Last night (Nov. 3, 2018), eight top-tier Middleweights and a pair of badass Heavyweights threw down inside Madison Square Garden from New York City, New York. There were a ton of shakeups to the card ahead of time, but it all worked out in the end, as the New York fans were still treated to a quality event. There were some great fights and techniques on display, and last night really stood out as one of the year’s best events.
It may have been the main event, but I don’t feel like there’s too much to say on this one.
Daniel Cormier is a world-class wrestler and martial artist. Lewis has a unique skill set and physical gifts, but they cover massive holes in his technical game. Lewis certainly deserved this title shot, but he also needed to land a massive one-in-a-million punch to actually win it.
Cormier gave him almost no opportunities to do so. The second Lewis went anywhere near the fence, “DC” was in on his hips and the shot was finished soon after. Lewis can stand up from underneath the best of them, but that doesn’t help much when a wrestler like Cormier can simply level change back into a shot.
That Jiu-Jitsu Guy Can Punch
“Jacare” Souza tried to fight like a technical kickboxer in the first round of his bout with Chris Weidman. He didn’t look bad — Souza’s head movement, body shots, and low kicks have never looked better — but Weidman’s volume and jab clearly took the opening frame. In fact, “The All-American” looked especially sharp, keeping his hands loose and punching in combination.
In round two, Souza abandoned all pretense. He stopped trying to be perfect and started throwing, and it all worked out. That’s not to say Souza didn’t take shots or Weidman stopped being effective, but Souza began leading the charge and landing the more powerful shots. The left hook to the liver was pivotal, and Souza also did a nice job of punching into the clinch and continuing to fire.
With five minutes remaining, the fight was up for grabs. In my opinion, all those low kicks and body shots paid off, as Souza was the more powerful man in the third. Weidman was still game, but it was clear that Souza could roll with his punches, whereas any clean Souza blow sent Weidman stumbling back. The end came when Souza slipped his head off the center line and blasted Weidman with an overhand as the American tried to land his own right hand.
Referee Dan Miragliotta ruined what should have been a walk-off knockout, but holy shit if that wasn’t a tremendous victory from the Brazilian.
Adesanya Answers All Questions
Adesanya has lived up to every test thrown his way so far, most notably exceeding all expectations against Brad Tavares in a 25 minute showcase. All that said, any time a lanky striking specialist begins rising through the ranks, the question we all have to ask ourselves is, “How will he handle a wrestler?”
True, Adesanya handled a pair of grapplers well enough, but Brunson was his first true wrestler. A physical talent with legitimate credentials, there was every chance that Adesanya would be unable to employ his range striking and find himself trapped on the mat.
Early on, things didn’t look great when Brunson secured a body lock in the opening 30 seconds of the fight. However, in that instance and repeatedly after, Adesanya proved his hips ridiculously effective. Each time Brunson dropped down to grab a leg or clinch, Adesanya shot his hips back and circled off.
Adesanya may look undersized, but those hips are powerful.
For about four minutes, Brunson’s wrestling kept him mostly safe. Then, Adesanya was able to read a takedown attempt early and met Brunson with a rock-shattering knee. Somehow, Brunson remained conscious, but he was on wounded legs, and Adesanya spent a solid 30 seconds patiently stalking and picking shots. In that time, Adesanya dropped him probably three times, forcing the stop.
Go Watch The Fight Pass ‘Prelims!’
Okay, skip the first fight between de Lima and Wieczorek, but watch the next two immediately.
First and foremost, Shane Burgos and Kurt Holobaugh wasted no time in trying to murder each other (highlights). Burgos is a savage, one of the finest bruisers at 145 pounds. Holobaugh is also a great scrapper, and both men came in with the strategy of throwing a ton of strikes and countering whenever their opponent tried to land.
Both men looked crisp, but Holobaugh drew the first blood with a left hook that sent Burgos’ eyes rolling back into his head. When Holobaugh jumped into his foe’s guard, Burgos sprung into a remarkably quick armbar and finished it! It was simple and effective technique — a shift of the hips and immediate extension — but you can’t blame Holobaugh for not seeing the submission coming from the badly wounded boxer.
Burgos is a future Featherweight contender, but I hope the UFC appreciates this performance from Holobaugh, who is 0-3 in the Octagon but far more talented than his record implies.
Next up, Lando Vannata and Matt Frevola must have been inspired by the fight preceding it, as the two ran at each other immediately with serious combinations and powerful kicks. Not only was it violent, but there was some great technique in there too. For example, Vannata hid a high kick wonderfully in the first, off-balancing Frevola with a caught kick before slipping it to the chin. Meanwhile, Frevola did a great job of throwing multiple counter punches, often landing hard with the second or third strike.
The two hurt each other badly, targeted the body frequently, and worked all areas and ranges of kickboxing. It was a pair of great offensive strikers with iffy defense, which is a very fun combination. By the end of the fight, there were several momentum swings, but it was fairly named a draw. If you missed either fight, WATCH IT!
- Jared Cannonier announced himself as a Middleweight contender last night as well. The well-traveled David Branch troubled him early with a constant barrage of takedowns, but Cannonier did a fantastic job of working back to his feet. In the second round, Branch was a bit fatigued from the previous five minutes, and Cannonier capitalized quickly with a massive overhand. Cannonier looked very powerful at 185 pounds, and it’s important to remember that “Killa Gorilla” is still relative young in his MMA career and now with a world-class team at MMA Lab.
- Even after injuring his left leg — which largely eliminated the nasty left kick from his arsenal — Karl Roberson fought like an assassin. Making full use of his range and skill advantage over Jack Marshman, Roberson repeatedly nailed his brawling foe with counter left hands. Even more impressive was Roberson’s commitment to escape routes after landing the left, as he rolled or leaned away from Marshman’s attempts to return fire.
- Jason Rinaldi completely dominated Jason Knight on the mat. Knight repeatedly attempted to use variations of the rubber guard, but Rinaldi passed to weak side each time. It became frustrating to watch — the same sequences kept playing out as Rinaldi scored a double leg and advanced passed at least into half guard. It was an impressive Featherweight debut from Rinaldi, who came reasonably close to landing kimura and rear naked choke finishes. Meanwhile, Knight showed no real development in terms of defending takedowns or getting up from his back, and it cost him another fight.
- Julio Arce bled everywhere! Sheymon Moraes split him open with a glancing elbow in the second, and from that point forward, both men were slathered with his blood. Despite the cut, Arce fought back well against the bigger man, using in-and-out movement to land combinations and working the back take as well. Moraes’ game was more classic Muay Thai, as he worked to time Arce moving forward with a heavy right kick and counter right hand. Ultimately, Moraes did manage to drop Arce twice, which shifted the split-decision his way.
- Lyman Good walked down Ben Saunders like a bully, but “Killa B” responded beautifully with a series of left kicks and crosses that landed flush, making full use of the opposite stance engagement. When the fight moved into the clinch, it again seemed to favor Saunders, a man who loves to double-collar tie and throw knees. At first, he did just that, but Lyman’s physical strength allowed him to posture and slam uppercuts into Saunders’ jawline, shutting off the lights early (highlights). For the short time it lasted, Saunders fought well with great technique, but he simply couldn’t withstand Good’s power.
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