MMA Review: #504: UFC Fight Night 66

-A UFC show in the Philippines had been talked about for YEARS – going back to when they were trying to push Brandon Vera as a star back in like 2005-6 – and it would finally come to fruition here, albeit as a Fight Night card rather than a PPV. Undercard – which thankfully I won’t be looking at – looked dire due to the presence of too many TUF China fighters, but the main card, with a boxing-esque main event of Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber, and then the final fight of Filipino hero Mark Munoz and the return of much-hyped TUF 8 prospect Phillipe Nover – looked gravy.

UFC Fight Night 66

05/16/15
Manila, Philippines

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.

Featherweight Fight: Levan Makashvili vs Mark Eddiva

Georgian-American wrestler Makashvili was coming into the UFC with a bit of hype and a solid 6-1 record, and he’d initially been pegged to fight Nik Lentz at February’s UFN 60 card, but when that one got scrapped due to injuries he was instead matched with a much lower fighter on the totem pole in native Filipino Eddiva. Eddiva had looked tough but not all that skilled in his last fight – a loss to Kevin Souza who it must be said is a BEAST – and so I was taking Makashvili to upset the Filipino crowd.

Makashvili enters to some sort of understated badass song with an acoustic guitar and a beat with a dude singing “I’m the baddest man alive” over it. Pretty fucking intimidating, it must be said. Quick Google search tells me it’s by the Black Keys and RZA so that shit is going right on my iPod once I finish this review, for sure.

Round One and Eddiva opens with a couple of hard leg kicks. Crowd are wildly into Eddiva. Superkick (!) misses for him though. Couple more strikes glance from the outside for Eddiva before he shoots, but Makashvili sprawls and grabs a front headlock to control him. They clinch up and Eddiva tries a throw, but Makashvili blocks it and they muscle for position and exchange some knees. Powerful takedown from Makashvili follows, but Eddiva reverses to his feet in an excellent move. Makashvili forces him into the cage though and works some knees to the body. They continue to jockey for position and you can see that while Eddiva is physically strong, he’s not as good technically. Ref calls a pretty quick break with two minutes remaining and they circle out, with Eddiva just missing on a big head kick. Couple of punches land for Eddiva but they don’t seem to have much effect as Makashvili keeps stalking forward. Knee connects for Eddiva from close range. Takedown is again shrugged off though and Makashvili clinches and looks for a takedown of his own. They exchange knees as Eddiva works to block the takedown, but Makashvili muscles him down anyway. He gets into half-guard and lands some short punches, but Eddiva works back up to his feet. Good knee inside from Makashvili and he stays on Eddiva, controlling the clinch as the round ends. 10-9 Makashvili but it wasn’t a great round.

Round Two and we begin with a lot of circling with Makashvili throwing out some kicks too. Nice combo connects for Makashvili and he’s looking confident. Right hand from Makashvili sets up the clinch and he drives Eddiva into the fence. They muscle for position and Eddiva manages to break off, before glancing on a head kick. Body kick lands for Makashvili. Dull fight thus far. Good leg kick from Eddiva but Makashvili gets a takedown. Blatant fence grab allows Eddiva to get back up but Makashvili puts him down again anyway. Full guard for Eddiva and Makashvili works the body with some short punches. Action slows right down before the ref calls a stand-up. One minute to go and Eddiva lands another leg kick. Body kick follows but Makashvili gets hold of him again and shoves him back into the fence. Eddiva shrugs it off well this time. Both men exchange some ineffective punches before Makashvili ends the round with a decent combo. Yawn. 10-9 Makashvili.

Round Three and Eddiva comes up short on the majority of his early strikes again. Deep double leg is blocked brilliantly by Eddiva, but he gets driven into the fence anyway and Makashvili continues to look to get him down. Single leg puts Eddiva down but he uses the fence to get up right away. Makashvili drops for the takedown again and this time gets a rear waistlock, dragging Eddiva down to the ground. He doesn’t have hooks in though and that allows Eddiva to stand again. German suplex works for Makashvili and this time he adjusts and takes side mount. Good punches land from there for Makashvili and he takes the back again but it allows Eddiva to escape to his feet. Knee breaks off for Makashvili. Left head kick glances for the Georgian. Body kick also lands as Eddiva is still struggling with his range. Takedown attempt from Makashvili and he drives Eddiva back again, this time hitting a BIG SLAM to side mount. One minute to go and that might be it. Eddiva scrambles again from the bottom though and looks to stand, but Makashvili spins with him and takes the back where he lands some solid punches. Eddiva does stand, shaking Makashvili off him with seconds to go, but he can’t do anything offensive and the fight ends there. Call it 30-27 for Makashvili.

Judges have it 29-28 Makashvili, 29-28 Eddiva (!) and 30-27 for Makashvili to take the split decision. Whew. That was close to being one of the worst decisions in recent memory. The judge who scored that fight for Eddiva should probably never judge again. Really awful call but thankfully it didn’t matter. Fight was garbage though unfortunately as Makashvili could get takedowns every now and then, but couldn’t do much with them due to Eddiva’s ability to stand, but Eddiva could never really get any significant offense going on the feet which probably cost him the match.

Featherweight Fight: Phillipe Nover vs Yui Chul Nam

When the first Philippines event was finally announced, everyone online was seemingly clamouring for former TUF phenom Nover to have a spot on the card, being the Filipino Assassin and all, and it did make sense – he got pretty much unfairly cut from the roster anyway with two questionable losses and since then he’d gone 5-2 with the losses being to a pair of legit guys in Marcin Held and Tony Martin. This wasn’t a gimme for him to return with at all though – his first drop to 145lbs and it would be against the ‘Korean Bulldozer’, the hyper-aggressive Nam who, while he hadn’t fought since March 2014, had looked excellent in that fight and would definitely provide Nover with a tough test particularly on the feet. I was excited to see Phillipe return but was leaning slightly towards the Bulldozer.

First round begins and Nover interestingly looks physically identical to how he did at 155lbs. He comes out with a low stance and throws a glancing head kick as Nam pushes forward early and swings a bomb that just misses Nover’s head. Takedown attempt from Nover and he gets the Bulldozer down on the first try. Nam gets towards the fence and looks to get back up, but Phillipe keeps hold of him and then dumps him back down as he gets onto all fours. Bit of a stalemate position actually. Nam works back up to his feet, but Nover stays on him with a bodylock and lands some knees to the body, albeit not very clean ones. He switches to a double leg and looks to get Nam down again, eventually elevating him with a Hughes-like BIG SLAM. Nam immediately pops up to his feet though in an impressive move. He still can’t shake Phillipe off him, and the Filipino Assassin lands some solid hammer fists to the head while holding onto the Korean. Good punches from Nover actually. A third takedown follows and this time he’s got Nam properly on his back. Nam gets into a weird position where he’s almost half-up with one leg splayed across the ground, but Nover stays firmly on him again. Seconds to go and Nover lands a couple of knees to the body and then a nasty right elbow before the round ends. 10-9 Nover; not that exciting but his gameplan made perfect sense.

Second round and Nam stalks forward, winging a counter right at Nover when he tries a left head kick. Double leg from Nover and he gets Nam down again, this time nowhere near the fence which is better for him. Looks like Nam’s looking for a switch, but he takes a ton of punches to the lower back for his troubles. Nam works back to his feet again, but a suplex puts him back down and this time Nover gets the back. He can’t get his hooks in though and Nam shakes him off and takes top position, dropping a left hand bomb. He dives into the guard but finds himself in a triangle, but he does a good job of posturing free and begins to drop some ground-and-pound. Nover again goes for a triangle, but Nam shrugs it off and drops some NASTY hammer fists as Phillipe turns, then catches him with a pair of knees as they stand. Crowd are loving this fight. Nam again stalks forward and lands with a left hand to counter a front kick to the body. Single leg attempt from Nover but the Bulldozer defends it well. He finds himself driven into the fence though and from there Nover dumps him to the ground again. Nover’s wrestling has really improved. He goes into half-guard to look to keep Nam down, but the Bulldozer again muscles up to his feet. Knees to the thigh from Nam and he throws in a couple to the body as well. Takedown from Nam follows, landing in Nover’s guard. He postures up to try some punches, but Nover works a triangle attempt to slow him down. Nam avoids that and begins to connect with his punches, and it looks like Nover’s a bit marked up. He passes into half-guard and ends the round with some more shots. Close round but I think Nam just edged it with his late rally. 10-9 Nam to even things up.

