So UFC 235 was last night, if you’re like me, you’re very hungover, and damn right pissed off. I had my heart broken numerous times last night, it was a dark night for the guys and girls I picked, but it was a great card, not all fights quite lived up to the hype was this no UFC 217 in terms of how amazing it was start to finish but my god, it was a great card. There was drama from end to end, upsets, highlight reel knock outs and some people just not turning up at all. This card always had the makings of being something special considering how stacked it was, and despite the rollercoaster of emotions, I had a great time
We’re going to start with the prelims, again like the preview we aren’t going into detail with the early prelims as we have a lot to get through, but great performances from Chiasson and Shahbazyan saw them pick up quick KO wins and Cifers ground out a split decision win in a fun back and forth fight. That brings us to the first prelim fight of the night, and in short, Sanchez literally committed a murder live on TV. I didn’t see that coming at all. AT ALL. Sanchez in entering the twilight stages of his career and I, and many others have been dying to see him hang his gloves up to avoid impending brain damage, but what a performance. Mickey Gall had a gas tank as empty as the space between Colby Covington’s ears. He was awful, he swung for the fences for about 90 seconds and was done. When Sanchez took him down he looked lost, there was a fear in his eyes that told the story. Sanchez brutalised him, dominating him in the first and again in the second, on top, elbows coming thick and fast, Sanzhez took Mickey Gall apart, it was hard to watch, the young up and comer got absolutely destroyed, period.
Cody Stamann vs Alejandro Perez
This was a nice little fight to plump up the prelims as Cody Stamann looked to return to winning ways against veteran Perez who was riding a 4 fight win streak coming into this contest. Not a whole lot to say about this one as a smart Stamann utilised his wrestling to subdue his more experienced opponent. Right out the gate he was pushing the pace, forcing Perez towards the cage and trying to land some big shots. Failing that, he secured the takedown in round 1 and that was a sign of things to come throughout the rest of this bout. Perez did well in attempting to defend the takedowns and he landed some nice shots of his own in the way of leg kicks, especially in the second round, but Stamann just overwhelmed the Mexican with superior grappling. The most stand out moment of the fight was however in the third where Perez decided to stop being bad at wrestling for 20 seconds and lifted Stamann up into a thunderous slam to the canvas. If it was for Cody tucking in his chin and defending the ground and pound well then it could have been all over. No glossing this one up, it wasn’t that exciting, but it was a close contest with two hungry competitors. Cody ground out the win and looks in a good place now to advance in the bantamweight division, I mean he’s already the best UFC bantamweight named Cody so that’s a start. What next for Perez? I’m sure he’ll land on his feet. Or back, as was the case in this bout. He’s a talented fighter but bantamweight seems to be getting more and more stacked every week
Misha Cirkunov vs Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker made sure his hype train keeps on rolling, now I know hype train is usually used to describe someone who isn’t actually that great, but Walker is in fact something special. I wasn’t sure until yesterday, the step up in competition was huge but Walker took Misha out with ease. He waited for his opportunity and took it with precision. Light of his feet, switches stances regularly, he kept Cirkunov guessing and exploded with a beauty of a flying knee when the opening presented himself. He is so incredibly agile for his size, he moves so well, he’s fast, he’s powerful, and last night Johnny Walker took out a very good fighter in Cirkunov, with ease. He now has three knockout wins in under three minutes of total time in the octagon. He’s officially a threat to anyone in the light heavyweight division, it would be nice to see how he fares on the ground, and how his gas tank holds up but no one can hang with him long enough to test those attributes right now. I expect big things from Walker in future, potentially a fight with Anthony Smith, or the loser of Oezdemir vs Reyes, either way, Walker is ready for a top 5 guy and I can’t wait to see him nest time out. The biggest threat he’s faced so far is his post fight celebrations, which saw him dislocate his shoulder last night, maybe tone the celebrations down next time Mr Walker.
Jeremy Stephens vs Zabit Magomedsharipov
Okay so next up is the fight that should of, could of and almost in the third round, it looked like it was the fight we all wanted to see. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as explosive and crazy as we wished it would be but it had its moments, Zabits flair was there in part, Stephens landed some good shots but the first two rounds were basically a game of cat and mouse. I’d love to say Stephens had the worst game plan of the night but that prize goes to Woodley, who’s plan was seemingly to do absolutely nothing, but we’ll get to that in due time. Stephens just looked for the big right hand all night, no setting it up, no feints, no clever movement, just chasing Zabit round trying to unload that one big punch. It was confusing, it clearly was never going to work and I don’t know why that was his game plan. He didn’t start throwing jabs and combinations until the third round, and although that brought him more success it was too late to sway the outcome of the fight. Zabit looked great, his movement kept him out of danger, his range kept Stephens on the outside, he had a great second round, utilizing his wrestling and although there wasn’t a flashy finish he ran rings round Stephens without ever being in real danger, it was a very smart performance against a top featherweight in Stephens and you have to think now Zabit is in line to face a top 5 guy. Volkanovski are Ortega are both looking to face Aldo, maybe Zabit could get the guy that misses out on Aldo?
