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Here’s everything that happened at UFC Fight Night 148 ‘Pettis vs Thompson’ last night in Nashville

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Nashville, Tennessee, last night (Sat., March 23, 2019) for UFC Fight Night 148. If we’re all being honest, the cards over the last few weeks have not been the most talent-rich, but at least the main event bouts have consistently been entertaining and intriguing match ups. That trend continued last night, as a “Ninja Fight” between crafty strikers Anthony Pettis and Stephen Thompson drew eyes to an otherwise fairly dull fight card.

Let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!

‘Showtime’ Saves the Day

UFC ‘Nashville’ was really not a great night of mixed martial arts (MMA).

Most of the prelims went the distance, and they were not particularly exciting in the process. The main card was perhaps worse. Luis Pena looked sharp in a win over Stephen Peterson, but his win was extremely undercut by his inability to make weight, which made his massive size advantage cheap. In a truly dreadful fight, John Makdessi threw quick outside low kicks — to quote Nick Diaz for a better description, “baby leg kicks” — for three rounds, while Jesus Pinedo did nothing at all. Jussier Formiga and Curtis Blaydes showed genuine skill to outmaneuver their opponents on the mat, but the night was already so slow that it was difficult to appreciate their dominance.

Enter “Showtime” Pettis.

Pettis did not give Thompson the option to fight conservatively. The Taekwondo expert stalked his opponent with his hands high, ready to eat punches and destroy legs at all cost. To his credit, Thompson was throwing from the first bell anyway, stinging Pettis with hard kicks too and bloodying the former champion.

Ultimately, all those low kicks may have helped create the knockout. The best way to avoid getting a thigh shredded is forward movement — Thompson was countered and finished while moving forward, leading behind his side kick. It’s equally possible that Thompson wanted to be more aggressive than usual or that the low kicks motivated him to advance. Either way, that’s a dangerous kick to lead with precisely because of how Pettis countered: a small parry saw Thompson’s leg fall to the outside of Pettis, leaving him vulnerable.

In most cases, Thompson was still far enough back to escape completely or with minimal damage taken. Sadly for “Wonderboy,” Pettis is a true opportunist, and he jumped through the air to cover that distance and land perfectly.

Heavyweight Throws

Curtis Blaydes is one of the few true Heavyweights.

The running joke that most Heavyweights are merely Light Heavyweights in need of a diet is pretty accurate. I don’t know if he could get all the way down to 205 lbs., but that does apply to some degree to the big belly of “Big Pretty” Justin Willis. Blaydes is also near the top of the Heavyweight limit, but unlike his foe, he is reasonably proportioned. He is not fat or even overly muscular — he looks like an actual athlete.

Blaydes combines a dual attack of excellent cardio and high-level wrestling, a pair of traits that are missing from a ton of Heavyweights. The 28 year old rose to the top of the division quickly, and seeing how he absorbed probably three strikes in this 15 minute contest, he’s going to be there for a long time.

In this bout and most of the others, Blaydes’ most standout techniques are his mat returns. While handling fellow giants from the back clinch, Blaydes is perhaps the division’s best at lifting his opponent and slamming him back to the mat. He’s creative with his lifts, alternating between straight forward lift-and-returns, suplexes, and more lateral drags to the mat. The thud of these slams is considerable, and they clearly demoralize opponents.

Additional Thoughts

  • Maycee Barber defeats JJ Aldrich via round-two knockout: Barber entered this bout with a ton of momentum behind her, but for the first time was forced to overcome adversity. Aldrich kicked her ass in the first round, dropping her, consistently landing the harder shots, and countering Barber frequently. However, the 20 year old increased her aggression in the second, which helped immediately. Things changed in an instant when a Barber left cross crashed into Aldrich’s jaw, sending her backpedaling to the fence. With a wounded foe in front of her, Barber showed why she’s “The Future,” teeing off with great accuracy and aggression. It’s not surprising that such a young fighter still has technical aspects to improve upon, but her talent is definitely real.
  • Bryce Mitchell defeats Bobby Moffett via unanimous decision: It’s unfortunately common that grapplers tend to strike when matched opposite each other. Luckily, these two came to wrestle, and there were some fantastic scrambles. Mitchell chained submissions together all night, but ultimately the deciding factor may have been Moffett’s commitment to the d’arce choke. Twice he attempted the d’arce only to wind up in bad positions afterward. Moffett has won six of his professional fights via d’arce — including his UFC debut and Contender Series fight — so it isn’t hard to understand why he was willing to commit to the submission, but it did not at all pay off in this one.
  • Marlon Vera defeats Frankie Saenz via round-one knockout: Vera is very much a man who has improved between every fight, as he’s nearly unrecognizable from the man who debuted in 2014. Opposite a tough wrestler in Saenz, Vera did not start slow or give his opponent any opportunities to wrestle. Instead, he immediately went to work at chopping the lead leg, prompting Saenz to begin pushing forward harder with punches. With Saenz leaning forward and throwing the right, Vera slammed a crisp jab into his jaw and sent him to the mat. “Chito” now rides a three-fight win streak with three stoppage wins.
  • Randa Markos defeats Angela Hill via round-one armbar: Last night was an excellent showing for Markos, who started fast and gained top position against a striker early. While fresh and in good position, Markos was dominant, advancing into back mount and eventually falling onto an armbar. One technique to note: while working the armbar, Markos reached down and grabbed her foe’s leg. By controlling that leg, Markos made it more difficult for Hill to force her way into top position, giving Markos plenty of time to rip through the grip.

For complete UFC Fight Night 148 results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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