The UFC’s debut in mainland China, UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs. Blaydes 2, delivered a lot of exciting moments; including crushing TKOs in the main and co-main events. Also on the card were a number of submission victories, many by hometown favourites.
Performances of the Night: Francis Ngannou and Li Jingliang
Francis Ngannou will be the story of UFC Beijing, after he snapped his two fight losing skid with an epic TKO victory over Curtis Blaydes inside of 50 seconds.
The Paris-based Cameroonian was reeling after a dreadful loss to Derrick Lewis, on the heels of an awful loss to Stipe Miocic, and was being matched up against a man he beat, albeit controversially, two years ago. The feeling heading into this one is that Blaydes is the hotter prospect and that it was bad luck alone that propelled Ngannou to a title shot instead of him in the wake of their 2016 meeting. Blaydes was also favoured by Vegas to get revenge over Ngannou this night in China.
But Ngannou showed us all that he was capable of not only beating Blaydes fairly, but by doing it in sensational fashion. Ngannou’s bonus earning performance was capped by a huge right overhook that rattled Blaydes and sent him to the ground. A few ground and pound shots were enough to get the fight waved off after that.
Li Jingliang took a lot longer than Ngannou to get the job done in front of his partizan crowd. David Zawada dropped the ‘The Leech’ with a punch in the first round and then took the Chinese fighter into a third thanks to a dogged defensive display.
In the third round Jingliang connected with a brutal side kick into Zawada’s ribs that folded the German against the fence. A few punches later and that fight was ruled a TKO. Even though he was awarded a bonus for performance of the night, the moments leading up to the finish showed Jingliang has plenty of room to improve.
The award to Jingliang should leave a number of fighters upset over missing out on an extra $50,000 for their own very impressive finishes (Alistair Overeem, Louis Smolka, Weili Zhang).
Fight of the Night: Alex Morono vs. Kenan Song
Alex Morono and Kenan Song get $50,000 a piece for putting on an entertaining striking match that lasted the full three rounds and was ruled in favour of the American Morono.
The fight wasn’t a highly technical affair with both men throwing caution to the wind and winging huge punches at each other. The key to Morono’s success was he actually landed a number of these punches from range, whereas Kenan was content to lower his head and bull rush into his opponent before whiffing on the inside.
Both men were bloodied up in this one. It was a decent spectacle, but — in my opinion — no more so than the Yadong Song vs. Vince Morales or Xiaonan Yan vs. Syrui Kondo.