MMA Review: #599: UFC Fight Night 108

-Not much fanfare around this one mainly because the main event was Cub Swanson vs. ARTEM LOBOV, arguably the least deserving UFC main eventer of the modern era, but actually it was a solid card for a Fight Night outside of that, with the likes of Diego Sanchez, Joe Lauzon, OSP, John Dodson et al up and down the card which made it look exciting at least.

UFC Fight Night 108

Nashville, Tennessee

-Your hosts are Todd Grisham and Brian Stann.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Perry vs Jake Ellenberger

These guys had a serious weigh-in staredown, mainly due to Perry who comes off as a scumbag if I’m honest. He was the favourite to win here though as despite a career-saving win over Matt Brown at UFC 201, Ellenberger still seemed past his prime. Perry had lost his previous fight to Alan Jouban but after seeing Ellenberger knocked out again by Jorge Masvidal I expected ‘Platinum’ to pull one out of the bag.

Fight begins and Perry comes CHARGING OUT with a flying kick that misses! Whoa. Good low kick from Perry but Ellenberger tackles him right to the ground inside full guard. Perry turns for a possible kimura on the right arm, and then uses it to pop back up to his feet. He begins to stalk forward with some jabbing low kicks, but Ellenberger catches him with a decent right hand. Body kick lands for Perry and he dodges a counter from his more experienced foe. Glancing right lands for Perry but Ellenberger comes back with a body kick. Right hand lands for Ellenberger and backs Perry up slightly, but Perry starts firing right back. Takedown attempt is stuffed well by Perry, who comes back with an inside leg kick. Two minutes to go and Ellenberger tags him with a decent combination. Another takedown is stuffed though and Perry connects on a knee to the body. Nice pair of right hands land for Ellenberger. Wild swing misses for Perry. He lands a couple more leg kicks before Ellenberger comes back with a hard body kick. Jab connects nicely for Jake too. Quick takedown from Ellenberger but Perry pops back up immediately. Seconds left in the round now and Perry backs Jake up a little, but doesn’t land anything really and has to stuff a takedown again. 10-9 Ellenberger in a tight round.

Into the 2nd and Perry opens with a pair of hard low kicks. Nice left hand lands for Ellenberger and stuns Perry and he follows that with a body kick. Big flurry from Ellenberger has Perry really backpedalling now. Looks like Perry’s got a badly busted nose, but suddenly he comes back and floors Ellenberger with a BIG LEFT! Ellenberger goes for a desperation takedown and he’s got Perry’s blood running all over his back, but he can’t get Perry down and they stand back up. Jake looks a bit wobbly still as Perry closes in, but a haymaker left misses and they end up clinched. Knee to the leg from Perry and then he KILLS ELLENBERGER DEAD WITH A RIGHT ELBOW!~!

Holy shit. If there’s a better knockout than that in 2017 I’ll be gobsmacked. That was maybe the most brutal elbow knockout I’ve seen in the UFC off the top of my head. Unbelievable shot from Mike Perry. The guy is thoroughly unlikeable but man he hits hard. Ellenberger seemed to be winning the fight too, but just couldn’t hold up to the striking power in the end. Big win for Perry and Ellenberger ought to consider his future really given his recent history of taking knockouts, especially one as nasty as this. Good lord.

Lightweight Fight: Joe Lauzon vs Stevie Ray

Interesting fight here and somewhat of a step up for Ray after he’d edged out a tight win over Ross Pearson back in November, as while he appeared to have slowed down somewhat Lauzon had proved he was still very dangerous with recent wins over Diego Sanchez and Marcin Held. I was hoping Ray would win this one but it was a tricky fight to call.

Round One and they exchange some feeler strikes before Lauzon catches a kick and gets the takedown. Ray pops back up to his feet into the clinch right away though and they muscle for position. Lauzon keeps working for the takedown and gets it, but Ray immediately rolls for a leglock from there and it looks quite dangerous. Lauzon avoids though and drops a huge elbow that hurts the Scotsman before he rolls for the leglock again. Lauzon this time counters by taking the back, and he gets both hooks in and looks for the rear naked choke. It looks pretty sunk, but somehow Ray guts it out and manages to survive. Lauzon spins over into full mount instead and he begins to drop some hard elbows, but a nice hip escape puts Ray back into half-guard. More elbows connect though and Ray might be hurt here. Lauzon continues to work from the top, avoiding another leglock attempt to deliver some more bombs. Lauzon is looking tremendous here. Full mount again and Lauzon continues to land, forcing Ray to give his back again. He takes more shots from there before Lauzon drags him back down onto his back again, landing in half-guard. Ray manages to slow the onslaught down somewhat, getting to full guard, but he looks badly busted up. Round ends with some more vicious elbows from Lauzon that set up an unsuccessful D’Arce attempt. Clear 10-8 for Lauzon as he absolutely owned the Scot on the ground.

Round Two and Ray stays on the outside to begin, landing a crisp left hook in the early going. Good combination follows as Lauzon might be tired from that first round. Another combination connects for Ray and he stuns Lauzon with a hard left hand. Lauzon wades right in with a combo of his own, but Ray grabs the plum to land a couple of knees. Lauzon keeps pushing forward with a elbow from the clinch, but another knee answers for Ray who follows with a combination. Slick left hand to the body connects for Ray and he’s clearly outboxing Lauzon here. Big left hook lands for the Scotsman as Lauzon just looks exhausted. He shoots on a single leg though and drives Ray into the fence, but Ray blocks it and escapes. Good stuff from Ray there. Another combination connects for him and he’s going to the body and head basically at will. Beautiful elbow lands from the clinch for Ray too. This is a hell of a comeback. Lauzon manages to tackle him to the ground though, landing in full guard. He doesn’t do nearly as much from the top this time though, choosing more to just hold him still. He works into half-guard but Ray defends well, taking very little damage, before a leglock attempt allows Lauzon to drop a hard right hand. Ray goes for a footlock again, but he can’t get it and Lauzon counters for a heel hook of his own. Round ends on the ground though and I’d call it 10-9 Ray for that standing work earlier on.

Round Three and Ray begins with some more combinations as Lauzon seems to be moving even more slowly. Head kick glances for Ray in a risky move given a kick lead to the earlier takedown. He puts together some more combos though including a couple of step-in elbows, before Lauzon drops low for a single leg. Ray stuffs it well and cracks the veteran with a hard left hand, and he continues to land before a right hand from Lauzon lands flush and stuns the Scot. Takedown attempt follows for Lauzon but Ray defends it well and drops some sharp elbows to the side of the head in the process of defending. Lauzon manages to get him down when he goes for a kimura, and from there he settles into the guard when a mount attempt fails. Two minutes to go in the round and Ray works with some elbows from his back as Lauzon doesn’t do much from the top. Couple of elbows get through for Lauzon but Ray explodes to his feet when he tries to advance position. Ray keeps him pressed into the cage and lands a couple of knees, and now Lauzon’s head is all marked up. More knees break the clinch and Ray lands a hard body kick that hurts Lauzon too. Big left hook sets up a massive combo for Ray and Lauzon is hurt, but he fires back and we’ve got a wild brawl suddenly! Crowd go apeshit as Ray swings for the fences, looking for the finish, but he can’t drop Lauzon who keeps on firing back, and the round ends with Lauzon just absorbing some serious shots. 10-9 Ray and I’d call this a 28-28 draw.

Judges have it 28-27, 29-27 and 28-28 for a majority decision for STEVIE RAY. Well, that’s a fucking baffling decision if ever there was one. I mean, in PRIDE scoring I guess Ray would win for finishing stronger, but 28-27 and 29-27 are both bizarre scores because Lauzon clearly won the first round, so the 28-27 and 29-27 means that those judges didn’t give Lauzon a 10-8 but somehow gave Ray a 10-8 in the second or third. Crazy stuff as Lauzon’s round was far more dominant than either of Ray’s! To me 28-28 was the fair score but hey, Ray finished stronger so it is what it is. Legit bizarre judging but the fight was absolutely fantastic with a tremendous comeback from Ray, as Lauzon just went too hard for the finish in the first and ran out of steam.

