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UFC Saskatoon: 'Holloway vs Oliveira,' The Report Card

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) spent months promoting the main event between Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 74 last night (Aug. 23, 2015) inside SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Over the course of 11 fights leading up to the FOX Sports 1-televised main event, it used commercial breaks to show previews, promos and interviews of Holloway and Oliveira. In addition, there was commentary from Jon Anik, Brian Stann, Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping on FOX Sports talking about the fighters, their strengths and weaknesses.

All that breath came to an utter waste last night as the fight ended in just 99 seconds because of a freak injury (read a full statement here), bringing a stunned silence to the SaskTel Centre and leaving a whole lot of viewers at home going, "what just happened?"

To watch full Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira full fight video highlights click here.

The truth is that shit is what happened, which happens from time and time. That's life. Let's hope UFC re-books the fight down the line at some point since it was exciting for the 1.5 minutes it lasted.

On the whole, I think UFC "Saskatoon" fared as well as could be expected for its provincial debut, particularly for many of the Canadians who picked up impressive wins, including Patrick Cote, Valerie Letourneau, Chris Kelades and Shane Campbell. No, I didn't forget Olivier Aubin-Mercier. I said impressive.

The Canadian Ben Askren hard at work. Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

We interrupt this regularly scheduled report card to bring you a classic Adrian MacNair rant ...

I need to address the judging in this sport once again. I'm not one to needlessly waste breath, particularly about something I've ranted about too many times to count, but it needs to be said once more. The half-witted slobs masquerading as professionals judging the fights in UFC are among the most incompetent people on the planet.

Frankly, I'd rather give the job to a cat mashing random buttons on a keyboard than the bozos who can't seem to fill out a scorecard properly for a beatdown like the one Neil Magny handed Erick Silva (watch video highlights here). The only excuse for the one judge handing Erick Silva two rounds is that he couldn't tell the long-haired Brazilian apart from the lanky black American.

As a fan, I find it hard to take this sport seriously when there is no listed criteria or qualifications for becoming or keeping a job as a UFC judge. It would seem the current qualifications one requires is being able to randomly scrawl 9's and 10's in boxes without any understanding whatsoever as to the implication of their actions.


Having said that, let's move on to the UFC Saskatoon "Report Card" below:

It wouldn't be fair to assess grades based on 99 seconds of action, especially since there was no legitimate finish in this one. It's disappointing, but we merely got a taste of what looked to be shaping up to be a fairly decent fight. Early in the stand up it appeared that Max Holloway was getting the better of the exchanges, but Charles Oliveira is wily fighter and it would have been interesting to see this fight go for several rounds.

Although I wouldn't mind seeing this fight re-booked, I'd also be happy to see Holloway get his wish after calling out Frankie Edgar following the fight. Although I don't think Holloway deserves to ride higher on the ladder from a technical knockout injury victory, it doesn't make sense to make him wait until Oliveira is healthy again so they can fight.

That just turns one fight into an eight-month ordeal.

This was classic Erick Silva. That is to say, classic inconsistent Silva.

Frankly, I was quite surprised to see Silva come in as a favorite to this fight. As far as I can recall, he's never been able to handle any top-ranked fighters and has only ever looked good against fringe UFC fighters. Not only that, Silva came into this fight looking very Mauricio Rua-like, that is, flabby and slow.

Silva is known as a fast starter with poor cardio but in this fight was just all around poor. Although he did manage some takedowns against Magny he wasn't able to do much with the positions and found himself outmuscled by the bigger and stronger American. Following his fourth UFC loss to a fighter in the top 15 it's probably safe to say Silva will never be a threat in this division. I wonder how much weight he cuts? He looked a little pudgy, which means a 155-pound cut may be possible.

Read the recap for Magny vs. Silva here | Full fight video highlights here

As for Magny, I actually expected better out of him as well. In a first round that started strongly with a near finish at the end, I thought he would attempt to get Silva back down on the ground where he could use those lanky elbows to get another finish. Instead, he unwisely traded with Silva on the feet and gave the Brazilian more opportunities than he deserved.

It was fortunate that Silva didn't have the speed or skill to capitalize.

Perhaps the extenuating circumstance for Magny is that he took the fight on short notice after competing recently against Demian Maia, which means he probably wasn't fully prepared for the fight. There were also some positives to take away from Magny's ground game as he was able to escape bottom position several times by grabbing a single leg and reversing the position.

This was a great scrap. Both guys were going for broke and trying for a knockout, leading to some really exciting moments in the fight where it seemed either one could win. In the end, however, it looks like Josh Burkman's UFC curse continues, dropping his sixth straight in the Octagon and first career loss via knockout.

To watch Patrick Cote vs. Josh Burkmann full fight video highlights click here.

In the first round Burkman appeared to be playing with fire, dropping his hands and counterpunching an aggressive Patrick Cote who was looking for the takedown early and often. Burkman landed three really heavy shots in the first round but Cote's remarkable chin ate them like protein bars and he returned fire with a nice right hand late in the first that wobbled Burkman.

The second was a more patient affair as Cote landed kicks from range, while Burkman kept his hands at a respectful height, having tasted the Quebec fighter's power. Although there were some wild exchanges it looked like Cote would coast to an easy decision as the horn sounded to end the second (read full fight recap here).

And then the third happened.

Burkman came out, hugged Cote and then swarmed on him like a werewolf tearing open a rabbit. I was certain Cote would get knocked out and was actually kind of confused when he shook it off and returned the favor. Perhaps fired up by his corner, Burkman was very aggressive for most of 90 seconds into the third, winging punches at Cote and connecting several times.

And then Cote landed an absolute bomb.

A picture-perfect right hook floored Burkman, who rolled over and tried to get up as Cote swarmed on him with punches. When the referee stepped in I actually protested at first because it looked like Burkman might recover, but the replay showed he had eaten about 25 unanswered blows.

It was a good stoppage.

It's amazing to see Cote's career resurgence at 170 pounds at the age of 35. He's always had the skill and technique, but he's finally fighting at a weight class where his power and size will give him the sort of advantage where he can really make a difference. I'm not saying he'll ever be a contender but he's a fun fighter to watch and he's certainly a long way from that Tom Lawlor loss that briefly ended his UFC career.

Several people were calling this an upset, but I honestly couldn't tell if they were kidding or not. A guy who competed at Middleweights on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" was going to get manhandled by a guy riding a five-fight decision streak against fighters not in the top 100?

Please allow me to refer to my predictions post where people mocked me for my analysis:

It would seem that the Canadian is the odds on favorite for this fight (-335 to Francisco Trinaldo at +275), but I'm having a tough time figuring out why. Laprise is undefeated, it's true, but beating up Bryan Barberena doesn't really get me excited about his chances against a bulldog like Trinaldo.

Uh, exactly. Laprise came out gung-ho from the outset, but was woefully unprepared for Trinaldo's speed and striking and too slow to adapt once that fact became clear. I'm not entirely sure what he could have done differently once he started getting caught early and often -- perhaps shoot for a takedown and start looking for the counters.

It never happened.

What makes his performance all the more impressive is that he turned 37 today (Mon., Aug. 24, 2015) and shows no signs of slowing down since making his Octagon debut back at UFC 147. He's an inspiration to all the other old guys out there (like me).

I crowed about my prediction in the last fight so allow me to eat some here. I wagered that Tony Sims would knockout Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the second round. Possibly the worst prediction of all time. Aubin-Mercier manhandled this failure for three rounds of eye torture. If I'd known he came from Brandon Thatch's camp I wouldn't have touched him with a 20-foot clown pole.

Sims' performance in the first round may qualify as the worst that any fighter has ever delivered in five minutes in a UFC fight. And that's saying a lot. Over the course of 300 seconds Sims landed zero significant strikes in a total of zero attempted.

Fucking zero. Let me repeat. He did fuck all. Nothing.

In the second round Sims attempted four strikes, landing nothing, making him perhaps the first human being to last 10 minutes in a cage without landing an offensive or defensive blow. I'm not even mad. That's impressive. It's difficult to be that useless. You almost have to deliberately attempt to be so utterly ineffective as to be unable to land a kick or a punch even in self-defense. I mean, even a toddler can kick you in the shins before you can drag it away from a tantrum.

But, not Sims. He doesn't roll like that.

Not that Aubin-Mercier gets off the hook. Dude landed three strikes in the entire fight, one for each round. If he hadn't been Canadian I'm pretty sure they would have booed him from the cage. But, then again, this is a nation that embraced and celebrated Georges St-Pierre.

Just how shallow is the women's 115-pound division? UFC ranked Maryna Moroz No. 8 after seeing her perform for 90 seconds. Despite the fact she won via armbar, everybody thought she was a heavy favorite against Valerie Letourneau, a woman who owns a split decision loss to Claudia Gadelha.

Please allow me to refer to my predictions post again:

If Letourneau can avoid getting taken down or caught in a submission, logic says she should win this fairly easily. After all, she's only three years removed from losing a split decision to Claudia Gadelha, who is next in line to try and dethrone the champion. Fifteen minutes is a long time to avoid submissions from a fighter who owns a Ronda Rousey-esque resume of first round armbars, but with Letourneau's experience and striking advantage it's really up to Moroz to prove she's the real deal and not a one-off fluke.

Fluke gonna fluke.

Moroz was beat up in this fight everywhere it went. Dropped in the first, ragdolled on the ground and countered beautifully. Moroz, meanwhile, demonstrated the painful results of punching with your eyes closed. I was confused, to be perfectly honest, why she chose and stand and bang with Letourneau when she seems to be a fairly adept submission fighter.

I suppose she should be grateful that neither Joanna Jedrzejczyk nor UFC took the bait after her fluke win over Joanne Calderwood and handed some kind of gift title shot. I shudder to think what her amateur striking would look like against a savage like Jedrzejczyk.

Quick Hits From The Undercard

  • Frankie Perez (A) looked great in getting a knockout win to finish out his career early (he's only 26). Sam Stout meanwhile (F) is the one who should have been saying goodbye to the audience after three consecutive knockout losses. The chin is gone.
  • Felipe Arantes (B-) was getting dominated by the bigger and stronger Yves Jabouin (D) until an armbar from nowhere finished the fight rather unexpectedly.
  • Nikita Krylov (A+) is an absolute animal, finishing a fairly respectable opponent in Marcos Rogerio de Lima (D) in the first round, a feat nobody else had ever accomplished.
  • Chris Kelades (A) was game as hell but was hugely overmatched by the bigger and stronger Chris Beal (B), the unfortunate recipient of another robbery by the judges. It was pretty clear to most watching that Beal won the first two rounds, although he looks too slow for this weight class so perhaps it worked out for the best.
  • Shane Campbell (B+) kept his composure and rallied to win the second and third rounds en route to a surprising victory over Elias Silverio (C-). Silverio showed up to a 15-minute fight with a round of cardio and looked lost when he couldn't get the takedown.
  • Misha Cirkunov (A) was beastly in his debut, crushing short notice fighter Daniel Jolly (D) as expected. Jolly is a 3rd degree black belt in the South Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won, which was of no help to him whatsoever in this fight.
Here are a couple of extra thoughts:

  • The pacing sucked because of the first round finishes, which is what makes watching televised UFC events so painful at times. If a fight ends in the first round it would be nice if there were five minutes of commercials before the next fight. Instead you get 23 minutes of analysis, commercials, promos for UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2," promos for the main event, promos for the UFC ... it gets boring. That means a 12-fight card lasts six hours when it could be over in three.
  • Get a translator for poor Valerie Letourneau next time.
  • Josh Burkman is decent. Having said that, buddy hasn't won in UFC since Oct. 23, 2007. We're talking the George W. Bush era.
That's a wrap!

See you in two weeks for UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2." Bring your wolf tickets.

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