MMA Review: #540: UFC Fight Night 86

-The first ever UFC show in Croatia then and it felt a bit weird to not have Mirko Cro Cop involved, but to be fair you can’t really get excited for a Mirko fight these days anyway. Instead we had the most Heavyweight main card fights since UFC 146 in 2012, with four bouts inside the UFC’s most unpredictable division. All in all a card low on name value for the most part but high on potential action. Well, ish, you never know with the Heavyweights!

UFC Fight Night 86

04/10/16
Zagreb, Croatia

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Maryna Moroz vs Cristina Stanciu

This looked like a potentially interesting fight, with the newcomer, Romanian striker Stanciu taking on Ukraine’s Moroz, who was very close to a title shot in 2015 before she was beaten by the underrated Valerie Letourneau. I’d never seen Stanciu fight before so it was pretty much an impossible fight to call for me, but I thought she’d find it hard to deal with the UFC experience of Moroz. Two really young fighters too – Moroz at 24 and Stanciu at 22.

Round One and both girls look pretty calm before Stanciu misses a flying knee and then comes forward with a WILD COMBO that has Moroz backing into the fence. They clinch up and Stanciu lands a couple of knees inside, but Moroz spins her around and then goes for a takedown. Guillotine attempt from Stanciu and she looks content to pull guard with it, but it doesn’t look fully locked up and Moroz gets her head free. Stanciu looks like she’s going for a triangle and then into a leglock, but Moroz drops some hammer fists and avoids. Upkick lands for the Romanian but Moroz tries to force through the guard into mount. She can’t manage it, but remains in top position where she begins to land some hard right hands. Couple more upkicks land for Stanciu and then she escapes to her feet. One of those kicks looked illegal actually but the ref evidently missed it. Head kick misses for Stanciu. Nice combo lands for Moroz and she dodges a counter right too. Left hook lands for Moroz and she follows with a takedown to north/south. Scramble from Stanciu but she gives her back in the process and Moroz slaps on the body triangle. Stanciu defends the choke but she takes some heavy punches in the process and the round ends with Moroz in control. Pretty clear 10-9 for Moroz.

Round Two and Moroz stalks forward, landing another sharp combo and avoiding the reply. Moroz has super-fast hands. Jab connects cleanly for Moroz. Stanciu seems to have slowed down considerably from that first round. Crowd sound a bit restless as there’s a distinct lack of action in this round. Front kick glances for Stanciu. Good combo from Moroz but a flurry answers for Stanciu with a couple of punches landing this time. Two minutes to go and Moroz catches a kick, landing a couple of shots before Stanciu pulls guard and goes for a kneebar. Moroz manages to rotate the leg and escape though and now she takes the back off a scramble. Both hooks in for Moroz and she lands some more solid punches. Stanciu turns onto her side and eats a vicious elbow, but she manages to free herself and escape to her feet. Seconds to go in the round and Stanciu misses with a combo. Jab to the body from Moroz and she follows with a left to end the round. 10-9 Moroz again.

Round Three and a strong inside leg kick opens the round for Stanciu. Big head kick misses but she looks fresher at least. Good combo answers for Moroz. Body kick from Stanciu is answered by a left hand. Couple more kicks land for Stanciu and she’s being much more active in this round. Hard body kick from the Romanian. Heavy outside leg kick too. Exchange continues with both girls landing, but Moroz looks for a trip from the clinch. Good reversal from Stanciu and she lands on top in the guard, but Moroz locks up a tight-looking armbar. Nice defense from Stanciu and they wind up in a really awkward position, with Stanciu also locking up an inverted triangle too. One minute to go and Moroz gets into a better position again for the armbar, but the time is running out quickly. Stanciu manages to hang tough and holds on, and that’s the fight. 10-10 round for me so 30-28 Moroz overall.

All three judges have it 30-27 for Maryna Moroz. Stanciu seemed to run out of gas in the second but then came back nicely in the third and it made for a decent if unspectacular fight, with Moroz just one step ahead throughout really. Both ladies should have a bright future ahead of them I’d think but they might be best to hold off on pushing Moroz as a contender at the minute as she’s so raw – burn through some of the older girls first and then build her slowly I think.