Bantamweight Fight: John Dodson vs Eddie Wineland

This one sounded like a strong fight, as Dodson had narrowly missed an opportunity to fight TJ Dillashaw for a title shot when the judges went for John Lineker over him in a tight one to call back in October, while Wineland was coming off two TKO wins after he’d appeared to be coming to the end of his UFC run. My pick was Dodson due to the speed advantage, but yeah, really good fight on paper.

Round One and the contrast in the two is hilarious as Dodson’s grinning and Wineland is mean-mugging. Lot of movement by Dodson early on and he connects on a body kick. Nice counter right lands for Wineland but Dodson seems okay. Quick left connects for Dodson and he dodges a right hand nicely. Another left follows as Wineland seems to be struggling with the speed of Dodson. Left to the body lands for Dodson. Combination lands too but he’s not throwing all that much really although it’s not like Wineland’s landing at all. Clinch from Wineland but Dodson quickly shrugs him off. Crowd seem a bit restless with a minute left in the round and for good reason really. Couple of punches glance for Wineland late on but he still can’t catch Dodson clean, and the round ends with Dodson landing with a pair of decent lefts. 10-9 Dodson as he picked Wineland apart albeit without landing a lot of volume.

Round Two and Wineland picks up his own pace in an attempt to catch Dodson, but the Magician still proves to be a difficult target and he lands on Wineland with a right hand. Body kick from Dodson and then he starts to cackle with laughter randomly, not sure what triggered that! They continue to circle and Dodson again lands a body kick, but this time Wineland catches him with a right hand. Nice left hand lands for Dodson as he catches Wineland going backwards. Crowd begin to boo again somewhat as Dodson lands with a body kick and a left hand. More circling causes really loud booing, but Dodson seems undeterred and lands the left hand again. Big head kick lands for Dodson and clearly hurts Wineland, but he manages to catch the leg and throw Dodson down before he can follow up. AWESOME combo from Dodson pegs Wineland back towards the fence and gets the crowd into it for a second. Wineland looks all busted up around the nose now. Dodson doesn’t really follow it up though and the round peters out. Clear 10-9 for Dodson again. Stats apparently show Wineland’s only landed FIVE STRIKES.

Round Three and Wineland comes out swinging, but he’s still not landing and I’m surprised he’s not getting wild here. Left hand again connects for Dodson. Decent counter right hand lands for Wineland as Dodson presses forward but Dodson walks right through it. This has to be frustrating for Wineland. Quick combination lands for Dodson and backs the former WEC champ up. Another rushing left hand stuns Wineland, almost a triple punch in fact. He recovers quickly though and Dodson doesn’t push forward crazily or anything. Two minutes remaining now and another left hand has Wineland backpedalling. Crowd continue to boo as Dodson just seems content to pick at Wineland in spits and spats while not getting hit. Double left hand lands for Dodson. Wineland at least visually looks like he’s been beaten up. His face is an absolute mess. Big body kick connects for Dodson. Wineland keeps on swinging but can’t land and the round ends in a chorus of boos. 30-27 Dodson, clearly.

Judges have it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Dodson, no clue how the hell the first judge gave Wineland a round but hey, they’re never the smartest types I guess. Crowd hated this fight and admittedly it wasn’t the most exciting fight, but then surely the idea of winning a fight is to hit the other guy and not get hit yourself, and Dodson totally had that gameplan down here as he took probably less than ten strikes while landing some huge shots on Wineland who did well to take them. Could he open up a little more? Sure, but then he clearly respected Wineland’s striking skill and didn’t want to risk it here which makes sense. Good win for him at any rate despite the boos.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ovince St. Preux vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Massive fight for OSP here as he’d lost his last fight to unknown Volkan Oezdemir, and obviously that’d come after a really violent knockout loss at the hands of Jimi Manuwa. This was his chance to get back into contention, but I actually thought TUF Brazil’s ‘Pezao’ would come out on top, as despite one of the most questionable grappling games in today’s UFC, the guy hits like a truck and OSP seemed gunshy against Oezdemir. The bad thing for de Lima? He wildly missed weight – for the second time in a row – which is never looked upon well by UFC brass.

