UFC 270 lost a bit of luster with the number of cancelled fights over the past couple of weeks, but it still produced outstanding and exhilarating action from the prelims all the way to the two title fights. And as for those championship bouts…
Francis Ngannou is still the UFC heavyweight champion and he did it in a way I don’t think anyone expected. We know of Ngannou for his vaunted knockout power, but it’s his wrestling and grappling that got him the unanimous decision over Ciryl Gane. I can’t believe I typed that sentence. Gane controlled the pace of the fight through the first couple of rounds and landed the better strikes, but once NCAA Ngannou came rolling in it was a totally different fight. Ciryl basically lost the third and fourth rounds as he couldn’t cope with Francis’ strength, and despite the repeated broadcast narrative about Ngannou’s cardio, I think the wrestling took a ton out of Gane.
Then shit got weird in the final round. Gane took Ngannou down and really just any bit of sustained top control likely gives him the fight. Instead he goes for a heel hook and gets swept. Then he went for it again! Ngannou hardly landed anything with all of his time on top and yet that was enough to get the win. Gane really botched that fight with a horrendous submission gamble.
Props to Ngannou for winning in a way we’re not used to seeing him win, especially coming into this with an MCL tear and an ACL injury (which explains the wraps on both knees). Interestingly enough, Mick Maynard put the belt around Ngannou and not Dana White. Heh heh. We’ll see if Ngannou gets Jon Jones next, or a Stipe Miocic trilogy, or if he really does push for a boxing match (likely to Dana’s annoyance).
The co-main event was pure insanity. Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo had an absolute classic once again and the pro-Moreno atmosphere made it feel like the real headliner. Not bad for a division that was almost axed, eh? Anyway, less than a year after Figueiredo lost his flyweight title in a lopsided rematch vs. Moreno, the Brazilian eked out a unanimous decision in what was essentially hostile territory to get the belt back.
It was such a hard-fought battle with dramatic swings of momentum from minute to minute within rounds. Figueiredo had great success with calf kicks on Brandon’s lead leg, whereas Moreno was getting in some hard punches in brawls and on the counter to the point where he’d wobbled Deiveson a couple of times. The scrambles between the two were amazing and hard to keep up with. However, Figueiredo was credited with three knockdowns, including a heavy one in the 3rd round that turned a Moreno round into a Figueiredo round and proved to be the deciding factor on the scorecards. I had it 48-47 Figueiredo, but Moreno could’ve had a case for winning. Obviously the partisan crowd hated the result and booed Figueiredo through his interview but they ain’t the judges.
Why shouldn’t we get a fourth fight between the two? The first one was a classic that ended in a draw (which I contend Figueiredo should’ve won), the second one was a blowout, the trilogy could’ve gone either way but ultimately went to Figgy, and now the score is 1-1-1. Sorry to Alexandre Pantoja, but he’ll have to wait for a bit so we can watch these two one more time. This is a rivalry I don’t think anyone could get tired of seeing.
- Michel Pereira and Andre Fialho threw down, and as was the theme of the card it was great to watch. Pereira was getting pressured and outstruck by Fialho in the opening round, then he just pasted the Portuguese with heavy shots throughout the second and did everything but knock him out. Brutal knees, kicks, elbows and punches, plus the usual set of Pereira flashiness… and yet Fialho survived. The third round was close but looked to be Michel’s, and he took the W on the scorecards.
- WOW! Said Nurmagomedov beating Cody Stamann is not a surprise considering he was favored, but tapping him out in under a minute?! That’s impressive. Stamann had only been stopped once prior to this evening — Aljamain Sterling’s Suloev stretch ring a bell? — and Said locked up that guillotine in next to no time. Khabib may be retired, but watch out for his cousin because he’s 4-1 in his first five UFC appearances, and this is his best win to date.
- It was all going well for Trevin Giles in his welterweight debut… until it wasn’t. He rocked Michael Morales in the opening 35 seconds and then opted to clinch him, and on the ground he sought an arm-triangle choke both from the top and after he was reversed to his back. The choke didn’t work, and towards the end of the opening round he was dropped twice and knocked out by the Ecuador native. Morales is still undefeated, whereas Giles has been KO’d twice in a row in two weight classes.
- The featured prelim was hot fire and we got a hell of an upset. Bantamweight veteran Victor Henry finally got the call-up in his 27th pro fight and at the age of 34, and he made the most of his first time in the UFC spotlight. Henry had a wildly entertaining three-round battle with Raoni Barcelos, hurting the Brazilian multiple times while showcasing a granite chin of his own to pick up the decision win. He’s fought all around the world and faced a lot of familiar names (Albert Morales, Masanori Kanehara, Kyler Phillips to name a few) and it’s awesome to see Victor prevail and get a high-quality win inside the Octagon.
- Damn! Jack Della Maddalena’s UFC debut was as good as advertised. Short notice replacement Pete Rodriguez got bloodied and busted up the whole fight by the Australian welterweight prospect, and eventually a left hand put Rodriguez down for good. It was a confident, impressive display of striking and he barely broke a sweat. Jack’s got 11 wins in a row and he is one to watch when looking at top UFC prospects for 2022.
- No matter how many guillotines Saimon Oliveira tried, Tony Gravely wasn’t gonna tap. The bantamweight wrestler repeatedly took the Brazilian newcomer down, landed some good ground-and-pound at times, withstood Oliveira’s wild attacks on the feet and prevailed via shutout decision. Gravely is an underrated talent on this UFC roster and it once again shows you how deep men’s bantamweight is.
- Did Genaro Valdez owe Mike Beltran money or something? Matt Frevola and Valdez went to war but it very quickly became one-sided. Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR credited knockdowns for Frevola in just a few minutes. Valdez took way too much of a beating for his own good and the stoppage was late. Frevola fought like he had pent-up frustration after not winning since 2019, and he unleashed hell on earth on Valdez.
- What a comeback and what an interview! Vanessa Demopoulos looked to be wrecked when she was knocked down by Silvana Gomez Juarez… then next thing you know, she’s got an armbar win! To top it all off, Demopoulos was really really excited to see Joe Rogan, and was being carried in his arms when the interview concluded. That was such a fun turn of events and a great rally by Demopoulos. If you didn’t know that pole dancing could help so much with jiu-jitsu… now you know.
- To kick tonight’s card off, women’s flyweight Jasmine Jasudavicius prevailed in her UFC debut with a strong decision win over Kay Hansen, who just looked physically outmatched over the first couple of rounds and struggled with Jasmine’s ground game. Score one for Jasudavicius and for Canadian MMA.
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