MMA Review: #681: UFC Fight Night 150

-This one had its main event changed on pretty late notice as it was originally meant to be a Jacare Souza/Yoel Romero rematch, but Romero got injured and so Jack Hermansson – who’d beaten David Branch about a month earlier – stepped in on late notice for a massive opportunity. Co-main event? A Greg Hardy fight, ugh.

UFC Fight Night 150

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Dominick Cruz.

Lightweight Fight: Roosevelt Roberts vs Thomas Gifford

This was a bit of a weird opener but Roberts – a lanky dude known as The Predator, unsurprisingly, for his dreadlocks – had looked good in his UFC debut, a guillotine choke of Darrell Horcher, explaining why it was being showcased. Gifford meanwhile was making his UFC debut after an up-and-down career on the regional scene, and the most notable thing about him? Dude is a dead ringer for former pro-wrestling star Edge.

First round begins and Roberts has actually SHAVED THE DREADS, meaning his nickname is pretty pointless now. Quick low kick and a clinch begin things for Roberts but Gifford quickly breaks off. Takedown attempt is blocked by Gifford. They exchange strikes before Roberts hits a double leg and lands in half-guard. Into north/south for Roberts and he drops a couple of shots before settling into side mount. Looks like he’s setting up for a kimura on the left arm. Gifford avoids that and gets half-guard back, but Roberts quickly works free of that only for Gifford to get a donkey guard to look to isolate a leg. Roberts just keeps punching him and then sneaks back out into side mount. Nice elbows get through for Roberts before Gifford kicks him away. Roberts has none of that and gets back on top, but Gifford tries an armbar. Roberts defends well and gets back to side mount, then goes for his own kimura. Gifford avoids but eats some hammer fists before the round ends. 10-9 Roberts.

Second round and Roberts opens with a stiff right hand. Big combination follows but Gifford’s chin is evidently solid as he takes it and keeps coming forward. Another big combination lands for Roberts but Gifford takes it again. He’s just catching Gifford over and over with clean punches here. Gifford is also missing on most of his own strikes. Dude’s face looks badly marked up. Clinch from Roberts but Gifford locks up a guillotine and drops to guard. He can’t finish though and Roberts is on top again. Few punches and elbows get through for Roberts as he’s got Gifford really mashed up against the fence. He moves into north/south and Gifford tries a weird inverted triangle that doesn’t work well. Round ends with Roberts defending a triangle. 10-9 Roberts again.

Third round and Gifford pressures forward but he’s still eating cleaner shots from Roberts as he does. Huge one-two seems to have Gifford hurt but Roberts gets the clinch rather than follow up. Gifford goes for a takedown this time but Roberts avoids it and they jockey for position before Gifford finally does drag him down. Half-guard for Roberts and the action slows down a bit from there before Roberts kicks him away and stands back up. Beautifully timed right hand connects for Roberts. Takedown attempt follows but Gifford defends it this time. Roberts keeps trying and manages to dump him with about 1:30 or so remaining, and he quickly moves into half-guard and looks to prep the kimura. He can’t get it and Gifford regains full guard, where Roberts lands a few more short strikes from the top. Round ends with more ground-and-pound. Got to be 30-27 for Roberts really.

Official scores unsurprisingly are 30-27 all round for Roosevelt Roberts. Fight was perfectly acceptable MMA even if Gifford didn’t offer all that much on offense outside of being really tough and unorthodox. Not much more to be said really outside of Roberts being a prospect to keep an eye on, but then we knew that coming in.

Bantamweight Fight: John Lineker vs Cory Sandhagen

This was a big fight for the once-defeated Sandhagen, as he’d come into the UFC and gone 3-0 with all finishes, but obviously Lineker – who had lost just one fight since 2014 – was a big step up for him. Despite Sandhagen’s clear potential I was going with Lineker in this one due to his experience and heavy hands.

First round begins and Sandhagen looks markedly bigger, particularly in terms of height. He presses forward early on and looks to corral Lineker as the Brazilian tries to throw some haymakers and does land a couple of wild hooks. Sandhagen does a good job of just slipping out of range to avoid taking them flush though. Flying knee glances for Sandhagen. Exchange continues with both men landing body shots and low kicks. Lineker is really winging with hooks here but he’s just coming up short. Nice body shot lands for Lineker and he mainly blocks a cartwheel kick. Big right hook from Lineker but Sandhagen takes it well and comes back with a body kick. Couple more wild hooks land for Lineker. Big combinations connect for both men. Exchange continues with the cleanest shot being a shovel hook from Sandhagen. Round ends on the feet. Super-close round to score; probably 10-9 Lineker by a hair as he seemed to land the harder shots but it honestly could’ve gone either way.

Second round and Lineker comes out on the attack, landing a low kick and some more glancing power hooks, but Sandhagen comes right back with a kick to the body that backs him up. Lineker is crazy good with the hooks to the body and he lands a couple more of them. Nasty leg kick lands for Lineker. Sandhagen is showing some nice movement in this round and it’s allowing him to land a little more. Jumping kick glances for him though. Lineker comes right back with some more hooks, so Sandhagen gets a double leg. Lineker pops right back up though only for Sandhagen to slam him back down. Short punches land for Sandhagen as Lineker works back to his feet again. Nice jab from Sandhagen but Lineker shoots and gets the back before dragging him to the ground. Sandhagen tries to work back up but almost ends up in a neck crank, but he does manage to escape. One minute to go and Sandhagen lands a couple more combinations. Exchange continues to end the round. Still a massively tricky fight to score, but 10-9 Sandhagen in that round for more volume.

Third round and Sandhagen looks to attack from range, landing some jabs on Lineker while keeping his distance. Lineker still keeps trying the big hooks but he’s eating more punches now due to Sandhagen’s movement. Big power hook lands to the body for Lineker. Sandhagen is proving a tricky target to hit though. He just keeps on touching Lineker without really hurting him, but the volume is adding up. Couple of power hooks glance for Lineker but he’s coming up slightly short. Looks like the Brazilian has a bloody nose. Stats show Sandhagen has landed 109 strikes to Lineker’s 73. Big flurry from Lineker backs Sandhagen up, but he smartly circles out. Couple more power shots glance for the Brazilian though, as he’s swinging real haymakers. Beautiful jumping knee connects for Sandhagen. Takedown attempt is shrugged off by Lineker. Exchange continues and a couple of big left hooks connect for Lineker but don’t really hurt Sandhagen. Seconds to go and Lineker continues to wing huge punches, landing a couple of lefts that force Sandhagen to shoot. Lineker goes for a guillotine and it looks TIGHT as Sandhagen’s bleeding too, but the fight ends there. 10-9 Sandhagen in another super-close one so call it 29-28 for him.

Judges have it 29-28 Sandhagen, 29-28 Lineker, and 29-28 for Cory Sandhagen to pick up a pretty massive win. Well, it was definitely close and the fight could’ve gone either way, but I thought the judges got it right here (well, 2/3 of them anyway) by going with the volume and workrate of Sandhagen over the haymakers of Lineker. Sandhagen has since gone onto an even bigger win over Raphael Assuncao – the dude is definitely a title contender now – while Lineker was unexpectedly cut in June after withdrawing from a fight due to weight cutting issues. It’s a pity because of his ability to put on fun fights like this, but it is what it is I guess.

Light-Heayvweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Ion Cutelaba

This was initially supposed to happen at January’s Fight Night 143, but Cutelaba ended up withdrawing due to injury and Teixeira beat Karl Roberson instead. Despite Teixeira’s massive experience advantage I was going for Cutelaba here, feeling like Glover had looked much slower recently than he’d done in his prime and the fast, hard-hitting Moldovan would take advantage.

Fight begins and Cutelaba looks INTENSE. Big head kick opens things for him and has Teixeira slightly wobbled, but he keeps his poker face well. More kicks from the Moldovan as he circles on the outside, and he stuffs an early takedown too. Couple of knees glance for Cutelaba off another stuffed takedown. Single leg attempt is deeper for Teixeira but Cutelaba stuffs it again and they trade from the clinch. Couple of knees and some big hooks glance for Cutelaba. He’s so much faster than Glover. Cutelaba is cut over the right eye, though. HUGE SPINNING BACKFIST lands for Cutelaba and Teixeira goes down with a delayed reaction – narrowly avoiding an illegal knee in the process. Punches and elbows land for Cutelaba as Teixeira tries to get to guard, and then desperately goes for a takedown. He gets it and then locks up a standing guillotine, but Cutelaba escapes. Great recovery from Glover. Cutelaba looks like he might be tired. Both men exchange punches and yeah, Cutelaba’s definitely moving slower now. Clinch from Teixeira and he drives Cutelaba into the fence. Elbow breaks for Cutelaba. One-two into a knee follows for him. Nice combination from Teixeira fires back and they exchange to the end of the round. 10-9 Cutelaba for sure after that spinning backfist.

Into the 2nd round and they exchange punches with Teixeira landing a pretty clean right hook. Cutelaba comes back with a couple of power punches of his own, but Teixeira really wades in with some big shots and Cutelaba looks hurt. Takedown attempt follows but Cutelaba stuffs it and then lands a couple of shots including a front kick to the body. These guys are just trading haymakers now, wow. Tremendous takedown defense from Cutelaba allows him to stay vertical and he works Teixeira over with some more punches from close range. Teixeira keeps coming forward though and he has Cutelaba hurt with a one-two. Cutelaba fires back with a couple more hooks as neither man is backing down. HUGE LEFT lands for Teixeira but somehow Cutelaba eats it up. More shots land for Glover and he shoves Cutelaba down as he tries a knee. Into half-guard for Glover and Cutelaba looks exhausted. Full mount from Teixeira and he lands some big shots, and then Cutelaba gives his back and ends up being choked out in short order.

Great showing from Glover Teixeira as he was badly hurt in the first and in the second to be fair, but he weathered the storm and once Cutelaba got tired, he turned up the heat and took him out. Cutelaba should learn a lot from this as he was definitely winning but just tried a little too hard to put away a very savvy veteran and ended up gassing. Fight was fantastic due to all the wild trading of punches.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Perry vs Alex Oliveira

This one sounded pretty exciting given the styles of both men; both were looking to bounce back from losses too, Perry to Donald Cerrone and Oliveira to Gunnar Nelson. I was leaning Oliveira due to his solid chin and excellent ground game.

Round One and Oliveira circles on the outside to begin, missing a wheel kick but landing a leg kick. Crowd are WAY into Perry here. Both guys miss some punches and then tie up with Oliveira looking for the takedown. Perry stuffs it and they jockey for position before breaking off. Looks like the bridge of Perry’s nose is cut. Wild swing misses for Perry and Oliveira looks for the takedown again only for Perry to lock up a kimura. Slam from Oliveira allows him to take the back with one hook as Perry pops up, but he can’t capitalise and they break. Decent right hand glances for Oliveira but he misses with a wheel kick. Nice combination lands cleanly for Oliveira but Perry shows a really good chin. More shots connect for the Brazilian and Perry clinches, but somehow he didn’t actually look rocked anyway. Elbow breaks for Perry and Oliveira has to retreat. Wild swings land for both men and it looks like Perry’s cut under the left eye now too. His face is a mess. Big combo from Cowboy has him hurt but he stays vertical. Right hand misses for Oliveira and Perry clinches and lands a knee, but Oliveira breaks off. Couple more shots land for Oliveira before Perry opens up with a flurry to end the round. Well, that was great. 10-9 Oliveira.

Round Two and Perry comes out swinging, and Oliveira might be a bit tired after all the wild output of the first round. He still catches Perry coming in with a nasty uppercut, though, but Perry takes it easily again. Big flurry from Oliveira but Perry counters and DROPS HIM with a right hook! Perry’s chin is fucking INSANE because other fighters would’ve folded by now. He allows Oliveira back up and then lands another right hand, but now it’s Oliveira showing the great chin. Weird moment sees Perry apparently slip, but then grab Oliveira for a BIG SLAM only for the Brazilian to pop right up and charge at him to force him to the fence. This is awesome. They break off and the action does slow down a bit, understandable really. Weird dancing from Oliveira seems to confuse Perry and allows the Brazilian to land some low kicks before missing a superkick. Big right hand lands for Perry and Oliveira stumbles, allowing Perry to get a takedown to half-guard. One minute to go and Perry opens up with some pretty heavy shots that have Oliveira in trouble. Cowboy manages to survive but he looks a bit stuck here due to tiredness. More punches get through for Perry and the ref takes a good look, but Oliveira manages to escape to his feet. Another weird moment sees Oliveira pick up some kind of foot injury in the final seconds apparently from bouncing around, but Perry can’t capitalise before the buzzer. 10-9 Perry to even things up.