-Big pop for Cro Cop at ringside and it’s nice to see the UFC still apparently treating him as a legend despite the whole HGH deal.

light-Heavyweight Fight: Jan Blachowicz vs Igor Pokrajac

Native Croatian Pokrajac hadn’t been seen in the UFC since a slide starting in 2013 saw him lose three in a row before being cut, but he had won three on the bounce on the smaller circuit so it made sense to bring him back I guess, especially for this show. Blachowicz was looking to bounce back himself from two losses in a row – to Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson – and was looking to recapture the form that saw him stop Ilir Latifi in 2014. My pick was Blachowicz but I didn’t have all that much faith in him to be honest due to how bad he’d looked against Anderson.

Fight begins and the crowd are red hot for Pokrajac. They trade right away with Blachowicz hitting a body kick, but Pokrajac gets really aggressive and rushes him with punches. Takedown from Blachowicz to the guard and he passes into half-guard. Pokrajac works back to full guard and there’s not all that much going on here to be honest. Few solid punches get through for Blachowicz and he hits a nice pass back into half-guard. Crowd are booing now but it’s clearly because their guy is losing. Pokrajac gives his back and Blachowicz slaps one hook in, then the second. Pokrajac shakes him off to a huge pop though and now he’s on top in guard. Big elbow from Pokrajac but Blachowicz goes for an armbar from the bottom. Pokrajac defends it well and kneels over him in the guard with some more punches. Big shots get through for Pokrajac and now he’s in half-guard. Crowd are just massively into Pokrajac. Blachowicz tries to reverse to his feet, but winds up in mount instead and Pokrajac goes for a front choke. He can’t get it though and the round ends there. 10-9 Pokrajac.

Second round and Pokrajac comes out swinging, but he walks right into a hard counter from the Pole. Wild swing misses for Pokrajac. Good combo from Blachowicz but Pokrajac walks through it en route to a takedown attempt. Blachowicz breaks off and narrowly avoids a left hook. Back to the clinch but Blachowicz spins Pokrajac into the fence and then drops for the takedown. Crowd are still hugely into Pokrajac. Good body shots inside from Blachowicz and suddenly he OPENS UP with a flurry but Pokrajac fires right back! Wild trade follows and Blachowicz absolutely TAGS Pokrajac with a pair of left hands that snap his head back! Pokrajac somehow remains on his feet, but Blachowicz goes to work inside the clinch with uppercuts to the head and body. Pokrajac somehow finds it in him to fire back, and he’s also landing heavy shots as Blachowicz seems so focused on finishing the fight. This is pretty crazy. Looks like Blachowicz is cut badly over the left eye. He drops for the takedown again and this time he gets it, landing some strong shots as Pokrajac turtles up. Pokrajac manages to stand, but he looks beaten up as they break off. Crowd are deafening. Wild combo from Pokrajac and suddenly Blachowicz seems in trouble, but he manages to tackle Pokrajac down into the guard to slow him. Big elbows land for Blachowicz as the crowd rain down with boos. Blachowicz stands over him and then decides to drop back down, this time into side mount, and Pokrajac turns his back. He stands, but eats a HUGE head kick on the way up that wobbles him. Somehow though he WAVES BLACHOWICZ ON to a huge pop! Combo from Pokrajac but he walks right into a counter left. Clinch from Pokrajac with seconds to go and it looks like they’re resting a bit. Big flurry from Pokrajac is answered by a pair of knees from Blachowicz and that’s the round. Well, that was awesome. 10-9 Blachowicz.

Third round and Pokrajac comes forward swinging as the crowd continue to chant his name. Hard counter left lands for Blachowicz and sends Pokrajac stumbling a bit, but they clinch right after. Takedown attempt from Blachowicz but Pokrajac works to defend it. Brutal uppercut into a left hook separates for Blachowicz. Combination answers for Pokrajac and backs the Pole up, but he hits a takedown into half-guard to really deflate the crowd. Fans are just furious with this as Blachowicz uses short hammer fists and elbows to remain in top position and control the Croatian. Really good shots get through for Blachowicz and Pokrajac seems like he’s probably out of steam. Round ends with Blachowicz continuing to bludgeon him with forearms. 10-9 Blachowicz, 29-28 Blachowicz overall barring any weird hometown judging.

Judges thankfully get it right, calling it 29-28 for Blachowicz all round. I was literally expecting nothing out of this fight and it was pretty great, particularly with the crowd reaction lifting it up another level I’d say. Second round in particular was tremendous with all those wild exchanges and while both guys showed tons of holes in their game – striking defense, work from their back, etc, it was nice to see two guys just go for it. I don’t think Blachowicz vaults into contention any time soon but he’s still a solid fighter in the division and Pokrajac probably earned himself at least two more UFC fights with this showing so good for both of them really.

