Last night (Sat., Sept. 10, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 279. Though the chaos of the 48 hours prior to the event threatened to derail the entire show, UFC 279 ended up better for it! A pair of true legends in Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson deserved their main event slot, as well as one another as opponents. Despite his botched weight cut, Khamzat Chimaev still faced a more formidable challenge to his undefeated record in Kevin Holland. The early preliminary bouts started a bit slow, but fortunately, everything heated up by the main card.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Diaz The Wise
Nathan Diaz has always been the younger brother, the troublemaker who’s thrived in chaos. Perhaps that’s why it’s so interesting to see that in 2022, Diaz has really evolved into the textbook example of an older fighter who has shifted his style as he’s developed.
Diaz was remarkably efficient last night. When he threw power shots, he didn’t miss all that often. Diaz picked his moments to expand upon his combinations, but otherwise, he was happy to wait for opportunities. Diaz even strategically used his showboating and posturing to buy himself rests when appropriate!
The Stockton slugger is no dummy, and his craft earned him the win last night. For a more in-depth review of the main event, check out my full thoughts HERE!
Like pretty much any reasonable fan who was annoyed with Chimaev’s antics, I wanted Kevin Holland to shock the world.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Chimaev emptied the gas tank immediately and ran through Holland. I actually liked a lot of what Holland was doing, using Granby rolls to keep the scrambles going and never allow Chimaev to lock down his usual wrist-ride chain. He was forcing Chimaev to expend a lot of energy throwing him around, exactly like he was supposed to do to survive the first round.
Then, Chimaev managed to wrap his arms around Holland’s neck in the beginnings of a d’arce choke. Once again, Holland did some great stuff, creating space with his legs, trying to flatten out his chest and widen his shoulders, and flipping around to keep his blood flowing. Unfortunately for “Big Mouth,” Chimaev really expertly followed along, taking every opportunity to cinch down a little bit tighter on the choke.
There just wasn’t any escape available. Chimaev’s weight cut may have been s—t, but that d’arce technique was masterful.
Kind Of A Drag
Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez was a solid, competitive fight. In a vacuum, that should be enough. Instead, the Vegas fans booed too much, killing the mood. “The Leech” lost a decision he probably should’ve won. Hopefully, Jingliang’s stock still rises in the eyes of the fans, because he’s a badass for taking the fight in the first place.
A New Finisher
Irene Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson was surprisingly fun.
Aldana began the fight with some heavy right hand connections that had Chiasson shooting early. Time and time again, Chiasson would shoot because of those heavy blows, and something bad would happen to her as a result. The best example came in the closing seconds of the round, when Chiasson was instantly reversed into an armbar that arguably finished the fight, seeing as Chiasson sort of tapped.
Nevertheless, the fight wore on, and Chiasson bounced back! She stormed out of the gate in the second and landed some big shots of her own, which actually set up her double leg attempt. After a weird, leg lock-y scramble, she emerged on Aldana’s back. She spent a lot of time there, landing some very solid elbows from top position.
The momentum remained in Chiasson’s corner into the third. She was moving well at range, switching directions and catching Aldana with off-beat strikes. Then, another takedown seemed to really improve her odds of taking the decision ... until an upkick from bottom to the body ended the fight?
I’ve never seen anything like it! It makes sense on paper: the heel is hard, and the liver is squishy — that’s why spinning kicks to the liver can be so brutal. Still, a new finishing blow from an unusual position deserves respect!
I don’t know if this win earns Aldana a title shot, but who else is there?
Walker Bounces Back
Johnny Walker really, really needed the win last night.
The fight didn’t start his way, as Cutelaba pretty quickly planted him on his butt. However, credit to the Brazilian, Walker did really well in preventing “The Hulk” from landing anything damaging. Before too muh time passed, Walker slipped out from underneath and gained top position, quickly taking Cutelaba’s back.
From that position, an odd dynamic emerged. Walker was hunting for the choke, which Cutelaba would stop, then he’d immediately reach down and start grabbing Walker’s legs to fight the hooks. Then, Walker would attack the neck again, because his opponent’s hands weren’t protecting from the choke! Cutelaba would then abandon his attempted escape and go back to fighting the choke.
Fighting the feet with your hands can work, but Cutelaba wasn’t in the right position. He either need to trap Walker’s arms in his armpits or drive backwards into Walker for better hip position, but he did neither before fighting the feet. As a result, he kept giving Walker opportunities to attack the neck, and one finally sunk under the chin!
Walker has been getting knocked out a lot lately, so it was a bit of a feel-good moment to see him win without getting battered at any point.
Jailton Almeida is really damn good.
The jiu-jitsu black belt is clearly incredible on the canvas. He’s so methodical, able to transition between dominant positions with ease. He’s willing to grapple extensively without throwing strikes, which can be an error in many cases. In this match, however, the Brazilian adapted as soon as it became apparent he couldn’t just wrestle his way to a submission. He started hammering Anton Turkalj with accurate punches, and the rear naked choke quickly opened up.
BJJ guys don’t typically have such athletic blast double legs. Almeida has ran through all of his UFC opposition so far, and it’s very clearly time for a step up in competition.
Super Heavyweight Fun
Somehow, 5’9” Chris Barnett missed the Heavyweight limit by 1.5 pounds on Friday, but I’m not going to hold that against him. For one, it’s Heavyweight, so who really cares? More importantly, Barnett recently revealed the story of fighting less than two days after his wife passed away earlier in 2022, which is one of the most brutal things I’ve heard in a decade of covering this sport.
“Huggy Bear” brought a special level of motivation to this fight against Jake Collier, and he needed it. Collier started fast, landing heavy shots right off the bat. Almost immediately, Barnett’s eye was swelling shut, and his jaw or lip or something in his general mouth area appeared very f—ked up. I’m not a doctor, but the man’s face looked like a stroke victim, and that cannot be good for fist-fighting.
Nevertheless, Barnett stood his ground and fired back. He landed shots of his own, but the tables didn’t turn immediately. Instead, Collier tripped him to the canvas and took his back, putting Barnett in the exact position he recently finished Chase Sherman. Somehow, Barnett survived! He kept moving beneath the massive man, even escaping in the final seconds of the round.
Everything changed in the second. Barnett stormed out of the gate with a big combo, and he really took control. He kept swarming Collier, winning the speed and volume battle to land hard. Collier tried to land the same trip as in the first round, but Barnett evaded and reversed into top position.
From mount and back mount, Barnett showed excellent balance and hip mobility to ride through Collier’s frantic bucking. He stayed punching all the while, completing one of the year’s best comebacks.
UFC Women’s Featherweight Remains Unnecessary
It is so challenging to care about UFC’s women’s Featherweight division when the promotion itself hardly seems to remember it exists.
On the earliest “Prelims,” Norma Dumont faced off with 1-0 Danyelle Wolf. Dumont is sort of a top contender at 145 lbs. by virtue of being nearly the only woman in the division outside of the champion. Unsurprisingly, the fairly experienced Dumont proved way too much for Wolf, the 39-year-old debutant. She socked her up on the feet and finished the final round showing off her massive grappling advantage to earn a clear-cut win.
This was bad matchmaking forced by an empty division. If an older fighter with almost no MMA experience is the best to come off the regional scene, why are we bothering? Perhaps Wolf’s boxing skill could have shined eventually if she was built up slowly, but UFC isn’t willing to invest in the division enough for anyone to come up at a reasonable pace.
Just end it already! Bellator can be the home of the best female Featherweights.
- Denis Tiuliulin defeats Jamie Pickett via second-round knockout: Tiuliulin lost a point for low blows landed in dubious circumstances — are we sure that first one was illegal? — but it only served to piss the Russian finisher off. After losing the point, Tiuliulin went fully on the offensive, chasing after Pickett and showing zero respect for his offense. On the whole, Tiuliulin showed a really nice variety of effective offense. He landed heavy right hands, a ripping right body kick, a dozen elbows, and a pair of fight finishing knees from the A Frame position in the clinch. The 34-year-old veteran picked up his first UFC win as a result, and while I don’t expect a title run, I’d happily watch him face off with another scrapper any time.
For complete UFC 279: “Diaz vs. Ferguson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!