I won’t lie, UFC Sacramento was on its way to being one of the lowest quality, worst UFC events I’ve seen in years. And then we got a trio of first-round finishes to end the evening, ranging from hometown excitement for Josh Emmett and Urijah Faber to the disappointment over what seemed like a very premature stoppage by Herb Dean in the Germaine de Randamie vs. Aspen Ladd fight.
The main event lasted only 16 seconds, and perhaps wouldn’t have gone on much longer if Dean didn’t intervene so early, but de Randamie decked Ladd with a good right hand and connected on one left before the fight was called off. Ladd was definitely hurt but I thought she should’ve had a chance to defend herself. She wasn’t out cold, she had (enough of) her wits about her, and then Herb just said the show’s over. That’s unfortunate for Ladd but take nothing away from de Randamie, who has won five straight since losing to current two-division champion Amanda Nunes. Perhaps a rematch is in the cards either this year or early next year.
More thoughts on this card:
- Well who saw that coming?! Urijah Faber returns from more than two years away from the sport, gets immediately hurt by Ricky Simon’s left hook, then he turned the tables with a counter right hand that put Simon down. A 46-second TKO that represents the first knockout win for Faber since 2007, the first knockout win of his UFC career, and the roar from the crowd at Golden1 Center was deafening. I will cross my fingers that he doesn’t get his wish granted to fight Henry Cejudo for the bantamweight title, but the 40-year-old “California Kid” turned back the hands of time for at least tonight, and it was a special moment.
- Josh Emmett’s power at featherweight is real. He knocked Mirsad Bektic down with a jab. Some brutal ground-and-pound ensued and that was all she wrote. Emmett prevails in front of his home fans, and his last three wins have all been by KO.
- Karl Roberson was a very willing grappler against Wellington Turman, which could’ve spelled doom for him. It nearly did, but credit to Karl for surviving several bad spots and a deep rear-naked choke in the final round. I assume the ground-and-pound he landed on Turman with about 25 seconds left is what helped get him the split decision, as it otherwise felt like Turman should’ve gotten the nod.
- Italy’s Marvin Vettori kicked off the main card with a shutout decision over Cezar Ferreira. He outstruck him, took him down a couple of times, and his cardio held up a hell of a lot better than Mutante. Vettori then called for a bout with Paulo Costa, which is ambitious and unlikely, but maybe that’s “The Italian Dream.” Get it? Get it? Ohhhhh you’re not reading any of this, are you?
- Brazil’s John Allan came in on short notice and deservedly took a decision over Mike Rodriguez in a light heavyweight bout that was… well it wasn’t very good, was it? Rodriguez has a lot to clean-up, especially his takedown defense and work in the clinch.
- Wow. Andre Fili was incredible. He tore apart Sheymon Moraes, wobbling him with a right cross and head kick, decking him with a wicked right hand, and sealing the deal with hammerfists. That’s a big win for Fili; his first TKO since 2015 and the first ever strikes stoppage loss for the Brazilian. Is the Team Alpha Male featherweight finally putting it all together? He might be.
- Women’s bantamweight contender Julianna Pena recovered from a slow start to outwrestle and outgrapple former UFC women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano in the final two rounds. That was a grueling fight and much praise goes to Pena for getting the W after 2.5 years out, the birth of her child, and accepting the matchup on short notice.
- I was wrong. Turns out Darren Elkins actually CAN get his ass kicked on the feet even against Ryan Hall. That actually happened. The dangerous grappler dropped Elkins three times, including with a spinning back kick, and I honestly can’t even believe I typed that sentence. Hall couldn’t submit Elkins or get him to engage on the ground for longer than three seconds, but why worry when K-1 Ryan is in the house?
- Jonathan Martinez and Liu Pingyuan engaged mostly in a chess match of sorts — the positive spin to say a fight is boring — and then Martinez kneed Pingyuan into unconsciousness with one minute left in the final round. The bad news for Martinez is that it’s not even the best knee KO within the past seven days, but the good news is he gets his first UFC finish and he did it in superb style.
- Invicta FC champion Brianna Van Buren was outstanding in her UFC debut against fellow ex-strawweight champ Livia Renata Souza. Her fast hands, powerful kicks, combination work, speed, and strength were too much for the Brazilian to handle, and it was rightfully scored 30-27 across the board. Between her one-night tournament triumph in Invicta and this win over Souza, keep an eye on Van Buren’s development in such a talented divsiion.
- Vince Morales was straight-up robbed by the judges. He absolutely won at least two rounds if not all three against Benito Lopez, but instead Lopez got the 29-28 nod on all three scorecards. Morales may regret not letting his hands go more in the pocket, but he floored Lopez hard in round one and did great work in round three. Awful judging.
- On a personal note, today is exactly seven years since I started writing for Bloody Elbow. Be sure to direct all of your complaints to Tim Burke. It’s his fault.