Just the second pay-per-view of 2014, UFC 171 is one of the most anticipated events of recent memory. With the vacant welterweight title on the line, as well as two other 170lbs match-ups with title implications, the division is wide open and has potential to be the most exciting of the year.
Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks will be hoping to be crowned welterweight champion of the world at the end of it, and with their knockout power, don’t expect this one to go the distance. In the co main, former title contender Carlos Condit is guaranteed a shot at the title if he can get past the dangerous Tyron Woodley, who has a ton of momentum himself.
Hector Lombard will be hoping to go 2-0 since moving down to welterweight, but it’ll be a tough task as he is facing one of the dark horses in the division in Jake Shields. Shields is a former title contender and is unbeaten in his last four, most recently defeating Demian Maia and the aforementioned Woodley. Diego Sanchez will lock horns with Myles Jury at lightweight, and Nikita Krylov drops down to 205lbs and replaces Thiago Silva to face Ovince St. Preux to start the main card.
On the preliminary card, Kelvin Gastelum will look to go from prospect to contender with a win over Rick Story, and Dennis Bermudez faces Jimy Hettes in a pivotal featherweight tilt. Prospects Jessica Andrade, Justin Scoggins and Alex Garcia are also in action.
As Matt Galea is away for the weekend, I will be taking proceedings for this stacked card.
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
The big one. I am so so pumped for this one, and I have no clue how it’ll end. Heart says Lawler, head says Hendricks. But, Hendricks had a rough weight cut and he was shaking a lot on the scales, while Lawler came in trim and prepared at his first attempt. Can the greatest Cinderella story of all time come true? Or will Hendricks grab the title that he perhaps should have got at UFC 167? I cannot wait to find out. Hendricks is really pumped for this one, beating his chest and howling. Lawler seems very relaxed and is smiling ear to ear. Lawler has a five inch reach advantage and is just one year older than Hendricks (crazy, huh?). Hendricks coming in a +350 favourite.
Round 1 – They exchange early and both are bobbing up and down. Wow Robbie is really aggressive and hits Hendricks a couple of times in the clinch. Hendricks with a nice 1-2. Lawler is smiling at the crowds’ chants of ‘Johny’. A good short left by Lawler but Hendricks gets him up against the cage in the clinch. Knees to the thigh by Bigg Rigg and short strikes, nothing too significant. Some nice head movement by Hendricks so far. A nice stuff of Hendricks’s attempted takedown by Lawler and Hendricks once again gets him against the cage and lands a hard knee. Hard leg kick by Hendricks. Lawler utilising a nice jab. Both seem tentative here as they know what each other are capable of. Nice right by Hendricks followed by a stiff jab by Lawler. Nice technical round so far. Hendricks seems to be breathing through his mouth already. Hendricks attacked with some nice kicks and Lawler just smiled. Lawler utilising some great head movement as Hendricks pushes forward. He has him against the cage once again but Lawler is doing a good job of nullifying the wrestling to this point. Close round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 2 – Lawler with some nice punches to start the round but none landing too cleanly. A hard left by Robbie there but Hendricks just eats it. This is where Lawler gets dangerous, when he loosens up and establishes his tempo. Hendricks pushes forward but Lawler counters with a nice uppercut. Hendricks lands a hard left-right. Lawler may be hurt. He’s opening up on Lawler here and mixing things up. Nice jabs by Lawler though, and he’s been the more conservative of the two. Great combination by Hendricks including a hard knee and leg kick. He’s looking good this round and taking over. He’s tagged Lawler with a hard left and right. Hard right followed by a knee. He’s becoming too much for Lawler. Hard weight cut? You wouldn’t think it. Lawler with a huge right but Hendricks eats it. Takedown attempted by Hendricks, stuffed easily by Lawler. Lawler is utilising good head movement and keeping active on the inside but not landing too much. Hendricks is getting the better of these exchanges. Punches in bunches by Hendricks while Lawler is trying to land a big knockout blow. Lawler attempts a head kick and lands a few nice punches but Hendricks ends the round with a great flurry, with Lawler landing a big left to end the round! Another fun one.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 3 – Lawler starting to throw kicks. Hendricks mixing it up very well here and overwhelming Lawler. Lawler’s kicks are working well here and he certainly needs to continue with those. Lawler is just standing there while Hendricks unloads which is a very poor tactic against such a brutal striker. Big uppercut by Hendricks, Lawler replies with a jab. They exchange and Hendricks gets the better once again. A huge left by Lawler! He’s tagged Hendricks here! He’s got Hendricks hurt and he’s tagging him at will! He needs to go for the kill here. Hendricks may be out on his feet. Hendricks is firing back but he’s staggered and moving backwards. Hendricks recovers and attempts a takedown which Lawler does well to stuff. This is a huge round but Lawler may have gassed his arms out. Hendricks gets in a good combination but Lawler is having much more success here. Lawler is thriving off the shots that Hendricks is landing from him. This is a great fight. Big left by Lawler and he’s backing Hendricks up. Hendricks is landing though, and he seems to have his wits about him again. Both seem gassed here and the final two rounds could be very interesting. Championship rounds! Close to being a 10-8.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Lawler.
