MMA Review: #440: UFC Fight Night 33

-Back to Australia then for the first time in about a year, and to another city too in Brisbane. Obviously the holy grail for the UFC in Australia is still to do a show in Melbourne, but until the authorities there allow MMA to take place in a cage as opposed to a ring (insane that they don’t already given a blind man could see the cage is more suitable…) it won’t be happening. Fun fact – of the six main card bouts here, five were featuring Australian fighters, and two of the more visible Aussies (George Sotiropoulos and Robert Whittaker) weren’t even on the card. Just goes to show how global the UFC has become really.

UFC Fight Night 33

Brisbane, Queensland

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Julie Kedzie vs Bethe Correia

Longtime veteran Kedzie had made her UFC debut in July, losing a close decision to Dutch kickboxer Germaine de Randamie, while Brazilian Correia was making her Octagon debut here. Correia apparently trains with Bellator’s Pitbull brothers, and so it’s no surprise that she’s got the Pitbull nickname too. C’mon guys, be original? Her first name is also pronounced as “Betch”, which could be unfortunate with the wrong accent.

Round One begins and the crowd are booing referee Steve Perceval unmercifully. Announcers don’t mention it but it’s because he made a questionable stoppage in a prelim fight involving local hero Richie Vaculik. Anyway, they trade some strikes from distance to begin with neither woman really gaining an advantage. Nice body kick lands for Kedzie. You can hear Greg Jackson being really vocal in her corner. Lot of kicks early on for Kedzie. Good leg kick from Correia. Left hook lands clean for Kedzie. She’s really outstriking the Brazilian early on. Side kick almost sets up a spinning backfist but Correia manages to dodge. Left hook from Correia and it allows her to clinch and force Kedzie into the fence. Kedzie quickly breaks off though. Good bodyshot from Correia and she follows with a crushing left hook that snaps Kedzie’s head back. Spinning wheel kick misses for Kedzie. Right hand connects though. Good leg kick from Correia and she clinches and forces Kedzie into the cage. Good left hands inside for Correia and she busts out some foot stomps too. Kedzie answers those with a sharp knee. Less than a minute to go and they break, and now Correia’s walking Kedzie down with punches. Slip from Correia on a high kick and that allows Kedzie to land some shots from close range. Takedown attempt from Correia and she gets Kedzie down to end the round. 10-9 round for Kedzie.

Round Two and Kedzie again opens up with some kicks. Left hand counter lands for Correia and she doubles up on a jab. Good combo from Kedzie and the crowd are definitely starting to get into the fight now. Low kick is countered by Kedzie with a hard right. Nice exchange sees both women land but Kedzie seems to get the better of it. Wild spinning backfist misses for Correia. Kedzie’s really working the left hook well. Clinch from Correia and she muscles Kedzie into the fence. Hard right hook break for Kedzie. Heavy right to the body from Correia sets up another clinch and she begins to land some good knees to the body too. Good job from Kedzie again to break off. Spinning back kick lands to the body for Kedzie. Leg kick answers for Correia. Less than a minute to go now and they seem content to continue striking. Finally Correia shoots on a double leg, but Kedzie stuffs it well and they wind up clinched. Nice knee inside for Kedzie and the round ends just after. 10-9 Kedzie and I think Correia needs a finish.

Round Three and it’s Correia connecting early with a right hook. Hard counter right lands for Kedzie as Correia throws a low kick. Trio of left hooks land for the Brazilian. Right hook answers for Kedzie. Kedzie seems to be slowing down with her movement a little now and it’s allowing Correia to connect with punches. Side kick from Kedzie. Correia is definitely getting the better of these exchanges in this round though, backing Kedzie up with punches. Body kick is caught by Correia and she hits a takedown to guard. Odd move from Correia as she moves Kedzie into the fence, are we back in 2003 or something? Kedzie naturally looks to wall-walk to her feet, but Correia does well by using a bodylock to keep her grounded and from there she moves to take back control. Nice. Kedzie hits a sweet escape though and turns into her before exploding to her feet. Spin kick misses for Kedzie. One minute to go and they continue to trade with both women landing. They clinch briefly but Kedzie quickly breaks. Correia seems to be just about landing the better shots but she can’t do enough to really hurt Kedzie and that’s the fight. 10-9 Correia but I’ve got it 29-28 for Kedzie overall.

Judges surprisingly have it 29-28 Correia, 29-28 Kedzie and 29-28 for Bethe Correia to take the split decision. Wow. Don’t get that at all as I don’t see how you could give Correia the first or the second. One of the least talked about bad decisions of 2013 in my opinion in fact. Fight was fun though which might’ve made up for it I guess. Kedzie ended up retiring after this fight and is now the matchmaker for Invicta FC which is a good call for her given she’s had a long career, but in a way it’s a pity as if UFC had installed the Women’s division a few years earlier she could’ve been a star. C’est la vie.

Middleweight Fight: Clint Hester vs Dylan Andrews

These guys had been teammates on TUF 17, with Hester being Jon Jones’ top pick and Andrews his last, but it’d been the Maori Andrews who had done better, making the semi-finals with his gritty brawling style. Since then Andrews had reeled off TKO wins over Jimmy Quinlan and Papy Abedi, while Hester had knocked out Bristol Marunde with one of the best KO’s of 2013 – a sick standing elbow. Tough one to call, this.

Fight begins and holy shit are the crowd into Andrews. Couple of low kicks land early for Hester and he NAILS Andrews with a brutal counter right that stops the Maori in his tracks. Andrews seems fine though and pushes forward with some right hands of his own. Wild overhand right connects for Hester. Good knee follows. Hester is looking great early on. Clinch from Andrews though and he hits a nice bodylock takedown into side mount. Hester immediately works back to half-guard though. Action slows down greatly from there as Andrews tries to pass and potentially set up an arm triangle choke, but he can’t get it and Hester manages to reverse. Andrews decides to go for a guillotine, but Hester pops his head free and takes top position in half-guard. Few elbows get through for Hester but Andrews manages to reverse to his feet to a big pop. From there he hits another takedown, but Hester pops right back up and lands a right hand from close quarters. A third takedown answers for Andrews though and this time he’s got side mount. Round ends there. Close-ish round and I don’t usually like scoring via takedowns, but Hester didn’t really do enough to offset them, so 10-9 Andrews.

Into the 2nd and we begin with an exchange of some low kicks. Andrews catches one and goes for a single, but Hester blocks it. Good left hand connects for Hester. Andrews fires back with a sharp low kick. Exchange continues and Andrews tags Hester with a counter combo. Takedown from Hester though and he lands in half-guard. Looked like a really harsh landing for Andrews too as the takedown was a crude power one. Hester feeds him some sharp elbows to the face as you can hear someone breathing really heavily, can’t tell if it’s Andrews or Hester. Weird reversal allows Andrews to somehow take the back, but without hooks so it’s just like Hester’s laying on him. Back to the feet and Hester cracks him with a right hand and a big uppercut. They break off with a minute to go and Hester lands a couple of jabs. Andrews is marked up. His hands are way low too, looks like he’s gassed. A clash of low kicks sees Hester go down, but he pops up and glances on a lunging left hook. Andrews has his hands by his waist. Hester can’t capitalise though and the round ends shortly after. 10-9 Hester.

We return to the broadcast to find that the doctor’s thrown the fight out as Andrews apparently has a separated right shoulder. Well that explains why he was dropping his hands so badly late on I guess. Bad break for him as the fight was still looking winnable, but it wasn’t the best fight ever either as both guys showed some pretty large holes in their games. Wasn’t outwardly offensive or anything but just forgettable overall.

Heavyweight Fight: Soa Palelei vs Pat Barry

Giant Aussie Palelei had returned to the UFC in August with one of the sloppiest wins of 2013, a late TKO of Nikita Krylov, while Barry had last been seen being knocked out by Shawn Jordan at UFC 161. This sounded like a standard Pat Barry fight where he’d probably lose if the fight hit the ground but would be able to pick apart a sloppier opponent standing if he could keep it there.

Round One and Palelei wastes no time in closing the distance to grab Barry and shove him into the fence. Barry manages to break free though. Couple of big high kicks miss for Barry. HARD knee to the body from Barry but Palelei gets hold of him and dumps him to the ground. Kimura attempt from Barry (!) but Palelei works out of the guard to avoid and looks like he might be able to take full mount. Barry keeps trying for the kimura and gets half-guard, but Soa muscles his arm free. Short shots to the body land for Palelei and then he takes full mount. From there he sits up and DESTROYS HIM WITH PUNCHES, knocking him out cold for the stoppage.

Post-fight we get both a funny and disturbing moment as Barry gets up while Palelei’s celebrating…and stumbles all over the place before going down face-first. Scary stuff. This was a squash and Palelei looked great, but I mean it was a win over Pat Barry on the ground so how much it truly means I don’t know. For his part Barry’s since retired from MMA and gone back to kickboxing which I think is a good move for him, particularly if it means he avoids horrible beatings like this in the future.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ryan Bader vs Anthony Perosh

Despite Perosh coming off an impressive win (over Vinny Magalhaes) and Bader coming off a loss (to Glover Teixeira), this one looked like a squash for the American on paper, as Perosh had never shown anything to me to suggest he could deal with the wrestling or the explosive striking of a guy like Bader, no offense to him. Still, as a big Bader fan it was nice to see him given what looked like a highlight reel match-up for once!

Round One and Perosh comes out swinging, but Bader avoids and clips him with a short left that drops him to his knees. The Aussie pops back up, but he looks wobbled and an attempt at grabbing Bader is unsuccessful. He swings some more punches and connects on a glancing right, but Bader clips him with a body kick and then lands some short uppercuts while holding the head that cause Perosh to go down. Bader follows him down into half-guard and UNLOADS with some bombs before Perosh works to his feet. BRUTAL uppercut breaks the clinch for Bader and somehow Perosh is still standing. Bader continues to come forward but now he leaves himself a little open and Perosh lands with a combo. Right hands land for both men. Perosh charges forward into another short left and stumbles down, and Bader follows him down and begins to open up with some hard punches and elbows from the top position. Perosh is in trouble. Bader controls him from the top and then works into half-guard and traps an arm for a second before letting go to land more punches. Perosh crawls up to his knees, but he’s taking hard punches here. The Aussie works to his feet inside the clinch, and Bader breaks off. 1:30 to go and a stiff jab from Bader backs Perosh up again. Perosh fires back with his own combo, but Bader ducks under and grabs a rear waistlock. Takedown follows and Bader cracks him with a hard elbow. He stands over Perosh and almost takes an upkick, then dives back into the guard with a right hand. Perosh is badly busted up. More elbows land for Bader until the round ends. 10-8 round for Bader I’d say as Perosh took some ludicrous punishment.

Round Two and Bader opens with another stiff jab. Perosh to his credit is still swinging but he doesn’t seem able to hurt Bader with his combos at all. They clinch up and Bader hits an easy takedown, then works into side mount. Nice knee to the body from Bader. Perosh gives his back in an attempt to get up, but it fails as Bader keeps him down in half-guard and feeds him a couple more hard elbows. Perosh is taking some horrific punishment in this fight. BRUTAL left hand connects for Bader as he postures up over the top. This is ridiculously one-sided. More shots continue to land for Bader although he’s being really disciplined so isn’t landing quite enough to force a stoppage. Perosh tries to kick him away to no avail and continues to eat big shots. More brutal shots connect for Bader and he throws in some hard elbows to the body for good measure too. With thirty seconds to go Bader traps an arm and drops some really nasty elbows. Round ends with Bader continuing to punish the Aussie. 10-8 Bader and Perosh’s corner ought to think about stopping this. Of course though it’s MMA and so the corner let him back out into the third round.

Round Three and Perosh tries to rush Bader with flurries, but he takes a big left hook and ends up going down again. Bader takes top position in side mount where he lands some more shots, and he manages to avoid Perosh’s attempts at getting to half-guard. Perosh gives his back and takes some more heavy blows, then Bader drags him back down as he attempts to stand. Back to side mount for Bader and it’s more elbows for Perosh. Poor guy is tough as leather, I’ll give him that. He tries desperately to roll free but Bader looks too strong and continues to smash him up. Perosh gives his back in an attempt to stand and makes it to his feet, but he’s got blood pouring from his nose and Bader ragdolls him back down and continues to land, looking for the stoppage now. Again Perosh manages to get up, but once again Bader trips him right back down. He at least gets full guard this time, but can’t do anything from there but just survive. Easy pass to half-guard from Bader and then he takes full mount after dropping some more elbows. Perosh escapes back to half-guard but just takes more abuse, and the fight mercifully ends shortly after. 10-8 and I’ve got this a horrific 30-24 for Ryan Bader.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 for Ryan Bader. Well, those first two scores are ridiculous as I don’t see how you couldn’t give one 10-8 to Bader as Perosh barely had any offense at all while Bader smashed the hell out of him in each and every round, but hey, right man won anyway. Perosh showed a lot of toughness but little else really as Bader looked excellent, putting his striking and wrestling together well and showing patience while still looking for the finish and being aggressive throughout. Sort-of entertaining fight I guess as a Bader fan but realistically Perosh’s corner probably should’ve stopped things when it was clear he was just going to take a nasty beating for fifteen minutes and had no chance of winning.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs James Te Huna

This fight was a major test for both men – for Te Huna it was another chance at a step up in competition after he’d failed in his first attempt in a May loss to Glover Teixeira, while Shogun needed to show that he was still relevant after picking up a pair of losses (to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen) and looking largely past his prime practically since losing his Light-Heavyweight Title in 2011. My pick was Shogun just because Te Huna was untested at the top level, but it was a shaky pick for sure.