Round Three and Perry clearly looks like the fresher man here which could be key. Apparently Oliveira dislocated a toe in those last few seconds of the round but the announcers explain that his corner popped it back in during the break. Holy shit. Oliveira actually pushes forward early on despite looking tired between rounds, and neither man lands a lot in the opening minute. HUGE combo connects for Perry including a body shot, but Oliveira just eats it right up. Both guys keep on swinging including a cage-springing punch from Oliveira, but neither lands cleanly. Exchange sees Perry connect with a left hook that has Oliveira wobbled, but somehow he recovers quickly. More big shots land for Perry though and Oliveira is hurt, but he fires back with a lead elbow. It misses and now Perry’s got him on the ropes with a HUGE FLURRY, and Oliveira outright runs away from danger. He’s in deep trouble. Somehow he recovers and actually presses forward, landing a massive left hand of his own. Seconds to go and both men look hurt and tired, and then Oliveira misses a spinning backfist and slips to the ground. 10-9 Perry for me so 29-28 for him.

Official scores are 29-28 all round for Mike Perry, but shit, in a fight that good there’s no real loser. Both men left everything in the cage there and it was only a couple of flurries that won it for Perry, who hung in there with some incredible toughness in the first round before really taking the fight to Oliveira, who also showed a ludicrous chin. This was one of the best fights I’ve seen in 2019.

Heavyweight Fight: Greg Hardy vs Dmitry Smoliakov

After his disappointing UFC debut that saw him DQ’d against Allen Crowder – who was beating him anyway – the hype train on Hardy had practically come to a stop by this point, but it seemed like the UFC were still willing to push him, putting him in with Smoliakov, who had gone 0-2 in the UFC between 2016 and 2017 before winning a single fight on the smaller circuit to set up this return. Despite Smoliakov looking terrible in his previous UFC fights I actually picked him to win here because Hardy had looked downright terrible in his previous fight.

Pre-fight introductions are interesting here as Smoliakov is fucking HENCH and yet he looks a bit scared of Hardy.

Fight begins and they circle before Hardy glances on a right hand. Weak attempt at a clinch fails for Smoliakov. He’s flinching with every punch Hardy throws basically. A takedown attempt misses by a mile for him. Couple of shots glance for Hardy. Takedown is shrugged off again too. Big head kick glances for Hardy and he stuffs another takedown. Trio of right hands connect and Smoliakov goes down, and some hammer fists end things from there despite not really landing cleanly.

Shitty fight even with the finish as Smoliakov looked like he didn’t want to be in there with Hardy at all and just collapsed under the power as soon as Hardy landed cleanly. I mean I’m sure Hardy hits hard, but Smoliakov had a lot more experience and just looked like a sacrificial lamb in there. Post-fight the crowd boo Hardy loudly too. The UFC should probably pull the plug on this experiment and just feed Hardy to a top guy like Francis Ngannou or Curtis Blaydes or something, but NFL EXPERIENCE. Go figure.

Middleweight Fight: Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs Jack Hermansson

As I mentioned earlier this should’ve seen Jacare rematching Yoel Romero, who beat him in controversial circumstances in 2015, but Romero picked up an injury and so Hermansson stepped in as a replacement. I couldn’t see this going well for the Swede, either – he’d been winning fights primarily with his grappling and who can ever grapple with Jacare in the UFC? Add in Jacare’s heavy hands and I figured he’d pick up an impressive finish here.

First round begins and Hermansson looks absolutely HUGE for 185lbs. Pretty much towering over Jacare who isn’t small either. Leg kick lands for the Swede and he looks amped for this one. Quick combo lands for Hermansson as Jacare looks to land a haymaker counter. Nice right hand lands for Hermansson but Jacare tags him on the counter in reply. Couple of jabs and low kicks land for Hermansson who’s using his range well early on. Nice exchange sees both men land punches. Jacare closes in but a BEAUTIFUL COMBINATION has him hurt BADLY and Hermansson grabs onto a guillotine and drops for the finish! Jacare manages to hold on despite Hermansson twisting the neck at a DISGUSTING ANGLE like a dragon sleeper, and eventually he escapes to his feet. Wow that was close. Hermansson keeps him pressed against the fence and then drags him down, but Jacare pops back up. Hermansson stays right on him though and works some knees inside before Jacare breaks with a right. Round ends with Hermansson on the attack again. 10-9 Hermansson in a tremendous round for him.

