The main card of UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige featured a whole bunch of decisions and not a ton of action going into the main event. The headliner was pretty good though. And I’m going to take a lot of heat for my opinion of the main event (assuming anyone was actually watching).
I gave Dan Ige round one of their fight. I might be the only person that did. I thought Kattar got off to an awful start, and racked up some points near the end with some nice counters, but Ige landed the harder shots. I freely admit I may be wrong there. I can’t understand why anyone would give Kattar round three though. Most of his 20 connected strikes were jabs, and Ige landed the harder shots throughout the round. It was a clear Ige round to me.
Two was definitely Ige. Four and five were definitely Kattar. I went Ige overall. I can definitely see 48-47 Kattar. I can’t see 49-46. I was apparently wrong. It happens.
- Tim Elliott showed off much better cardio and composure than he had in recent bouts. And while it seemed like Ryan Benoit may have landed the harder, cleaner strikes over the course of the fight, Elliott set the pace. There was a strong case to be made for Benoit picking up the win, but without either fighter getting dropped, it’s not surprising that judges gave Elliott the edge on volume. The win likely saves his spot on the UFC roster. But with two straight losses for Benoit, his future in the division is a lot less clear.
- While Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann didn’t exactly put on a barnburner, they did show that they’re basically mirror images of each other. Both have amazing takedown defense and wrestling chops. But Rivera’s counter work was just too much for Stamann, who never really got loose with his striking and it cost him a decision. Rivera cracked him with some huge shots though, and his chin held up well. He’ll be back.
- The funniest part of the night so far was an interaction between Jon Anik and Paul Felder. Anik read off a commercial for the UFC Fight Store, then asked Felder if he had any gear in the store. “Yeah. Sunscreen,” he deadpanned. Anik came back with “SPF 1000?”. I love it.
- Taila Santos showed why she came into the UFC as a vaunted prospect, putting a stop to Molly McCann’s pressure game and turning it around on her. Santos mixed in some solid striking with great ground work and many dominant positions on the floor to take a wide decision win.
- Bookmakers believed that Mounir Lazzez was inserted into a fight as fodder for the returning Abdul Razak Alhassan, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Alhassan brought major pressure early but Lazzez weathered it with a great chin and some good defense (and a few smiles), and then took over. His striking arsenal is quite diverse and fun to watch, and he mixed in some takedowns to pretty much dominate the fight. Alhassan had his moments in the first and third, but Lazzez was yet another of the debuting fighters on this card that very much showed they belong in the UFC.
Preliminary Card (Mookie)
- Khamzat Chimaev big brothered John Phillips before showing some mercy in the form of an early second-round D’Arce choke. What a fantastic debut from the Swede by way of Chechnya, as “Khabib 2.0” thrashed Phillips on the ground early and never let up. Chimaev is likely to head down to welterweight after this, and you better believe he’s on my radar with the way he put a hurtin’ on Phillips.
- Lerone Murphy is no joke. Fresh off of taking Zubaira Tukhugov to a draw, the English featherweight pummeled Ricardo Ramos with devastating ground-and-pound for a first-round TKO. If you thought that Murphy taking down a talented grappler was a bad idea, you were wrong. Ramos was knocked out by an elbow and then woke back up to take more punishment before the ref stopped it. Featherweight is just a super stacked division and you can add Murphy to the list of fighters to watch.
- A bizarre but totally acceptable ending to Modestas Bukauskas vs. Andreas Michailidis. The Lithuanian light heavyweight was quite conceivably on his way to losing round one, and then when Michailidis shot for a takedown he was met with a bunch of legal elbows to the side of the head. Time expired, Michailidis was badly hurt, and he nearly fell out of the cage when the door opened. Fight over. The shots looked clean, there was no protest from Andras, and Bukauskas has a debut UFC win.
- Paul Felder went from the booth to cornering his teammate Jared Gordon after all of his coaches tested positive for COVID-19. Mission accomplished for both Felder and Gordon, as the latter easily got past (an overweight) Chris Fishgold by fending off guillotines and landing quality ground strikes in every round. Gordon also revealed post-fight that his girlfriend recently had a miscarriage and she later tested positive for the virus. The man has been through a lot in his life and it’s so unfortunate he had more adversity to deal with, but he was on point in his return to featherweight.
- Women’s flyweight Liana Jojua got her first UFC win by mangling Diana Belbita’s arm. Why Belbita initiated the takedown when Jojua is the far better fighter on the ground is beyond me, but Jojua took full advantage and was persistent with that armbar until Belbita verbally submitted.
- Welsh bantamweight prospect Jack Shore easily took care of Aaron Phillips, whose UFC return was not competitive at all. His defensive wrestling issues clearly haven’t gone away and Shore capitalized with several takedowns and a rear-naked choke finish. He was a massive favorite for a reason and he lived up to expectations.
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