Last night (Sat., Sept. 16, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Noche UFC. This card definitely should have taken place in Mexico, but that flaw aside, it was fun to have a unifying theme and live audience. Better yet, it’s been quite some time since UFC put a title fight on a “Fight Night” card rather than pay-per-view (PPV), let alone a genuinely intriguing one.
Let’s take a look at Noche UFC’s standout performances and techniques:
An Instant Classic
Moving on, Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 was an awesome fight. It really highlighted what both women do so well! Shevcheno controlled considerable swaths of the fight on the strength of her clinch work, jabs, and takedowns. She also made some interesting adjustments for the rematch, most notably the increased use of elbows.
Meanwhile, Grasso has that special factor that makes a champion. Youth is certainly part of it, but Grasso just is always there to capitalize when Shevchenko slips up. Hang around too long in the pocket? Knockdown. Try to force a takedown late in the fifth while both women are clearly exhausted and running on fumes? Back take and near finish!
If Shevchenko doesn’t go for the goddamn head-and-arm throw in the final minute of the fight, she probably wins clearly ... or maybe she gets clipped and dropped by another overhand! That’s what is so great about this match up: Grasso makes something happen every time Shevchenko begins to take control.
If the trilogy is made, everyone will tune in. Both fights so far have been incredible!
A Slow Simmer In The Co-Main
Kevin Holland vs. Jack Della Maddalena wasn’t a bad fight. It also wasn’t a good one.
Della Maddalena wanted to be more defensively responsible against a heavy hitter. Understandable. Holland didn’t want to trade in the pocket with a vaunted knockout artist. Also understandable. Unfortunately, the end result was that Della Maddalena didn’t really push his openings when Holland was backed into the fence, and “Trailblazer” resigned himself to throwing a lot of volume without much intention. In the immortal words of Nick Diaz, much of Holland’s activity could be described as “little baby low kicks,” punctuated by occasional serious right hands.
“JDM” got the job done via split-decision mostly by throwing power punches in combination and working more efficiently. It’s the best win of his career, so it doesn’t have to be the most exciting!
A 54-Second Bounce Back!
Raul Rosas Jr. walked into the cage with something to prove against Terrence Mitchell.
The two pretty much met in the center and traded huge shots at the first bell. Mitchell landed a couple right hands down the middle, but Rosas Jr. connected with a huge left haymaker that floored him. Mitchell hit the canvas in a bad way, and Rosas Jr. followed up with a barrage of punches from the back mount to score the quick finish.
Does beating Mitchell mean anything? No, not really. He’s never been a UFC caliber fighter. All the same, Rosas Jr. showed that he can throw with a little more venom than expected, and he’s still just 18 years old! He should be matched up against the bottom tier of the Bantamweight division for a couple years at a minimum.
A Very Physical Lightweight Prospect
Daniel Zellhuber showed off some real gifts against Christos Giagos, though it took him a round to do so.
In the first, Giagos showed off his continued improvement on the feet, a result from working with the Sanford MMA team. He stunned Zellhuber on several occasions, blitzing forward with well-timed combinations of hooks and crosses. He also blasted Zellhuber’s calf a good handful of times, managing his distance well against the rangy Mexican talent.
At a minimum, Zellhuber’s chin was on display.
The problem for Giagos came in the form of conditioning. It’s exhausting to move all over the cage, feint actively, and explode forward with huge swings. Zellhuber was more calm and efficient in his advance, and as Giagos’ speed dropped off a bit, Zellhuber started to find his range. As soon as his counter shots landed, Giagos looked far less comfortable on his feet.
Before long, he panic-wrestled directly into an instant anaconda choke.
Zellhuber showed off a lot of gifts here. He’s durable and powerful with a massive reach — problematic for many in the division already. He also demonstrated excellent takedown defense and crisp combinations, so if he can improve his defense a bit, there’s lots of potential for him to climb the ranks.
A Contender Announced
Lupita Godinez proved herself the very real deal.
Historically, the Mexican talent has been a little inconsistent. She lost two of her first three UFC bouts, built up a bit of momentum, then opted to strike against Angela Hill — a bad call. Her rebound against Cynthia Calvillo wasn’t particularly inspired either, and it just seemed like breaking into the Top 15 was the top of her potential ceiling.
That’s no longer the case.
Godinez put a beating on Elise Reed, dominating her in every aspect. Reed was expected to have a striking edge, but instead, Godinez floored her with a massive left hook in the very first round! Clearly, her move to Lobo Gym was a good decision, as her boxing has never looked better. Even more impressively, she blended her takedowns behind her newly improved punching combinations, putting together some genuinely great sequences that saw her back Reed to the fence, box her up, then finish with a massive slam.
From top position, Godinez was aggressive with his submission game as well. She nearly broke Reed’s arm in the first before ultimately locking up the rear naked choke a round later. It was a statement performance from “Loopy,” one that proclaimed her status as a future contender.
F—k Your Happy Ending
Alex Reyes made the walk to the Octagon for the first time in SIX YEARS. Reyes was a short-notice sacrifice to Mike Perry way back in 2017, and he was smoked quickly while “Platinum” was still in good form. Severe, potentially life-threatening health issues have sidelined him since, but he was able to overcome untold obstacles and difficult moments to make it back into active competition — a win in its own right.
Charlie Campbell was not sympathetic.
He pummeled the returning “Executioner,” landing so many snapping power shots. Reyes just couldn’t get out of the way of his right hand or jab, and eventually, he crumbled under the barrage. Interestingly, it all went wrong for Reyes when he caught a kick. Campbell smashed his jaw with four consecutive punches while hopping on one leg, and Reyes never really regained his wits.
- Roman Kopylov defeats Josh Fremd via second-round knockout: Fremd was not originally planned to be in the cage opposite Kopylov ... and it showed. The Russian striker methodically broke him down, bloodying his face and battering his body with punishing left kicks. Early the second round, Fremd already looked unstable from the numerous connections of his opponent. Kopylov never picked up the pace in response, however, just continually picking his shots in accurate fashion before one final liver kick sealed the deal. That’s four knockouts in a row for Kopylov, three of them via kick!
- Josefine Knutsson defeats Marnic Mann via unanimous decision: This wasn’t a finish, but it might as well have been. Knuttson battered her opponent, pummeling her at distance, throwing her to the floor, and hammering away from mount multiple times. The edge in physicality was seriously massive, and Mann’s corner probably should’ve thrown in the towel rather than send their athlete out for a third round — there was no hope. At any rate, it was a very strong debut for the Swedish athlete, who just established herself as a top-tier prospect.
For complete Noche UFC: “Grasso vs. Shevchenko” results and play-by-play, click HERE.