Round 4 - This has all the makings of an instant classic. Hunt-Bigfoot type scrap between two heavy hitting gassed fighters. Lawler backing Hendricks up but Johny is firing back with some nice counters. A big overhand left followed by a knee. Lawler has staggered him again but Hendricks fires back with a big right. Some lovely jabs by Lawler who is really settled in. Hendricks presses forward but Lawler just eats what he has to offer and fires back. Another stuffed takedown attempt by Lawler. Hendricks is busted up and looking worse for wear. This is Lawler’s fight for the taking. Hendricks is struggling to see out of that right ear and he’s really trying to wipe the blood out. He’s still firing back though at will and he’s clipping Lawler. Lawler tags him with some lovely right hands. He’s backing Hendricks up and gets a knee in. Nice leg kick by Hendricks. Wow what an uppercut! But Hendricks fires back, only for Lawler to smile like “is that all you’ve got?” Lawler implementing a lovely jab throughout this whole fight and continuing to press forward and he is now taking over. Hendricks has certainly lost the fire power of his punches. Less than a minute left in this round. Who saw it going five rounds? Certainly not me. Hendricks is pressing forward and attacking well. He gets a takedown with 10 seconds left! That could sway the judges, but I think Lawler did more than enough to get that round.
Cooper scores round 4 10-9 Lawler.
Round 5 – I have it all tied up going into the fifth. This round is HUGE! Hendricks with some nice punches landing to start the rounding, mixing up body-head. The jab by Lawler has been on point tonight. Hendricks is the one pressing forward this round. Hendricks goes for the takedown, Lawler stuffs it and makes him pay with a big hammer fist. Lawler’s takedown defence is awesome, some of the best in the division. Knee attempts in the clinch by both fighters. Over a minute of sprawling, awesome defence by Lawler who is now pressing the action and looks determined to win here. Hendricks unloads with a combination and his leg kicks seem to be paying off here. Great left-right by Lawler. Lawler sprawls well again and lands some nice uppercuts. He’s pushing forward and utilising the jab again. 2 minutes remaining. A huge right hook by Lawler, and another! Hendricks answers and wobbles Lawler. Hendricks is pressing forward here! A big left, and Hendricks is hurting Lawler here! Lawler is really tired and getting hurt here. This is the deciding round and Lawler is losing this. Hendricks has him staggered, rocks Lawler and then gets the takedown. Lawler looks deflated, he’s on the bottom with 30 seconds to go. Lawler needs to get back to his feet here. Hendricks has control of him though and is on top landing some blows. This fight is just so awesome. Hendricks finishes the round on top with Lawler nodding his head. This all comes down to how the first round was scored.
Cooper scores round 5 10-9 Hendricks (48-47 Hendricks).
Result: Hendricks via unanimous decision (48-47 x3) to become the new UFC welterweight champion.
There you have it folks, Johny Hendricks is crowned the new welterweight champion. Very much deserved after a very tough 2013. Hats off to Ruthless Robbie Lawler, he is an absolute animal.
Lawler is very gracious in defeat and put on an admirable performance. That is why I’m such a huge fan of that guy, what a warrior.
Congratulations to both fighters and Hendricks in particular, who bounced back from a ton of adversity to win a hardly fought contest.
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Carlos Condit simply cannot be in a boring fight and I have no doubt in my mind this will be a good one. He is the #2 welterweight in the world for a reason but Woodley is no joke, his knockout power is some of the best in the division.
Round 1 – Condit takes the centre and attacks first with a leg kick. Woodley hits him with a big right hand which staggers Condit. He then counters a Condit kick with another big right hand. He is opening up on Condit and he’s damaging him. Damn he is powerful. A nice spinning back kick by Condit is countered by Woodley engaging some clinch work. He has Condit up against the cage and is controlling him with over-under, striking him with knees but not doing too much damage. He tags him with a short elbow but this allows Condit to reverse the position and hold Woodley up against the cage. Woodley reverses again and is overpowering Condit. Little happening here and the referee should consider separating them. They break away and Condit takes the center again. He tags Woodley with a nice left and Woodley seems to have faded already. A lovely right body kick followed by a left high kick. Takedown by Woodley as Condit presses forward but Condit has mission control and is attacking off his back. He has a triangle but Woodley throws him off. Very impressive escape. Another huge right by Woodley but Condit takes it and counters with a straight right of his own. Condit pushes forward and is countered with a takedown by Woodley again, who is once again in Condit’s guard. They stand up. Beautiful spinning attack towards the end of the round by Woodley followed by a barrage by Condit. Fun round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Woodley.
Round 2 – Will Woodley fade in this round? Condit is pushing forward and throwing some kicks on Woodley. Another huge right by Woodley but Condit is able to endure it. Woodley took Condit down and Rogan comments that he seemed to have winced, not too sure what happened right there – possibly a leg injury? Elbows from the bottom by Carlos and Woodley is doing little from the top. These type of rounds are hard to score, is the takedown scored higher than a fighter attacking from the bottom? DAMN! Woodley lands a leg kick to Condit’s damaged knee and it explodes. Very unfortunate. He went down like he had been shot. That looked nasty. Replay showed that he was wincing in pain. It was his right knee and he could be out for a long time after that. Impressive performance by Woodley nonetheless and Condit will be back fighting against the best in the world before we know it.
Result: Woodley via TKO (injury) at 2:00 in second round.
Unfortunate for Condit as it was a entertaining fight. Woodley emerges as a new contender and asks for a title shot. That replay is brutal to watch.
Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury
This is why the UFC have the greatest matchmakers in the world. Sanchez is a former title contender while Jury is an undefeated, untested lightweight who has a ton of potential. Jury is just 25, Sanchez 32. A win for either would be huge. Sanchez, mohawk-n-all, needs a win here to remain relevant. Can the commentators please stop using the phrase ‘new breed’? Sanchez trying to implement the whole ‘YES’ thing again, but doesn’t do it as much justice.
