Dayne Fox takes a look at a loooonnnnng night from Australia at UFC Sydney.
At 40-years old with a severely lackluster performance against Alistair Overeem this past summer, many feared Fabricio Werdum was nearing the end of the line. Tonight’s decision victory over Marcin Tybura should squash those talks. After a pair of solid performances over a period of six weeks and Werdum is right back where he was before his loss to Overeem: in talks to be the top contender, though unlikely to get the shot.
While no one will declare the performance from Werdumerang to be vintage, he wasn’t far off from that form, comfortably winning the first four rounds before experiencing some rough patches in the fifth. He pulled the trigger with regularity – unlike in the Overeem contest – and landed some brutal knees that would put to sleep many others, only for the iron-clad chin of Tybura to hold up. A head kick in the fifth round from Tybura rocked the former UFC champion, but Werdum recovered enough to put together a competitive round even if he didn’t take it on the judges’ cards. It was a game performance from Tybura, even surviving some scary moments on the ground with the BJJ expert. However, it also showed he isn’t quite ready for the grand stage quite yet.
The rest of the action wasn’t the greatest as the card featured nine other decisions, making it the longest 13-fight card in UFC history in terms of fight time by a wide margin. Here’s the details:
- Credit to Jessica-Rose Clark – or is it Jessica Rose-Clark? – for taking her contest with Bec Rawlings on short notice. Even more credit for winning the fight. Stylistically, the fight was the type of back-and-forth brawl that Rawlings excels at. Instead, Clark’s egregious advantage in the volume won her the day.
- The favorite for FOTN, Belal Muhammad and Tim Means went toe-to-toe for 15 full minutes. Any round could have been scored for either fighter, neither securing a major advantage in the volume department. The judges saw fit to give Muhammad a split decision, a decision no one could argue with.
- Muhammad proceeded to call out everyone’s least favorite fighter Colby Covington. Apparently Muhammad isn’t cool with people who hate on other countries. Though it isn’t a bad call out, don’t expect anything to come of it.
- Bojan Velickovic won… at least in the eyes of anyone who isn’t an Australian judge. Jake Matthews started strong, controlling the big Serb for the majority of the opening frame. He didn’t have much else in the tank from there, allowing Velickovic to stuff Matthews’ takedown attempts and grind away on the smaller Aussie. However, Matthew’s found just enough patches of success in the final frame that two judges felt justified in awarding Matthews some home cooking.
- Everyone’s favorite underdog, Australia’s own Dan Kelly, was forced into a game of keep-away with Elias Theodorou. Theodorou threw a variety of kicks to pile up the volume, but never landed anything to wobble the former judo Olympian. Kelly came close to finishing the contest with a RNC in the third round only for Theodorou to escape and preserve the win, earning a shower of boos from the crowd.
- Pressure was the name of the game for Alex Volkanovski. He kept Shane Young pressed against the fence the entirety of the contest, picking him apart with punches and takedowns. Young showed resilience, but that’s about it. Can we please get Volkanovski a genuine step up in competition for his next fight?
- Ryan Benoit capped off the prelims in style, knocking Ashkan Mokhtarian silly with a head kick midway through the final frame. Even more impressive, Benoit may have broken his hand early in the contest. Good win for the flyweight.
- Will Brooks NEEDED a victory over former teammate Nik Lentz if he wanted to avoid having the bust label attached to him. He didn’t look bad early on, showing more aggression early with his outside striking while mixing in some takedowns. Lentz attempted multiple guillotines on the takedowns, finally securing one deep enough to get Brooks to tap about two minutes into the second.
- Ballsy talk from Lentz after the contest, putting up $50,000 if any lightweight from ATT can beat him. Whether he actually does it is another story, but that’s worth taking note of if you’re a member of the renowned fight camp.
- Has Brooks replaced Hector Lombard as the biggest free agent bust from Bellator? It’s an argument that could be made as Lombard at least had a few meaningful victories before fading. Brooks hasn’t even done that yet. If he is to shed that label, he has a VERY deep hole to climb out of.
- It’s rare you see a man pushing the heavyweight limit attempt a flying knee. It’s even more rare when it connects cleanly. In his UFC debut, Tai Tuivasa gave himself a high bar to clear as he did just that after backing a game Rashad Coulter against the fence before launching himself at Coulter to put him out cold.
- It didn’t matter what angle Damien Brown came from, Frank Camacho had a counter punch for everything he threw. Brown had a few good moments, including a RNC that came close ending the contest at the end of the first, but was bloodied and easily outstruck by Camacho in an entertaining brawl.
- Alex Chambers started out hot, taking the fight to Nadia Kassem early. Kassem survived the early onslaught, showing spirit by going after multiple submissions to keep Chambers on her toes, including a tight triangle near the end of the second. The advantage in the standup is eventually what earned Kassem a unanimous decision victory.
- Fun fact of the night: All four fighters who missed weight – Clark, Benoit, Camacho, and Kassem – ended up winning their contests.
- Eric Shelton picked up his first UFC win using his wrestling to get Jenel Lausa to the mat every round, utilizing control and steady ground-and-pound to pick up a rather nondescript win. Nonetheless, it was a strong win for the flyweight prospect.
- The curtain-jerker was the definition of heavyweight MMA when a KO isn’t produced. Anthony Hamilton started out strong, ground newcomer Adam Wieczorek and pounding him out the first round before tiring and allowing the lanky Pole to land the greater volume over the last two rounds and steal the win.