Last night (Sat., Jan. 22, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled to the Honda Center in Anaheim, California for UFC 270. The first pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year was a bit top heavy, relying almost entirely on its excellent pair of title fights to sell the show. Otherwise, several fights were cancelled at the last second, which is already becoming something of a norm in 2022.
Still, a whole lot of fights actually did happen, so let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
The Worst Decision In UFC Title History
Ciryl Gane executed a game plan masterfully for ten minutes against the most dangerous man on the UFC roster. Stalling his foe out in the clinch, Gane juked left and right and made his opponent miss repeatedly, scoring with his own shots in the interim.
Ngannou, as champions do (see below), adjusted. He started kicking the lead leg a bit, targeting the body more, and most importantly, wrestling. As it turns out, Ngannou’s massive strength is useful for more than mere power punching, as he straight up powerslammed Gane into the canvas on several occasions.
That whizzer kick? Gane somehow caught both his own weight and Ngannou’s directly on his face. Ouch!
In the final frame, the deciding round, Gane scored his own takedown. As Ngannou fiddled around on his back — strangely searching for a triangle choke? — Gane made the astounding decision to drop back on a leg lock. Firstly, holy shit, that’s insanely bold! Secondly, holy shit, that’s an awful decision!
Ngannou had knee issues sure, but Gane is not a submission expert, and heel hooks in MMA are low percentage when applied by the best. Gane failed to control his opponent’s knee, and thus his torque did little but grant Ngannou top position ... and the fight.
Genuinely, I left this fight with a huge amount of admiration for Gane, and his overall fight IQ is excellent, but ... that was a bad call. Perhaps its easier to slip into a poor decision after getting socked by Ngannou a couple times?
A Champion Adjusts
I don’t know personally that I think Deiveson Figueiredo earned the decision opposite Brandon Moreno, but that doesn’t mean I cannot be hugely impressed with his development.
Opposite “The Assassin Baby,” Figueiredo did not hunt for the knockout. Instead, he broke down the boxer’s lead leg, which is almost always a good strategic decision. Hell, it’s one Figueiredo faced in the past. The classic answer to low kicks is pressure and counter punches, and Moreno did good work with the response.
However, Figureiredo was prepared, showing a different look by shooting for his own takedowns. They didn’t land often or result in anything terribly significant, but his takedowns helped prevent Moreno from answering the low kicks or pressuring too heavily.
Really, the knockdown in the third round changed everything. After Figueiredo truly hurt Moreno with his hands for the first time, the Mexican fighter had a lot to consider. He had to protect his wounded leg, avoid takedowns, and now keep more of an eye on that right hand.
That’s a tall order, and Moreno’s reactions were a touch shakier and more dramatic as a result. The rounds were still very competitive, and ultimately, the judges unanimously chose the Brazilian as the victor.
Moreno put on a great performance himself, but as the newly re-minted champion explained post-fight, it was his night! Hopefully, everyone is on board for a fourth showdown, because the duo is 3-0 on excellent fights.
Said Nurmagomedov took just 47 seconds to strangle Cody Stamann, a man who has fought many elite Bantamweights and given them challenging fights. Nurmagomedov spin kicked him immediately, then latched up a guillotine immediately when Stamann drove into a takedown attempt.
Just like that, the Russian Bantamweight picked up the biggest win of his career.
Morales’ Big Comeback
Trevin Giles had a solid UFC start at Middleweight, but physically, he appears a great fit for 170 pounds. The more experienced man started strong opposite the debuting young fighter, Michael Morales.
Giles was the tighter puncher, and he cracked Morales with a heavy 1-2 early before landing a takedown. Morales managed to avoid a submission and scramble back up, where perhaps a bit of nervous energy resulted in further wide swings.
The momentum was firmly in Giles’ corner ... perhaps too firmly. He started leaping into exchanges, and all of a sudden, a Morales’ check hook landed clean. Giles was hurt, and he never recovered.
At just 22 years of age, Morales still has plenty of time to grow his technical skills. The potential is already there!
A Thrilling Debut
Jack Della Maddalena looked real damn good in his first official trip to the Octagon.
The “Contender Series” product faced off with fellow debutante Pete Rodriguez, who looked to have a nice boxing game. He didn’t get to show much of it, however, as Maddalena immediately began pummeling him with long straight shots. After just a few short exchanges, Rodriguez was badly bloodied.
Maddalena was winning in style, too. He popped sharp jabs then shifted stances and lined up crisp lefts as a Southpaw. Once his target was wounded, Maddalena sealed the deal with a beautiful pull cross counter, marking himself as a definite Welterweight to watch.
- Matt Frevola defeats Genaro Valdez via first-round knockout: Valdez is tough as all hell, but the man got battered last night. Frevola dropped him early with a left hook, and then he just kept knocking him back down. Over and over, Valdez fought back to his feet, only to be put down hard by more “Steamrolla” hooks. The fight likely could have been stopped many punches earlier, but Valdez’s heart ultimately served to extend the beating.
- Vanessa Demopoulos defeats Silvana Gomez Juarez via first-round armbar: A lot of fun went down in this short fight! Juarez came out of the gate hot, flooring Demopoulos with a major haymaker. She recovered quickly once on her back, however, soon throwing her guard up high, which is something of a hallmark of her style. Before long Demopoulos was locking in an armbar, and she did well to secure an angle and unlock her legs for a moment, allowing her to knock Juarez over before finishing the submissions.
For complete UFC 270: “Ngannou vs. Gane” results and play-by-play, click HERE!