Round 1 – Sanchez with a low base pushing forward, opens up with a front leg side kick to the thigh. Spinning kick by Sanchez which is countered by Jury. Sanchez urges Jury to attack, what happened to the technical Sanchez he has been promising recently? Jury keeping it technical with a couple of leg kicks and some nice movement. Sanchez moving forward and tags Jury with a couple of shots before initiating the clinch on the undefeated prospect. Shoulder strikes in the clinch by Jury, but nothing much else. Jury reverses and they’re back standing. A nice body kick by Jury and he is doing well here by just keeping things simple. He catches a kick by Sanchez but doesn’t do much with it. Sanchez is moving forward but isn’t attacking effectively and Jury is probably winning this round so far. A couple of nice counters by Jury while Sanchez is pushing forward. A flying knee attempt by Sanchez who is getting reckless. A lovely right counter by Jury while moving away. A head kick by Jury. He’s looking good here and Sanchez needs to re-evaluate because he’s getting outdone by the more technical fighter. A lovely takedown by Jury but Sanchez is able to utilise his butterfly guard and catapult Jury up. Sanchez momentarily attacks a leg but Jury escapes and gets the back. Sanchez hits the switch, Jury ends the round on top. Sound advice by Jury’s corner but I would’ve loved to hear Sanchez’s game plan.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Jury.
Round 2 – Sanchez pushing forward and lands a nice body kick. They exchange and Jury spins away. Jury tags Sanchez with a big elbow counter! Sanchez on the back foot and he’s cut under his eye (as always). Sanchez was able to tag Jury though and the sight of blood normally wakes The Dream up. He’s throwing windmill punches but not doing too well with this approach like he has in the past. Jury is just too technical and sensible to get into that sort of brawl. Sanchez pushing forward and Jury is countering well with jabs and utilising some good movement. This is frustrating to watch as Sanchez is capable of much better. Jury looking to play spoiler here and is doing so so far. A nice right followed by a takedown for Jury, but Sanchez is trying to attack with a guillotine. It’s an arm-in guillotine, it may be tight here. Jury gives the thumbs up and gets free. Sanchez gets to his feet but Jury tries to get his back. Jury attacks with an uppercut which seems to wake Sanchez up. Jury is two up here and Sanchez needs to change it up, for sure.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Jury.
Round 3 – Rumour has it that a loss could spell the end for Sanchez. Let’s see what he can do here in the third. Sanchez thrives on third rounds. He charges Jury and hits him a nice combination. The reach disadvantage seems too much for Sanchez to handle and he is struggling. He is making his attacks too obvious for Jury who gets out of the way and counters. Sanchez’s kicks have been solid but not quite enough. Another nice body kick from Diego but Jury is unfazed and keeps pushing forward. Sanchez’s corner are urging him to push forward and he obliges. They’re in the clinch and Jury is working for a takedown but Sanchez does well to stuff it. 90 seconds left and Sanchez needs to leave it all in the cage. Flying knee and a jab by Jury. Sanchez tries to charge forward but Jury counters with his third takedown of the fight. Jury on top now and posturing up in the guard, with Sanchez trying to attack with a high guard but unable to do anything. He’s trying his hardest to get a submission but to no avail. Jury has Sanchez’s back and he’ll win the decision here. A late guillotine attempt by Sanchez but he’ll come home empty handed.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Jury (30-27 Jury).
Result: Jury via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28).
Good, sensible performance by Myles Jury whose corner have evidently been studying a lot of tape. Sanchez is bloodied and beaten but never really got going in that one. Biggest performance of the 25 year old’s career, who also has a win over Michael Johnson.
Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard
One of the ‘big four’ of this stacked card, and one of three pivotal welterweight clashes which will establish how the rankings stand. Lombard making his second performance at welterweight while Shields is trying to go 3-0 since returning to 170 after defeating both Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia. Somewhat surprisingly, Lombard is considered a -200 favourite by the oddsmakers.
Round 1 – Wow! Lombard aggressive early, landing body shots and getting a big judo throw. He dropped Shields but it seemed more like he was off balance than anything. Wow Lombard is really landing some heavy blows on Shields but somehow the American has taken them. Lombard is having his way with Shields thusfar and Shields is landing little. A takedown attempt by Shields is stuffed and Lombard has him against the cage. A big uppercut when Shields tries to escape the clinch and he has a small cut on his left eye. A trip by Lombard and Shields is covering up. He’s bloodied here and Lombard is looking terrific. Shields has no answer for the power so far. Lombard is simply standing in the middle and unloading with heavy attacks in typical ‘Lighting’ fashion. Another stuffed takedown attempt. Lombard has him hurt and Shields looked like he was close to being finished there. Lombard is in Shields’s guard now but he should look to get to his feet where he has a distinct advantage and is really having his way with him. Lombard allows Shields a minute to recover, odd ending to that round as he was clearly landing big on him. He should have unloaded some more. Has Shields weathered the storm?
Cooper scores round 1 10-8 Lombard.
Round 2 – Lombard sweating a lot and does seem pretty tired coming into this second round, he also seems to be breathing out of his mouth. Can Shields take over now or has the damage been dealt? Shields avoids Lombard’s big shots and is unload some body kicks. A huge trip by Lombard! The power advantage is pretty overwhelming and he is rag dolling a really tough grappler in Shields. Lombard looks like he’s two weight classes bigger than him and he’s making Shields look like he’s a short notice opponent in need of a pay cheque. Lombard in Shields’s guard, which Rogan assumes is due to his gassing. The microphone picks up some heavy breathing from Lombard and this is where it could get interesting. The referee stands them up after some inactivity. Shields isn’t trying to land anything significantly, but he really needs to. He attempts a takedown which Lombard sprawls with ease and uses it to hit Shields, who tries to get him in his guard but Lombard urges him to stand up. All five of Shields’s takedown attempts have been defended by Lombard. Shields trying to jab Lombard but he needs something more than that after losing the first round big and losing the second hitherto. Another awesome judo throw by Lombard who is looking great here against a fighter who is deceptively dangerous. Lombard stays in top control for the remainder of the round. Shields needs the finish here, no question.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Lombard.
