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UFC 179 Main Card Review

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Other than watching films and television I spend most of my time obsessively watching and reading up on two sports. The first, as I’ve mentioned here before, is American Football (Which I’m actually watching right now as I write this). The second is Mixed Martial Arts.

As much as I’d love to talk about both here, reviewing an NFL game seems a bit pointless… “RAVENS WIN! 10/10” or “Ravens lose. 0/10”. An MMA event on the other hand lends itself to a bit more to a rambling dialogue. Possibly. I’m not entirely sure this will work, so I’m going to give it go for last night’s UFC 179: Jose vs Mendes 2 and see if it’s something worth doing going forward.

I’m not going to talk about the Prelims (which are definitely worth watching if you are into the sport) because I don’t want this article to be overlong. I’ll just stick to the five fights on the main card.

(Word of warning, I’ll be discussing the results of each fight so if you don’t want to know the outcomes stop reading)

LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION – BENEIL DARIUSH VS CARLOS DIEGO FERREIRA

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The main card kicks off with a lightweight battle.

Ferreira comes into this fight undefeated in his professional career and holds victories over Colton Smith, winning by submission, and Ramsey Nijem who he beat via technical knockout. Both wins earned him “Of the Night” awards.

Dariush came in with an 8-1 record. His UFC record was 2-1, beating Charlie Brenneman and Tony Martin by submission, and losing via TKO to Ramsey Nijem. The fact Ferreira holds a win over the only man to beat Dariush is probably what made him the favourite.

The fight starts and Dariush looks so calm and relaxed. He throws leg kicks and jabs as he ducks and dives out of the way of Ferreira’s offence. Throughout all three rounds Dariush does everything he needs to do. It never feels as though he’s completely overwhelming Ferreira, but at the same time he doesn’t give him anything to work with. Other than a flashy combo to open the third round Ferreira never puts anything together and the judges give all three rounds to Dariush.

A solid fight that shows Dariush has got some chops. The lightweight division is insanely stacked right now with a lot of fighters clamouring for a shot at the title. To get noticed a fighter has to really do something special. This fight was not that moment for either fighter. But a win over an undefeated fighter may earn Dariush a fight against a ranked opponent, and the chance to stake his claim and make his name.

 

FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION – DARREN ELKINS VS LUCAS MARTINS

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Darren “The Damage” Elkins (coming in at 17-4) takes on Lucas “Mineiro” Martins (15-1) in a real grind of a fight.

Martins is a formidable striker and so the smartest thing for Elkins to do is take him down. From the second the fight begins it is clear that’s Elkins’ game plan. He shoots at every opportunity, going for single legs, double legs, grabbing hold of Martins anyway he can and dragging him either to the ground or up against the cage. To begin with Martins does a good job of defending against this, but as the fight goes on and the pressure from Elkins picks up, Martins finds himself getting caught more and more.

Martins lands a few nice shots which very quickly busts up Elkins face (his nickname The Damage actually refers to how prone to cuts he is, as opposed to how much damage he deals out) but the cuts and bruises are misleading. It is Elkins controlling the pace, coming forward with offence. The problem is his offence mainly consists of holding Martins up against the cage. It’s working for him but is not hugely compelling to watch. The fans let their distaste be known with a chorus of Boos.

It goes to the score cards and Elkins wins via split decision (the judge that scored all rounds to Martins must’ve been high).

 

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT – FABIO MALDONADO VS HANS STRINGER

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Fabio Maldonado (22-7) takes on Hans Stringer (22-6-3) resulting in the only finish of the main card.

Maldonado is known to most fans for getting beat up. The guy can take a punch. He can take ten. It would be nice if time to time he gave some back.

Fight starts and it’s clear Maldonado wants to box but Stringer has other ideas and instantly takes him down. Stringer lands some punches and elbows cutting Maldonado along the hair line. Maldonado does nothing from his back. He just waits for the ref to stand them up, which never happens. Dull opening round.

Second round starts and it’s more of the same. One guy wants to box, the other doesn’t. Stringer gets a take down but Maldonado actually does something, scrambles, and gets a reversal. As soon as this happens Stringer just wilts. He turtles up as Maldonado throws and throws and throws. The crowd wakes up, giving Maldonado even more fire as he works until the ref has no choice but to stop it.

 

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION – PHIL DAVIS VS GLOVER TEIXEIRA 

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Finally, a fight with top contenders that can actually have an impact on the division.

Phil “Mr Wonderful” Davis (12-2) fights Glover Teixeira (22-3) in a match up that could very well put the winner one win away from a title shot.

The fans didn’t seem too impressed with this fight as it was largely a grappling match, but I thought there was a lot to like. Teixeira is known for his one punch knockout power and Davis executed a perfect game plan to make sure he wasn’t on the receiving end of that power. He took Teixeira down, wore him out, landed strikes at every opportunity and prevented him from landing any of his own. Davis was on him like a blanket for the entire fight and really demonstrated how impressive a wrestler he is. After getting completely shut down in his last fight by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Davis needed to come in and dominate and that is exactly what he did.

Then in a bizarre moment Davis calls out former Middleweight title holder, and greatest of all time, Anderson Silva. Why?

 

FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION – CHAMPION JOSE ALDO VS CHAD MENDES

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Two years ago Jose Aldo (24-1) landed a perfectly timed knee to the chin of a then undefeated Chad Mendes (16-1). Mendes was out cold and Aldo solidified his position as the most dominant 145 pounder in the world. Ever.

Over the next two years Aldo continued to beat everyone put in front of him. But something was different. His victories weren’t so decisive. He was no longer knocking everybody out, constantly looking for the finish. He was seemingly happy to do just enough to earn a decision victory.

During that same time Mendes had to go back to the drawing board. In the first fight Mendes was little more than a wrestler. That’s not going to be enough against Aldo, who has arguably the best take down defence in the world. So Mendes started working on his striking, and more importantly, his power. He came back after that loss as a beast. He knocked out four dudes in a row. After his fifth victory he earned his rematch.

After the first fight Aldo seemed bored, but Mendes was energized, refreshed, and had something to prove.

IT’S TIME

The fight starts and Mendes rushes to the center. He starts throwing. Aldo fires right back. Leg kicks, punches to the head, punches to the body, back and forth. Then it happens. Mendes lands a left and Aldo’s legs fall out from under him. It only takes a second before Aldo is back up, but it doesn’t change the fact that for the first time in his career, the first time in twenty six fights Aldo is knocked down by strikes.

All it does is piss him off.

They bang it out and the crowd is going nuts. Mendes inadvertently pokes Aldo in the eye. Referee Marc Goddard stops the clock and a doctor takes a look at it. The fight starts back up again and Aldo lands flush and rocks Mendes. He throws a hook and connects, dropping Mendes to the floor. Aldo dives on him, throwing everything he’s got. Mendes struggles back to his feet. Aldo continues landing throughout the final ten seconds of the round. The crowd is deafening. The bell sounds.

They don’t hear it. Aldo throws a punch. Cracks Mendes in the jaw. He follows it up and stuns Mendes. The referee realises the round is over and jumps between them. Outside the cage is total chaos. People shouting Aldo needs a point taken away from him. But Marc Goddard never heard the bell. Mendes stumbles back to his corner and tries to shake the cobwebs away.

Thrilling first round.

The rest of the fight is just as exciting. Both men land huge shots throughout the next four rounds. Mendes gets rocked. Then Aldo gets rocked. They enter the championship rounds and Mendes pours it on. He scores take downs and lands punches. He wins his first round of the fight. Final round. Mendes has never looked better, but Aldo is always a little bit faster, a little bit stronger.  It goes the distance.

All three judges give the nod to Aldo. He retains his belt. Before the fight there was some animosity between the two fighters but after such an amazing performance from both men there is nothing but respect. Without a doubt the two best featherweights on the planet. They hug it out and close the books on one of the best fights of the year.

 

Other than the main event the card was kind of mediocre (especially the first three fights) but that last fight alone was worth the price of admission.

So after the events fans like to take a guess at what’s next for some of the fighters. Phil Davis has definitely earned himself a number one contenders match-up, which may see him get the winner of Alexander Gustafsson and Rashad Evans (if that fight happens). It’s worth noting that Gustafsson has only lost twice in his career, most famously to Jon Jones. The other loss came at the hands of Phil Davis.

Then there’s the question of who is next for Jose Aldo. If the world was fair it would be the winner of the upcoming Cub Swanson vs Frankie Edgar fight (and really Cub’s six fight winning strike should’ve already earned him a shot) but it seems more likely that Aldo’s next opponent will be the brash, outspoken, immensely popular Connor McGregor. As long as he gets past Dennis Siver (and he probably will).

So that’s it for UFC 179. A largely forgettable card with one hell of a main event.




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