Another great card and great night for the UFC, and surely FOX must be well-pleased.
The main card gave us 6 amazing fights, with 5 outstanding finishes and each bout was rife with aggression and excitement; most had great back-and-forth. The card was also blessed with a great crowd and referees who knew what they were doing. On that point there wasn’t a single bad call or stoppage and of particular note, referee Leon Roberts did a great job in the Souza / Okami fight.
The story of this card has to be the knock-outs; 4 in total. From Ali “Puncher” Bagautinov 3rd round TKO of Marcos Vinicius “Vina” Borges Pancini, to the three quick 1rst round stoppages of their opponents by Benavidez, Souza and Teixeira, it was KOs’ galore for this card.
Of particular note, is the victory of flyweight Joseph Benavidez. In his 1rst round and masterful dismantling of Jussier da Silva, Benavidez extended the winning streak of Team Alpha Male to 13 & 0 and in doing so, continues to demonstrate that TAM head-coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig is “The Rain Man” of MMA. In every fight now, TAM fighters are showing up and not only winning, but finishing fighters in dominating fashion. Surely, it won’t be long before fighters start flocking to Ludwig’s doors, the way they do Greg Jackson’s.
Of course, the other big stories of the night are Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Glover Teixeira. Souza for his part looked down-right scary. His stand-up looked phenomenal and #3 ranked Okami had nothing for him in the way of a fight. Souza came out and simply dominated Okami, using his 2 inches of reach advantage to good advantage, he simply beat on Okami and there seemed to be nothing that Yushin could do about it.
The unfortunate part for Souza is what now? As Belfort is set to face Dan Henderson on November 9th and division champion Chris Weidman is tied-up in his re-match with Anderson Silva set for December 28th, there is quite literally no one for him to fight, right now. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months and what match the UFC can put together for him. Either way though, and regardless of how good he’s looked, he’s at the back-of-the-line behind Anderson Silva & Vitor Belfort, and unless Belfort loses to Henderson he’s apt to be there for a while.
On the other hand, Glover Teixeira had more of a slog with Ryan Bader. Bader looked good coming out and was actually winning the fight. Bader was very mobile, appeared to be quicker than Teixeira and was more than holding his own in the exchanges. To that point he had caught and rocked Glover, and appeared that he might pull off the upset victory. However and true to form, Glover withstood Bader’s shots and when the opportunity presented itself, he put Bader down with a one-two combination.
As it has now been confirmed that Glover will get the next light-heavyweight title shot, it will be interesting to see how he fares against either Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafsson. In particular and should Jones beat Gustafsson, it will be interesting to see how Teixeira will deal with Jones’s eight-and-a-half-inch reach advantage and incredible wrestling skills.
In terms of tonight’s big losers, Bader & Okami, it’s back-to-the-drawing-board. For his part, I thought Bader looked great, but when he started having success against Teixeira he seemed to start head-hunting and got caught. Perhaps he can learn from that and improve.
As for Okami, he simply looked bad. He was outclassed by Souza on the feet and the scary part of that, is that stand-up isn’t even Jacare’s speciality. In Okami’s case, I think he could do with a new camp and training facilities; something that would change his game up. The middleweight division is toughening up dramatically and if Yushin wants to be more than a gate-keeper at 185, he’s going to have to add some dynamism to his game.
All-in-all, it was a great night of fights and certainly one that stirred things up in the middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions, and one that moved Joseph Benavidez a step closer to a re-match with Demetrious Johnson. It was also a night that showed us a new, talented and tough flyweight fighter with some punch, by the name of Ali Bagautinov, and a night that put Rafael Natal’s name into the middleweight rankings discussion. On the subject of Natal and as he’s now on a 3 fight winning streak, his next opponent should be a ranked one.
Finally, it was a night that introduced us to a very tough and game Polish lightweight fighter, by the name of Piotr Hallmann. Hallman took a beating in the 1rst round of his fight with Francisco Trinaldo and one that would have wilted most other fighters. Yet, the game 26 year old stuck it out and submitted his opponent with a beautiful Kimura. As 155 is a tough division, it will be interesting to see who he draws next and how he does. Tough is a great quality to have as a fighter and Hallmann certainly has it.