Heavyweight Fight: Timothy Johnson vs Marcin Tybura

This was one of those fights that would probably be either really great or really bad with nothing in between. Johnson – he of the 1800’s strongman moustache – was coming off a pretty shitty loss to Jared Rosholt that saw him make one of the all-time bad decisions when he went for a takedown on a stunned Rosholt, but prior to that he had knocked out a pretty talked up Euro HW in Shamil Abdurakhimov. Poland’s Tybura meanwhile was coming off a stint as M-1 Global champion, putting together a 13-1 record with most of his wins via submission. I was hoping he’d win this one as I don’t think Johnson’s ceiling is very high and HW always needs possible contenders, but a lot of people in the know online were taking Johnson instead.

Round One and Jesus, Johnson looks in appalling shape. Body kick opens things for Tybura. Few shots glance for both men and then Tybura lands a couple of pretty clean rights. Combo from the Pole and Johnson clinches and muscles him into the fence. Action slows to a crawl on the fence as Johnson lands some short punches to the body. Ref Grant Waterman calls a clean break with about a minute and half to go, and Johnson glances on a combo. Nice right hand lands flush for Tybura. He throws a couple of kicks for good measure but they don’t have much effect. They exchange rights and then the action slows up again, before Johnson lands a right almost to the back of the head. Round ends there. 10-9 Tybura in a bit of a crap round.

Round Two and Tybura lands with a jab as Johnson comes forward. Straight left answers for Johnson and then he backs the Pole up with a combo that busts him open. Clinch from Tybura slows Johnson down, but he can’t get the American to the ground and Johnson forces him back into the fence. They muscle for position and it looks like Tybura wants the takedown, but he can’t get Johnson off his feet and the crowd are all over this one with the boos. Johnson breaks free and there’s blood everywhere coming from Tybura. Right hand from Johnson and he pushes forward some more. Stiff jab connects for Tybura as does a front kick to the body, but he’s being backed up in this round. Johnson continues to land the right hand, but the action is pretty slow again to be frank. Tybura needs to switch this up sooner rather than later. Trio of big right hands snap Tybura’s head back and have him stunned, but he manages to clinch to slow Johnson down. Round ends there and goes firmly to Tim Johnson.

Round Three and both men miss on early strikes before Tybura lands with a body kick. Nice takedown follows for Tybura and he takes the back as Johnson tries to scramble free. He looks a bit high on the back, but Johnson doesn’t really attempt to shake him off. He does try to roll the Pole over the top of him and manages it, escaping to his feet. Another takedown attempt is stuffed by Johnson but Tybura lands a knee to the body for good measure. Johnson forces him into the fence and literally nothing happens for the best part of a minute. Grant Waterman calls a break again and Tybura stuns him with a head kick and then charges in swinging. Johnson manages to hold him for a second to slow him down, but the Pole lands with another combo before Johnson manages to clinch again. Big knee connects inside for Tybura and they break with a minute to go. Front kick to the face glances for Tybura. Johnson’s left eye is a MESS, almost swollen shut. Right hook lands for Tybura. Round ends with a slight exchange. 10-9 Tybura and I’d give it to him 29-28, but the first really could’ve gone either way.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 all for Timothy Johnson. Didn’t see that myself but I can’t really class it as a robbery as the first round was very close. Bit of a shit fight though unfortunately as it was fought at a glacial pace and never descended into being a fun slopfest, and neither man came close to finishing the other throughout. HW prospects are few and far between though so there you go.

Heavyweight Fight: Francis Ngannou vs Curtis Blaydes

Cameroon native Ngannou had looked pretty devastating in his UFC debut – a crushing knockout of Brazilian wrestler Luis Henrique – and he was initially pegged to fight Croatian Bojan Mihajilovic here, but when the hometown fighter got injured, American wrestler – and quite the prospect – Curtis Blaydes stepped in on relatively late notice. Despite no wins over name opposition – Blackzilian prospect Lorenzo Hood was probably his best win – a lot of people were talking up Blaydes thanks to his great wrestling pedigree and tremendous athleticism. Tough fight to pick as Ngannou had looked vulnerable to the takedown in his debut, but obviously he had the UFC experience and Blaydes was taking the fight on short notice. I ended up taking Ngannou in a call I wasn’t really sure about. Kudos to Blaydes for coming out to the old Mortal Kombat theme, though!

First round and these are BIG DUDES actually in shape which is nice to see. Jab begins things for Blaydes and Ngannou’s legs look to buckle a little, but he recovers quickly only to take a leg kick. Nice right hand from Ngannou before Blaydes shoots for the takedown. Great takedown defense from Ngannou and he remains on his feet. Blaydes keeps trying to get him down, but Ngannou blocks and they muscle for position inside the clinch. Couple of punches exit for Ngannou and he’s really loading up on his left hand, glancing on it twice as Blaydes pushes forward. Good low kick from Blaydes but he takes a glancing uppercut counter. Straight left from Ngannou has Blaydes wobbled, but Ngannou smartly doesn’t charge right in at him. Nice inside leg kick lands for Blaydes. Another one follows but Ngannou counters with a NASTY left hand that drops the debutant! He dives for a single leg as Ngannou closes in, but the Cameroonian stuffs it and they end up in the clinch. Blaydes is being smart here holding on to let himself recover. They exchange some knees and then Ngannou breaks off. Counter right glances for Blaydes. Big takedown follows and he drives Ngannou down. Ngannou quickly looks to work his way back up using the cage, but Blaydes manages to keep him down for the time being. Ngannou manages to get back to his feet, where he lands a one-two. Seconds to go and Ngannou catches Blaydes with a counter combo off another low kick. Good left hand ends the round for Ngannou. 10-9 Ngannou, fun round.

Second round and Blaydes again begins with a stiff jab. Big combo lands for Ngannou though and forces Blaydes back. Good exchange sees both men land. Blaydes shoots for a takedown but Ngannou stuffs it and Blaydes seems to be struggling with his right eye which is badly swollen. Couple of big uppercuts miss for Ngannou and Blaydes counters with a jab. Couple more big shots get through for Ngannou, but Blaydes follows with a takedown attempt and gets him down after some nice misdirection. He gets into side mount, but Ngannou hits a sweet reversal and pops back up, holding Blaydes in the clinch. Hard uppercut separates for Ngannou. Two minutes to go and more punches begin to get through for Ngannou as apparently Blaydes can’t see at all out of his right eye, it’s totally swollen shut now. Big right cross connects for Ngannou. Brutal inside leg kick from Ngannou. He looks very patient, too. Takedown attempt from Blaydes again but Ngannou defends well once more. Seconds to go and Blaydes’ eye looks horrific. Round ends with a Blaydes left hand. 10-9 Ngannou.

Doctor throws the fight out between rounds as he decides that Blaydes can’t see properly, probably because he appeared to be feeling to count how many fingers the doc had up. Fair stoppage I’d say if unfortunate for Blaydes, but to be fair he was losing the fight anyway so maybe best for him to not take any more damage. I thought this was a really good fight – maybe I’ve got low expectations after Tybura/Johnson – but these two looked excellent for young HWs, both in shape with good cardio, and with more experience I think both men have a bright future. Ngannou’s striking looked on point, and while he was taken down a couple of times, there aren’t many better wrestlers at HW than Blaydes and if he can stay standing he’s a threat to anyone I think. Blaydes meanwhile looked extremely tough, showed a strong chin and excellent heart, and with a proper training camp and some more work he could end up as a contender too. Big thumbs up for this one.

Heavyweight Fight: Derrick Lewis vs Gabriel Gonzaga

This was originally supposed to be prospect Ruslan Magomedov taking on Gonzaga, but when the Dagestani got injured, the Black Beast stepped in to replace him. This was another tricky fight to pick as Lewis is such a limited fighter but obviously has that ridiculous fight changing power, while Gonzaga is far more skilled but his chin is realistically shot at this point. Despite Lewis looking awful every time I’ve seen him on the ground I was still taking him to win, feeling he only needed one shot to turn Napao’s lights out.

Fight begins and Lewis opens with a big head kick that doesn’t land cleanly but still seems to stun Gonzaga, who immediately clinches and looks to get him down. Lewis stuffs it and they end up clinched, and from there Gonzaga manages to throw him down into side mount. Gonzaga grinds on Lewis with his elbow and then steps to mount and takes the back from there. Both hooks in for Gonzaga and he looks to work for the choke before settling for some hard punches. Lewis does a tremendous job of shaking the hooks though and he manages to stand, with Gonzaga holding onto a rear waistlock. Lewis turns into him and they’re back to the clinch. Few elbows and punches land for Lewis as Gonzaga tries to drop for another takedown, but the strikes force him to give it up. Referee Marc Goddard calls a clean break, and Lewis pushes forward but walks into a right hand and from there Napao clinches again. Looks like someone’s bleeding, not sure who. Just over a minute to go and the action stalls out in the clinch again, with Lewis managing to block a possible trip. Goddard calls another clean break and evidently all the clinching’s pissed Lewis off, as he suddenly comes storming in with a VICIOUS COMBO THAT KILLS GONZAGA DEAD!~! Holy shit that was nasty.

Replay shows Lewis hit Gonzaga with a FIVE PUNCH COMBO ending in two crushing right hands. Insane hand speed for a guy so big and with that power too Gonzaga was never going to hold up. Weird fight because Lewis basically did nothing offensively until that fight ending combo, although to be fair he did well to escape from underneath Gonzaga on the ground. I don’t think he’s ever a contender as he still feels limited, but he’s quietly 6-2 in the UFC at this point which is impressive. Post-fight he calls out Roy Nelson for his next fight and hey, that works for me! As for Gonzaga, I’d say he has to retire now for his own good – this was his ninth TKO or KO loss which is worrying.

Heavyweight Fight: Junior Dos Santos vs Ben Rothwell

Part of me was tempted to call this odd matchmaking given Joe Silva’s penchant for matching guys who won their last fight with fellow winners rather than losers, but this is HW so it’s very different from any other division I guess! JDS was of course coming off that knockout at the hands of the Reem where he’d looked basically worse than we’d ever seen him before, while Rothwell had upset Josh Barnett with his modified guillotine in January and was calling for a title shot. Thankfully he didn’t get one – I’d have had Stipe Miocic, Overeem and Cain Velasquez ahead of him in the pecking order prior to this fight anyway – but this was an excellent fight for him and a win over JDS would definitely put him in the talk for the next title shot. I really couldn’t decide who to pick either – I think the JDS of 2012 would’ve slaughtered Rothwell within a round, but the JDS who fought Miocic and Overeem was another story. Given how diminished he’d looked in those fights I really worried for him given Rothwell’s punching power and solid chin and so I went with Big Ben.

First round begins and they circle with Rothwell right away showing a lot of odd movement. Crowd seem massively behind Dos Santos for some reason. Few feints by Rothwell but JDS looks to be moving much better than he did against Overeem and he lands with a glancing left to the top of the head. Nice right to the body from JDS. Right-left combo connects for the former champion too. Wild rush from Rothwell but JDS avoids the power shots for the most part by circling away smartly. Nice right from JDS and he avoids a clinch too. Sharp body shots from JDS and he lands with a glancing left hook before avoiding another rush from Big Ben. Big Cigano crowd chant as he takes a leg kick. Wild overhand right lands for Rothwell but again JDS avoids the clinch. Another jab to the body lands for JDS and he adds in a big overhand right hook too. Nice combo from JDS but Rothwell clips him hard with a right hand. Dos Santos takes it well though and fires back with another shot to the body. He’s going to the body really well so far. One minute to go and wild swings miss for Rothwell again. Beautiful jab from JDS. He’s landed some really clean shots in this round. More body shots follow but Rothwell comes back with a leg kick. Round ends with another JDS body shot. 10-9 JDS largely for that body work.

Second round and Rothwell continues to lumber forward, glancing on an overhand right, but JDS shrugs him off and circles out. Good leg kick lands for Rothwell. Pair of hard body shots answer for JDS. Body kick into a left from Rothwell but he still can’t seem to get a real handle on Junior. Good combination from the Brazilian follows as does a really hard right hand. Another jab to the body lands for JDS. Rothwell needs to change his gameplan up here I think as Dos Santos is chewing him up with the body work. He’s marked up around his right eye too. Couple more jabs to the body lead into another right from Dos Santos. Leg kick fires back for Rothwell. Eye poke from Rothwell and the ref has to call time to let JDS recover. They restart pretty quickly and Dos Santos lands with a right and then chambers off a glancing left hook. Front kick lands cleanly for the Brazilian too. Rothwell’s right eye is looking bad. Right to the body from JDS. Few flicking jabs land too, right to the eye. This is the best Dos Santos has looked since the Mark Hunt fight in 2013. Nice left hook lands for JDS. Seconds to go and Dos Santos lands with a big overhand right and follows with a front kick to the body that drops Rothwell on the buzzer! Big ending for Dos Santos and it’s clearly his round, 10-9.

Third round and the crowd are still surprisingly into this, not that its been a bad fight but I don’t think anyone expected it to get out of the second! Good job from Dos Santos to move around early in the round and he clocks Rothwell with another hard body shot. One-two follows and he moves right out of the way. Rothwell’s just got no answer for Dos Santos’s movement, he just keeps lumbering forward. Another right to the body lands for Dos Santos. Combo from Rothwell sets up a clinch but Junior shrugs him off. Good right hook from Junior and Rothwell’s really bleeding now. Solid left hook connects for JDS. More of the same follows for Dos Santos – a lot of movement and jabs to the body. Good right hand lands for Rothwell but Dos Santos circles rather than backing straight up and the big man can’t follow and instead he eats some stiff jabs to the body and head. Hard one-two from JDS and then he snaps Rothwell’s head back with a right. We’re into the final minute, and Dos Santos lands with a spin kick to the body and follows with a left to the same spot. Beautiful one-two lands clean for JDS. Rothwell is getting owned here. Another big kick to the body connects for JDS. Round ends there. 10-9 JDS and Rothwell needs a finish for sure.

Fourth round and JDS opens with a jab and a left hook. Right hand counter lands for Rothwell but JDS clocks him with the jab to the body again. Rothwell’s eye looks super messy. Good side kick from JDS and he follows with another body shot. Rothwell answers back with a leg kick but takes another pair of jabs to the body. Beautiful counter right hand connects for JDS and a left hand seems to have Rothwell hurt a bit. He sucks it up though only to eat more clean punches. JDS looks fantastic here although Rothwell is playing right into his hands with the lumbering style. More jabs and a left hook land for JDS. More of the same follows and Rothwell’s literally got no answer, just eating jabs and body shots. Right hand glances for Rothwell and he misses a head kick then eats another hard counter from JDS as he rushes forward. One minute to go and Rothwell eats more jabs. His right eye looks almost as bad as Curtis Blaydes’ did from earlier in the night. Clean combo lands for JDS. More body shots end the round for JDS before Rothwell lands a leg kick on the buzzer. 10-9 Dos Santos.

Fifth round and who would ever have thought it’d get this far? More body shots and jabs open the round for JDS and he lands with another clean right hand counter too. Looks like Dos Santos is becoming more confident in stepping forward as well as he lands a couple of stiff jabs right to the injured eye. Front kick to the body lands for Dos Santos. Big head kick misses for Rothwell as Dos Santos continues with the same gameplan. Knee connects for the Brazilian now and then he goes right back to the body. Strong leg kick from Rothwell but he’s got nothing else. More jabs land for JDS. Two minutes to go and it looks like Rothwell’s tired as well. He tries to chase forward but still can’t catch Junior with the big shot that he needs and time is swiftly running out for him. We’ve got under a minute to go now. Hard right to the body from Junior. More jabs to the body follow and Rothwell just keeps following him. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Dos Santos and a 50-45 shutout for sure. Speaking of shut, Rothwell’s right eye is practically closed now.

All three judges unsurprisingly have it 50-45 for Junior Dos Santos. This was a big surprise, not least that the fight went the distance, as Dos Santos looked like he’d returned to form somewhat and basically picked Rothwell apart for the full five rounds. While he didn’t look quite as explosive as he did in his 2010-12 heyday he still showed excellent boxing skill and despite Rothwell playing right into his hands, he never allowed himself to be backed into the cage as he had against Velasquez and Miocic and that allowed him to keep up his jab and move gameplan throughout. Rothwell on the other hand did not look good at all here – he seemed to have no plan B once he couldn’t pin Dos Santos against the fence with his punches and was reduced to lumbering forward swinging the odd haymaker and eating jabs. If I’m honest for all his wins I never bought him as a legit title contender and I think this showed why – he’s just too limited to beat the very top guys and I still maintain the Overeem win was a fluke. Not the best main event just because all the rounds were wash, rinse and repeat but it wasn’t dull or anything.

-We finish the show with Dos Santos celebrating.

Final Thoughts….

I thought this was fine for what was basically an overseas B-show – we got one horrible fight in Johnson/Tybura, but everything else was pretty good, in particular the knockout from Derrick Lewis and a really tremendous Blachowicz/Pokrajac fight that sounded like a snoozer on paper. Main event was fine too if a little repetitive. So yeah it’s a thumbs up for this one, but skip over Tybura/Johnson for sure.

Best Fight: Pokrajac vs. Blachowicz
Worst Fight: Johnson vs. Tybura

Overall Rating: ***1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com