Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled down to South America last night (Nov. 11, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 140 inside Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As is usually the case with “Fight Night” events in countries around the world, the card featured a main event between two top 10 contenders and was otherwise filled with a mix of veterans and local athletes.
Events like these tend to end up wildly entertaining with lots of finishes or horridly slow with a dozen decisions. Interestingly, nearly every fight fell into one category or the other: there were no mildly entertaining or just okay fights. It was either a fun brawl, quick finish, or dreadful slog.
Calf Kicks are King
If there was a theme to the top two fights of the card, it was the low kick.
Santiago Ponzinibbio destroyed Neil Magny with low kicks, both to the calf and thigh. I don’t know how many times Ponzinibbio dropped his opponent with low kicks, but it was likely in the double digits. It was enough that Herb Dean very nearly stopped the fight due to low kicks on a couple different occasions.
Instead, Magny was allowed to continue until a right hand sent him to deep sleep.
This was dominant, powerful technique from Ponzinibbio. Everything was very fundamental: jabs, crosses, low kicks, and cage positioning. Over and over, Ponzinibbio backed Magny into the fence and teed off. Early on, Magny did well to block his offense, but that can only last for so long. Ponzinibbio’s power shots added up just as much as his low kicks did, leaving Magny a truly battered man by the end of the fight. Magny really needed the jab to save him, but jabbing exposes the lead leg to kicks, forcing the veteran to pick his poison.
In a division of wrestlers, Ponzinibbio stands out. The Argentinian is a fast and athletic boxer capable of pushing a hard pace for five rounds, and he hasn’t been truly tested against a wrestler in many years. In all likelihood, a title eliminator opposite someone like Kamaru Usman is next.
Darren Elkins and Ricardo Lamas put on the battle we all expected.
Elkins pushed the pace hard. He ignored the numerous shots that Lamas landed to his face in pursuit of his own punches. The exchanges were close in the opening round, and Elkins secured a takedown into back control near the end of the first five minutes that likely earned him the round.
Then, the calf kicks added up. Lamas is a crafty kicker from range, and he committed to that strike from early in the fight. It cost him some punches to the jaw as Elkins pushed forward, but Lamas willingly made the trade. In the second, it paid off, as Elkins really lost the ability to keep his feet underneath him.
Once that happened, Lamas landed an abundance of punches and more kicks. Elkins tried to rally in the third, but Lamas countered his aggression with a well-timed double leg to shift the momentum back into his corner. Lamas landed a series of elbows on his bloodied foe, drawing a stoppage from the referee that stings solely due to my firsthand knowledge of Elkins’ toughness.
It wasn’t a bad call though. With about a minute remaining in the round and Lamas comfortably in top position, no comeback was en route. Ultimately, it saved Elkins another minute or so of elbows. Either way, Lamas demonstrated an important fact of MMA and combat sports: even the toughest cannot last if you break the legs or body.
BRUTAL ELBOW KO HOLY SHIT
Light Heavyweight has a new prospect.
Brazil’s Johny Walker entered his UFC debut as the top-ranked Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight in both Brazil and England. Despite this, he opened up as a minor underdog to Khalil Rountree, a hard-hitting but green Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran. Admittedly, Walker was still a bit rough around the edges himself, so there was always a chance his defense cracked early.
Instead, Walker landed the night’s most spectacular finish by a long shot. Working from something of a Karate stance, the end began almost immediately after Walker’s first true offensive movement: a right hand followed by a same side high kick. The kick partially landed, allowing the 6-foot-5-inch 205 pounder to secure a double-collar tie. A couple knees failed to find their target, but Walker folded over a pair of elbows. Both landed, but the second blow sounded like a baseball ringing off a metal bat.
Rountree was gone before he hit the mat.
Not only did the giant 25-year-old prospect score a brutal knockout in the very first round, but Walker has a personality! Making jokes mid-fight, goofy facial expressions afterward, and some humble, good-natured answers in the interview — all in English no less! — will go a long way in making the talented Brazilian a star.
- Guido Cannetti vs. Marlon Vera was a tale of two rounds. In the first, Cannetti smashed Vera, landing pounding kicks, a half-dozen left hands, and a pair of takedowns. Vera’s corner managed to wake him up between rounds though, as the taller man in Vera opened up with knees from the double-collar clinch, one of which crushed into Cannetti’s jaw. From that point on, the Argentinian was in survival mode. Cannetti held out gamely, but Vera continued his onslaught, rocking him further with uppercuts and sinking in a rear naked choke
- Cynthia Calvillo may only be a couple years deep into her professional career, but she performed like a veteran opposite the fast-rising Poliana Botelho. At range, Calvillo was patient, working her counter punches and denying Botelho an easy target. The Brazilian is an aggressive fighter, hardly content to to engage in a low volume battle, and she attempted to throw naked kicks from range as a result. Calvillo caught a pair of them for easy takedowns, and her top pressure and punches forced Botelho to give up her back for an eventual no-hooks rear naked choke finish.
- Michel Prazeres lived up to his “Tractor” moniker, running over Bartosz Fabinski with complete ease. The Polish fighter ran after the Brazilian with a takedown, but it was denied. The second the pair were back in the center, Prazeres went on the offensive and landed with a picture-perfect overhand: dip low towards the legs and blast a right to the jaw. Fabinski was barely conscious but just awake enough to survive for a few more seconds, as Prazeres locked up a crushing guillotine choke. A 5’6” Welterweight now on an eight-fight win streak, Prazeres is pure power.
- Alexandre Pantoja’s jiu-jitsu is fantastic. Ulka Sasaki is no slouch on the mat himself, and his raw aggression forced a bad shot from the Brazilian early and gave Sasaki top position. However, once the two engaged on the mat, Pantoja went on the offensive, first with deep triangle/armbar attempts. Sasaki managed to escape, but not long after, Pantoja swept his foe and took the back almost immediately. The rear naked choke came shortly after, as the Flyweight granted us the first finish of the night.
- Kickboxing is so simple for Southpaws. Humberto Bandenay did almost nothing but fire hard left kicks and counter left hands, but that was more than enough to consistently hurt Austin Arnett. Unfortunately, Bandenay gassed terribly by the end of the first, allowing Arnett to rally and win back the fight with mere consistency, pressuring with combinations and working the occasional takedown. Honestly, it was a bad fight.
- Laureano Staropoli vs. Hector Aldana was a certified BANGFEST! The bout was light on technique, but if you love blood, violence, and hematomas, this might just be the fight for you.
- The night opened with a fun scrap between Nad Narimani and Anderson dos Santos. The two jiu-jitsu black belts spent most of the fight kickboxing, which is generally a recipe for disaster but resulted in a lot of action here. Narimani’s head movement was the difference, as both men threw heat, but dos Santos stood his ground and kept his head standing completely still, whereas Narimani was moving his feet and slipping side-to-side. As a result, Narimani’s power punches landed more consistently and often caught his Brazilian foe in the midst of his own offense.
There you have it.
For complete UFC Fight Night 140 results and play-by-play click here.