Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat., Jan. 18, 2020) for UFC 246. If one ignores the top fight of the night — which I don’t even have to mention by name, it’s the reason everyone is here — the rest of the card was genuinely ... not good. It was “Fight Night” quality at best. Luckily, there were still some strong performances and fun bouts, so let’s dig into ‘em!
Return of the Mac
Conor McGregor did exactly what he was supposed to do last night.
It may not have been surprising, but it was still impressive, as McGregor emphatically proved that Cerrone did not belong in the Octagon with him. It was the same Southpaw tactics as ever: that brutal double threat of the left hand and left kick. This time, it was McGregor’s shoulder (yes, shoulder) and high kick that did the early damage, but a swarm of punches sealed the deal in less than one minute (watch highlights).
Since it was such a quick and complete destruction, there’s not a ton to break down. However, it is clear that McGregor is ready for the biggest fights available at either 155- or 170-pounds, though I personally would like to see him pick up another win before he receives a title shot.
A Complete Lack of Surprise
A few years ago, Pettis was on top of the world, a killer who seemed unlikely to cough up the belt anytime soon. Yet his loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira was largely predictable, playing out the way most expected — with the sole exception that Ferreira was able to submit Pettis rather than decision him. It’s a dramatic change in only a short amount of time (recap).
Make no mistake, it was a very impressive performance from Ferreira, who smartly pressured Pettis with both strikes and takedown. The Brazilian continues to put it all together, and he’s now won six straight bouts. He’s more than earned a shot at the divisional Top 10.
For Pettis and his team, it must be immensely frustrating. They knew how Ferreira was going to attempt to take out Pettis. He went about it the same way most everyone has tried recently, and many have been successful. Unfortunately, no successful adjustments were made, and Pettis seems really trapped as a man with a clearly written blueprint out against him.
The Future Denied
Roxanne Modafferi put a beating on Maycee Barber last night.
A big narrative after the fight will surely be Barber’s knee injury, which is fair. For the final 10 minutes of the fight, Barber was barely able to stand on her own, only able to find success when she was able to land sweeps from her back and briefly score top position. Barber showed a lot of heart in fighting through the injury, but Modafferi largely controlled the exchanges on the feet and mat in the second and third.
Just as important, however, is how well Modafferi was able to fight in the first round. She moved well, sticking the advancing Barber with straight punches and angling off. When Barber upped the aggression, Modafferi successfully changed levels into the clinch and scored a takedown.
Against the division’s hottest prospect, Modafferi dominated the opening five minutes (and the remaining ten once Barber was injured). That’s an outcome few would have predicted a couple years ago, and its a credit to Modafferi’s perseverance that she has come such a long way.
UFC 246 Additional Thoughts
- Aleksei Oleinik defeats Maurice Greene via second-round armbar (RECAP): Was this a sloppy fight? Sure. Was it also awesome? Absolutely. Oleinik was able to get his game plan going early, timing his entries to the clinch well to take his opponents back and force him to the mat. For the final 90 seconds of the round, Oleinik was cranking on his opponent’s head in a scarfhold headlock, one of his trademark finishes. Greene somehow survived, and he even stormed back a bit in the second! Both men were exhausted, but Oleinik managed to gut his way through to a takedown and eventually jump on an armbar without much time remaining in the second round. All things considered, Greene defended himself well on the mat, which made for an unexpectedly fun Heavyweight grappling match.
- Brian Kelleher defeats Ode Osbourne via first-round guillotine choke (RECAP): Man, the first 15 seconds of this fight had to be scary for Kelleher’s friends and family. Osbourne came out doing some weird sh*t, crawling around and throwing flying punches. He simply looked much larger and more athletic than Kelleher. Luckily, the veteran kept his composure, landed a few shots of his own, then ducked into a well-timed double leg takedown. Once on the mat, Kelleher was in his element. When Osbourne attempted to stand, Kelleher jumped on his neck and pulled guard, forcing the tap to return himself to the win column.
- Askar Askarov defeats Tim Elliott via unanimous decision: This was a fun and surprising fight. Back in his fairly recent debut opposite Brandon Moreno, Askarov’s striking looked ... not good. Against Elliott, however, he nearly knocked his foe out early with a massive cross. Elliott stormed back in the second with his excellent clinch throws and seemingly tied it up heading into the third, which devolved into a straight up slugfest. Elliott kept up the forward pressure and landed some good shots, but Askarov was far more active, and his straight punches landed with great consistency.
- Drew Dober defeats Nasrat Haqparast via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS!): These two didn’t waste time in letting their hands fly, but it was Dober who overcame the speed advantage, and he did so with perfect timing. Haqparast didn’t do enough to disguise an attempted low kick, and Dober read it expertly, dipping his weight and dropping his head off the center line to drop a thunderous overhand directly on the jaw. Dober swarmed immediately, ending Haqparast’s current rise and reminding the fighting world just how much he’s improved over the years.
For complete UFC 246: “McGregor vs. Cerrones” results and play-by-play, click HERE!