Second round and you can hear Jacare’s corner telling him to respect Hermansson’s power which is interesting. Hermansson puts the pressure on him right away with some combos to back him up, although a nice counter right gets through for Jacare early on. Jacare is swinging a lot of power punches but for every one that lands Hermansson is catching him with a couple more volume strikes. Takedown from Hermansson follows and he lands in the guard. Bunch of short punches land for Hermansson as he does just enough to keep the fight grounded while Jacare doesn’t do a lot. Big elbow gets through for the Swede with 2:30 to go. He continues to chip away and Jacare doesn’t look like he’s got any offense from his back, surprisingly. To be fair Hermansson is keeping a crazy pace. Round ends with Hermansson on top, and that’s two rounds in the books for him.

Third round and again Hermansson pushes the pace with some low kicks, backing Jacare up. He keeps on sticking the jab in Jacare’s face too. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Jacare this time and they stand back up, but again Hermansson pushes forward. Another takedown is stuffed and a pair of big right hands get through for Jacare. More big shots land for him to the body and he’s backing Hermansson up a bit now. Looks like Hermansson might be slowing down. He still manages to catch Jacare with a beautifully timed right hand counter though and now he’s clipping the Brazilian as he comes forward. Takedown is stuffed by Souza and he trips Hermansson down but lets him back up. Big combo lands for Jacare ending in a right hook but Hermansson takes it well. Another combo has him hurt though, particularly to the body. Another single leg is stuffed by Jacare but Hermansson manages to shove him into the fence. They break and Jacare goes to the body with some more punches before rocking him with a huge right hand. Hermansson has a great chin. Big trade follows and Jacare’s getting the better of it now with his power. Left hand drops Hermansson with seconds to go but he pops up, only to eat another combo on the buzzer. Big round for Jacare, so 29-28 Hermansson going into the fourth.

Fourth round and Hermansson shoots from the off, but Jacare stuffs it and lands a potentially illegal knee that goes ignored. Announcers explain that it was legal though so no issues. Hermansson gets back to sticking the jab into Jacare’s face, and now he’s the one moving forward again. Nasty uppercut stuns Jacare for a moment. Big combination from Hermansson follows but Jacare fires back and it’s A DIRTY BRAWL with both men landing, wow. This is fucking awesome. Jacare’s nose is bleeding now. Nice body kick from Hermansson. More jabs set up some more combinations for Hermansson and he’s keeping Jacare at bay well in this round. Clean uppercut snaps Jacare’s head back. Hermansson continues to put the volume on him but with 1:30 to go he takes a couple of right hand power shots. Clinch from Hermansson now and he forces Souza into the fence. They jockey for position before breaking off and the round ends with more pressure from Hermansson. 10-9 Hermansson and I think Jacare needs a finish.

Fifth round and Hermansson comes out hard and punches his way into the clinch, and from there he dumps Jacare and manages to take the back. Souza works back up but Hermansson stays on him, only for Jacare to throw him using a whizzer. The Swede pops back up though and they separate. Hermansson’s cardio is crazy to be able to push this kind of pace. Few more combinations land for Hermansson and he’s just drowning Jacare in the deep water with his pace now. Jacare just can’t land the big shot he needs. Two minutes to go and Hermansson just isn’t slowing down, constantly moving and landing his jab. Jacare finally starts to get through with body shots and they set up some power hooks, but Hermansson is doing enough to avoid them and keep him at bay. Pair of big overhand rights have Hermansson hurt but he manages to hang in and fire back with punches of his own. This guy’s chin is incredible. Both men land some big shots and with seconds to go Hermansson dumps Jacare with a takedown and that’ll do it. Round ends there, 10-9 Hermansson and 49-46 for quite the upset.

Official scores are 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47 all for Jack Hermansson for the biggest win of his career by a mile. Never expected this but Hermansson basically fought the perfect fight, wearing Jacare down by constantly attacking, using his jab and doing a ton of work in the second round to tire him out. Could he have done it without such a crazy chin, as he took a TON of power shots from Jacare and survived? Who knows, but it doesn’t matter really. The dude took a legitimate top contender and drowned him in deep water to become a top contender himself, what’s not to love? Fight was also fantastic due to the wild exchanges and Hermansson’s insane pace. One of the best fights of 2019 in fact.

-Show ends as Hermansson celebrates.

Final Thoughts….

Shitty Greg Hardy squash aside – and even that was short and basically painless unless your name is Dmitry Smoliakov – this was a hell of a show in the end, with every fight delivering or in the case of the main event and Oliveira/Perry, over-delivering. One of the best Fight Night shows in recent memory and well worth a watch.

Best Fight: Jacare vs. Hermansson
Worst Fight: Hardy vs. Smoliakov

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: