MMA Review: #698: UFC Fight Night 158

-This one was a must-see show for any MMA fan as well, how could anyone afford to miss Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje? This one looked like a guaranteed classic as neither man ever has a bad fight, but the overall card looked good too, with the likes of Nikita Krylov, Michel Pereira and TODD DUFFEE also on tap.

UFC Fight Night 158

Vancouver, British Columbia

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Daniel Cormier.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Misha Cirkunov vs Jimmy Crute

This looked like an excellent fight at 205lbs between two of the division’s better prospects. Despite Crute still being undefeated and Cirkunov coming off a loss to Johnny Walker, I was taking Misha to win due to his grappling skill and superior experience compared to the young Aussie.

Round One begins and Crute comes out throwing some kicks, but he eats a left hand and a body kick. Big takedown from Misha and he lands in half-guard. He keeps the Aussie firmly grounded and then leaps into side mount, but Crute does a good job of regaining half-guard. Back to side mount for Cirkunov and he gets the mounted crucifix, but Crute manages to free himself before taking damage. Another crucifix attempt is better and Misha drops some punches before taking full mount. Crute does a tremendous job of reversing though, and they stand back up before clinching. Crute gets the takedown this time but slips and gives up position, and from there they scramble with Crute ending up on top landing some heavy shots. Cirkunov drops to guard and he’s bleeding, and from there Crute drops some HARD shots and Misha is in trouble! Beautiful sweep puts him back on top though and he returns the favour with some hard shots, and when Crute drops for a takedown Cirkunov latches up a SICK PERUVIAN NECKTIE and forces the tap!

That hold looked vicious; Crute’s head was twisted at a really horrible angle and there was no way he was getting out of it. Cirkunov looked excellent here although he still took some hard shots, and if he wants to make it into title contention he’s got to get better defensively. Dude is a hell of a grappler though and he’s definitely still young enough to make it to the top. Great opener.

Middleweight Fight: Uriah Hall vs Antonio Carlos Junior

Hall was coming off a nice KO win of Bevon Lewis prior to this one and had seemed to have righted the ship after a sticky patch a couple of years ago. Carlos Junior meanwhile had been beaten by Ian Heinisch in his last fight, making this an odd piece of matchmaking from the UFC, who usually do winner vs. winner and loser vs. loser stuff.

Round One and Hall quickly flashes his jab into the face of Carlos Junior and then lands with a heavy right. Takedown attempt follows in response for the Brazilian and he drives Hall into the fence and eventually forces him to the ground. One hook in for Carlos Junior and he pops the second in as Hall stands with him on his back. Looks like Carlos Junior is cut as there’s blood all over Hall’s shoulders. Action slows down as Hall controls the wrists while Shoeface slaps on a body triangle to keep the position. Camera catches Shoeface’s nose and it’s BADLY broken, all twisted up across his face. Hall finally shakes him off with just over two minutes to go and quickly gets back to firing the jab. Hall looks SHARP here, landing clean punches before shrugging off a single leg. He’s just far quicker than Carlos Junior. Big right hand lands for Shoeface though to set up a takedown attempt. He manages to dump Hall to the ground in half-guard, and drops a couple of elbows. Round ends with Shoeface on top. 10-9 Hall for damage done.

Round Two and Hall once again begins to stick Shoeface with his jab. Takedown attempt is avoided by Hall and he snaps the head back with a couple more jabs. Jab from Shoeface sets up another takedown attempt and he pins Hall into the fence. Action slows down a bit from there before Hall escapes, and from there he DECKS SHOEFACE WITH A ONE-TWO! The Brazilian’s in trouble here and he takes a bunch of shots before going for an armbar. Hall avoids that and continues to bomb on him before deciding to let him stand. Carlos Junior dives for a takedown instantly and pins him back onto the fence, landing a solid elbow in the process, but Hall stays vertical. One minute to go and Shoeface gets a rear waistlock for more control, but he can’t get Hall down even then. Hall breaks with seconds to go and lands the jab again, and the round ends with a big combo for the TUF 17 vet. 10-9 Hall.

Round Three and the crowd are way into this one. More stiff jabs open up for Hall and he throws his trademark spin kick but it doesn’t land cleanly. Shoeface manages to get hold of him and drags him down with a rear waistlock, taking the back in the process with a body triangle. Hall looks pretty calm from this position despite it being a bad one for him. Shoeface isn’t doing a lot with this position but he’s in firm control at least. Under two minutes to go now and Shoeface keeps hunting for the choke while Hall defends well. Crowd is actually chanting “stand them up” which is a shocker. One minute to go and Hall just can’t get out of this. Shoeface keeps switching the body triangle from left to right to ensure he keeps the position too. Round ends in the position. 10-9 Carlos Junior but I’d say it was too little, too late and go 29-28 Hall overall.

Judges go 29-28 Hall, 29-28 Carlos Junior, and 29-28 for a split decision win for Uriah Hall. Well, it all depended on whether you gave the first to Hall on damage rather than to Shoeface for his back control, but personally I definitely felt Hall won. Really fun fight overall as Hall looked sharper than he’d done in some time while Shoeface did well to survive some adversity and came back in the third strongly, but just couldn’t get a finish. Good stuff.

Welterweight Fight: Michel Pereira vs Tristan Connelly

Brazilian wildman Pereira – renowned for his flipping and spinning attacks – had taken out Danny Roberts in an impressive UFC debut earlier in the year, and he was supposed to fight Russia’s Sergey Khandozhko here, but when he withdrew with an injury, newcomer Tristan Connelly stepped in on late notice to take the fight, stepping up a weight class in the process.

First round starts and Connelly pushes forward but walks into a superman punch from Pereira, who then FLIPS AROUND LIKE A GYMNAST and springs off the cage! Flying knee then misses as Pereira literally JUMPS OVER HIS HEAD. That’s ridiculous. Takedown attempt from Connelly and they end up clinched, slowing things down dramatically. Short right breaks for Connelly and he tells Pereira to bring it, so the Brazilian throws a front kick to the body and then lands a front flip kick ala Harold Howard! Flying knee follows and a body shot has Connelly hurt. Pereira comes in with some more strikes and then busts out some capoeira before landing another flying knee. This guy is insane. Takedown from Pereira now and he lands on top in guard. He decides to stand and backflip OVER CONNELLY’S LEGS, but it doesn’t do a lot. Guillotine attempt follows but Connelly frees the head and winds up on top. Good pass into half-guard for Connelly but he can’t make it into full mount. One minute to go and he does get mount, but Pereira scrambles to his feet. Connelly pushes forward now and they trade kicks, and Pereira looks tired. Nice punches from Connelly and he tries a guillotine before the buzzer. 10-9 Pereira but Connelly was taking over at the end for sure.

Second round and Connelly pushes forward with some early strikes. Pair of right hands land for Pereira but he gets tagged in response. He does land some solid shots to the body though, forcing Connelly to shoot. Pereira sprawls to avoid and looks to lock up a D’Arce, but Connelly stands back up. Exchange continues and when they’re at distance it looks like Pereira’s getting the better of it. He’s definitely gassed, though. Nice right hand into a knee from Pereira but Connelly tags him with a combo in return. Clinch follows and a pair of knees have Pereira hurt. Connelly follows up but eats a BIG knee to the gut and now they’re just wildly trading off. Crowd are crazy into Connelly. Takedown attempt fails for Pereira. Looks like Connelly is tired too as he’s breathing heavily, and Pereira tackles him to guard this time. The Brazilian appears to be content to hold top position, probably to rest, and to be fair Connelly’s not doing much from his back either. He does go for a kimura, but can’t get it. Clock is ticking away now with less than 30 seconds to go in the round, and Pereira continues to hold Connelly down until the buzzer. Close round but probably 10-9 Pereira as the striking was even but he had the takedown.

Third round and Connelly opens with a clean left hand and a low kick. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Pereira and they wind up clinched, before Connelly drops for a guillotine. They spin over with the hold still locked in but Pereira manages to slip free, and they stand back up with both guys looking exhausted. Connelly keeps pushing forward though and he’s tagging Pereira over and over with punches now. Takedown attempt from Pereira is stuffed and Connelly forces him down and takes side mount. Pereira regains half-guard but he takes some hammer fists in the process and it looks like he’s got nothing left. Crowd are still wildly chanting for Connelly. He lands some really clean punches from the top and keeps on digging to the body too. Seconds to go and Connelly looks comfortable on top here working ground-and-pound. 10-9 Connelly but I’d go 29-28 Pereira.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27 for TRISTAN CONNELLY. Not sure I’d agree with that as I don’t think Connelly did enough damage for a 10-8 third, nor am I sure that he won the second, but shit, this was still a tremendous showing for him considering he took the fight on two weeks’ notice and stepped up a weight class too. He just weathered the early storm and then managed to wear Pereira out down the stretch. Fight was fun to an extent even if it was sloppy, but it was also disappointing to see Pereira somewhat exposed as more flash than substance, too.

Heavyweight Fight: Todd Duffee vs Jeff Hughes

This was Duffee’s first UFC appearance since his knockout loss to Frank Mir in 2015, as a bunch of horrendous injuries had taken their toll again. Dude is one of the unluckiest fighters of all time when it comes to injuries. I was still taking him to beat Hughes though, a plodding TUF veteran who resembled all of the other guys – Tim Hague, Phil De Fries, Anthony Hamilton – who Duffee had easily beaten earlier in his career.

Round One begins and they circle before Duffee closes in with a big flurry that has Hughes covering up. Duffee quickly slows down and then lunges for a takedown, getting his hands locked before tripping Hughes down. Hughes pops up instantly and they jockey for position in the clinch, before Duffee separates and lands another flurry. Big right hand fires back for Hughes though and forces Duffee to back off. Wild trade follows with both men landing and Hughes looks in a bit of trouble. They clinch up to slow things down, trading some short strikes, and then break off and this time Hughes TAGS Duffee with a left in an exchange. Duffee responds by dropping him with a right, but he pops up into the clinch. Takedown attempt again from Duffee but Hughes blocks and they break off again. Duffee is cut under his right eye. Head kick from Hughes and they wildly trade again with Duffee landing some BOMBS, dropping Hughes face-first this time. He dives for a leg and takes some more shots, and as they stand he looks wobbly. Duffee continues to swing bombs at him, but Hughes comes back with a couple of power hooks of his own. They clinch back up, both looking tired, and ref Kevin Dornon warns Duffee for a fence grab. BLATANT eye gouge from Hughes allows him to separate, and Dornon calls time. Duffee tells Dornon that he’s seeing double, and the doctor comes in to check him over and throws the fight out there.

Crowd are pretty furious as is Hughes and a No Contest is announced, but that’s bullshit to me, it should’ve been a DQ as it was a clear foul by Hughes who shouldn’t have been using his fingers to push away from the face like that. Fun fight while it lasted but that terrible ending really marred it. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to see Duffee in there again, and it may well be worth booking a rematch actually as the fight was so wild before the stoppage.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Nikita Krylov

This sounded like a solid fight on paper, as Teixeira had rebounded from a poor 2018 to win his last two fights by submission, while Krylov had most recently avenged an earlier loss to Ovince St. Preux by submission too. My pick here was Krylov as I thought he’d be a little too fast for the ageing Teixeira to handle.

BIG crowd pop for Teixeira, most likely because he walks out to WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE and that *always* gets a big pop. You have to love GNR!

Round One and Krylov opens with some low kicks while showing good movement to avoid Teixeira’s punches. Good takedown from Teixeira off a caught kick, and he works into half-guard. Elbows land from the back for Krylov but Glover works with some punches too. Looks like someone’s bleeding. Krylov gives his back and Glover gets both hooks in, and it’s the Brazilian who’s cut over his right eye. He looks to flatten Krylov out and lands some thudding shots to the head, but Krylov shakes him off and gets on top, directly into full mount. Heavy elbows land for Krylov but he gets too high up and Teixeira manages to stand, looking for a takedown of his own. Krylov somehow sinks in a rear naked choke from there and hops onto the back with both hooks, but Glover somehow rolls to alleviate it. Insane defense there .He ends up on top again and they stand into the clinch. Nice knee and an elbow break for Krylov. Big trade sees Krylov stumbled by a counterpunch, but he looks okay and tags the Brazilian with shots of his own. Exchange continues to the buzzer. Close round, but I’d probably go 10-9 for Teixeira.

Round Two and Krylov opens with some decent kicks. Takedown from Teixeira is blocked but he lands a short right hand on the exit. Good low kick into a right from Krylov. Big exchange sees Krylov land a decent uppercut. He’s doing an excellent job with the low kicks in this round. Big combo lands for Glover though and he has to go on the run. Takedown is blocked by Krylov who lands a knee and a glancing head kick. Glover keeps pushing forward and he’s really swinging, but not landing too cleanly as Krylov keeps circling away. Clubbing right glances for Teixeira. Big body kick connects for the Brazilian as Krylov stays on his bike and keeps moving. Strong combination lands for Krylov. Takedown is avoided by Krylov but Teixeira pushes him into the fence. Good elbows from Teixeira but Krylov takes him down into half-guard. Punches and elbows land for Krylov and that’s the round. 10-9 Krylov to even things up.

Round Three and Krylov goes for a takedown, but Teixeira locks up a guillotine and drops to guard. It looks pretty tight, but Krylov does well to step into half-guard, and then works his head free to drop some elbows. Glover looks to stand and gives his back, but he shakes Krylov off and winds up on top. He settles into half-guard and drops some elbows until Krylov hip escapes to full guard. He works to full mount from there and then gets an armbar as Krylov scrambles, but the Ukrainian wriggles free and stands. Good elbows from Glover as Krylov looks to take him down, and then he goes for another guillotine. Krylov again works his head free, and from there he drops some elbows that have Teixeira bloodied up. Sweep attempt from Teixeira and he ends up on top, and the round ends there. 10-9 Teixeira by a hair, and 29-28 for him overall.

Judges call a split decision, 29-28 Krylov, 29-28 Teixeira, and 29-28 for Glover Teixeira to squeeze out a win. That was a super-close fight to be fair though as all three rounds could’ve gone either way. Hell of a fight too as both guys put everything they had in, and we saw a bunch of cool standing exchanges and a ton of positional switches on the ground with submission attempts too. Probably one of the most underrated fights of 2019 actually.

Lightweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Justin Gaethje

On paper at least this was a surefire FOTYC, as neither man has ever had a dull fight from what I remember and it was just one of those fights that made sense, even though Gaethje was coming off a win while Cowboy was coming off a loss. In terms of a pick, I was going with Gaethje as few fighters are as dangerous when coming forward as he is and Cowboy never does well when an opponent walks him down and corrals him.

Fight begins and Cowboy is sporting a PORNO TACHE for some reason. Leg kick opens things for Gaethje as the crowd chant for Cowboy. Big right hand glances for Gaethje as Cerrone steps in. Good counter right hand lands for Cowboy and he follows with a jab. Big combo glances for Gaethje but Cerrone stings him with a jab in response. Hard right from Cowboy but Gaethje comes back with one of his own. Bit of a trade sees both men glance on big shots. Cowboy is looking to keep this at range and he lands on a decent combination. Big flurry glances for Gaethje in return. Body kick connects for Cowboy. Uppercut from Gaethje and he wobbles Cerrone with a left as things get a little wild. 1:30 to go and another uppercut connects for Gaethje. They circle out and suddenly Gaethje lands a CLUBBING RIGHT as Cerrone steps in. Cowboy’s legs buckle and Gaethje drops him with a series of punches from short range and leaves him on his knees, then seals the deal with more punches there.

Brutal finish for Gaethje; fight didn’t go quite the way I thought it would as he didn’t exactly corral Cowboy as I thought he would, but his sheer power was the difference as Cowboy just couldn’t recover once he got badly hurt. I’d probably say Gaethje is the heaviest hitter in the world at 155lbs right now in fact. And of course, even if the fight didn’t go how I figured it would, it still lived up to expectation with an AWESOME KNOCKOUT.

Post-fight both guys show a TON of respect for one another as you’d expect with Cowboy who is maybe the classiest fighter in the sport. How can you not love him? They even cut a promo together which is ultra-rare. And then Gaethje asks for a title shot and well, that’s another show of course!

-Show ends as Gaethje celebrates with his crew.

Final Thoughts….

This was a great Fight Night; every single fight delivered the goods basically, as even Duffee/Hughes was action-packed before the shitty finish. Best fight in my opinion was probably Teixeira/Krylov, but you could easily make an argument for anything on the card which shows its quality. Definitely check this one out on Fight Pass as you won’t be disappointed!

Best Fight: Teixeira vs. Krylov
Worst Fight: Duffee vs. Hughes

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: