MMA Review: #707: UFC Fight Night 164

-On paper this one didn’t look too great at all, with a bunch of exciting fighters (Francisco Trinaldo, James Krause, Warlley Alves, Douglas Silva de Andrade, Ricardo Ramos) left on the prelims and a couple of really baffling fights put on the main card instead. As it was also the 12th UFC show in as many weeks with no gap, there wasn’t much fanfare coming in at all.

UFC Fight Night 164

11/16/19
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

Middleweight Fight: Wellington Turman vs Markus Perez

Turman had debuted in July with a controversial loss to Karl Roberson, while Wanderlei lookalike Perez had gone 2-2 in the Octagon and had finished both of his wins. How this made the main card I have no idea, but whatever.

Round One and they circle to begin with both men largely coming up short on their early strikes. Rush from Turman leads to the clinch and he goes for a takedown, but Perez works to defend with an elbow to the head. Good elbow inside the clinch from Perez but Turman gets to a rear waistlock and slams him down. Perez pops back up, but Turman slaps one hook in from a standing position. Perez works to avoid a suplex and turns into the clinch, where he lands another elbow. Beautiful spinning backfist lands for Perez to separate. Jumping kick glances for Perez. He looks to strike from the outside and avoids some shots from Turman, but he eats a right hand and ends up almost leaning against the fence. He decides against that and circles out, continuing to look for shots from the outside. Left hand connects for Turman. Good right hand follows and the round ends with both men landing rights. Probably 10-9 Turman in a close one to call.

Round Two and Perez comes out in a full karate stance, but walks into a couple of early strikes from Turman. Spinning kick misses for Perez as his dancing doesn’t seem to be intimidating Turman at all. Few punches glance for Turman as he just wades forward. Spinning backfist glances for Perez but he eats a combination in response. They clinch up and Turman muscles Perez to the ground, then takes the back as he attempts to stand. Nice back elbow lands for Perez. It doesn’t shake Turman off him though, and he lands some knees to the legs and side of Perez before they end up back in the clinch. Two minutes to go and they break, before Turman bombs his way back into the clinch. They break off again and both men get tagged by punches in an exchange. Perez is bleeding around the right eye. Big punches suddenly land for Turman and he nails Perez with a knee to the body from the clinch too. Seconds to go and they break, and Turman grabs onto a standing guillotine before landing a knee to end the round. 10-9 Turman.

Round Three and Turman tags Perez with a hard combo in the opening exchange. He’s definitely landing the better punches here. Couple of solid body kicks answer back for Perez but Turman backs him into the fence and clinches. Big knee lands from the clinch for Turman. He works another takedown from the back, but can’t keep Perez down. Announcers are talking this up as a close fight but I’d say Turman is running away with it now. He finally drags Perez down away from the fence, but can’t get any hooks in to control him initially. Another attempt sees him get full mount, but Perez reverses into a heel hook attempt. Turman pulls free and drops down into the guard, and Perez is really bleeding now. Action slows down as Turman grinds away from the top, but Perez reverses to his feet with less than a minute to go. They end up clinched again, but this time Turman’s takedown is stuffed and he eats a spinning elbow. Perez follows with a combo, but Turman clinches again and they trade some pretty wild, tired strikes until the buzzer. Got to be 30-27 Turman really.

Indeed all three judges score it 30-27 for Wellington Turman. Fight was an acceptable one but it was also a bit forgettable with not too many high points and no close finishes. Solid win for Turman though and if he can continue to develop his skills he could become someone to watch in the future.

Middleweight Fight: Andre Muniz vs Antonio Arroyo

Both of these guys were making their UFC debuts after wins on Dana White’s Contender Series, and both were carrying solid winning streaks too. I’m never a fan of matching debutants against each other as you never really get to see where their ceiling lies, so I was just hoping for a decent fight in this one.

First round begins and Arroyo cracks Muniz with a body kick and then unloads with a combo. Takedown attempt from Muniz is stuffed and Arroyo throws him down, but Muniz goes right into an armbar. It looks really close and Arroyo fails to slam his way free, but somehow he holds on in the hold despite his arm looking a bit dodgy. Ref Camila Albuquerque takes a good look at the arm, but Arroyo manages to slip free, only to find himself in a leglock. He escapes that, but Muniz uses it to put him on his back in guard. Punches land for Muniz from the top and he works to pass the guard, then lands what appears to be an illegal knee as Arroyo tries to stand. Ref calls time to let Arroyo get checked over….but a replay shows he was actually on his feet, not on one knee, meaning it was a legal shot.

Thankfully Muniz doesn’t get a point deducted, just loses the position, and they restart standing. Takedown is stuffed by Arroyo from the off, but he gets tagged with some punches coming forward as Bisping outright calls him an actor. Striking exchange sees Arroyo land a nice combo ending in an uppercut, but Muniz tags him with some heavy shots of his own. Big takedown attempt from Muniz is stuffed and now he looks a bit tired. Arroyo just isn’t throwing a lot though. Round ends with a decent right hand from Muniz before Arroyo nails him with a combo. 10-9 Muniz for me.

Second round and Arroyo bounces around on the outside and glances with a head kick, but Muniz keeps pushing forward despite not being as comfortable striking. He’s still landing good punches too and he uses them to set up a takedown attempt. Arroyo defends, but Muniz drags him down and takes the back with one hook, then slaps the second in. He looks for a neck crank, but Arroyo defends well. Body triangle now for Muniz and he lands some hard shots to the side of the head. Another choke attempt follows and then he turns into full mount as Arroyo defends. Good job from Arroyo to get to half-guard and he hits a sweep and stands. Muniz stays on his back and Arroyo stands over him and drops a couple of punches, but the crowd begin to boo for the inactivity. No idea why Arroyo’s not doing more. He finally drops down into guard, but Muniz starts to look for a submission right away. Arroyo just look like he’s resting here, not going low enough for a submission but throwing no strikes either. Ref calls a stand-up with seconds to go but they’re so slow getting up that the buzzer sounds before any action. 10-9 Muniz but the end of the round was weird.

Third round and they open with a BRO HUG before exchanging body kicks. Takedown attempt from Muniz follows and he dumps Arroyo down to the ground in guard. He works to pass and lands a few punches as Arroyo looks too exhausted to really do anything in return. Muniz moves into side mount and continues to land punches, then takes the back as Arroyo manages to scramble up. Arroyo works to buck him off over the top, and then manages to do so after a pretty long period of being stuck. Muniz stays on his back and Arroyo stands over him now, and basically nothing happens as both guys look like they’re moving through treacle. Crowd are really booing this round. Takedown attempt fails for Muniz and he drops to his back again while Arroyo just stands over him and looks to drop the odd punch. Ref ought to consider standing Muniz up. Crowd are absolutely fuming with this. Seconds to go and Muniz finally gets stood up, but neither man does a lot before the fight ends. Could you give a round 0-0? If not it’s probably 10-9 Muniz again, giving him the win.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Andre Muniz. Weird fight as the first round was excellent but the second and third absolutely stunk. It felt like both guys just gassed out badly midway through the second, most likely due to Octagon shock. Hopefully they’ll fight better next time out because this one was completely forgettable in the end.

Lightweight Fight: Charles Oliveira vs Jared Gordon

This was a weird fight to make as Oliveira appeared to be on a tremendous run, winning his last 5 including two wins in 2019, but rather than giving him a step up he was handed Gordon, who’d gone 1-2 in his last 3. It looked like a squash on paper but I guess PRIDE made their guys into legends by doing that, so it wasn’t overly harmful.

Round One and the crowd are INSANELY into Oliveira. Good leg kick opens for Do Bronx as the crowd are happy to tell Gordon that he’s going to die. Takedown attempt from Gordon but Oliveira uses a whizzer to roll into a submission attempt. Gordon avoids that and allows Oliveira back up, and they exchange strikes with Oliveira landing a right hand and another hard low kick. Gordon is struggling to get into range here. He keeps wading forward, but a RIGHT HAND folds him and as he pops back up out of instinct, Oliveira WAYLAYS him with a right uppercut and that’s it as he looks like a corpse.

Super-impressive win for Oliveira there, Gordon came in to fight and just got STARCHED by a much better striker. We’re probably seeing Oliveira in his prime finally now and it’s nice to see him living up to the hype that he got back in 2010. This knockout basically saved the show, too. Awesome stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Shogun Rua vs Paul Craig

Despite pushing 40 and clearly being absolutely miles past his prime now, Shogun was back again here after a year away to take on Craig, who was coming off a decent win over Vinicius Moreira. Bisping sums things up during the introductions as he mentions that he used to watch Shogun killing dudes in PRIDE while he was on the regional scene, and obviously what does that tell you when Bisping’s now been retired for a while? In his prime Shogun would obviously have destroyed someone like Craig, but in 2019? I was worried for him.

Round One begins and Craig comes out throwing a bunch of kicks, even connecting with a spinning wheel kick at one point although Shogun takes it pretty well. Clean counter right lands for Shogun as Craig lumbers forward, and they clinch up with the Scotsman avoiding a takedown and landing a knee. Crowd are booing this clinch work already as they jockey for position. They break off and Craig lands a couple more kicks, but Shogun wades forward and goes for a takedown. Guillotine attempt from Craig looks pretty tight, but Shogun breaks, only to take a BIG FLURRY, and he’s in trouble! Crowd sound horrified as Craig keeps throwing, but Shogun blocks a lot of them and counters with a right. Takedown attempt from Craig now, but he can’t get Rua down and they break. Left hook lands for Craig and Shogun’s face is badly marked up. Takedown attempt from Shogun is stuffed again, but he lands a heavy left hook. Craig’s slowed down already. Couple of combinations land for Shogun but Craig clinches to end the round. 10-9 Craig.

Round Two and they exchange some early strikes with both guys landing. Pace has really dropped here though. Shogun is basically just throwing haymakers. Body kick from Craig is caught and Shogun takes him down and lands some pretty nasty ground-and-pound, but the Scotsman manages to tie him up from the guard. Triangle attempt is avoided by Shogun but he can’t quite get out of the guard. Diving left hand lands for Shogun but Craig takes it well. Shogun decides to stand free of the guard to kick at the legs a bit before throwing another haymaker, and then he drops back down. Kicks to the legs land for Shogun with Craig still on his back, and then another diving punch lands for the Brazilian. He’s into half-guard now, but can’t do a lot and the round ends there. 10-9 Shogun.

Round Three and Craig opens with some kicks that keep Shogun at a distance. Shogun’s stand-up looks hugely plodding. Wild punches miss for Shogun and Craig tags him with an uppercut. Few more kicks from Craig but then he makes the weird decision to pull guard. No idea why he’d do that! He does try for a sweep, but Shogun avoids it and remains on top. Time is definitely running out for Craig now as Shogun stands over him and lands some kicks to the legs before diving in with the right hand. It doesn’t land cleanly, but Craig doesn’t seem to have much answer from the bottom. This is becoming a dull fight, too. Shogun again stands free of the guard, but Craig stays down in a baffling decision. Back into the guard for the former champ but little happens and so he stands up again. Craig joins him with seconds to go and they trade wildly with both men landing before Craig hits a takedown. Round ends with him on top. 10-9 Shogun for a 29-28 win in my book.

Official scores are 29-28 Shogun, 29-28 Craig, and 28-28 for a SPLIT DRAW. Weird to see that as I actually couldn’t see the first being a 10-8 for Craig, but then again, he was the more impressive fighter and basically threw the win away by pulling guard in the third, as he was clearly having his way with Shogun standing. I still think Shogun should probably retire, but who knows when that’ll actually happen as he’s got another fight coming up, somehow. This one was….okay I guess? First round was fun but the later ones got slow and sloppy.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Jan Blachowicz vs Jacare Souza

After taking out a former top ranked Middleweight in Luke Rockhold, Blachowicz was faced with another one here as Jacare was moving to 205lbs for the first time following his upset loss to Jack Hermansson. Jacare had looked OLD in that fight but I figured he wouldn’t be at so much of a speed disadvantage in this one, so it was a close fight to call.

Round One and Jacare definitely looks healthy at 205lbs, not at all bloated or anything like that. Crowd are hugely behind him as you’d expect. Lot of feints from the Brazilian in the early going before he wings an overhand right and then shoots. Blachowicz defends the takedown and they end up clinched, where they jockey for position. Very little action follows as they exchange a couple of knees, and the ref ought to consider breaking this up. Finally Jan breaks free with half of the round gone. Leg kick lands for Blachowicz. Head kick follows but doesn’t land cleanly. Clinch from Jacare but again he can’t get the Pole down. Crowd are booing the inactivity now as they exchange the odd strike from the clinch. Round ends there. 10-9 Blachowicz I guess? He stopped the takedown and appeared to land a couple more strikes.

Round Two and Blachowicz glances on a left hook and then lands a leg kick. Jab also lands for the Pole and then both men land with powerful right hooks. Good leg kick connects for Jacare. Couple of jabs and a leg kick answer for Jan. Blachowicz’s jab is looking strong here. Takedown attempt from Jacare is blocked and we’re back to the clinch. This time the Brazilian really goes for the double leg, but Blachowicz defends excellently again. Jan manages to free himself after some time and lands a body kick as the pace has really slowed down now. He lands the jab again too as well as a solid left to the body that Jacare answers with a low kick. Another low kick leads into a powerful right hand for the Brazilian, but Blachowicz comes back with his own low kick. Round ends on the feet. Probably 10-9 Blachowicz again but it could’ve gone either way.

Round Three and Blachowicz opens with some strikes from the outside, clearly trying to keep his distance. More jabs for Jan as Jacare just isn’t being active enough in my opinion. Clinch from Jacare again and the crowd are openly booing again. This is a pretty awful fight to be honest. Blachowicz breaks free with 2:30 remaining and lands with a low kick. More boos rain down as this is becoming a staring contest with the odd leg kick being landed. Right hand from Jacare sets up another clinch but Jan quickly breaks with a short uppercut. Round ends with a decent exchange finally. 10-9 Blachowicz.

Round Four and again Blachowicz looks for strikes from the outside. No idea what Jacare’s doing here as he’s fighting so passively. Bisping somehow thinks Jacare’s ahead on points though for all his clinches which is insane to me. More boos follow as Blachowicz lands a combo only to find himself pressed into the fence again. I just don’t see how that’s winning points for Jacare though as the clinch is a neutral position for the most part. Crowd are now entertaining themselves by waving their phones with the torch switched on. They break with 2 minutes to go and Jacare lands a low kick before Jan fires back with one of his own. Solid body kick from Blachowicz. He’s backing Jacare up a bit more now. Jacare is barely throwing anything now. Couple more strikes land from distance for Jan and that’s it. 10-9 Blachowicz.

Round Five and unless things change this is going to be the worst UFC main event of 2019. Blachowicz apparently has an injured left foot which isn’t going to help. He opens with a couple of low kicks though and is clearly the more active fighter. Takedown attempt from Jacare is blocked yet again and we’re right back to the clinch. Combo breaks for Jan and he swings some more punches, but they don’t land cleanly. Another takedown attempt follows for Jacare but he still can’t get Blachowicz down. Ref calls a break this time when the clinch slows down and gets a crowd pop. Unfortunately very little happens as the two men circle around from there. 1:30 to go and Jacare’s takedown attempt is blocked by an uppercut, and Blachowicz wobbles him with a combo before he recovers. They continue to circle at a slow pace, with Blachowicz being slightly more aggressive, and that’s the fight. 10-9 Blachowicz and I’d call it 50-45 for him overall.

Judges have it a split decision, 48-47 Jacare, 48-47 Blachowicz and 48-47 for Jan Blachowicz to pick up the win. This was a horrible fight though unfortunately, not sure what really happened to be honest. Maybe both guys respected one another a bit too much, who knows. At any rate it was probably the worst main event of 2019, edging out Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche. Just way too much clinching and circling with no action, sorry guys.

-Show ends with a quick highlight reel.

Final Thoughts….

This was literally the worst show of 2019 for me and probably one of the worst UFC shows I can ever remember. Best fight? Probably Oliveira’s squash of Jared Gordon. Outside of that, literally everything else was just massively forgettable, from the bang average opener to the super-dull main event. Give this one a skip for sure.

Best Fight: Oliveira vs. Gordon
Worst Fight: Blachowicz vs. Jacare

Overall Rating: *

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com