MMA Review: #539: UFC Fight Night 85

-Been a couple of weeks since this one now but I’ve been busy, sue me. Pretty cool card for an Aussie show too and those shows always seem to guarantee a ton of violence so I was all over it. Even stayed up through the night to try to watch it and everything!

UFC Fight Night 85

03/19/16
Brisbane, Queensland

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Bec Rawlings vs Seo Hee Ham

Been watching a bunch of TUF recently and while I don’t usually take stock in that sort of thing, Rawlings did NOT come off well on her season and so I’d say unless you were an Aussie you had to be rooting for Ham here. She was undersized though meaning Rawlings was probably the favourite in what sounded like a fun fight.

Round One gets underway and they waste no time swinging punches, with Ham catching Rawlings early with some pretty clean shots. Crowd are way into Rawlings but Ham lands with a pair of clean lefts. Bec fires back with a couple of lefts of her own and the crowd go wild. Ham takes them well though and keeps pushing forward, landing the left again. Heavy combo connects for the Korean. Nice left hook answers for Rawlings but it looks like Ham’s got the quicker hands and she lands another combo and then an inside leg kick. Body kick fires back for Bec. Exchange continues and if Ham had more punching power Rawlings would be in serious trouble as she’s eating a lot of shots. Slip off a front kick sees Ham go down for a second but she’s right back up, only for Rawlings to tag her with a hard right. Good counter left lands for Ham as they continue to exchange. Rawlings fires back and we’ve got a WILD TRADE for a second before Ham backs Bec up a little. Nice combo from Ham has Rawlings backing right into the fence. Good right answers for Rawlings. This is a hell of a round. Nice left hook connects for Bec. Ham comes back with her own left and then glances on a combo before the round ends. 10-9 Ham in a close-ish round.

Round Two and they come out swinging again with Rawlings connecting on a heavy left to answer the faster hands of Ham. Both girls continue to hand-fight to try to gauge the distance and then Ham lands with a push kick to the body. Right hook glances for Bec. Nice combination lands for Rawlings and she forces Ham on the retreat. Ham comes right back with some strikes of her own though. No takedown attempts at all thus far. One-two lands for Ham. Straight right from Rawlings backs Ham up a little and she shows good head movement to avoid some punches before tagging Ham with a one-two. Body kick fires back for Ham. Push kick is countered by a Rawlings right hand and she takes Ham down and gets on top in guard. Triangle attempt is shrugged off by Rawlings who then takes the back off a scramble, slapping one hook in but not the other. Ham squirms to try to escape the position, but Rawlings works the second hook in and the Korean might be in trouble. Armbar attempt from Rawlings but she doesn’t have correct control of the arm and Ham pulls free and winds up on top in Bec’s guard. Another armbar fails and Ham lands a head kick as they stand. Counter combo tags Rawlings and then she misses a spinning backfist and allows Ham to go for a takedown. Rawlings defends it and they wind up clinched, but the Aussie breaks. Counter shot to the body ends the round for Ham. 10-9 Rawlings to even things up but it was another close one.

Round Three and Ham opens with a trio of push kicks to the body. Quick combo glances for Ham and she follows with a hard body kick. Rawlings is taking quite a few shots to the body here. Nice combo again from Ham and Rawlings shoots, but almost finds herself caught in an armbar in the transition. Rawlings avoids that but Ham goes for a triangle instead and it looks close. Rawlings defends well though and then lands a bunch of odd knees to the back which might be illegal. Ref ignores them though as Ham continues to try to lock the triangle up, but finally gives it up and Bec ends up on top. Big right hand over the top from Rawlings pops the crowd, but Ham explodes to her feet and backs her up with a combo. Big knee to the body from Ham sets up a clinch and they muscle for position with Rawlings trying to use her size to control the Korean. Takedown attempt from Rawlings but Ham blocks it. They continue to work in the clinch and we’ve got a minute to go in what could still be either girl’s fight. Ham manages to break off for a second but Rawlings grabs her again and goes for another takedown. Ham defends again and they exchange some knees, and the round ends with a bit of a trade-off. Close round again but I’d go 10-9 Ham for a 29-28 win.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Bec Rawlings. Well, that’s a hometown decision if ever I saw one. I could get the 29-28 for Rawlings giving her the second and third rounds maybe but there’s no way she won 30-27 and I think Ham’s got a good case for crying robbery actually as she showed the faster hands, probably landed the better strikes throughout and seemed to have Rawlings beaten on the ground in the third too. Bad decision in my book even if the fight was a lot of fun.

Middleweight Fight: James Te Huna vs Steve Bosse

Bit of a weird choice for a main card fight here given Bosse had shown nothing in his UFC debut while Te Huna hadn’t fought since June 2014 and hadn’t won since February 2013 (!) but I guess Jimmy Tuna is a crowd favourite in Oz and the likelihood of a wild brawl was pretty high, which is all you need sometimes. My pick was Te Huna just because Bosse was such an unknown quantity.

Fight begins and they circle before Te Huna dodges some punches and lands with a low kick. Big swing misses for Te Huna. Both guys are swinging pretty wild here. Exchange follows and Bosse lands a HARD RIGHT HOOK and down goes Te Huna! Bosse looks like he’s going to follow up but decides not to as Te Huna is DONE. Brutal stuff.

Beautiful knockout from Steve Bosse. Replay shows he stepped off slightly to his left and landed a perfect shot to the jaw and Te Huna was out on impact. Can’t see him going that far given his clear limitations but the guy might stick around now as a midcard brawler for a while. As for Te Huna he’s probably done in the UFC after four straight losses and to be fair it might be time for him to hang it up full stop given he’s been fighting since 2003 and this was his second clean knockout loss in three fights. Great to see Bosse not bother to follow the shot up also, as a lot of fighters would’ve dribbled Te Huna’s head off the canvas there.

Middleweight Fight: Antonio Carlos Junior vs Dan Kelly

This one felt like odd booking to me too – not so much the position on the main card but more the fact that it sounded on paper like a squash in favour of the Brazilian, not exactly what you’d expect for a popular Aussie like Kelly in front of his home country fans. My pick was Carlos via whatever he wanted, basically, no offense to Kelly.

Fight begins and Carlos comes out throwing kicks before shooting after a right hand. He gets Kelly down and right away takes the back with one hook. He looks to work the second hook in and gets it pretty quickly before switching to a body triangle. Kelly’s in trouble already. Good punches land for Cara de Sapato as he works to soften Kelly up, and two minutes in and it doesn’t look like Kelly has much answer for this. Cara de Sapato continues to look for the choke, but Kelly defends it decently at least. For a second it looks like he’s got it sunk but Kelly tucks his chin nicely and escapes. Big punches begin to land for Carlos as Kelly kneels up for a second, so the Aussie drops back down with the Brazilian still clamped on his back. Less than thirty seconds to go now and Kelly still can’t get out, but he does manage to survive the round as Carlos runs out of time on an armbar attempt. Clear 10-8 round for Carlos Jr as Kelly did literally nothing on offense.

Into the 2nd and the constant ‘Shoeface’ reference from Kenny Florian is becoming tiresome now. For those not in the know ‘Cara de Sapato’ loosely translates to Shoeface, but I mean, ‘Napao’ loosely translates to ‘Big Nose’ and they don’t call Gabriel Gonzaga that do they? Fuckers. Anyhow. Few glancing strikes open the round for Carlos but Kelly avoids a takedown attempt. Good low kick from Kelly and then he stuffs another takedown. Clinch from the Brazilian but Kelly shrugs him off. Punches miss for both before Cara de Sapato glances with a flying knee. Nice pair of left hands land for Kelly as he begins to push forward some more, and he manages to stuff another takedown nicely too. Cara de Sapato is beginning to telegraph these attempts a bit. Nice combo from Carlos but Kelly blocks a head kick. Kelly begins to back him up some more and lands with the left hand again. Takedown attempt is defended by a beautiful sprawl from Kelly and he grabs a front headlock and then spins to the back where he land some thudding punches. Crowd are suddenly into this as Carlos tries to work back to his feet, but Kelly’s all over him here. More punches land for Kelly but Carlos gets back up. Nice low kick from Kelly. Carlos responds with two body kicks of his own and hits a takedown before taking the back with one hook. Kelly looks to scramble and tries to shake him off, but the Brazilian manages to get the second hook in and then works a body triangle, but Kelly manages to slip free to a monstrous pop. Big punches land again for Kelly and then Carlos backs up and stumbles to the ground. Looked like he might’ve rolled his ankle. He pops back up and seems okay though as he lands with a big combination. This is becoming a great fight. Seconds to go and Carlos glances on a head kick as the round ends. Better round for Dan Kelly; 10-9.

Third and final round and Kelly comes out with a double jab into the left hand. He’s really backing the Brazilian up now although he walks into a knee. They clinch and Cara de Sapato lands a knee to the groin that causes the crowd to boo wildly. They restart quickly though and Kelly pushes forward again, and it looks like Carlos is slowing down. Clinch from Carlos but Kelly hits a slam although he pops back up quickly, only to eat a knee en route. Looks like that’s busted up his nose and he shoots, but Kelly sprawls and then spins to the back again to land some more heavy shots. Crowd are going absolutely crazy now as Carlos rolls onto his back to try to get guard, but he’s taking a BEATING here. Kelly keeps pouring it on and it looks like Cara de Sapato’s had enough, and sure enough after some more big punches the ref calls it. Unbelievable!

That was a hell of a fight and a massive comeback from Dan Kelly, as he lost the first round by a country mile and somehow willed himself back into the fight, completely breaking the hot favourite Cara de Sapato in the third round. This felt like one of those fights we’ve seen a few times in the UK with a hyped Brazilian prospect against a local rugged veteran – think Rob Broughton vs. Vinicius Queiroz or Paul Taylor vs. Edilberto Crocota – when the Brazilian starts fast but ends up being out-toughed, if that’s a word, when they find they can’t put the local guy away. Tremendous stuff overall and a massive upset for Kelly.

Lightweight Fight: Jake Matthews vs Johnny Case

This one sounded like a great fight – Australia’s best hope for a proper title contender in the future in TUF: Nations veteran Matthews – still only 21! – against Case, unbeaten in four fights in the UFC thus far. A lot of people had Case down as the big favourite here but I was actually taking Matthews, feeling Case was slightly overrated – I thought he should’ve lost the decision to Yan Cabral and the other guys he’d beaten (Frankie Perez, Frank Trevino, Kazuki Tokudome) weren’t really UFC calibre fighters if we’re honest.

Round One and both guys come out swinging heavy shots, with Matthews connecting on a right hand and a solid leg kick too. Matthews is huge for a 155lber. Nice combination lands for the Aussie and backs Case up a bit. Front kick to the body answers for Case and he follows with a glancing right. Front kick again lands for Case but Matthews catches the leg, lands a pair of kicks of his own and then almost gets a takedown, but Case defends well. Nice counter combo connects for Case. Big left from Matthews but Case lands with a hard left of his own too. Beautiful left to the body lands for Matthews. They exchange kicks and Matthews follows with a takedown attempt, but Case reverses it, gets on top and grabs a front headlock. Matthews reverses to his feet, but takes a knee on the way out. Hard counter right lands for Matthews but Case takes it really well. Lunging knee sets up a crushing left hook from Matthews and that seems to hurt Case but again he shows a strong poker face and pushes forward. Both men miss with punches before Matthews glances on a left. Kick from Case is caught and Matthews hits him with a hard kick of his own. Takedown from Case but Matthews reverses right back to his feet. Nasty left lands for Case and Matthews seems hurt for a second, but he survives and the round ends with another exchange. Nice opening stanza. Probably 10-9 Matthews but it was close.

Round Two begins and they circle and exchange some glancing blows with Case almost catching Matthews coming in with a jumping knee. Wild combo doesn’t land for Case but it does back Matthews up a lot. Nice leg kick from Case. Great combo from Matthews ends in a thudding body kick and Case is in trouble as he almost doubles over entirely. Instead he shoots for a takedown, but Matthews defends it and then takes the back for a second before spinning into a triangle attempt. Case postures up to avoid it and seems calm inside the guard despite the threat of the triangle. He stands up and almost finds himself caught again, but a hard right hand breaks it and he lands a couple more that force the Aussie to roll. Case gets a side headlock and could spin to take the back here, but he chooses to control Matthews from that position instead. Matthews rolls but finds himself on his back again in half-guard. Reversal attempt from Matthews but he ends up stuck in the turtle position with Case riding him again. Few decent shots land for Case but Jake reverses to his feet. Big crowd pop for that one as he separates with a right. Looks like Case is busted up around the left eye. Nice low kick from Case but Matthews hurts him with a body shot again and forces him to shoot. He gets another takedown though and moves into side mount to defend a guillotine attempt. Seconds to go now and it looks like Case will end the round on top. 10-9 Case but he was in trouble with those body shots for sure.

Round Three and Case pushes forward again and lands with a body kick of his own. Matthews calmly circles on the outside and then cracks Case with another body kick and he’s hurt again and he lunges for a takedown that he can’t get. Matthews forces him into the fence with a clinch, but Case breaks free. Looks like Case is slowing down. Another body kick connects for Matthews and Case takes a deep breath. Wild swings miss for Case due to some great movement from Matthews, who tags him with a combo. Left to the body connects for Matthews and every time he’s landing there Case looks hurt. Big left hand buckles Case and forces him to shoot again, but Matthews stuffs it and nails him with a knee to the body and a right hook. Case is beginning to wilt. He shoots again, but still can’t get Matthews down. He does land with a left hand, but Matthews still looks like the fresher man. Clinch from Case but Matthews hits him with a hard knee to the body and then looks like he can take the back! He manages to force Case down and has one hook in, but it looks like Case might be able to roll him over. Second hook in for Matthews though and he looks to lock up the choke and GETS IT SUNK! Case looks doomed, but the odd angle of the fighters to the fence allows him to escape, only to wind up mounted. Big shot from Matthews and Case gives the back again, and this time Matthews flattens him out and in a finish reminiscent of Forrest Griffin over Mauricio Rua, finally locks up the choke to force a weak tapout.

Another great fight right there – these Aussie cards somehow always deliver. It was close too but once Matthews started catching Case with those body shots he seemed to sap the fight away from him. It was hugely impressive though to see him hunt for – and finally get – the finish so hard, as he was clearly winning the fight at that point and probably could’ve rode out a decision, but he chose not to and it wound up paying off. The sky looks like the limit for Matthews at just 21 and I can’t wait to see where he’ll be in like four years time when he’s entering his prime.

Welterweight Fight: Hector Lombard vs Neil Magny

Best fight on the card right here – this was Lombard’s big return following a year’s suspension for a positive PED test, up against Magny, who had bounced back from a disappointing loss to Demian Maia by knocking off Erick Silva and Kelvin Gastelum, proving himself as a definite top fifteen fighter at 170lbs. This was his chance to break firmly into the top ten but it was a tough out given Lombard had run through everyone he’d faced at 170lbs. I was worried for Magny given he’s one of the classic jack of all trades, master of none, but did think if he could weather the storm he might be able to outwork Hector. Seeing Lombard come into the weigh-in looking just as huge as ever made me pick him, though.

Fight begins and Lombard walks right through Magny’s reach instantly, backing him up with no issues. They clinch and Lombard stuns Magny with some quick, short punches and down goes the TUF veteran. He tries to survive but Lombard’s all over him, bombing at the head as Magny desperately tries to control him. Big shots land for Hector as Magny ends up flattened out, and you could probably make an argument for stopping this even. Magny winds up on all fours getting punched some more, but Lombard slows down just enough for him to survive. He stands but Lombard tosses him back to the ground with ease and lands in half-guard, where he continues to punish him. Armbar attempt is easily shrugged off by the Cuban who lands a nasty elbow in retaliation. He moves into side mount next and then continues to land shots, before dropping back into the guard. Two minutes to go and Lombard uses a can opener to force Magny to open his guard, and he continues to land with short elbows. Magny manages to get onto all fours and almost to his feet again, but he still looks wobbled. They remain clinched, and Magny somehow manages to fire back with knees before breaking, but he gets tagged by another right which slows him down. Lombard is beginning to look tired himself though. Takedown attempt from Magny but Lombard sprawls and winds up on top, before they pop back up from a whizzer and break off. Seconds to go in the round and Magny seems pretty well recovered, landing a solid inside leg kick. Couple of punches connect for Magny and Lombard’s definitely tired, taking some deep breaths and dropping his hands a bit. Leg kick ends the round for Magny. Tremendous heart from him to survive that round but it was a fucking beatdown, 10-8 Lombard easily.

Second round and Magny pushes forward with some early strikes, backing Lombard up although he doesn’t land anything really cleanly. Stiff jab does snap Lombard’s head back though. Low kick connects for Magny but Lombard clubs at him with a left hook. Good plum clinch from Magny and he lands a couple of knees before they break. Big right hand from Magny and a left follows and Lombard is dropping his hands big time. Double jab lands for Magny and he definitely appears to be turning this around now. Clinch from Lombard but he can’t get Magny off his feet, and the TUF vet returns fire with knees before Lombard breaks and DECKS HIM WITH A HUGE LEFT! Lombard drops down into the guard but Magny manages to recover quickly and ties the Cuban up. Magny tries to kick him off and in a surprising move, Lombard decides to drop to his back for a heel hook attempt, but Magny scrambles free and now he’s got top position in half-guard. Good body punches from Magny and then he slices through to mount! Mounted triangle from Magny and he rolls onto his back, doing his best Demian Maia impression, but Lombard postures up and it looks like there’s enough room for him to survive. Magny transitions into an armbar attempt but Lombard still holds on, and then scrambles free only for Magny to get on top again with another mount and from there he BOMBS ON HIM with punches until Lombard gives his back! Magny flattens him out and begins to SMASH HIM with punches and the ref ought to be stepping in here as Lombard’s not defending. Magny continues to land punch after punch after punch and Lombard’s doing nothing, but nor is the referee for some reason in a despicable bit of officiating. Seconds remaining in the round and Magny continues to land shots, but still the referee won’t step in. This is fucking criminal. More shots land but Lombard inexplicably survives the round. That was maybe the worst ref job I’ve ever seen in the UFC. 10-7 round for Magny.

Third round, incredibly, and Lombard looks done coming out of his corner to be quite honest and rightfully so. Magny comes right out and stuns Lombard with a big combo from the off before clinching and continuing to land. Lombard tries to fire back but he doesn’t look with it and Magny continues to land before hitting an easy takedown right to mount. More punches land for Magny and this fight is OVER but the fucking referee (Steve Perceval) lets it go. Mounted triangle and some more hammer fists finally seal the deal, though.

Well, where to start with that one? Firstly it was a tremendous showing from Neil Magny as he came back from a horrific first round to put a beating on Lombard and pick up his biggest career win to date, and there’s no doubt in my mind now that the guy is a legit contender at 170lbs. It’s all come through sheer hard work too which you’ve got to love. Secondly though Steve Perceval’s performance here was utterly shameful – it was a great comeback from Magny but Lombard could perhaps argue the fight should’ve been stopped in the first, but ignoring that there’s no doubt at ALL that it should’ve been stopped when Magny was beating him up from the mount in the second. Why Perceval let it go I don’t know. Thirdly – and this is almost as shameful – ALL THREE judges had the first 10-9 for Lombard and the second 10-9 for Magny, suggesting to me that you’d maybe need to decapitate your opponent to get a fucking 10-8. Farcical stuff really. Great fight though and it wouldn’t surprise me if the UFC lets Lombard go after this too as he blew up badly after the first, he’s got a huge contract and may well not be the same guy without the PEDs.

Heavyweight Fight: Mark Hunt vs Frank Mir

Main event here was a fight I couldn’t see getting out of the first round – I figured if it hit the ground, Mir would win violently and if it stayed on the feet, Hunt would win violently. In the end I decided to go with Mir in a mild upset, feeling that he could probably get a clinch or pull guard and while Hunt had survived Fabricio Werdum on the ground, Mir was more likely to be aggressive on the ground than the Brazilian. Basically I felt that Mir could survive in Hunt’s world for longer than Hunt could survive in Mir’s, and figured the Aussie crowd would go home disappointed.

Round One and Hunt opens with an inside leg kick. Mir doesn’t exactly look in great shape here to be honest. Left hand glances for Hunt and he easily shrugs off a takedown attempt. Couple of jabs miss for Mir as Hunt looks patient. Left hand glances for Mir. Big right hand glances for Hunt and Mir nods in acknowledgement before lunging with a double jab that misses. Big right glances for Hunt. Mir tries a clinch but Hunt shrugs him off with a right hand for good measure. They circle off before a BIG RIGHT HAND connects for Hunt and Mir goes DOWN, and Hunt doesn’t even bother to follow up as it’s the WALK OFF KNOCKOUT again!

Awesome shot from Hunt and particularly after the Magny/Lombard fight it was nice to see a walk-off KO as part of me thinks he’d have had to land like twenty shots on the ground before the ref stopped it anyway. Fight wasn’t much but Hunt still hits as hard as anyone in the division and remains bizarrely relevant to the title picture in 2016. As for Mir he looked awful here physically and while his 2015 resurgence was a lot of fun, I think he’s probably done now and it’s time for him to hang it up and hopefully move on to be a Fox analyst or something as he was fantastic at doing that back in the WEC days. Dude is a Hall of Famer for sure though assuming he doesn’t do anything silly like jump ship to Bellator.

-Post-fight Hunt cuts a mad enthusiastic promo and celebrates, and then we’re done.

Final Thoughts….

Can’t really go wrong with this one as all the fights were fun despite the terrible refereeing in Magny/Lombard, and we got five finishes out of six fights with pretty much all of them being nasty ones – best was probably Bosse over Te Huna actually but the best fight for me was definitely Matthews/Case. It’s an easy thumbs up for this show then as per usual when the UFC visits Australia.

Best Fight: Matthews vs. Case
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com