MMA Review: #423: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie

-This was the fourth UFC show in Brazil in 2013 although it was the first one to be broadcast on PPV. Initially it would’ve been main evented by Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis for the Featherweight Title, but when Pettis withdrew with a knee injury, the original #1 Contender Chan Sung Jung stepped in to replace him. Elsewhere the fight third from top on the card – Demian Maia vs. Josh Koscheck – fell apart when Kos got injured, and there were various other changes made which caused a much weaker card than was initially planned. As a big Brazil fan though I was still really pumped.

UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie

Rio De Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Brian Stann, subbing for Joe Rogan. He’s pretty good, actually!

Welterweight Fight: Viscardi Andrade vs Bristol Marunde

Andrade had come off the TUF Brazil 2 series – a series which felt like nobody else but myself had actually watched it! – and he’d looked really good on there, beating Thiago Jambo and David Vieira before falling to a TKO at the hands of hot prospect William Macario. Marunde had debuted in the UFC in April with a loss to Clint Hester, and I couldn’t see this one going any better for him to be honest as Andrade is a very talented fighter.

Fight begins and the crowd are insanely hot. Both men look a little tentative to begin and throw out some feeler strikes with Andrade missing on a big high kick. Marunde looks to jab but he eats a couple of counters from the Brazilian. Big right hand glances for Andrade. Low kick follows. BIG RIGHT HAND drops Marunde hard and he’s in trouble. He dives for a leg as Andrade looks to swarm on him, but Andrade sprawls out and lands a couple more punches. Marunde comes back up but a left hand drops him face-first and Mario Yamasaki dives in to stop it. Poor Bristol is so far gone that he tackles Yamasaki to the ground.

Well, that was quicker and easier than even I was expecting. Great debut for Viscardi Andrade who looked sharper again with his striking than he’d done on TUF. Look forward to seeing him in there again soon.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Francimar Barroso vs Ednaldo Oliveira

Oliveira hadn’t fought since UFC 142 and this was his first trip to 205lbs. His original opponent had been BJJ whiz Robert Drysdale, but he ended up pulling out and so newcomer Barroso – sporting a solid record of 15-3 coming out of the Nova Uniao camp – stepped in. With Barroso sounding like a good prospect I picked him as I’d never been really impressed by Oliveira, particularly considering he’s a Team Nogueira guy!

First round and Barroso comes out throwing some kicks as Oliveira throws out punches, neither man lands though. Oliveira pushes forward swinging, but Barroso stays out of range. Easy takedown stuff by Oliveira. Leg kick glances for Barroso. Neither man is getting into range at all so far really. Good low kick for Barroso. Big punches miss for both men. Oliveira in particular is just hitting air. Good right hook counter from Barroso. Decent leg kick follows. Oliveira continues to hit nothing but wind. This is a terrible round so far. Oliveira begins to taunt him but it does no good and he eats a body kick. Jab from Oliveira but he misses a follow-up right. Hard leg kick from Barroso. Another leg kick follows. Oliveira’s basically had no offense. Seconds to go and he swings his way into a clinch. 10-9 Barroso.

Second round and again Oliveira misses on punches and eats a nasty leg kick. Right hand finally lands for Oliveira but Barroso stays out of range of the follow-ups. Leg kick is caught by Oliveira and he drops some nasty ground-and-pound as he gets on top, but surprisingly he lets Barroso to his feet. Don’t know why he’d do that. They clinch up along the fence before Oliveira breaks with an uppercut. Takedown attempt from Barroso and he gets Oliveira down for a second. Oliveira works back up but Barroso drags him back down. Good job from Oliveira to post up to his feet using the fence, and he switches position and forces Barroso into the fence. Referee calls a clean break when the action slows down and we’ve got just over a minute to go. Big right hook connects over the top for Barroso. Another one follows and Oliveira’s legs look a bit wobbly. Nice combination follows for the Nova Uniao fighter. Low kick from Oliveira is caught and Barroso trips him down into guard. Oliveira scoots back towards the fence, but he eats a few punches on his way up and eats a knee as he stands. Clinch is broken with seconds to go and Barroso ends the round with a low kick. Closer round but still 10-9 Barroso for me.

Third round and Barroso charges out and hits a takedown. Oliveira pops right back up and Barroso grabs a standing guillotine, but Oliveira doesn’t look in trouble to me and he frees his head. They muscle for position in the clinch and Barroso uses a whizzer to drag Oliveira down before landing a knee to the face as he pops up. Nice takedown from Barroso and he lands right into side mount. Oliveira works to half-guard, but he takes some punches in the process. He works back to his feet, but Barroso stays on him against the fence. Good knees from Oliveira from the plum clinch, but Barroso drops for a takedown again. Ref calls a break with a minute to go as Barroso’s single leg is blocked, and both men look tired. Oliveira is really swinging but he can’t land on Barroso who stays way on the outside. Oliveira decides to clinch and try to take Barroso down, but he can’t complete it and they remain against the fence. Knee to the body from Barroso and that’s the fight. Crowd shower the cage with boos and I can’t blame them.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Francimar ‘Bodao’ Barroso. Awful fight for the most part though – you can semi-excuse Barroso as he took the fight on short notice, but Oliveira didn’t appear to offer a thing and after two fights I just don’t think he’s a UFC level fighter unfortunately. Barroso has a little more to offer but he’ll need to show much more than this next time around. Dull stuff.

Featherweight Fight: Rani Yahya vs Josh Clopton

Well, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know Clopton was still on the UFC roster at this point, although I think I can be forgiven when you consider the guy hadn’t fought since December 2011’s TUF 14 Finale! This did not seem like a favourable fight for him too given he’s a BJJ guy and Yahya is one of the most skilled grapplers in the world at 145lbs.

Round One and Yahya comes out throwing combos, but they’re blatantly being used to set up a takedown. It’s an improvement on his usual charge-in style though. Head kick glances for Yahya and then he shoots on a single leg. Clopton works really hard to defend it and stays vertical, but Yahya drives him into the fence and then pulls guard. From there he goes right into a heel hook attempt and uses it to drag Clopton down. To his credit Clopton still looks calm, but Yahya rolls into the submission. He still can’t get it though and Yahya gives it up to take top position instead, cutting through Clopton’s guard to take side mount. Clopton gets half-guard but he eats a lot of punches as he does so. Good elbows land for Yahya and he works to pass into full mount. Nice flat mount from Yahya but Clopton hits a nice hip escape to butterfly guard. Yahya instantly gets back to half-guard and then slides into mount again. This time Clopton just looks to hold on. Good punches from Yahya and then he hops into side mount. Clopton gets back to half-guard and the round ends there. 10-9 Yahya; almost a 10-8 but not quite.

Round Two and both men miss with some early punches. You can tell Clopton’s really wary of the takedown. Single leg attempt from Yahya and although Clopton defends it, the Brazilian forces him into the fence and then gets him down. Easy pass to half-guard from Yahya and Clopton finds his left arm trapped underneath him with Yahya landing clean punches. Full mount for Yahya and it looks like he’s prepping an arm triangle choke. Clopton manages to get to half-guard but he’s still totally unable to get out from underneath the Brazilian. Another full mount for Yahya follows and this really is a one-sided fight. Short punches connect for Yahya and Clopton is holding on for dear life. Yahya’s landing some really good shots here actually. Less than a minute to go though and it does look like Clopton’s going to survive the round. He manages to regain half-guard again but can’t get out from underneath Yahya. 10-8 round for sure as Clopton literally had zero offense.

Round Three and Clopton lands a decent right hook and manages to sprawl to avoid a wild takedown attempt. Good counter right from Clopton. Yahya shoots on a single leg again, but Clopton defends and takes top position inside Yahya’s guard. Yahya might be gassed here. Sweep attempt from Yahya but Clopton avoids it and it’s clear that the Brazilian is very tired. Clopton isn’t really putting much offense together though outside of a couple of hammer fists. Clopton decides to bring the fight back up, and he connects on a solid counter right before landing a knee that sets up the clinch. Yahya tries to pull guard but Clopton ends up on top holding a front facelock and landing punches. Yahya winds up seated against the cage, and Clopton pulls him down into guard. Man Yahya’s cardio is poor. Clopton lets him back up and lands a solid left hand. Right hand connects over the top for Yahya. He follows with a takedown attempt but Clopton defends it. Yahya pulls him down and they end up in an odd position with Yahya sort-of on top with Clopton caught on the fence. Clopton manages to get butterfly guard but Yahya ends the round on top. 10-9 Clopton but too little, too late. I’ve got it 29-27 for Rani Yahya.

Judges score it 29-28 all round for Rani Yahya. First two rounds of this fight were fine as Yahya looked improved with his striking and used it nicely to set up his takedowns, and when he was on the ground he ran a clinic on Clopton for the most part, but by the third round his cardio had totally betrayed him and I think if he’d been faced with a more skilled opponent – no offense to Clopton – then he would’ve been in deep trouble. Not a bad fight per say but really unspectacular.

Flyweight Fight: Ian McCall vs Iliarde Santos

McCall was coming in with his back to the wall somewhat after failing to pick up a win in his first three UFC fights, but I mean, it wasn’t like he’d lost to scrubs as he’d faced the top two Flyweights in the world – Joseph Benavidez and the champ, Demetrious Johnson – and really he should’ve had a win over Johnson in that first fight. Opponent Santos was a step down in competition for him as he was coming down from 135lbs after a one-sided loss to Yuri Alcantara, and so I figured he would be the perfect opponent for Uncle Creepy to get that elusive first Octagon win against.

Round One and both men come out throwing kicks. McCall lands a couple of nice low kicks and then rushes in with a combo. Good low kick from Santos but McCall comes back with a quick combination. McCall seems to be the faster fighter here. Leg kick connects for Uncle Creepy. Combo from McCall and he follows with a hard left hook that seems to hurt Santos a bit. Really good combo lands and Santos decides to shoot and then has to pull guard as McCall stuffs the takedown. Good hammer fists on top from Ian too. He stands over Santos to drop a right hand and then settles in the guard to deliver some hard shots. Santos tries to scramble free but McCall’s all over him with punches. Back to the feet and Santos walks into a right hook but does answer with one of his own. Good movement from McCall allows him to avoid the strikes of Santos. Head kick lands for McCall. Spinning backfist misses for Santos. Right hand connects for the Brazilian but McCall takes it with a grin and then rocks him with a combination again. Santos fires back with a pair of right hands and then shoots, but McCall sprawls out and then dodges out of range. Crowd are really into this one now. Left jab from McCall and that’s the round. Great round, 10-9 McCall.

Round Two and McCall picks up where he left off, with a lot of movement and low kicks. Superman punch misses for Uncle Creepy. Pair of really good leg kicks connect for him though. Santos is swinging wild. He’s taking a lot of leg kicks in this round though. Head kick glances for McCall too. Good combination lands for Uncle Creepy. One-two lands for Santos after he stuffs a takedown. McCall lands with a beautiful low kick/high kick combo. Santos is struggling with McCall’s movement. Another chopping leg kick lands for McCall and he dodges the big right hand of Santos. Two minutes to go in the round and McCall isn’t slowing up, as he continues to land clean combos. Big right counter lands flush for Santos though and as soon as that happens McCall looks to return fire with fire and brawl. McCall quickly gets back to the gameplan though and circles out, but when he tries a takedown Santos blocks it and hits one of his own to guard. Good punches from Santos as McCall works back to his feet. Seconds to go and they break, and McCall lands some low kicks and a combo but takes a counter right hook from the Brazilian. Round ends with an uppercut from McCall. 10-9 McCall on my scorecard.

Round Three and Santos really pushes forward, but McCall cracks him with a good leg kick and continues to circle out. Good right hand from Santos in a trade and it looks like he’s trying to draw McCall into a brawl. Takedown attempt from Santos is stuffed. Good combination from McCall ends with a hard right hand and a body kick. Takedown from McCall and he transitions to take the back with a rear waistlock. Good job from Santos to wriggle free but McCall glances on a head kick as they break. Flurry from Santos forces McCall back a bit but he circles out to safety. Big right hand misses for Santos and he takes a pair of leg kicks. Body punch from McCall. Good combo from Santos and he goes for a takedown, but McCall blocks it and scrambles free before landing a left hook on the exit. McCall continues to use his movement to outstrike Santos with combos, and with just over a minute to go it’s looking like his fight. Santos to his credit is still swinging heavy shots though. Good sprawl from McCall and he nails Santos with a knee to the head and a combo on his way out. Round ends with a nice trade with both men landing. I’ve got it 30-27 for Ian McCall. Really good fight.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Uncle Creepy. Really fun fight with some excellent exchanges but for the most part McCall was able to stick to his gameplan of using movement and angles to cut Santos up with crisp combos, and that made the difference in the end and allowed him to take the decision. Would’ve liked to have seen McCall use his ground game some more but I guess he didn’t technically need to given he was able to outstrike Santos with relative ease anyway. Great to see him pick up his first UFC win as he’s still probably my favourite guy at Flyweight.

Welterweight Fight: Sergio Moraes vs Neil Magny

This was a battle of two TUFers who had reached the semi-finals of their respective seasons; Moraes on the first TUF Brazil series and Magny from TUF 16. Due to Moraes’s sick grappling and Magny being a decent jack-of-all-trades but not that good I was firmly behind Serginho.

Round One and Magny pushes forward throwing out some early punches and combos, but Moraes does a good job with his movement on the outside and he doesn’t really land with anything. Moraes grins at him in fact as he misses a flurry. Magny is finding it hard to get into range. They clinch up and Moraes hits a nice trip to guard. He immediately stacks up in an attempt to pass, moving into half-guard. Side mount quickly follows and Magny is in trouble. SICK transition to mount from Moraes and he immediately goes into a mounted triangle and locks it up, rolling to his back to synch it completely. The hold looks completely sunk in and Sergio lands some elbows for good measure before cradling the leg to take top position again, and Magny taps there.

That was some ridiculous grappling from Moraes and pretty much a flawless performance from him in fact as his movement standing was excellent and allowed him to avoid almost all of Magny’s strikes. The finish was beautiful too – you won’t see many better triangle chokes than that in MMA but that’s what you get from a grappler the calibre of Serginho. Dude is really becoming a great fighter to watch.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Amanda Nunes vs Sheila Gaff

Nunes was making her UFC debut here and while she’d lost previously to her best two opponents (Alexis Davis and Sarah D’Alelio) I thought she was a pretty solid pick against the undersized Gaff, who hadn’t shown much in her UFC debut against Sara McMann.

Round One and both women come out SWINGING. Gaff appears to land and so Nunes goes for a takedown, but Gaff scrambles and attempts to leap onto the back. Nunes avoids the hooks and they come back up to their feet where the Brazilian drives Gaff into the fence. Single leg for Nunes and Gaff’s on her back in side mount. This is a furious pace. Knees to the body from Nunes and then she steps into full mount. Good job from Gaff though to give her back and use brute strength to stand back up, but Nunes drags her back down. Hammer fists land from the guard for Nunes and then she begins to open up with some HEAVY ELBOWS. Gaff stops defending and Herb Dean decides to call it there. Pretty rare to see a fight stopped from ground-and-pound inside the guard.

Pretty much a squash match albeit a wild one as the pace that both women put on was ridiculous from the off. Nunes looked good here though – questionable opposition aside – and it was a fun enough debut for her.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Anthony Perosh vs Vinny Magalhaes

After a disappointing fight against Phil Davis, it looked like the UFC were throwing Vinny a bone here in the form of Perosh, as while the Aussie isn’t a bad fighter he’s a grappler with limited striking skills and of course, Vinny is one of the best grapplers in the world, period. I was picking Vinny by submission but it was a must-win for him as he’d talked some trash coming in that made him seem a bit arrogant.

Fight begins and Vinny walks RIGHT INTO A RIGHT HAND AND GOES DOWN! Perosh follows up with some hammer fists and VINNY IS OUT. Holy shit.

Replay shows Vinny literally walked into the punch and the follow-up shots stiffened him up. Pretty hilarious stuff as I mean, since when has ANTHONY PEROSH been known as a knockout artist? Big win for the Aussie and as he’s such a nice guy it was fun to see, but wow, bad stuff for Vinny. I heard he decided to retire after this fight (he was cut from the UFC anyway) and I don’t think you can blame him as his chin just doesn’t seem cut out for UFC-level MMA. Highlight reel knockout for sure.

Flyweight Fight: John Lineker vs Jose Maria

This initially was supposed to see Lineker against Brit Phil Harris with the word being if he won, he’d get the next title shot. Two things went wrong though – firstly Harris got injured and was replaced by Brazilian prospect Jose Maria, sporting a massively impressive record of 33-3, and secondly Lineker missed weight BADLY, coming in at 129lbs, his second missed weight in four fights. While that took away the possibility of a title shot, I still expected to see him use his quicker strikes to pick up a win.

Round One and Maria circles on the outside and keeps switching his stance, evidently not keen on standing in front of Lineker. Low kick from Maria is counted by a hard right hand from Lineker. Low blow from Maria but Lineker recovers instantly. Clinch attempt from Maria but Lineker stops that with a couple of punches. Low kick is countered by a Lineker right again and this time Maria goes down, but after he takes a couple of punches to the head he manages to roll onto his back and kick Lineker away. Spinning back kick misses for Maria. Takedown attempt misses by a mile. Combo from Lineker but Maria manages to dodge out of the way. Spinning backfist lands for Maria and Lineker looks wobbled! Maria swarms on him with strikes and tags him with an overhand right, and a follow-up left sends him comically staggering back and down! Big punches land for Maria and he tries to grab a guillotine, but Lineker avoids it. Maria continues to land on him but Lineker looks somewhat recovered and he swings back with some punches. Kick from Lineker is caught and Maria tackles him to the ground, then moves to take the back before landing in side mount. Lineker quickly shrimps into half-guard and works to his feet though, grabbing a rear waistlock of his own. This is a hell of a round. Lineker manages to drag Maria down and then lands some solid punches from the clinch as they stand, but Maria stays on him and lands a knee to the groin. Referee Leon Roberts quickly calls time to let Lineker recover. They restart and continue to exchange, and Lineker narrowly misses on a vicious right hook. Takedown attempt from Maria is stuffed and Lineker makes him pay with some punches. Maria manages to get the clinch though and they trade knees inside. Break with under a minute to go and Lineker is swinging really wildly now. Big right hand lands for Lineker and then he gets Maria on his back on the buzzer. Tight round but I like Maria, 10-9.

Round Two and Lineker pushes forward as he’s obviously concerned about losing that first round. Maria circles on the outside and then clinches, but Lineker cracks him with a knee to the body to break. Takedown attempt follows but Lineker stuffs it and lands some punches. Maria rolls into a leglock attempt from there, but Lineker avoids and gets on top with Maria in the turtle position. Back up and Maria lands a combo and a pair of low kicks. He goes down off what appear to be a pair of glancing blows though, and suddenly he looks hurt! Stann thinks he’s blown out his knee but it doesn’t really matter as Lineker fucking POUNCES and absolutely smashes the poor guy with hammer fists for a TKO stoppage.

Post-fight seems to confirm that something went wrong with Maria’s leg and once he went down he was just unable to defend himself properly. Really bad break for him as he was arguably winning the fight before that happened. Fight was a ton of fun though as both men absolutely went for it and put on one of the best PPV openers of 2013 with some pretty crazy exchanges at a sick pace. Bravo to both men even if Lineker’s weight issues sort of took away from the victory.

Middleweight Fight: Thales Leites vs Tom Watson

This was former title challenger Leites’ first UFC bout since his largely unfair release in 2009, and since that time he’d won six of seven fights to earn a return to the Octagon. Brit Watson meanwhile had picked up his first UFC win over Stanislav Nedkov in February. This one looked like a striker (Watson) vs. grappler (Leites) fight and I was betting on Leites as I’ve always been pretty high on him. Side note but unfortunately Watson’s entrance, which involved a gorilla mask and a Backstreet Boys track – really! – isn’t included on the DVD.

Round One and they circle before Leites tags Watson with a combination that sets up the clinch. Trip attempt from Leites and he takes the back standing before dragging Kong to the ground. Immediately he looks to set up a possible arm triangle, but when Watson rolls he takes the back instead with both hooks. Rear naked choke attempt from Leites and he traps Watson’s right arm for good measure, but he can’t seem to seal the deal. Watson evidently has good choke defense. Good punches from Leites connect with the head of Watson, as he’s unable to defend himself with his right arm. Just over a minute to go in the round and Leites is in total control here. Doesn’t look like Watson’s capable of shaking him off at all. Watson rolls and so Leites flattens him out, landing some punches, but Watson finally explodes from the bottom and escapes, getting to his feet! Good leg kick from the Brit but Leites fires back with a combo. Good knee from Watson from close range and he’s beginning to push the action a bit now. Both men land some low kicks. Nice combo into a leg kick from Kong. Left hook from Kong but Leites counters with a right hand. Head kick glances for Watson and he lands a right hook on the buzzer. 10-9 Leites.

Round Two and both men exchange some early strikes, but the problem for Watson is that Leites seems to be landing equally good strikes and backing him up, too. Good combination for Leites backs Watson against the cage. Kong comes back and looks for the plum clinch, but he falls into Thales’ hands as he hits a takedown and then passes into mount. Watson manages a hip escape but then Leites takes his back and looks for the arm triangle setup. Scramble from Watson allows him to stand, but Leites trips him right back down. One hook in for Leites and he lands some solid punches to the side of the head before getting the second hook. Watson’s face is really marked up now. Watson tries to stand to shake him off, but Thales appears to be transitioning for an armbar. It looks locked up as Watson takes top position and stands, but the Brit hangs tough and manages to free himself. He backs up and calls Leites to his feet. Good punches from Leites but Watson grabs the plum clinch to hit him with some knees. They trade punches with both men landing but Watson looks the fresher man and he tags Thales with some decent shots. One minute to go and they clinch against the fence, before they break and again both men get tagged with punches. Seconds to go and Watson stuffs a takedown attempt and cracks the Brazilian with a knee and a hard elbow strike. Leites gets a takedown on the buzzer. Good ending from Watson but the round still goes to Thales Leites, 10-9.

Round Three and Leites has a lot of blood coming from his nose. He charges forward and lands a heavy left hook on Kong who lands a counter then looks to grab the plum clinch. Leites forces him into the fence and holy shit is Watson busted open. Lot of blood leaking from his face. They muscle for position and Watson breaks, but Leites quickly gets back on him with a takedown attempt. Watson defends it well, but Leites manages to transition onto the back and looks to work for a trip. Kong defends but he appears to be holding the fence at points too. Uppercut breaks for Leites but he eats an elbow on the way out too. Beautiful double leg from Leites as Watson comes forward, and he instantly passes into mount too. Watson gives his back and stands, but Leites stays on him and this is becoming a very bloody fight now from both men! Trip from Leites puts him back down and Kong gives his back once more. One hook from Leites and then he pulls Watson down and gets the second one in. Arm triangle attempt from Leites and it looks locked up this time. Crowd respond loudly too. Watson desperately grabs his own hand to try to prevent it, but Leites looks to be sliding into side mount too. Great job from Watson to survive and he almost looks safe. Leites keeps squeezing on it, forcing the blood out of Watson’s head in a pretty sick visual, but the Brit gives referee Herb Dean the thumbs up. This dude is tricky to choke. Fight ends with Watson stuck in the choke. Clear-cut 30-27 for Thales Leites I’d say.

Judges score it a unanimous decision for Thales Leites, 30-27 all round. This was a pretty dominant performance for him in his UFC return as he had zero problem with Watson’s striking and clinch game and on the ground as was sort-of expected it was basically a whitewash as he did everything but finish. People ragged on Leites for the Anderson Silva fight but I don’t think it can be understated – his UFC release was unfair and he’s still an elite-level 185lber who’s a match for anyone in the world. Unfortunately for Tom Watson he found that out the hard way here. This was actually a far, far better fight than I remembered too as Watson was very game and never quit even when he was stuck in some horrendous positions.

Middleweight Fight: Cezar Ferreira vs Thiago Santos

This was TUF Brazil winner Cezar Mutante’s first fight since winning the show over a year beforehand, as he’d spent ages on the shelf with various injuries. His original opponent here would’ve been Clint Hester, but when he got injured UFC brought back one of the TUF Brazil 2 cast in ‘Marreta’ Santos, who is basically a larger, poor man’s Edson Barboza. With Marreta moving up to 185lbs from 170lbs and Mutante being a HUGE Middleweight I was firmly behind Belfort’s protégé.

Fight gets underway and they circle before Mutante wobbles Marreta with a short left hook. Mutante senses he’s in trouble and closes in with a NASTY left high kick and a flurry of punches that have Marreta diving for a leg! He can’t take Mutante down though and the TUF winner quickly locks up a modified guillotine to force the tapout! Wow.

Well, that was a TOTAL squash for Cezar Mutante as I don’t think poor Marreta even had one bit of offense! Can’t really take much from the fight as it was so quick but as a fan of Mutante’s it was admittedly fun to watch. I think it’d be fair to give Marreta another crack at his natural 170lbs as he did take the fight on short notice, but he was wildly overmatched here and hopefully Mutante is given a stiffer test next time around.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Phil Davis vs Lyoto Machida

I was surprised when they put this fight together as I figured they’d want to sort-of protect Davis for a possible Jon Jones match down the line, but evidently not. As it goes I was really pulling for Mr Wonderful to win anyway, as Machida to me was a nuisance at 205lbs as nobody really wanted to see him fight Jones again anyway. It was an interesting fight as I thought Davis would be the first guy since Tito Ortiz who would outright look to take Lyoto down, but I still suspected Lyoto would do the usual Lyoto type thing and come away with a decision.

Fight begins and Davis circles on the outside while Lyoto flicks some jabs at him from the center. Body kick lands for Davis. Low kicks land for both men. Left hand glances for Machida. Davis is showing some really good movement here actually and Lyoto’s not landing anything especially effective. Left hand glances again for Machida. Decent right hand lands for Davis. Low kick from Lyoto. Inside leg kick from Machida. Loads of kicks from Lyoto now but they’re not doing much damage. Hard high kick is just about blocked by Machida, who fires back with a big flurry that has Davis reeling. Combo ends with a knee and Davis dives for a takedown but fails on it. He looks okay though and then he manages to hit a beautiful trip takedown to half-guard. He begins to prep for a kimura on the left arm, but can’t get it and so he ends the round with some elbows to the body. 10-9 Machida I guess but it wasn’t exactly a convincing round for him, particularly when the replay shows the flurry didn’t land cleanly.

Into the 2nd and both men throw some kicks to begin, landing kicks to the body at almost the same time at one point. Front kick to the body from Machida. Davis is not stopping moving at all though. Head kick is just about blocked by Davis. They continue to circle and Lyoto has to block a big head kick from Davis. Hard to give either man the advantage in this round so far. Takedown attempt from Davis but Lyoto shrugs it off beautifully. Combination glances for Machida. Good right hand from Davis set up by a pair of low kicks. Announcers are acting like Machida is clearly winning this round but he hasn’t really landed anything truly significant. Right hand glances for Davis. Good takedown defense from Machida as he shrugs off another attempt. Another attempt is stuffed but Davis does land a right hand on the way out. Body kick glances for Davis. Hard left hand connects for Machida. Seconds to go and Davis is desperate to close the distance. Right hook connects for Machida but Davis gets in on him and hits the takedown. Good knees to the body land for Davis with seconds on the clock and he ends the round with a flurry. I’d go 10-10 there actually as Davis’s late work on the ground matched the few significant strikes Machida had over him on the feet.

Third and final round and both men glance with strikes early on, mainly kicks. Decent body punch from Davis too. Body kick glances for Machida. Davis is really pushing the pace here even if he isn’t landing much. Left hand from Lyoto and he shrugs off a takedown attempt. Front kick to the body follows. Big knee from Machida as Davis goes for a takedown, and they go down momentarily before coming up with Lyoto holding a rear waistlock. Davis works to free himself and does so but takes a body kick on the way out. Couple of kicks are blocked by Machida. Lyoto looks to chase him down, but when he does land a left Davis answers with an overhand right. Two minutes to go and Lyoto cracks him with a solid knee and then shows some sick takedown defense, muscling Davis off in impressive fashion. Couple more good shots land for Lyoto, countering on Davis as he comes forward. Another takedown attempt is shrugged off too. Head kick is blocked by Davis. Seconds to go now and Lyoto stuffs another takedown. Round ends there. 10-9 Machida and I’d call this a 30-28 for him.

Judges have it 29-28 all round, unanimous decision…..for Phil Davis! Crowd go absolutely silent for this and then absolutely flood the Octagon with a chorus of boos. Well, that was an odd one for sure. You could perhaps make a case for Davis winning the 2nd but I don’t see how he won the fight overall, sorry. Having said that, the way Machida fights – basically looking to land a handful more significant strikes than the opponent by countering and only taking a KO if it comes rather than chasing for it – is always risky and so he paid the price for that just as much as anything else here. Still, questionable judging for sure. Even if it has done the division a favour by removing a logjam in Lyoto (who nobody wants to see fight Jon Jones again) and sending him down to 185lbs where he’s an instant contender! Fight wasn’t all that but it was typical Lyoto fare so if you like his style you’d enjoy this I guess.

UFC World Featherweight Title: Jose Aldo vs Chan Sung Jung

Originally planned main event here would’ve seen Aldo defending his title against Anthony Pettis, dropping from 155lbs, but Pettis ended up injuring his knee and had to withdraw. Personally I saw this as a blessing in disguise as he hadn’t really earned the title shot and once he was out, the rightful #1 contender, the Korean Zombie, was able to step in to claim the title shot he initially received for beating Dustin Poirier well over a year previously. In terms of star power this was the best match UFC could’ve made at 145lbs anyway as well, everyone loves the Korean Zombie! As far as I how I saw the fight going, I was interested because I thought the Korean Zombie’s aggression would force Aldo to be more active than he’d been in a couple of his previous UFC matches, but I still thought the Brazilian would retain as his cleaner technique and brute power would allow him to hurt the Zombie – who CAN be knocked out as evidenced by the George Roop high kick. Regardless, this was a much-anticipated fight.

Interesting staredown as neither fighter wants to make eye contact; instead both men look directly at the ground. Round One and Aldo dodges a couple of early strikes from the Zombie. Left hook glances for Aldo. Both men look really tentative here to begin. Good right hook over the top lands for Aldo in a brief exchange. Jab into a right hand from Aldo. Head kick just misses for the Zombie. Jung is coming out really conservatively to begin here which is surprising. Low kick from Aldo. Jabs glance for both men. Leg kick from Aldo lands hard. Good counter right from the champion. Zombie fakes a takedown and glances with a right hand over the top. Takedown from Aldo with seconds to go but Jung pops back up. Big rights miss for both men. Spinning kick glances for Aldo and they exchange on the buzzer. 10-9 Aldo and a surprisingly inactive round for the Korean Zombie.

Round Two and the Zombie opens up with a combo that backs the champion up a little. Nice front kick from Jung. He comes forward again but this time walks right into an overhand right from Aldo. Counter right lands for Aldo again. Stiff jab snaps the Zombie’s head back. Couple more counterpunches land for Aldo. This might be the least aggressive I’ve seen either man fight. Good combination from Aldo, landing to the body and then the head. Couple more jabs from Aldo and he’s doing an excellent job of avoiding Jung’s strikes too. Good right hook from Aldo. Another heavy jab lands for the champ and the Zombie’s knees look wobbled for a moment. Right hand from the Zombie but he pushes forward into a jab and a takedown to half-guard. Into side mount for Aldo but Jung spins back to guard and looks for an armbar. Aldo avoids that and retains top position, but he doesn’t do much damage from there and that’s the round. 10-9 Aldo. Not sure what the Zombie’s gameplan is here at all.

Round Three and the Zombie is continuing to stand right in front of Aldo. Good left hook from Aldo and he gets a takedown as Jung attempts to close in with a flying knee. Into half-guard and he looks to pass as the Zombie tries to scramble back to his feet. Couple of good shots from both men and then the Zombie uses the fence to get back to his feet. Aldo keeps him clinched on the fence though and he drops for another takedown. Jung works to defend it, but Aldo hits an outside trip and puts him onto his knees. Aldo tries desperately to put him down onto his back but Zombie does a good job of remaining in a kneeling position. Finally Herb Dean decides to call a clean break due to the inactivity. Combination lands for Jung coming forward but Aldo fires right back with a right uppercut. Clinch from Aldo and he forces Jung into the cage and drops for the takedown again. Good defense from Jung as he hops around for a second and appears to be looking to sneak in a choke, landing some good elbows in the process. Herb calls another break with seconds to go and they trade some punches before Jung attempts a flying knee, and off a scramble Aldo goes down but lands an upkick on the buzzer. 10-9 Aldo.

Round Four and you’d think the Zombie would have to bring the aggression now. He opens with an overhand right that forces Aldo back a little. Left jab from the Zombie. Combination glances for Jung but he eats a stiff jab. Jab from Jung. Left hook follows. He’s pushing forward much more in this round. Right hand from Jung catches Aldo on the neck and he pulls back clutching at his shoulder. Uh oh. Aldo immediately smells blood, and CRACKS him with a pair of vicious kicks right to the injured shoulder. Jung takes them like a MAN and then tries to do something to his shoulder, but Aldo doesn’t let up, tackling him to the ground and from there he spins to the back and pounds away at a foetal Zombie for the TKO stoppage. Post-fight Jung looks like he’s in tears, clutching at his injured shoulder. Terrible break for him.

Post-fight replay reveals the punch spun right off the back of Aldo’s neck and caused Jung’s shoulder to pop out, and from there Aldo realized his predicament and quite rightfully (not in a dirty fashion either – it’s a fight and you take what you can get!) went right after him to finish him off. Fight was weird as it looked like the Zombie’s gameplan might’ve been to try to lull Aldo into a false sense of security before going for it in the later rounds where the Brazilian had slowed down in the past, but then the shoulder injury obviously ruined that idea. To add to the weirdness was the fact that Aldo only threw one of his trademark leg kicks, but it was revealed later that he actually broke his foot on the first one he threw, which meant he lost his key weapon too. Overall then not a bad fight by any means, but a bit of a disappointment given the wild fight people – myself included – were expecting going in given the Zombie’s crazy reputation. But sometimes great fights on paper don’t always pan out I guess. Such is MMA.

-Highlight reel rolls and that’s the night.

Final Thoughts….

This is an odd show to rate in a lot of ways. I mean, outside of the slow Barroso/Oliveira match, none of the fights on the card outright sucked, and some of them (Lineker/Maria, Leites/Watson, McCall/Santos) were really excellent, with the rest being fun squash matches for the most part. However there wasn’t exactly much of substance with regards to fights affecting divisions and the title pictures, and the two main events didn’t exactly deliver – Aldo/Zombie didn’t match the expectations and Davis/Machida had a questionable decision and was a stereotypical Machida fight. So yeah I’d say UFC 163 is worth a thumbs up on fight quality, but it’s more a show for the hardcore fans.

Best Fight: Lineker vs. Maria
Worst Fight: Barroso vs. Oliveira

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: