New Jersey got a treat with an all action Fight Night card for the ages. While this card lacked larger implications as even the big names on this card are on the fringes of their division’s title pictures, it was just full of fun fights. Let’s jump right in:
- Donald Cerrone is such a fantastic striker when he finds his range and timing, he becomes a nearly unstoppable whirlwind of pain. Cerrone looked so focused against Jim Miller, who managed to land a few hard right hands against the Colorado Cowboy, but Cerrone was able to just walk right through them. Cerrone at range has a wonderfully diverse attack with sharp boxing, a bevy of kicks, and some long range knees. Cerrone’s wrestling was also on point and it was a bad night for Miller.
- There was an odd moment where Cerrone landed a front kick to the body of Miller that caused the New Jersey fighter to drop. Referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the match for a low blow, which replay clearly showed wasn’t the case, and then didn’t give Miller the full five minutes to recover. If the blow was illegal then Miller should have gotten the five minutes, and if not then the fight should have been over. Cerrone was not pleased with how it went down, but prevented it from being a real controversy by landing a head kick to finish the fight.
- Speaking of kicks, Edson Barboza is likely the most dangerous kicker in MMA as he finished off Evan Dunham with a liver kick. That was Barboza’s fifth win in the MMA that came from a stoppage due to a kick. Barboza isn’t far removed from his drubbing at the hands of Donald Cerrone this past April, and is still a flawed fighter, but he brings the offense in way few can match. No big step up for Barboza, let him marinate again on some mid-level fighters and see if he can advanced his game to title contender levels.
- Rick Story had a very smart approach against the very dangerous Leonardo Mafra. In the past Story has been content to brawl on the feet, a path that could have led to disaster against Mafra, but Story went to his physical grappling game early and just dominated this fight on the mat. It was a call back to the fighter who defeated Johny Hendricks in 2010 and a sign that Story might be maturing as a fighter.
- Joe Proctor had a massive hematoma on the side of his face that was hypnotizing to behold. Proctor also managed a pretty nifty comeback, and I’m pretty sure there was a questionable stoppage of Justin Salas in there, but did you see that thing? How did it not pop?
- John Lineker has now made weight in back-to-back fights at Flyweight, and there was a lot of talk of his having figured out the weight-cut on the broadcast. Lineker absolutely broke down Alptekin Ozkilic with hard body work and then finished The Turkish Delight in the third round. Lineker asked for a title fight and while I’m not opposed to him fighting for the title, I do feel he needs a win against one of the division’s elite fighters. Ali Bagautinov easily navigated Lineker’s heavy punches, and I’d really like to Lineker in against Joseph Benavidez to see if he is ready for a shot at the title.
- The Alex White and Lucas Martins fight was only on the main card because it had the potential to be a high action fight and Martins delivered with an outstanding knockout. White showed flashes of offensive ability and even had flashes of good head movement, but got caught with his head up right a few too many times. It was a good scrap of two action fighters in the works.
- Gleison Tibau was able to put together a stronger round and half of offense than Pat Healy in clash of veterans. It was a highly entertaining fight as Healy rallied a bit late and made a case to have to score the fight 29-28 in his favor, but none of the judges say it that way and one even gave all three rounds to Tibau.
- Leslie Smith bounced back in her second UFC match, showing that with a full camp behind her she can be a completely different fighter. Smith is one of WMMA’s truly quality brawlers and she sucked Jessamyn Duke into her kind of fight. The fight ended in blitz type (T)KO as Smith attacked the body of Duke and gave UFC fans unfamiliar with her a taste of the particular brand of violence she brings to the cage.
- The card kicked off with three excellent prospects getting matches and chief among them was Alijamain Sterling, a Bantamweight out of Serra-Longo. Sterling is former wrestler who has a wonderful combination of clean technique, physicality, and a mean streak. Sterling worked Hugo Viana over for the better part of three rounds before pounding him out on the ground in the final round. Sterling is a top shelf prospect, his striking looks very sharp, he has an excellent feel for striking in transition, and he consistently finishes single legs, a trait that almost always results in a Top 10 fighter.
- Cuban prospect Yosdenis Cedeno showed off some of his karate mastery as he treated short notice replacement Jerrod Sanders like, well a short notice replacement. After a disappointing debut for Cedeno it was heartening to see him just beat down a former All-American wrestler. It was a shame that it ended in a injury for Sanders, who show real grit seeing out the round hurt in a fight in a weight class heavier than he normally fights in.
- In a bit of Fight Pass history, the digital outlet played host to the UFC’s first Strawweight fight between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Claudia Gadelha and Finish fighter Tina Lahdemaki. While the Fin put of a valiant fight, this fight was a show case for the powerful and technical grappling of Gadelha.
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