MMA Review: #675: UFC Fight Night 146

-Another new state for the UFC then in the form of Kansas, and shit they’re edging ever closer to hitting all 50 now which makes me happy! This one had a really great main event but little else in terms of name value, so I was just hoping for some exciting stuff on offer.

UFC Fight Night 146

Wichita, Kansas

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Paul Felder.

Middleweight Fight: Tim Boetsch vs Omari Akhmedov

This was a bit of a weird opener given Boetsch’s prime ended a long time ago while Akhmedov’s more known for dull fights than anything else, but hey. I went with Akhmedov feeling that Boetsch just didn’t have enough left in the tank to win.

Round One begins and they circle and miss some early shots before Akhmedov glances on a head kick. Clinch from Boetsch but Akhmedov forces him into the fence. Takedown attempt comes close for Akhmedov but Boetsch does well to stay vertical. Not much is happening here. Boetsch defends the takedown again and they break off with two minutes to go. Couple of heavy hooks glance for Akhmedov. Boetsch just isn’t doing much here. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Boetsch and he lands an uppercut, but Akhmedov is fine and he pushes forward to end the round. 10-9 Akhmedov I guess.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes with both men landing decently, and it looks like Boetsch’s nose is busted up from a right hand. Akhmedov is just about beating Boetsch to the punch in these exchanges. Nice right hand lands for Akhmedov in a brief trade. This is becoming a bit of a yawner to be honest. They clinch up with just over a minute to go but nothing happens so Herb Dean breaks them up. Apparently it was due to a low blow from Boetsch, so they go back to the clinch and nothing really happens again until the round ends. 10-9 Akhmedov.

Round Three and Boetsch comes out more aggressively, but it just looks like Akhmedov is too quick for him to catch cleanly and he’s landing the better shots again. Pace is at least better in this round as they’re constantly exchanging. Boetsch is now bleeding from the right eye too. Two minutes to go and now Herb Dean has to warn them for not engaging enough as they’re just circling. Big exchange sees Boetsch seemingly hurt and he’s blinking badly now. Akhmedov circles out for some reason and lets him off the hook though. Boetsch keeps on coming forward, but he’s still eating the better shots from the Dagestani. Round ends in a clinch. 10-9 Akhmedov, 30-27 overall.

Official scores are 30-27 all round for Omari Akhmedov. Totally forgettable fight though as while Akhmedov fought well and basically used his superior speed to land the better strikes on Boetsch, he didn’t come close to a finish and the pace was relatively slow until late on.

Lightweight Fight: Beneil Dariush vs Drew Dober

Dober had won his last 3 fights in a row, but this was quite a step up for him given Dariush had been ranked in the top ten until a couple of losses for him and had some amazing grappling skills to go with a decent striking game. As I didn’t think Dober had the advantage in any area, I went with Dariush to win by submission.

First round begins and Dober looks really confident. Few kicks from Dariush open proceedings and then he lands a clean counter left. They continue to trade shots as Dober presses forward, and they exchange into the clinch with Dariush forcing Dober back into the fence. Trip attempt follows but Dober does well to avoid going down and then separates. Nice combination lands for Dariush. Dober fires right back as the pace remains high. Right hand from Dober wobbles Dariush and they trade pretty wildly before Dariush clinches. Dober breaks again and then hurts Dariush BADLY with a big combo. Somehow Dariush remains standing though, wow. Clinch follows but he still can’t get Dober down. Big left hand separates for Dober. Couple of low kicks land for Dariush and they clinch again with Dober again avoiding the trip. Seconds to go and Dober continues to catch Dariush with clean punches, and that’s the round. Dober looked great there, 10-9 round for him for sure.

Second round and Dober comes right out and knocks Dariush down with a kick, looked like he was off balance though as he pops right back up and clinches. Takedown attempt from Dariush follows from there, and he gets it, planting Dober on his back. Dober immediately looks to wall-walk back up, but Dariush keeps him down and lands some decent shots from half-guard for good measure. He’s trying to get to mount, but Dober defends for a while. Dariush keeps trying though and takes mount, and Dober might be in trouble. Big shots land for Dariush but Dober scrambles and almost gets free. Dariush keeps him down but Dober regains half-guard. Mount again for Dariush and he lands a bunch of punches before taking Dober’s back with both hooks. Looks like Dariush is going for an armbar, but he slides off and Dober escapes! Switch from Dariush enables him to get another takedown though, and he goes for a kimura. Dober avoids that so Dariush transitions into a triangle/armbar combination and Dober tries to pull free, but can’t manage it and has to tap.

Replay shows it was a pretty nasty finish in the end as Dober’s elbow really got torqued. Post-fight is awesome too as the two fighters just have a casual chat about how good the submission was, with both showing tons of respect. Really cool. Impressive win for Dariush as he was being trounced on the feet in the first round, but did enough to hang in there and once he got Dober to the ground, it was largely a whitewash. Super-exciting fight though to make up for the shitty opener.

Heavyweight Fight: Ben Rothwell vs Blagoy Ivanov

This one promised to be a bit of a dirty brawl, as both men are plodding strikers who also hit pretty damn hard. Rothwell hadn’t fought since April 2016 (!) due to PED busts, while this was Ivanov’s second UFC outing after a loss to Junior Dos Santos – the same man to last beat Rothwell – in 2018. Due to the lack of recent action for Rothwell I was taking Ivanov in a slight upset.

Round One begins and neither man looks to be in the best shape unfortunately. Rothwell takes the centre of the cage as Ivanov circles on the outside, and they both come up short on their early punches. Weird moment sees Ivanov go down during a punching combination off a low kick from Rothwell, but he gets right back up. Couple of punches glance for Ivanov and Rothwell is literally following him around right now. Nice counter left hand lands for Ivanov. Left hand replies for Rothwell. Couple more shots connect for Ivanov to keep Rothwell at distance. Big exchange sees both men hurt momentarily. Leg kick from Rothwell is met by a nice combo to the body and head. This is a weird gameplan from Rothwell as he keeps on following Ivanov but he’s not throwing all that much. Ivanov’s landing some decent counters to be fair when Rothwell steps in. Round ends with a solid right from Rothwell. Tough round to score really, maybe 10-9 Rothwell for pushing forward, as the strikes were generally even?

Round Two and Ivanov glances on a lot of punches as Rothwell continues to lumber forward. Few kicks glance for Rothwell but Ivanov is still catching him coming in with glancing punches. Clean right hand also lands for Ivanov as Rothwell keeps on coming. Decent left connects for Rothwell but a head kick doesn’t land cleanly. Nasty right hand lands for Ivanov. Looks like he’s got a speed advantage here and that’s allowing him to outland Rothwell. Wild punches for Rothwell largely miss but he lands a big left hook. He tries swinging some more but a nice left hook lands for Ivanov and then they brawl with both men landing big punches. Rothwell’s nose is really bloody. More of the same follows with Rothwell pushing forward but taking clean hooks. Ivanov’s left eye looks swollen though. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Ivanov to even it up.

Round Three and again Ivanov catches Rothwell with the left hook and right hook as he lumbers forward. Pace of this one is still pretty glacial right now. Brief break is called due to Rothwell extending his fingers, and then the exchange continues with more of the same. Weird moment follows as Ivanov takes a low blow and then Rothwell invites him to return the favour. Ivanov obviously doesn’t do it and so they go back to the same exchange. Ivanov is definitely landing the better shots in this round I’d say. Clean right hand does connect hard for Rothwell though. Both men keep on swinging and they’ve clearly got strong chins not to seem hurt by any of this. Both of Ivanov’s eyes now look bruised and swollen. Rothwell’s face is a mess too. Exchange of punches continues with both guys still landing shots and the fight ends there. I’d go 10-9 Ivanov for a 29-28 but it could go either way really.

Judges have it 29-28 all round for Blagoy Ivanov. Crowd don’t like that one at all and boo like crazy, but I think it was the right call – it probably looked bad to them as it was Rothwell always coming forward, but in reality Ivanov largely landed the better shots and really messed Rothwell’s face up. Not the best fight of all time due to the slow pace and the fact that it was just two big dudes throwing punches at each other for 15 minutes and not always landing, but that’s what you get sometimes at Heavyweight!

Welterweight Fight: Niko Price vs Tim Means

I was looking forward to this one as Price had made a name for himself as one of the most exciting fighters in all of MMA in his earlier fights, going 5-2 with none of them going the distance and all of them ending violently. Means had most recently KO’d Ricky Rainey in violent fashion so it felt like this one wasn’t likely to go the distance, and I was leaning towards Price as Means had looked to be slowing down prior to the Rainey fight.

Fight begins and Means pushes forward, landing a left hand as Price looks to throw some low kicks. Means is really swinging here. Price fires right back and he’s got Means on the run here. Big knee from Price but Means dives for a takedown and slams Price down! Price gets to full guard and eats some shots from Means, who then moves into side mount. Nice hammer fists from Means and he remains in control as Price works to his feet. Knee to the head lands for Means with Price on his knees but apparently that’s legal with the new rules. They trade off on their feet now and then finally slow down as a replay apparently shows Means’ knee was illegal. Bunch of kicks land for Price but Means connects with some good long punches. Beautiful combination lands for Means. Another big trade sees both men land cleanly. Means seems to have found his range now. Counter combo has Price stunned. He fires back but he’s taking a lot of shots. Another ridiculous combo lands for Means but Price takes it well. Heavy left hand slap lands for Means and then he wobbles Price with a combo. Big left from Means has Price backpedalling, but as he closes in Price DESTROYS HIM WITH A RIGHT HOOK and Means is OUT!

That was an insane finish; Means looked like he was closing in to finish Price off and just got fucking waylaid by that right hand. Looked like he just overextended himself and didn’t give Price’s punching power enough respect. This was ANOTHER great fight for Niko Price who doesn’t seem to be able to have anything but a barnburner right now. I’d probably pay to see him fight anyone in the UFC in fact.

Welterweight Fight: Curtis Millender vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos

This was a bit of a weird co-main event given the lack of big name for both fighters, but to be fair the UFC has to try pushing new guys sometimes. At any rate both men had shown themselves to be flashy and effective strikers, with Millender being 3-0 in the UFC and Zaleski on a 6-fight win streak after a debut loss back in 2015. Despite Zaleski’s insane capoeira-style striking, I felt the more straightforward kickboxing of Millender would pull him through to win a decision.

Round One begins and wow, Millender is a huge 170lber. Good body kick from Zaleski early on before he shoots and dumps Millender to the mat. Millender holds onto a guillotine but the Brazilian easily pulls his head free and gets into the half-guard. Nice elbow lands for Zaleski and he’s easily controlling Millender here. Wild scramble sees Millender make a major error by giving his back, and Zaleski quickly slaps both hooks in. Millender’s in trouble here but he manages to escape, only to give up full mount. He gives his back again and this time Zaleski slaps on a rear naked choke and Millender has to tap there.

Very impressive stuff from Zaleski; he could easily have chosen to trade kickboxing with Millender but instead exposed a pretty untested – and clearly questionable – ground game. That’s 7 in a row for him too so surely the UFC needs to push him up the ladder next time out – for me he could well be a potential contender when you consider how good his ground game looked here and how he’s used flashy striking before.

Heavyweight Fight: Junior Dos Santos vs Derrick Lewis

This was a pretty big Heavyweight fight for sure, as Lewis was coming off his disappointing loss to Daniel Cormier in his unexpected title shot and was looking to bounce back, while JDS was actually on a two-fight streak after beating Blagoy Ivanov and Tai Tuivasa, and with a win here he was looking to be back in title contention himself. Due to his superior striking I was taking JDS, but with the obvious caveat that Lewis could end the fight at any time.

Fight begins and JDS misses an overhand right in the opening seconds. Big leg kick from Lewis. JDS fires back with one of his own, and then blocks a head kick. Crowd are really into this one. Exchange sees Lewis take a thumb to the eye and Herb Dean calls time, so Lewis wipes his eye on Herb’s shirt before they restart. That’s class. Big body kick glances for Lewis. Some kind of jumping attack then misses before JDS closes in, only to eat a big right hand. Dos Santos takes it well, and continues to stalk forward, and then NAILS Lewis with an overhand right that has him in trouble! JDS looks to follow with another…only to take a right from Lewis that stuns him, and he has to outright run away for a second. He recovers quickly though and walks Lewis down again, then ducks a haymaker well. Big right to the body clearly hurts Lewis and he takes a deep breath. Couple of jabs from JDS and he’s going to the body well. Big overhand right glances again for the Brazilian. Nice low kick from Dos Santos. Head kick glances for Lewis. Spinning back kick to the body doubles Lewis over and he looks about done…but when JDS closes into finish him, somehow Lewis DROPS HIM WITH A RIGHT! JDS pops back up and manages to avoid a follow-up, but Lewis is still hurt and he doubles over again. Looks like he’s in agony here. Couple more kicks from JDS put him down and then he covers up by the fence. JDS lands some more shots and then curiously stands off him, but Lewis looks FUCKED, holding his body in pain. Jab to the body hurts him again but it looks like he’s going to survive the round. Sure enough he dodges a kick and that’s it. Crazy stuff, 10-9 JDS.

Into the 2nd, insanely. JDS immediately looks to walk Lewis down again and I’m not sure he’s fully recovered even now. Big head kick misses for him, and JDS goes back to the body with a jab. Hard leg kick lands for Lewis and he almost lands a big right that causes JDS to slip, but he pops right back up. Jumping switch kick (!) glances for Lewis. Big right hand suddenly lands for Dos Santos and Lewis is in trouble. BIG FLURRY follows and JDS continues to pour it on, sending Lewis stumbling down, and some more shots on the ground finish him off there.

Well, that was a fun – if downright bizarre – Heavyweight fight, as Dos Santos basically whitewashed Lewis but somehow the Black Beast was never truly out of the fight due to his insane power, and he definitely hurt JDS a couple of times. In the end though Dos Santos’s body shots set up the big shots to the head, and once he had Lewis hurt he didn’t mess around. Big win for JDS – probably his biggest since his win over Stipe Miocic back in 2014 in fact.

-Show ends with JDS celebrating after stating that he wants to stay active and fight whoever’s out there.

Final Thoughts….

Definitely an up-and-down show here, as Lewis/Dos Santos and Dober/Dariush were both fantastic while Zaleski/Millender and Price/Means had hot finishes – Price/Means in particular was a great fight. But on the other side of the coin, Akhmedov/Boetsch and Rothwell/Ivanov basically stunk out the joint. It’s a solid thumbs in the middle for this one then, worth checking out but skip over those pair of fights.

Best Fight: Lewis vs. Dos Santos
Worst Fight: Akhmedov vs. Boetsch

Overall Rating: **1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: