MMA Review: #631: UFC Fight Night 125

-For a FS1 Fight Night in Brazil this was a surprisingly good card – not the best ever but somehow better than the effort on “big” Fox the week before! We did lose the co-main – John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz – when Munhoz missed weight, but it still sounded like fun to see Lyoto Machida fighting in his hometown ELEVEN YEARS after his UFC debut. Shit, time flies. Nice to see the UFC moving around Brazil, too – Manaus, Salvador and Recife next please?

UFC Fight Night 125

Belem, Para

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Paul Felder.

Middleweight Fight: Thiago Santos vs Anthony Smith

With both of these fighters having won their previous fight via knockout it made sense to match them up here and it sounded like fireworks, too. My pick was Marreta as I just didn’t think Smith could stand up to his insane striking power.

Fight begins and Santos opens with a hard leg kick as Smith pushes forward. Kick sees Santos slip and Smith pounces and swarms him with a combo, but he seems alright. Couple more kicks from Santos and then he lands a SICK wheel kick and a flying kick to the head, only for Smith to manage a takedown right into mount! That was insane. Smith keeps a low mount and doesn’t do much with the position, and in a surprising move Marreta bucks him off and turns over into Smith’s guard. Crowd love that one. Big body shots land for Santos from the top as Smith looks to hold on, but eventually Smith scrambles onto his knees. Santos stays on him and lands some more shots, but Smith works to his feet and lands a big combo ending in a head kick. Elbow follows, but he eats a big right hand from Marreta and goes down! Santos pounces to look for the finish, but Smith holds on to survive despite taking some HUGE shots. Looks like Santos might be cut around his left eye though. Round ends with Santos landing a big knee to the body from a front facelock. 10-9 Santos in a crazy round.

2nd round and Santos comes out kicking, going high to the face early on. Couple of body kicks seem to have Smith hurt but he recovers pretty quickly. These guys are just swinging here. BIG BODY KICK finally lands and Smith gets the dreaded DELAYED REACTION before going down, and Marreta swarms him on the ground and finishes it off there.

Awesome opener as both guys came out and went for it with sheer aggression, but as I suspected the big power of Marreta was the difference. That’s four wins in a row for him by KO so time for another step up I think, and even if he fails again he ought to have a job for life with the UFC because he guarantees action – he tied Anderson Silva’s record of 8 KO’s at Middleweight with this one and even when he loses he gets finished. Gotta love a fighter like that.

Bantamweight Fight: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs Marlon Vera

Vera was coming off quite the brawl against John Lineker, and this one looked to be a similar fight as de Andrade is basically a lite version of Lineker from what I’ve seen of him. Given I thought Vera could’ve beaten Lineker had he turned up the aggression earlier than he did, I was taking the Ecuadorian to win here. Always have liked Chito Vera.

Round One begins and D’Silva comes out swinging and tags Vera right away with a combo and a low kick. He forces Vera back with some more punches, but eats a partially blocked head kick too. Striking exchange continues and D’Silva’s really firing powerful punches. Vera catches a body kick but he can’t capitalise as D’Silva fires some wild punches at him. Hard low kick from Vera. D’Silva continues to land the better shots in the exchanges though, getting off with punches as Vera comes up a little short on his kicks. Big combo backs Vera up. One minute to go and Vera begins to attack with his kicks more, but D’Silva keeps on walking through to land punches. Body kick from Vera is caught and D’Silva takes him down, but Vera pops back up to his feet with a standing kimura attempt, only to get suplexed as the round ends. 10-9 D’Silva for me.

Round Two and Vera comes out throwing a bunch of kicks including a glancing one to the head, but he gets tagged by a left hand from D’Silva coming forward. Considering he’s the shorter guy D’Silva is doing a really good job of landing from distance, as he catches Vera with a pretty clean left hook, opening a cut over the right eye. Left hook rocks Vera and D’Silva swarms on him, backing him up, but Vera manages to survive well, firing back with a hard body kick. D’Silva works the body with some punches too, and he’s got Vera really backpedalling now. Both men exchange and tag one another with punches, and D’Silva even glances on a spinning backfist. Big left hand to the body lands for D’Silva. Wheel kick misses though and that allows Vera to fire back with a right. Exchange continues with both men showing some serious aggression. Big combo from D’Silva sets up some knees from the plum before Vera breaks free. Vera is just being beaten to the strike here. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 D’Silva.