Round 3 – This hasn’t been the best fight ever but it has answered a lot of questions that I could have answered before this fight: Lombard is more powerful, has worse cardio and Shields is landing pitter-patter strikes. All Lombard so far and Shields needs to get a finish here. He lands a body kick followed by a head kick but they don’t have the same level of power to them. Lombard has the odd blitzkrieg on Shields but they’re few and far between. Shields needs to get this to the ground somehow. A low blow to Shields, but this may be good for Lombard to recover. HL seems to have caught a second wind, and he stuffs another takedown attempt by Shields then gets a takedown of his own! Frustrating fight for Shields so far. Lombard looks happy enough to stay in Shields’s guard even though Shields is a ground specialist. Both are exhausted and Lombard is too powerful to get caught with anything, I imagine. Shields is bloodied up and he needs to do something big in the second half of this third round. Another telegraphed takedown attempted stuffed by Lombard and countered with the Cuban fighter taking top control once again. Disappointing so far by Shields and he has been overwhelmed by the far stronger guy, he needs far more urgency here. Boos from the crowd and the referee stands them up. Neither of these fighters will be getting a title shot off the back of this performance. 30 seconds left and still nothing of note by Shields. He’s now going for a guillotine choke after Lombard gets the takedown! It’s very tight but too late into the round. Lombard gets up after the buzzer and puts both thumbs up. If there was a little bit more time, that could have been trouble.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Lombard (30-26 Lombard).
Result: Lombard via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28).
It’s a win for Lombard but a lacklustre performance. His cardio needs a lot of work but he has a big win in his welterweight career. Poor performance by Jake Shields though, which is surprising for one of the most consistent and underrated fighters in the UFC. I won’t be watching that fight again any time soon.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov
That was one of the best preliminary cards ever and that has made me even more pumped for this main card! If this one goes the distance, I will be shocked. St. Preux has looked great since coming over to the UFC from Strikeforce, while Krylov rebounded from a poor UFC debut in brutal fashion with a quick knockout against Walt Harris.
Round 1 – Krylov pushing forward early and attempting leg kicks. A takedown by Ovince St. Preux and he immediately gets side control. Crazy that Krylov is the man coming down from heavyweight as OSP looks like the bigger guy. OSP pins Krylov’s left arm between his legs momentarily. Holy moly! St. Preux got a Von Flue choke! How many times do you see that?! Krylov was out before he could even tap. That was deadly and no one even saw it coming. Krylov was trying to hold St. Preux’s neck while on the bottom and OSP made him pay for it, the Ukrainian showing his inexperience on the ground there.
Result: St. Preux via submission (Von Flue choke) at 1:29 in first round.
Ovince St. Preux is one scary dude and at 30 years of age, he is improving with every fight. He could be one to watch in 2014.
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 2)
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
How will Gastelum fare against a step-up in competition like Story? Has the tough weight cut had a big impact? So many interesting questions for this one. Story the underdog for this fight which is a little surprising, considering he is ranked #14 and has faced a plethora of tough fighters in his career.
Round 1 – Story takes the middle of the cage immediately and pushes forward with some hard strikes. Gastelum landed a hard right which gives Story a small cut under his left eye. KG landed some nice clean jabs with little effort, but Story is a lot more obvious with his attacks. Gastelum is a lot cleaner and he’s cut Story. So far, so good from KG. A nice left from Story but Gastelum hits a nice left of his own. HUGE HEAD KICK BY GASTELUM! Wow that was big. He’s dropped Story and now has top control. Story was hurt by that huge kick and KG looks awesome so far. Gastelum in side control and now gets the back. Good scramble by Story and he gets back to his feet, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’s recovered. At just 22 years of age, Gastelum is looking like a real contender. Story is no joke and KG is outclassing him everywhere. What a combination by KG and Story is backing up for the first time in the fight. 30 seconds remaining and this is the best round of KG’s young career. Story is recovered but that was a massive round from Gastelum. Now let’s see how his gas tank is.
Cooper scores round 1 10-8 Gastelum.
Round 2 – Gastelum asked by his corner if he’s tired, “hell no” is his response. Story pushes forward at the start of the round and lands some nice strikes. He’s landing some nice body shots. He staggers Gastelum, he’s looking far more comfortable in the second. His attacks are too telegraphed though compared to KG’s more technical offence. Gastelum’s jabs are looking brilliant and his leg kicks are working as well. He rocks Story once again and he looks wobbly. He grazes his head with a kick and Story looks bewildered. Story counters nicely with some body shots and this is where he is effective. Gastelum just isn’t giving him much of an opportunity to attack though. KG is getting in with a strike then just out of harm’s way. Kelvin has slowed and this is where it could get interesting as Story may counter easier. He is also leaving his hands down. However he’s still landing some nice strikes and establishing his jab at will. Story lands some jabs of his own. Story hurts Gastelum! KG is down! Right at the death Story has a chance to win it! But the buzzer goes. Big big exchange there by Rick Story after KG was dominant! How the hell do you score that round?! What a left by Rick Story.
Cooper scores round 2 10-10.
Round 3 – That was crazy. KG was so dominant for the first 9:30 of the fight but the tide changed with one big punch by Rick Story. Gastelum now has more urgency but Story is looking more comfortable after seeming a little bewildered in the first two. How was Gastelum recovered and how is his gas tank? This is going to be very interesting. KG seems recovered and is establishing his jab again, but Story is still dangerous. A nice takedown attempt by Story which is stuffed by KG who lands some elbows, reverses then presses Story up against the cage. They separate and Story gets rocked by KG. Story fires right back but KG counters with a great takedown! Story gives up his back again but shakes KG off and unloads with some ground and pound from the half guard. Story has Gastelum’s back! He has both hooks in! This is big for Story. If he wins this round, this could well be a draw after the second could be scored in his favour. We have 90 seconds remaining and Story is in a great position to finish this fight but Gastelum is being stubborn here. KG is trying to sneak out of the position but Story is controlling him. He reverses! Kelvin on top, but Story gets back up and catches him with a quick right. They’re up on their feet exchanging big blows. A late takedown attempt by KG which is stuffed. Some big shots exchanged! WHAT A FIGHT! I am so glad I’m not a judge right now.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Story (29-27 Gastelum)
Result: Gastelum via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
That was a great fight but showed that Gastelum still needs to improve if he is to break into the top 15 of the division. Rick Story is tough and after he shook off the cobwebs looked very dangerous. How one judge scored that 30-27 is beyond me, but both fighters will surely be in for a bonus after that one.
Racquel Pennington vs. Jessica Andrade
Pennington replaces Pena for this fight, facing a dangerous fighter in Andrade. Andrade is coming off a fight which shouldn’t have gone past the second round against Rosi Sexton, while Pennington had a successful UFC debut after her TUF stint, defeating Roxanne Modafferi. Pennington is 5 inches taller, but Andrade is the favourite.
Round 1 – Andrade attacking early and goes for the takedown but is unsuccessful. Some nice knees by Pennington and she is trying a guillotine inside the clinch. Andrade is being stubborn though and is holding Pennington up against the cage. Some nice body shots by Andrade who is trying to keep active inside the clinch. A beautiful judo throw by Andrade and she has half guard. Absolutely superb technique by the 22 year old. Pennington regains guard then gets back to her feet. Another great throw, Andrade’s judo is looking awesome in this fight. Top position for the Brazilian and she gets half guard, trying to possibly attack Pennington’s left arm for a kimura. She lets go and hits some short body shots. Pennington regains guard and pushes Andrade away, who comes in recklessly with punches and Pennington attempts an armbar. Andrade escapes nicely and gets side control, she’s not fooling for that one and now she’s in a great position. She’s got a guillotine but loses it. A crazy scramble and they’re back to their feet. A third judo throw which isn’t executed as well, and they end the round in the clinch. Good round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Andrade.
Round 2 – Pennington needs to avoid the clinch this round because the judo was the key to Andrade winning that round. Andrade is pushing forward and landing with some heavy shots. Pennington gets the clinch and lands some nice knees, this is where she was successful in the first. She shouldn’t let Andrade turn it around though, as she has her pinned up against the fence. Pennington gets out and they exchange on the feet, she’s establishing her jab here. Another takedown by Andrade and she is landing them at will hitherto. Pennington gets up to her feet and lands a nice leg kick. Andrade is stalking her opponent and taking everything Pennington has to offer in order to land some attacks of her own. A nice right hand and she has Pennington up against the cage, landing some nice left and right combinations. Pennington does well when establishing her reach advantage but lets Andrade come inside too often. Sensible game planning makes this a winnable fight for Pennington. They’re exchanging here! Andrade landed heavy but Pennington just fired right back. Great exchange. Andrade with some more dominant work in the clinch and Pennington once again landing some nice knees to the body. That’s the only real success she’s had so far. Andrade is just pushing forward and throwing everything at Pennington, and landing a few heavy shots. She really is trying to knock Pennington’s head off here! Damn Pennington has a tight standing guillotine here, but Andrade somehow gets out and tries a guillotine of her own! Crazy close to that round, another fun one in this awesome women’s bantamweight division.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Andrade.
Round 3 – Rocky needs to be the aggressor in this round but Andrade is constantly backing her up. They exchange some nice leg kicks and Andrade pushes forward with some nice combinations. That knee to the body in the muay-thai clinch has been great by Pennington but not enough. Andrade is hitting her with some big shots and Pennington stays frozen when that happens. She’s countering a little better in this round though and having a little more success than the first two rounds. Andrade lands some big shots but Pennington is taking it well. Andrade is landing some solid body shots and Pennington once again gets the muay-thai clinch and lands some brutal knees. Andrade isn’t fazed by it and constantly pushes forward. A failed takedown attempt. Pennington lands a nice right which momentarily stagers Andrade but she’s still pushing forward. Another crazy exchange by the Brazilian who is still trying her utmost to finish. She gives up her back and Pennington drags her to the mat! This is big! Can she do anything with it? Andrade gets back up but Pennington drags her back down once again and lands some nice punches. This is big after a close second round. A nice exchange at the end by Pennington. Awesome fight.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Pennington (29-28 Andrade).
Result: Andrade via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Great fight, neither girl is the loser in that one. Andrade has some holes in her game but at 22 she has a ton of potential.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Really excited for this one, both fighters have potential to do big things in the wide open featherweight division. Bermudez can make in six straight since dropping down to 145lbs here, but Hettes is one of the most underrated fighters in the division.
Round 1 – Big right hand to start the round by Bermudez and he’s pushing forward. He’s ultra aggressive here while Hettes is trying to take a measured approach. Bermudez initiates the clinch and is controlling Hettes. A lovely takedown by Bermudez but Hettes reverses and gets to his feet. Another takedown by Bermudez and another quick stand-up from Hettes. Bermudez is fighting like he has somewhere to go in a few minutes! A third takedown and a third quick stand-up, with Bermudez constantly pushing forward but leaving himself open to counters. Fourth takedown but he’s not controlling Hettes on the ground. A fifth takedown and he’s rag dolling Hettes. Great judo throw by Hettes but he doesn’t keep Bermudez down. More clinch work, little action in terms of strikes, merely Bermudez showing his effective wrestling and power advantage. Bermudez is trying to land some big blows but he’s not defending Hettes’s attacks well. A beautiful takedown and this time he keeps him down, in Hettes’s guard throwing some short shots. First significant exchange of the round with Bermudez controlling Hettes on the ground. Hettes gets up and attempts a takedown of his own, Bermudez counters with a nice guillotine attempt to end the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Bermudez.
Round 2 – Bermudez pushing forward once again and initiating the clinch, landing some nice punches and knees on Hettes. He’s really overpowering Hettes against the cage and having his way with him. They exchange short blows and Hettes is able to stay on his feet after a couple of trip attempts by Bermudez. Not much action in the opening couple of minutes in the round but Bermudez is controlling Hettes still. Bermudez gets Hettes to the ground and takes his back momentarily. Bermudez has Hettes rocked and hits his mouthguard out of his mouth! He’s ground and pounding on Hettes and this could be stopped soon. He’s in side control hammering at him. Hettes does well to recover guard and control Bermudez. Dennis is able to get some space and get some blows in but he leaves an opening. Hettes gets back up, retrieves his mouthpiece and concedes another takedown. Hettes now has Bermudez’s back, let’s see what he can do here. A takedown by Hettes and he has one hook in. This could get interesting with just 30 seconds left in this round! Both hooks in for Hettes and a body triangle, but not enough time to work. Too little, too late.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Bermudez.
Round 3 – The wrestling ability of Bermudez has been the key in this one but Hettes can still get the finish if he gets top control. Bermudez is up two-love. The round starts with more of the same, Bermudez getting the clinch and trying to rough Hettes up. He’s sticking to a very tight game plan here and it’s working, to give him his due. Hettes with more urgency here but Bermudez hurts him again with a sharp right. Hettes is on the bottom with Bermudez trying to land some blows and get the finish. Side control for Bermudez but he’s not landing with the authority that he needs to get a stoppage. Hettes gets to full guard with Bermudez stacking him and trying to unload, but none landing too cleanly. He lets him up to his feet and lands a beautiful leg kick on Hettes. Hettes is clearly hurt and trying to entice Bermudez to the ground. He’s landing some nasty blows and the knee ends the fight! Overwhelming performance by Dennis ‘The Menace’ Bermudez and a flip to boot!
Result: Bermudez via (T)KO at 2:57 in third round.
Bermudez is now 6-0 at featherweight, tying Jose Aldo for most wins in the UFC featherweight division’s history. Now, surely a top 10 opponent on the main card is deserved.
Sean Spencer vs. Alex Garcia
Alex Garcia had a brutal debut which lasted just 43 seconds and he is a huge welterweight. Spencer has gone 2-1 inside the Octagon and has been less impressive, but will be the hometown favourite for this fight.
Round 1 – Garcia lands a nice right hand, and Spencer is doubling up on his jab. A very different approach taken by Alex Garcia for this fight. He’s sticking to Spencer like glue and persistently trying to work the takedown. They get back to their feet and Garcia is avoiding Spencer’s attacks. Spencer’s movement is very impressive and he has avoided the power of Garcia so far. An awesome technique by Garcia, landing a head kick that came out of nowhere. If that landed correctly it could’ve been trouble. A second takedown by Garcia but he is unable to do anything with it and Spencer is back to his feet. Garcia is landing some nice shots but none cleanly, he’s certainly pacing himself and trying to implement a more patient attack for this fight. Spencer’s body kicks are landing but are very awkward. The round ends, not much to that one. Takedowns were the key but did nothing with them.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Garcia.
Round 2 – Spencer’s corner advising him to push the pace in this round but he isn’t doing so. Garcia is backing Spencer up and the power advantage of his strikes is clear. Spencer can take a good shot but he’s not going to win this fight by taking Garcia’s shots. A third takedown by Garcia, once again up against the fence and, again, does nothing with it before Spencer gets to his feet. Wow a big right hand and a kick by Spencer! Garcia is rocked! He’s landing in the clinch. He should look to get some distance and unload. Holy moly a counter by Garcia! Spencer is rocked now! This is crazy! Spencer is wobbly but counters on Garcia! They’re both wobbly but landing with reckless abandon! Damn! Garcia gets the takedown but Spencer reverses. They’re pretty exhausted but this is a fun brawl. They’re both unloading. A big right by Garcia and Spencer is backing up. He’s throwing hayemakers here in a Leonard Garcia-esque manner. Sluggish as it is, this is entertaining as hell. Another takedown by Garcia which gives him a chance to catch his breath, but the half guard is wide open. Why is he not trying to get into mount here? Spencer uses the cage to sweep and gets to his feet, hunting Garcia down. A big flying knee by Spencer followed by another takedown attempt by Garcia, this time unsuccessful. What a round! Garcia stumbles to his corner.
Cooper scores round 2 10-10.
Round 3 – Spencer is amped up and noticeably better conditioned than his opponent. Who will recover better and win this one? Spencer has caught a second wind but Garcia still pushing forward. Some nice big shots landing by the Canadian, but it’s surprising Spencer isn’t showing more desperation here. Spencer is limping funny after a checked leg kick, he’s trying to shake it off though. A big right by Spencer and he needs to land more of those if he wants this fight. Another shot for the takedown by Garcia and he gets it, staying in Spencer’s guard and landing a couple of nice shots. Spencer moves towards the cage and wall walks to his feet. He’s pushing forward and unloading on Garcia. His leg seems to be effecting his movement though. He needs to swarm on Garcia but the takedowns are too much for him. A lovely double leg by the Canadian and he’s got Spencer’s back, now transitioning to the mount. Spencer somehow gets out of it and lands a nice knee! That’s simply down to Garcia’s lack of gas tank and he’s walking around the cage with his arms down out of exhaustion; now is the time to pounce for Sean Spencer. Black Magic is pushing forward but not unloading in the way you’d like. He lands nothing significant and the round ends.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Garcia (30-28 Garcia).
