UFC checked into the UFC APEX one last time prior to its Fight Island sojourn, as the promotion made its presence known in Las Vegas, Nevada, once more last night (Sat., June 27, 2020) for UFC on ESPN 12. Starting with the excellent clash of Lightweight strikers in the main event, this cad was action all the way down. Even with many of the original match ups falling apart during fight week, there was still plenty of talent on display.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night:
Conditioning And Experience
Dan Hooker vs. Dustin Poirier proved to be a game of inches.
Several times, Poirier swung with the type of massive shifting overhand that could fell trees. They just barely missed. On the opposite end of the equation, Hooker shot a few knees up the middle that seemingly grazed Poirier’s cheek, but they didn’t manage to deliver actual force.
Early on, Hooker was the noticeably sharper man. His combinations landed more often, and he mixed up his targets well. He dug brutal shots to the mid-section and calf, seemingly setting himself up for success later in the fight. After ten minutes, Hooker was up two rounds.
Unfortunately for the Kiwi, Poirier has been here before. Against men like Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje, Poirier has lost rounds in five-round fives. At times, he’s been badly beaten against the fence, looking like he’s almost out of it. With great regularity, he rallies right back in the next round.
Poirier is able to accomplish such greatness with a unique combination of grit, conditioning, and experience in five-round wars. Hooker could match his toughness, but he could not keep up with the unending output of Poirier, nor does he have quite as much experience in brutal wars in championship rounds.
The small margins grew exponentially. By the end of the fight, Hooker was forced to shoot constant takedowns, because he simply could not make his arms move with any real speed.
Poirier remains unbeaten in Lightweight wars.
Someone Help PMP
Mike Perry won last night without any major troubles, but he really didn’t look great. He also doesn’t understand how taxes work, but let’s focus on the solvable issues first:
“Platinum” defeated Gall because he was a lot better, not because he performed well. In the first round, Perry’s lack of organized training was apparent, as his timing was just off. The man looked flat, forced to rely on his wrestling and strength to overpower that grappler on the mat. Perry’s ability to wrestle and transition was impressive, but it also really should not have been necessary.
Hopefully, Perry lives up to his promise of finding a real camp in Florida — there are plenty of ‘em! Perry’s experiment worked this time, but if he tries something similar against a ranked opponent, he’s going to get hurt.
Julian Erosa is a hero.
He’s not the most athletic fighter. He’s tricky everywhere, but he’s not overwhelmingly skilled in any one area either. In Erosa’s last two UFC stints, he was picked apart by quicker and more powerful fighters. Each time Erosa was released, he picked up wins on the regional scene until another opportunity arose.
Against hot prospect Sean Woodsen, that opportunity came on Wednesday, just three days prior to the event. Against a real sharp boxer even longer than the lanky “Juicy J,” Erosa was never going to have an easy fight. In the first round, he absorbed a ton of shots. However, Erosa kept on pushing forward, backing his foe into the fence, and his experience slowly came into play.
With Woodson’s back to the fence, Erosa was eating shots, but he landed too. He targeted the mid-section, doubled up on hooks, and ripped the leg when possible. On occasion, he shot for a takedown, but Woodson’s height and the fence denied him.
Finally, Erosa timed a shot well in the third. Woodson stood up and attempted to retreat to the fence. Erosa quite literally picked him up and walked away from the fence before putting him back down. Without that so-called “third leg” to help him stand up, Woodson was slower to stand, allowing Erosa to wrap up a d’arce choke in the process.
Erosa may not ever go on a major win streak or contend in UFC. But, he puts on great fights, has skill, and contains remarkable grit, so I can only hope his third UFC stint lasts.
Tanner Boser is here to stay.
The Canadian Heavyweight has drawn a bit of ire in the past for his unusual style. Sporting a glorious mullet, Boser likes to circle more than most Heavyweights. He doesn’t rely so much on power, preferring to outwork opponents with volume. He frustrates foes, and at times, he’s frustrated viewers.
Last night, Boser returned to the Octagon in much better physical shape. He looked like a real athlete. More than that, his game plan worked perfectly! As he circled and stayed evasive, Philipe Lins was not landing. Instead, his lead leg was getting kicked repeatedly, prompting further aggression from the Brazilian.
All the low kicks and movement? That’s bait. Lins took it and advanced, only for Boser to plant with a killer overhand. Lins was wobbled, and “Bulldozer” followed up brilliantly by putting together another three-punch counter combination. At 28 years of age, Boser is definitely one to watch moving forward.
- Takashi Sato defeats Jason Witt via first-round knockout: Many of the Japanese fighters I’ve trained with over the years have a similar method of throwing their 1-2. They almost hop into the jab — which stiff-arms the chin back — before actually committing all their weight and turning over the hip on the cross. It covers an extra bit of distance, and the result is a power punch thrown from closer than the defending fighter expects.
You won’t find a better example of the type of 1-2 I’m talking about than Sato’s knockout over Witt.
- Khama Worthy defeats Luis Pena via third-round guillotine choke: Worthy won as a major underdog in his UFC debut with a sudden knockout, which is great, but also leaves his abilities a mystery. His sophomore trip to the Octagon proved more illuminating, and Worthy impressed! Against Pena, his counter punches were very accurate, his kicks active, and Worthy routinely dug into the body. Though he showed some inexperience on the mat in the second round, Worthy also managed to snatch up an extremely deep power guillotine in the third after stunning Pena, landing a sudden submission to end an otherwise close fight.
- Kay Hansen defeats Jinh Yu Frey via third-round armbar: Hansen may have a lot of room to grow on the feet, but that’s to be expected for a 20-year-old prospect. Let’s focus on the positives: first and foremost, Hansen knew what she needed to do to win. After a round of getting picked apart, she really started forcing the grappling, and — shocker! — playing to her strengths paid off! The finishing sequence was a moment of brilliance, as Hansen attempted an inside trip and jumped on an armbar when her opponent defended. From the belly-down armbar position, Hansen rolled her foe and scored top position, then baited her into sitting into a triangle. The finish came from cranking the arm, but that’s still smart work!
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 12: “Poirier vs. Hooker” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here and play-by-play results right here.