Tim B. takes a look at an excellent, if irrelevant, Fox card from Orlando.
Going into UFC on Fox 28, it looked to be the weakest Fox show ever on paper. And there’s no denying that it was. However, it turned out to be pretty exciting. The headliner between Josh Emmett and Jeremy Stephens was back-and-forth, with Emmett dropping Stephens in the first. Stephens came back in the second though, hurting Emmett with a counter left hook and putting him on the floor.
Things got a little dicey there though.
He landed two elbows directly to the back of the head, and then landed an illegal knee. The knee didn’t land flush, but it doesn’t matter. It made contact. Referee Dan Mirgliotta was out of position both times though, and he didn’t see any of them. Daniel Cormier is acknowledging it on the broadcast, and I applaud them for at least being honest about it.
Regardless, Stephens picked up a huge win in a huge spot. He isn’t likely to get a title shot any time soon with the Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega winner ahead of him, but it’s clearly the closest he’s ever been.
- To all the people saying “it doesn’t matter if the card was weak, it turned out to be really awesome!” – well, it does matter. I guarantee that the ratings for this will be among the lowest for any Fox card ever. So all these great fights go unseen by a lot of fans, simply because the promotion couldn’t put together a fight on top that will draw more eyeballs. The cards keep getting worse and worse in terms of name value, and that does have a big effect on the bottom line, no matter how crazy the action in the Octagon is.
- Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres put on one of the best fights in the history of the UFC’s women’s divisions, and they did it on a pretty big platform. Torres started great, rocking Andrade with rights over and over while dealing with her constant pressure. But once Andrade turned to the takedown game, a lot changed. Andrade is just so strong for strawweight, and she threw Torres around like a pillow. Torres battled hard, but Andrade was too relentless for her and she took a unanimous decision.
- How about that Ilir Latifi guy? He’s not just the guy that rides horses and elephants. He’s the guy that takes on fighters with a huge reach advantage over him, knocks them senseless twice, then chokes them unconscious. Latifi is the people’s main event every time he fights, and that was the first time I have yelled at my TV in joy since Georges St-Pierre beat Michael Bisping. You deserve it, Sledgehammer! Great finish.
- The main card started off with a very good fight between Max Griffin and Mike Perry. Despite being the biggest underdog on the card, Griffin dominated a slow Perry for the first two rounds, even dropping him in the second. Perry came back with a vengeance in the third, but it was too little too late.
- Renan Barao still has the heart of the champion. Unfortunately, his skills are nowhere near championship-caliber any more. He leaves himself wide open when he throws punches, his cardio isn’t where it needs to be, and his athleticism is failing him. He fought a competitive fight with Brian Kelleher, and the end of the third round was awesome. But he lost again, in a fight that was very winnable. He’s just not relevant at 135 or 145 anymore.
- Sara McMann had that fight in her lap and she just gave it away. After an extremely dominant first round on the ground which was an easy 10-8, she got a little overzealous on the feet and got dropped. After securing another takedown, she…didn’t defend a triangle attempt from Marion Reneau at all. It wasn’t even fully secured until Reneau dumped her off to the side, but McMann just never did anything about it. She could have just been rocked, I don’t know. But it looked pretty terrible.
- McMann has to be one of the biggest disappointmentss in recent UFC history. She has so much going for her, but she doesn’t seem to have worked on her submission defense much at all.
- It’s nice to see when the judges get something right. Maryna Moroz threw a ton of strikes (and grunted 300 times), but most of them hit air. Angela Hill touched Moroz up for the whole fight with kicks, jabs, and right hooks. She clearly won, but you just never know what judges are seeing with volume throwers. Luckily all three of them had it 30-27 for Hill.
- Alan Jouban and Ben Saunders put on an awesome fight. After the patented LETS call-out from Saunders, Jouban got right to beating the hell out of Saunders’ leg with kicks. They put together some wild exchanges in the first, but Jouban was in the drivers seat. And in the second, he knocked him clean out with a vicious left.
- I hope Saunders is okay. He went to sleep with his leg at a really awkward angle, Cro Cop style, as he dropped.
- For a guy with a million karate fights, Marcin Prachnio sure didn’t fight very smart. After getting dropped by a short counter, he just got up and charged at Sam Alvey with his hands down. Alvey popped him once more for good measure and it was over. Weird.
- I had Rani Yahya up 20-16 over Russell Doane after two rounds. He totally dominated him on the ground, to the point that I don’t even think Doane landed a strike in the first 10 minutes. In the third Yahya let Doane take him down, immediately swept him, and then finished him with a deadly arm triangle. Great performance.
- Alex Perez used a pressure game to easily control Eric Shelton. His transitions and heavy top game completely stymied Shelton’s output.
- The opener saw a vaunted prospect make good on his UFC debut, but it wasn’t easy. Albert Morales resisted Manny Bermudez’s submission-heavy attack for the first half of the fight, but once Bermudez was able to secure a guillotine, it was all over.