For the third but not quite final time, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continued its stay at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sat., May 16, 2020, for UFC on ESPN 8. Similar to Wednesday’s event, UFC on ESPN 8 was filled bottom-to-top with exciting fighters hungry to entertain. It was a show the promised entertainment, and on the whole, lived up to expectations.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night:
Overeem is known for many things. He’s known for his ever-changing physique and various forms, from the bulky “Ubereem” to the extra mobile “Econoreem.” He’s well-regarded for his unique skill set at Heavyweight, as Overeem is quite accomplished at all the individual aspects of mixed martial arts (MMA). A legend of the sport, Overeem is known for both thunderous victories and brutal losses.
“The Reem” is known for defensive struggles.
What Overeem is not known for, however, is the ability to comeback from a bad knockdown. Generally, if a Heavyweight hurts Overeem to the point that the Dutchman falls down, that’s about it. That’s the nature of being a somewhat fragile Heavyweight, as gravity makes heavy fists even more devastating.
“Demolition Man” defied expectations last night when Walt Harris had him dead to rights. Overeem was getting too predictable in his ducks, and Harris made him pay. Overeem hit the mat hard and kept getting hit. That should’ve been it, a first-round knockout in the opening two minutes.
Instead, a heel hook attempt bought Overeem the space needed to regain his feet. From there, the veteran was still able to turn a sloppy kick into an opportunity to gain top position and really recover. From that point forward, it was all Overeem, whose range kicking and top game allowed him to dominate (watch highlights).
Maybe Overeem has a few surprises left in his career after all.
Regardless of outcome, Edson Barboza is a scary man at 145-pounds.
Barboza has long possessed kicks and knees that can chop down an oak tree, and Ige definitely felt their effects. Despite his admirable attempts to walk through hellacious shots, Ige was knocked off balance and force to his back by low kicks and body knees. However, it appears that Barboza’s fists pack extra firepower at Featherweight, as he came closest to scoring a knockout off a right hook.
Power comes at a cost, however. Ige pushed a brutal pace, and Barboza did taper off in the latter half of the bout. Ige’s pressure and guts were enough to clearly win the third round, but getting badly hurt by a body shot in the second seemed to ruin his chances of winning the decision ...
Floridian judges decided otherwise, handing Ige a huge win and Barboza another highly debatable split-decision defeat.
Matt Brown vs. Miguel Baeza was a pretty incredible fight, pitting chaotic violence against precision power. From the first bell, both men wore their style on their sleeves: Brown stalked his opponent with an angry grimace on his feet, while Baeza exuded confidence and slickly moved around the outside of the Octagon.
It was Brown who struck first, backing his foe into the fence and plastering him with a huge right hand, sending his mouthpiece to the floor. Baeza recovered into the clinch, where Brown hammered him with his trademark elbows and knees.
However, the younger fighter recovered.
Back at distance, Baeza was criminally smooth. He managed distance so well, interrupting Brown’s march with heavy jabs and chopping calf kicks. His right hand unfurled cleanly, and it dropped Brown badly in the second half of the first.
“The Immortal” was undeterred in the second, but it was not his fight. He continued his advance, walking into a blistering left hook that sent him to the mat for good. The 39-year-old knockout artist may not have had his hand raised, but Brown can rest easy that seriously dangerous strikers like Baeza are rising up the ranks and ensuring Welterweight viciousness lives on.
- Kevin Holland defeats Anthony Hernandez via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS!): Man, Holland is a serious wild card. Half the time, guy bounces around the cage doing weird stuff and getting tired in the process. Other times, he looks like a future contender! Last night was the latter, as he stormed out of the gate to batter Hernandez in the clinch, sending him to the mat with a hard elbow and crippling knee to the solar plexus. Hernandez couldn’t breathe, which makes it difficult to survive the ensuing flurry of strikes.
- Cortney Casey defeats Mara Romero Borella via first-round armbar (HIGHLIGHTS!): When Casey got taken down along the fence early in the first, the situation didn’t look great for “Cast Iron.” However, she showed off a really offensive bottom game! From full guard, Casey kept rolling up on armbars, eventually getting a solid latch on Borella’s elbow. When Borella tied up her hands and prevented extension, Casey did something pretty brilliant: smacked her in the face with hammerfists! Borella’s face screwed up in pain, and those punches proved the perfect distraction in allowing Casey to hip in and hyper-extend the joint.
- Rodrigo Nascimento defeats Don’Tale Mayes via second-round rear naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS!): Nascimento didn’t do anything particularly extraordinary in his UFC debut, but strong fundamentals win fights! The 27-year-old was not as flashy as his opponent on the feet, but his left hook set up his low kick quite well, and he threw some good flurries too. The real deciding factor was grappling, as Nascimento consistently pursued clinch trips. As the moment slid away from Mayes, he turned his back in a desperate attempt to stand up — it proved a fatal mistake.
For complete UFC on ESPN 8 results and play-by-play coverage click here.