MMA Review: #673: UFC Fight Night 145

-This was the UFC’s first show in the Czech Republic, yet another European country for the promotion to break into. Of course, it was your standard European UFC card with mainly European fighters and a local flavour rather than anything marquee, but it still looked decent on paper.

UFC Fight Night 145

Prague, Czech Republic

-Your hosts are John Gooden and Dan Hardy.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Magomed Ankalaev vs Klidson Abreu

This was hot prospect Ankalaev’s latest return to the Octagon, and initially he was supposed to fight Darko Stosic, but when Stosic got hurt newcomer Klidson Abreu came in to replace him. Abreu had a pretty solid record of 14-3, but due to the late notice and the fact that Ankalaev is a bad dude I was taking the Russian.

Round One and it’s pretty clear who’s in better shape as Abreu looks like a dude who took the fight on late notice if you catch my drift. Guy also missed weight and came in at 209lbs so not a good look for him at all. It’s a slow beginning as Abreu pushes the action without doing a lot, and then they clinch and exchange some knees to the body. Takedown is blocked by Ankalaev and he separates with a right hand, but Abreu catches him with a right hook that stuns him a bit. Brief exchange follows before Abreu ducks right into a nasty right uppercut and goes down pretty badly. He pops up but his nose is FUCKED, literally spread across his face. Not much blood though strangely. Takedown attempt fails for him and he pulls guard, but he eats some short shots from there and Ankalaev passes into half-guard for good measure. More elbow connect for Ankalaev and the round ends with him on top. 10-9 Ankalaev and Abreu’s bleeding badly now.

Round Two and Abreu opens with a big head kick that Ankalaev narrowly blocks. Pace remains pretty slow as they circle before Ankalaev glances with the same right uppercut that hurt Abreu in the first round. Flurry glances for Abreu but Ankalaev remains stoic. Ankalaev isn’t landing a lot but when he does you can tell he’s doing damage as Abreu’s face is covered in blood. Big takedown attempt from Abreu but Ankalaev does a great job of defending it and he stays vertical off another attempt from the clinch too. Foot sweep fails for Abreu and Ankalaev ends up on top in half-guard again, and with a minute to go he simply feeds the Brazilian a steady diet of nasty short elbows. Round ends again with Ankalaev in control. 10-9 Ankalaev and this is becoming a shut-out.

Round Three and Abreu comes out swinging punches, but he eats some quicker counters from the Russian who looks about as chilled as someone like Gegard Mousasi in there. Flying knee is caught by Ankalaev and he throws Abreu down before hurting him with a combo as he pops up. Abreu keeps throwing strikes but he’s moving slowly now and his nose is clearly bothering him. It looks like a beak for fuck’s sake! Ankalaev isn’t doing a lot here though which is a bit disappointing. Nasty uppercut again lands for Ankalaev as Abreu steps in and they clinch up. Nice elbow lands for Ankalaev from short range. Crowd sound a bit restless now. Takedown attempt is blocked by Abreu before ref Leon Roberts calls a break. 30 seconds to go and Ankalaev lands a couple more good counters as Abreu lunges in missing strikes, and the round ends with a clinch. 10-9 Ankalaev and 30-27 overall.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Magomed Ankalaev. Not the best fight to watch overall as it felt like Ankalaev was happy to do just about enough to win, probably because of the late switch in opponent messing with his gameplan. Can’t really dog on him too much though as he totally outclassed Abreu for the full 15 minutes. I’m sure he’ll perform better next time out and I still see him as a potential title contender in the future. Dude just screams badass.

Bantamweight Fight: Petr Yan vs John Dodson

Outside of the main event this was probably the most important – and most exciting sounding – fight on the card, as Yan had torn through all of his earlier opponents but was making a big step up in the form of Dodson, who despite his loss to Jimmie Rivera was still considered a top contender at 135lbs. I was leaning towards Yan due to his sheer aggression, but definitely wasn’t counting Dodson out.

First round begins and wow, Dodson’s grown his hair into this weird frizzy ponytail thing. Wild rush from Dodson early has Yan off his feet, but it looked like a slip and he’s right back up. Good left to the body from Dodson. Big flurry to the body lands for Dodson as Yan looks to clinch him up. Yan comes right back with a combo to the body too. Kick from Yan is caught and Dodson takes him down, but surprisingly lets him back up. HUGE right hand lands for Yan as he corrals Dodson and he follows up with a couple more. Dodson might be in trouble here. Body kick is caught but he shrugs off a takedown from Dodson and they wind up clinched. Yan throws him right off and again looks to back him into the fence, but a flying knee leads to a Dodson takedown attempt. Yan avoids it and hits him with a left on the way out, then backs him right up again. Big flurry connects for Yan. Dude has very quick hands. The way he’s forcing Dodson into the fence is excellent too. Another combo lands for Yan and he continues to pile on the pressure. Round ends with a clean left hook from Dodson. 10-9 Yan.

Second round and again Yan puts Dodson under pressure, using his footwork to back him up into the fence. Wild trade sees punches glance for both men. Couple of shots glance for Dodson before Yan nails him with a combo and blocks a takedown. Dodson just can’t stop Yan from backing him up. Big right hand lands for Yan. Nice inside leg kick lands for Dodson and this time he counters with a big left as Yan steps in and drops him! Dodson tries to follow up but Yan hits a nice elevator and pops right back up, and somehow he looks fine, walking Dodson down with punches again. Big combo from the Russian seems to have Dodson angry, but he can’t fire back. Nice body kick into a left hand from Yan. Big left hook follows as he continues to walk Dodson down. Less than a minute to go and Yan has Dodson hurt with some big punches against the fence. Dodson manages to circle free, but he’s really struggling with this pressure. Big right hand drops Dodson for a second but he manages to pop up and lasts the round out. 10-9 Yan and Dodson’s struggling here.

Third round and Yan instantly backs Dodson into the fence. This time Dodson tries to spin away to land some shots, but Yan gets out of range quickly. This guy’s footwork and movement is fantastic. Big combination lands for the Russian. More counters from Dodson but they don’t land cleanly. Brutal right hand from Yan drops Dodson to a knee but he pops back up instantly. He’s just not being allowed to get any true offense in here due to Yan’s movement and pressure. Beautiful takedown defense from Yan allows him to avoid a trip. More pressure and shots land for Yan but a flying knee misses and Dodson tackles him to the ground. The Russian somehow wriggles back up and forces Dodson into the fence, landing a vicious knee to the head on the break. Heavy right hand knocks Dodson right back into the fence. Big combo sees Dodson dive for a takedown, but Yan again stuffs it. This time he takes the back and drags Dodson down before almost getting a trip, but a clear fence grab from Dodson stops it. Big left hand breaks for Yan. Fight ends with more pressure and strikes from Yan and he gets a takedown at the end and drops some bombs to really hurt Dodson. 10-9 Yan, and it’s a 30-27 shutout surely.

Indeed the judges all have it 30-27 for Petr Yan. This was a totally eye-opening performance as outside of Demetrious Johnson in 2015 nobody had really dominated Dodson like this before, as Yan just used his slick footwork to constantly pressure him and corral him into the fence where he landed some huge shots, and really it was only Dodson’s underrated chin that kept him in the fight. Yan is probably top five in this division on talent and I can’t wait to see the inevitable charge into title contention soon. This was awesome to watch even without a finish.

Women’s Flyweight Fight: Liz Carmouche vs Lucie Pudilova

Pudilova was the lone Czech fighter on the main card here, unsurprising given the country hasn’t produced many UFC-level competitors yet. Given she was coming off a loss to Irene Aldana she wasn’t being given an easy fight either, as Carmouche had already beaten Jennifer Maia at Flyweight and was being positioned as a potential title contender. I figured Carmouche would win this handily – annoying the crowd a ton in the process.

Fight begins and they circle around and exchange some early kicks, and Pudilova looks HUGE for this weight class. Into the clinch for Carmouche and she looks to force Pudilova down, but the Czech fighter jockeys for position to prevent it. Very little happens from there as Carmouche just keeps her pressed into the cage, and unsurprisingly the crowd begin to boo. She drops for a takedown and after a TON of effort she finally gets it, but doesn’t do much with it except lace up Pudilova’s legs. Looks like Pudilova might be going for a choke variant, but Carmouche slips her head free. Carmouche is bleeding BADLY it seems, probably from an elbow as she took Pudilova down. Round ends as Pudilova gets to her feet and goes for a guillotine. 10-9 Carmouche I guess but it wasn’t really a convincing round.