Cody Garbrandt vs Pedro Munhoz
Well, well, well. This one was interesting and definitely one of the main talking points from last night. In our predictions article we said that if Cody lets his emotions get the best of him, he could be in serious trouble and when you’re fighting a seasoned competitor who’s as tough as a bowl of nails for breakfast (without any milk) like Munhoz it’s never gonna end well. Cody started this one tentative with Munoz pushing the pace, coming off a 2 fight win streak he had the confidence to pursue the action and let fly with some devastating leg kicks that hurt Garbrandt immediately. You could see the visible limp and he switched stances a few times in order to mitigate the damage. Although Cody was behind, the fight was going steady and both fighters seemed to have found their grove when Cody went well, he went full Cody Garbrandt mode. This is basically when you decide to think back to all your training, all your discipline and all the tactics you’ve practised intensely over the last few months and think, fuck it, that’s fucking bullshit, I’m knocking this prick out right fucking now. I have no idea why he keeps doing this. The TJ fights I can kind of understand, he was emotionally invested, had a serious personal issue and let his emotions get the better of him. The same thing happened to Cruz in their fight, he was emotional and just started swinging. I mean do you remember that Garbrandt? That tactical genius who dismantled one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world over 5 rounds? Got in his head, out struck him, out wrestled him, out performed him in every considerable way? No, me neither. I think this goes back to his issues at camp. Alpha male is a redundant, awful camp who are no good for any fighter. Look at TJ, as soon as he left he flourished, went onto do amazing things. Alpha male just isn’t the right environment for the modern sport emotionally or tactically. Plus, Cruz ran through their whole camp without even breaking a sweat. I’ve physically exhausted myself more writing this paragraph than he ever did in any of those fights. Cody needs to change gym and he needs to change now. Jesus christ that was a huge side track. Where was I? Oh right yeah, so Cody is in full Cody mode charging at Munhoz and engaged in what only can be described as a dick swinging contest. Huge rights and lefts being thrown by both men as they left everything by the wayside. Munhoz got tagged a couple of times but his chin is made out of whatever Captain America’s shield is and he nailed Cody with a shot so hard his ancestors felt it. What an amazing performance by Munhoz, tactically took Cody apart from the off and when it came to it out swung him in the pocket. The slick boxing, patient workhorse Garbrandt seems long gone at this point and if he doesn’t make serious changes in his camp, with 3, yes, 3 knockout losses in a row he could be Bellator champion next year.
Tecia Torres vs Weili Zhang
The only womens fight on the main card last night saw Tecia Torres, top womens strawweight despite being on a two fight losing streak, take on exciting up and comer Weili Zhang. It was a tense, close encounter, Zhang was just a little ahead the whole fight. Both scored takedowns, both had their fair share of top control, and both managed to land on eachother on the feet. There was no real high point of the fight, no huge shots, and no real highlight reel moments but Zhang managed to edge ahead, mainly in the third with a lot of top control and short strikes to closed out the fight. For Zhang, it’s a great win against a big name in Torres, Zhang is now riding an incredible 19 fight winning streak, only losing her first pro bout, and as for Torres it’s a disappointing result that now see’s her slump to 3-3 in her last 6, which seems harsh when you consider how good she is. Maybe she needs time off, or a change in approach but something has to change for her in order to change the downward spiral she finds herself in at the moment.
Robbie Lawler vs Ben Askren
The drama just didn’t stop all night with this damn card. I don’t know where to begin so I’ll just dive straight into the action and go from there. Right from the off Ben Askren and his ridiculous luscious locks ran straight over to Lawler to try and secure the takedown. This was, as per our predictions, the only way he was even remotely winning this fight. Lawler has great takedown defence and it was on display here, stuffing immediately. Askren’s hair made some adjustments, transitioned round Lawler to try and secure the trip when 1996 gold medalist Lawler took his straps down, threw caution to the wind and hit his patented manoeuvre, a devastating olympic slam. The strange part was though, rather than going for the ankle lock, he started throwing some ground and pound, which raised a few eyebrows. But seriously, this ground and pound was devastating. He was seriously beating Askren up here really mixing up his shots. Would it be a Lawler fight without blood? Absolutely not, the UFC doesn’t allow it and neither should anyone, Askren got a cut and the bleeding was visible as Lawler started to target it. Askren’s hair managed to recover and he pushed Lawler against the cage to try and secure some kind of offence. Now here’s where the controversy starts. The UFC is just silly. Askren secures the takedown against the cage and Robbie is trying to stand it back up. In the process, Askren grabs like a side headlock kinda thing and grips it in tight. Lawler looks out, his arm is limp and Herb Dean runs over to check and I think it’s safe to say everyone watching thought Lawler was taking 40 winks. Herb stops the fight, only for Lawler to be 100% completely fine. Bad stoppage. Now you can’t blame Herb here, he’s one of the best refs of all time and when it comes to chokes on an unconscious opponent, stepping in too late could mean serious brain damage or even worst. When you have a limp arm and are being unresponsive, only one thing is gonna happen. It’s a shame though, Lawler was seriously putting some hurt on Askren and his hair and if it wasn’t for that stoppage I see him going on to win that contest. Askren did not look impressive to me. As one trick pony as they come, all he ever tried to do was secure the takedown. Not even really setting it up, and his top game looked average. I don’t mean to bash him, I want everyone in the UFC to perform well, but he looked much like his hair, cheap and fake. I hope the UFC sanction the immediate rematch due to the stoppage, and I don’t see Askren winning that if he doesn’t make some serious adjustments to his offensive repertoire.
Tyron Woodley vs Kamaru Usman
Now, before we get into the co-main event, I’ll tell it like it is, I ate my own words last night, I gave Usman no chance whatsoever, if anyone read our preview of 235 they will have seen it for themselves, I gave Usman precisely 0% chance of winning. But boy was I wrong, he was dominant, absolutely dominant, one of the most one sided title fights I’ve ever witnessed, it made Junior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez 2 and 3 look competitive. Something was definitely off with Woodley, I don’t know what it was, I can’t put my finger on it, injury? Maybe. Illness? Maybe. Just a bad night? Maybe. Spent all his energy recently becoming the greatest rapper the world has ever known? Probably not. Who knows, he didn’t engage, he didn’t push the pace, he hardly even tried, it was frankly embarrassing, start to finish. Even when he went into the fifth round, knowing he was four rounds down, he had absolutely nothing to give. He was drained and beaten mentally and physically from the first minute, to the very last. But let’s not give Usman no credit, myself and many others last night vented their frustration with Woodley and how bad he was, but Usman was fantastic. He ground Woodley out, constant pressure, great wresting, octagon control, you name it, Usman had it going for him last night. He broke Woodley down and he made it look easy. The other thing I give him prips for was how respectful he was last night after the fight, his normal cocky self was nowhere to be seen, he congratulated Woodley on being a great champ, he was emotional, he had his family in there with him, it was actually very warming and a refreshing change from what we normally see from him. I actually became a fan for a few brief seconds before I remembered what he done to the greatest rapper of all time. What’s next for Usman? Who knows, I hope it isn’t Covington because he’s an ass, I hope it isn’t Askren after the Lawler outcome, and Woodley doesn’t deserve a rematch after that performance so it looks like it may actually be asshat Colby Covington. Sigh. For Woodley, well let’s face it fighting was always just a side hobby for him, everyone knows his speciality is rapping, maybe another album could be on the way? All jokes aside though I got a lot of love for Woodley, I hope he takes some time out to correct his mistakes and comes back better than ever, there’s no way I can put into words how disappointing last night was for him but one bad loss is not the end for him, or anyone for that matter. I hope to see him bounce back, but instant rematch against Usman? No way. He didn’t even seem to care after losing the fight. In the championship rounds his corner were giving him a proper dressing down, urging him to do something, anything. After the bell in the fifth he went straight over to the opposition corner and congratulated everyone. He didn’t seem to care. At all. And that’s almost as disappointing
Microdose Jones vs Anthony Smith
Here it is, the big one. A lot of back and forth between fans was going on with this one, could Smith cause the upset? Is Jones just too good? It was an interesting matchup on paper, and we properly broke this one down in our predictions article. If Smith could push the pace, get Jones into a scrap and land some clean shots he could cause an upset here, we even predicted exactly that would happen (more wishful thinking). In practise however, this fight did not go the way I think anyone thought it would. Right from the off Jones was doing classic Jones. Landing some nice strikes, good hands while peppering in a few spinning side kicks. Smith was letting Jones come to him, who obliged, and timed his strikes better than he times his steroid intake. I would break this down round by round, but to be completely honest there isn’t much point and not much to say here. Jones kept on him the whole fight, out struck Smith, out grappled him, landing takedowns, landing ground and pound. I like Smith, I like him a lot, but he looked lost here. We’re not really sure what his game plan was, but he showed his famous heart and determination by staying in there and going toe to toe with Microdose. Now I’d like to say that’s the end of it, just 5 standard rounds, but no, this is a Jones fight, and when Jones goes 5 minutes without cheating he starts to get angsty. First off, he hit several illegal shots on the ground which were completely unnecessary, then, to make matters worth, he literally kneed Smith fully in the face while he was on the floor. Scumbag. A devastating shot that would end most fights, just check out some Pride to see for yourself. I look forward to seeing how Jones fans defend this when just weeks ago they were probably slating the much less experienced Gregg Hardy for doing the exact same thing. It was horrible to watch, and Smith could have easily called the fight off and I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he did, but showing his all so famous lion heart he decided to carry on. Jones was deducted 2 points, which at this point was like throwing a deck chair off the titanic. He was never losing this one. And that’s pretty much the end of it boys and girls. I’m disappointed with Smith’s performance, but to go 5 rounds with the best ever light heavyweight, take a flush knee to the face when you’re already down, then still go on to finish the fight, you get my respect.