Result: Garcia via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Renee Forte vs. Francisco Trevino
Forte failed to make weight for this one. He’s 1-2 inside the Octagon so a loss will probably be the end for him. Trevino makes his UFC debut after going 11-0 in other promotions. Trevino has an awesome braids/headband combination going on for the entrance. Wow, Rogan states that Trevino’s loose skin around his mid section is from him being 250lbs at one point in time. He fights at 155lbs tonight.
Round 1 – Trevino is the hometown favourite here but is on the back foot from the get-go. Forte is pushing forward but not attempting much. He gets a single leg takedown and get the back immediately. Both hooks in for Forte, and Trevino might be in trouble here. Trevino trying to spin out and doing a good job of turning towards the choking arm of Forte, but he needs to get out of this position. Forte is fighting sensibly and landing on occasion, trying to take a patient approach despite his dominant position. Trevino does a great job of getting to his feet and attempts a takedown which Forte reverses and gets a takedown of his own. Forte in Trevino’s guard here and Frank is attacking from his back but gives up half guard. Forte is so much bigger and it’s really telling in these grappling exchanges. Trevino gets to his feet once again and starts to push forward, with Forte potentially tired after a tough weight cut. Forte attacks at the end of the round but Trevino shakes his head. Not the greatest round ever.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Forte.
Round 2 – Trevino is pushing forward more at the start of this round but Forte is dangerous on the counter. There is a big difference between the power of the two, Trevino’s strikes don’t seem to face the Brazilian at all. Trevino seems very hesitant and isn’t very relaxed on the feet. Forte closing in and tries to get a takedown in the clinch but fails. Trevino seems to have a lot more in his gas tank and Forte is breathing heavy from his mouth and attempting little on the feet. Frank is pushing forward and seems a lot more comfortable on his feet. A nice body kick by Forte but it doesn’t faze Trevino who encourages his opponent to unload. Some Nick Diaz style “come and hit me” gestures from Trevino. Not the most sensible game plan against the heavy hitting Forte. The Brazilian gets the takedown and is in Trevino’s guard, who is active from the bottom with elbows and arm control. Trevino gets back to his feet and gets a crucial double leg takedown. That alone could have won him the round. Forte is back to his feet but Trevino is landing some nice knees and has head and arm control. Trevino is pumped up and this is going to be a very interesting round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Trevino.
Round 3 – Forte needs a sense of urgency here. Frank is pushing forward and is looking so much more comfortable, landing some nice shots and getting out of the way of the Brazilian’s attacks. Forte slips and Trevino lands some nice shots. Another good takedown by Trevino but Forte gets back to his feet immediately. A beautiful spinning elbow in the clinch from Trevino, that was simply awesome. Forte gets a takedown which Trevino counters immediately and gets to his feet. A big energy expenditure and Forte is clearly gassed. Trevino with some nice knees to Forte’s legs followed by a nice elbow. Great combination by Trevino who is really coming into his own in the third. He’s taking over here and the crowd is behind him. He’s unloading with some unorthodox techniques and pushing forward this whole round. Forte really needs to do something here. And he does, a takedown by Forte which could be critical. He needs to control Trevino here so he can secure the round. He’s got the back. Trevino stands and shakes Forte off, controlling him in the clinch and landing some shots. This really could go either way, a big sprint by either fighter could clinch this whole contest. A nice couple of shots by Forte but he’s on the back foot again. Some nice shots by Trevino to end the round. Close third round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Trevino.
Result: Francisco Trevino via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins
Campuzano lost his debut in a competitive short notice bantamweight fight with Sergio Pettis, while Scoggins had one of the breakthrough performances of the year in his debut. Let’s see if Tank can get another knockout and how Campuzano looks with a full training camp. Campuzano is 0-3 inside the Octagon and making his 125lbs debut for the promotion, he really needs a win here, but Scoggins is an undefeated 21 year old with a load of potential. Scoggins a -600 favourite in this one, surprising odds.
Round 1 – Scoggins with his hands low, he seems to have no respect for Campuzano’s striking. He gets a takedown and has Campuzano’s back immediately. He’s now in guard but working relentlessly, getting half guard and constantly trying to improve. Campuzano gets to his feet but gets hit with a nice body kick by Scoggins. His movement is looking sharp here but it’ll be interesting to see if he slows. He’s unloading on Campuzano and lands a nice head kick out of nowhere. A stuffed takedown attempt and Scoggins is looking very relaxed. Another nice deep double leg from Tank and he’s in Campuzano’s butterfly guard working some ground and pound. They’re back to their feet once again and Tank is changing stances frequently. Will has such a big reach advantage but just isn’t establishing it here. A nice head kick followed by a third takedown by Scoggins, but he once again does little with it. Campuzano makes a mistake and Scoggins has the back but they’re back to their feet. Will had no success at all in that round and needs to regroup.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Scoggins.
Round 2 – Campuzano showing more urgency and lands a hard leg kick at the start of the round. Scoggins looks immensely relaxed and looks like he’s having fun in there, evading all of Campuzano’s attacks and landing at will. He’s throwing some wild techniques and Campuzano isn’t capitalising at all. Scoggins gets the takedown but Campuzano holds onto a guillotine which looks tight at first, before Scoggins gets half guard and forces his opponent to release. Little happens for a minute or so, Scoggins happy enough being in his opponent’s guard. Campuzano gives up his back once again but rolls nicely and regains guard. Scoggins is overwhelming Will here and he is in full control on the ground. Scoggins briefly gets the mount but Campuzano gets to his feet with a nice sweep. Scoggins gets out of the way of Campuzano’s attack and hits him with a lovely 1-2 to end the round. All Scoggins once again.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Scoggins.