Round Three and the crowd are ridiculously into this fight as both men come out and continue right where they left off by exchanging. Vera seems more aggressive in the early going, but a heavy overhand right pegs him right back. Big combination lands for D’Silva. He’s just walking through Vera’s offense which is the problem for the Ecuadorian. Big left hook connects for de Andrade. Two minutes to go and Vera needs to do something significant to give himself a chance. He does back de Andrade into the fence with a combo, but quickly finds himself on the retreat again. D’Silva is just doing a great job of being able to land wild overhands from the outside. Less than a minute to go and they keep on swinging, with D’Silva landing some wild power shots from the outside. Spinning backfist lands for D’Silva and then Vera suddenly goes wild and they trade to end the fight. 10-9 D’Silva and 30-27 overall I’d say.

All three judges have it 30-27 for Douglas Silva de Andrade, no other score possible really. Fight was a lot of fun with a bunch of exciting exchanges, and the difference seemed to be that Vera just had no answer for the constant forward pressure of D’Silva, and that allowed the smaller man to land a ton of powerful overhands that swayed the scorecards in his favour. D’Silva could well end up with a top fifteen opportunity off this win I reckon as Vera was probably on the verge himself before this.

Heavyweight Fight: Timothy Johnson vs Marcelo Golm

Young prospect Golm was coming into this one with a bit of hype after he destroyed Christian Colombo in his UFC debut, and although he’d never really beaten a decent fighter, it looked like he had a lot of potential. Matched with perennial gatekeeper Johnson in this one, I figured the Brazilian would pull the win out as his countryman Junior Albini had in 2017 over the moustachioed Johnson.

First round begins and they circle and exchange some feeler strikes from distance before Golm lands a nice leg kick. Johnson looks far bigger than Golm here. Few punches back Golm up and Johnson clinches and lands some solid body punches. They end up against the cage, then continue to jockey for position with Johnson trying to muscle the smaller man around. They break eventually and Johnson lands a decent left hand. Golm comes back with some kicks, but a few punches from Johnson lead to another clinch. He shoves Golm into the fence again and then the action slows right down. They exchange from the clinch and Johnson’s bleeding, and then they separate with a minute to go. Front kick glances for Golm and he buckles Johnson’s leg with a kick, but Johnson clinches and forces him against the cage again. This time he tries a takedown, but Golm blocks it and the round peters out there. 10-9 Johnson but a horrible round.

Second round and Johnson comes out firing some punches that don’t really land cleanly. Wild trade follows a Golm head kick and right hook, but Johnson quickly slows things down by clinching. Golm lands some elbows to the side of the head, Travis Browne style, and that prevents Johnson from getting a takedown. They break off and Golm lands with a body kick, but Johnson bulls back into the clinch. Man Johnson is such a boring fighter to watch. They break off again and both men wing some punches that don’t land cleanly. Johnson clinches again and shoves him into the fence for some more wall-and-stall, and the crowd are booing now due to the inactivity. This is fucking awful. Johnson does land some decent shots from the clinch but nothing spectacular. They break with seconds to go after Johnson glances on a spinning elbow, and that’s the round. 10-9 Johnson but YAWN.

Third round and they exchange some shots with Golm landing a decent body kick. Really hard leg kick spins Johnson around and fair play to Golm as he doesn’t look tired at all. Johnson clinches though and that slows the action down again. Golm manages to separate but Johnson lands with a strong combination of his own. Good front kick to the body from Golm. Big uppercut connects for Johnson and he’s got Golm hurt with some more punches, but he decides to clinch rather than follow it up. And naturally very little happens from there. Ref calls a clean break this time and they exchange with Golm answering an uppercut with a hard knee that Johnson takes really well. Big combo backs Golm up again as Johnson threatens to be entertaining for a second before another clinch follows because of course it does. Seconds to go and he almost gets a takedown, but Golm remains on his feet and tries to break free. He does so with a knee, but the round ends just after. 10-9 Johnson for a 30-27 clean sweep.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Tim Johnson. Really boring fight though as Johnson’s clinch-heavy gameplan just slowed the action to a crawl even if he landed just as many good strikes from the outside as Golm. Golm didn’t look bad per say as he didn’t gas or get sloppy, but he just had no answer for the size and all the clinching and that’s something for him to work on. Johnson obviously belongs in the UFC with a 4-3 record, but he remains one of the most dull guys to watch on the roster and I really hope his next fight is on the prelims.

Lightweight Fight: Michel Prazeres vs Desmond Green

This battle of grapplers was getting a lot of press coming in as Prazeres missed weight by four pounds and then when the UFC requested that he come into fight night no heavier than 173lbs, he actually walked in at 180lbs. Green ended up accepting the fight anyway in a massive risk, but yeah, terrible professionalism from Prazeres. I was pulling for Green for no reason other than that really.

Round One begins and they circle around with Prazeres throwing some early kicks. Green actually doesn’t look that much smaller due to his lankier frame. Kick by Green is caught and Prazeres tries to tackle him, but it doesn’t work and they scramble and end up in the clinch. Nice takedown from Green and he takes the back, but Prazeres immediately scrambles to his feet. Good knees to the legs land for Green. He trips Prazeres down but can’t get hooks in, and they pop up and jockey for position. Two minutes to go and they break off, with Green avoiding some wild strikes from the outside. Pair of rights set up a takedown for Prazeres but Green reverses nicely and they roll around before Prazeres gets on top with Green face-down. Ref calls a time out as Prazeres apparently hit the back of the head, and they restart standing. Good call from Marc Goddard. Takedown attempt is blocked by Green off the restart, and then he takes Prazeres down for a second but can’t keep him there. Green trips him down again, and ends the round on top. 10-9 Green.

Round Two and Prazeres pushes forward, landing with a hard left hook. Leg kick follows for the Brazilian. He continues to force Green backwards, glancing on an overhand right, but Green hits a takedown and lands in full guard. Prazeres kicks him away and stands though before he can do a lot. A single leg attempt follows for Green but he can’t take Prazeres down this time and they jockey for position. Takedown from Prazeres follows and he moves into full mount to pop the crowd. Arm triangle attempt follows and it looks like Green’s in trouble, but somehow he rolls his way free and gets to his feet. Great defensive job from Green but Prazeres continues to stalk forward, and he grabs a guillotine and drops to guard. Green again avoids it but finds himself on the bottom now, and suddenly it looks like that weight difference might be taking its toll. Prazeres controls him from side mount and then goes for a north/south choke, but Green guts it out and that’s the round. 10-9 Prazeres for sure.

Round Three and Prazeres again pushes forward, landing a nice inside leg kick. Couple of shots glance for Green but he’s still being forced backwards. He does defend a takedown well, though. Head kick is blocked by Green but he eats an overhand right. Takedown attempt from Green is blocked. Couple of hooks land for Prazeres as the action begins to slow down a bit. This is a bad round actually as they’re just throwing one shot at a time for the most part. Takedown from Prazeres and he moves into mount and this might be enough to win him the fight. Green tries to get out but can’t seem to escape from under Prazeres, and the round ends with the Brazilian in control of proceedings. 10-9 Prazeres and call it 29-28 Prazeres for me.

Official scores are 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Michel Prazeres. Well, he clearly won the fight and this was his sixth win in a row, but it has to come with a MASSIVE asterisk due to the weight issue as I felt Green was winning until the second round when he clearly got tired and couldn’t deal with the size advantage of his opponent. And it’s not like Prazeres is a first-time offender either as this was his third weight miss since moving to 155lbs. Current word is he’ll be forced up to 170lbs for his next fight and with such a limited game – I feel like he’s only been succeeding at 155lbs due to his size – I think his streak ends there. Fight was decent at points but did have a bunch of slow portions too.

Women’s Flyweight Fight: Valentina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira

When it was announced that the UFC was bringing in the Women’s Flyweight division, former Bantamweight title contender Shevchenko was one of the first fighters to announce she’d be dropping down to compete there. This was her divisional debut against newcomer Cachoeira, and with Shevchenko being one of the top fighters from the division above I couldn’t see the Brazilian having much luck and figured this would be a showcase for ‘Bullet’ prior to a title fight.

Fight begins and Shevchenko comes out firing, tagging Cachoeira with some nasty straight punches right away! Cachoeira’s in trouble, and Shevchenko tags her some more before hitting a takedown into the guard. From there she works the body with some punches before adding in some HEAVY ELBOWS that slice Cachoeira’s head open. She’s in massive trouble now and ref Mario Yamasaki could even make a case for stopping this already. More shots land for Shevchenko and Cachoeira is just doing nothing to protect herself outside of clinging onto full guard. It’s like Tito Ortiz against Elvis Sinosic or something. Whole round goes on like this and Cachoeira looks badly hurt going back to her corner. 10-7 round I’d say as Cachoeira literally landed like one strike and got the shit beaten out of her.

2nd round and Shevchenko tags Cachoeira with a left hand a couple of times before hitting a trip into top position. Side mount for Shevchenko this time and she controls the Brazilian before securing a mounted crucifix to just bounce Cachoeira’s head off the mat with some NASTY punches. Mario Yamasaki is somehow just fucking watching this. STOP THE FIGHT ALREADY. Shevchenko decides to try a keylock but can’t quite get that, and so she goes back to the punishment from the crucifix and Yamasaki’s STILL letting it go. Holy shit this is bad. It’s uncomfortable to watch at this point too. Cachoeira just continues to take shots before Shevchenko mounts her and DESTROYS her and STILL fucking Yamasaki won’t stop it. Cachoeira gives her back now and takes even MORE SHOTS but still no stoppage. This might be the worst ref job in MMA history. Finally Shevchenko slaps on a rear naked choke and after THREE FUCKING TAPS Yamasaki finally wakes up from his coma and stops it.

Okay, so that was a great performance from Valentina Shevchenko to take out a massively overmatched opponent, and my guess is she deals with Nicco Montano just as easily to take the Flyweight title when she gets an opportunity too. But the story really has to be the ref job – why Mario Yamasaki felt the need to let the fight go that long I don’t know. I’m not a proponent of refs stopping fights early on, but holy shit Cachoeira took like four minutes of pointless punches and elbows here when she was clearly done. It was the kind of beating that can damage a career irreparably and realistically, Yamasaki ought to be ashamed of himself. This just became hard to watch after a point.

Middleweight Fight: Lyoto Machida vs Eryk Anders

When Anders called out Machida after his December win over Markus Perez I didn’t actually expect them to put the fight together, mainly because I didn’t think the UFC would want Anders to knock Machida out in his hometown. Evidently I was wrong – the UFC must’ve seen something special in Anders and were clearly looking to have him make a name for himself with a win over a legend. Despite Machida being in his hometown I couldn’t see him winning – his chin and reflexes are gone – and so I took Anders to win by knockout.

Round One and the crowd are chanting for Lyoto before the fighters have even left their corner. Machida naturally stays way out of range and lands with a low kick as Anders stalks forward. More kicks from Lyoto force Anders to keep his distance, and then a really low kick takes Anders off his feet and onto his back. Left hand from Lyoto drops him down into the guard, where Anders looks to tie him up. Short left from Lyoto and he stands over Anders, refusing to let him back up. Ref Marc Goddard surprisingly lets this continue as Machida kicks the legs a couple of times and prevents Anders from getting up. Crowd would probably be booing this if it were anywhere else, but they love it. Couple of punches from Lyoto allow Anders to scramble to his feet, and he immediately backs Lyoto up. Nice low kick from Machida. He keeps on circling out of range, then stings Anders with a left as the round ends. 10-9 Machida surprisingly enough!

Round Two and Machida again lands a solid leg kick. He’s staying incredibly far out of range, though. Big left suddenly lands for Anders and rocks Machida, forcing him to clinch. Looked like he threw a low kick and ate the left. Anders shoves him into the fence and looks for a single leg, but Machida muscles free. Anders continues to stalk forward, but he seems to be finding it hard to cut off the cage. Couple of punches glance for Lyoto and then he circles right out again. Left from Lyoto as he comes forward for a second, but a counter left from Anders quickly sends him on the run. Good knee to the body from Lyoto as Anders closes him down. Right misses for Lyoto and Anders connects on a left, but Lyoto seems to take it well. One minute to go and Machida lands another nice leg kick. Seconds to go and Anders lands with the left, but he decides to clinch to follow it up and the round ends shortly after. Low output round from both but I’d go 10-9 Anders for those big lefts to offset the Machida low kicks.

Round Three and again Machida opens with a leg kick. Body kick is caught by Anders though and he tackles Lyoto to the ground. Machida works back to his feet, but he eats a BIG KNEE on the way up and a pair of lefts too. Lyoto’s busted open badly, blood absolutely pouring from his forehead. He flicks a left at Anders that misses, and then glances on a right hook before going back to circling out. Anders continues to stalk forward, but he is having some issues getting into striking range. Nice left hand connects for Machida but Anders shrugs it off. Big left glances for him. Clinch from Machida but he eats a knee from Anders that breaks it. Less than a minute to go and both men glance with left hands. Big left suddenly wobbles Machida and Anders goes for a takedown to follow, but Lyoto stays on his feet. Lyoto’s bleeding BADLY though. Round ends with Lyoto avoiding a trip. Another low output one but the damage done by Anders wins it for me, so 29-28 Anders going into the fourth.

Round Four and Lyoto opens with a nice left hand. Body kick follows as does a knee, but Anders walks through both and continues to push the action. Another body kick glances for Machida. Hard left hand lands for Anders and Lyoto has to back up quickly, but Anders can’t follow it with anything. Pair of lefts from Anders finally catch Lyoto after a while of stalking and he goes down off a stumble, giving his back. He works back up but eats another clean knee to the head, and Anders keeps him pressed against the cage. Anders has Machida’s blood pouring down his back. Action slows down a little as Anders can’t do much with the position, and they break with 1:40 to go. Body kick glances for Machida but Anders catches it, driving him into the fence. He manages to get Lyoto down after a struggle, but can’t keep him there. He remains pressed against Lyoto though before they separate to end the round. 10-9 Anders as he did nearly all of the significant work.

Round Five and Machida opens with a hard body kick and dodges a couple of counters. Leg kick follows as Anders continues to stalk forward. Couple more leg kicks connect for Machida. Head kick is blocked by Anders but he can’t land a counter. Big body kick from Lyoto. He’s landing a lot more in this round now. Body kick from Machida is met by a left hand from Anders, and Machida has to quickly dodge his way out of range. Right hook from Anders sets up a clinch, and he looks for the takedown as they exchange knees inside. Machida breaks off, and we’ve got two minutes remaining. Big knee lands for Machida as Anders tries to throw the left, and he manages to dodge again as Anders gets a bit reckless. Body kick lands for Lyoto. Knee follows as Anders gets into range, but Lyoto misses a spinning back kick and Anders gets hold of him and hits a suplex. Machida pops right back up, and they exchange wildly to end the round. 10-9 Machida, but I’d call it 48-47 for Anders overall.

Judges have it 48-47 Machida, 48-47 Anders, and 49-46 for Lyoto Machida to pick up the split decision. Well, damn. I really don’t get that result at all, especially that 49-46 card. Sure, there weren’t a ton of significant moments for either man and Lyoto did land a lot of kicks from the outside, but Anders did far more damage, cut Lyoto, rocked him on a couple of occasions and was the one pressing the action throughout. Bad decision in my eyes. Not the best fight either actually, as Lyoto fought smartly by staying far away from the power of Anders, but it did reduce his offensive arsenal to pretty much low and body kicks only, while Anders just didn’t have the striking nuances to get into range to hit Lyoto nor did he have the crazy explosive speed of someone like Derek Brunson to bumrush him. But yeah, he still should’ve won and this was a bit of home cooking in my eyes.

Post-fight Machida calls out Michael Bisping for his next fight and I’d actually welcome that for both men as they’re both near the end – maybe a farewell deal for both sides? It’s surprising they’ve never fought before in fact.

-And the show swiftly ends there.

Final Thoughts….

Horrible Johnson/Golm fight aside this was decent enough I guess albeit with nothing truly memorable on the card outside of a really bad ref job in the Shevchenko/Cachoeira fight. Santos/Smith was fantastic and D’Silva/Vera was fun enough too, but the main event was a bit slow and so I can’t really call it a thumbs up show. Check out that Santos fight though for sure.

Best Fight: Santos vs. Smith
Worst Fight: Johnson vs. Golm

Overall Rating: **1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: