UFC Fight Night 103 was a good card featuring 12 fights split up evenly between two preliminary cards and a main card. Watching UFC on a Sunday afternoon felt unnatural especially as I tried to pay attention to the NFL divisional playoff games. The multi-tasking was easier than anticipated as the FS1 preliminary and main card were stretched out over a 4 plus hour period leaving room for a lot of down time. The entrance for B.J. Penn and Yair Rodriguez didn’t take place until after midnight leaving me tired and grumpy during the headliner.
The Phoenix crowd was fired up most of the night cheering on the local fighters.
The return of the 2015 UFC hall of fame inductee did not go well.
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Heavyweight – Cyril Asker def. Dmitri Smoliakov – TKO punches – (RD 1 – 2:41)
The night started off with a first round heavyweight finish. The match started with Asker landing a right and Smolikov landing a counter right. The ref granted Asker a time stoppage for an eye poke that didn’t appear to happen in the replay of the exchange. Once the fight started back up, Asker scored a takedown where Smoliakov crushed him with blows while on his back. Asker then maneuvered to full mount where he unloaded everything he had not connecting on many of his punches. But enough punches landed and Smoliakov did next to nothing to get out of the situation leading to the TKO stoppage.
Light Heavyweight – Joachim Christensen def. Bojan Mihajlovic – TKO punches (RD 3 – 2:05)
Christensen entered his match with Mihajlovic with a 4 inch height advantage and a 3 inch reach advantage. Christensen used this reach advantage to connect on counter attacks from Mihajlovic. After connecting on a body kick, Mihajlovic lost his balance and fell to the ground. Christensen jumped on top of him where he controlled most of the first round landing some ground and pound. The ref stood them up and Mihajlovic got some more jabs in and ate a knee from Christensen to end the first round.
The second round saw the two fighters in the clinch several times. Christensen landed some shots and knees in the clinch and Mihajlovic would strike his way out of the clinch.
Mihajlovic entered the third round looking gassed. He was able to get some more shot in including a kick that made Christensen stumble, but he was dropped with an uppercut from Christensen that split the guard. Christensen jumped on top landing ground and pound to earn the TKO. After the win, Christensen jumped out of the cage to fist bump Cromier who was calling the fights with Jon Anik.
Heavyweight – Walt Harris def. Chase Sherman – KO knee and punches (RD 2 – 2:41)
Stuff happened in the first round of this fight, time stoppage for a nut shot on Sherman, and both fighters landed combos. But the story of this fight took place in the second round where Harris knocked Sherman out with one of the most brutal combos you will ever see. Harris hit Sherman with his right and left forearms, grabbed the back of his head, landed a knee, then landed a left hook, right hook which dropped Sherman to the matt, and Harris landed a Henderson/Bisping esque hammer fist to finish it off. God damn, look up the video.
Women’s Strawweight – Nina Ansaroff def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger – Submission rear-naked choke – (RD 3 – 3:39)
Nina Ansaroff, most famous for being the girlfriend of Amanda Nunes, headlined the early preliminary card with her match against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. Both fighters landed strikes early in the first round. Lybarger took advantage of Ansaroff’s habit of dropping her left hand when she attacks. This left an opening for several counters for Lybarger. Ansaroff landed uppercuts in short distance and controlled the ground to end the round.
Ansaroff took Lybarger to the ground with a leg kick and jumped on top of her on the ground. From there she manuevered around taking Lybargers back looking for a choke, back to full mount, then to the back, all while landing some attacks. Lybargers coaches gave her some tough love in between the second and third round. Ansaroff landed another up close uppercut and took Lybarger to the ground again with the same leg kick from the second round. She jumped on top, landed some ground and pound, took the back of Lybarger and got the rear-naked choke.
Preliminary Card (FS1)
Lightweight – Tony Martin def. Alex White – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Martin didn’t let his awkward equipment malfunction (his cup broke) prevent him from winning all three rounds in his match with White. In the first round Martin scored a takedown and controlled the ground the fighting. In the second round White stunned Martin with a heavy right and Martin tackled White to the ground to give himself time to recover. White landed a right hook in the third but Martin continued his dominance dictating the fight in the last round sealing his unanimous decision.
Heavyweight – Oleskly Oleinik def. Viktor Pesta – Submission Ezekiel choke – (RD 1 – 2:57)
Pesta scored a takedown on Oleinik and was on top of him in perfect position to land strikes or manuever for a submission. While underneath Pesta, Oleinik wrapped is arms around his neck and performed the first Ezekiel choke finish in UFC history. Pesta sat on top of Oleinik after he tapped in disbelief.
Bantamweight – Augusto Mendes def. Frankie Saenz – Decision split – (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
The Phoenix crowd was loud and excited all night and got really fired up during the Mendes/Saenz fight. Chants of “Frankie! Frankie! Frankie” could be heard during this fight, the hometown supporting the local fighter. In the first round Mendes scores multiple takedowns but was unable to keep Saenz there for long. Saenz landed a body, head jab combo and both fighters landed shots in the clinch and leg kicks.
In the second round, Saenz’s knees buckled after he ate a left hook from Mendes. Saenz responded by clipping Mendes with a sharp elbow and jumped on top of him on the ground. Mendes got a takedown of his own, but this is the round that Saenz won in my opinion. In third Mendes clipped Saenz with a right and scored a couple more takedowns. Saenz landed right and a knee of his own, but Mendes edged him out to get the victory
Lightweight – Drakkar Klose def. Devin Powell – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This lightweight fight was essentially an advertisement for Dana White’s youtube show. On the newest episode of his show it shows him offering a contract to a local New England fighter Devin Powell, a dude who looks like a street fighter from the movie Out of the Furnace. He faced off against another UFC newcomer in Drakkar Klose.
At times this fight was hard to watch as Klose won easily and was taunting Powell the whole time. Powell hung tough and didn’t get finished but his first performance didn’t go well. The two fighters clinched for a long time in the first round where both fighters traded knees. Powell landed a right after they separated which Klose responded with a right of his own and a takedown. In the second Klose landed a flying knee and took Powell to the mat. While on his feet Klose acted like he was going to let Powell up but as soon as Powell began to stand up, Klose charged at him to fuck with him. Klose then landed a right and an uppercut. In the clinch Klose stomped hard at Powell’s feet and Powell threw some elbows to break out of the clinch. Klose also landed a Superman punch body kick combo before clinching up again and scoring a takedown to end the round.
The third round saw more of the same. Klose was landing more strikes and taunted Powell every time he circled the mat running away from Klose’s attacks. To make things worse he opened up Powell’s face with close elbows in the clinch.
Main Card (FS1)
Flyweight – Sergio Pettis def. John Moraga – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
The young 23 year old flyweight Phenom continued his dominate run, this time against a former flyweight title contender. Pettis’s attacks landed early as Moraga had a huge mouse under his eye just a few minutes into the first round. On top of the right hook, Pettis scored a takedown and clipped Moraga. Moraga fought back after being stunned trying to recover and get some strikes in at the same time. Pettis then dropped Moraga with a left hook right before the round ended. In the second round Moraga scored a takedown and landed a jab once they got back to their feet. The two clenched up several times and Pettis attempted a guillotine.
In the third round Moraga landed a left hook and took Pettis to the mat again. He attempted a heel hook on Pettis, but he slipped out of it and took Moraga’s back. The two got back to their feet and Pettis scored a takedown to end the final round. Pettis looked really good in this fight, will he be the one to dethrone Mighty Mouse?
Welterweight – Ben Saunders def. Court McGee – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The most boring fight of the night ended in a unanimous decision victory for Ben Saunders. The first two rounds were clearly won by Saunders as he landed more strikes both in space and in the clinch (there was a lot of clenches).McGee performed better late winning the third round scoring a takedown and controlling the fight on the mat.
Lightweight – Joe Lauzon def. Marcin Held – Decision split – (29-28, 29-28, 27-30)
The new MMA rules that went into effect for this first UFC card of 2017 are supposed to favor the strikers more than the wrestlers, but the outcome of this co-headliner was strange. Held controlled this fight scoring multiple takedowns in every round. Lauzon landed some elbows in the first round and dropped Held with a right, but he was held in check after that. In the second Held controlled the ground and slipped out of a Lauzon armbar attempt. In the third Held lost his mouthpiece which Herb Dean put back into his mouth and controlled the ground game most of the round.
Everyone was surprised by the decision, even Lauzon. When Jon Anik interviewed him after the fight, Lauzon said he didn’t agree with the decision and thought Held won. This was a peculiar decision and it was cool to see Lauzon in the moment be honest and disappointed in his performance.
Featherweight – Yair Rodriguez def. B.J. Penn – TKO front kick and punches – (RD 2 – 0:24)
I acknowledge my ignorance and that I am a recent UFC consumer, but B.J. Penn didn’t look like he belonged in the octagon with Rodriguez. He looked bigger, faster, and stronger than Penn throwing high kicks as he chased Penn down. Penn landed a hook in the first round and hung tough, but it was an accomplishment making it to the second.
In the second round Rodriguez dropped Penn with a front kick punch combo and unleashed a flurry of attacks while on the ground. Big John probably let the fight go longer that it should have giving the hall of famer a chance, but he couldn’t fend off the attack. What a bummer of a fight and a tough comeback for Penn. Rodriguez is a great fighter, a tough match up for Penn to come out of retirement for.
UFC on Fox 23 is on Saturday, January 28th 2017.