MMA Review: #694: UFC Fight Night 156

-This one was the UFC’s first visit to Uruguay and that international expansion will probably be something we miss as things like that slow down due to Covid-19. Well, outside of the possibility of FIGHT ISLAND of course.

Anyhow, I missed this show entirely when it aired first time so this one is all new to me outside of knowing the results of course.

UFC Fight Night 156

Montevideo, Uruguay

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

Featherweight Fight: Enrique Barzola vs Bobby Moffett

Barzola was a favourite of mine coming off his TUF: Latin America run so this one might be fun actually. Can’t recall ever seeing Moffett fight before but the pre-fight package shows a cool brabo choke win over Chas Skelly.

First round begins and it’s Moffett pressing the action early on with some kicks. Superman punch connects for Barzola. Nice counter combo follows for the Peruvian. Exchange continues and it’s a pretty even one to be fair. Nice flurry from Barzola backs Moffett up. Both guys continue to land at a similar clip and the round ends with a Barzola takedown. 10-9 Barzola, but it was super close.

Second round and Barzola tags Moffett with a left hand and then looks for the takedown. He drags him down temporarily but Moffett pops right back up and breaks off. Nice uppercut from Moffett. Exchange continues before Moffett looks for a takedown, but Barzola stuffs it really well. Nice combo from Barzola and he avoids another takedown attempt. Flurry answers back for Moffett. Big punches land for Barzola and Moffett’s looking marked up around both eyes. Takedown is stuffed by Barzola again and the high-paced exchange continues. Low blow lands for Moffett and the ref calls time for a moment before they restart. Nice left hook stuns Moffett for a second but he seems okay. Spinning back kick lands for Barzola but Moffett fires back with a right and they trade off. Combo connects again for Barzola. Big flurry from Moffett answers back and these guys are FIRING now. Wild brawl follows until the round ends with another Barzola takedown. 10-9 Barzola again.

Third round and the striking exchange continues with Moffett mixing it up some more with kicks now as he did in the opening round. Superman punch from Barzola leads to a nasty combination for the Peruvian. Takedown attempt follows but Moffett defends well and looks for one of his own. Barzola stuffs that and they trade from the clinch before breaking off. Spinning elbow glances for Barzola. Striking exchange keeps on and it’s Barzola who’s pushing the pace a little more. Pair of big right hands land for Moffett on the counter but Barzola just keeps on coming. His nose looks busted up though. Big combo from Barzola but Moffett fires right back. Seconds to go and neither man will back down and so they keep on trading. Fight ends with a takedown from Barzola. 10-9 Barzola for a 30-27, but to be honest all of the rounds could’ve gone either way.

Official scores are 29-28 Moffett, 30-27 Barzola and 29-28 for Enrique Barzola to edge a decision. Can’t say I’m surprised with the split there as it was an unbelievably close fight to call, but I think the judges got it right, just about. Really good fight too – one of the best I’ve seen recently – as both guys came to throw down and kept up a ridiculous pace throughout. Great opener.

Middleweight Fight: Rodolfo Vieira vs Oskar Piechota

This was a fascinating fight as Vieira was coming in with a huge reputation as one of the world’s best grapplers, and at 5-0 on the Russian circuit he’d already proven himself in MMA in a way. Polish grappler Piechota looked like a tailor-made opponent for him too so I figured ‘The Black Belt Hunter’ would pick up a debut win in this one.

Fight begins and holy fuck Vieira is HUGE. Stiff jab snaps Piechota’s head back right away. Another one connects as Piechota comes forward. Vieira’s striking looks pretty good to be fair. Single leg puts Piechota down but he pops back up instantly. Combination lands for the Polish fighter. Big takedown attempt from Vieira and this time he plants Piechota on his back. Vieira looks to pass the guard and easily avoids a triangle to drop a couple of punches. Good shots get through for Vieira and he keeps Piechota firmly grounded. Nasty right hand comes over the top for the Brazilian. Piechota manages to kick him away and stands, and then lands some elbows to prevent another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Vieira.

Into the 2nd and they exchange jabs before Piechota lands an overhand right. Striking exchange continues before Piechota stuffs a takedown really well. Vieira looks like he’s slowing down somewhat. He’s cut under his right eye too. He gets a really nice takedown though and lands in half-guard miles away from the cage, and Piechota might be in trouble now. Sure enough Vieira begins to work for an arm triangle, but Piechota manages to slip free when the Brazilian mounts. Vieira goes right back in for another takedown, forcing the Polish fighter into the fence, and eventually he drags him back down. This time he’s got both legs laced up. Nasty punches land for Vieira and Piechota looks stuck. He scrambles but ends up flat on his back in half-guard, and from there Vieira mounts him fully. Arm triangle follows and seconds later Piechota has to tap.

Really good debut from Vieira; he showed solid striking skills, didn’t look out of his depth on the feet and obviously was pretty awesome on the ground, including with his ground-and-pound. He did get a bit tired, sure, but it was his UFC debut so what do you expect? If he can rise up the ranks quickly he could be a dangerous man for sure.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Volkan Oezdemir vs Ilir Latifi

This one had been scheduled a couple of times but had fallen apart for various reasons – injuries, legal issues, and so on – before finally taking place on this show. Tough one to pick too with the stifling grappling of Latifi against the more explosive style of Oezdemir.

Round One gets underway and Oezdemir lands a low kick and avoids a semi-takedown attempt. Another strong low kick lands for Volkan. Good left into a knee from Oezdemir. Takedown attempt from Latifi replies and he slams Volkan down onto his back. Good job from Volkan to pop right back up, and they break off soon after. Wild right hand connects for Latifi. Dude swings with power. Flying knee from Oezdemir but Latifi forces him into the fence. Good short elbows land for Volkan and it looks like Latifi’s right eye is cut. Big knee lands for Oezdemir as Latifi shoots in, but he takes it well and forces the Swiss fighter into the fence. They break off and Volkan lands with a heavy low kick. Latifi is firing big punches but you can tell Volkan is the smoother striker. Takedown is stuffed by Oezdemir and he lands a quick combo in response. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Oezdemir.

Round Two and Volkan looks supremely confident, closing Latifi down to land more strikes. Latifi’s reacting to his feints now too which is worrying for him. Big one-two finally lands for Latifi but Oezdemir just eats it up. Oezdemir keeps on walking him down though and lands some more solid punches. Big knee has Latifi stunned and he goes down. Oezdemir looks to finish him, but he gets back up. He’s still wobbly though and Oezdemir clinches to land some more knees and an elbow. Big shots wobble Latifi again and he’s in deep shit here. Oezdemir keeps on landing and Latifi is EXHAUSTED too. This is just a matter of time now and another combo has Latifi wobbled. Big left hook finally drops him and some more shots close out the deal.

Volkan Oezdemir looked awesome there, his best performance since his pre-title shot days in fact. Latifi tried, but he was outclassed on the feet and Volkan just picked him apart without getting too wild. Really brutal finish too as Latifi was badly hurt and was basically a walking target by the end of it.

Featherweight Fight: Eduardo Garagorri vs Humberto Bandenay

This sounded like a weird fight for the main card, but then Garagorri was the only fighter to actually hail from Uruguay on this show, so that’d explain it. Peru’s Bandenay hadn’t fought in nearly a year either, so it looked like a winnable fight for the newcomer.

Round One and the crowd are red hot for this. Makes you miss, you know, sporting events with actual crowds. Both guys glance on some early strikes before Bandenay gets a takedown. Elbows to the head land for Garagorri and he works back up to his feet nicely. Garagorri switches it up and gets a takedown of his own, moving into half-guard, and he drops some shots before standing over him. Ref allows Bandenay to stand and he eats a hard low kick. Big combo has Bandenay wobbled and he shoots out of desperation and puts Garagorri down. Garagorri stands again though and then Bandenay randomly looks to jump guard, but it doesn’t quite work. Looks like Bandenay is cut on the forehead. Big flurry lands for Garagorri. Bandenay’s right eye is bleeding now too. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Garagorri.

Round Two and Garagorri pushes forward with some early strikes. Crowd are basically cheering everything he lands. Big flurry lands for Bandenay though but Garagorri answers right back and they trade wildly. Garagorri’s bleeding from the left eye. Bandenay is swinging a lot more in this round but he eats a big left counter from the Uruguayan and then gets pinned into the fence. Ref calls a really quick break and both men exchange some more shots. Nice combination lands for Garagorri and sets up another clinch. Nothing really happens from there before Garagorri breaks with an elbow, which sets up a pretty wild trade-off. Round ends with a Bandenay takedown. 10-9 Garagorri.

Round Three and Garagorri tags Bandenay in the first exchange with a hard left hand. Pretty open trade follows before Garagorri defends a takedown well. Nice trip from Bandenay puts him down, but Garagorri lands some elbows to the head. He gives his back though before Bandenay looks to mount him. Good job from Garagorri to reverse out though and they end up back on their feet. Ref calls another really quick break from the clinch and both men miss some wild swings. Another takedown from Bandenay is defended and they separate again with 1:30 to go. Pretty wild exchanges follow again and Garagorri is just about getting the better of them. Round ends with another trade. 10-9 Garagorri for a 30-27, although the final round was pretty tight.

All three judges have it 30-27 for Eduardo Garagorri, and the crowd go WILD for that one. Can’t see the guy climbing the ranks too far – he looks too raw for that – but to be fair this was a perfectly acceptable UFC fight and both guys worked hard throughout, so kudos.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Perry vs Vicente Luque

This one looked AWESOME on paper as both guys always put on crazy fights. Perry was coming off a win in a brawl over Alex Oliveira while Luque had most recently stopped Bryan Barberena. I figured Luque was the more polished fighter and should probably win, but Perry’s always got a puncher’s chance. Like the modern Phil Baroni!

First round begins and they throw out some feeler strikes before a strong right hand lands for Perry. Another one follows as Luque fires back with a body kick. Perry is swinging everything into every punch he’s throwing here. Good leg kick from Luque. Pair of kicks connect for Perry. Stiff jab lands for Luque as does a leg kick. Perry is cut around his right eye. He lands a couple of combos though and it looks like Luque’s nose is bleeding. Jump knee connects clean for Luque, beautiful stuff. Both guys land some punches from there, pretty clean exchanges too from a technical standpoint. Perry’s left eye is bleeding now too, he’s looking really busted up. Huge flurry suddenly lands for Perry but Luque absorbs it really well. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Perry by a hair.

Second round and they get right to it, exchanging immediately with Luque landing a couple of nice kicks. Clinch from Perry and he forces Luque into the fence, landing some knees to the legs. Elbow breaks for Perry but Luque glances with a head kick and then stuns him with a left hand. Clean punches connect for both men in an exchange. Luque’s jab is really catching Perry cleanly and he’s landing nice leg kicks too. Big right hand into an uppercut from Perry but Luque fires back with his own punches. This is a hell of a fight. Clean left hand connects for Perry. Big right hand lands for Luque and there’s BLOOD ON THE CAMERA. Front kick into a right hand from Luque. Both guys look busted up badly now. They also have insane chins as both men land some huge punches in a trade. Exchange continues until the round ends. 10-9 Luque to even things up.

Third round and they pick up right where they left off, exchanging shots with Luque really working his low kicks again. Perry isn’t throwing quite so much in this round due to the kicks it looks like. Nice combination lands for Luque but Perry fires back with a left. Takedown attempt from Perry but he can’t quite finish it off. He does land a bunch of knees to the legs from the clinch though. Crowd actually have the nerve to boo the clinch which is ridiculous given the quality of this fight! Ref calls a break and Luque continues to push forward, glancing on a flying knee. Takedown from Perry but Luque goes for a guillotine, and there’s blood POURING from Perry’s face now. This looks pretty tight, but Perry manages to hold on despite the blood loss, and he works the body with some hard punches for good measure. Seconds remaining and Perry frees his head, but he can’t do much damage from the top before the fight ends. 10-9 Luque, 29-28 Luque overall for me, but it could go either way.

Post-fight Perry’s nose is FUCKED, looking folded literally across his face and practically flat. One of the worst facial injuries I’ve ever seen in MMA, Christ. Judges have it 29-28 Perry, 29-28 Luque and 29-28 for Vicente Luque to pick up the split decision. Well, it could’ve gone either way but I think Luque just edged it. Sick fight at any rate as they both just left it all out there and beat the hell out of one another for three rounds. Probably a low-end FOTYC for 2019 in fact. Fantastic stuff and bravo to both men.

UFC Women’s Flyweight Title: Valentina Shevchenko vs Liz Carmouche

After Shevchenko defeated Jessica Eye in devastating fashion a few months before this, the UFC decided to pull a classic trick with her next title defense – handing her a chance to avenge her first career loss against Carmouche, who to be honest had seen better days despite being on a 2-fight winning streak. Essentially, this was the female equivalent of Chuck Liddell’s Light-Heavyweight title defense against Jeremy Horn back in 2005, and I expected similar results.

Round One and Carmouche circles on the outside as Shevchenko takes the centre of the cage. Very short right hand glances for the champion. Quick flurry follows but doesn’t land cleanly. Three minutes into this round and there’s barely anything going on here. Spin kick glances to the body for Shevchenko. Carmouche looks very gunshy. She lands a body kick but not very cleanly and Shevchenko backs her up quickly with a brief combo. Crowd start to boo with seconds to go, understandably too. 10-9 Shevchenko in a horrible round.

Round Two and Shevchenko opens with a stiff short right. She’s backing Carmouche up but the challenger is being so defensive that neither woman is really landing a lot at all. Takedown attempt by Carmouche is easily stuffed. There’s literally nothing going on here. This is an awful fight so far. Seconds to go and Shevchenko lands the best shot thus far, a spinning backfist followed by a flurry. Carmouche can’t answer back and that’s the round. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Round Three and it’s more of the same with very little action and the crowd either whistling or booing. Left hand glances for Shevchenko. The most Carmouche has done here is a couple of low kicks. Shevchenko isn’t doing a lot more but she has at least landed a couple of punches cleanly. Flurry finally drops Carmouche, but the champ simply kicks her legs and stands off her rather than drop into the guard. Ref Keith Peterson stands Carmouche up, and we continue. Clinch follows and this time Shevchenko throws her to the ground in guard. Action grinds to a halt from there and that’s another round in the books. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Round Four and Shevchenko lands a nice clean combination to finally get the crowd cheering. Carmouche tries a takedown that gets stuffed moments later, and she winds up on her back in rubber guard in the process. Unfortunately nothing happens from there save for Carmouche landing some heel kicks to the legs. The champion moves into half-guard for a moment but Carmouche quickly scrambles back to full. 1:40 to go and Keith Peterson calls a stand-up, and Carmouche comes up short on some more strikes before being dropped by a spinning backfist. Shevchenko grabs a front headlock on the ground and lands a couple of punches, then looks to take the back. She can’t quite manage it and ends up in side mount instead, but Carmouche gets half-guard right as the round ends. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Round Five and there’s basically no chance in hell of Carmouche winning this one. And unsurprisingly the same pattern follows as the challenger just stays at too much of a distance to land basically anything while Shevchenko seems happy to pick at her with the odd strike or two. Takedown attempt fails for Carmouche again despite getting deep on a single leg, and Shevchenko manages to get into top position instead. Full guard for Carmouche and the crowd continue to boo as very little happens. Shevchenko does work from the top with some pretty solid strikes, but nothing that comes close to a finish, and with seconds to go she decides to stand and celebrate. 10-9 Shevchenko, 50-45 overall.

Judges unsurprisingly agree and it’s a shutout, 50-45 all round for Valentina Shevchenko. Fight stunk though unfortunately, Carmouche was just too safety-first and never really pushed the action, and as a counter-fighter for the most part Shevchenko was happy to do just enough to eke out the win. In fact, this was probably the worst UFC title fight since Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia back in 2017.

-Show ends pretty abruptly after Shevchenko’s post-fight promo.

Final Thoughts….

Before the main event this was looking like one of the better Fight Night shows in recent memory. We got an ultra-exciting opener and a FOTYC in the semi-main event, and a pair of really great finishes in between. But the shitty main event was incredibly difficult to sit through, bringing the whole thing down. Check it out on Fight Pass but stop after Luque/Perry.

Best Fight: Luque vs. Perry
Worst Fight: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: