MMA Review: #630: UFC on Fox: Jacare vs. Brunson

-This was by far the UFC’s weakest effort on “big” Fox, basically a mix of really poor choices for televised fights and too many shows at this point watering things down. Jacare/Brunson was a fine fight but the rest hardly sounded barnburning.

UFC on Fox: Jacare vs. Brunson

01/27/18
Charlotte, North Carolina

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Dominick Cruz.

Welterweight Fight: Drew Dober vs Frank Camacho

No idea how this made the main card – especially when you had the likes of Mirsad Bektic on the prelims – but there you go. Camacho had put on an exciting fight against Damien Brown in his last outing while Dober had last KO’d Josh Burkman, but did anyone really want to see this? Didn’t think so, no offense.

Round One begins and they exchange some early strikes before Camacho clinches up. Nice trip takedown from Camacho and he lands on top in side mount. Dober gets his back to the fence and works up, and they separate and exchange punches with Camacho doing some good work with uppercuts on the counter. Body kick lands hard for Dober. Couple of left hands follow as they continue to exchange shots. Uppercut again lands for Camacho. Dober answers with an elbow from close range, but finds himself tripped to the ground again, this time in half-guard. Camacho works to pass, but finds himself in the full guard instead. Action slows down a bit from there as Camacho avoids an armbar and drops a right hand. Round ends with Dober escaping to his feet, but being wobbled by a right hand. 10-9 Camacho.

Round Two and Camacho comes out swinging, and Dober decides to oblige as they exchange into the clinch. Takedown attempt from Dober follows but Camacho avoids it and then looks for a possible guillotine before tripping Dober down again. Full guard this time for Dober and he escapes to his feet pretty quickly. Big left hand connects for Dober in an exchange and he keeps the pressure on, tagging him with more punches as Camacho looks tired. Big trade follows as both men throw wild punches, but Camacho literally looks out of steam. He comes back with some right hands though and now both men seem to be moving slower. Beautiful combination lands for Dober and Camacho’s in some trouble. He’s got a great chin clearly though as he just eats the shots up. Head kick from Dober sets up another big combo but Camacho hangs in and fires back. 90 seconds to go and they continue to brawl, with Dober clearly getting the better of it. Camacho’s chin is insane to take all these punches. To be fair Dober’s isn’t bad either as Camacho tags him a few times too. Round ends with another wild trade. 10-9 Dober, great round too.

Round Three and Dober opens with a clean left hand that wobbles Camacho for a second. Unsurprisingly they trade off again before Dober decides to clinch for a second, but Camacho muscles him off. Looks like Dober is bleeding from the left eye. Exchange continues and these guys are just landing so many punches on one another. Takedown attempt from Dober is well defended by Camacho with some hammer fists to the side of the head, and then Camacho takes him down with the trip again. He lands in half-guard and looks to pass to mount, but Dober wriggles free and stands. And so we go back to trading off, with both men landing now despite looking tired. Can’t fault these guys for effort that’s for sure. Dober seems to be getting the better of it but Camacho just won’t stop coming forward in zombie mode. More big exchanges follow and it’s a wonder these guys are still vertical. Couple of clinches are shrugged off by Dober and so they continue to trade, and suddenly Camacho looks like the fresher man and he’s pressuring Dober now. Really nice body work from Camacho and Dober might be in trouble, but he fires back and they exchange until the buzzer. Call it 10-10 for a draw as I don’t know how you’d split that round.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Drew Dober. 30-27 is a totally bogus score of course as Camacho clearly took the first, but overall I’ve got no problem with Dober winning as the last round was so tight. Well, I was expecting literally nothing here and got a hell of a brawl so kudos to both men, they put on a show for sure. Not that it makes them title contenders or anything, but yeah, I wouldn’t really complain about seeing either guy on a televised card again. Hell of an opener!

Lightweight Fight: Gregor Gillespie vs Jordan Rinaldi

Well, I’d been looking forward to seeing Gillespie fight again after he had a FOTYC in his previous fight against Jason Gonzalez, but I was also hoping he’d have been matched with a tougher opponent – at 1-1 in the UFC Rinaldi was hardly the test I was hoping for when it came to ‘The Gift’. I figured this would be an easy win for Gillespie and was hoping the UFC would give him a tougher out next time.

Fight begins and the crowd are way into the local guy Rinaldi. He comes out looking to strike, but Gillespie walks him down with some punches that have Rinaldi backing up a lot. Big knee from Rinaldi is caught and Gillespie looks for the takedown, but Rinaldi does well to get out of it. Gillespie stays on him though and drags him down with a second attempt at a single leg. From there he grabs a headlock and uses it to pass into half-guard, then spins into side mount instead. Rinaldi tries to get up but Gillespie mounts him pretty easily instead. This is just a squash unfortunately. Gillespie takes the back with both hooks as Rinaldi rolls, and he controls him comfortably while landing some shots for good measure. Rinaldi manages to get half-guard, but Gillespie slices right back to mount. Rinaldi manages to stand by giving his back, but Gillespie just forces him back down and knees the body a few times. Hooks in for Gillespie and now Rinaldi’s in real trouble, and sure enough Gillespie flattens him out and lands some nasty punches until Rinaldi stops defending, forcing the ref to call the TKO.

Fun enough squash to watch I guess but I’m not sure what the point was really, Gillespie clearly needed a step up after his previous fight and instead he arguably got a step down, no offense to Rinaldi. They’ve got to give this guy a proper test next time surely? Maybe like, I dunno, the winner of Vick/Trinaldo this month or something would do. But yeah he’s awesome, no denying that.

Featherweight Fight: Dennis Bermudez vs Andre Fili

This was a bit of a weird co-main event given neither man had exactly been on a hot run prior to being booked – Bermudez was fresh off two losses while Fili had never won two in a row in his UFC career – but I guess the UFC were banking on an exciting fight as they’re both pretty reliable where that’s concerned. My pick was Bermudez due to his wrestling advantage.

Round One and both men come out firing with Bermudez really pushing forward. Low kick from Fili is caught and Bermudez goes for a takedown, but Fili stuffs it pretty comfortably. Lot of movement from Fili here but he isn’t throwing all that much. Nice low kick lands for Dennis. He’s using a lot of jabs to keep Fili back too. Pair of jabs answer for Fili before Bermudez gets a clinch and forces him into the cage. He works for a trip but the taller Fili manages to defend well, and then exits out. They exchange some jabs and punches with Fili looking a bit more comfortable now, and then he surprises Bermudez with a takedown. Bermudez reverses right back up though within seconds and lands a hard leg kick. Nice jabs back Fili up into the fence. Good counter right lands for Fili as Bermudez lunges into the clinch again, but they quickly separate. Low kicks land for both men but Bermudez’s spins Fili around and Dennis quickly adds another one. Seconds to go and Fili tackles Dennis down, but he pops right back up to end the round. 10-9 Bermudez for the aggression and leg kicks.

Round Two and an early takedown attempt is blocked by Fili, who quickly lands a couple of long jabs. Nice jab from Bermudez snaps Fili’s head back and allows him to set up a clinch, but he still can’t get Fili off his feet. Low kick from Bermudez sets up a decent right hook. Fili comes back with a takedown, but Bermudez pops up again. This time Fili gets his back, but it’s only momentary as Bermudez turns into him and goes for a takedown of his own. Fili manages to defend brilliantly though and remains on his feet. Slam attempt from Bermudez but somehow Fili still manages to stay up. Tremendous takedown defense from Fili. Pair of nice low kicks land for Bermudez and Fili looks like his leg’s about to buckle. He continues to fire the jab, but Bermudez keeps on looking for the low kick on the counter as well as jabs of his own. Takedown attempt from Fili is blocked this time. Nice left hand counter connects for him as Bermudez bulls forward though. Clinch from Bermudez follows and then he separates with a hard right. Big takedown from Fili and he moves into half-guard, but Bermudez pops up as he attempts side mount. Takedown from Bermudez fails again but he lands a right hook on the break and that’s the round. 10-9 Bermudez again as he outstruck Fili, who did largely nothing with his takedowns.

Round Three and neither man looks at all tired. Fili pops out the jab to begin but again Dennis starts to work with low kicks. Nice combination from Bermudez and it looks like Fili could be bleeding. Big trade follows with both men landing shots. Jabs land for both men and Fili connects on a clean uppercut on the counter. Takedown again from Fili but Bermudez pops up instantly. Big head kick lands for Fili but Bermudez walks right through it. Takedown is brilliantly stuffed by Bermudez. Fili’s nose is definitely bleeding. Big knee to the body from Dennis sets up a clinch where he lands a couple more knees and a right, but evidently one was to the groin as the ref calls time. They restart and Bermudez scores with another low kick. Punches back Fili up and Bermudez clinches again, but it’s only for a second. Exchange continues with both landing but it’s Bermudez who’s pushing the action. One minute to go now and it looks like Fili’s stunned off a combination, but he recovers fast. Bermudez just keeps on pushing forward though. Clinch from Dennis and he works some nice shots before finally getting a takedown to half-guard. Scramble from Fili and he avoids an armbar, and that’s it. 10-9 Bermudez, 30-27 for me overall.

First judge has 29-28 Fili (?), second goes 30-27 Bermudez and in a truly baffling decision, the third goes 29-28 Fili for the split decision win. I don’t get that at ALL – Fili had some nice takedowns but it felt like Bermudez was the one pushing the action and doing far more damage with his strikes in all three rounds. That’s a robbery in my opinion. Fight was decent enough albeit not as exciting as Dober/Camacho, but yeah, that shitty decision definitely leaves a pretty bad taste.

Middleweight Fight: Jacare Souza vs Derek Brunson

This was a rematch from a 2012 StrikeForce fight that saw Jacare spark Brunson out in seconds, but obviously a lot had changed since then – Brunson had been violently knocking out most of his opponents in his recent fights, while Jacare appeared to be slowing down somewhat and was coming off a pretty disappointing KO loss to Robert Whittaker last April. With that in mind I went with the mild upset and thought Brunson would take out the Brazilian in an early rush.

Fight begins and both men circle tentatively and the crowd seem firmly behind Brunson. He looks far less aggressive than usual though. Both men come up short on a couple of early strikes before Brunson throws a combo that glances. Another combo glances for him but Jacare comes back with a partially blocked body kick. Big overhand right glances for Jacare on the counter. Big crowd chant for Brunson as he fires some punches that still come up short. Clean right hand lands for Jacare. Takedown attempt from the Brazilian but Brunson avoids it and then slips only to pop up with a glancing jump knee. Wild punches land for Brunson but he eats a counter right. He wades forward again, but Jacare lands a HUGE RIGHT HEAD KICK that sends him down! Brunson gets up, but Jacare calmly waylays him with some more punches and he goes down and that’s it.

Big knockout win for Jacare – his back was against the wall after the Whittaker loss, but he came back with a vengeance here and suddenly he’s back in title contention given Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold – two men he lost very close decisions to – are now fighting for the Interim title with Whittaker on the shelf. Personally I’d book him next against Chris Weidman to set up a future contender down the line as that’s a fight that I’d love to see, but yeah, this was a huge victory for him. Disappointing for Brunson to get caught like that, but you live by the sword, you die by the sword I guess. Fun main event to end the night.

-Show ends shortly after Jacare’s celebration.

Final Thoughts….

For a weak card this was actually a decent show in the end – Jacare and Gillespie picked up good finishes and Dober/Camacho was an excellent fight where I was expecting nothing really. Bermudez/Fili wasn’t the firefight I think everyone wanted but it was decent enough too. Can’t really call it a massive recommendation as it was such a skippable show going in, but in the end it was watchable enough – even if the UFC needs to improve their output on Fox ASAP.

Best Fight: Dober vs. Camacho
Worst Fight: Bermudez vs. Fili

Overall Rating: ***

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com