UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz Full Preview

Ever since mixed martial arts have been legalized in New York State, UFC has made an effort to do an annual large show at Madison Square Garden. The first time, it was Conor McGregor becoming a “Champ-Champ,” dethroning lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. The next year it was MMA legend Georges St-Pierre returning to win a belt off of Michael Bisping. Last year, Daniel Cormier built on his legacy, making his first heavyweight championship defense against Derrick Lewis. This year is a little different.

Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz will headline the show, although a belt with lineage won’t be on the line. Instead, a new belt is being introduced, and will be awarded to the “BMF (Baddest M*****F*****).” Along with the main event is also a stacked card, even down to the preliminary portion. Celebrating their 500th show, live from Madison Square Garden on Saturday, here’s a look at UFC 244.

Bout 1: Julio Arce (16-3) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (10-1-1) (Featherweight)

The evening will begin on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 PM EDT with a battle of two featherweight prospects. Julio Arce and Hakeem Dawodu are both currently with a 3-1 record in the UFC. Dawodu most recently finished Yoshinori Horie with a head kick at UFC 240. Arce also finished his last fight with a head kick, defeating Julian Erosa in the third round. This will be Arce’s second appearance at Madison Square Garden.

Bout 2: Lyman Good (20-5) vs. Chance Rencountre (14-3) (Welterweight)

The welterweight division has a real pick-em bout between Lyman Good and Chance Rencountre on the prelims. While being the more experienced fighter, Good is returning from a loss to Demian Maia. Rencountre hasn’t faced anyone big like Maia yet, but is currently on a two-fight winning streak.

Bout 3: Katlyn Chookagian (12-2) vs. Jennifer Maia (17-5-1) (Catchweight 127 lbs)

While only being in the UFC for three years, Katlyn Chookagian has racked up an impressive promotional record of 5-2. She attempts to better that against Jennifer Maia, who is currently riding a victory against Roxanne Modafferi. Maia missed weight on Friday by one pound, causing the fight to be moved from flyweight to a catchweight bout.

Bout 4: Andrei Arlovski (28-18) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (8-0) (Heavyweight)

At 8 PM EDT, the broadcast will move to TSN 5 for four final preliminary bouts. The first of the four is between Andrei Arlovski and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Arlovski recently snapped a winless streak of four bouts by defeating Ben Rothwell. While experience weighs heavily on Arlovski’s side, he will have to try to snap the undefeated record of Rozenstruik. The Suriname fighter has won twice via stoppage since joining the UFC. More notably, Rozenstruik finished Allen Crowder in nine seconds in June.

Bout 5: Brad Tavares (17-5) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (10-0) (Middleweight)

Young and undefeated fighter Edmen Shahbazyan will see his biggest UFC challenge yet when he faces Brad Tavares on Saturday. Tavares is a UFC veteran who got into the promotion in 2010 by winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 11. To compare, Tavares has been in the UFC for six years more than Shahbazyan has been doing MMA. Tavares hasn’t fought in over a year, with his last fight being a decision loss against Israel Adesanya in July of 2018 (for reference, Adesanya has fought four times since then). Shahbazyan most recently finished Jack Marshman in just over a minute at UFC 239.

Bout 6: Shane Burgos (12-1) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (15-3) (Featherweight)

Two experienced UFC fighters in Shane Burgos and Makwan Amirkhani will face off on the prelims. Burgos is a New York fighter who competed on the MSG show last year as well. He most recently bested Cub Swanson in a split decision bout in May. Amirkhani has fought only half as many times as Burgos in the past three years, but is still a young and successful fighter. He defeated Chris Fishgold with an anaconda choke in June, sounding his return after a one year absence.

Bout 7: Corey Anderson (12-4) vs. Johnny Walker (17-3) (Light Heavyweight)

The preliminary card will finish off with Corey Anderson and Johnny Walker competing. Walker has become a famous name within the promotion due to his flashy KO victories. His most recent appearance, while being a cakewalk of a fight, sidelined him for some time. This was because his post-fight celebration which included falling on the canvas dislocated his shoulder. Anderson is a step up in competition for Walker. Anderson is on a three-fight winning streak, most recently beating Ilir Latifi. The majority of Anderson’s career has happened in the UFC, unlike Walker’s. Will Walker put on another memorable performance, or will Anderson out-wit the Brazilian’s dangerous flashes of offense?

Bout 8: Kevin Lee (17-5) vs. Gregor Gillespie (13-0) (Lightweight)

The main portion of the show will kick off at 10 PM EDT on pay-per-view. Starting the main card will be lightweight gatekeeper Kevin Lee facing undefeated Gregor Gillespie. Despite having a six-fight winning streak in the UFC and having never lost, Gillespie flies under the radar of many. It’s possible that a win over a name of Lee could finally give him attention. Lee is conditioned to fighting five round fights, having last done a three round fight in 2017. Lee is 2-3 in his last five, all up against fighters of a similar calibre.

Bout 9: Derrick Lewis (21-7) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (18-2) (Heavyweight)

While Derrick Lewis fights on the main card this year against Blagoy Ivanov, it’s a clear step down from main eventing, which he did in 2018. Lewis is on a two-fight losing streak, recently dropping to Junior dos Santos on the main event of a fight night card. Ivanov is considered an up-and-coming fighter within the division. He bounced back from his UFC debut loss by recently defeating Ben Rothwell and Tai Tuivasa.

Bout 10: Stephen Thompson (14-4-1) vs. Vicente Luque (17-6-1) (Welterweight)

Vincente Luque has been on the rise lately, defeating high level welterweights. Most recently, Luque got a split decision win over Mike Perry. He will look to add Stephen Thompson to his list of names on Saturday when they match up on the main card. Thompson has been absent since his knockout loss to Anthony Pettis. He also lost to Darren Till in the fight before then. He will aim to return to his winning ways against a seemingly unstoppable Luque.

Bout 11: Kelvin Gastelum (16-4) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1) (Middleweight)

Darren Till was an undefeated fighter a year ago that was near championship material. He was pushed into a fight against Tyron Woodley for the welterweight belt in 2018. The fight was one-sided, with Woodley ending Till’s championship hopes in under two rounds. Till then went against Jorge Masvidal in March, getting finished via punches in less time than his championship outing lasted. In hopes of finding success, Till moves down to middleweight for his fight against Kelvin Gastelum. The bout is no step down in competition, as Gastelum was the runner-up to face Robert Whittaker and unify the middleweight belts. He got bested by Israel Adesanya in April, losing via scorecards. Before then, Gastelum had wins over Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza.

Bout 12: Jorge Masvidal (34-13) vs. Nate Diaz (20-11) (Welterweight)

The main event of the show sees Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz face off in a five round competition. The winner receives the BMF Championship, a one-use belt to determine the “Baddest M*****F*****.”

Masvidal’s rise in popularity was quite out of left field. The welterweight has been in the game for longer than most people at this point, and has stayed at a mid-level or gatekeeper status for a long time. After a brutal victory over Darren Till in early 2019, Masvidal went viral with a flying knee knockout to Ben Askren. The knockout was brutal and online basically overshadowed the two championship bouts that happened that night as well.

The story of Nate Diaz lately is similar to his opponent. Diaz has been popular before, but his mid-2019 run could be described as a resurrection. After losing to Conor McGregor in 2016, Diaz disappeared until late 2018. He was scheduled to be on the 2018 MSG show, facing Dustin Poirier. That fell through after Poirier got injured, putting Diaz back on the bench. Diaz finally made his long-awaited return in the summer of 2019, defeating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241.

While it could be described as unexpected that these two fighters would headline one of the biggest cards of the year, their collision makes sense. Two fighters who are in the same division, both have charisma, both had a boom at a similar time, and are both considered real badasses.

UFC on ESPN+ 9: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy Full Report

On Saturday, UFC headed to Ottawa for a card crammed full of Canadians. Besides the home country fighters competing, the show also featured a ranked Lightweight clash between “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone and “Ragin’” Al Iaquinta. Let’s look through the whole evening of fights.

Preliminary Card

Bout 1: Mitch Gagnon (12-4) vs. Cole Smith (6-0) (Bantamweight)

Ottawa’s evening of fights started with Mitch Gagnon facing Cole Smith in a Canadian versus Canadian matchup. Early in the first round, Gagnon found himself threatened by a standing kimura attempt. Smith landed a takedown after they were against the cage for a couple of minutes. They got back up moments later and went back against the cage. When they returned to striking, Smith was trying for kicks frequently. Smith was able to bring the fight to the ground in the second and try for a rear naked choke. Gagnon stayed defensive for the rest of the round but didn’t get finished by submission. Gagnon opened the third round very aggressively, advancing on Smith quite a bit. Smith was dropped by some strikes, giving Gagnon an opening. Gagnon tried for an armbar but it didn’t work. They stood back up and then went back down when Gagnon put in a guillotine. Smith got out of the move and took back mount. Smith put in a rear naked choke in the final minute. Gagnon’s mouthpiece also came out during this. The fight went the distance, relying on the judges to choose the fate of the fighters. The judges gave Cole Smith the win unanimously (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Gagnon991028
Smith1010929

Bout 2: Arjan Bhullar (8-1) vs. Juan Adams (5-0) (Heavyweight)

Two up-and-coming Heavyweights in Arjan Bhullar and Juan Adams faced each other in the next bout. The first round was purely stand-up, with Adams throwing way more punches. Adams came out very aggressively in the second round. Bhullar landed a single leg takedown after a minute. Adam’s had his mouthpiece knocked out, which Bhullar’s corner noticed and repeatedly told him about. They got up shortly after, with not much happening on the ground. Bhullar landed a takedown late in the final round. Both fighters slowed their pace significantly in the third round. The judges all gave Arjan Bhullar the victory (29-28 29-28 & 30-27). Bhullar called out Andrei Arlovski after the fight.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Bhullar991028
Adams1010929

Bout 3: Kyle Nelson (12-2) vs. Matt Sayles (7-2) (Featherweight)

The next prelim bout was Kyle Nelson versus Matt Sayles. The first round opened with an aggressive stand-up battle between the two. Nelson was shoved down at one point and was given numerous hammer fist and normal strikes on the ground. Nelson survived the large volume of strikes, and then put Sayles in position for a leg lock. Sayles escaped the move and got into top mount where he landed even more strikes. Nelson was denied a takedown attempt early in the second. Later on however he landed more takedowns. Nelson tried for a rear naked choke for a while, and even had it in at one point but lost control. Nelson shot for tons of takedowns in the final round, not having much success. He did land one takedown but fell into a trap where Sayles took control and put in a head and arm choke to win the bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Nelson910
Sayles109

Bout 4: Nordine Taleb (14-6) vs. Kyle Prepolec (12-5) (Welterweight)

In the next fight, Nordine Taleb fought UFC newcomer Kyle Prepolec. The first round had very cautious striking from both fighters. The second round was similar but had Taleb landing some harder hitting combos. Prepolec was seemingly hurt by a kick in the final seconds of round three, as he sort of stopped and grabbed his leg. The fight went the distance with the judges giving Nordine Taleb the unanimous victory (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Taleb10101030
Prepolec99927

Bout 5: Vince Morales (8-3) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (7-1) (Bantamweight)

Aiemann Zahabi, a brother of Firas Zahabi fought Vince Morales next. The first round was a slow one with Morales being the aggressor. The second was much of the same, although Zahabi did land a takedown in the final two minutes. The two fighters went all fifteen moments, not having many defining moments. The scorecards read a unanimous decision for Vince Morales (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Morales1091029
Zahabi910928

Bout 6: Sarah Moras (5-4) vs. Macy Chiasson (#14) (4-0) (Bantamweight)

Finishing off the preliminary part of the card was Sarah Moras and Macy Chiasson. In the fist five seconds of the bout, Moras scored a takedown. Chiasson got into a top position and started to land strikes. Moras tried for a takedown at the start of the second, but Chiasson was able to gain control on the ground. Chiasson landed a flurry of strikes from above, making referee Yves Lavigne stop the bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Moras9
Chiasson10

Main Card

Bout 7: Andrew Sanchez (10-4) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (11-1) (Middleweight)

Starting the main card was Andrew Sanchez and Marc-Andre Barriault. A story was told on commentary before the fight, explaining how these two fighters sparred the day before they were offered a fight against each other. Funny coincidence. Sanchez is a Tristar Fighter but got boos when being introduced. Sanchez landed a takedown in the first minute of the bout. They traded strikes while on the ground. In the final minute of the round Sanchez landed another takedown but Barriault got up immediately. Barrialt had dominant striking in the second round, making Sanchez clinch up. Sanchez kept getting it hard but never got dropped. Barriault defended a takedown for a while but eventually got tripped and went down. Sanchez had control on the ground for a good chunk of the round. The fight went all three rounds. The judges gave Sanchez the win via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). The crowd did not approve of this.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Sanchez1081028
Barriault910928

Bout 8: Walt Harris (12-7) vs. Sergey Spivak (9-0) (Heavyweight)

We saw a Heavyweight battle in the next bout on the card. Walt Harris fought Sergey Spivak. Early on, Harris was landing strong punches and knees. Spivak completely covered up and fell, getting hit more and more until the referee intervened.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Harris
Spivak

Bout 9: Brad Katona (8-0) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (8-4) (Bantamweight)

Undefeated Brad Katona fought Merab Dvalishvili in the next bout. After a close striking battle for the first couple of minutes, Dvalishvili scored a takedown. They both stood back up shortly after. Katona tried for a takedown too but found himself in a clinch that ended with Dvalishvili landing a trip and getting a takedown himself. At the start of the second round, Dvalishvili got another takedown. Dvalishvili was dominant throughout the round, landing a good trip takedown at the end as well. In the final round, Dvalishvili out-wrestled Katona. The scorecards were all in agreement, giving Dvalishvili the win (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Katona99927
Dvalishvili10101030

Bout 10: Cub Swanson (#10) (25-10) vs. Shane Burgos (11-1) (Featherweight)

UFC veteran Cub Swanson faced younger fighter Shane Burgos in the next fight. The first round was kickboxing only from both fighters. The second round was very much the same. Swanson came out much more aggressively in the third round. Swanson tried for a takedown, but didn’t fully get it, being stuck against the cage for a while. Burgos had his moments in the second half of the round. The judges were split on the decision, but the majority selected Burgos as the winner (30-27 Swanson, 30-27 Burgos & 29-28 Burgos).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Swanson910928
Burgos1091029

Bout 11: Derek Brunson (#9) (18-7) vs. Elias Theodorou (#13) (16-2) (Middleweight)

In the co-main event slot was a battle between ranked Middleweight fighters Derek Brunson and Elias Theodorou. Brunson scored a takedown within the first minute of the fight. He took the back and put in a rear naked choke, but Theodorou escaped. Brunson kept trying for it but stopped being able to once Theodorou stood up. Both fighters, but especially Theodorou were throwing lots of kicks. While neither fighter had an amazing second round, and the crowd voiced their opinion on this, Theodorou out-struck Brunson. Brunson had an amazing takedown in the third, picking up and carrying Theodorou, then slamming him on is back. The final round ended with the crowd booing the two fighters. Derek Brunson won the fight unanimously (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Brunson1091029
Theodorou910928

Bout 12: Al Iaquinta (#4) (14-4-1) vs. Donald Cerrone (#8) (35-11) (Lightweight)

Finally, it was time for the main event. In the main event, Al Iaquinta faced Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The first round was a feeling out process, with Cerrone landing a solid knee when Iaquinta tried for a takedown at one point. The second round was similar, with both fighters landing some good strikes periodically. In the third round Iaquinta started to bleed from his nose quite a bit. They started to really open up with strikes at the end of the third round. Iaquinta was dropped with a punch in the final seconds of the third. Cerrone landed strikes on the ground until the round ended. Iaquinta was dropped yet again in the fourth with a front kick. He got up shortly after. Cerrone strung together a good combination of punches in the final minute of the fourth. Iaquinta had a takedown blocked in the final seconds of the round. The fight went all 25 minutes with the final round being another methodical striking battle between the two. The fight was stand-up with periodic moments of fighting on the ground due to a knockdown. The judges gave “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone the win Unanimously (49-45, 49-45 & 49-46). Cerrone celebrated with his son.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Iaquinta91099946
Cerrone10910101049

UFC returns next week with the PPV event UFC 237. In the main event, Rose Namajunas will attempt to defend her Strawweight Championship against Jessica Andrade. The show will take place in Brazil, and feature home country talent like Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo on the main card.

UFC on ESPN+ 9: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy Preview

UFC’s last appearance in Canada was back in December when Toronto played host to UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega. This time around it’s Ottawa holding the event, with the event being much smaller scale than the pay-per-view event before. The card had an obvious Canada versus The World theme to it, with eight bouts being a Canadian versus someone from a different country. In the main event, Al Iaquinta is set to face Donald Cerrone. It’s an interesting matchup because, while it’s a high profile fight, the line for Lightweight contenders is long already. While the future of the winner of this bout is hard to call, an easier bet is that it will be a fun fight to watch. Cerrone and Iaquinta both have a past of putting on “fan friendly” fights, no matter win or loss. Before we go further into that bout, let’s go through the whole card.

Preliminary Card

Bout 1: Mitch Gagnon (12-4) vs. Cole Smith (6-0) (Bantamweight)

The opening fight of the show will pit one Canadian against another, as Mitch Gagnon will face Cole Smith. Gagnon has a 4-3 UFC record dating back to 2012 and hasn’t fought since 2016 when he lost to Matthew Lopez. Cole Smith will be making his UFC debut, currently holding an undefeated 6-0 record. He has mainly fought in the Canadian promotion BFL, being the promotion’s Bantamweight Champion for some time.

Bout 2: Arjan Bhullar (8-1) vs. Juan Adams (5-0) (Heavyweight)

In the first of two Heavyweight clashes in the evening, Arjan Bhullar will face Juan Adams. Bhullar is a Canadian fighter who currently has a 2-1 record in the UFC. Bhullar was the first Indo-Canadian to sign with the promotion. He fought in Alberta and British Columbia before making it to the big leagues. His only career win is to Adam Wieczorek, who caught him with an omoplata. Juan Adams will be putting his undefeated streak on the line in his second appearance in the UFC. He earned a contract through Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and got a win in December against Chris De La Rocha as well.

Bout 3: Kyle Nelson (12-2) vs. Matt Sayles (7-2) (Featherweight)

Kyle Nelson faces Matt Sayles in the next bout. Nelson, like many Canadians on this card, fought at UFC 231 in Toronto back in December. He came out of the event unsuccessful, losing to Diego Ferreira. Sayles is also coming off a loss, falling to Sheymon Moraes at the UFC 227 prelims.

Bout 4: Nordine Taleb (14-6) vs. Kyle Prepolec (12-5) (Welterweight)

Canadian fighter Kyle Prepolec will make his UFC debut against French fighter Nordine Taleb, who fights out of Tristar in Quebec. Taleb lost recently to Sean Strickland in the second round. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak. Prepolec is the flipside, as his last two fights were wins in the regional promotion “BTC.”

Bout 5: Vince Morales (8-3) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (7-1) (Bantamweight)

IN another Canada versus The World matchup, Canadian Aiemann Zahabi will face Vince Morales. Aiemann is the younger brother of Firas Zahabi, a well-known trainer from Tristar Gym. He is coming off an 18-month break from competition, losing to Ricardo Ramos at UFC 217 (which also featured fellow Tristar talent Georges St-Pierres. Morales lost his UFC debut in November but plans to bounce back from the loss.

Bout 6: Sarah Moras (5-4) vs. Macy Chiasson (4-0) (Bantamweight)

Ending off the prelims for the show will be Sarah Moras and Macy Chiasson. Moras, a Canadian, has been in the UFC since 2014 but has had a shaky record of 2-3 since then. She will face Macy Chiasson, who won The Ultimate Fighter Season 28 in late 2018. She fought back in March as well, getting a first-round stoppage over Gina Mazany.

Main Card

Bout 7: Andrew Sanchez (10-4) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (11-1) (Middleweight)

Starting the ESPN+ main card will be Canadian Marc-Andre Barriault and Andrew Sanchez. Barriault will be making his UFC debut, coming from the Canadian promotion TKO. His record shows that he has powerful striking, picking up many early stoppage wins. Sanchez won season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter, defeating Khalil Rountree. He has won and lost twice since then, recently getting the nod over Markus Perez.

Bout 8: Walt Harris (12-7) vs. Sergey Spivak (9-0) (Heavyweight)

“The Big Ticket” Walt Harris will be Sergey Spivak’s first challenge under the bright lights of the UFC. Spivak currently has a 9-0 record, fighting most of them in WWFC, a Ukranian promotion. He has numerous recorded first-round finishes. His first UFC bout won’t be an easy one as his opponent, Harris, recently beat veteran Andrei Arlovski in December.

Bout 9: Brad Katona (8-0) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (8-4) (Bantamweight)

Brad Katona has had a great past 12 months. Back in July, he defeated Jay Cucciniello to win season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter. After that, he beat Matthew Lopez at UFC 231. Attempting to keep his undefeated streak intact, he will compete against Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili had a rough start to his UFC career with two losses but defeated Terrion Ware in September via decision. It will be a clash between an untouchable fighter and a more experience one on the main card.

Bout 10: Cub Swanson (25-10) vs. Shane Burgos (11-1) (Featherweight)

Cub Swanson is an experienced UFC fighter but has gotten into a three-fight slump recently. Hoping to bounce back from the losses, he is scheduled to face Shane Burgos. Burgos will be competing in his sixth UFC bout, currently having 11 pro wins with only one blemish on his record.

Bout 11: Derek Brunson (18-7) vs. Elias Theodorou (16-2) (Middleweight)

Ontario’s own Elias Theodorou will face Derek Brunson in the co-main event of the show. Theodorou’s last performance was a decision victory over Eryk Anders at UFC 231. On a three-fight win streak, his last seven fights have ended via decision. Brunson is coming off a late 2018 loss to now-interim Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. The fight didn’t leave the first round, with Adesanya getting a stoppage victory.

Bout 12: Al Iaquinta (14-4-1) vs. Donald Cerrone (35-11) (Lightweight)

“Cowboy” Donald Cerrone will face Al Iaquinta in the main event of Fight Night Ottawa. Cerrone, who is nothing short of a UFC veteran will be trying to improve off of his two-fight win streak. He recently defeated Mike Perry and Alex Hernandez. His win over Hernandez came after extensive trash talk from the 26-year-old fighter. Iaquinta is coming off a dominant five-round performance against Kevin Lee. It was his first fight since going to a five round decision loss against current Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Next week, UFC will head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for UFC 237. The show will be headlined by Rose Namajunas, who will be defending her Strawweight Championship against Jessica Andrade. The show will also feature well known Brazilian talent Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo.

UFC 230: Daniel Cormier Successfully Defends Heavyweight Championship via Submission

On Saturday UFC put on their third show inside Madison Square Garden. This has become something of a tradition for the brand, with the MSG events being a supercard. Two years ago UFC made their New York City debut when Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez in the the second round at UFC 205. Last year at UFC 217 George St. Pierre defeated Michael Bisping on a three title card. This time around it’s Daniel Cormier versus Derrick Lewis for the Heavyweight Championship.

This card was something that was originally set to be a supercard, but didn’t become such a thing after many fights falling through. The biggest of fight cancelled was Nate Diaz versus Dustin Poirier in what could be considered a fan friendly fight. There was also another championship bout that was originally planned for this card, being Valentina Shevchenko versus Sijara Eubanks for the Flyweight Championship. This did not happen because Shevchenko was rebooked for a fight against Joanna Jędrzejczyk on the December Toronto card. Eubanks was given Roxanne Modafferi in a prelim bout on this card instead.

The main event of the evening was Daniel Cormier versus Derrick Lewis. Lewis is fighting in a miraculous turnaround time from his last bout at UFC 229 against Alexander Volkov. In that bought Lewis was seconds away from losing on the scorecards when he got a stoppage win on Volkov. Lewis received a spike in Instagram followers, around triple the amount he had before after giving an entertaining post fight interview. Cormier is coming off a summer victory against Stipe Miocic. He broke the Heavyweight fighter’s streak of title defenses with a first round knockout. Some say that Miocic deserved the rematch before others due to his dominance as a champion before his loss.

Below the main event was 11 other bouts. Starting off the PPV was Israel Adesanya versus Derek Brunson. Adesanya has put on dominant performances lately, with his last one coming at  The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale against Brad Tavares. In the co-main event slot for the evening was Chris Weidman versus Jacare Souza. Weidman fought on the 205 card two years ago and made his return to his home state with this bout. Before any of this happened, the evening began on UFC’s OTT service UFC Fight Pass with the Early Prelims.

  1. The first fight on the Early Prelims was slightly delayed since the second bout between Brian Kelleher versus Montel Jackson was cancelled. Opening the show was Marcus Rogerio de Lima versus Adam Wieczorek. Both heavyweights were on the ground for the majority of the first round. De Lima had top position most of the time and started to land strikes in the final 20 seconds. The second round was mostly stand-up, with de Lima landing more shots. By the end of the second round Wieczorek was wobbling around the place. The commentary team took a liking to de Lima’s leg kicks throughout the second. The final round went in the way of de Lima but did not have any noteworthy action. All three judges had it 30-27 for de Lima.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
De Lima 10 10 10 30
Wieczorek 9 9 9 27
  1. Continuing on with the UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims, Kurt Holobaugh had his second fight in his current run in the promotion. Holobaugh was a pickup from the Contender Series, but his fight from the series is no longer valid due to a drug test. Since then he has also lost a fight. He faces Shane Burgos who is coming off his first loss since coming into the UFC. Both fighters were absolutely swinging for the first two minutes of the bout. Holobaugh seemed to have the advantage in the stand-up field. Burgos got dropped two minutes in from a punch but seemed to recover quickly from it. When Holobaugh went to the ground to land more punches he found himself in an armbar that ended the bout. It was an amazing turn of events for Burgos.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Holobaugh
Burgos
  1. Finishing off the early prelims was Matt Frevola versus Lando Vannata. Frevola is a new UFC fighter who lost his debut fight after winning a Contender Series bout. Vannata hasn’t won in a long time, losing two fights and tying one since 2017. Both of these fighters were absolutely explosive in the first round. Frevola got dropped from a kick but recovered very quickly. He was also given some breathing room as the fight was paused for his mouthguard to be put back in. With under two minutes left in the first Vannata looked like he was in trouble when he got tagged with a right. In the final seconds of the round there was absolute chaos. Frevola landed an amazing flurry of strikes then tried for a Guillotine in the final moments. Vannata escaped the Guillotine before time ran out. Early in the second round Frevola got tagged hard with kicks, then dropped with a right moments later. Frevola showed an amazing chin, being able to recover and stay up despite being continually pelted. Frevola tried for a takedown in the final moments of round two but fell into a Guillotine. Lucky for him the time in the round ran out. In the third Vannata caught Frevola’s leg for a takedown but took 3 or so punches clean to the head on the way down. Frevola got a takedown of his own with just over a minute left, but Vannata got up very shortly after. The fight went the distance leaving the judges to decide. This could have went both ways, so it did. The judges scored it a draw (29-28, 28-28 & 28-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Frevola 10 9 10 29
Vannata 9 10 9 28
  1. Starting off the UFC Prelims on FS1 was Lyman Good versus Ben Saunders. This fight was close until Good landed uppercuts in a clinch that took Saunders out. This was a very quick finish that caught me off guard.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Good
Saunders
  1. After the quickest finish of the night, the next bout was Julio Arce versus Sheymon Moraes. In the first minute of the fight Arce got dropped hard by a right hook. He was able to recover on the ground and make his way back to his feet. Later in the round Arce mounted Moraes and kept trying for a Rear Naked Choke. In the second round Arce started bleeding heavily, which had the commentators worried. With just over a minute left in the second, Arce floored Moraes with a strike. Both of these guys were so bloodied that it was disgusting. The fight went the distance after a close strictly kickboxing final round. The judges gave Moraes the win via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-26).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Arce 9 10 9 28
Moraes 10 9 10 29
  1. The next bout was a rematch from The Ultimate Fighter. Sijara Eubanks fought Roxanne Modafferi for the second time in their careers. Eubanks did not make weight the day before, but this fight was still on. The first minute and a half of the first was striking where, while nobody was doing visible damage, Eubanks was more dominant. Eubanks landed a takedown, making most of the first round stay on the ground. Modafferi continued to look not that confident in stand up in the second round. Eubanks seemed to have more power in her strikes. Modafferi had decent ground game at the end of round 2 as both fighters were very tired. Modafferi looked the best striking-wise in the third because she landed much more shots. Eubanks ended up out-powering in the third similarly to how she did in the first, except with less power. The fight went to the judges who tallied it in favour of Eubanks Unanimously (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
#4 Eubanks 10 9 10 29
#7 Modafferi 9 10 9 28
  1. Finishing off the preliminary card was Jason Knight versus Jordan Rinaldi. The first round was mostly on the ground with Rinaldi on top. While Knight had more significant strikes in the round, Rinaldi had control for the majority of the time. In the second round Rinaldi was dominating and trying for moves on the ground but Knight was able to defend. Rinaldi put in a Rear Naked Choke in the third round that Knight somehow found a way out of. The fight went the distance with both guys being very tired by the end. The judges gave the fight to Rinaldi by quite the margin (30-27, 30-25 & 30-26)

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Knight 9 9 8 26
Rinaldi 10 10 10 30
  1. The PPV portion of the show kicked off with Israel Adesanya versus Derek Brunson. Leading up to this fight the idea was that it would be the experienced kickboxer Adesanya versus Brunson who is the much better boxer. Very early on in the first round Brunson clinched up and went to the fence. Brunson got taken off the cage after grabbing Adesanya’s shorts twice. Adesanya flipped off Brunson while referee Herb Dean was talking to Brunson. There was the option to take away points because of this, but it didn’t happen. Adesanya guarded a takedown attempt well, but Brunson went to the cage on another attempt right after. Adesanya landed a flurry of kicks, knees and punches in the final minute that had Brunson in a defensive mode. Brunson got dropped over and over until the fight got stopped with ten seconds left. What gave Adesanya the win wasn’t his stellar kickboxing but rather his ability to keep the fight in his own wheelhouse. After this fight the newly signed fighter from ONE Championship Ben Askren was shown in the crowd.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
#6 Brunson
#9 Adesanya
  1. In what feels like a main card bout that was swept under the promotional rug, Karl Roberson fought Jack Marshman. In the first round Roberson was moving and swinging faster than Marshman. Marshman got clipped mid-way through the round but stayed standing. Near the end of the round the commentary team pointed out that the volume of punches from Roberson had significantly dropped off. Through round two and three Marshman continued to get hit but at a much slower pace than round one. It was consistently the left hand that Roberson was landing. With two and a half minutes left Roberson landed a takedown. The final round ended with most people already considering Roberson the winner. Judges gave Roberson the win Unanimously (30-26, 30-26 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Roberson 10 10 10 30
Marshman 9 9 9 27
  1. The tenth fight of the evening was Dave Branch versus Jared Cannonier. Cannonier had quite the confident walkout. Branch got a pop from the crowd after being billed out of Brooklyn. Branch landed a takedown but didn’t stay on the ground for long. Cannonier was landing more strikes throughout the round and had decent ground defence. At the start of the second round Branch got absolutely floored by a right, and took a few more shots on the ground before the ref stopped it.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
#7 Branch 9
Cannonier 10
  1. The co-main event of the evening was Chris Weidman facing Jacare Souza in a Middleweight bout. The crowd was wildly in favour of Weidman, but that’s no surprise because he is one to wear his home state on his sleeve. The fight was very neutral in the first round until Weidman landed a combo with his hands clean. After this moment it seemed like both guys started to open up much more. Souza started to throw and connect more in the second round. Souza was bleeding from the nose badly in the second. Souza slipped and fell after throwing a kick in the final minute of the second. Souza and Weidman were clinched against the cage until the final moments of the round when they went back to stand up. With over two minutes left Souza dropped Weidman with a strikes. You could tell from the moment Weidman was down that he was out. Souza stared at Weidman who was down, not throwing any extra punches because he assumed it was over. The referee didn’t end it and Weidman clutched Souza’s foot, so Souza did four more shots before the ref ended it. Souza looked disappointed that the referee did not end it. This was quite the comeback as Souza was down 2-0 heading into the third. The whole third round Souza was being more aggressive than the two before.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
#3 Weidman 10 10
#5 Souza 9 9
  1. Up next was the main event of the evening in Madison Square Garden. Double champion Daniel Cormier defended his Heavyweight championship against Derrick Lewis, who achieved stardom after his viral victory against Alexander Volkov. In the first minute of the fight Cormier landed a takedown. Lewis got up with over two minutes left in the first, still pinned against the cage by Cormier. Cormier landed a trip which brought Lewis back to the ground. They stayed on the ground until the first round ran out. Similar to the first, Cormier spent a minute closing a distance in the second and then landed a takedown. On the ground Cormier put in a Rear Naked Choke that made Lewis tap quickly. The commentary team knew almost immediately that it was over once it was put in. After the fight Cormier called out Brock Lesnar, telling him to bring his WWE Universal Championship if he faces him.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total
© Cormier 10
#2 Lewis 9

UFC wraps up 2018 with two December PPV cards. The first of the two takes place in Toronto with Max Holloway and Brian Ortega in the main event. Also in another title fight is Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko fighting for the vacant UFC Flyweight Championship. UFC 232 is the company’s final event of the year, with Jon Jones returning to face Alexander Gustafsson in a Light Heavyweight Championship bout. Below them is also Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes fighting for the Featherweight Championship.

Next week UFC heads to Denver, Colorado for Fight Night #139. It’s the finale of UFC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, with the event taking place in the same city that the first UFC event was held in. The main event is “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung versus Yair Rodriguez. The co-main event is equally entertaining as it has Donald Cerrone versus Mike Perry.