First round begins and de Lima opens with a low kick. Pezao is just HUGE for 205lbs. Couple more hard kicks – to the leg and body – land for Pezao and he’s really stalking forward early on. OSP seems a bit flummoxed here as he’s barely throwing a thing. More kicks connect for de Lima. Big combo wobbles OSP somewhat but he recovers pretty quickly. Another body kick follows for Pezao as OSP continues to back up. Crowd are way into him though as he’s a Tennessee guy I guess. Big overhand right glances for Pezao. Body kick fires back for OSP. Pezao continues to press forward throwing kicks although he doesn’t land cleanly. Wild exchange with seconds to go sees both men land hard shots before OSP shoots, but Pezao stuffs it and backs him up again. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 de Lima; he didn’t land too many heavy shots, but OSP didn’t do much at all really.

Second round and OSP seems more aggressive right away, opening with a jab. Kick from Pezao is caught and OSP dumps him to the ground and drops into the full guard. Looks like de Lima’s been opened up by something too as there’s some blood dripping from his face, and OSP opens up with some short, heavy elbows that open the cut up further. De Lima attempts to reverse, but OSP keeps him grounded and forces him back down as he goes for a guillotine. OSP counters with the infamous VON FLUE CHOKE though and de Lima has to tap out there! Wow.

That’s two Von Flue chokes in the UFC for OSP so maybe it’s time to rename the move? Maybe the Von Preux choke, ha. Anyway, massive error from de Lima to allow himself open to that choke, but then his ground game has always been his big weakness and OSP basically ran right through him once he got him down after stuttering through the opening round. I guess OSP’s back on track in such a thin division. Speaking of thin division, that might be the only reason the UFC keeps de Lima around after this one – he’s exciting win or lose and there isn’t much talent at 205lbs – but he really needs to sort that weight issue out otherwise it could be curtains for him. Fight was decent if nothing special really.

Lightweight Fight: Diego Sanchez vs Al Iaquinta

This was Iaquinta’s first fight since April 2015, following knee surgery and then a self-imposed exile due to a contract dispute with the UFC amongst other issues, and he was faced with Diego – who almost looked resurgent in his November win over Marcin Held, probably his best performance in years in fact. Despite Iaquinta hitting super-hard and questions over the state of Diego’s chin these days, I couldn’t bring myself to pick against one of my all-time favourites and took the newly-christened ‘Lionheart’ to pull out the win somehow.

First round begins and Diego pushes forward with a hard kick….that lands to the groin. Big John McCarthy calls time but they restart quickly anyway. Good low kick lands for Iaquinta. Right hands glance for both men. Another right hook glances for Diego before Iaquinta has to block a head kick. Combo from Iaquinta leads to a BIG RIGHT HAND and Diego goes down! He looks to pop back up but he’s badly hurt. Diego grimaces and snarls, swinging right back, but Iaquinta stays calm and then NAILS him with a right hand that sends him down face-first! Big John has to step in there as Diego’s badly hurt. First proper KO of his career really.

Post-fight Iaquinta goes on a pretty wild tirade, saying the sooner the UFC realises he’s the man the better, and then he outright tells the crowd to boo him. More subdued than his last sweary promo but still pretty funny. He’s since found himself in hot water with the UFC again after railing against Dana White and the UFC’s whole bonus system (basically he’s banned from receiving them due to some infractions a while back) but man, I wish the UFC would actually get behind the guy because he’s massively charismatic and can fight too, as evidenced here as he just shut poor Diego down before he got a chance to get out of the blocks. Hell of a knockout. As for Diego I still don’t think he should retire just yet – as long as the UFC match him with grappling-style fighters he’s still got a lot left in my opinion, even if his once-granite chin might be cracked now.

Featherweight Fight: Cub Swanson vs Artem Lobov

So, this was arguably the most one-sided main event in UFC history, with a proven top five fighter in Swanson – coming off the 2016 FOTY with Doo Ho Choi – against Lobov, who, while he had beaten Japanese prospect Teruto Ishihara in his previous fight, had also lost to Alex White and Ryan Hall during his UFC tenure and barely looked like a UFC-level fighter at times. The word was, naturally, that he’d only got this slot due to his friendship with Conor McGregor. At any rate, a one-sided victory for Swanson was expected.

Round One begins and Lobov stalks forward as Cub dances around on the outside. High kick is blocked early on by Lobov. Big uppercut misses for Lobov and they clinch up, as the crowd begin a monstrous USA chant for Cub. Surprising takedown from Lobov puts Swanson down in butterfly guard, and the action slows down from there before Cub muscles his way back up. Nice low kick lands for Lobov but Cub comes back with a left. Combination glances for Lobov in an exchange. Right hand to the body lands for Cub and he follows with a kick to the same spot. Lobov comes back with one of his own, but the majority of both men’s shots are being blocked so far. Crowd begin to randomly boo as a right hand seems to stun Artem, but he comes back with a pair of left hands. Big right hand connects for Swanson. Couple of low kicks answer for Lobov. Big left hand into another hard leg kick follows for McGregor’s buddy. Exchange continues with Lobov landing a hard left to the body to counter a low kick. This is a close round actually. Another nice leg kick connects for Lobov. Right hand follows as Swanson comes forward, and Lobov adds in an uppercut too. Head kick fires back for Swanson. Round ends with a glancing Lobov combo. Really close round but I’d actually go 10-9 Lobov I think as he slightly got the better of it.

Round Two and Lobov pushes forward with an early combination. Swanson comes back with one of his own though and lands a VICIOUS head kick that has Artem hurt. He shows a good chin though and recovers quickly. Nice low kick again from Lobov and he follows with a left hand. Straight right answers for Cub and he’s beginning to stalk forward now. Exchange continues with both men landing and Cub hits him with a beautiful left hand. Left hook from Lobov wobbles Swanson for a second before they clinch, and Lobov tries an outside trip that Cub blocks. They exchange some short strikes with Swanson blocking another takedown attempt, and finally Cub forces Lobov onto his back to a big pop and drops some elbows from half-guard. Nice strikes connect for Cub from the top and he blocks Lobov’s attempted leglock and mounts. Lobov gives his back and Cub slaps both hooks in and attempts to flatten him out. Decent punches land for Swanson from back control and then he goes for the choke and Lobov’s in trouble. Lobov manages to defend, but he’s struggling to shake Cub off. He manages to stand, but Cub stays backpacked on him before deciding to let go. Right hand lands for Cub and then a counter left hook into a combo, and that’s the round. 10-9 Swanson to even things up.

Round Three and they exchange a few glancing low kicks before Lobov lands with a left hand. Left hook counter connects hard for Swanson in another exchange. Another left hand has Lobov hurt and another one quickly follows. Couple of side kicks to the leg land for Cub. Big right hand follows with beautiful timing. Lobov is busted up over his left eye now. Nice left hand from Lobov but Cub is outlanding him pretty firmly in this round. Clinch from Cub but Lobov muscles him off before he can try a takedown. Left to the body from Lobov but Swanson fires back with a clean left hook and then nails him with a right haymaker that has Lobov hurt again. Crowd are suddenly way into this as Swanson wings a right hand and then follows with a WHEEL KICK that wobbles Lobov! Big combo follows as Swanson senses the finish, but somehow Lobov’s still standing. Jab and a left hand fire back for Lobov but Swanson’s still stalking him, and suddenly Herb Dean calls time to check the cut over Lobov’s eye. He tells the doctor it’s actually a cut EYELID which is why he stepped in. Doctor lets it go and they restart with two minutes remaining, and Cub lands a right hand followed by a nasty left hook. Lobov fires right back though and this is becoming a real firefight now. Left hook into a head kick from Swanson and he follows with a straight right. He’s really finding his range in this round. Beautiful combo from Swanson and he counters a low kick with a straight right. Another big combo follows and Lobov is beginning to struggle. Seconds to go and Lobov misses on some big swings and eats a hard right hand. Cartwheel kick from Swanson is caught and Lobov lands a takedown right before the buzzer. Clearly Swanson’s round, though.

Round Four and Swanson uses a couple of oblique kicks to keep the distance, but Lobov uses a hard uppercut to get inside and go for the takedown. Cub blocks it and they break off, with Lobov landing some good hooks to back Swanson up. Lobov’s definitely landing more in this round than in the previous two. Swanson fires back and they exchange into a clinch, before Cub breaks with a spinning back elbow that wobbles Lobov badly. He recovers quickly though and somehow swings back, despite being hurt. Swanson nails him with a left hand again and follows with some more shots, and man is Lobov tough. Can’t fault the guy’s heart. Big right hand connects for Cub but still Lobov keeps firing back. Big left uppercut into a right hook from Lobov and now Cub obliges him in a total firefight. Takedown attempt is blocked by Swanson and they end up in the clinch, before Lobov breaks off. One minute to go and a combo from Lobov is met with a huge counter right from Swanson that buckles Lobov’s knees again. Dude has a chin of iron though and recovers right away. Couple more shots land flush for Cub. Double right hand connects hard in particular. Lobov looks super-tired now and he’s dropping his hands quite a lot. Takedown is blocked by Cub again and the round ends with a missed wheel kick from Cub. 10-9 Swanson.

Round Five and the crowd are loving this fight. Swanson comes right out swinging, but Lobov comes back with a hard kick to the body. Right hand from Lobov is met by a left from Cub. Combinations land for both men in the opening thirty seconds. Big combo from Lobov knocks Swanson down for a second but he pops back up; looked like he might’ve been off balance more than anything. He clinches and forces Lobov right into the fence, and then breaks free when Lobov tries to muscle him down. Left hook connects for Cub. Exchange continues with Lobov walking right into a right hand but Lobov taking it well. Another clinch follows and Lobov lands with a knee to the body, but still can’t get a takedown. Nice right hand again lands for Swanson. Really telegraphed shot is blocked again by Cub but Lobov forces him into the fence. Two minutes to go and these guys are clearly slowing down now. Beautiful knee to the face from the clinch somehow lands for Swanson, awesome shot right there. They break off and Swanson connects on a big combo, then uncorks a combo ending in a sick head kick that Lobov somehow takes with aplomb. Exchange continues until Swanson hits a big judo throw right into full mount, and from there he rains down with punches that force Lobov to give his back! Crowd go wild as Lobov escapes to his feet, and separates, eating a right on the way. Round ends with both men wildly swinging! 10-9 Swanson and I’d go 49-46 for him overall.

Judges officially go 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 for Cub Swanson. You know what, despite the matchmaking being decried going into the fight this turned out to be a fantastic scrap in the end, as Lobov looked outclassed after a strong first round, but kept in the fight using his chin and toughness and made it really exciting by pushing Swanson pretty hard. I know it shouldn’t have happened really but hey, I liked it a lot. Doesn’t make Lobov a top ten fighter or anything but he’s tough as nails and clearly belongs in the UFC at least. As for Swanson? Post-fight he calls out the Aldo/Holloway winner for a title shot but I’m not sure that happens, so you know what I think? Please give him the Korean Zombie at some point. Can you imagine how awesome that fight would be?

-Show ends abruptly after that as I guess as per usual with FS1 they were running long.

Final Thoughts….

As has been the trend in 2017 the UFC once again delivered a great free-TV show here. We got arguably the best knockout of the year thus far from Mike Perry, brutal finishes from Iaquinta and OSP and a tremendous pair of fights in Swanson/Lobov and Lauzon/Ray which I actually thought – dicky judging aside – was the best fight of the night. Wineland/Dodson was disappointing if you were expecting a firefight, but I refuse to call it a bad one meaning it’s an easy thumbs up, way up, for UFN 108.

Best Fight: Lauzon vs. Ray
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: