MMA Review: #665: UFC Fight Night 142

-The first UFC show in Australia for a while, this one had a trio of intriguing fights on top with Aussie heroes against pretty tough opponents, but while it looked like curtains for veteran Mark Hunt in his fight, I figured it could be a coming out party for Tyson Pedro and Tai Tuivasa, and that to me made this a must-see show.

UFC Fight Night 142

Adelaide, South Australia

-Your hosts are John Gooden and Dan Hardy.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Jimmy Crute vs Paul Craig

Crute had come off DWTNCS with a solid win and this was his official UFC debut, while Scotland’s Craig had last been seen pulling off one of the comebacks of the year – and probably of all time – with his last-second triangle choke of Magomed Ankalaev in March. I actually took Craig to win this one, figuring his ground skill and experience would pull him through.

Round One begins and Craig opens with a wild wheel kick that doesn’t land cleanly. Good body kick lands for Craig but Crute’s backing him up right away. Takedown attempt from the Scotsman and he puts Crute onto his back early on in guard. Crute scrambles and looks for a sweep using a possible guillotine, but Craig manages to remain on top. Craig moves into half-guard but Crute hits a BEAUTIFUL sweep and lands on top in half-guard himself. Crute decides to stand and call Craig up to join him, and they exchange before Crute hits a takedown and then defends a possible triangle choke. Full mount now for Crute and it looks like he’s setting up an arm triangle. Crowd go mental as Craig works to defend, but he’s in serious trouble here. Crute decides to abandon it as Craig defends, but he remains on top where he continues to work the Scotsman over, avoiding a kimura in the process. 10-9 Crute.

Round Two and they trade kicks to the body with Crute once again backing Craig up. Craig hits a takedown to guard and the action slows down a bit as Crute keeps such a tight guard. Couple of punches do get through for Craig and he works into half-guard, but the Aussie quickly gets back to full guard. Good job from Crute to get back to his feet, and then a weird scramble sees Craig end up on his back with Crute standing over him. Craig gets up to join him and shoots, but this time Crute sprawls and spins to take the back. He lands a couple of thudding punches before avoiding a leglock attempt, but Craig manages to get him down anyway. Crute looks like he’s breathing heavily. Crowd begin to boo a bit as Craig postures up to drop some punches, and with a minute to go it’s looking like his round. Armbar attempt fails for Crute but he does manage to scramble on top in the process. He stands and forces Craig to join him, and then manages to reverse a takedown and get into half-guard. Seconds to go and Crute ends the round on top with a kimura attempt. 10-9 Craig for staying on top for most of the round.

Round Three and they exchange some early strikes before Craig shoots again. Crute works to defend it though and ends up on top in a nice reversal, getting into half-guard. Full mount follows and Craig’s now looking tired while Crute is the seemingly fresher man. Arm triangle choke attempt might be likely here. This one looks tight and Crute really squeezes on it, but Craig somehow manages to last it out. Action slows down a bit as Crute continues to try it, and then he finally gives it up to go back to mount. Craig just looks screwed now though as he can’t seem to get out from underneath the Aussie. He does get to half-guard, but he’s taking some solid punches now too. Full mount again from Crute and he continues to work, landing elbows as well now. Crowd go really crazy as he drops a big flurry, and with seconds to go he isolates the right arm and forces it into a kimura for the tapout.

Announcers are shocked at the submission but it looked more like sheer strength from Crute and a lot of fatigue from Craig led to it. Can’t take anything away from Crute though as Craig is a great grappler and he got outworked on the ground here. Crute is clearly a top prospect in this division so I hope the UFC don’t rush him due to the shallow talent pool as they’ve done with others before. No Glover Teixeira fight next for instance! Fight was a ton of fun with plenty of back-and-forth action, at any rate.

Lightweight Fight: Sodiq Yusuff vs Suman Mokhtarian

Yusuff was another product of DWTNCS, an explosive striker with apparently savage knockout power. Opponent Mokhtarian was also making his debut, but he was coming off a failed TUF run and hardly looked like a genuine prospect. I was figuring Yusuff would probably come away with a major KO here.

First round begins and Yusuff looks to walk Mokhtarian down early. Mokhtarian clinches quickly as Yusuff looks to land some punches, and forces him into the fence. Yusuff turns the position around and pins Mokhtarian into the cage instead, and they trade some knees to the legs. They break off and Yusuff begins to open up with strikes, backing Mokhtarian up, and then Mokhtarian makes the mistake of trying to fire back and gets caught in a trade and Yusuff just DESTROYS HIM WITH PUNCHES for the rare standing TKO!

Hell of a finish for Sodiq Yusuff; post-fight Mokhtarian complains about the stoppage but he was absolutely fucked and would’ve been KO’d violently had the referee not stepped in when he did. Good stoppage in my eyes actually. Post-fight Yusuff shows a ton of charisma and calls himself “blacksplosive”, but hopefully he can round out his skills rather than end up like, say, Melvin Guillard for instance who was always spoken about in a similar way. He’s definitely a guy to watch in 2019 though, and the power he threw with here was pretty insane.

Lightweight Fight: Jake Matthews vs Anthony Rocco Martin

This one confused me when I saw the booking as I thought Matthews was fighting a total newcomer, but then it turned out Anthony Rocco Martin was just Tony Martin, who’s been fighting in the UFC since 2014 and had just changed his name. Tough fight to pick as both guys had looked excellent in their recent fights but I thought Martin would just edge it based on his big victory over Ryan LaFlare last time out.

Round One begins and you’d never believe these pair once fought at 155lbs. Big overhand right glances for Matthews as they circle and throw out some feeler shots. Looks like Matthews is the slightly sharper striker early on. He’s almost landing the overhand right over and over. Good left hand lands for Martin though. Nice low kick from Martin. Matthews comes back with one of his own and then counters a high kick attempt with a right hand. Exchange continues and a lead left lands nicely for Matthews. They begin to really swing and Matthews is landing heavily but Martin calls him on, only to go down off a big right hand! He dives for a takedown but Matthews locks up a guillotine, only for Martin to work into side mount. Matthews gets back to full guard, but the choke doesn’t look fully in and Martin pops free. Martin works into half-guard only for Matthews to hit a reversal and end the round on top. 10-9 Matthews largely for the knockdown.

Round Two and both men look pretty confident coming out as Martin doesn’t seem worried about being knocked down. Martin really pushes forward in the opening minute before Matthews lands the big right hand again to lead into a brief trade. Matthews is throwing some heavy shots here. Head kick glances for Martin. Combination follows for Rocco as Matthews looks like he’s in counter mode. Couple of jabs land for Martin. He keeps pushing the action and Matthews looks like he’s letting this round largely slip away. Martin keeps on landing a sharp low calf kick too. Seconds to go and Matthews glances on the big right before both men land in a trade. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Martin as Matthews took his foot way off the accelerator for some reason.

Round Three and Martin again opens with the low kick as Matthews looks to counter with punches. Nice right hand lands for Matthews coming forward. Low kick lands again for Martin and Matthews drops for a takedown, but Martin scrambles and takes the back. From there he spins around and locks up an anaconda choke, and manages to lock Matthews’ leg down….and seconds later Matthews goes unconscious. Beautiful choke finish for Rocco Martin.

Good fight overall – I’d say it says a lot about the UFC’s faith in these two young fighters as they easily could’ve been cut earlier in their careers and yet the UFC stuck with them and both guys look great now. Story of the fight was Matthews taking the lead with his power punches, but the low calf kick slowed him down and then when Martin was given an opportunity to close things out on the ground, he did it right away with a really nice submission. Dude should have a big future ahead of him at 170lbs.

Heavyweight Fight: Mark Hunt vs Justin Willis

This was apparently the final fight on Hunt’s contract and he was promising to leave the UFC after it, which made sense given he’s sueing the company, but also didn’t make sense as the UFC are the only promotion with proper drug testing and PED users are Hunt’s big issue with the sport. Anyhow, unbeaten Willis was his opponent and I thought this was a bad match for Hunt, faced with a big strong wrestler who can strike a bit too. I was taking Willis by TKO due to Hunt’s diminishing chin.

Pre-fight we get a CLASSIC ENTRANCE as Hunt walks out to a full on Haka, All Blacks rugby style. Awesome stuff!

First round begins and Willis throws out some early strikes and tries to keep Hunt at a distance, but he does take a nasty low kick. Looks like the kick’s opened a bad cut on Hunt’s shin though. Body kick lands for Hunt but Willis clips him with a counter left. Willis keeps on flicking out punches that are just about coming up short. Another body kick lands for Hunt. This is a super-slow pace thus far. Another body kick lands for Hunt. Willis needs to find his range here. Round ends on the feet. Dull stuff but 10-9 Hunt for the kicks I guess.

Second round and very little happens to begin with as Willis circles around and pops Hunt with some flicking punches from the outside. Hunt looks like he might be out of gas here actually. Crowd begin to get pretty restless due to the lack of action as Willis seems content to just pick at Hunt while not really opening up. Smart gameplan but it’s not really entertaining. In fact it’s downright terrible to watch. Not as bad as like, Ngannou vs. Lewis but even so. Round ends with Willis continuing to pick away with his quicker punches, mainly a fast jab. Hunt doesn’t look interested. 10-9 Willis.

Third round and it’s more of the same as Hunt just looks totally out of steam while Willis picks at him from the outside. Looks like Willis is more confident now too as he’s just catching Hunt constantly with punches and jabs with very little answer from the veteran. Crowd sound pretty annoyed with the lack of action but what can you do? It’s a smart performance from Willis. Round ends with more of the same. 10-9 Willis and it’s got to be his fight, 29-28.

Judges all have it 29-28 for Willis which garners a ton of boos. But post-fight he gets some love from the crowd by letting Hunt do the interview, and Hunt apologises for his performance and then pretty much just leaves. Really bad fight overall and although Willis looked good in the final two rounds I don’t think he’ll have earned himself many fans as it felt like Hunt just randomly gave up after a strong first. It’s a pity his UFC career had to end like this but shit happens. I think he probably ought to retire but I fully expect him to show up in Rizin any day soon. This was simply a fight to forget.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Shogun Rua vs Tyson Pedro

This was another prospect vs. veteran fight, with young Aussie Pedro looking to bounce back from a bad loss to Ovince St. Preux by knocking off one of the all-time greats in Shogun. I figured he would do it too as Shogun looked downright terrible in July against Anthony Smith and I feared he was fast approaching Liddell circa 2010 territory.

Fight begins and Shogun looks in bad shape physically. Pedro circles on the outside to begin as Shogun stalks forward, and neither man lands a thing in the opening minute. Big punches land for Pedro from nowhere and Shogun’s in trouble. He goes down but manages to pop up and fire back, and that’s enough to get a clinch. Pedro breaks quickly though and nails him again, but Shogun counters pretty well too. Nice low kick from Shogun. Big one-two lands for Pedro but Shogun continues to fire back. Front kick into a right hand snaps Shogun’s head back, and Pedro follows with a HUGE COMBO that has Shogun badly hurt! Uppercut sends him staggering and he’s in deep shit now, and Pedro keeps on coming with kicks and knees and more uppercuts. Crowd go apeshit as Pedro tries to finish him off, then decides to take him down strangely. He lets him up but Shogun manages to cling on to survive, then separates and he still looks wobbled. Brutal body kick from Pedro and he’s got the Brazilian rocked again with another combo. Shogun keeps on throwing back though to his credit. Clinch sees them tumble down before popping back up, and then Shogun hits a single leg and avoids a kimura to end the round. 10-9 Pedro for sure.

Into the 2nd and Shogun looks fully recovered now. Big combination from him sends Pedro stumbling a bit in the opening seconds but the Aussie seems okay. Shogun follows with a leaping left that leads to the clinch, and he works Pedro’s legs with some knees and looks to drag him down. Pedro defends but gives his back, and Shogun finally forces him to the ground and goes into half-guard. Kimura attempt fails for Pedro and Shogun moves into side mount now. Action really slows down as Shogun stays on top and grinds on the Aussie with his elbows. Crowd begin to boo the lack of action, but Shogun’s doing enough to keep the fight grounded. One minute to go and Pedro scrambles to his feet, but Shogun hangs on him from a rear waistlock and lands some knees to the legs. Easy takedown follows and Pedro might be struggling here. Big shots land for Shogun as Pedro desperately tries to escape. He’s badly busted up too. Round ends with Shogun on top. 10-9 Shogun to even things up.

Third and final round and Pedro looks exhausted here. Shogun presses forward and Pedro isn’t moving well either. Couple of shots put Pedro down and it looks like he’s blown his knee out. Shogun pounces and bombs on him with punches and hammer fists, and the ref stops it there.

Post-fight it looks like Pedro’s got an ankle injury rather than a knee injury, unlucky break for him but if you figure he hurt it right before the stoppage, he was probably behind in the fight anyway and looked to be in trouble going into the third. He’s young enough to bounce back but this was a pretty disappointing loss for him and I’d say he really needs some work on his defensive ground game. As for Shogun, this definitely dispelled my Liddell fears but I still think he ought to retire – why not go out on a high? It’s not like he’s going to challenge for the title again and if he continues he’ll probably get smashed by someone like Ion Cutelaba or Dominick Reyes. Fight was at least fun rather than the execution I figured it would be.

Heavyweight Fight: Junior Dos Santos vs Tai Tuivasa

This was a big main event, and a huge test for Tuivasa considering his biggest win prior was Andrei Arlovski. JDS for his part was coming off his win over Blagoy Ivanov and hey, you’ve got to give him kudos for just fighting these up-and-comers rather than demanding big fights like others in his position would. This was a tough one to pick given JDS’s issues with his durability and Tuivasa’s clubbing power, but knowing how comfortably JDS picked apart big hitters like Ben Rothwell before, I took him to win by decision.

Round One begins and Tuivasa looks notably smaller than JDS. The Aussie tries to bull him into the fence early but JDS quickly shrugs him off. Big shots miss for both men as Tuivasa really tries to chase the Brazilian down. Nice leg kick lands for Tuivasa. Counter right hand also lands for the Aussie. Head kick from JDS is blocked. Tuivasa bulls him into the fence and this time they clinch up, but they break soon after. Big overhand right glances for JDS. Tuivasa keeps on walking him down though and glances on a couple of big shots of his own. Beautiful counter right lands for JDS but Tuivasa somehow walks right through it. Left elbow breaks the clinch for Bam Bam. JDS is beginning to jab to the body and head though. Exchange sees Tuivasa slip to the ground but he pops up laughing. Couple of big shots suddenly have JDS a bit wobbled, but he recovers quickly. Big low kick really hurts the Brazilian though and he’s in trouble. Tuivasa decides to clinch strangely rather than go to the kicks again, but he does work with some strong dirty boxing and it looks like JDS is struggling to move. Big shots land for Tuivasa back into the clinch as the round ends. 10-9 Tuivasa for that late rally.

Round Two and JDS looks to be okay in terms of his movement now. Tuivasa begins to stalk him again but he eats some jabs right away this time. Huge combination lands for Tuivasa and he’s got JDS reeling a bit now. JDS manages to clinch to slow things down but Tuivasa breaks and lands again. JDS is still looking to counter, though. Crowd are absolutely buzzing now. Tuivasa bulls back into the clinch again but JDS quickly breaks this time. Wild shots miss for both men and then Tuivasa gets way too wild and JDS lands a BIG COUNTER RIGHT and drops him! He’s in trouble now and JDS follows up before surprisingly going into full mount. And from there JDS just keeps on landing punches while Tuivasa offers nothing in defense, and the ref has to stop it there.

Crowd are deflated by the finish but the ref didn’t have a lot of choice really; Tuivasa was never getting out of that mount in a million years. It just looked like he didn’t really know how to escape from the position. Disappointing for him but it is what it is. The finish reminded me of a less violent version of Frank Mir’s knockout of Todd Duffee actually; Tuivasa just got too sloppy going for the knockout and JDS used his veteran wiles to catch him with a clean counter to set up the finish. Big win for JDS and in such a weird division he’s probably not too far away from a title shot! Just shows what you can gain by just fighting guys without making a fuss. Tuivasa will be back I’m sure but he definitely needs to clean his game up to get to the top. Really fun main event at any rate.

-Show ends with JDS calling out Alistair Overeem (no sir, don’t let the Reem risk letting JDS have his win back!) and Tuivasa calling out Justin Willis which would work for me.

Final Thoughts….

Bad night for the Aussie guys as literally only Jimmy Crute pulled off the win, but overall I thought this was a pretty solid show. Hunt/Willis sucked but outside of that all of the other fights were fun and we got a bunch of cool finishes like Martin’s anaconda choke, Yusuff’s knockout and a major stoppage for JDS in the main event. Definitely a thumbs up from me.

Best Fight: JDS vs. Tuivasa
Worst Fight: Hunt vs. Willis

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: