Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, last night (Sat., Sept. 14, 2019) for UFC Fight Night 158. On the whole, UFC ‘Vancouver’ lived up to its expectation as one of the more entertaining Fight Night events of the year. There were action fights from top-to-bottom, headlined by a guaranteed war between Gaethje and Cerrone. Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night!
A Brutal Highlight
Justin Gaethje put an absolute beating on Donald Cerrone.
From the literal first strike of the night — a searing low kick that dug deep into Cerrone’s thigh with an unpleasant THWACK — Gaethje was ahead of his opponent. For all of Cerrone’s creative offense, Gaethje seemed to have him figured out almost immediately. For example, Cerrone generally does a nice job of mixing a simple duck into his head movement to avoid the right cross
It worked once against Gaethje. The next time Gaethje advanced behind his right hand, it came in the form of an uppercut the crashed into Cerrone’s jaw. Over and over, Gaethje read his opponent’s defense with ease, picking the correct power shot to blast Cerrone repeatedly.
It’s a testament to Cerrone’s toughness and chin that he didn’t go down two minutes earlier.
A Hype Train Crashes And Burns
Michel Pereira did not debut with any real momentum behind him.
Against an outclassed opponent on the regional scene, Pereira jumped off the cage and did flips and other cool, athletic stuff. It was enough to earn him a UFC contract, but writers, fans, and odds makers were all realistic about his chances against more skilled competition: Pereira closed at nearly a 2-1 underdog.
Then, he knocked Danny Roberts out cold in two minutes.
As a result, Pereira entered this bout as a massive favorite. In truth, only public perception had changed, not his overall strengths and weaknesses. Despite the short-notice, Connelly walked into the cage quite prepared to capitalize on those weaknesses, grinding his way past the explosive wild man.
I’m not trying to claim I predicted this major upset. I too predicted Pereira to overwhelm a smaller foe who took the fight on short-notice. But, it did prove to be an excellent example of just how much a single fight can change expectations surrounding a fighter.
Cirkunov Survives The Chaos
Misha Cirkunov did not fight in a manner I would call smart.
Initially, he did. The powerful Canadian grappler secured an early takedown and was methodical, working his way past the guard and aiming to secure the crucifix. It was great work, as he kept a dangerous young foe trapped on the mat and forced him to waste energy.
Out of nowhere, Cirkunov tried to jump on an armbar from mount, and everything went crazy.
For the rest of the fight, the two traded positions recklessly. Cirkunov would land a reversal and then try to jump on another submission immediately, which allowed Crute to score some pretty hard shots on several occasions when he gained top position. At one point, Cirkunov pulled guard. Just before Cirkunov finished the fight, he was on his back getting smashed. Visually, it looked like Cirkunov may have been close to giving up as the referee inched perilously close.
Instead, Cirkunov hooked a leg, grabbed the far ankle, and drove his shin into the thigh to secure a sudden sweep back into top position. This time, Cirkunov’s gamble paid off: he managed to lock in a picture-perfect Peruvian necktie submission, the first in the UFC since 2008.
I don’t know why Cirkunov chased the submission so wildly, but it paid off last night!
- Uriah Hall defeats Antonio Carlos Junior via split-decision: This was a real fun fight, and a second consecutive example of Hall winning despite adversity. Opposite the jiu-jitsu specialist, Hall really thrived with the basics: a stiff jab and hard right hand to follow. He really tore up Carlos Junior’s face with those simple weapons, and maintaining a good amount of distance between himself and the grappler proved helpful in denying the takedown. Carlos Junior did manage to take advantage of Hall’s habit of backing into the fence a few times and clearly take the final round, but it was not quite enough to overcome Hall’s heavy shots.
- Augusto Sakai defeats Marcin Tybura via first-round knockout: Ain’t much to analyze here, folks. Sakai walked straight to Tybura, who looked to kick and move but wasn’t doing quite enough moving. Sakai pretty much walked into the pocket and started unloading, landing right hand after right hand to shut his opponent down.
- Chas Skelly defeats Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision: Unfortunately for Griffin, this proved to be a very fun grappling match, complete with an attempt from each man to slam their way out of back control (Skelly pulled it off!). Griffin had a clear striking advantage, but Skelly’s size and strength — along with the occasional poor choice from Griffin — allowed Skelly to continually force a grappling match. Even then, Griffin did some things quite well, but Skelly’s experience on the mat consistently saw him land on top following wild scrambles.
- Louis Smolka defeats Ryan MacDonald via first-round TKO: Smolka fought like a man possessed last night, really emulating the Diaz brothers in his offense-first, high-volume, occasionally off-speed approach. Smolka attacked from the first bell, targeting the body a lot. He get hit quite a bit in the process, but Smolka’s body jab and left hook to the mid-section landed consistently, which had a great effect in slowing MacDonald down. By the end of the round, an overhand right — set up by all the body shots — connected perfectly, sending his foe to the mat hard.
For complete UFC Fight Night 158 “Gaethje vs. Cerrone” results and play-by-play, click HERE!