After a successful event at UFC 249, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continued its stay at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., on Weds., May 13, 2020 for UFC Jacksonville. Though last night’s fight card could not hope to compare with the mega event that preceded it, there were still some exciting (and relevant) bouts mixed throughout the show.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night:
A Veteran At Work
Can a fighter be a hard-nosed bruiser who presses the action and show off the type of smarts that only come from a nearly 20-year professional career?
The two sound somewhat contradictory, but Glover Teixeira answered affirmatively in a violent and dominant performance against Anthony Smith. “Lionheart” — who is plenty far from green himself — started strong, showing off an improved boxing game with sharp jabs and clubbing crosses. He threw a lot of offense at Teixeira, building up a pretty huge strike count in the opening 10 minutes.
Teixeira, however, remained patient. He slipped and rolled often, avoiding as much damange as he could. When possible, he ripped a low kick or body shot. When Smith started to slow down from his own output, Teixeira surged forward, placing heavy uppercuts and hooks directly onto his foe’s jawline.
It went from bad to worse after the first knockdown. Teixeira would gain top position and just hammer away for minutes at a time. Still, Teixeira showed off his patience while delivering heavy offense. At one point, he stunned Smith on his feet (again) and seemed to be nearing the finish.
He pursued the knockout, but when Smith started firing back wild shots, he dumped him right back onto his butt and kept smacking him in the face. It possibly delayed the finish by a few minutes, but it also eliminated the chance of Teixeira getting caught with something stupid.
Predictable ... But Different!
Michael Johnson lost in the second round after a strong opening frame last night, because of course he did.
It’s become a frustrating pattern for Johnson, who has repeatedly allowed fights to slip away from him. Over and over, he controls the opening round, then a slow loss of focus or dramatic error costs him the fight. In this case, he looked extremely sharp for the first five minutes, picking Thiago Moises apart with straight lefts and inside low kicks.
Then, Moises tackled his leg and pulled guard into a leg entanglement. Moments later, Johnson was tapping frantically to the first straight footlock in what feels like a decade or more? Credit to Moises for adjusting and making use of his jiu-jitsu skills, but it feels like the type of move a longtime veteran should have been able to avoid.
- Drew Dober defeats Alexander Hernandez via second-round knockout: Drew Dober just keeps getting better. At one point, it was hard to identify what exactly was his strength — now it’s tough to find a weakness! Hernandez gave him some tricky looks, circling and kicking from the outside while timing his takedowns very well. To counter that game plan, Dober applied consistent pressure, and his ability to stuff the initial shot appeared greatly improved. As Hernandez slowed, Dober’s hooks landed more and more often, which ended in a battered Hernandez being saved by the referee.
- Brian Kelleher defeats Hunter Azure via second-round knockout: In a solid scrap, experience proved to be the deciding factor. Azure started strong with low kicks and body-head combinations, likely taking the first round. However, when the momentum shifted and Kelleher was better able to lead the dance, “Boom” made it count. He began to time Azure’s movement, catching him off-balance with power punches. For example, he connected on a clean uppercut when Azure feinted a takedown. The finish came off a single shot, as a Kelleher left hook cleanly sent Azure to the mat. After a rough streak, Kelleher has responded well to pick up consecutive finishes!
- Chase Sherman defeats Ike Villanueva via second-round knockout: Sherman made his return to the Octagon after a couple years on the regional scene last night, and he showed genuine improvement! Is “Vanilla Gorilla” still too easy to hit? Probably. However, the young heavyweight did an excellent job of mixing up his combinations by chopping the leg and ripping into the midsection. He really put Villaneuva on the defensive, trapping his foe on the fence several times before ending the night with a massive elbow.
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