Round 3 – Campuzano needs the finish, he’s down 2-0 and a loss will likely see him cut once again. Scoggins might be hurt by a knee from Campuzano but he gets a takedown. He seemed on wobbly legs there after Campuzano countered a takedown attempt right at the start of the round. He now has mount but Campuzano counters and gets him in the full guard. Scoggins is doing a great job with ground and pound and is hurting Campuzano, who gives up his back once again. Scoggins makes no attempts of getting his hooks in. If there is one criticism about Scoggins’s performance is that he needs to be more controlling when in dominant positions. Campuzano gets back to his feet but Scoggins gets another takedown. It’s do or die time for Will but he’s on his back and showing little desperation. Scoggins has proved that he has a good gas tank to boot, and this has been a very well-rounded performance by the youngster. Brutal knee to Campuzano, but he gets back to his feet momentarily before another takedown by Scoggins! Damn, Campuzano must be feeling frustrated after mustering up enough energy to get back up before being dropped down immediately. More short ground and pound from Scoggins for the last 45 seconds of the fight. Dominant performance from a really promising man in Justin Scoggins.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Scoggins (30-27 Scoggins).
Result: Scoggins via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Tremendous performance by Scoggins and he certainly deserves a ranked flyweight. Only the second time he has gone the distance and his seven takedowns in the fight did the trick. Campuzano will likely be gone now.
Bubba McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland
I’ve heard some good things about Sean Strickland but Bubba McDaniel is no joke. This could go either way. Rogan describes Strickland as one of the ‘new breed’, and this is normally associated to the real big prospects. Let’s see if he can live up to the hype.
Round 1 – Strickland lands early but then slips. Bubba is trying to implement a lot of movement and leg kicks, but Strickland is doing a great job of getting out of the way of his strikes. Strickland is doing a great job of catching Bubba when he comes inside but McDaniels gets the takedown. Strickland back to his feet immediately and gets double underhooks inside the clinch. He gets a takedown of his own and catches McDaniel with some short punches. Strickland on top in half guard and landing some nice short elbows, preventing Bubba’s attempts at standing up. Some nice control from the undefeated prospect and he’s tagging McDaniels here. You really wouldn’t think Strickland is not only making his UFC debut, but coming in on short notice – he seems so relaxed and at home here. He’s teeing off and landing some hard shots and McDaniels is clearly dazed, any attempts at getting up are being halted by Strickland. He takes the back and gets both hooks in. He’s got the choke! McDaniels taps! Wow Rogan wasn’t wrong, Sean ‘Tarzan’ Strickland may be the next big thing at middleweight. Holy moly, that is one hell of a debut for a 23 year old.
Result: Strickland via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:33 in first round.
Joe Rogan – “This is the future.” He may well be right, Strickland looked awesome there against no slouch.
Daniel Pineda vs. Rob Whiteford
Both fighters are in desperate need for a win here; Pineda losing three of his last four and Whiteford lost his debut after coming in on short notice. Pineda is a finisher and all of his wins have come inside the distance, so expect him to be swinging with reckless abandon from the get-go. Pineda is the -230 favourite in this one.
Round 1 – Pineda is moving forward and lands a solid body kick. Whiteford is utilising some nice leg kicks, mostly targeting the calf. Another hard body kick from Pineda. The Scot gets Pineda in the clinch and holds him up against the fence but nothing too significant lands. His takedown attempts are getting blocked by Pineda but he’s winning this round. A number of warnings from the referee for lack of activity and Whiteford responds by getting the takedown, briefly gets the mount but Pineda escapes and gets to his feet. A second takedown by Whiteford and he gets side control, before Pineda regains butterfly guard and gets to his feet once again. The referee breaks the action after more inactive clinch work and Pineda seems to have more urgency. His body kicks are really working well. Whiteford is in-and-out very well and utilising some nice movement, he seems to have a big speed advantage. Pineda had little success in that round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Whiteford.
Round 2 – A quick takedown to start the round by Whiteford, but Pineda’s putting in some solid work on the ground with a restrictive guard. Little happens in the first round and Whiteford gets to his feet. Pineda pushes Whiteford to the fence, gets the takedown but it only briefly hits the mat. Pineda is constantly pushing forward and trying to land a big shot but he’s having little success. Whiteford lands a hard head kick which cuts Pineda, who grins and continues to push forward. He may be hurt here. Pineda is getting a little reckless and Whiteford is landing some nice shots. Whiteford gets the clinch and Pineda gives up his back. He rolls for a knee bar and Whiteford looks like he’s grimacing, but signals he’s okay and gets side control. Pineda’s vision is clearly effected by the blood. They get back to their feet and Whiteford runs away from Pineda’s attacks for the remainder of that round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Whiteford.
Round 3 – All or nothing for Pineda here, he needs a finish. He goes for a kick at the start of the round which Whiteford attacks and gets the takedown. He’s only able to get into the guard however, and he makes little attempt to improve his position despite the referee warning them for lack of activity. Pineda is landing some elbows, Whiteford isn’t attempting anything. Both fighters seem exhausted and the ref finally stands them up. Whiteford attempt another takedown which is stuffed and Pineda has a chance here if he can land cleanly. Whiteford has faded a lot and he isn’t moving effectively like the first and second. Another knee bar attempt by Pineda which looks very tight but a great escape by the Scot. Whiteford gains top position but he is doing little while in these positions. Pineda is constantly attacking, which is a credit to him. He isn’t settling for a decision unlike Whiteford here. Some more referee warnings and it is stood up once again. 50 seconds left and Pineda needs to go for broke. He has top position but Whiteford does well to hold on to him and Pineda has to settle with elbows to the thigh. A kimura attempt at the death by Pineda but to no avail. This one goes the distance.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Whiteford (30-27 Whiteford).
Result: Whiteford via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)