MMA Review: #636: UFC Fight Night 127

-The latest UFC card to hit the UK, this one was better than 2017’s effort at least thanks to a strong main event between Alexander Volkov and Fabricio Werdum, but it was still largely a weak card considering the ticket prices. But hey, for a Fight Pass card for those watching at home it seemed completely fine.

UFC Fight Night 127

London, England

-Your hosts are John Gooden and Dan Hardy.

Welterweight Fight: Leon Edwards vs Peter Sobotta

Edwards was coming into this one off the back of four straight wins, and I actually expected him to be matched higher – Sobotta had looked good in his last win over Ben Saunders, but it’d taken place in May 2017 and he hadn’t fought since. I was taking Edwards to win probably by decision based mostly on Sobotta’s massive layoff.

Sobotta is apparently representing JAMAICA here but lord only knows why as the announcers outright mention he’s a Polish-born German who trains in Thailand! Maybe he just really loves reggae music?

Round One begins and Sobotta presses forward as Edwards circles on the outside. Quick left hand glances for Edwards. Right hook drops Sobotta but he manages to secure guard and instantly rolls into an armbar when Edwards follows him down. Good job from Edwards to avoid the submission though, and he frees himself and drops a left hand. Sobotta manages to tie the Brit up from the bottom before Edwards manages to work through into half-guard. Sobotta instantly works back to full guard though and keeps him locked down again. Action slows down a ton now and the crowd begin to boo, so Edwards stands and waves Sobotta back up. They exchange some jabs with Sobotta landing some decent ones, and Edwards comes back with a body kick in the waning seconds. Good round, 10-9 Edwards largely for the knockdown.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes before Edwards lands a low blow. Ref Rich Mitchell calls time but it was clearly an accident and so no points are taken or anything. They restart and exchange some more strikes from distance, before Edwards clinches and forces Sobotta into the fence. Takedown from Edwards and he lands inside the guard in a bit of a surprising move. Sobotta rolls for a kimura on the left arm, but Edwards defends only for Sobotta to use the move to take the back. Beautiful grappling right there! Edwards manages to stand though and shakes him off, but he keeps looking to isolate the left arm. Good job from Edwards as he finally manages to free the arm, working into the guard again. Ref calls a stand-up with about 45 seconds to go, and Edwards lands with a decent combo. Head kick is blocked by Sobotta and the round ends just after. 10-9 Sobotta for winning the grappling exchanges.

Round Three and Sobotta ducks a head kick and lands with a nice left hand. Edwards comes in with a left hook though and then stuffs a takedown before going for one of his own. Sobotta blocks and they separate, and it looks like Edwards might be the fresher man. Nice counter left uppercut connects for Edwards. He’s really swinging with the left hand now. Big takedown attempt from Sobotta and he manages to get Edwards down, and then takes the back as Edwards looks to stand. He can’t get his hooks in though and Edwards makes it to his feet and from there he takes Sobotta down himself. Two minutes to go and Edwards begins to land with a few elbows from the top, and he uses one of them to slice Sobotta open. Sobotta looks like he’s in trouble and he gives his back, and from there Edwards begins to drop some hard punches to the side of the head. Sobotta’s pouring blood everywhere here. Hooks are in for Edwards and he continues to smash Sobotta with punches, and with just a second remaining in the round Rich Mitchell stops it for a TKO.

Firstly that was a great stoppage – Mitchell could’ve let the round end as the hammer for the final ten seconds had already sounded, but instead he focused on the fighters and recognised that Sobotta had nothing left. Good fight too, if a little slow at points when Sobotta was able to tie Edwards up from the bottom. Big win for Edwards and post-fight he calls out Darren Till, but I can’t see that happening given Till is supposedly fighting Stephen Thompson, so why not Edwards vs. Jorge Masivdal or Demian Maia? Both men would be the step up he deserves and would make for a fun fight.

Bantamweight Fight: Tom Duquesnoy vs Terrion Ware

This looked like a good fight on paper as Duquesnoy had come into the UFC as probably the most hyped prospect in the world at 135lbs before a loss to Cody Stamman derailed him a bit, but he was promising a ton of improvement coming into this one. Opponent Ware had lost to Stamman and then Sean O’Malley in his previous UFC fights, but he’d looked solid in both and so he looked like a tricky test for Duquesnoy, although I still picked ‘Fire Kid’ to win.

First round begins and Duquesnoy comes out aggressively, backing Ware up and opening up with a hard leg kick and a quick combination. Ton of movement from the Frenchman too. They trade leg kicks with Duquesnoy seemingly landing the better ones, and he shrugs off a clinch attempt from Ware. Overhand right sets up another leg kick for him. Ware keeps pushing forward and he lands some shots of his own, but Duquesnoy’s movement is allowing him to catch the cleaner shots. Good body shot lands for Ware. Big head kick from Duquesnoy but Ware somehow takes it with no issue. Dude clearly has a hard chin. Clinch from Duquesnoy but Ware blocks a suplex attempt and they break. One-two lands cleanly for Duquesnoy. Exchange continues with both men landing, and Ware then lands a decent head kick of his own. Leg kick fires back for Duquesnoy but Ware closes him down and lands a decent combination from close range. Duquesnoy looks like he might be slowing down. Takedown from Ware ends the round and he works from the half-guard to the buzzer. 10-9 Duquesnoy but it was close.

Second round and Duquesnoy opens with a hard inside low kick. Body kick follows and the Frenchman manages to avoid the clinch. Another nice leg kick lands for him but Ware does catch him on the counter with a right. Nice uppercut lands for Ware as he pushes forward more, and it definitely appears that Duquesnoy has slowed down. Short left hand connects cleanly for Duquesnoy. Beautiful low kick again lands for Duquesnoy. Both men continue to land solid shots, but it looks like Duquesnoy just doesn’t have the power to truly hurt Ware. Nice combination connects from the pocket for Ware. This is a difficult round to score as both men keep on landing while eating shots on the counter too. Beautiful clean left hook lands for Duquesnoy but again Ware just eats it right up. His chin is rock solid. Low blow from Ware and the ref has to call time, but Duquesnoy recovers quickly and they continue. More exchanges follow and Ware tries a takedown, but Duquesnoy blocks it well. Leg kicks land for both men and then Duquesnoy tries a throw, but botches it and Ware winds up on top in the scramble. Full guard for Duquesnoy but Ware works with short strikes from the top until the round ends. 10-9 Ware but it could’ve gone either way.

Third round and Duquesnoy opens with a couple of hard leg kicks that have Ware’s leg buckling, but he still tells the Frenchman to bring it. A good combination follows but Ware still seems unaffected and he keeps on pushing forward. Duquesnoy is definitely landing the better combinations early in this round but Ware begins to land some solid combinations from the pocket too. Takedown attempt from Ware and he almost gets the Fire Kid down, but Duquesnoy does well to avoid it. Nice knee separates for Duquesnoy. Ware continues to back him up, but he’s not landing as well as he did in the 2nd now and Duquesnoy lands a good left hand. Ware remains the aggressor though and he definitely has Duquesnoy on the retreat. 1:30 to go and this could still go either way. They continue to trade and Ware apparently has the advantage in the striking stats now but I’m not sure that he’s done as much work in this round. Takedown from Ware is successful, but Duquesnoy reverses back up. Seconds to go and a clean combo lands for Ware. Head kick from Ware glances and they trade to end the round. I’d probably go 10-9 Duquesnoy there but it was razor-close. 29-28 Duquesnoy for me.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Tom Duquesnoy. Ware looks super disappointed by the announcement and I think that’s fair as I could definitely have seen him winning – 30-27 Duquesnoy is a terrible score no matter how you look at it – but on a rewatch I definitely felt like Duquesnoy did the better work even if Ware came forward more and landed with more volume. Duquesnoy’s definitely got a long way to go to achieve his potential but I think Ware was a sneakily difficult opponent for him and hopefully he’ll do better next time out. Fight was a ton of fun however and I hope they keep Ware around given he lost to three of the top prospects in the division and looked decent in all three fights.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Jimi Manuwa vs Jan Blachowicz

This was a weirdly booked fight given it was a rematch of a 2015 clash between the two that basically stunk – a boring clinch-fest that saw Manuwa win by decision. Given both guys usually have exciting fights it didn’t make any sense at all to re-do a crap one, but I guess nobody else would sign to fight Manuwa, or so various websites were saying. At least it wasn’t the main event.

Fight begins and Manuwa comes out with a head kick that backs Blachowicz up, but doesn’t land cleanly. Crowd are way into this one. Jabs get through for both men and Manuwa is swinging like hell. Big head kick lands for Manuwa but Blachowicz takes it well. Heavy right hook glances for Manuwa. More pot-shotting follows for Jimi, who lands with a clubbing low kick. Manuwa keeps pushing forward, but he walks into a HUGE COMBO from Blachowicz and he goes down! Looks like he’s out, but somehow Jimi survives and gets to his feet, managing to clinch and hold on. They separate but he’s badly hurt and his nose is bleeding too. Another big combo has Manuwa buckled, but he manages to clinch to slow things down again. He’s eating a lot of shots here though. Less than a minute to go and they remain clinched, before Blachowicz breaks off. Nice jab from the Polish fighter. BIG TRADE follows and they exchange to end the round. That was awesome. 10-9 Blachowicz.

Into the 2nd and Manuwa comes right out with a head kick, but Blachowicz starts to pump his jab to keep the Brit at distance. Big combo from Jan but he takes a hard left hook from Manuwa. Kick is caught by Blachowicz and he takes Manuwa down, but Jimi reverses right back up to his feet. Manuwa continues to push forward and looks to potshot Blachowicz, but he quickly eats a heavy combo that wobbles him again. Manuwa’s chin is seriously dodgy. Both men throw some heavy shots before Blachowicz forces Manuwa into the fence and holy shit his face is a MESS. He’s literally bleeding all over Blachowicz’s back now. Foot sweep attempt from Manuwa goes wrong and Blachowicz takes his back for a second, but Jimi quickly scrambles to his feet. Big combo now from Manuwa and Blachowicz is forced to clinch to slow him down. This is a fucking GREAT FIGHT. They separate and now Blachowicz’s right eye is busted badly up too. Big leg kick from Manuwa and suddenly he has Blachowicz reeling with some punches. Jan fires right back though as they continue to trade off. Both guys are breathing heavily. HUGE head kick from Manuwa has Blachowicz wobbled badly, and he shoots for a takedown only for Manuwa to shrug it off. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Manuwa for that kick maybe.

Third and final round and both guys look exhausted and understandably so. Couple of jabs from Blachowicz before Manuwa wings a left hook that leads to a pretty heavy trade. Blachowicz jabs some more but Manuwa comes back with one of his own, only to take a nasty counter from the Polish fighter. Blachowicz seems to be using his jab to set up all of his counters, really impressive stuff. Action finally begins to slow down around the halfway mark, but it’s still Blachowicz doing the better work. Body kick does land for Manuwa but he takes some more heavy counters. Double jab into a right hand lands flush for Blachowicz. Can’t fault Manuwa though as he’s still swinging for the knockout. One minute to go now and Blachowicz connects with a body kick. Couple more clean jabs follow for the Pole. Seconds to go and he hits a takedown to guard and that should do it for him. Fight ends with Blachowicz on top and I’d call it 29-28 for him, maybe 29-27 if you give him a 10-8 first round.

Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Jan Blachowicz. Well, kudos to Blachowicz as he managed to make the correct adjustments to beat Manuwa – basically by using a ramrod jab to keep Jimi at distance and prevent him from uncorking his power punches – but man, nobody could’ve expected such a great fight from these two considering their first outing. Post-fight Dan Hardy suggests a rematch could be in order and I wouldn’t be against that as I don’t think either man is sniffing a title shot any time soon and they’ve already fought most of the other guys in or around the top 10.

Heavyweight Fight: Fabricio Werdum vs Alexander Volkov

Pretty big fight right here – Volkov was coming off three straight wins in the UFC and was looking to vault himself into title contention, while Werdum was aiming to get back to a title shot himself by knocking off another climbing contender after beating Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura in 2017. I was picking Volkov just because I felt Werdum might end up slowing down due to Father Time, but it was a tough call to make.

Round One begins and both guys are wildly grinning for some reason. Werdum comes jumping out of his corner but Volkov avoids a possible kick. Nice takedown lands for the Brazilian though and he’s got Volkov on his back in half-guard. Volkov manages to regain full guard, but Werdum uses a can opener on him and lands with a handful of shots. Big punches get through for the Brazilian and it doesn’t look like Volkov’s got a lot to offer from his back. Well, not many people have against Werdum I guess. 1:45 remaining and Volkov manages to hit a foot sweep and escape to his feet. Big uppercut from Volkov and he unloads with a flurry, but Werdum seems okay. Guard pull follows for Werdum but Volkov’s having none of that and he stands back up. Flying knee is caught by Volkov and he throws Werdum down before letting him up. Single leg is successful for the Brazilian though and he’s back on top in guard. Punches end the round for Werdum. Pretty clear 10-9 for Werdum.

Round Two and a couple of glancing kicks open things for Werdum. Both men talk some trash before Werdum trips Volkov down with a single leg, but the Russian pops back up into the clinch where they separate. Kicks glance for both men and it looks like Werdum might be slowing down a little. Trip puts him down but Volkov lets him back up. Short left lands for Volkov to avoid a clinch. Big takedown lands for Werdum though and he moves right into half-guard. Volkov again gets back to full guard, and the action slows down somewhat from there, causing the crowd to boo a little. Swimming-type hammer fists land for Werdum with less than a minute to go and it looks like he might be content to wait out the round. Volkov manages to kick him away for a second, but Werdum quickly settles back down and then looks to pass into full mount. Kimura attempt follows, but he can’t get it before the round ends. 10-9 Werdum again.

Round Three and again Werdum comes leaping out at Volkov, who avoids the charge. How Travis Browne got caught with that one I don’t know. Big punches land for both men and it looks like Werdum might be hurt. He goes to his back off a mini-scramble, but then hits a sweep and manages to get on top. He tries to take the back, but Volkov pops back to his feet. Werdum’s bleeding all over the place. They wind up clinched, and Volkov dumps the Brazilian to the ground but won’t follow him down. Werdum’s left eye is badly busted up. Single leg attempt follows but Volkov blocks it and winds up on top, landing a decent right hand to the eye. He calls Werdum back up again and ref Marc Goddard has to explain to Volkov that Werdum was grabbing his wrist, not the glove. Action slows down a little as they circle, and it’s Volkov pushing forward now. Takedown attempt from Werdum leads him to attempt a sweep and this time it works, as he takes the back, but an armbar attempt goes awry and Volkov ends up on top. Volkov lets him back up and continues to push forward, landing some more punches. Werdum might be in trouble here. Low single leg fails for the Brazilian and Volkov keeps on walking him down. Low kick is caught and a left puts Werdum down, but Volkov lets him up to end the round. 10-9 Volkov and suddenly it feels like the momentum’s shifting.

Round Four and Volkov looks much fresher and again comes out firing punches. One-two lands for the Russian to counter a low kick. Guard pull attempt from Werdum but Volkov blocks it and lands some punches before they end up in a weird position with Werdum tied up underneath him. Eventually Volkov settles into the guard, surprisingly enough, but he seems confident now and lands with a couple of sharp hammer fists. Volkov stands and calls Werdum up, and the Brazilian decides to swing for the fences, but it’s a BIG MISTAKE as Volkov counters and DECKS HIM WITH A RIGHT UPPERCUT, then knocks him SILLY on the ground.

Big upset for Volkov and a hell of a knockout in the end. Early on this looked like Werdum’s fight but it appeared that he ran out of steam in the second round and once he ended up with that bad damage to his eye, the fight was all Volkov. Ending was essentially caused by Werdum getting too reckless, but it was a beautiful combo from Volkov that finished him off. In a way it’s a pity the UFC have booked Stipe Miocic to fight Daniel Cormier as usually this kind of thing would’ve gotten Volkov a title shot, but c’est la vie. He might get one anyway depending on a few things (the Miocic/Cormier result, and ugh, the status of Brock Lesnar) but if not he should get a big fight next anyway. This was a super-cool main event with a hot finish.

-Show ends with Volkov celebrating the biggest win of his career by far.

Final Thoughts….

Perfect show for a Fight Pass offering really; we got four quality fights that were mostly exciting, a great finish from Volkov in the main event and a hell of a brawl between Manuwa and Blachowicz where I was expecting absolutely nothing. Two thumbs up for this one easily.

Best Fight: Manuwa vs. Blachowicz
Worst Fight: Duquesnoy vs. Ware

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: