There weren’t very many people anticipating a potential FOTY from Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka. Perhaps a spectacular finish from Prochazka for a KOotY, but a knock down, drag ‘em out, back-and-forth brawl? Perhaps brawl isn’t an accurate description given Teixeira did most of his damage on the mat with his ground-and-pound, but back-and-forth was fully accurate. Regardless, the final result — Prochazka submitting Teixeira with 30 seconds left in the fight — was something nobody saw coming.
If Teixeira could have held on, he most likely would have held onto his title that he waited so long to claim. The Twitterverse largely had the fight tied heading into the final round. Teixeira landed a series of heavy-handed punches that had Prochazka on the ropes. Desperate to put an end to the fight that took years off both men, Teixeira dropped for a guillotine and lost the advantage. When they went back to their feet, Teixeira again began to tee off, eventually finding a takedown before moving into mount. It appeared Prochazka was finished as Teixeira just needed to hold on. Prochazka escaped and reversed the advantage with just over a minute to go. The RNC he secured on Teixeira was anything but technically sound, but Teixeira was exhausted and did have the energy left to do anything other than tap, crowing Prochazka the new champion.
The result is a little bittersweet as Teixeira’s Cinderella story came to an end. At the same time, an all-time classic was missing from his legacy. Not any more. I wasn’t sure Teixeira would make it to the UFC Hall of Fame prior to this contest. This contest cemented that likelihood in my mind. As for Prochazka, it’s likely he’s starting his reign at the highest possible note. All three of his UFC contests have either featured fantastic moments or been fantastic in their entirety. His high energy style doesn’t seem built for a dominant reign — someone is going to take advantage of his defensive holes at some point — but we might as well enjoy the ride for however long it lasts.
As for the rest of the fights….
- Valentina Shevchenko may have left Singapore with her title, but she only did so by the skin of her teeth. For the first time since moving down to flyweight, Shevchenko was on the losing end of a particular aspect of a fight, clearly being outgrappled by Taila Santos over the course of the contest. Given Santos scored some ground control in every round, it created a good chunk of controversy as the second and third rounds were split between Santos controlling Shevchenko and Shevchenko winning the striking battle. Shevchenko took the final two rounds, giving her enough rounds on two of the three judges scorecards to escape with the belt. Despite the win, Shevchenko’s stock went down and Santos immediately became the first opponent Shevchenko defeated that talks of a rematch began as soon as the scorecards were announced. Expect to see this fight happen again.
- I’m not going to say the sequel was better than the original, but there’s no doubt the sequel was a worthy successor. Weili Zhang came out on fire, taking Joanna Jedrzejczyk down and dragging her back down when Joanna tried to get back up. Joanna somehow managed to survive Zhang’s thunderous elbows and punches, even managing to take the fight back to Zhang in the final minute of the opening round. Joanna came out fighting like her career was on the line, aggressively going at Zhang. She was probably winning the round… until Zhang landed a thudding spinning backhand that sent Joanna face down into the mat without the ability to climb back to her feet. The win grants Zhang a crack at Carla Esparza to regain the title. As for Joanna, the longtime champion retired after the fight, declaring herself ready for the next step in her life. We only wish the best for Joanna as she moves on from her fighting career.
- All the talk was about Andre Fialho fighting for the fourth time this year, so much that everyone overlooked Jake Matthews. Well, Matthews proceeded to remind us all just how damn good he is. Even though Fialho was supposed to have a noticeable advantage on the feet, it was Matthews who hurt Fialho seemingly countless times before finally putting away the native of Portugal with a final punch. Even though we all knew Matthews was good, this was the best version we’ve ever seen. Perhaps we’re seeing a new incarnation of him.
- That Jack Della Maddalena bandwagon just continues to get larger and larger. Maddalena escaped from Ramazan Emeev’s deep anaconda choke like it was nothing, only to tee off on the typically durable Russian as soon as they climbed back to their feet. Emeev soon wilted, resulting in Maddalena securing his second first round stoppage in two UFC contests. The Aussie is living up to the hype….
- It wasn’t that long ago many were predicting Seung Woo Choi was going to be a big player in the featherweight division. Now, the hard-hitting Korean is riding a two-fight losing streak, dropping a slugfest – which was supposed to stylistically favor him – to Josh Culibao. Kudos to Culibao as the Aussie secured his second straight win after many expected him to wash out when he was first signed. He’s proven MANY wrong.
- Maheshate and Steve Garcia wasted no time, not bothering with the feeling out process. They took turns landing heavy shots that had a visible impact on each other. Maheshate ultimately landed the killshot that put a charging Garcia on the mat out cold, giving the young Chinese native a victory in his UFC debut. We still don’t know a lot about the youngster, but we know he can hit hard as hell.
- Between Brendan Allen and Jacob Malkoun, the judges preferred the activity of Allen over the control time of Malkoun. Malkoun became the first middleweight in UFC history to secure at least six takedowns in three consecutive fights, but he didn’t do enough with those takedowns to sway the judges. Allen was active off his back and had the clear advantage on the feet in the rare moments they traded fisticuffs. No one would have argued if Malkoun got the nod, but Allen ultimately had his hand raised.
- Those that were picking Kyung Ho Kang heading into the event were doing so on the expectation he’d secure takedowns and utilize control time to secure the win. While Kang did get the win over Danaa Batgerel, it was based on the combination of his jab and a steady diet of low kicks, wearing down Batgerel. It was a close contest, Batgerel landing some heavy shots early, but Batgerel’s slowed the deeper the fight went, allowing Kang to run away down the stretch.
- The stock of Silvana Gomez Juarez was at an all-time low heading into the event. Opening your UFC career with two first round submission losses will do that. She did the best she could to redeem herself by securing a first round KO over Na Liang as the native of China was aggressive in looking for takedowns. Instead, she found an early nap from Juarez’s follow-up shots.
- Credit to Joselyne Edwards for accepting her fight with Ramona Pascual at 145 as it looked like the extra weight was affecting her conditioning. Nevertheless, the native of Panama recognized Pascual couldn’t get past her front kicks, so she spammed them in the final round after the pair of them appeared to split the first two rounds. It was a bit of a risk as the second was close, but it paid off with Edwards getting the win.
About the author