What is better than watching a bunch of commercials and FS1 self promotion on a cold snowy Saturday afternoon? Pretty much everything is better than that but when there are a few fights mixed in I can’t resist. Of the 12 fights that were fought in Denver 8 ended in a TKO or submission making it a brutal 6 hours.
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight – Jason Gonzalez def. J.C. Cottrell – Submission D’Arce choke – (RD 1 – 3:54)
The fight card started off with a first round submission. Cottrell landed a couple of jabs early and ate a body kick from Gonzalez. Cottrell was forced to level change after being clipped by a jab from Gonzalez and brought the fight to the ground. Both fighters scrambled on the ground looking for an opportunity. The fighters eventually got back to their feet and on the second trip to the ground, Gonzalez submitted Cottrell with a D’Arce choke.
Flyweight – Alexandre Pantoja def. Eric Shelton – Decision split – (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
There are few guarantees in life but one of them is that a UFC Flyweight bought will go the distance.
In the first round Shelton scored multiple takedowns while Pantoja landed more strikes. Pantoja took the back of Shelton and landed several hammer fists. The fight went to the ground several times in the second round initiated by both fighters. Pantoja attempted a guillotine choke as he brought Shelton to the ground. Shelton escaped and got back to his feet where he landed a flying knee. Pantoja attempted a rear-naked choke which Shelton was able to escape before the round ended.
The third round saw both fighters trading blows while standing. The thin Denver air seemed to affect the fighters as both looked gassed.
Preliminary Card (FS1)
Catchweight (209.5 LB) – Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Jeremy Kimball – TKO punches – (RD 1 – 2:27)
Lima missed weight by a whopping 3.5 pounds. He finished Kimball in the first round but a big portion of his winnings went to the defeated Kimball as a result of the weight violation. Early in the fight Kimball caught a kick thrown by Lima and shoved Lima to the ground. Lima got back to his feet and Kimball slipped falling to the ground. Lima jumped on top of him landing several heavy hammer fists until the ref called the TKO.
Middleweight – Eric Spicely def. Alessio Di Chirico – Submission triangle choke – (RD 1 – 2:14)
Spicely didn’t waste a lot of time before scoring a takedown on Chirico. On the ground Chirico got on top of Spicely and left an opportunity for Spicely to wrap his legs around him for a triangle choke. It didn’t long for Chirico to tap after the submission was applied.
Light Heavyweight – Jordan Johnson def. Henrique da Silva – Decision unanimous – (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Johnson and his 2.5 inch reach advantage dominated Silva in all three rounds. Johnson landed a couple upper cuts and scored two takedowns in the first round and attempted a choke. He controlled the ground game keeping Silva on his back. In the second round Johnson caught a kick from Silva and tripped him to the ground. Johnson dominated the ground again and both fighters got back to their feet at the end of the round. Johnson did more of the same in the third round landing more strikes and dictated the ground fighting.
Welterweight – Li Jingliang def. Bobby Nash – KO punches – (RD 2 – 4:45)
This was a brawl that lasted 9 mins and 45 seconds. Nash destroyed Jingliang for more than 9 of those minutes. In the first round Nash dropped Jingliang with a left and jumped on top of him to attempt a choke. Jingliang survived but Nash stayed on top of him and landed a short elbow to end the round.
Nash continued tee’ing off on Jingliang in the second round. He landed several blows and scored a takedown. The lead leg of Nash showed signs of bruising from leg kicks. Jingliang scored a takedown and the fighters got back to their feet in the clinch. Nash landed a knee and a jab to break out of the clinch. Jingliang found an opening and landed two rights that crippled Nash. Jingliang jumped on top of him and landed hammer fist to finish him off.
This fight is a perfect example of how a fight can change with just one punch. Jingliang was getting rocked up until he dropped and finished Nash.
Bantamweight – Raphael Assuncao def. Aljamain Sterling – Decision split – (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Before the score cards were read I had no idea who was going to win the decision, the fight was close. Based on his immediate collapse in agony, Sterling thought he was going to win.
The first round saw a time stoppage for a nut shot on Sterling. Both fighters landed kicks and the round ended in a flurry of attacks from both Assumcao and Sterling. Sterling suffered another nut shot in the second round which the ref did not see so he didn’t stop the fight. Assuncao did the noble thing and didn’t charge forward on the compromised Sterling waiting for him to give the nod to touch gloves and to start fighting again. Sterling connected with a left while Assuncao showed good takedown defense and caught a couple of kicks from Sterling in the second round. In the third round both fighters repeated the same series of events over and over again. The two fighters would charge towards each other, whiff on punches, and jump back away. Assunacao landed a few jabs in the third round and won in a split decision. Sterling landed more kicks in the fighter and looked to be the more aggressive fighter, but the win went to Assuncao. This was a close fight and had to be difficult to score.
Middleweight – Sam Alvey def. Nate Marquardt – Decision unanimous – (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Not surprising that the worst fight of the night was won by “Smilin” Sam Alvey. I can’t stand this guy. The majority of the first round was spent in the clinch. In the second round Alvey charged forward and connected with a combination. Marquardt slipped and fell to the ground but was able to get back to his feet quickly. But the end of the round Marquardt’s face showed the effects of absorbing jabs. In the final round Marquardt scored two takedowns but wasn’t able to find a submission. Once Alvey got back to his feet he landed a heavy left hand. This fight was boring. Alvey won as he landed many more strikes in all three rounds. Being the last fight in the preliminary card that went the distance, Alvey didn’t have as much face time as he normal has preventing him from rambling on and on about European fighters and how knowledgeable his wife is in regards to MMA.
Main Card (Fox)
Featherweight – Jason Knight def. Alex Caceres – Submission rear-naked choke – (RD 2 – 4:21)
Caceres showed good head movement in the first round dodging several attacks from Knight. Both fighters landed combinations before Knight dropped Caceres with a counter. Caceres recovered and Knight began talking smack. Knight then body slammed Caceres and took his back and went for a rear-naked choke as the round ended.
In the second round the fight went to the ground and Knight took the back of Caceres again. Knight went for the rear-naked choke again and gave up after what felt like a long time after Caceres successfully defended his neck. Caceres scrambled and rolled over trying to escape but Knight stayed on top of him landing shots. Knight took his back again and was able to get the rear-naked choke with less than a minute left in the round.
After the fight Knight went to his knees with Brain Stann’s microphone and prayed to his dead dad.
Heavyweight – Francis Ngannou def. Andrei Arlovski – TKO punches – (RD 1 – 1:32)
Ngannou is going to be the heavyweight champ by the end of 2016. The dude is huge, agile, and has great submission skills. He weighed in around the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds but didn’t have any jiggle on his body anywhere; pure muscle. Arlovski threw a punch and Ngannou landed a overhand left counter, followed by a right punch which dropped Arlovski to the ground. Ngannou landed a couple hammer fist for good measure earning the TKO.
Welterweight – Jorge Masvidal def. Donald Cerrone – TKO punches – (RD 2 – 1:00)
This fight was hard to Watch. Cerrone just fought at UFC 206 in early December and asked to be on this Denver card as he is from Colorado. Less than two months between fights is not a long time and I believe that short camp after a rough fight with Matt Brown were Cerrone ate a lot of shots is what lead to Cerrone getting knocked out twice in this fight with Masvidal.
Both fighters traded and landed strikes in the first round, but at the very end of the round Masvidal dropped Cerrone and landed hammer fists as the bell rung. If there were 2 more second in the round Cerrone would have been knocked out. In between rounds a clearly diminished Cerrone was being yelled at by his coaches, “we aren’t losing in Denver.”
It didn’t take much time of Masvidal to finish what he started in the second round. He dropped Cerrone with a right and unloaded on him as he tried to get back to his feet. Herb Dean called the TKO just a minute into the second round. This is a tough loss for Cerrone in front of his hometown crowd.
Women’s Bantamweight – Valentina Shevchenko def. Julianna Pena – Submission armbar – (RD 2 – 4:29)
Amanda Nunes was in the crowd in Denver to watch this fight card because her next opponent was going to be the winner of the headlining fight. The rematch with Shevchenko is going to happen as Shevchenko defeated Pena with an armbar in the second round. She brought Pena to the ground twice in the first round and was brought to the ground by Pena twice in the second round. After the second takedown in the second, Shevchenko got in position for the armbar and submitted Pena.
Pena landed some knees in the clinch in both rounds, but it was brought up that she injured her shoulder in the first round. I am not sure if that had anything to do with the outcome, but Shevchenko looked like the better fighter.
Nunes was brought into the ring to talk smack with Shevchenko after the official decision. This was awkward as both aren’t the greatest at speaking English and it turned into a corny photo op and B roll for all of the promos that will be aired to hype up their rematch.
UFC Fight Night 104 is this Saturday, February 4th 2017, the night before the super bowl.