Last night (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured off to Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, for UFC 271. The second pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year was largely carried by its headliner, a thrilling Middleweight match up with gold on the line between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. While that was the only title fight of the night, the rest of the card was fortunately filled with well-known names, heavy hitters, or — in the case of someone like Derek Lewis — both!
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
The second showdown between the two finest Middleweights on the planet proved a far more competitive, conservative affair.
Adesanya stormed out of the gates to hurt and really dominate Whittaker. However, he allowed the Aussie to survive, find moments of success, and ultimately make it a damn close fight. It was a revealing bout in regards to the will of Whittaker and careful, precise nature of the champion, and I wrote about that interesting dynamic in detail right HERE.
Chaos In The Co-Main
Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa managed to both live up to and subvert expectations in one fell swoop!
The first round was weirdly awesome. Tuivasa landed some heavy low kicks, and there were lots of prolonged clinch exchanges, which typically isn’t great at Heavyweight ... but Lewis scored takedowns! Real ones! An inside trip granted him a free flurry, and a huge portion of the division would not have survived the blows Tuivasa endured.
The Aussie did survive, though, and he survived again when Lewis stung him with a series of rights to start the second. When the two collided again and started trading, it seemed like either man could fall at any second. Tuivasa’s counters landed a bit cleaner, and when Lewis sought safety in the clinch, Tuivasa made great use of elbows to seal the deal.
Welcome to the Top 5, “Bam Bam.”
Jared Cannonier pulled off some Mortal Kombat s—t last night.
Derek Brunson gave him a real challenge. Middleweight’s strongest wrestler was having trouble securing top position, but when he knocked Cannonier down in the first, only the bell saved Cannonier from a first-round submission loss. Reset back to his feet by the end of the round, however, Cannonier wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
Cannonier really started picking his opponent apart, and in particular, he did huge damage from close quarters. Not long into the round, a right hook on the break of the clinch stunned Brunson, and he never seemed to recover. From that point forward, Cannonier just kept picking his shots accurately, and every single one hurt.
The finishing sequence was a unique one. Cannonier defended another clinch but chose to work his offense rather than escape, clobbering Brunson with a nasty elbow and backfist. Following up, Cannonier sent his opponent to the canvas and finished with an unpleasant series of elbows, each of which landed with a sickening thud.
Brunson’s resurgence has been awesome, and he fought hard, but Cannonier shut all that down with real venom.
Moicano Strangles Hernandez
Renato Moicano is an under appreciated technician and opportunistic. Against the very physically talented Alexander Hernandez, Moicano was able to avoid most of his foe’s power shots while still remaining in position to answer.
There was a lot of skill on display from the Brazilian. His accurate calf kicks, for example, were timed well, and his chain wrestling to secure a big slam in the first against a solid wrestler was well-executed. Even when tired from wrestling, Moicano smartly circled and still dinged Hernandez with a nice slip and rip.
Refreshed by the minute break between rounds, Moicano was at his best once more in the second. He slipped and fired back repeatedly, catching Hernandez off-guard on the counter with several different combinations. When he really hurt his opponent with such a right, Moicano capitalized with a jump knee, back take, and rear naked choke.
From start to finish, kickboxing to jiu-jitsu, Moicano looked dangerous and composed — a very nice showing from the former Featherweight contender.
Bobby Green At His Best
I don’t know why, but the COVID-19 era has proven a good one for Bobby Green. For whatever reason, he’s been able to make it to the cage more often than at any point in his UFC career, and his performances have really been speaking for themselves.
Against a dangerous puncher in Nasrat Haqparast, Green was fearless and on point. From the first bell, he was threading his straight punches threw Haqparast’s guard. The German was quickly bloodied, and when he tried to answer, Green would sidestep or roll his offense and answer with hard stabs.
From the first bell, Green was in the flow state, looking like one of Lightweight’s best. A late career title run may still seem incredible unlikely, but Green’s last three showings are genuinely among the best of his career, and he’s hitting that peak more consistently.
On his best night, “King” Green has a chance vs. any Lightweight on the roster.
Douglas Silva de Andrade is not a perfect fighter. His swings are often a bit wide, and his takedown defense is not impenetrable. That combination of flaws can empty the gas tank, leaving the Brazilian less dangerous late in the fight.
Sergey Morozov appeared well equipped to capitalize upon these flaws, and he busted Andrade up in the first frame. Scoring multiple takedowns, Morozov split his opponent open with a nasty elbow, and he appeared in complete control heading into the second.
Fortunately, this is mixed martial arts (MMA), and being violent is a major asset. On that front, Andrade is elite. The Brazilian throws everything with horrific intentions, and he has the physicality that ensures any connection is significant. Early in the second, one such shot connected, a lead hook that stunned Morozov.
All the Russian’s previous good work no longer matter all that much. Andrade hurt him, and he kept that momentum in his corner, stuffing shots and putting him on the canvas with another body-head combination. Another knockdown granted Andrade the back mount, and he found the strangle to complete his come-from-behind win.
It was awesome.
- Kyler Phillips defeats Marcelo Rojo via third-round armbar: This is how you rebound from a controversial loss. Phillips reasserted himself as one of the most talented young fighters at Bantamweight, arguably the most talented young division! Phillips remained a step ahead of the very game Rojo consistently, landing the better combinations and really chewing up the lead calf. In the third, Phillips really committed to his wrestling game, securing top position and then trapping Rojo in a tangle of submissions. Again, the Argentinian tried to hang tough, but Phillips transitioned from the triangle into an armbar, forcing a frantic tap to seal the deal on a well-rounded performance.
- Jeremiah Wells defeats Mike Mathetha via first-round rear naked choke: Mathetha — aka “Blood Diamond” — is a talented kickboxer with a great camp behind him, but there’s a reason most fighters need more than three pro fights prior to their UFC debut. Wells pretty quickly found his way to the back clinch, at which point he was able to land a big slam and throw his hooks in. Not too long afterward, the arm was under the chin — that’s all it takes!
For complete UFC 271: “Adesanya vs. Whittaker” results and play-by-play, click HERE.
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