Into the 2nd and Pudilova pressures Carmouche back with her strikes, but can’t really land anything major. She’s at least pushing the pace though which is more than can be said for Carmouche in this round, although Liz does land some decent low kicks. Flying kick misses for Pudilova and Carmouche hits a slam and quickly laces the legs up again. Full mount follows for Carmouche but Pudilova hits a beautiful reversal using the fence and gets on top, where she delivers a heavy elbow. Carmouche clings on from the guard, but Pudilova delivers a couple of mini-slams and finishes the round by dropping more elbows. 10-9 Pudilova for me as she pushed the pace and did more damage.

3rd and final round and Pudilova comes out swinging and backs Carmouche up again. Crowd are crazy hot for Pudilova still even though this hasn’t been a good fight. Wild swings miss for Pudilova but she’s still forcing Carmouche backwards. Carmouche finally pushes forward herself and wings a big right hand, but it doesn’t land cleanly either. Pudilova continues to throw a load of kicks at Carmouche but she needs to land more than she’s doing. Nice axe kick lands for Pudilova but Carmouche catches the leg and gets the takedown to side mount. Not much damage for Carmouche again but she’s holding Pudilova down. Pudilova gets to full guard and reverses, but Carmouche goes for a heel hook. Pudilova manages to avoid that and even illegally kicks Carmouche in the head, then switches to some elbows to the legs with Carmouche still holding the heel. Pudilova finally gets free with seconds to go and gets on top, and she avoids an armbar to end the round with a flurry. I think Pudilova stole that round at the end so I’d go 10-9 for her, meaning she wins 29-28 on my scorecard.

Judges go the other way though, giving the fight to Carmouche, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Crowd naturally boo the hell out of that call. I’m still not sure that it wasn’t the wrong decision, either – Carmouche did well in the first round but even then the damage she did was minimal and while Pudilova didn’t do a lot in the second and third either, she was the one pushing the action throughout and she had the big moments when she got on top. Bit of a blah fight overall though due to so many strikes missing, and I almost can’t believe Carmouche has got a title shot off it!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Gian Villante vs Michal Oleksiejczuk

This one sounded like a dirty brawl on paper, and while Villante had continued his up-and-down UFC career by following his loss to Sam Alvey with a sloppy win over Ed Herman, I was taking him to win here as Oleksiejczuk hadn’t been seen since his win over Khalil Rountree – a fight that also saw him busted for steroids. Villante by knockout sounded about right to me!

First round begins and Oleksiejczuk really pushes forward with a lot of movement, backing Villante up and digging to the body with a left hand. Couple of low kicks glance for Villante but he’s on the retreat big time here. Big overhand right lands for Villante but Oleksiejczuk takes it well and keeps forcing the action. Punches glance for Oleksiejczuk as he keeps on pushing forward, and suddenly a BIG LEFT TO THE BODY folds Villante and it’s all over! Wow.

Replay shows it was the third big left that Oleksiejczuk landed to the body and it essentially landed directly to the right side of the body where the liver is. Never seen Villante shut down like that before. Brutal stuff from the Polish fighter who clearly has heavy hands – and a bright future at 205lbs too judging on this.

Heavyweight Fight: Stefan Struve vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima

Super-weird co-main event here as Struve had lost his previous three fights and looked practically done at the top level, while De Lima had won just one fight at Heavyweight – where he was severely undersized – against Adam Wieczorek in 2018. Despite De Lima giving up nearly 10” of reach to Struve, I was picking him in a mild upset due to his heavy hands and Struve’s severely questionable chin.

Round One begins and De Lima comes right out and DECKS STRUVE WITH A RIGHT HOOK! He manages to get guard and holds on as De Lima tries to punish him with more punches, but it looks like he’s recovered now. Into half-guard for the Brazilian though and he really works the body with hard shots. Struve’s doing nothing here, just holding on eating punches. Finally he tries to isolate the left arm, but De Lima smartly steps into half-guard to avoid a kimura. De Lima continues to pound on him with elbows and punches, and it doesn’t look like Struve’s capable of getting up. Into side mount and then full mount for De Lima but he’s only got 30 seconds to work. He can’t finish Struve off and that’s the round. Well, Struve did nothing on offense, and got dropped and then beaten up for 5 minutes, so 10-8 De Lima.

Round Two and De Lima comes out swinging, tags Struve with punches and follows with a clinch, but Struve blocks the takedown this time. He spins the Brazilian around and they jockey for position before Struve hits a trip and gets on top. He literally steps into half-guard and immediately looks to isolate the left arm, and now it’s De Lima who looks like he’s stuck from his back. Struve works to pass and almost gets mount, but De Lima does enough to defend. He gives up an arm triangle in the process though and Struve’s got it locked up. Full mount for Struve now and he keeps squeezing and forces the tapout.

Post-fight Struve surprisingly takes his gloves off and retires, but actually that’s probably a smart move from him; he’s not that old (31) but this was his 10th year anniversary in the UFC (!) and he’s taken a TON of damage in that decade too. Like, the first round went terribly for him here and while he did well to come back and win – mostly due to De Lima’s poor defense from his back – he probably lost more brain cells there even. Fun fight overall though and I’ll miss Struve as he was always fun to watch over the years.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Jan Blachowicz vs Thiago Santos

There were some pretty big stakes in this one as the winner was rumoured to be next in line for a title shot at 205lbs, as despite their relatively low profiles both men had been on great runs – Blachowicz had won 4 in a row while Santos had smashed Jimi Manuwa in one of the best fights of 2018 and had looked great since moving to 205lbs. Despite Santos’s punching power I was taking Blachowicz to win this one as ‘Marreta’ remained somewhat of a glass cannon and the Polish fighter’s striking had looked fantastic in his most recent fights.

Round One starts and the crowd seem to be in favour of Blachowicz. Both men look for the body kick early before Jan tags Santos with a stiff jab. Both men throw some more kicks that don’t really land cleanly before Santos connects on a thudding low kick. More kicks from Santos keep Blachowicz at a distance and he needs to get past those really to be effective. Solid right hand connects for Marreta. Lot of feinting from both and then Blachowicz eats a hard left hook but takes it well. Santos is throwing a bunch of jabbing low kicks to the knee now. Body kick from Santos is caught and Blachowicz looks for the takedown, but Santos remains vertical. Big right hand glances for Santos on the way out of the clinch. More strikes glance for both men and it’s Santos who’s slightly more active. Round ends just after. 10-9 Santos for me in a close one to call.

Round Two and both men are marked up on their face. More jabbing kicks open the round for Santos. Couple of kicks from Blachowicz come up short. He’s coming up short on a lot of his strikes actually and is only narrowly avoiding a big left hook counter from Marreta. Nice body kick finally lands cleanly for Jan. This is a surprisingly slow pace from Santos for his wild standards. Beautiful leg kick lands for Blachowicz. Right hand into a body kick land well for Jan. Low kicks connect for both men as they continue to exchange. Big left hook narrowly misses for Santos. One minute to go and Jan connects on a body kick. He’s really found his range in this round. Round ends with Blachowicz just avoiding a cartwheel kick. 10-9 Blachowicz to even things up.

Round Three and Santos opens with some low kicks as Blachowicz presses forward. He comes in with a big flurry….but Marreta FLATLINES HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK! Blachowicz goes down HARD and some hammer fists on the ground seal the deal. Wow, Marreta did not fuck around there.

Fight was a little slower than I was expecting as I guess both men were really preparing for a five-rounder, but man, you can’t argue with that kind of finish. Blachowicz basically got too aggressive for his own good and walked into the counter left, which it must be pointed out, Marreta was swinging from the opening round. Fantastic finish for him and probably the biggest win of his career too. It was enough to net him a title shot as well, but of course that’s another show! Hell of a way to end this one in the end though.

-Show ends with Marreta calling for a title shot, unsurprisingly.

Final Thoughts….

Bit of a middling show; on one hand the main event delivered a super-nasty and memorable knockout, Struve/De Lima was fun and the Oleksiejczuk finish was pretty cool too, as was a real eye-opening showing from Petr Yan. The slower pace of Ankalaev/Abreu and Carmouche/Pudilova dragged the show down a little but overall it was definitely watchable. Thumbs in the middle, leaning up.

Best Fight: Struve vs. De Lima
Worst Fight: Ankalaev vs. Abreu

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: