There are numerous elements that go into analyzing and predicting a fight. Sometimes, it’s pretty simple, like when a great wrestler is fighting a dude who needs Dominick Cruz to explain to him why underhooks are important. More often, however, it must be considered whether or not a fighter will adjust to his opponent, whether he’ll fall into old habits, and how his gas tank will handle the challenge.
Then, an athlete like Abdul Razak Alhassan comes along, and all the logical stuff goes out the window.
Throwing s!— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2020
@JudoRazak isn't wasting time in his return.#InAbuDhabi @VisitAbuDhabi #UFCFightIsland1 pic.twitter.com/iQ9ZRAtkv8
“Judo Thunder” may have a grappling art mentioned in his moniker, but his sole goal inside the Octagon is to blast opponents with wide swings and heavy punches. Every once in a while, he’ll land a cool throw, but otherwise, there isn’t a great deal of art to his game. He’s the embodiment of power, a fighter who has won via nothing but knockout.
Predicting his fights is a nightmare! Will Alhassan murder his opponent in the opening five minutes, or will he fall apart? Those are the only two possible outcomes, because Alhassan empties the tank with ferocious punches almost immediately.
Mournir Lazzez was the unknown in last night’s equation. He had scored some cool high kick knockouts and shown good work on the regional scene, but it’s always difficult to predict just how well such feats will carry over into the Octagon. Fortunately, Lazzez very much proved himself the real deal, providing a perfect foil for Alhassan with his slick kickboxing.
Lazzez did so much cool sh*t! From early in the fight, he was looking to intercept Alhassan’s straightforward march with knees to the mid-section, thrown in a very Muay Thai manner that we rarely see. Similarly, he halted his foe’s aggression with elbows up the middle, letting Alhassan walk into them as he swung.
Just !— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2020
They're going back and forth in RD 2. #InAbuDhabi @VisitAbuDhabi #UFCFightIsland1 pic.twitter.com/i2Lqz6Qh0m
When able to maintain distance, Lazzez showed off a diverse array of offensive weapons. He stunned his foe with punches at one point, attacked the leg often, and used lateral movement to hide head kicks similarly to Robert Whittaker. It was crafty, skillful work.
By the end of the fight, there was no doubt as to which man earned the victory. In this battle, Lazzez varied strategy — takedowns, too! — and smarter approach won the day. On the strength of this victory, Lazzez is now a major prospect at 170 pounds, a definite fighter to watch moving forward.
These two brought it for 1️⃣5️⃣ straight minutes! #InAbuDhabi @VisitAbuDhabi #UFCFightIsland1 pic.twitter.com/MUvsA1XVjw— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2020
Yet, it almost didn’t happen. In that opening two minutes, Lazzez was bullied into the fence and bombed on. Alhassan landed big shots, which only encouraged him to throw even heavier punches. At one point during the blitz, he landed a particularly clean overhand right that snapped Lazzez’s jaw backwards.
It’s the type of shot that usually ends Alhassan’s opponents.
Alhassan nearly slept Lazzez before he could show off all his aptitude, all the depth to his game that makes Lazzez such a genuinely exciting prospect. If that punch lands half-an-inch over or is thrown with a split-second of difference, we’re all talking about Alhassan returning from a long layoff with a thunderous knockout.
Instead, Lazzez is deservedly the man of the hour.
You know its a good night when the Boss says hello! #UFCFightIsland1 pic.twitter.com/mdtXo6eEiX— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2020
In the match up last night, the athlete with real finesse was able to shine and eventually make his powerful opponent look helpless. Next time such a showdown happens between different combatants, the slugger may put his more skillful foe down in the opening exchange.
For me, that mercurial outcome is the fun of mixed martial arts (MMA), as well as the reason looking at results in a black-and-white fashion is so pointless. There is much more to be learned from a bout than its conclusion, but even with close viewing, predicting which way the coin will fall next time remains more about luck than much else match ups such as this.
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