Third round and this is definitely anyone’s fight. Nover is in tremendous shape as he doesn’t look tired in the slightest. Lot of movement from him early in the round but Nam shoots on a takedown and gets it. Nover uses the fence to spring back to his feet but Nam keeps him against the cage and then trips him down again. Nover gets full butterfly guard and hangs on, and it looks like he might be trying to stall and wait for Nam to get tired without taking much damage rather than going for submission and risking ground-and-pound. Nam passes into half-guard though, but he gives his neck and Nover goes for the guillotine. Crowd go insane for that but Nam easily frees his head and then tries to get into full mount. He can’t quite manage it but he’s definitely in control of the fight. Nam keeps working and gets into the mount, and now Nover might be in trouble. He works back into butterfly guard, but he eats a heavy right hand and then finds himself caught in a fully locked arm triangle! Looks like Nam can’t quite seal the deal though due to the position of the fence on his left. You can see Nover gritting his teeth though, and he might well be in trouble. Crowd begin to boo loudly but Nam is close to finishing the fight and there’s no way the ref’s going to step in. Seconds to go and it looks like Nover’s going to survive. Sure enough he slips free with not much time to go, but Nam stuns him with a flurry of hammer fists before the buzzer. 10-9 Nam and I’ve got it 29-28 for the Korean Bulldozer.

Official scores are 29-28 Nam, 29-28 Nover, and 29-28….for Phillipe Nover to take the split decision. Wow. Didn’t expect that but to be fair, I wouldn’t call it a robbery as Nover clearly won the first, Nam clearly won the third, and the second was very, very close and to be fair Nover was probably ahead in that round for the first three minutes or so. Don’t think Nam loses much though as it was a very good fight and I thought both men looked impressive. Look forward to seeing both of them fight again.

Welterweight Fight: Neil Magny vs Hyun Gyu Lim

Interesting fight here with Magny taking a bit of a step up again after a strong win over Kiichi Kunimoto in February. Here he was faced with one of the most dangerous strikers in the division in Lim, who had last been seen viciously putting away Takenori Sato in Macao. Despite Magny having proven me wrong in the past – and having wins over three guys I’d consider better than Lim in Alex Garcia, Tim Means and William Macario – I felt this was a bad match for the TUF veteran due to Lim having a similar reach and build, and figured the Korean would win via stoppage.

Round One and Lim pressures Magny back early on, as Magny looks to work with his jab, not really landing it but using it to keep Lim back. Right hand lands for Magny but Lim catches him on the back of the ear with a winging left hook and it looks like Magny might be hurt as he instantly retreats. Lim chases in with a knee and a right hand before Magny clinches to slow him down. They break quickly and a double jab suggests Magny’s recovered. Big right hook rocks Magny again though and a knee puts him DOWN! He pops up but has to cover up as Lim flurries on him, looking for the finish. Massive, winging shots land for Lim as Magny somehow soaks up the punishment and then manages to clinch again to slow the pace down. Man he took some shots there. He looks recovered though and works for a takedown, and Lim becomes another repeat offender for grabbing the fence to prevent it. Refs ought to take points for that shit quicker. Some misdirection and a trip finally put Lim down though and he looks out of steam as Magny quickly hops onto the back with one hook. Lim stands with Magny on his back, but the TUF vet slips and Lim winds up on top in guard. Reversal from Magny using a triangle attempt puts him on top, but suddenly Lim turns his hips for an armbar! Magny defends it well though and manages to retain top position, dropping some punches into the guard before taking full mount! Whoa. Lim gives his back again and Magny slaps both hooks in and looks to sink the choke, then rolls to full mount and lands some solid punches. Nice reversal from Lim allows him to power up to his feet, but Magny stays on him and goes for a takedown. Reversal from Lim and he takes the back standing, but Magny turns into him and they separate, and on the buzzer Magny nails him with a combo. Despite a sticky beginning I’d call that Magny’s round, 10-9.

Round Two and Magny backs Lim up and lands with a leg kick. Pair of long rights glance for Magny and Lim’s output really has slowed down drastically. BIG takedown from Magny and he steps right into mount. Lim is in trouble and he gives his back, and Magny gets both hooks in. The Korean rolls, but can only get from back mount to mount and vice versa, and eventually he covers up while giving his back and Magny begins to OPEN UP with some BOMBS that force the ref to call it.

Very impressive showing for Neil Magny as he weathered quite a storm in the first round but stayed calm, showed an excellent chin and recovery power and then just took over and smashed Lim once he gassed. Announcers sell it as the biggest win of his career but I’d actually argue we learned more about Lim here – he’s basically the Korean Erick Silva in that he’s dangerous to begin a round but slows down a lot and is very beatable if you can survive that initial storm. But yeah, regardless of where you’d rank it in regards to Magny’s career wins (I still maintain Alex Garcia or perhaps Tim Means are his best ones) it was definitely an impressive showing. Hugely fun fight too as most of Lim’s are.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Munoz vs Luke Barnatt

After soul-destroying losses to Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi definitively knocked Munoz out of title contention at 185lbs, retirement was the rumor for the Filipino Wrecking Machine, but instead he ended up taking another fight against Roan Carneiro and subsequently got choked unconscious in about a minute. After that one the calls for him to retire were pretty deafening but in a surprising move – it’s rare that this happens in MMA! – he decided to take one more fight here in the Philippines against British TUF veteran Barnatt, announcing prior to the fight that win or lose he’d be hanging the gloves up. Got to respect that as a lot of the time fighters will hang on way after they probably should’ve done. As far as a pick, stylistically with Barnatt being not much of a wrestler, this seemed like a tailor-made fight for Munoz, but he was so far past his prime that it wasn’t really a lock or anything.

Round One and Barnatt looks to use his jab to keep his distance, and he counters a right hook with a quick uppercut. Left hand counter also lands for Barnatt and he follows with a knee, but Munoz hits a single leg and avoids a guillotine to settle into the guard. Munoz stands over him and almost eats an upkick, and it allows the Brit to stand. A quick tackle puts him back down but he scrambles up to his feet. Munoz stays right on him and forces him into the fence, and then as they separate Munoz lands with some HUGE PUNCHES including an uppercut that snaps Barnatt’s head back! The Brit somehow takes it, but he looks wobbled and Munoz lands another right hand coming out of the clinch. Big flurry from Munoz sets up a takedown and he forces Barnatt onto his back and almost takes mount. Scramble from the Brit allows him back up, but Munoz is all over him against the fence. Nice takedown from Munoz and he looks to use a front headlock to control Barnatt as he tries to scramble. Huge right hand from Munoz and he follows with some more bombs before tossing the Brit to the ground. Munoz is landing some BRUTAL SHOTS here from the top and Barnatt has a hell of a chin to be taking them all, wow. He somehow gets back to his feet, but Munoz is relentless and he forces him into the fence again. Crowd are DEAFENING in favour of Munoz. Sudden judo trip from Barnatt puts him on top, but Munoz pops right back up and wades back into the clinch with punches. Barnatt looks beaten up. They separate with less than a minute to go and somehow Barnatt looks recovered, but Munoz clocks him with a well-timed overhand right before clinching again. Trip attempt from Munoz is blocked, but the round ends with him controlling the clinch. 10-9 Munoz; best round he’s fought since the Tim Boetsch fight in 2013.

Round Two and Munoz glances on an overhand right. Barnatt begins to back him up a little with his movement but he hasn’t really used his reach advantage yet. Knee to the body lands but Munoz closes distance with a right hand and then drops for a single leg. Good defense from Barnatt and he lands some decent elbows to the head too, but Munoz stays right on him until the Brit trips him. Munoz pops right back up though only to eat a knee to the body as Barnatt escapes. Good right hand lands for Munoz. Low single leg follows and he dumps Barnatt onto the ground and settles into the guard. That was smooth. Barnatt does a good job of controlling the posture though before hitting a sweep that allows him to stand. He can’t move out of harms way though and Munoz immediately looks to take him down again. Barnatt defends well, working the body with some short punches and knees, and then he breaks off. Right-left combo connects for Munoz. Both men look a little tired now as Barnatt backs Munoz up and lands with a hard knee to the body. Uppercut follows but Munoz drops for a low single. Barnatt defends though and breaks off. Seconds to go and the Brit really backs Munoz up, but the Filipino Wrecking Machine manages to go for another takedown. Barnatt stuffs it, but eats a HUGE right hand on the break and again his chin holds up. Round ends there. 10-10 round for me as Munoz still got takedowns but couldn’t do as much with them and Barnatt just about got the best of the stand-up.

Round Three and Barnatt refuses a glove touch and rushes Munoz, who quickly avoids anything nasty. Bit dirty there. Big right to the temple connects for Munoz and he follows with a single leg attempt. Barnatt hops around trying to stay vertical, and does a good job of escaping. He’s just not doing quite enough with his strikes to be winning though. Big right hook again lands for Munoz and this one hurts the Brit and backs him up. Big combo from Munoz has the crowd going batshit, and he follows with a takedown to side mount. Barnatt works to his feet but Munoz takes his back standing and looks to force him back down. Good job from Barnatt to get back to his feet, and he lands some nasty elbows to the side of the head as Munoz continues to try to get him back down. He manages to finish the takedown by hooking the leg, and he drops a HUGE RIGHT HAND but unfortunately it allows Barnatt to pop back up. Big combo lands for Munoz as they stand. Barnatt’s chin is INSANE. Another huge overhand right lands flush for Munoz but Barnatt takes it and then lands with a hard knee to the body. Takedown from Munoz though and he has Barnatt on his back finally, grapevining the legs to keep him grounded this time. Again though, Barnatt uses the fence to get to his feet. Munoz looks for another double leg, and manages to get it, planting the Brit on the ground once again. He ends up in the guard as Barnatt tries desperately to kick him away. Munoz stands over him and then drops some more heavy shots, and from there he moves into side mount. Crowd are deafening now as Munoz takes the back with seconds to go. Side mount again and you can barely HEAR Anik or Stann which is insane. Fight ends there. 10-9 Munoz for a 30-28 win.

Official scores are 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Mark Munoz. A well-deserved win as Barnatt never seemed to really get his striking game going, and Munoz hit him with some absolute BOMBS both on the feet and on the ground and used his wrestling game well too. Best Munoz performance since his win over Tim Boetsch, and a fitting end to his career. He never quite made it to the level of a proper title contender but he definitely came close and you could never ever fault his efforts either. Nice to see someone go out with a win, especially when they’re as nice a guy as Munoz, and this fight was a pretty exciting way to end it all too. Post-fight Munoz symbolically leaves his gloves in the cage in a really emotional moment. Awesome.

Middleweight Fight: Gegard Mousasi vs Costas Philippou

After a huge knockout win over Dan Henderson in January I expected Mousasi to be matched with someone higher up the ladder, no offense, than Philippou, who had last been seen just over a year ago knocking out Lorenz Larkin. I guess though that all of the top fighters at 185lbs (Weidman, Rockhold, Belfort, Machida, Romero, Jacare) were either already booked or had already fought Gegard, unfortunately for him. Despite Philippou being a tough out in general – nasty power in his hands and a solid wrestling game – I thought Mousasi had too much guile for him and expected him to win probably by submission. Side note – whatever happened to Gegard’s nickname of ‘The Dreamcatcher’? Or was that just something goofy Mauro Renallo came up with? I remember him being nicknamed ‘The Vagabond’ in Japan at one point too though so who knows.

Round One and they exchange some early strikes with Philippou really throwing with venomous power, but not landing clean thankfully for Mousasi. Few kicks from Philippou too which is pretty rare. Nice level change from Mousasi though and he gets Costas on his back underneath side mount. Knee to the body from Mousasi and he looks for the mount, but Philippou manages to catch him in half-guard. Hard punches and hammer fists land for Mousasi as he works to pass the guard. Costas manages to get into full guard though to tie him up a bit. Nice right hand from Mousasi as he stacks up for leverage, and then he does well to shrug off a potential armbar attempt from Philippou. Back to half-guard for Mousasi and he looks in firm control here. Arm triangle attempt from Mousasi but Philippou defends well and manages to avoid. Costas looks to reach between Mousasi’s legs for a possible sweep, and bravo to Brian Stann – never known for his ground game – for calling the action perfectly. Action slows down from the half-guard as Mousasi avoids the sweep and then goes for the arm triangle again, but he can’t get it and that’s the round. Dominant – if uncharacteristically dull – round for Gegard Mousasi.

Round Two and Costas misses a spinning backfist to open. Glancing combination follows but Mousasi shows some good head movement and range control to avoid more shots. Beautiful takedown from Mousasi and he works to keep Philippou down as he attempts to use the fence to stand. Good job from Costas to escape and he pops back to his feet. Kicks from Philippou don’t really land cleanly, and then he goes for a takedown that Mousasi stuffs easily. Couple of jabs land for Mousasi. He’s really doing well to keep Costas at range here. Nice right hand connects for Mousasi. Leg kick follows but lands low and the ref has to call time. Looks like a painful one too as Philippou sinks to his knees in agony. He sucks it up though and we continue. Pair of glancing left hooks from Mousasi are followed by a double leg as Philippou comes forward. Full guard for Costas but judging by the first round the likelihood of him getting up is really minimal. Mousasi passes into side mount and it looks like he’s working on a far-side kimura on Philippou’s left arm. Philippou holds onto his own shorts to defend which is legal, apparently, rather than holding onto Mousasi’s shorts which would be a foul. Philippou manages to avoid that and works his way back into half-guard, but he’s being completely shut down here. Short punches connect for Mousasi and he drops some decent elbows too, but in all honesty we’ve not got that much going on. Seconds to go and Mousasi continues to control Costas, ending the round with a couple more elbows. 10-9 Mousasi and Philippou needs a finish.

Round Three and Philippou walks right into a heavy left hook as he comes out aggressively. Left uppercut glances for Costas but Mousasi is still keeping him at range with his snake-like jab. Leg kick lands for Philippou. More jabs and a leg kick land for Mousasi. Left hand answers for Costas but Mousasi is fine. Easy double leg from Mousasi and he’s on top in guard again. Action slows down as Costas tries to tie Mousasi up while Gegard works from the top with short punches and hammer fists. Two minutes to go and it just doesn’t look like Philippou is capable of getting up from underneath Mousasi. Nice pass to half-guard from Mousasi and it looks like he’s trying to work his way into full mount. Hard elbows from Mousasi and he’s all over Costas, but can’t seem to come close to a finish really. To be fair this ground-and-pound is excellent though. Seconds on the clock and this is looking firmly like Mousasi’s fight. Philippou regains full guard but he continues to get mashed up with elbows until the fight ends. 10-9 Mousasi for a 30-27 shutout.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Gegard Mousasi – even the worst judge couldn’t have come up with anything different really. Not the most entertaining fight as Mousasi basically just grinded his way to the win from top control and didn’t come close to a finish, but it was a smart gameplan for him as why would he mess around with a nasty striker like Costas when he could tool him on the ground like that? Massive improvements in Gegard’s wrestling too as I’d never seen him hit clean double legs like that before. Philippou ended up retiring after this fight which was a bit of a surprise but fair play to the guy if he wants out – no point in continuing to get your brain cells bashed in if your heart isn’t in it any more. On a side note it’s amazing how much the 185lbs division has been rejuvenated since the time Philippou was in the higher end of the top ten – like late 2012 – along with the likes of Tim Boetsch, Francis Carmont et al – as I’d say we’re in a much better place now with Weidman as champ and dangerous contenders around like Rockhold, Romero, Jacare, Mousasi and some quality rising talent like Theodorou, Hall, Whittaker, etc.

Featherweight Fight: Frankie Edgar vs Urijah Faber

This was one of those rare matches in MMA where, when it was announced, it was almost a surprise that nobody had really thought about it happening before. I guess it’s more because weight class bouncing is usually more of a boxing thing – especially when it isn’t permanent, like Faber’s move to 145lbs here. To be fair it made sense though with both guys trapped in limbo at the minute – Faber’s in that pseudo-Rich Franklin area where he’s not really in the title picture but it’s because he’s already had his shots rather than not being good enough, while Edgar probably WOULD’VE had a title shot already if it weren’t for Mr. Glass Jose Aldo. But yeah, it sounded like a very good fight on paper but also one of those that tends to sound better than it actually works out being, if that makes sense. For me Edgar was probably slightly better than Faber in all areas, but not enough to finish him, meaning we’d get one of those sort-of-close-but-not-quite decisions.

Round One and they circle with Faber drawing first on a low kick. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Edgar who exits with an uppercut. Lot of movement from both men. Neither’s really landed what you’d call a significant blow yet. Jab connects for Edgar. Nice combo from Frankie and he backs Faber up and then follows with a spin kick to the chest, but an overhand right glances for Faber on the exit. Push kick from Faber and a glancing right follow before Edgar shrugs off a clinch. Leg kick from Frankie. Counter uppercut catches Faber coming forward. Nice overhand right from Faber but Edgar’s beginning to back him up a bit. Leg kick from Edgar and he shoots and gets Faber down. Urijah pops right back up, but Edgar has his back in a rear waistlock, landing knees to the thighs. Suplex puts Faber down for a second but he pops right back up. Couple of punches land from the clinch for Edgar, but Faber breaks free. Leg kicks connect for both men. Double jab from Edgar. Right hook connects too. Seconds to go and Edgar looks for a trip that Faber blocks. Striking exchange continues until the buzzer. Close round as I expected; 10-9 Edgar.

Round Two and a BIG KNEE lands for Faber as Edgar looks to lunge in for a takedown. Frankie eats it up though and fires back with an uppercut on the exit. Edgar is tough as nails. Botched kick almost allows Faber to take his back, but Frankie immediately scrambles free. Right hook coming forward from Edgar and he shrugs off a single leg attempt. Quick combination lands with a head kick for Edgar but Faber fires a combo right back. Beautiful counter right lands for Edgar off a Faber jab. Body shot from Faber. Left hook from Urijah but he takes a counter right on the exit. Big right hand lands for Edgar as he manages to back Faber into the fence. Good job from Faber to dodge a big combo. The pace these guys are putting on is crazy. Nice overhand right lands for Frankie. Chopping leg kick lands for Edgar before Faber lands with a right hook, only to take a couple of counters. Leg kicks are checked by both men. Left hook from Edgar. Faber is switching his stance a ton. Right hand misses for Faber and he eats a right hand counter from Frankie. Pair of uppercuts connect for Frankie too. Round ends with a quick combo from Edgar. Another one for Frankie, 10-9.

Round Three and Faber uses a front kick early on to keep Edgar at bay. Frankie won’t stop though and he closes in with a leg kick and a quick combo. Double jab into a right hand land for Edgar and he easily dodges a takedown, but eats a counter left hand. Right to the body lands for Faber but he takes one from Edgar as he backs out. Overhand right connects for Urijah. Awesome head movement from Edgar and then he catches Faber with a short uppercut. Takedown from Edgar but Faber goes for the deadly guillotine. Sick scramble from Frankie allows him to escape though and he takes side mount. Faber right away pops up to his feet, but Edgar’s on him with a rear waistlock and he looks to force him back down with a trip. Suplex puts Urijah down and Edgar lands with some punches from behind while looking to take the back. Faber crawls to the fence and gets back up to his feet, but Edgar still has hold of him. Faber manages to turn into Frankie, but the former Lightweight champ drops and hits a double leg. Good job from Frankie to avoid a reversal and somehow he wriggles his way into full mount. It’s only for a split second though as Faber hip escapes and pops back up. Ref warns Faber for a fence grab TWICE before they break off. One minute to go and Faber steps in with a sharp left hand. Double jab from Edgar backs him up. Head kick misses for Frankie as does a lunging Faber right and an Edgar crane kick (!) and that’s the round. 10-9 Edgar.

Round Four and neither man seems tired. Both glance with a bunch of combinations in the opening minute or so but it’s Edgar largely backing Faber up with his strikes. Front kick glances off the jaw of Urijah. Leg kick is caught but Faber can’t quite capitalise and take him down. Faber begins to press some more, but he’s struggling to catch Frankie who exits a brief clinch with a decent left hook. Announcers mention that both men could probably fight for ten rounds but I don’t know if I’d want to see it judging on the first four – this is pretty dull if I’m frank. Right hand sets up a takedown attempt for Faber but Frankie sprawls back to avoid it. Takedown attempt from Edgar is more successful as he forces Faber down and then takes the back off a scramble. No hooks though and Urijah pops right back up. Edgar gets a rear waistlock and looks to force him back down, then lands some hard punches from close quarters for good measure. Good job from Faber to break free though. Exchange continues standing and it’s more of the same really with neither being able to really hurt the other, but Edgar just about outlanding the former WEC champ. That’s the round and it’s another 10-9 Edgar for me.

Round Five and Faber looks like he wants to pressure Edgar some more, but Frankie’s movement is too good for that and he’s still landing the majority of the strikes here. Good uppercut from Edgar. He’s definitely outlanding Urijah but as with the previous rounds he isn’t really hurting him. Clinch leads to Edgar getting a rear waistlock and dumping Faber, but again the California Kid reverses to his feet. Nice takedown from Edgar follows and this time he lands a bunch of punches before Urijah gets back up. Combination lands for Faber but doesn’t slow Frankie down. Overhand right glances for Urijah but Frankie closes in and quickly hits him with a combo before backing out. Slip from Edgar puts him down, but he’s right back up before Faber can capitalise. Takedown is defended by Urijah. We’ve got one minute to go now and this is looking like Edgar’s fight. Crowd don’t sound too impressed. Right hands land for both men in an exchange. Faber really pushes forward but he still can’t quite catch Frankie. Crowd openly boo as the fight ends. 10-9 Edgar and I have it 50-45 for him.

All three judges have it 50-45 for Frankie Edgar to take the unanimous decision. Might as well not beat around the bush then, this wasn’t a good fight by any stretch of the imagination and to be quite honest I put a lot of that on the style of Edgar. The problem with Frankie is that while he’s a genuinely great fighter – one of the best of all time in the lower weight divisions – he just isn’t as destructive as some of his contemporaries, nor is he so dominant that he makes every fight seem like a virtuoso performance like GSP or Anderson Silva in their primes did. Faber is an absolutely amazing fighter himself and Frankie clearly outpointed him from start to finish, but he never truly dominated him and it felt like he squeaked out a decision in a fight that just never really lit up at any stage. Massively disappointing in a way but on the other hand, could you expect anything different? Edgar won but – assuming he gets past Frankie Saenz which I don’t see as a problem – it still seems like Faber has the more interesting fights – against TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz – on the horizon, which I think says a lot.

-Show ends right after Frankie calls out the Aldo/McGregor winner. This was May and we’re STILL waiting for that fight, too.

Final Thoughts….

This was a disappointing show to me. Magny/Lim was fantastic and I really enjoyed Nam/Nover and to a lesser extent Munoz/Barnatt, but while there was nothing wrong technically with Mousasi/Philippou and Edgar/Faber they both felt dull and Makashvili/Eddiva was just plain bad. Check out the Magny fight but really the card was sold around the premise of the main event, which sounded awesome but ended up being just another Frankie Edgar fight and once you’ve seen one, well, you get the picture. Thumbs down for this one.

Best Fight: Magny vs. Lim
Worst Fight: Makashvili vs. Eddiva

Overall Rating: **

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com