UFC held one of their rare Sunday shows, including a main event which fans held their breath for until early this morning. Yesterday at the weigh-ins it was reported that main eventer Darren Till did not make weight. Till was offered a second chance in being weighed in the next morning. Per Ariel Helwani, Till had to weigh under 188 lbs. Also, Till had to forfeit 30% of his fight purse and bonus to Thompson. There was even more suspicion around the extended weigh in, as media was not allowed to attend the event. Luckily, Till did make weight, by a small margin of .7 (187.3 lbs). Till had even more on his plate (figuratively, because if we are talking literally, there wasn’t a lot on his plate due to strict weight cutting), because his wife was in the hospital in labour. Despite all of the madness, once Till weighed in and was confirmed for the fight, he had to put all of his focus on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Till was defending his undefeated streak against someone who picked up his last win in Madison Square Garden. Along with that five round battle were 10 other 3 round fights. Live from the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England the show started with an early prelim bout between Elias Theodorou and Trevor Smith.
- On the UFC Fight Pass was where the show started, with Elias Theodorou facing Trevor Smith in a Middleweight fight. Going into this fight, Elias was ranked 15th in the Middleweight division. There was a timeout in the second round after Smith’s mouthguard fell out. Another timeout was called after Elias had a cut opened on his head. This fight was quite close. The final 10 seconds of the fight was chaotic. It went the distance, with the judges scoring in favor of Elias Theodorou via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
- Switching the TV’s over to FS1, it was time to watch the preliminary fights. The first of the four preliminary fights was Gillian Robertson versus Molly McCann in the Flyweight division. McCann was the first home-country fighter on the card. Molly was doing well standing up. Robertson got a takedown on McCann. Robertson was landing lots of strikes while on the ground, specifically in Full Mount. The fight went to the second round, but McCann looked like she was really struggling. Early in the second round, Robertson was aggressively trying to bring the fight to the ground again. With three minutes left in the second, Robertson put in a Rear Naked Choke that made the ref stop the fight. Robertson took her fourth win via Submission.
- The second fight on the prelims was Carlo Pedersoli against Brad Scott in the Welterweight class. In the first round Pedersoli tried for what would have been a vicious spinning kick, if it had connected. Scott wagged his finger at Pedersoli after the kick was denied. With under a minute to go in the first round, Scott dropped Pedersoli with a right strike, twice. Pedersoli recovered, then did a finger wag to Scott. During the break in-between round 1 and 2, Scott’s corner told him to stop the “poses.” Before the start of the third round, the ref talked to both competitors about how they need to keep their fingers in while striking. To reconcile, Scott and Pedersoli hugged at the start of the round. The fight went the distance, turning to the judges scorecards. Carlos Pedersoli walked away with the win after the judges gave a split decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). He wasn’t big on the split decision in the post-fight interview, saying “why the split decision man? One week notice for this fight I did my best. This is unanimous decision.”
- The Bantamweight Division played host to the next fight. Gina Mazany squared off against Lina Lansberg. Prior to this fight, Lansberg was ranked at #14 and Mazany was at the #15 spot. This fight went all three rounds. The judges scored the fight in favour of Lina Lansberg Unanimously (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
- Finishing off the preliminary card was Daniel Kelly and Tom Breese in the Middleweight division. Kelly was sporting the rare tape around the feet/shins. With over a minute left in the first round, Kelly was hurt with an uppercut. Kelly retreated, and after a few more strikes the ref called it.
- The first fight on the main card was Eric Spicely versus Darren Stewart in the Middleweight division. Stewart was representing England in this fight. Spicely landed a solid combination with 3 minutes to go then tried for a takedown. It was taken to the fence, but never taken to the ground. During this round Stewart showed great head movement on many occasions. Stewart seemed more aggressive at the start of the second round. Stewart hit a strong right one minute into round two. Spicely recovered but was visibly hurt. Stewart stayed on the attack, and finished the fight with a hard left jab that took Spicely down. Stewart hit Spicely a few more times, until the ref called off the fight. Darren “The Dentist” Stewart delivered an emotional interview after the fight, talking about how he deserves to be in the UFC, after losing his past three fights.
- Claudio Silva and Nordine Taleb in the Welterweight division was up next. Late in the first round the fight was taken to the ground. Silva was absolutely hammering away with strikes. Taleb found himself in a Body Triangle with around 40 seconds left. After Taleb endured 15 or so seconds of the hold, he tapped out. The crowd was absolutely silent for the finish of this fight. During the whole thing, the crowd did not seem to favour either fighter. After the fight, Silva gave a very energetic, positive interview. The interview was long.
- Moving to the Featherweight division we got Jason Knight versus Makwan Amirkhani. Early on the fight was taken to the ground. While fighting for control, Amirkhani taunted Knight by flailing his tongue. Amirkhani looked dominant with his strikes, taunting during every pause in the fight. Amirkhani got hit with an right uppercut that knocked him down hard. Amirkhani recovered, but got floored with another right shortly after, bringing him back to the ground. Knight tried for a Triangle on the ground and then tried for strikes, but then the round ended. With a minute left in the second round, Amirkhani got a takedown. Fight goes to decision, second and third round not as chaotic as the first. The judges were split, but in the end favoured Makwan Amirkhani (30-27, 29-28 & 29-28). After the fight, he called out Cub Swanson and Jimi Manuwa.
- Mads Burnell faced Arnold Allen continued the Featherweight action on the card. The fight was close through the first two rounds. Allen won the fight in the third round after Burnell tapped in a Front Choke that started standing but finished on the ground. Allen gave an interesting interview after the fight, to say the least.
- In the Welterweight division, Neil Magny faced UK’s own Craig White. Set for three rounds, this was a co-main event of the night. Magny is currently ranked 9th in the division. In the first round the ref paused the fight after Magny was hit below the belt. With less than a minute to go, Magny was absolutely clobbering Magny on the ground. The ref finally stopped the fight after Magny landed numerous rounds of punches.
- The main event of the evening was #1 rank Stephen Thompson versus #8 rank Darren Till, in the Welterweight division. Till puts his undefeated record (16-0-1) on the line in this bout. The first round was very strategic, staying standing with minimal strikes. The second round was similar to the first. The crowd was on fire as the fight went from it’s third to fourth round. The standing-only fight went to the fifth and final round. At the start of the final round the fighters hugged out of respect. With two minutes left, Till knocked down Thompson with a hard left strike. Thompson recovered from the attack, then hit a combo on Till. The fight ended up going the distance. When we went to the scorecards, Darren Till won by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46 & 49-46). “I had to use every part of me brain to figure him out”, Till said afterwards, describing the fight. On the FOX post-fight show some of the analysts were in disagreement with the judges scorecards.
Next week UFC kicks of the month of June with a Fight Night in Utica, New York in the Adirondack Bank Center. The 13 fight card is spearheaded by #4 rank Jimmie Rivera versus the #5 rank Marlon Morales. In two weeks, UFC heads to Chicago, Illinois for UFC 225, with Whittaker and Romero ending off the show.