Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Stockholm, Sweden last night (Sat., June 1, 2019) for UFC Fight Night 153. As seems to be the current trend, the night’s event was fairly lackluster in terms of name value and divisional relevance, but this time it wasn’t carried by over-performing action fights.
Let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!
Smith Strangles the Swede
Last night’s main event was an odd one.
For the first two rounds, Gustafsson danced around the Octagon. He committed his weight to very few strikes, mostly throwing slapping kicks to the lead leg and occasionally flicking forward a jab. Very few of his strikes had anything resembling ill-intent behind them. Smith’s approach was more straightforward. He did a better job of hiding his approach behind feints, but Smith was clearly looking to crack his foe with an overhand, flurry along the fence, and slam home hard kicks whenever possible.
Smith’s focus on damage and higher activity saw him win two rounds, but Gustafsson did turn it up in the third. He began stepping in further behind his jabs, building combinations, and actually throwing his right. Towards the end of the round, Gustafsson slammed home a left body kick that hurt Smith, and he followed it up by slamming him from the clinch.
Smith looked a bit tired, whereas Gustafsson was back in the fight. The momentum seemed to be shifting, but Gustafsson still seemed off. The Swede tried to force a takedown — his attempt was sloppy, his follow up transitions rushed. The result saw him nearly face plant into the mat, where Smith immediately jumped onto his back.
Once there, Smith applied his length and leverage very well to stretch Gustafsson out and force the submission.
It was a strange fight. Smith did what he usually does, biting down and fighting hard, always waiting for an opportunity to finish. Gustafsson, however, never looked fully there in the cage outside of a few moments in the third, which made his retirement announcement post-bout less of a surprise.
There really isn’t much to break down in this fight, but if anyone deserves some extra praise, it’s Aleksandar Rakic.
The Light Heavyweight prospect stepped up to face a violent veteran in Jimi Manuwa, someone who could potentially capitalize on the up-and-comer’s still iffy defense. Instead, the two spent about 30 seconds feeling each other out before Rakic exploded into a right uppercut-left high kick combination that instantly sent Manuwa to the shadow realm.
It really was a brilliantly executed combo. First and foremost, Manuwa tends to get hit by running uppercuts, making that a smart punch to choose already. After the right landed, Rakic stepped deep into the Southpaw stance, taking an angle far outside Manuwa’s lead leg. It was from that angle that Rakic’s left leg soared through the air and crashed into Manuwa’s chin, creating the cracking sound of a gunshot upon impact.
Rakic is another a much-needed new face at Light Heavyweight, similar to fellow young killers Johnny Walker and Dominick Reyes.
A Veteran KO
Leonardo Santos entered last night’s contest an Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champion, unbeaten in seven UFC fights. Despite his accomplishments, the Brazilian has largely been forgotten about, passed in favor of other top-notch contenders. Admittedly, some of that is due to age and inactivity, but Santos still deserved something for all his success.
Instead, he wound up in the cage with another tough fighter stuck in the middle of the Lightweight division, Stevie Ray. Following roughly three years away from competition, Santos looked spectacular. Santos set the tone early, ripping right body kicks into the Southpaw’s mid-section and keeping his foe off-balance. When Ray reached with his punches a few moments later, Santos pulled back and nailed him with a perfect counter cross, knocking his foe clean out.
It was a spectacular knockout from the hard right hand of a jiu-jitsu master. Santos hasn’t lost a fight in ten years. It’s long past time for “Lamparão” to receive a ranked opponent, but there are so many damn good Lightweights that it’s far from guaranteed.
- Makwhan Amirkhani defeats Chris Fishgold via second-round anaconda choke: Fishgold really gave this fight away. He was picking Amirkhani apart on the feet, landing hard low kicks and some big right hands. When Fishgold attempted to jump on a guillotine choke, however, he gave up top position, allowing Amirkhani to immediately return the favor with a choke attempt of his own. The anaconda choke was far tighter, slowly constricting until Fishgold was forced to submit. Fishgold showed his skill, but Amirkhani’s ability to snatch a neck from anywhere proved the deciding factor.
- Frank Camacho defeats Nick Hein via second-round knockout: Last time out, Camacho was picked apart by a Southpaw with a long cross and left kick, ending with a high kick knockout loss. Against a shorter Southpaw, Camacho really returned the favor and proved that he learned from that loss. Camacho dug the body kick into Hein’s mid-section repeatedly, which really took its toll on Hein’s conditioning. At first, Hein was quite competitive, blocking strikes and returning with combinations. As those body kicks (and later knees) wrecked his gas tank, however, Hein stopped throwing back, allowing Camacho to pull away with the momentum and really start landing a massive amount of punches.
- Bea Malecki defeats Eduarda Santana via second-round rear naked choke: Like the fight before it, this match featured a solid comeback win. Malecki was getting socked up despite her Muay Thai background, but she capitalized when Santana moved for a takedown. Santana countered the body lock throw largely with length alone, aided by her opponent’s inexperience. Landing in mount, that length was a huge advantage, eventually allowing Malecki to stretch her foe out from back mount and finish the fight.
- Joel Alvarez defeats Danilo Belluardo via second-round TKO: Based on the start of the fight, it seemed that Alvarez’s UFC career was likely off to an 0-2 start, as Belluardo was soundly out-wrestling the Spaniard. However, a sweep in the second round allowed Alvarez to wrap up wrist control. With his arm pinned and perhaps gas tank failing him a bit, Belluardo was unable to escape a storm of punches.
For complete UFC Fight Night 153 ‘Gustafsson vs. Smith’ results and play-by-play, click HERE!