MMA Review: #535: UFC Fight Night 83

-The second UFC main event of 2016 to be changed (in only five shows, too!) this one was supposed to see Donald Cerrone stepping up to 170lbs to take on Tim Means, but Means got busted by USADA for PEDs and so Brazilian Alex Oliveira stepped in, giving us COWBOY VS. COWBOY!~! Show wasn’t getting much hype due to the shitty Dada 5000/Kimbo Slice Bellator show on the same weekend but whatever, it looked pretty good with some decent prospects (Cody Garbrandt, Derek Brunson) as well as a couple of hopeful action fights.

UFC Fight Night 83

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann, who for the record is point blank the best colour guy in MMA right now, sorry Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: James Krause vs Shane Campbell

Not sure how this got on the main card over Alex Garcia vs. Sean Strickland but that’s UFC card placement for you. I was wrong about Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer though so there is that. Krause was coming off a good win over Daron Cruickshank while Campbell had picked up his first UFC win over Elias Silverio in a bit of an upset. I wasn’t sure who to take but I wanted Campbell to win as he seemed to have more potential while Krause is more of a mid-level guy who always seems to be win one, lose one in the UFC.

Round One and Krause catches an early low kick and backs Campbell up a bit with some punches. Couple of kicks land for Campbell before Krause clinches and forces him into the fence. They muscle for position with Campbell defending the takedown, and in a weird move Krause pulls him to the ground but gives his back in the process. They pop right back up though before Campbell can capitalise. Foot sweep attempt is blocked by Campbell who exits and lands a leg kick. Right hand lands for Campbell too but Krause backs him up again and drops for the takedown. This time he trips Campbell down, but the kickboxer pops back up again. Good body kick from Campbell as they break off. Uppercut into a left hook answers for Krause. Nice combo comes back for Campbell. Krause answers back again and these guys are trading pretty openly. Beautiful body kick from Campbell leads into another shootout, and then Krause clinches again. They break off and exchange again with Krause cracking him with a right hand. Big body kick from Krause and he follows with a combo. Head kick glances for Campbell. They trade again and this time Campbell lands the better shots, stunning Krause a bit. Krause fires right back though and then hits a takedown. Campbell looks to get to his feet, but gives his back in the process and Krause sinks the hooks in and forces him down. Choke looks sunk, but Campbell manages to hold on and the buzzer sounds to save him. 10-9 Krause largely for the ending in what was an even round.

Round Two and Campbell opens with a body kick. Takedown attempt is blocked by Campbell who then hits his own foot sweep to take top position in Krause’s guard. Armbar attempt by Krause is defended by Campbell who then spins and takes the back. It allows Krause to stand though, and he spins and shoves Campbell literally all the way across the cage to set up another clinch. Krause goes old-school with some foot stomps, then drops for another takedown and gets the back again. Campbell avoids being controlled but winds up on his back anyway underneath side mount. He gets half-guard though. He looks to turn, but Krause slaps one hook in and seems to have the back again. Short punches land for Krause as he looks to sink the choke, but Campbell avoids it well. He can’t scramble free though and Krause slaps the second hook in and the choke looks sunk! Somehow though Campbell fights the hands and manages to slip free, and from there he lands a knee to the chest in the scramble and takes top position. Armbar attempt is avoided again from Campbell and they come back to their feet in the clinch again. Not long left in the round though as Krause looks to take him down again. Just under a minute left and they break off, and Campbell looks a bit tired so Krause tackles him right to the ground. Great scramble from Campbell allows him to pop up, but Krause lands on him with a big combination to set up another clinch. Trip from Campbell puts Krause down, but he reverses it and winds up on top in guard off the scramble. Round ends with Krause on top. 10-9 Krause so Campbell needs a third round stoppage. Great fight so far.

Round Three and Campbell comes out with more urgency, but he gets caught by a right hand from Krause. Kicks answer for Campbell but Krause is backing him up again. Nice body kick lands for Campbell and he follows right away with another. Clinch from Krause and he looks for the takedown again. Campbell defends it and manages to break free, missing a wheel kick in the process. Good leg kick from Krause. Combination answers for Campbell. Exchange continues with Krause staying in the pocket and firing right back with punches. Takedown attempt from Krause is blocked, but Campbell gives his back in the process and Krause gets a rear waistlock. He tries to trip Campbell down, but the Canadian defends well and gets to a regular clinch. Left elbow breaks for Krause. Head kick glances for Campbell in reply. Hard right hand lands for Krause and he shoots, but Campbell defends and they end up clinched again. Two minutes to go now. Krause breaks, but takes a couple of hard body shots as he closes distance again. Nice elbow exits for Campbell. Head kick follows in an exchange. Takedown attempt again from Krause but Campbell defends it well. This time he gets a trip of his own and now he’s got Krause’s back with both hooks! Krause scrambles, but he can’t shake Campbell off him and the Canadian lands some punches to the head. Krause tries to spin, but Campbell retains top position and it looks like he’s got full mount. Seconds to go and it looks like Krause is going to hold on. Shoulder shots from Campbell but Krause keeps hold of him to prevent any real damage, and the round ends as Campbell finally lands a flurry. 10-9 Campbell but too little, too late, and I’d call it 29-28 Krause.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for James Krause. That was actually a really good fight in the end as both men left it all in the cage, and it was Krause’s pace, aggression and better ground game that won the fight for him in the end. Post-fight Krause says he’s not happy at all with the performance which is fair enough I guess but I thought he looked good. Fun opener for sure.

Middleweight Fight: Joe Riggs vs Chris Camozzi

This was another baffling main card fight to me but I guess Riggs at least has a little bit of name value or something. Camozzi was looking for his second win in a row after beating Brit Tom Watson in August, while Riggs was coming off an odd DQ win over Ron Stallings. Given Riggs had looked totally shot since returning to the UFC in 2014 and is FIFTEEN YEARS into his career now, Camozzi seemed like the smart pick, but if I’m honest 2005 Newman was hoping Riggs would pull it out somehow.

Round One and a hard leg kick begins things for Camozzi. Stiff right jab follows and Riggs is hurt badly already. Camozzi follows with a WILD FLURRY OF KNEES and DOWN GOES DIESEL! Mario Yamasaki steps in before any shots land on the ground and that’s it in 25 seconds.

That was a vicious finish from Chris Camozzi who before this felt like a decision machine. How much that has to do with the fading durability of Riggs these days I don’t know, but you can’t take anything away from Camozzi. Give him another step up now – as long as it isn’t Jacare again! As for Riggs it has to be time to retire – I know he’s only 33 but in fight years he’s probably more like double that and he’s taken some horrendous injuries in his time. I don’t want to see him banged up in a wheelchair or something at 50. I just wish there was some sort of pension plan for these guys so they could actually hang it up and be looked after somehow.

Featherweight Fight: Dennis Bermudez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri

This looked like a really good fight on paper – two of the better action fighters in the division in a rare fight with one guy coming off a win and the other off a loss. Although to be fair Bermudez’s loss was that wild fight with Jeremy Stephens where you could say neither man came away like a loser. Tough fight to call and part of me felt like I was underrating Bermudez, but I was going with Kawajiri’s stronger top game to come out on top over Dennis’s wilder style.

First round begins and Bermudez looks to back Kawajiri up. Both men clash on kicks before Kawajiri misses a flying kick. Sharp leg kick lands for Bermudez. Spinning backfist answers for Kawajiri but Bermudez takes it well. Both men miss with some wild kicks and Dennis keeps backing him up. Left hook from Bermudez and he follows with a takedown and then gets the back with both hooks. Kawajiri stands with him on the back and looks to shake him off, losing the hooks, but Bermudez remains in control and he looks to get the hooks back in. Looks like Kawajiri might be able to sneak free and get on top, but Dennis locks up a kimura attempt on the left arm. The action slows down from there as it looks like a bit of a stalemate, and the crowd begin to boo loudly. Finally Dennis scrambles, but Kawajiri takes his back with a cradle and uses it to force him down into side mount again. Another scramble from Dennis allows him to his feet, and they end up clinched. Takedown attempt is defended well by Bermudez but a foot sweep puts him down. Bermudez works to get back up again, but Kawajiri trips him right back down. This time he laces up the legs to keep the TUF finalist down, and lands some chopping punches to the chest. Scramble allows Dennis up again but he can’t shake Kawajiri off him. Half-slam follows for Kawajiri but Dennis pops back up. Round ends there. 10-9 Kawajiri even if he didn’t do much with the takedowns.

Second round and Bermudez comes right out with a superman punch that connects and seems to stumble Kawajiri somewhat. Spinning attack misses for Kawajiri and Dennis follows with a chopping leg kick. Clinch from Bermudez and he muscles Kawajiri into the fence before the Crusher switches position and drops for a takedown. Guillotine attempt from Dennis blocks the takedown and allows him to force Kawajiri down to his knees, landing some punches to the face in the process. Good shots land for Bermudez and it looks like he might have the back. Kawajiri pops back up, but eats a knee to the body. They muscle for position against the fence before breaking off, and an inside leg kick lands for Dennis. Kawajiri misses on a couple more spinning attacks before shooting, but Bermudez hits an excellent sprawl to avoid it. Kawajiri keeps trying, but Bermudez stuffs it well and the crowd begin to boo a little again. Good shots to the head from the TUF finalist and Kawajiri’s taking a lot of punches here actually. He keeps trying to sweep the right leg out from under Bermudez, but he can’t finish it. Bermudez switches to elbows to the head and Kawajiri seems a bit stuck, just holding onto the single leg. Really good shots connect for Dennis and it looks like Kawajiri’s bleeding. Bermudez takes the back by sliding out, but Kawajiri turns into him and drops for the takedown again. Bermudez stuffs it and takes the back once more, continuing to land punches, and he’s got one hook in now too. He can’t quite get the second hook but he continues to land shots until the round ends. 10-9 Bermudez to even it up.

Third round and Bermudez chases forward swinging before shooting in for a takedown. Lot of blood coming from somewhere. Dennis gets him down and it looks like it might be Kawajiri that’s bleeding, not sure where from though. The Japanese fighter reverses up and goes for a takedown of his own, but Bermudez defends it well. They continue to muscle for position inside the clinch and it looks like Kawajiri might be looking to lock up a possible guillotine. Bermudez avoids that though and they remain clinched. Uppercut breaks for Bermudez but he slips down for a second. He pops back up and Kawajiri goes for a guillotine in the scramble, but Dennis pops free and gets on top. Kawajiri reverses to his feet but he takes a decent head kick on the way up. Two minutes to go now and Kawajiri glances on a front kick to the jaw. Beautiful leg kick into a right hand lands for Bermudez and he follows with a takedown attempt. Big slam from Bermudez and he takes Kawajiri’s back as they land. Kawajiri works back to his feet but he eats a knee to the side of the head that forces him back down. Back to the feet and another knee and some punches land for Bermudez. Body kick follows as they break and Bermudez follows with another takedown to guard. Elbows land for Kawajiri but Bermudez stacks him up to drop some solid punches. Elbows from the top end the round for Bermudez. I’ve got this a pretty clear 29-28 for Dennis Bermudez.

Indeed all three judges have it 29-28 for Bermudez. Wasn’t the most exciting fight at times as it was a lot of grinding offense but you have to appreciate how Bermudez won largely by out-Kawajiri’ing Kawajiri if that makes sense. Not many people completely outgrapple the guy and Dennis did that for two rounds so kudos. Dude is probably the most underrated guy in the division right now actually as despite those two losses he has to Lamas and Stephens he’s still clearly a top ten fighter. Charles Oliveira next maybe?

-We get a quick video package to honor Kevin Randleman. Still can’t believe he’s gone to be honest. From what I’ve read nobody had a bad word to say about the guy. I was never a huge fan I guess but he still provided a couple of my favourite early memories of MMA with the knockout of Cro Cop and the insane slam of Fedor, and I was always gutted that when UFC bought out PRIDE he never got one last nostalgia run like Coleman, Renzo, etc did. RIP to a real legend.

Bantamweight Fight: Cody Garbrandt vs Augusto Mendes

Originally this should’ve seen Team Alpha Male prospect Garbrandt taking on John Lineker in what sounded like an absolute barnburner, but Lineker got struck down with DENGUE FEVER and so BJJ champion Mendes – initially signed by the UFC in January to fight on the Dillashaw/Cruz undercard – stepped in on late notice. Despite ‘Tanquinho’ apparently having some serious ground skills, I thought Garbrandt would probably be able to stop the takedown and beat him up standing. Big fan of Cody No Love here.

Fight begins and the crowd are wildly into Garbrandt. He stalks forward from the off and throws some feeler strikes and lands a couple of low kicks. Mendes comes back with a low kick of his own, but Cody tags him with a left-right combo. Another left hand backs Tanquinho up. Right hand lands for Garbrandt in an exchange. Leg kick from Mendes is countered by an overhand right. Garbrandt looks much more comfortable standing. Right hand from Mendes and he dives for guard and tries to pull Cody down, but Garbrandt’s having none of that and he pulls free and forces him up. Big combo glances for Garbrandt but still backs Mendes up. Good leg kick from Mendes and he just about dodges a flurry in return. Leg kick fires back for Cody. Both men miss with some more strikes due to some excellent movement, before a left hook lands for Garbrandt. Another left hook lands for Cody but Mendes fires back with an uppercut. BIG COMBO suddenly drops Mendes and Mario Yamasaki appears to step in….but then decides to let it go, forcing Garbrandt to follow up with two NASTY RIGHT HANDS that finally finish Mendes off. Huh.

Finish was both violent and weird, as I don’t get at all what Yamasaki was doing. I mean sure, Mendes wasn’t totally out when he hit the deck, but why step in unless you’re actually going to stop it? Post-fight Brian Stann tries to claim that it might’ve been a premature stoppage but for me it was more a major gaffe from Mario, almost the second coming of Matt Brown vs. Pete Sell even. Regardless, good showing for Garbrandt – this was what I expected him to do to Henry Briones at UFC 189 in fact. I don’t think they should rush him at all – Lineker still sounds like a fun fight next – but eventually I think everyone wants him against TJ Dillashaw in what would be a major grudge match now. Just hope he can keep rising so we can see it!

Middleweight Fight: Derek Brunson vs Roan Carneiro

These two had largely been flying under the radar at 185lbs, but with Middleweight being a division in flux at the minute – a lot of the top contenders like Machida, Belfort and the like ageing while some of the other guys up there (Uriah Hall, Robert Whittaker) are a bit unproven, a win for either man here was likely to rocket them up the rankings. Carneiro had been on the shelf since choking Mark Munoz unconscious almost a year previous, while Brunson had stopped Ed Herman and Sam Alvey in 2015 in brutal fashion. My pick here was Brunson as I just felt he was in a real groove in the last couple of fights.

Round One and both men throw out some feints as they circle, looking a bit tentative. Left hand glances for Brunson but Carneiro shrugs off a clinch. Really good left hand connects for Brunson and forces Carneiro onto his back foot. Right hand comes back for Carneiro but Brunson backs him onto the fence. Takedown attempt is shrugged off by Brunson. Carneiro comes in winging punches, but he ends up slipping to his back somehow and Brunson comes right over the top with a hard left hand. Carneiro suddenly goes totally defensive, and Brunson OPENS UP with a flurry from the top and referee Keith Peterson calls it as Carneiro’s not defending!

Second weird finish in a row if I’m honest – it wasn’t that Brunson did anything wrong or didn’t look great – he did – but it just felt like something really went wrong for Carneiro as once he slipped onto his back he was basically done. I’m guessing that first left hand over the top stunned him and he just couldn’t recover. The winner of the upcoming Gegard Mousasi/Thales Leites match sounds good for him next I think as he clearly needs a step up in competition. Can’t fault three stoppages in a row for Brunson, especially after the shitty way he entered the UFC with the Chris Leben fight. Nice short fight too.

Welterweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Alex Oliveira

I was sort-of surprised when it was announced that Cerrone was moving to 170lbs, but then I guess it makes sense – he’s fought everyone there is to fight at 155lbs and he’s not the smallest guy in the division or anything so if he’s had enough of cutting weight, more power to him. Plus as Stephen Thompson is showing you don’t need to be a big gorilla these days to have success. I actually liked this fight better than Cerrone vs. Tim Means too – not just because of the cool COWBOY VS. COWBOY gimmick but because I’ve been impressed by Oliveira since his UFC debut – a short notice loss to Gilbert Burns – and it felt fairer to give Cerrone a fellow guy moving back up from 155lbs for his first fight in the division. Potentially dangerous fight for Cerrone? For sure, but since when has he cared about that? My pick? Cowboy, duh.

Fight begins and Oliveira lands a solid right hand in the first exchange and then gets a clinch and forces Cerrone into the fence. Both men grapple for the plum before giving up on that to work on underhooks instead. Good knees and short punches land for both men before they break off. Spin kick glances for Oliveira. Hard body kick lands for Cerrone. Brief clinch is quickly broken by Oliveira. Combination lands for the Brazilian but Cerrone ducks under and hits a sweet takedown, passing right into half-guard. Oliveira’s half-guard looks wide open and Cerrone postures up to drop an elbow before looking to mount. Mounted triangle follows and he rolls onto his back, and pretty much right away Oliveira taps out.

Very slick finish from Donald Cerrone, wow. When you consider Oliveira gave Gilbert Burns problems on the ground, it’s even more impressive really. Pretty much a faultless performance from Cerrone to debut in the division and I think he’s a fun match for basically anyone out there. Maybe give him Tarec Saffiedine next? As for Oliveira I don’t think he loses much from this given he took the fight on short notice, and he remains one of the more reliable action fighters out there right now. Really fun main event even if it was over pretty quickly.

-Show ends with some replays of the Cowboy vs. Cowboy finish and we’re done.

Final Thoughts….

This was basically everything you want from a free-TV UFC show – a bunch of fun fights with nothing dull, a handful of good, violent finishes and the best prospects and possible contenders on the card (Brunson, Bermudez, Garbrandt, Cerrone) all winning impressively. The fact that Krause/Campbell and Camozzi/Riggs were both decent where I was expecting nothing helps a lot too. Easy thumbs up for this one.

Best Fight: Spencer vs. Pyle
Worst Fight: Nelson vs. Rosholt

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: