MMA Review: #647: UFC Fight Night 132

-Classic Fight Pass fare, this one, with a relatively weak card but a couple of intriguing fights in there too, namely Donald Cerrone in action as well as the always-exciting Tyson Pedro.

UFC Fight Night 132

06/23/18
Kallang, Singapore

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Dan Hardy.

Welterweight Fight: Jingliang Li vs Daichi Abe

This was some weird matchmaking as I figured the UFC would want to match Li higher up on the card than a guy who’d lost his last UFC fight to Luke Jumeau, but I guess they were just looking to give the Leech a winnable match after he’d been beaten by Jake Matthews last time out. Li was the obvious pick given his superior experience and competition.

Fight begins and they circle and exchange a few strikes as Li looks like he’s working out his range. Couple of solid combinations glance for Abe. Li is clearly the bigger guy here, for the record. Head kick glances for Abe. Li doesn’t look comfortable at all here as he’s struggling with Abe’s movement and striking. He does land some leg kicks though and with two minutes to go lands with a couple of solid jabs as well. Heavy right from Li lands and seems to stun Abe and another one has his legs rubbery. Looks like Li’s found his range suddenly. He’s beginning to pick Abe off now. Exchange continues with Li definitely landing the better shots now. Right hand suddenly stuns him though and forces him to back up a bit. Seconds to go and Li lands a right hand set up by a faked takedown. Round ends there. Energetic and fun round, I’d go 10-9 Li for the slightly heavier shots.

Into the 2nd and Abe jabs at the lead leg with some side kicks. Li comes back with some low kicks of his own, then narrowly avoids a spinning attack. Really powerful leg kick connects for Li. The Leech continues to beat Abe to the strike, catching him with a clean right hook in an exchange. He’s really using his low kicks well too. Big overhand right glances for Li and he’s got Abe stunned again. Abe recovers pretty quickly though. More strikes continue to land for both men as they’re showing no sign of slowing down. Massive right hand from Li rocks Abe badly and then he taunts him before landing a couple of follow-ups. Abe’s in trouble. He manages to survive the onslaught though despite almost eating a big flying knee. Li continues to land more strikes to end the round. 10-9 Li in a pretty clear round.

Final round and both men come out aggressively although neither lands anything cleanly in the first minute or so. Big left hook lands for Li and Abe’s rocked again. Low kick knocks him backwards and Li follows with a heavy one-two. Abe’s chin is clearly excellent as he’s taking some serious punishment here. He’s also taking a lot of nasty low kicks too. Li continues to pour it on and land heavy shots, but Abe just won’t go down. Massive credit to Abe for his toughness here but he’s taking a beatdown now. The leg kicks especially are doing a ton of damage. Abe does fire back with a solid right hand, but Li walks right through it and keeps on hitting him with better strikes. Round ends with Li continuing his attack. Possibly a 10-8 round actually so 30-26 for Li.

Judges have it 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 for Jingliang Li, no surprise there. Really good performance from him as he took a while to settle in the first round but once he found his range he picked Abe apart and did some real damage, particularly with the low kicks. He clearly needs a step up in competition next time though – it’s not like the 170lbs division is thin on talent after all. Maybe someone like Mike Perry or Warlley Alves would do?

Women’s Flyweight Fight: Jessica Eye vs Jessica-Rose Clark

This was a pretty big fight in the new Flyweight division actually, as Clark had beaten Paige VanZant in January to gain some momentum while Eye had bounced back from four straight losses at Bantamweight to beat Kalindra Faria in her divisional debut. I’ve always been a fan of Eye so I was hoping she’d pull out another win here.

Round One begins and both women come out aggressively and trade pretty openly in the first minute. Big trade sees Clark wobbled slightly but she recovers pretty quickly. Looks like Eye’s got the slightly faster hands. Big right hand connects for Eye. Clark keeps firing back but Eye’s doing a good job of slipping the punches and landing ones of her own. Exchange continues at a slightly slower pace now with both women settling down a bit, but Eye’s just about getting the better of it still. More crisp shots land for Eye and the round ends soon after. 10-9 Eye.

Round Two and it’s Clark who lands the best shot in the opening exchange, a nice overhand right. Another overhand lands for the Aussie but Eye clips her with a counter uppercut. Kick from Clark sees her slip and Eye takes top position for a second before grabbing a front headlock in a scramble. Clark pops back to her feet but Eye keeps hold of her and lands a knee to the body. Clark manages to break off and they get back to striking, with both girls landing some decent stuff again. This is a much harder round to score actually. Nice head kick connects for Eye though and it forces Clark back. Good right over the top lands for Clark as they continue to trade off, with Eye landing a jab to the body. Combination glances for Eye but Clark fires back with an overhand left. Seconds to go and a few kicks land nicely for Eye but it’s Clark on the offensive as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Clark in a very close round.

Round Three and again they come out exchanging, with Clark pushing forward with a body kick. Beautiful combination fires back for Eye and she ends in a clean body kick too. Clark pushes forward but she gets hurt by Eye and has to backpedal as Eye really opens up with a barrage. Stiff jab follows for her. Eye is looking excellent in this round. Brief clinch is broken quickly and they continue to fire at one another, and with just under two minutes to go Eye hits a trip takedown to half-guard. That was smart as it could be enough to sway the round for her. Good top work follows for Eye as she works the body and controls the right arm to keep Clark firmly grounded. Seconds to go and Eye hops into side mount, then into north/south, and the round ends in that position. 10-9 Eye, 29-28 for her overall I’d say.

Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 all for Jessica Eye. Totally correct decision thankfully as it was one of those fights I could easily have seen the judges getting wrong as it was very close. Post-fight Eye gets REALLY emotional basically screaming that the UFC made her fight up at 135lbs (because there was no 125lbs I guess) which made her doubt herself, but she’s the BEST at 125lbs. Really good promo and I hope she manages to get a push up the rankings now as she’s exciting, marketable and can clearly make some noise in this division.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Tyson Pedro vs Ovince St. Preux

After dispatching of Saparbek Safarov with ease in September this was a bit of a big step up for the young Aussie Pedro, as he was faced with a perennial contender in OSP, although OSP had lost his last fight to Ilir Latifi. I was picking Pedro just purely on his natural talent but there was definitely a worry that this could be one step too far for him.

First round begins and OSP opens with a body kick that Pedro almost catches. Pedro circles on the outside as OSP closes in, but Pedro clips him on the top of the head with a high kick. Both men land right hands before Pedro lands a clean head kick and then DROPS OSP WITH A RIGHT! OSP is in trouble and he dives for a takedown, but Pedro locks up a guillotine and drives him into the fence, trying to lift him up to choke him out. OSP does well to escape, but he eats an elbow inside and he’s still not out of the woods. Pedro tries to take him down but botches it, and suddenly OSP gets a guillotine of his own. Pedro escapes that and they remain clinched, with OSP narrowly avoiding a trip takedown. Another attempted takedown from Pedro goes totally wrong though and OSP scrambles and takes his back. Pedro rolls and tries to get to guard, but OSP ends up in side mount instead and from there he locks up a straight armbar on the right arm and forces the tapout!

Big win for OSP in a super-exciting fight, but man, Pedro snatched defeat from the jaws of victory there. I just don’t know why he tried to take OSP down when he clearly had him outgunned standing? I guess it’s an experience thing which is the problem for any prospect at 205lbs – the division is just devoid of gatekeepers and so the prospects end up jumping from fighting dross like Safarov right up to legit contenders like OSP. I mean Pedro will be fine and he’ll bounce back, but this was disappointing considering how he started off. Ah well.

Welterweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Leon Edwards

After rebounding from a bad 2017 to beat Yancy Medeiros in February, this was a bit of a random fight for Cerrone to take as Edwards – while on a very impressive 5-fight win streak – was hardly the biggest name out there. I guess Cowboy’s never cared about that though, making him the perfect gatekeeper really. I was taking Cerrone to win as I felt he was slightly better than Edwards in all areas, but with someone who fights as much as Cerrone you never know when he’s suddenly going to fall off, either.

Round One begins and Edwards opens with a hard body kick and almost lands a big knee as Cerrone leans forward, but Cowboy just about avoids it. Takedown attempt follows for Edwards but Cerrone works to defend it. Cerrone does really well to stay on his feet, but Edwards keeps him firmly pressed into the cage before separating with an elbow. Spin kick misses for Cowboy and he comes up short on a couple of punches too, but does land a clean low kick. Takedown attempt from Cowboy is blocked by Edwards and they exchange knees inside the clinch, before Edwards blocks the takedown again. Looks like Cowboy is cut. Head kick glances for Edwards. Both men throw out some strikes that glance and Edwards lands with a strong leg kick. Big head kick lands for Edwards but Cowboy takes it well. They trade with low kicks and Edwards tries to keep Cowboy at distance, with the round ending shortly after. 10-9 Edwards in a good opening round for him.

Round Two and right away Edwards pushes forward. Body kick connects for him at the end of a combo and Cerrone seems to be struggling to get a rhythm going. He does connect on his own body kick though. There’s a lot of blood coming from Cerrone’s right eye now too. Takedown attempt from Cowboy fails but he does force Edwards into the fence. Action slows down a bit as Edwards keeps his back to the cage to prevent the takedown, and finally he spins Cerrone around and breaks with an elbow. Big knee to the body follows. Cerrone looks outgunned here. Another body kick lands for Edwards. Cowboy fires back with a right hand and that forces Edwards to retreat a bit, and Cerrone follows with a side kick to the body. One minute to go and Cerrone counters a body kick with a decent flurry. He backs Edwards up a bit, but then lands a low blow and the ref has to call time. They restart and Edwards nails a body kick again. Takedown attempt from Cerrone is stuffed but Cowboy does land a good knee inside. Edwards comes back with a hard one of his own, and then in a crazy moment Cowboy NAILS him with a head kick as he tries to tell the ref about a glove grab. Weird stuff. Round ends just after. 10-9 Edwards but it was a close round in the end.

Round Three and a big combination opens for Edwards to counter one from Cowboy. Cowboy really gets aggressive though with a big combination pushing forward and landing to the body and head. Clinch from Edwards but Cerrone shrugs it off. Beautiful combo from Edwards snaps Cerrone’s head back, but he seems okay. Hard right uppercut lands for Cowboy as he comes forward but Edwards shows a good chin too. Combo follows it up for Cowboy. This is the best Cowboy’s looked thus far. He’s really opening up to the body and head now. Brief clinch is broken by an Edwards left hand, and Cowboy continues to stalk forward. Takedown attempt is blocked by the Brit. Two minutes to go now and Cowboy again shoots, but can’t get Edwards down. Nice combination lands for Edwards. Another clinch follows a failed takedown for Cowboy but it doesn’t last for long. Seconds to go and the exchange continues, and he lands a quick counter off a Cerrone attack. Combination follows and the round ends soon after. 10-9 Cerrone for me.

Round Four and Edwards connects on a sharp left hand counter as Cerrone throws out a low kick. Both men throw low kicks and Cerrone goes down, and narrowly avoids a head kick as he pops back up. Both men throw some more kicks at one another before Cowboy clinches and forces the Brit into the fence. Edwards breaks off and then lands with a pretty nasty head kick. Nice one-two follows for Edwards. Cowboy comes back with a low kick. Body kick lands for Edwards. Clinch from Cowboy and Edwards lands with a knee before he gets shoved into the fence. This time Cowboy manages a takedown, but Edwards gets back up pretty swiftly. They break off with an Edwards elbow again, and Cowboy is a bloody mess now. Head kick from Edwards is caught and Cowboy dumps him down, but he pops up again pretty instantly. Cerrone’s really pushing forward now but Edwards stays smart and refuses to get drawn into a trade. Head kick glances for the Brit. Round ends with a Cerrone head kick. 10-9 round for Edwards so I’ve got him 39-37 up going into the fifth.

Round Five and these guys look fucking BUZZING. Cerrone comes out pressing the action and really forces Edwards to circle out, but he doesn’t really land a lot in the first minute. Combo finally glances to put Edwards firmly on the retreat, but Cerrone probably needs a finish here. Couple of kicks land for Edwards and he gets back on his bike. High kick glances for the Brit. Clinch from Cerrone and he shoves Edwards into the fence, and this time he hits a really nice trip takedown to half-guard. Edwards manages to work to his feet pretty quickly though and he breaks with a right hook. Less than one minute to go now and Cerrone clips Edwards with an uppercut in a brief exchange. Seconds left and Cerrone tries to pull a Max Holloway, pointing to the ground to try to entice Edwards into a trade, and sure enough he obliges and they exchange shots to the buzzer. 10-9 Cerrone, 48-47 Edwards overall on my card.

Official scores are 48-47 all round for Leon Edwards. Cerrone looks pretty dejected post-fight but it was clearly the right result as Edwards basically outworked him for the majority of the fight and did far more damage overall, even if he showed he’s not quite a proper blue chip guy when you consider how easily Darren Till absolutely destroyed Cerrone. He’s definitely a legit top ten guy now though and that’s a nice surprise as I never expected him to get this far. And he calls out Jorge Masvidal next and that’d work for me for sure. Quality fight overall as you’d expect from these two guys as well, great main event for the show.

-Show ends with Edwards leaving the cage in victory.

Final Thoughts….

Decent Fight Pass show in the end as all of the fights were entertaining, even if it would’ve been nice to see another finish. Can’t complain with four exciting fights though, so it’s a thumbs up for sure from me, even if nobody will remember it come the end of the year!

Best Fight: Cowboy vs. Edwards
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com