MMA Review: #433: UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III

-With both Velasquez and Dos Santos blowing through their opposition at UFC 160 and Zuffa (and combat sports) general hard-on for “trilogies”, it was pretty clear that a third, and likely final match between the two was coming. Personally I thought it was a little too soon and would’ve booked Cain to defend against Fabricio Werdum first, but I wasn’t exactly complaining either. Card was ridiculously stacked, too – probably the best of the year in fact, so coming in to say I was hyped up would be an understatement.

UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III

Houston, Texas

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Bantamweight Fight: Kyoji Horiguchi vs Dustin Pague

Newly signed Horiguchi had initially been pegged as a Flyweight prospect, but was coming in at 135lbs for his debut to take on TUF 14’s Pague, a man in dire need of a win after going on a three-fight losing streak – making it almost a minor miracle that he was still under contract here. With Horiguchi having quite the reputation from the Japanese circuit I figured he’d be able to win.

Round One and Horiguchi opens by circling and landing a couple of leg kicks. Big right misses for the Japanese fighter and Pague grabs him and manages to drag him down, and in the scramble he takes the back with a body triangle. Horiguchi stands with Pague clinging to his back, and it looks like the TUF veteran might have the choke sunken in. Horiguchi does just enough to survive though, defending really well as Pague keeps looking for the choke. About halfway through the round and Pague decides to give up on the body triangle and drop to standing, but he’s still got Horiguchi’s back. The Japanese fighter manages to finally spin around and gets into a regular clinch, and from there he looks for a trip takedown of his own. Pague defends and they break off with a minute remaining. Good counter right lands for Pague. Another takedown attempt from Horiguchi is stuffed and Pague lands a knee, but he eats a right in the process. Beautiful throw from the clinch from Pague and he gets on top and land some punches. Horiguchi manages to reverse though, landing a right from the top as the round ends. 10-9 Pague in an excellent round.

Round Two and Horiguchi opens with a nice combination. BIG LEFT HOOK drops Pague hard and he’s in trouble. The Japanese fighter pounces in the guard and begins to dribble Pague’s head off the mat with punches, but somehow the TUF vet manages to survive. He looks for a half-guard sweep, and then manages to pull it off, getting to top position in Horiguchi’s butterfly guard. Horiguchi looks to elevate him and manages it, getting to his feet where he forces Pague into the fence. Takedown from Horiguchi and he gets into half-guard. Solid punches land for Horiguchi and he traps the left arm for good measure to deliver some cleaner blows. Big hammer fist connects for the Japanese fighter. Reversal attempt from Pague but this time Horiguchi’s base is too good and he drops a couple of BOMBS down onto Pague, hurting him again. Horiguchi keeps landing bombs from the top and with just over a minute to go he postures up and really begins to punish him, and Herb Dean decides to call it there.

This was a great fight and an awesome, impressive debut for Horiguchi as he weathered a storm from a real UFC veteran and then turned up the heat to finish him in the third, showing ridiculous power for such a small guy in the process. His ground-and-pound was absolutely ruthless. Look forward to seeing this guy at 125lbs as I think he’s likely a title contender there.

Featherweight Fight: Andre Fili vs Jeremy Larsen

TUF 15’s Larsen – another guy who I was surprised was still under UFC contract – was initially pegged to face Matt Grice here but of course the poor guy had to withdraw after that sickening car accident he suffered. Stepping in was Team Alpha Male’s Fili, the man with possibly the best nickname in all of MMA – you know, Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili! Word was that he was cutting a ludicrous amount of weight to make the 145lbs limit but I was still picking him to win as I just don’t rate Larsen at all.

First round and right away Fili comes out firing with strikes. Larsen is happy to oblige and they openly brawl from the off, exchanging shots with pretty reckless abandon. Big right hand from Fili wobbles Larsen for a second but he swings right back again. Takedown attempt from Larsen but he doesn’t quite get the leg and Fili stuffs it. Larsen clinches and moves him into the fence but Fili opens up with some VICIOUS KNEES that hurt Larsen badly. He’s all over the place and he’s cut badly too. Larsen decides to drop to all fours to avoid the knees, then comes back up and eats another nasty one. Another takedown attempt from Larsen and holy shit there’s a lot of blood. Fili works to stuff it and they break off, and from there the ref calls the doctor in to check the cut. Doctor decides he’s fine and lets it go. Good right hand from Larsen in the exchange that follows and good lord these guys are throwing bombs. Stiff jab lands for Fili. Larsen is still bleeding badly. Into the clinch and Fili shoves him into the fence, but Larsen breaks off quickly. High kick from Fili is caught and Larsen throws him to the ground in guard, where he lands with a sharp elbow. Oma plata attempt from Fili and he transitions to a triangle but Larsen avoids and lands a couple more elbows. Another oma plata attempt from Fili gets him a sweep and he escapes to his feet. Big left hand lands for Fili in a trade. Round ends with Fili landing a right hand. 10-9 Fili.

Second round and Larsen’s face is a MESS. Doctors check him over prior to the round beginning in fact. He’s still alright to continue, though. Good jab from Larsen but Fili again comes out aggressively and swings. Leg kick is caught by Fili and he drills Larsen with a right, but that leads to a trade and Larsen cracks him with an overhand right. Fili continues to come forward into trades though and both men are firing off now. Left hand lands hard for Larsen but a right connects for Fili and wobbles the TUF veteran’s legs badly. Fili follows up with a flurry and Larsen goes down, forcing the ref to step in.

Fili looked crazy aggressive in there, which might’ve been a problem for him against opposition of a higher calibre but Larsen just couldn’t deal with the aggression and he basically got beaten up from start to finish despite landing some decent shots of his own. Looking forward to seeing Fili in there again, especially if he can tighten up his game a little while keeping the aggression. Fight was somehow even better than the opener, meaning it was REALLY good.

Lightweight Fight: Tony Ferguson vs Mike Rio

This was TUF 13 winner Ferguson’s first fight since his May 2012 loss to Michael Johnson – a fight that saw him break his arm early on, in my opinion leading to the loss. Rio looked like a ready-made opponent for him – a decent wrestler but with questionable striking – and as a big fan of El Cucuy I was hoping he’d be able to make a triumphant return.

Round One and they exchange some feeler strikes with Rio landing a stiff jab and then a nice left hook. He really dives for the takedown, but Ferguson sprawls to stuff it and brings it back to the feet. Rio muscles him into the cage, but can’t get him down and Ferguson spins free. Good combination lands flush for El Cucuy. Rio goes for another takedown but Ferguson sprawls again and lands a knee to the shoulder. Back up and Rio continues to lean for the takedown, but he’s telegraphing it now and Ferguson is beginning to find his range. Cracking left hand from Ferguson hurts Rio and he shoots wildly, but El Cucuy sprawls again and locks up a TIGHT D’Arce choke, and from there he rolls it over and forces Rio to tap out. Beautiful stuff.

Nice win for Tony Ferguson to return to action with. Apparently he predicted he’d win by D’Arce too which is slick as hell. Post-fight we get a comical moment as Bruce Buffer’s voice goes all high when saying “El Cucuy”, hilarious stuff. Rio basically got into trouble the moment he started shooting without setting up, but then I think he was overmatched anyway. I still think El Cucuy could be a future title contender now he’s healthy, too.

Welterweight Fight: Adlan Amagov vs TJ Waldburger

Chechen striker Amagov had got off to a good start in his UFC career after moving from StrikeForce, taking out Chris Spang in March, while Waldburger had been on the shelf for a while after taking out Nick Catone in his last appearance. To me this was a close fight to call as Waldburger’s a little underrated I think and I didn’t know that much about Amagov, but the Chechen’s terrifying appearance alone made me lean towards him.

Fight begins and both men open by throwing out some kicks. Big head kick just misses for Amagov. Waldburger is coming up a little short on his strikes thus far. Amagov looks so scary it’s unreal. Takedown attempt is easily avoided by the Chechen. Jab lands for TJ. Crowd begin to chant for Waldburger but he eats a spin kick to the body. Another takedown attempt from Waldburger but Amagov stuffs it and they wind up clinched. Waldburger really starts to dig for a single leg, but Amagov defends and manages to stun him with some short uppercuts, with one leg off the ground. More shots land in the clinch and Waldburger is in trouble. His legs buckle from under him and he goes down, and from there Amagov KNOCKS HIM SILLY with punches, bouncing his head off the ground. Holy shit. Really bad ref job from Jay Steffen too as it was clear Waldburger was out and yet he was allowed to take another three or four shots before the stoppage.

Not only did Amagov’s appearance look scary but he fought in a scary way here too, showing patience, great takedown defense and absolutely ridiculous power from close range to knock Waldburger out and really hurt him in the process. This guy has a lot of potential and I really hope the rumors of him retiring due to religious reasons (!) are untrue as I think he could go far at 170lbs, which, it must be added, is still the most stacked division in MMA.

Lightweight Fight: KJ Noons vs George Sotiropoulos

Both of these fighters were coming off losses and badly needed a win, but Sotiropoulos had his back to the wall a little more than Noons – after all, he’d been beaten badly in his previous three fights while Noons’ loss to Donald Cerrone isn’t exactly much to be ashamed of. With George’s very questionable chin at this point in his career I threw my hat in with Noons.

Round One and they circle for the first minute with very little action at all. Couple of jabs to the body land for Noons. Crowd sound a bit restless. George hasn’t done anything notable so far. More jabs from Noons but George finally lands with a counter right hand. Good right to the body from Noons. Crowd are not enthused by this at all. Couple of decent shots land for Noons but Sotiropoulos is doing a decent job of avoiding, it’s just that he’s not putting together any offense. Eye poke lands for George and Herb Dean has to call time. KJ recovers and they restart with seconds to go, and Noons lands with a glancing uppercut. Combo lands for Noons and a right hand rocks George. Noons charges in and goes CRAZY and George fires right back but the round ends there. Man, those last few seconds almost made up for the shit beforehand. 10-9 Noons.

Round Two and George comes out jabbing, leading to a brief firefight with both men landing. George is definitely being more aggressive in this round. Head kick glances for him. Good combo actually lands for George and now KJ seems to be finding it hard to pull the trigger. Couple of jabs land for Noons and he’s doing a good job of slipping a lot of Sotiropoulos’s punches. Takedown is stuffed by Noons. Uppercut lands for Noons but a good right hand connects for George in a brief trade. Right hand to the body from Noons. Body kick lands for George. Single leg attempt follows and he almost gets Noons down, and after a struggle he does so, putting KJ on his back in guard. He’s seated against the fence though and he escapes to his feet. Nice left to the body from Sotiropoulos. One minute to go and they continue to exchange punches with both men landing some solid shots. This round has been much, much better. Head kick narrowly misses for George. Good left lands for George and they exchange to the buzzer. 10-9 Sotiropoulos I’d say.

Round Three and Noons comes in swinging, stuffing a takedown early, and they trade shots like they’re Andre Fili and Jeremy Larsen for a second. Left side of Noons’ face is all marked up. This is a hard fight to score, but George seems to be the aggressor early. Big right hand lands for Noons and George is wobbled badly. There’s blood absolutely pissing from George’s right eye, too. Knee lands for Noons. Surprised he didn’t swarm on him there. Takedown attempt from Sotiropoulos but KJ stuffs it. Combo from Noons and another takedown is stuffed. Right hand connects again for the StrikeForce vet. Good leg kick from George. Hard uppercut from Noons. Two minutes to go and both men connect with right hands. Another takedown is stuffed by Noons. Counter lands for George and he follows with a nice leg kick. A few more follow and Noons isn’t really defending them. Head kick switches things up and lands pretty well too. Noons seems to be slowing down, but he does land with a heavy right. Spinning backfist just misses for KJ. Seconds to go and this is a close fight. Lunging right from KJ and that’s the round. I’ve got this a close 29-28 for Noons but it wasn’t an easy one to score.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for KJ Noons. I remembered this fight not being very good and I guess it was because the first four spoiled me, because in reality it was fine – a lot of fun outside of a slow start, with some excellent trades and both men landing some nice shots. It was unfortunate for Sotiropoulos in a way that Noons is such a good striker with good takedown defense as this was the best he’d looked since like 2010 as his chin held up better than it’s done recently. Still pretty crazy how fast he ended up falling down the ranks though given he seemed in line for a title shot at the start of 2011! Good win for Noons to basically rescue his UFC career, at any rate.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Jessica Eye vs Sarah Kaufman

Former champ Kaufman was originally pegged to debut against Sara McMann in August, but when McMann pulled out with an injury they decided to hold her off until here, where she was matched against former Bellator champion Eye, who had recently been released from that company in a surprising move. Word was that Eye was very talented but small for the weight class and so I suspected that would count against her and would allow Kaufman to grind out a win.

Round One and Eye begins to work her jab right away as they circle around. Kaufman looks to swing back but it appears that Eye has a speed advantage in the early going. These girls are really exchanging here. They go into a clinch and Eye lands a nice short elbow, forcing Kaufman into the fence. They exchange knees and Jessica lands a couple of uppercuts before they break off. Good exchange sees both fighters land before Eye cracks her with a stiff jab. Right hand answers for Kaufman. Combination from Eye sets up a clinch and they wind up against the fence. Nice knee inside from Kaufman and she opens up with a short flurry that lands cleanly before Eye breaks. Two minutes to go and they circle out, and Eye lands a nice combination from short range ending with a right hook. Back into the clinch and they exchange more uppercuts before Eye breaks with a hard combo. Good jab from Eye and she breaks a clinch with a right. Exchange continues into the clinch but they swiftly break. Seconds to go in the round and they continue to trade strikes. Round ends there and I’d go with Jessica Eye in a close one; 10-9.

Round Two and Eye again looks to work the jab as Kaufman throws out some inside leg kicks. Good right hook over the top from Kaufman and she follows with another one that forces Eye to clinch. They quickly break off though. More jabs from Eye as Kaufman looks to counter. Nice counter combo from Kaufman as Eye lands with the jab again. Another good right connects for Kaufman. Stiff jab lands for Eye. Pair of right hands connect for Jessica in the clinch. They break off and Eye continues to jab. Good counter right from Kaufman, but Eye tags her with a combo. Pair of rights from Kaufman set up a clinch. This is a great fight. Foot stomps land for Eye but Kaufman breaks with a left. Looks like Kaufman’s cut under the left eye. She bulls into another clinch and muscles Eye into the fence, where they go blow-for-blow with knees to the legs. They break off with a minute to go and Eye lands again with a really nasty jab. Wild trade sees both girls land. Inside leg kick connects for Eye. Round ends on the feet. Tight round to score but I’d just about lean to Eye again, 10-9.

Round Three and Kaufman eats a pair of jabs early on. Good right hand from Kaufman though and Eye looks wobbled for a second. Knee to the body follows and then Kaufman clinches and forces her into the fence. Right breaks for Kaufman and she’s really pushing the action now. One-two connects for the former StrikeForce champ. Good right hand counter lands for Eye. Kaufman fires right back with one of her own. Good combination from Kaufman and she stuns Eye with a right to break a brief clinch. Leg kick lands for Eye but Kaufman is walking her down now and lands with another right hook. Quick trade sees both girls land. Kaufman is putting together some nice combos in this round. Clinch from Kaufman but Eye muscles her into the fence. Kaufman switches position and pushes Eye back and she lands a sharp left elbow before Eye lands a right to break. Two minutes to go and Kaufman CRACKS Eye with a counter right to a kick. Jessica looks badly hurt and she wobbles all over the place as Kaufman tries to swarm on her with more shots. Eye manages to clinch, but she’s still in trouble here and doesn’t look steady. One minute to go and Kaufman needs to separate here. They break off and Kaufman lands another heavy right. Eye is still wobbly. Kaufman continues to push the action and now Eye’s face is badly marked up. Seconds to go and Eye manages to land a jab, but she takes another big right to end the fight. Clear 10-9 Kaufman but I have it 29-28 for Eye overall.

Judges score it 29-28 Eye, 29-28 Kaufman, and 29-28 for Jessica Eye to pick up the win. Hell of a fight as the women just came out and went to WAR, but it ended up being a super-controversial fight in the end for a couple of reasons. Firstly while I didn’t think it was a bad decision – it was a close fight but I had it 29-28 for Eye myself – apparently one of the judges who scored it for Eye gave her the THIRD round rather than the first, which is fucking ludicrous. No clue what he was actually seeing in that round! And secondly there’s the whole drug test controversy going on right now that’s caused the fight to be changed to a No Contest, which helps nobody really. I mean the two substances people are saying Eye tested positive for are either blood thinners or marijuana, and neither is a fucking performance enhancer anyway, so who cares? Quality fight however, almost the best on the card thus far.

Welterweight Fight: Hector Lombard vs Nate Marquardt

I was shocked beyond belief when this one was put on the prelims but I guess after losing two of three UFC bouts Zuffa didn’t want to put Lombard – who I believe gets a PPV cut – actually on the PPV portion of the card. I was expecting him to win here though as he was dropping to 170lbs for the first time since his PRIDE run as far as I’m aware, and Marquardt had looked horribly past his prime in his two prior fights and his chin appeared to be possibly shot too, which is never good against a dude who hits as hard as Lombard.

First round begins and they circle with Lombard pushing forward. Lombard is ridiculously huge for a 170lber. Right hook glances for him. Front kick to the body from Marquardt. Lombard continues to chase him down and glances on another right. Leg kick from Nate. Good right hand from Marquardt but Lombard clinches and lands some clubbing blows from there, right to the head. They break off and Lombard stalks him again and this time wobbles him with an overhand right. Nate goes on the run but Lombard closes him down and lands a big flurry, including a wild overhand right and a CRUSHING LEFT HAND that put Nate down face-first! Couple more shots on the ground knock the poor guy senseless. Holy shit.

Replay shows the punches didn’t even look that flush to me – Lombard just packs ridiculous power into his shots. This was the Hector Lombard we were promised when he signed from Bellator and I think if he can land on anyone at 170lbs they’re going to be in trouble. After seeing him struggle with wrestlers like Okami at 185lbs I’m not going to call him the uncrowned champ or anything yet, but I do think he’s a genuine title contender at this weight for sure. This was one for the highlight reels at any rate.

Middleweight Fight: Tim Boetsch vs CB Dollaway

This would originally have seen former StrikeForce champ Luke Rockhold facing Boestch, in what would’ve been an awesome fight on paper, but Rockhold got hurt coming in and so the unfairly maligned Dollaway stepped in to replace him. Despite a lot of people favouring Boetsch, I was taking the upset and going with CB here – Boetsch has never really performed well against better wrestlers and I thought Dollaway was slightly better on the ground, too.

Round One and Boetsch comes forward into a counter left hook from Dollaway. They exchange punches and CB lands a right hand to the body nicely. Good counter combo from CB but Boetsch catches a kick and trips him down. Dollaway pops right back up though and wades forward through a trade, landing a sharp right hand while slipping a right from the Barbarian. Good pair of leg kicks from Dollaway. He’s using his range nicely so far. Good left into a leg kick from CB. CB is popping him with some really sweet punches. He then channels his inner Diaz by taunting Boetsch and then nailing him with a left hook, getting the crowd into the fight. Left to the body follows. Takedown from Boetsch but Dollaway instantly scrambles to his feet. Leg kick lands for Boetsch. Head kick narrowly misses for CB. Nice jab from Dollaway and he continues to land shots from the outside. Nice left hook lands for Boetsch but Dollaway continues to Diaz him, taunting wildly and then coming forward landing punches. This is pretty crazy. Good body kick from Dollaway sets up a plum clinch and he follows with some excellent knees and an uppercut. CB is looking awesome in this round. Left hook follows. Boetsch is struggling here. More taunting from Dollaway and he lands a pair of left hands. Boetsch tries to close distance to return fire but CB backs up out of range. Round ends with a clinch and an exchange of punches. 10-9 Dollaway in a tremendous start for him.

Round Two and CB opens with a clipping left hook. Front kick glances off the jaw of Dollaway. Wild trade sees both men land and then CB drops for a single and gets it, planting Boetsch on his back for the first time in the fight. He almost takes full mount, but Boetsch manages to rescue half-guard. Looks like Boetsch is looking for a reversal, but he can’t get it and Dollaway appears to be transitioning to take the back. He gives up on that and looks to set up his trademark Peruvian necktie, but Boetsch scrambles and gets to his feet. Dollaway tries for a rear waistlock but Boetsch escapes and comes in with a big knee and a right, but CB drops for a takedown and ends up forcing the Barbarian into the fence. Good knee inside for Dollaway. He drops for another takedown but Boetsch sprawls and grabs a guillotine. They scramble off that and Dollaway uses a leglock attempt to reverse, but he ends up on the bottom and Boetsch lands some punches and a knee to the body before he pops up. Into a clinch and Dollaway nails him with a pair of solid elbows and an uppercut. Nice elbow breaks for Dollaway and both men look a bit tired. Right hand lands nicely for Boetsch but Dollaway no-sells it and taunts him. Beautiful duck-under from CB and he dumps Boetsch to his back with a double leg, landing in side mount. Kimura attempt for Boetsch but he’s got no body control and it isn’t going to work. Surprising that Dollaway isn’t trying the Hughes spinning armbar there. Instead he stays calm on top and lands a couple of hammer fists to the side of the head. Good elbows to the body from CB and that’s the round. 10-9 Dollaway and Boetsch likely needs a finish.

Round Three and Boetsch opens with a hard leg kick as Dollaway looks for a left hook. Low kick for Dollaway but he also lands a nasty poke to the eye that causes Boetsch to audibly cry out in pain. That’s pretty bad to make a tough guy like Boetsch scream. Replay makes it look pretty fucking awful although it didn’t look intentional to me. It must be said though; fighters HAVE to stop pawing out with an open hand to work their range as it’s going to end with someone being blinded. Doctors clear Boetsch to let him continue and the fans are happy with that. Left jab lands for Dollaway as Boetsch really pushes forward. Right hands land for both men. Takedown attempt from CB but Boetsch uses a whizzer to defend it. Good uppercut as Boetsch continues to wade forward, and he grabs a clinch in an attempt to replicate his knockout of Yushin Okami. Dollaway is smarter than that though and he immediately separates and lands a leg kick. Left hand lands for Boetsch coming forward but he claims another eye poke. Dollaway denies this one vehemently, but the replay shows it definitely was a poke. This time the ref decides to dock a point, which seems harsh but I mean, even if it’s unintentional it has to stop, so cool. Left hand from CB but Boetsch wades in with a right and a kick to the body. Takedown attempt from Dollaway and he escapes a guillotine and gets it, landing in Boetsch’s guard. Boetsch tries to reverse, but CB does a good job of keeping him grounded and moves into half-guard. Full mount for Dollaway and he appears to be setting up for an arm triangle. Boetsch has blood all over his head. Short elbows land for Dollaway but Boetsch manages to kick off the cage and escapes to his feet. He forces CB into the fence in a clinch and they trade some foot stomps, before Dollaway lands a big knee to the body and separates. Couple of front kicks to the body land for Boetsch. Just over a minute to go. Right hook glances for Dollaway. Uppercut answers for Boetsch and he follows with an overhand right. Good counters land for CB though as Boetsch comes forward. Into a clinch and Boetsch looks for the takedown, but Dollaway slips out to the side and hits a trip from a rear waistlock. Scramble from Boetsch and he goes for a guillotine, but Dollaway scrambles free and lunges for a double leg. Boetsch sprawls to avoid and grabs a front facelock and that’s the round. Close round to call – I’d go with Dollaway meaning a 9-9 and a 29-27 win for him overall, but I could see a 10-8 for Boetsch meaning a 28-28 draw, too.

Official scorecards are 30-26 Boetsch (!), 29-27 Dollaway and 30-26 for Tim Boetsch to take a split decision. Oh, FUCK OFF with that bullshit. I mean how the hell could anyone give Boetsch the first two rounds there, seriously? I just can’t comprehend what the fuck the two judges who did so were watching as there’s no way that Dollaway lost those two rounds. I mean, I could’ve lived with a draw as the third was very close but that decision might be the worst of 2013, period. Poor CB got absolutely fucking raped by the judges here. Absolutely raped. Fight was fantastic – just under the level of a low-end FOTYC in fact with some great exchanges and scrambles – but the decision just leaves you with a really sour taste. Shame on you, Texas judges, shame on you.

Flyweight Fight: John Dodson vs Darrell Montague

When the UFC introduced the Flyweight division in 2012, Montague was one of the guys I was hoping they’d pick up – a really tough, well-rounded dude who’d beaten the likes of Mamoru Yamaguchi in his time at 125lbs. When he was finally signed I was excited, but unfortunately he was matched with Dodson – a guy who I’d say is third in the world at the weight at worst – for his UFC debut. Despite being a fan of the Mongoose I couldn’t take him to beat Dodson with good conscience.

Round One and Dodson misses on a wild left early. Even without throwing many strikes it looks like Dodson is a lot quicker. Inside leg kick lands for Montague. Left hand connects over the top for Dodson but Montague takes it. Nice jab from Montague and he follows with a leg kick. Dodson returns fire with one of his own. Another jab connects for Montague. Big left misses for Dodson. Faked left hand sets up a snapping right for Dodson in a beautiful move. Both men miss with some punches before Montague connects on a leg kick. Left hand glances for Dodson. They exchange low kicks before Dodson comes forward and DROPS HIM WITH A LEFT! Montague pops right back up, but Dodson gets a rear waistlock and hits a slam before OPENING FIRE WITH A WILD FLURRY! Somehow Montague survives the onslaught, diving on a single leg after he goes down a second time. Dodson avoids the takedown easily and they come back to their feet. No clue how Montague is still conscious. Crowd are going wild now as Dodson potshots at him, landing cleanly with hard punches as the Mongoose still doesn’t look fully with it. He tries to fire back, landing a decent jab, but Dodson keeps coming and lands with a CRUSHING LEFT HAND and this time Montague freezes up before crashing down face-first, causing the ref to dive in and stop it.

Awesome showing from John Dodson as he not only showed his trademark ridiculous power and speed, but he also showed a lot of patience and intelligence to not blow his wad trying to put Montague away in the first flurry when it became clear that the newcomer had a rock-hard chin. Montague indeed showed tremendous recovery powers, but realistically he was too slow to catch Dodson with any big shots of his own and I mean, you can’t take that many power shots and remain conscious and sure enough eventually it caught up with him. Got to love the Flair Flop finish too – always makes a good highlight reel clip. Tremendous opener for the PPV portion of the card. Wouldn’t mind seeing Dodson get another crack at Mighty Mouse with another win actually as the first fight was a tight one.

Heavyweight Fight: Gabriel Gonzaga vs Shawn Jordan

Not sure how this made the main card over a couple of the better-sounding prelims but hey, whatever. It was an intriguing clash I guess, as Jordan had bounced back from his shoddy 2012 performance against Cheick Kongo with two impressive KO’s of Mike Russow and Pat Barry, while Gonzaga had looked excellent since returning to the Octagon in 2012 – beating Ednaldo Oliveira, Ben Rothwell and Dave Herman with his only loss being to Travis Browne under somewhat controversial circumstances. I was taking Gonzaga as he’s more proven at the top level, but with a dude who carries Jordan’s power it was basically a question of who would land big first.

Fight begins and they circle before Gonzaga glance on a leg kick. Jordan is stalking him. Right hand glances for Gonzaga and Jordan laughs it off. Right hand to the body from Napao. Leg kick follows. Jordan keeps pushing forward but he hasn’t landed anything flush yet. Good right from Jordan…but he leaves himself open and Gonzaga KILLS HIM DEAD WITH A RIGHT HAND! Jordan goes down and it’s over…but in a shitty bit of refereeing Jay Stafin allows Napao to land a bunch of hammer fists that knock poor Jordan stiff as a corpse. Why?!

Alright so first off, sick knockout from Gonzaga who continues to play the gatekeeper role to devastating effect – if you’re an elite-level fighter you’ll beat him, if not you’re probably going to get KILLED. With that said though this was the second shitty performance from referee Jay Stafin on this card and judging by how he almost got both Jordan and TJ Waldburger badly hurt, he probably shouldn’t appear on another future UFC, or so you’d hope. This was somehow almost more vicious than the Dodson knockout, which is saying something!

Lightweight Fight: Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez

Outside of the main event this was the fight I was looking forward to the most on this show, naturally because it’s DIEGO, duh. Melendez sounded like a ridiculously tough opponent for him, particularly when you consider that he’d stuttered through a win over Takanori Gomi in March while Melendez would arguably have beaten Benson Henderson with different judges and would’ve been the Lightweight Champion if that’d happened, but even so – I expected Diego to take the fight right to El Nino and win, lose or draw, make it one of the more memorable fights in recent memory.

Round One and Diego immediately rushes forward, taking an early leg kick from the former StrikeForce champ. Head kick misses for Gilbert and Diego surprisingly takes him down. Melendez scrambles but Diego takes his back and slaps both hooks in. Gilbert looks calm though and stands before managing to throw Sanchez off to the side, and as he pops up he lands a big right hand and then a follow-up to the body. Diego quickly circles out but eats a jab. Right to the body connects for Melendez and he follows with one upstairs. Leg kick answers for Diego. Diego is coming up a little short on his punches. Head kick is blocked by Melendez and he lands a right hook. Takedown attempt from Sanchez but Melendez blocks it and breaks with a sharp knee and a right hand. Wild right misses for Diego and he eats a heavy counter on his way in. Takedown is avoided again by Gilbert and he lands a right uppercut. Flurry from Diego misses and he takes another counter. Left hand lands for Diego. Big right hook connects for Melendez. Nice body kick from Diego but Melendez catches it and drives him back into the cage. He can’t get a takedown though and Diego escapes. Looks like Diego’s cut over his left eye. Trade follows and Gilbert again lands the better shots. Good combination from Melendez. Spin kick misses for Diego. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Gilbert who lands a right on the way out. Brutal uppercut to the body from Melendez. One-two follows but Sanchez fires back with a pair of hard kicks to the body that slow Gilbert down. Diego comes wading forward to follow up and lands another body kick but Gilbert is catching him with counters. WILD TRADE ends the round with Diego going down but popping back up and RETURNING FIRE WITH FIRE. AWESOME end to the round. 10-9 Melendez.

Round Two and Gilbert opens with a right, but Diego tells him to bring it on. Exchange follows but again Melendez is landing the better punches. Wild punches by Diego but Melendez counters and clocks him with a one-two. Couple of jabs peg Diego back but he fires back with a right hook that connects. Right to the body from Melendez. Diego comes wading in with an uppercut but Melendez fires back with punches and a knee. This is awesome. Leg kick from Melendez but the ref calls time to check Diego over as there’s blood pouring down the side of his face. REALLY nasty gash over the left eye. Doctor says he’s okay though and we restart. Flying knee attempt from Diego but Gilbert makes him pay with a right. Diego is coming forward like a wildman here but he isn’t landing. WILD TRADE and both men do land but Diego will NOT STOP COMING FORWARD. Hard right hook lands for Melendez. Diego is desperately trying to draw him into a firefight and Gilbert seems happy to oblige. Beautiful counter right lands for Melendez. Hard body kick from Diego as Melendez comes forward. Right hand counter lands again for Gil. Diego is a bloody mess. Hard combo lands for Gilbert but Diego shoots and gets him down. Melendez pops right back up and opens up with a flurry. Wild punches miss for Diego and he takes a counter that puts him down for a second, but he pops up and lands with a right. Single leg attempt from Diego but Gilbert sprawls and lands a hard knee on the break. Body kick from Diego. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Melendez in another tremendous round.

Round Three and Diego pushes forward again, but he eats a combo once more. Lot of blood all over Diego now. Left hand lands for Melendez. Wild trade follows and Diego is visibly biting down on his mouthpiece and swinging now. Right hand counter lands for Gilbert again. INSANE TRADE follows and Diego gets TAGGED but gets FUCKING ANGRY and comes WADING IN SWINGING!~! Melendez FIRES RIGHT BACK and the crowd are DEAFENING now. Head kick glances for Diego and then he comes in swinging again! Holy fucking shit this is awesome. Diego looks like a man possessed. Big right hand lands for Diego. Deep breath from Melendez but he cracks Sanchez with a heavy counter again. Ref calls time once more to check Diego and the crowd are HORRIFIED. Diego looks like a horror movie extra. Doctor though is happy that he can see and lets it go. FUCK YES. And of course Diego is EVEN ANGRIER now and comes in with a body kick. Leg kick follows. Crowd are chanting for Diego wildly. Head kick misses. Diego charges in but eats a horrendous right hand FLUSH, but he DOESN’T FUCKING CARE and swings leather right back before outright roaring at Gil to BRING IT ON!~! Melendez obliges with a left hand before taking another body kick. Diego charges in again and lands a right hand in a trade. Melendez backpedals a little and in another wild trade DIEGO DROPS HIM WITH AN UPPERCUT!~! Crowd sound like they’re going to blow the roof off the arena as Sanchez POUNCES and takes the back! He tries the choke but can’t get it, then loses a hook as Melendez desperately scrambles. Guillotine attempt from Sanchez but Gilbert slips his head free and now he’s in top position. Back to the feet and Gilbert CRACKS Diego with a knee and a hard elbow. Diego comes right back with a body kick. This is an INCREDIBLE FIGHT. Right hook lands for Melendez. Spin kick misses for Diego and Gilbert gets him down briefly. Diego appears to have been hit in the face with a machete. Reversal from Diego and he takes Gilbert’s back before they pop back up to their feet. Seconds to go and Diego lands with a body kick. Left hand counter from Melendez. Another body kick lands for Diego. Seconds to go and they GO TO WAR, TRADING WILDLY until the buzzer. Jesus Christ. 10-9 Melendez but holy shit that might be the best round of MMA I’ve ever seen.

Judges score it unanimously for Gilbert Melendez; 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28, but there are NO LOSERS in a fight like this and I think this raised Diego’s profile to a higher place than it’s been since probably before the BJ Penn fight. I mean, the wild thing is that sure, you can give Diego most of the credit for the craziness of the fight as he didn’t stop coming forward for a second and fought like a maniac on cocaine, but Gilbert probably could’ve tried to cut him up with more footwork and counter-boxing and he chose not to, instead deciding to bite down on his own mouthpiece and oblige Diego in a firefight. Melendez outright says post-fight he’d rather go down on his shield than run in circles. WORD. If UFC let this guy walk away to Bellator then they’re FUCKING INSANE, seriously. As for Diego Sanchez, I don’t give a fuck if you don’t like him, there can be no doubt at this point that he’s the most exciting fighter in the history of MMA, period. His fights speak for themselves – vs. Diaz, vs. Parisyan, vs. Riggs, vs. Fitch, vs. Guida, vs. Penn, vs. Thiago, vs. Kampmann, vs. Ellenberger and now vs. Melendez, all absolute CLASSICS. I ended up going with Jones vs. Gustafsson as my FOTY for 2013 but this is a close second and I’m almost tempted to go with this after this rewatch. Absolutely amazing stuff.

Heavyweight Fight: Daniel Cormier vs Roy Nelson

After a successful UFC debut with a win over former champ Frank Mir, the word was that Daniel Cormier would be dropping to 205lbs to make a run at Jon Jones’s title, but instead he ended up taking this fight with Roy Nelson as like a stopgap before dropping all the weight. Normally I’d say almost overlooking an opponent like that would be a mistake, but in reality for all his skill and punching power, I think Nelson’s been a little exposed at this point and I thought this would be a comfortable win for Cormier who could use his boxing, footwork and clinching skills to beat up Big Country for a decision.

First round begins and Nelson takes the center of the cage while Cormier circles around on the outside. Left jab lands for Cormier. Single leg from Cormier and he easily gets Roy down. Nelson tries to use underhooks to get a butterfly guard in, and manages it, but Cormier quickly uses a cradle to control him. Good uppercut inside from Cormier and he lands some punches to the body for good measure. Nelson manages to kick him away for a second but Cormier stays on him and stops him from getting to his feet. Cormier’s wrestling is ludicrous. Roy ends up giving his back and Cormier rides him for a second before he escapes to his feet. Big knee from Cormier and he looks to get Roy down again. Nelson tries to tie up the left arm for a kimura, but he can’t get it and Cormier works for a single leg. Cormier gets his arm free and drives him into the fence for another takedown, and it looks like he’s trying to wear Nelson out with a lot of scrambles too. They wind up clinched on the fence where Cormier lands a hard knee to the gut. Right hand glances for Roy but Cormier lands with a body shot and an uppercut. Good knees inside from Cormier using the plum clinch, but one apparently lands low and the ref calls time. Nelson just looks gassed to me, leaning against the cage and taking some deep breaths. They restart and Cormier misses with a head kick. One minute to go and Cormier works his jab but almost eats a big right from Roy. Good low kick from Nelson but he misses the haymaker. Big combination lands for Cormier and stuns Nelson for a second. He swings right back though and Cormier has to get out of the way. Hard left lands for Cormier. Big haymaker misses for Nelson and that’s the round. 10-9 Cormier.

Second round and Nelson actually comes out with a double jab. Front kick from Cormier glances off Roy’s big beard, ha. Left hand glances for Nelson and forces Cormier to back up, but he quickly fires back with a pair of left hands. Uppercut narrowly misses for Nelson. Good leg kick from Cormier. Nice faked takedown into a left hook follows. Hard left hook almost lands flush for Cormier but Roy barely backs up. Body shot from Nelson. Wild right hand misses. BRUTAL right hand lands for Cormier but Nelson takes it as you’d expect. DC follows with a clinch and forces him to the cage. Big knee to the body breaks and he follows with a heavy combo that sets up a single leg. Nelson tries to defend it, but Cormier trips him down. Good job by Nelson though and he instantly pops back up to his feet. Wild swings from Cormier set up another clinch, and it looks like Nelson’s strangely bleeding from the elbow of all places. Cormier grinds on him along the fence, but Roy looks like he’s going for a guillotine. Cormier avoids that easily and opens up with a decent combo, keeping Roy firmly pressed into the cage. Good body shot from Cormier and he continues to work Nelson over. Looks like Nelson is bleeding from the mouth now too. He breaks free, but he looks tired too. Good stiff jab from Cormier. Huge combination lands for Cormier. Nelson’s chin is insane, dude doesn’t even look slightly stunned. Another big combo follows. Good leg kick lands too. Nelson just has nothing for this guy. Front kick glances off the beard again. Jumping kick misses though. Another combo ends the round. Clear 10-9 for Cormier.

Third and final round and Cormier opens with a leg kick and a blocked head kick. He looks far fresher than Nelson here. Good right hand over the top from Cormier as Nelson wades forward. Nelson just isn’t quick or athletic enough to catch DC with anything. Crowd begin to get restless now but to be fair this isn’t a bad fight, it’s just that nothing could follow Melendez vs. Sanchez. Right hand lands again for Cormier. Nelson swings the haymaker but misses again. Front kick lands nicely to the jaw of Nelson but he takes it like a man. Good right hand follows. Leg kick from Cormier and he follows with a body kick. Combination from Cormier and he avoids a left haymaker this time. Bunch of kicks connect for Cormier. Two minutes to go. Nelson comes up short with the haymaker again and Cormier lands on him with a stiff jab. Easy takedown from Cormier but Nelson pops right back up. Another head kick glances for Cormier. Nelson starts to stick his chin out to try to entice him into a brawl but DC isn’t biting. Nelson just isn’t Diego Sanchez, ha. Big uppercut misses for Roy. Jabs land for Cormier again. Nice combination sets up a clinch and Nelson lands to the body, but DC breaks with a right hand. Even Nelson’s punches look to have no steam now as they trade some before Nelson lands a nice leg kick to end the fight. 10-9 Cormier and a 30-27 shutout in my eyes.

Judges call it 30-27 all round for Daniel Cormier, pretty easy one to call in the end. Fight wasn’t bad or anything but as I said, it felt slow just due to the fact that it had to follow Melendez vs. Sanchez. Cormier basically whitewashed Nelson as he used his superior speed and movement to pick him off standing while using his superior wrestling to control the grappling portions too. That was pretty much what I expected coming in as realistically, it felt like a showcase match for Cormier en route to a drop to 205lbs, which we’ll see in two days and I’m super excited for. As for Nelson he seems to have settled into a role as the gatekeeper at HW now which is fine, but I think the idea of him as a possible title contender has passed now for sure.

UFC World Heavyweight Title: Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos

As I mentioned in the introduction, the rubber match between these two – almost certainly the greatest two Heavyweights of this era and possibly of any era – was set up after both men crushed their opponents at UFC 160 – Velasquez knocking out Bigfoot Silva and JDS turning the lights out on Mark Hunt. Despite Dos Santos looking as good as he’d ever done in the Hunt fight, I couldn’t pick against Velasquez here in good conscience – I mean sure, JDS had knocked him out in like a minute in their first fight, but in the second Cain had just looked on another level – thoroughly outstriking and outgrappling Junior and putting the beating of a lifetime on him. With that second fight more fresh in my mind than the first (and with the knowledge that Cain had a bum knee in the first fight) I was firmly behind Velasquez to take the trilogy.

Pre-fight introductions here are AWESOME as JDS decides to get intense by walking towards Cain and doing his whole fist-down spiel, but Cain is like no way dude and gets right in his face. INTENSITY!~!

Round One and JDS connects right away on something, didn’t catch what due to the camera angle but Cain looks slightly wobbled. It doesn’t faze him though as he pushes forward and shoots on a single leg. JDS goes down but pops right back up, and Cain grabs a guillotine before releasing to land a pair of left hands. Back out and JDS clips Cain with an uppercut but again he walks through it and begins to swing on the Brazilian before clinching. He begins to work with some short punches inside before JDS breaks off. Combo from Velasquez and he uses it to clinch again, but evidently Dos Santos has worked a lot on his wrestling as he’s stopping the takedown more effectively in this fight. Good knee to the body from Cain and he follows with a glancing left hook. Head kick misses for Dos Santos and Cain closes in on him again and looks for the takedown. He gets a bodylock and almost has him down, but JDS defends excellently and remains standing. Good knees to the legs from Cain and he manages to drag him to the ground. Full mount for a second for Cain but JDS hip escapes to half-guard. Hard elbow lands for Velasquez before JDS gives his back. No hooks for Cain but he continues to control the Brazilian. Dos Santos works to his feet but takes a knee to the body and then has to defend another takedown attempt. Cain’s pace is insane for a Heavyweight. Beautiful uppercut in the clinch lands for the champ. He continues to land short punches inside ala Randy Couture, and the round ends with them breaking before JDS misses his spinning kick. Clear-cut 10-9 round for Cain Velasquez.

Round Two and Cain pressures JDS back again, landing a combo and a knee. JDS is dropping his hands now. Low kick into a takedown attempt from Cain and he gets Dos Santos down. JDS pops right back up into the clinch and Velasquez breaks. Jab from JDS but Cain closes him down again into the clinch. Knees to the legs land for Cain and then he breaks off to throw a combo, but JDS channels his inner Anderson Silva and uses some nice head movement to avoid the brunt of it. Good takedown defense too as he avoids a single leg. Short uppercut breaks a clinch for Cain. They circle out and a pair of lefts land for Cain to set up another clinch. Body shot follows. JDS is being worn down in the clinch. More knees to the legs and then Cain breaks. They trade some punches and it’s quite clear that Cain is the fresher man and he drives JDS back into the fence again. JDS’s face is looking messy. Trip takedown from Junior but Cain pops right back up and nails him with a right hand. Another right connects and sets up the clinch. Junior just can’t stop Cain from grabbing him and clinching with the knees to the legs. Good elbow from JDS but when they break off Cain quickly closes in again and continues to work him over like a hyper version of prime Randy Couture. Good left hook from Cain but he eats a short elbow from JDS on the buzzer that has him slightly hurt. 10-9 Velasquez.

Round Three and Cain charges forward but almost walks into the overhand right that JDS used to knock him out in the first meeting. He goes for a single leg but JDS does a good job of staying vertical again. JDS breaks but a left hand from Cain sets up the clinch again. Overhand right lands for Cain and again Dos Santos can’t get keep him off. More knees connect to the legs of Dos Santos. Cain begins to land some hard punches inside the clinch too and JDS is looking tired. He lands an elbow but still can’t get Cain off him. They break off and Cain walks him down as JDS throws some heavy shots. Clinch from Velasquez again is broken quickly. Left jab lands for Cain. Front kick from Dos Santos and he manages to defend a takedown well. They break off again and another jab lands for Cain. Right hand glances for JDS. Cain comes forward though and LEVELS HIM WITH A RIGHT HOOK! Dos Santos goes CRASHING DOWN and Cain UNLOADS and it looks like JDS is legit unconscious, head bouncing off the ground. Herb Dean somehow decides to let it continue which is INSANE, and JDS gets snapped back to consciousness enough to attempt to grab a leg. They come back up and Cain looks for a guillotine, then lets go and Junior just collapses to the ground. This should be over right there. This time Herb outright touches Cain’s back as he lands some shots, but somehow Junior gets up to his feet again. He looks done. Cain continues to land on him and he’s bleeding like crazy now too. Cain breaks and lands another right hook, then clinches again and it looks like JDS is just leaning against the fence in order to stand. Cain is potshotting him in and out of the clinch now. Big one-two and another brutal right rock JDS’s world and he’s barely even defending these shots now. Another big combo lands for Cain. This is a beatdown. Round somehow ends and JDS’s corner ought to be throwing the towel in here. 10-7 Velasquez.

Doctor checks JDS over between rounds but decides he can carry on. Bad call in my eyes. Dos Santos looks like he’s in another world.

Round Four and Cain walks him down instantly and cracks him with a right cross to set up the clinch. Left hand breaks for Cain and then he UNLOADS with a flurry that has JDS rocked badly again. He survives enough to get into the clinch, but of course Velasquez continues to work him over from there. Another big combo lands for Cain and he easily avoids Dos Santos’s counters. Cain looks to set up a trip, but he can’t get it and goes back to the knees to the legs and body instead. They break off for a second and again Velasquez lands a combination before clinching. To his credit JDS is at least swinging back. Elbow breaks for the challenger but Cain swarms him again and sets up the clinch. God right hand from Junior on the break but Cain wades back in with a body kick and a left jab. Uppercut from Dos Santos but Cain goes through it and looks for the takedown. Dos Santos defends that but eats a pair of hard elbow strikes. Looks like Cain may be cut now too. Herb Dean decides to call time to check Dos Santos over as it appears his left eye is swollen shut. Dude looks like Frankenstein’s monster. Doctor decides to let it go AGAIN and they exchange jabs before Cain uses a right hand to close the distance again. Elbow separates for Junior but he takes a bigger shot from Cain who quickly closes the gap once more. This is a masterful performance from Cain as he’s giving JDS no room to throw his strikes. Seconds to go and they break off and Dos Santos keeps swinging, but Cain again walks through the punches to get into the clinch, where he works the challenger over as the round ends. 10-9 Velasquez.

Round Five (!) and really this shouldn’t have come this far. Doctor again checks over Junior before the round begins but they let him go once again. Left hand and a glancing right from Dos Santos but Cain ducks and hits a single leg to guard. Triangle attempt from JDS is easily shrugged off and Cain controls him from the back, landing short punches from under the arms. JDS gets to his feet but he’s against the fence yet again. Big left hands connect for Velasquez. He just isn’t slowing down at all. Another takedown attempt follows but JDS does a good job of blocking it. He’s taking a ton of short punches in this round though to the body and the head. Dos Santos breaks for a second and lands a couple of elbows but Cain doesn’t mess around from the outside and closes him down again. Left hook breaks for Cain and he lands another combo. Big right hand lands for Cain to set up the clinch. Desperation leads Dos Santos to attempt a loose power guillotine, but Cain spins and drags him to the ground, slamming his head into the ground en route. Dos Santos just turtles up from there and Cain lands some more shots and mercifully, Herb Dean calls it there. Bit of an anticlimactic way to finish things in the end when you consider what happened in the third round, but at least it was a TKO stoppage rather than a decision.

Amazing showing from Cain Velasquez yet again. In the previous fight the story had been that Dos Santos was unable to match Cain’s pace and couldn’t really prevent the takedown, but that wasn’t so much the case here – evidently he’d worked a ton on his wrestling as he was certainly able to stop the takedowns this time, but the problem here was that he couldn’t stop Cain from using his striking to set up the clinch, and once Cain had him clinched he was unable to keep him off and thus became worn down and hurt from the early rounds onwards. Essentially though the fight was over after the third round – Dos Santos has even stated that he thought he’d been stopped in that round – and really it’s criminal that Herb Dean allowed it to continue after such a beatdown, as it looked like he’d gone out at least twice and to then take two more rounds of punishment is the sort of thing that can affect a career negatively – ask Josh Koscheck for instance. Still, you have to admire JDS’s heart and will to keep coming forward, that’s for sure. Epic main event to cap off an incredible night of action.

-Highlight reel rolls and we’re out of time. Whew.

Final Thoughts….

In the aftermath of this show everyone from Dave Meltzer to Dana White and Joe Rogan were waxing poetic that it was probably the best show the UFC had ever put on, and I’d have to agree with them. It’s literally a top-to-bottom amazing show, with zero dull fights, and a handful of action-packed ones that would win the Fight of the Night award easily on any other show that DIDN’T have Melendez/Sanchez which is a straight-up all time classic. Best fight outside of that? Probably Dollaway/Boetsch but you could easily make an argument for Fili/Larsen, Horiguchi/Pague or Eye/Kaufman too. And that’s not even getting into the litany of highlight reel finishes – knockouts for Dodson, Gonzaga, Lombard, Amagov, and one of the slicker submissions of the year from Tony Ferguson. Bottom line? If you haven’t seen it – and I mean the whole show from the first prelim to the main event – you’re missing out.

Best Fight: Melendez vs. Sanchez
Worst Fight: Cormier vs. Nelson

Overall Rating: *****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: