MMA Review: #700: UFC Fight Night 160

-This was the UFC’s first ever show in Denmark, and for a Euro-heavy card it actually looked really good on paper, with a possible top contender’s match in the main event and exciting fighters like Ion Cutelaba, Gunnar Nelson and Ovince St. Preux underneath. Clips of Copenhagen make it look like a beautiful place, too.

UFC Fight Night 160

09/28/19
Copenhagen, Denmark

-Your hosts are John Gooden, Dan Hardy and Paul Felder. And shit, Hardy looks weird with a totally shaved head. Miss that epic red Mohawk!

Welterweight Fight: Alex Oliveira vs Nicolas Dalby

Denmark’s own Dalby hadn’t fought in the UFC since 2016, but after winning 3 in a row in Cage Warriors he was brought back here, unsurprisingly to get some native talent onto the card. This looked like a tough fight for him though, as despite losing his last two, ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira is always super-tough for anyone to beat.

Crowd go apeshit for Dalby who’s rocking the full Viking look with the braided hair and big beard.

Round One begins and they circle before Oliveira rushes in with a combo that doesn’t quite land. Couple of solid kicks land for Dalby. Flying knee misses for the Dane as Oliveira dances around on the outside. Wheel kick misses for Oliveira as neither man’s really landed anything solid yet. Decent combo does connect for Dalby and it forces Cowboy on the run for a moment. Combo glances again for Dalby and he does well to dodge a right hand in response. Takedown attempt from Dalby is blocked and Oliveira drives him into the fence. They jockey for position and Dalby looks for a trip, but winds up on his back instead. Dalby gets to full guard, but he’s very defensive on his back and Oliveira drops a couple of shots. Round ends with some elbows from Oliveira before Dalby reverses to put him on his back. 10-9 Oliveira in a close round.

Round Two and Oliveira is dancing all over the place to begin. Front kick lands for Dalby but he also adds an eye poke and the ref seems confused before calling time. Oliveira’s good to go and they restart with a big trade that sees both men land. Big combo from Dalby ends in a head kick and Oliveira has to go for a takedown. Dalby works to defend and then hits a brilliant switch to dump the Brazilian on his back instead. He moves right into half-guard and keeps Oliveira pinned down, landing some short elbows in the process. Big punches begin to land for the Dane and he’s all over Oliveira. Good job from Oliveira allows him to stand, but Dalby keeps him against the fence and keeps grinding him down. Spinning elbow breaks for Oliveira but Dalby opens up with a big combo of punches and knees that have the Brazilian covering up. They clinch back up and Oliveira hits a trip, but Dalby slips free and gets on top, where the Brazilian lands an illegal upkick. Ref calls time and then makes the error of restarting them on the feet, where Oliveira lands a left hook. Round ends there. 10-9 Dalby.

Round Three and a head kick narrowly misses for Dalby, but a straight left snaps Oliveira’s head back. Takedown attempt by Dalby is defended, but the Dane keeps Oliveira pinned into the fence and they jockey for position. Oliveira manages to get a slam and puts Dalby down in side mount, but he doesn’t do a lot with the position to be fair. Dalby gets to half-guard but he looks a bit stuck. Ref calls a stand-up as the action begins to stall, but Oliveira takes him down right away again. Not sure about that ref call, feels like he was affected by the booing crowd. Scramble from Dalby sees him avoid an armbar and wind up on top, and from there he mounts him and begins to land some excellent strikes. He appears to be going for an arm triangle for a second, then gives it up to drop some more punches. Seconds to go and Dalby just SMASHES him with punches and elbows, and the round ends there. 10-9 Dalby as I’d say he stole the round at the end. 29-28 Dalby overall.

Judges all agree, going 29-28 all round for Nicolas Dalby. Really fun opener with a hot crowd, although there’s definitely a case to suggest that the ref cost Oliveira the win with that questionable stand-up call in the third. Still, it was probably better for the show overall that Dalby won I guess.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ovince St. Preux vs Michal Oleksiejczuk

This was a big fight for OSP as he’d lost his last two and was beginning to look past his prime, while Oleksiejczuk was still unbeaten in the UFC at 2-0 and had taken his last two opponents out in quick fashion. Given OSP’s seemingly waning durability I was taking Oleksiejczuk to continue his hot streak and crush him.

First round begins and Oleksiejczuk looks confident. He really pushes forward from the off, winging his left hand, and he lands it to the body and the head right away, tagging OSP. Big shots have OSP in trouble, and Oleksiejczuk is really digging to the body with the left too. Clinch is shrugged off by the Pole and he keeps on pressing forward, continually landing the left hand. Takedown attempt from OSP slows the momentum and he gets a rear waistlock before Oleksiejczuk breaks. Big combo has OSP in trouble again and he gets dropped by a left. He pops up and looks to grab onto a standing kimura, but Oleksiejczuk shrugs that off and lands some huge shots again. OSP is getting destroyed here. Oleksiejczuk’s left to the body is a thing of beauty. More left hands keep OSP going backwards, but with 1:30 to go he manages to fire back to at least slow the Pole up slightly. Looks like Oleksiejczuk is getting a bit tired in fact. They clinch up with seconds to go in the round, before OSP breaks with a high kick on the buzzer. 10-8 Oleksiejczuk as he just beat OSP up for the first 4 minutes.

Second round and OSP looks like the fresher man. Oleksiejczuk comes out pushing the action again, landing the left hand as OSP throws some kicks at him. Oleksiejczuk is definitely tired. OSP looks to keep him at distance, throwing more shots back in this round, and he grabs a collar-tie to land some really hard punches. Both guys look a bit tired now. Clinch from Oleksiejczuk but OSP lands some more shots before breaking. Takedown from OSP follows and he lands in half-guard. Weird moment follows as OSP puts HIMSELF into a guillotine…..but naturally it sets up the VON PREUX CHOKE and Oleksiejczuk taps out there!

Amazing stuff from OSP to pull that submission off, as it was his FOURTH in the UFC despite it being an ultra-rare move. He even forced the setup there, rather than using it as a reactive submission as guys usually do. Pretty great comeback from him too, as Oleksiejczuk just smacked him around in the first round before running out of steam. I wonder if Oleksiejczuk would be better suited to 185lbs actually, as he didn’t look in the best shape here and would probably have better cardio at the lower weight. Fight was a ton of fun, however.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ion Cutelaba vs Khalil Rountree

I was really excited for this one as I’m a big fan of Cutelaba and his insane wildman act, and sure enough he lived up to that at the weigh-in by screaming into Rountree’s face out of nowhere, causing him to actually flinch. With both men having a bunch of exciting fights on their ledgers too it sounded like FIREWORKS.

Introductions get crazy too as Cutelaba decides to MARCH ACROSS THE CAGE to threaten Rountree with a throat-slash as Bruce Buffer shouts his name. The guy is genuinely scary, like prime Wanderlei Silva levels of intimidation even.

Round One begins and they circle with Rountree taking a full Thai-boxing stance. Big kick lands for him but Cutelaba catches the leg and takes him down, forcing him back to the ground off a scramble. Rountree bounces back up, but Cutelaba won’t let go of his leg and he brings him back down. Big knee to the body from Cutelaba and they exchange in the clinch, with Rountree separating off an elbow. Nice counter left from Rountree. Superman punch answers back for Cutelaba and then he ducks under to hit a double leg to guard. Big elbow lands for the Moldovan and he adds some more, landing heavily onto Rountree’s face. Rountree scoots back to the fence, but eats some more huge elbows before standing. Another trip plants Rountree and Cutelaba drops some more BRUTAL ELBOWS and Rountree can’t get out, forcing the ref to stop things.

Brutal finish from Ion Cutelaba as he just overwhelmed Rountree on the ground despite looking a bit outgunned standing. He’s one of the most aggressive guys in the whole UFC and it looked like he took all of his frustrations out on poor Rountree there. Epic levels of violence.

Welterweight Fight: Gunnar Nelson vs Gilbert Burns

This was a fight put together on late notice, as Nelson was initially pegged to fight old school veteran Thiago Alves, but when the Pitbull pulled out with an injury, fellow Brazilian Burns stepped in to replace him. Despite Burns being on a 3-fight win streak, I felt that Nelson could pick him apart standing and would have enough to deal with him on the ground, too.

Round One begins and Nelson actually looks a little bigger than usual. He comes out in his standard karate stance, and the crowd love him unsurprisingly as he’s a fellow Scandinavian. Nelson catches a kick early on, but can’t get Burns down and they continue to circle around. Nice low kick from Gunni. Low kick answers for Burns and he presses forward, forcing Nelson back. Good combo from Nelson. Burns hasn’t quite figured out how to get into range yet, outside of his low kicks. Crowd are now doing the Icelandic Viking clap which is cool. Side kick to the body lands for Nelson and he dodges a big left hook. Uppercut glances for Burns as Nelson steps in. Clinch follows and Burns attempts a trip, but Nelson somehow winds up on top and works to pass right away. Round ends with Nelson landing a right from the top. 10-9 Nelson in a super-close round.

Round Two and Burns looks to close the distance early on, glancing on a right hand. Side kick from Nelson and he follows with a quick flurry. Another good low kick lands for Burns, but Nelson fires back with one that spins the Brazilian around. Flurry again lands for Nelson and sets up a clinch, but Burns breaks off. Nelson glances on a combo and grabs him again, but he can’t get a takedown and Burns breaks before landing a low kick. Nasty right lands for Burns from close range, but Nelson clinches with him again. They break off and Nelson again looks for a takedown, but Burns defends and lands a back elbow as Gunni gets a rear waistlock. Hip throw from Burns follows but Nelson pops right back up, only to eat a jump knee. Scramble sees both men go down and Burns looks for an anaconda choke, and it looks quite tight. He gives it up eventually and keeps hold of Nelson in a front headlock, then forces him to his back to end the round with some elbows. 10-9 Burns for that ending.

Round Three and they trade some early strikes with Burns forcing Gunni back in the early going. Rear waistlock from Nelson and he forces Burns into the cage, but can’t get him down. They trade punches from the clinch with Burns landing a really solid right hand. Break from Burns but Nelson lands a combo and then drops for the takedown again. The Brazilian defends well and lands some short uppercuts inside before breaking with an elbow. Nelson goes right back to the clinch, landing a heavy left hand as they jockey for position, and then break off. Left hook from Nelson is met with a right hook from Burns. Lunging right hand connects for Nelson. Good low kicks respond for Burns but a high kick misses. Nelson clinches again with a minute to go but Burns gets a big takedown instead. He manages to take the back too, but can’t get hooks in and Nelson scrambles to his feet. Round ends in the clinch. Well, I’d go 10-10 for a draw, but if you had to pick a winner, maybe Burns for that takedown.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Gilbert Burns. Guess that takedown literally did win the fight for him. Crowd don’t like it but what can you do? Fight was decent I guess, neither man did a ton of damage but they worked pretty hard and kept up a strong pace throughout. Not sure where Nelson goes from here as he’s not getting any younger and hasn’t made any real leaps and bounds recently, but he’s still got the skills to improve and do some damage I think. As for Burns, he’s making a real run at the top right now and fair play to him for finally living up to his early hype.

Welterweight Fight: Mark O Madsen vs Danilo Belluardo

This was the UFC debut for former Olympic silver medallist Greco-Roman wrestler Madsen, a native of Denmark, and despite already being 35, it’s always interesting to see an Olympian enter the Octagon. At this stage he’d just used his athleticism to run over his first 8 opponents, and this didn’t look any different, as Italy’s Belluardo had fought once in the UFC previously and didn’t really show a lot to be fair.

First round begins and Madsen looks like a TANK. Belluardo looks to keep his distance, but Madsen quickly rushes him and looks for the takedown. Good defense from the Italian early, but Madsen forces him down to half-guard and immediately lands a series of hard elbows and punches. He goes for a guillotine, but then gives it up to continue to drop elbows, and Belluardo is in trouble. More huge shots get through for Madsen and that’s that.

Quick and easy as expected for Madsen as he just smashed Belluardo with little effort really. It’ll be fascinating to see how far this guy can go to be honest – even though he’s already 35 there’s no reason why he can’t parlay his athletic talents to get to the top, as Yoel Romero basically did the same and he’s a similar freak athlete to the Dane. This was a total squash although it was entertaining too.

Middleweight Fight: Jack Hermansson vs Jared Cannonier

With both men coming off huge wins – Cannonier over Anderson Silva, Hermansson over Jacare Souza – this was a major fight in the Middleweight division, with the winner potentially looking at a title shot somewhere down the line. Despite Cannonier’s brute power I was picking the more technical Hermansson to win, using his length, reach and ground skills to pull off the victory.

First round begins and Hermansson rushes out from the off and lands a pair of low kicks. Body kick follows before he shoots for a takedown. Cannonier works to defend it, and does well to break free. Kick from Cannonier is caught and Hermansson grabs hold of him, spins to a rear waistlock and lands a nice German suplex. He slaps a hook in from there, but Cannonier scrambles and works to his feet in the clinch. He did really well then as that was a bad position. Trip from Hermansson puts them down, but Cannonier pops up and breaks with a knee and a glancing right. They trade off with some jabs and Hermansson lands some really clean low kicks, but he fails on another takedown attempt. Couple of combos glance for Cannonier. He adds in a few nasty low kicks, too. Another takedown from Hermansson is blocked, but he does land a solid knee inside. Exchange continues with both guys glancing on shots and landing with low kicks. Round ends with a really sharp low kick from Cannonier. Close round, probably 10-9 Cannonier by a hair.

Second round and Hermansson dances forward with a low kick and a lot of movement. Takedown is stuffed and Hermansson goes down off a short uppercut, and suddenly Cannonier starts to drop BOMBS, giving the Swede no chance of recovery, and the ref has to stop things!

Post-fight the crowd goes SILENT as they were obviously pulling for their fellow Scandinavian. Replay shows the shot that initially dropped Hermansson wasn’t that big and he may well have been off balance, but as soon as he hit the ground Cannonier was just ruthless with his ground-and-pound and was too powerful to let Hermansson recover.

Massive win for Cannonier at any rate and while there’s now a bit of a logjam at 185lbs due to Paulo Costa’s injury, there’s no reason why he couldn’t get a title shot later in the year or even in 2021 with another big win. I was gutted to see this because I find Hermansson massively entertaining, but still, kudos to Cannonier and this was another fun finish on this show too.

-Show ends with the crowd giving a ton of respect to both men.

Final Thoughts….

This was a great Fight Night show; the Danish crowd came in hot and for the most part, everyone delivered the goods. Dalby/Oliveira was a fun opener, we got excellent finishes from OSP, Cutelaba, Madsen and Cannonier and while Burns/Nelson was a bit slower, it wasn’t bad or anything either. Two thumbs up for this show.

Best Fight: Cutelaba vs. Rountree
Worst Fight: Nelson vs. Burns

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com