicks appeared to be in slow motion. Cottrell lost his mouth piece in the third round, but the ref didn’t notice. The match was stopped with 10 seconds left in the fight for what I assume was to allow Cottrell to put his mouth piece back in, but I didn’t see him do so. Both fighters threw hay makers in the last 10 seconds using all of the energy they had left.
Usman, as described by Rogan and Goldberg, smothered Yakovlev all three rounds. Usman was latched onto Yakovlev from the very beginning. He either had control on the ground (minus an attempted leg lock by Yakovlev in the 2nd round) or control while pinning him against the cage. Yakovlev had a point taken away in the first round from grabbing the cage twice. I could tell John McCarthy was then looking for the cage grab the rest of the fight. Usman landed, knees, short elbows, strikes to Yakovlev’s face and body, and controlled his breathing by putting his hand over his mouth. In the third round I could see that Yakovlev was finished and his goal was just to survive. Yakovlev survived several finishing attempts by Usman, which is honorable, but he was out matched all three rounds.
Featherweight – Darren Elkins def. Godofredo Pepey – Decision Unanimous
Elkin and Pepey are fighters with completely different styles and techniques. Elkin is a boring American wrestler and Pepey is an attractive wild Brazilian fighter with a cool haircut. Pepey came out fast with wheel kicks, but most of this fight was on the ground. Pepey came close to getting a couple different submissions but Elkin took control on the ground in all three rounds. Elkin took some huge shots to the head and began bleeding badly in the first round. Also in the first round Elkin picked up Pepey off the ground but instead of slamming him to the matt he hesitated because Pepey had control of Elkins wrists and had an opportunity for a submission. Elkin got out of it, but it looked strange to see a fighter pick up his opponent and just hold him in the air. The fight was stopped in the second round after Pepey landed an illegal knee to the head (which was followed by a punch to the head). Pepey was deducted a point and Elkin looked un-phased by the illegal knee. I didn’t know that you couldn’t knee opponents while they are on the ground but it makes sense as you can’t kick fighters while they are on the ground either. Despite some brutal elbows to the top of Elkins head while on the ground, Pepey didn’t do much in the second half of the fight. Elkins gritty boring fighting style subdued the wild fun style of Pepey.
Bantamweight – Eddie Wineland def. Frankie Saenz – TKO punches
Saenz and Wineland bounced around on their feet this whole fight. They only went down to the ground once. Wineland tagged Saenz in the first round but he was able to recover. The fight was stopped twice due to Wineland getting kicked in the dick. The fight was close, could have gone either way until the third round. Wineland landed a huge right counter and knocked Saenz to the mat. Wineland moved in for the kill and Saenz somehow got back on his feet. Wineland finished him off shortly after knocking him woozy again. Rogan kept pointing out how strange Wineland’s stance is, hands low and heavy on his feet. His stance kind of reminded me of Dominque Cruz, not that they have the same stance, they both just look different than most fighters as they move around the octagon.
Main Card (Fox)
Women’s Strawweight – Felice Herrig def. Kailin Curran – Submission rear naked choke.
This strawweight match between Herrig and Curran didn’t last long. With her rain bow colored corn rolls, Herrig took Curran to the ground, positioned herself on Curran’s back and both of them stood up. From here Herrig wrapped her arms around Curran’s neck in a choke and fell backwards. Curran gave a valiant effort to fight out of the choke but tapped out shortly after.
In the long period of time after this fight and the next fight, I creepily looked up Instagram photos of the beautiful Curran. I then realized how small she and her opponent are. This isn’t my first women’s strawweight fight I have watched, but after watching this one I realized how small 116 pounds is. I could lose their entire body weight and I would barely qualify for the max weight in the heavy weight division.
Heavyweight – Francis Ngannou def. Bojan Mihajlovic – TKO punches
Ngannou won with a TKO in first round. Mihajlovic was mad it was called so quickly as he was defending himself. Bojan was covering up but the heavy hammer fists from Ngannou were brutal. The replays show only about two punches land directly, Bojan appeared to be intelligently defending himself.
This fight was probably called prematurely but my biggest take away was the size of Ngannou. He is 6’4” 260 pounds and is shredded with muscles. He had a 10” reach advantage over Mihajlovic. He makes the octagon look small and his fists have so much power behind them. As I thought about how insane it is for Ngannou to be that athletic and quick at his size I started thinking about the NFL. He is the size of a tight end or big linebacker who can run 4.5 second 40 yard dashes who collide at full speed with other football players with similar attributes. The UFC is brutal, but damn, the NFL is full of Ngannous running around tackling people.
Lightweight – Edson Barboza def. Gilbert Melendez – Decision unanimous
Melendez is a former champion and a veteran of MMA while Barboza is an up in coming lightweight star. Melendez tagged Barboza in the second round and landed some good blows, but this fight was controlled by the kicking power of Barboza. Towards the end of the third round Melendez could barely stand confidently as his right leg was weak from the many kicks it absorbed. Barboza’s kicks are so quick and hard to predict because they don’t require a lot of wind up. Melendez was forced to focus on defense towards to the end of the match to prevent his leg from giving out. Barboza didn’t fight perfectly, but his kicks were brutal and effective.
Women’s Bantamweight – Valentina Shevchenko def. Holly Holm – Decision unanimous
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for Holm to win this fight. Connor McGregor convinced me to buy my first UFC PPV with is trash talk before UFC 196 but it was the Holm/Tate match in the main card that made me a fan. Tate choked out Holm, and instead of tapping out, Holm struggled to get out of the choke which resulted in her losing consciousness. That is an example of how vicious the UFC is and how much Holm wanted to win, she refused to tap out. This is her first fight since her title loss to Tate against the highly respected Shevchenko. I last saw Shevchenko lose to the now Bantamweight champion Nunes thinking Nunes dominated that fight, but all of the experts and analyst thought Shevchenko performed better in that match. It is my ignorant opinion that the winner of this match will get a title shot against Nunes.
This headlining fight lasted all five rounds and Shevchenko was the clear winner. Holm threw a lot of kicks that didn’t hit anything, she was always a few inches short of making contact. Shevchenko followed this misses up with effective counter attacks including an insane spinning punch. In the second round Holm threw a punch and Shevchenko countered it with a fast counter spin that if connected would have done serious damage. But Holm instinctively put her hand up to block her exposed face and blocked the counter. The reply of this was fascinating to see, showing the speed of the spinning punch and the great defense from Holm. In the third round Holm suffered an inadvertent head butt in the clinch that opened a wound above her right eye. In the fifth round Holm’s leg was bright red showing the effects of the kicks from Shevchenko and she tried to attack and be the aggressor, but Shevchenko effectively held her off just like she did in the first 4 rounds. Holm looked devastated after losing her second fight in a row while Shevchenko was elated. I hope Nunes and Shevchenko meet up in a match this fall.