As with all international UFC Fight Pass cards, the promotion’s return to Stockholm, Sweden was brimming with exciting fights and quick stoppages – even if the card sorely lacked in notable star power.
It is a trade-off that is particularly noticeable at these international events – excitement at the expense of highly competitive match-ups – yet they serve their purpose in the UFC’s business model, which is to develop local talent from the varying regions. This time, however, the Swedish contingency suffered several staggering blows.
While the Swedish fans were certainly given their fair share of ferocious finishes during the fight card, all their local fighters from the main card were on the receiving end of those first-round finishes. Even the main event featured a result that many fans and pundits did not expect.
For the better part of 25 minutes, Rick Story out struck Gunnar Nelson en route to a unanimous decision victory to culminate a night of extraordinary upsets. Although he sported a noticeable mouse under his eye following the fight, and the commentators seemed to think he was behind on the scorecard, Story was in full command of fight and, thankfully, (some) of the judges noticed that and awarded the win to the rightful competitor.
This is the first time that Story has picked up consecutive wins in the UFC since he held a 6-fight win streak between 2009-11 – a string of victories that included wins over current welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves. He also proved that while he may not be championship material, he is not a fighter that should be underestimated.
- The co-main event of the evening saw another Swede loss in front of his hometown fans, as Akira Corassani suffered a first round KO loss to Max Holloway. The 22-year-old is now 4-0 since losing a unanimous decision to Conor McGregor in 2013 and holds one of the longest win streaks in the featherweight division.
- Following up on the upsets earlier in the evening, Jan Blachowicz announced himself in the light-heavyweight division with a TKO victory over local favourite Iliar Latifi. The contest lasted a total of 1 minute and 58 seconds and ended after Blachowicz landed an initial body kick, then a front kick that grazed the side of Latifi’s head before he followed up with several punches while Latifi was turtled up.
- Mike Wilkinson overcame a tough year that included a string of injuries and a bout with depression to savagely KO Niklas Backstrom in spectacular fashion. It was undoubtedly the feel good moment of the event, as well as one of the biggest upsets of the evening. The finish came out of nowhere, as Backstrom was dominating the contest right up until he was hit with a right hand that sent him tumbling to the canvas; a second punch stiffened him for dramatic effect.
- While Dennis Siver defeated Charles Rosa via unanimous decision (30-27 on all judges scorecards), Rosa’s performance during the encounter left many wishing he had been given the luxury of a full training camp. The formerly undefeated fighter constantly searched for submission openings and gave Siver a tough battle that few anticipated ahead of the meeting.
- Cathal Pendred, who was attempting to follow up on one of the more impressive come-from-behind wins in recent memory, managed to edge out a close split decision win that could easily have gone the other way. His opponent, Gasan Umalatov, knocked him down in the second round and appeared to have secured two of the three rounds with his counter striking. As is often the case, the judges complicated matter significantly.
- Mairbek Taisumov followed up on his Tiger Muay Thai teammate’s curtain jerker fight with a first round stoppage of his own over Marcin Bandel. Taisumov needed a total of 61 seconds to separate his opponent from his senses and announces his team as an emphatic force in the UFC.
- Russian featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov blitzed Ernests Chavez with a barrage of strikes in the opening round to move to 2-0 in the UFC. His striking looked crisp as he found his mark late in the first frame to force a referee stoppage with less than a minute left in the round.
About the author