It’s two for the price of one time here at The Two Sheds Review as we take a look at the UFC’s recent Fight Night events, shown live on BT Sport here in Britain.
Our journey began in Atlantic City in the early hours of this past Thursday morning, beginning with a featherweight bout between Lucas Martins and Alex White.
This mainly striking battle proved to be a nice little show opener. Martins enjoyed an excellent first round with his counter punching. White was in trouble quite a few times, and he often left him exposed to the Brazilian’s attack.
The second round was a different kettle of fish though. As White upped his game Martins lowered his as the American took control. The Brazilian looked to continue with his counter punching tactics, but with White showing better defensive skills he found this to be quite difficult as White scored with some great shots time and time again.
It looked like White was going to continue with his great work at the beginning of the third, but with Martins springing back to life he proved to be a more difficult proposition, and when the clock just passed the two minute mark Martins connected with a right hand that sent White on a slow trip to the canvas. A spot of ground and pound followed until the referee stepped in to give Martins the knockout win.
Then it was down to flyweight as John Lineker went up against Alptekin Ozkilic.
The one that almost went the distance was a gripping back and forth affair, and like the opener it will be remembered for it’s great striking.
Both fighters put in good performances throughout. On any other day Ozkilic would have been in front on the scorecards with his striking, but despite having a higher percentage than Lineker it was the Brazilian who put in the better work.
Almost everything he tried had bad intentions written all over it. Everything blow had a ton of power behind it, especially the body shots that echoed throughout the arena. It was a somewhat brutal display at times, but it was also quite riveting.
The best was saved for last, or in this case the last round. The back and forth exchanges were the kind that had you on the edge of your seat, and once again it was Lineker who had the better of them as he turned Ozkilic’s face into a bloody mess. But just when it looked like the fight was going the distance Lineker connected with a couple of big lefts that dropped his man like a bad habit. A brief moment of ground and pound followed until the referee called a halt to proceedings as Lineker took the highly impressive TKO win.
The first of the lightweight fights followed as Justin Salas went up against Joe Proctor.
You know what I’ve been saying about the great striking. Well, it continued into this fight as we were treated to another great back and forth affair.
There was a brief feeling out period at the beginning, but it wasn’t long before both fighters began to unload. Proctor’s counter left hook soon had it’s desired effect when he opened up a nasty cut above Salas’ right eye, but Salas soon repaid him in kind when his right hook brought up a nasty swelling next to Proctor’s left ear.
It was more of the same in the second round as both men got in some good shots, but when Proctor sent his man to the man with another hard left hook it was the beginning of the end. It looked like Salas had recovered a little after a clinch against the fence, but when they broke free another left from Proctor sent Salas to the ground once more. Proctor followed him down for a few more blows until the referee stepped in to give Proctor the TKO win.
It was up to welterweight for the next fight as Rick Story took on Leonardo Mafra.
While most of the previous fights have been nice back and forth affairs this one was more of a one-sided battle. Mafra got off a good combination early on, but as soon as Story scored with the takedown that was it.
Mafra looked completely outclassed as Story took control with his ground and pound, and although the Brazilian managed to get back to his feet Story took him right back down again.
It was more or less the same story in the second round. As soon as Story took the fight to the ground Mafra was there for the taking, and it wasn’t long before he moved into position so he could apply an arm triangle. Mafra had no choice but to tap out, giving Story the very impressive submission win.
The co-main event featured more lightweight action as Edson Barboza faced Evan Dunham.
The only fight of the show that didn’t make it out of the first round had quite a lengthy water testing period at the beginning as both fighters tried to their radars working, and when Dunham went for a takedown Barboza easily shrugged him off.
The next couple of minutes saw both fighters landing with some good blows, but when Barboza landed with a kick to the liver Dunham crumpled to the mat in pain. Barboza followed him down for a few more blows until the referee stepped in to give Barboza the TKO win.
The main event featured yet more lightweight action as Donald Cerrone went up against Jim Miller.
It seemed only fitting that the night should end with another great display of striking. The first round looked to be a pretty even affair. Both fighters got in some good blows, with Cerrone looking the slightly better of the two, especially when he connected with a few knees to the body right up the middle.
The second round began in the same vein, but the turning point came when Cerrone landed with a front kick that Miller claimed landed south of the border. The replays showed that it landed above Miller’s belt line, and the referee saw it the same way as well.
Although he was given a brief respite Miller was clearly hurt as Cerrone went in for the kill. Cerrone kept up the pressure as he connected with a few more body kicks, and although Miller had some success with his inside leg kicks it was all over as soon as the Cowboy connected with a kick to the head. Miller fell to the canvas instantly as the referee allowed one further blow before he stopped the fight to give Cerrone the TKO win.
The next Fight Night saw the UFC heading to Dublin this past Saturday night, opening with a lightweight encounter between Norman Parke and Naoyuki Kotani.
Both fighters looked a little tentative as the fight began, and it was only after Parke connected with an elbow in a clinch that the action came to life, and it was from that moment on that the Northern Irishman controlled the majority of the proceedings.
Parke was able to shrug off Kotani’s takedown attempts with ease, and his striking was starting to give the Japanese fighter some problems. Those problems increased towards the end of the first when Parke took his man’s back and looked for a rear naked choke. Time was against him though so he opted for a spot of ground and pound instead.
Parke continued his good work in the second with an impressive takedown and sound ground work. Kotani went for a leg lock at one point, only for Parke to scramble to safety.
They didn’t stay on their feet for long though, and when Parke scored with another takedown it signalled the beginning of the end when Parke unleashed with a barrage of blows. Kotani offered nothing in reply, so it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Parke the TKO win.
Flyweight action followed as Brad Pickett took on Ian McCall.
Fast paced action was the order of the day in the only three rounder on the show. Both guys put in creditable performances as they gave us some nice back and forth exchanges.
Pickett did a good job early on when he controlled the centre of the stage and stuffed an early McCall takedown attempt, but as the round went on McCall seemed to grow in confidence as both men got in some good strikes.
That confidence seemed to grow even more as time went by. Pickett was still getting in his fair share of good shots, the only problem was that McCall was outworking him and controlling the action whenever he took the fight to the ground, and there were times when Pickett’s defensive skills didn’t look up to the task.
By the time the third round started McCall still looked as fresh as a daisy, and while Pickett seemed to slow down a little Uncle Creepy was still moving about at speed, and when he scored with another takedown towards in the final stages it more or less cemented his position as he took the mount with ease. Pickett managed to get back to his feet, but time was against both fighters by then.
So with the fight going the distance the judges came into the equation as McCall took the unanimous decision.
The co-main event featured welterweight action as Gunnar Nelson went up against Zak Cummings.
You could say that this was the complete opposite of the previous fight, with both guys adopting the slow methodical approach. The first round had a feeling out vibe about it. Nelson did a good job of controlling the centre ground, and while Cummings managed to connect with a few choice shots he often found himself frustrated by the Icelander when he went for a few combinations when Nelson simply moved out of the way.
It was more of the same in the second round. Once again Cummings had some success, but Nelson’s footwork served him well again, and this time around he came back with some stinging right hands. It may not have been a vintage performance from Nelson, but it always felt that something was just around the corner.
That something came as the round entered it’s final stages. After Cummings caught a knee and held onto his leg Nelson grabbed him in a guillotine and pulled him to the ground. He then quickly moved to the back, and after bloodying the American’s noise he synched in a rear naked choke. The clock was ticking, and even though the end of the round was just seconds away Cummings tapped to give Nelson the submission win.
The main event featured featherweight action as Conor McGregor faced Diego Brandao.
Definitely no feeling out period in this one. McGregor began his night’s work with a spin kick to the mid-section, and from there they exchanged various kicks before the action settled down a little.
It wasn’t long before the fight went to the ground, and although McGregor put in some good work from the top position Brandao’s defensive skills eventually saw them both get back to their feet.
But once they got there McGregor’s began to take control with his striking. Brandao was still in with a chance though, until the Irishman connected with a left that saw the Brazilian slump down to the mat. McGregor followed him down with a succession of right hands, and when Brandao offered nothing in response the referee waved the fight to give McGregor the TKO win.
In conclusion – we’ve got a lot to get through here, so let’s take this one step at a time.
Although it’s always nice to see a great tactical battle that goes the distance I’ve always been a firm advocate that a fight should never be left in the hands of the judges. Which is why I enjoyed the Atlantic City show so much. Five fights, five finishes, and four great examples of what the MMA striking game is all about.
The Dublin show a few days later proved to be just as good. The somewhat rabid Irish crowd really added to the occasion and were into everything they saw, especially when an Irishman won and an Englishman lost!
As for my fight of the night no-prizes I’m going to agree with the official decision for the Atlantic City show and give it to the John Lineker/Alptekin Ozkilic battle. As for Dublin, I never saw their official winner, so I’m going to plump for the Conor McGregor/Diego Brandao main event.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give both of these show big thumbs up.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!