Fight begins and Te Huna tentatively comes forward but takes a glancing combination early on. Shogun follows that with a leg kick. Te Huna keeps pushing forward but almost eats a right hand. Clinch from Te Huna and he goes for a takedown but Shogun stuffs it and lands a right on the way out. Leg kick again lands for Shogun. Left hand glances for Te Huna. Big swing misses for Te Huna and he walks right into a SHORT LEFT HOOK THAT TURNS OUT HIS LIGHTS!~!

Replay shows Te Huna was basically unconscious before he even hit the ground and Shogun’s follow-up punch didn’t even land, nor did it need to. Awesome knockout and the best one Shogun’s produced since his win over Lyoto Machida back in 2010. Post-fight Anik and Florian keep saying that Shogun is “back” but I don’t think you can take that much away from a one-minute KO that Te Huna largely walked right into. Not to take anything away from Shogun though – he needed a win badly here and pulled one out of the bag, so good for him.

Heavyweight Fight: Mark Hunt vs Antonio Silva

Both of these guys were coming off knockouts on the UFC 160 card, but when they’re to the best two Heavyweights in the world it doesn’t matter too much and so I was pretty pumped for this as it sounded like a real heavy-hitting brawl. For me the styles seemed to favour Bigfoot as I thought he’d be able to ground Hunt and work him over from the top, but with a guy who hits as hard as Hunt against a guy with a somewhat vulnerable chin like Bigfoot, the result going the other way was always within the realm of possibility too. The elephant in the room? The two men had trained together previously at American Top Team, although there didn’t seem to be any bad blood coming in.

Round One and both men come out quite tentatively, circling around and it looks like they’re waiting for the other to make the first move. Couple of low kicks land for Silva but that’s about it in the first minute. Pair of big right hands miss for Hunt but he manages to shrug off an attempt by Bigfoot to grab him. Combo lands for the Brazilian. They circle back out and a combo glances for Hunt. Exchange follows and Bigfoot DROPS HIM WITH A RIGHT! He tries to pounce to follow up but Hunt pops right back up and somehow looks fine. Hunt’s chin is still insane after all these years I guess! Leg kick lands for Hunt as both men go a little tentative again. Right hand glances for Bigfoot. Brief exchange sees both men land rights, and then Bigfoot bulls Hunt into the fence. Reversal from Hunt and he pins Bigfoot into the fence. They break off with seconds to go and Bigfoot lands with a body kick to end the round. 10-9 Bigfoot for the knockdown.

Round Two and Bigfoot opens with a glancing left head kick. Hunt begins to walk him down a little more now and lands with a combo. Body kick answers for Silva. Big left hand glances for Hunt but Bigfoot seems okay. Leg kick from Bigfoot and it buckles Hunt’s knee in. Front kick glances off Hunt’s body. Pair of right hands from Bigfoot have Hunt on the run, but he manages to stuff a takedown and breaks off. Another leg kick connects for Silva. Side kick misses for Silva and Hunt backs him up with some mostly blocked punches. Right to the body lands nicely for Hunt. Both dudes are really swinging now but they haven’t quite landed cleanly in this round. Right hand connects for Hunt and backs Bigfoot up a bit. Combo glances for Hunt but he takes a right and a leg kick from Bigfoot. Body kick lands hard for Hunt but a Silva low kick almost takes him off his feet. Front kick to the jaw from Silva. Another good leg kick has Hunt hurt and he’s stumbling all over the place. Body kick follows and Bigfoot’s got Hunt backing up. More kicks don’t land cleanly for Silva though and Hunt gets out of the round. 10-9 Bigfoot again in a close-ish round.

Round Three and Hunt’s leg still doesn’t look quite right as he comes out of his corner. He does come out swinging early on though and backs Bigfoot up a little. Low kick is caught by Hunt and he actually hits a takedown! Bigfoot scrambles back up but Hunt drags him back down (!) before the Brazilian pops up into the clinch. They break off and a front kick glances off Hunt’s chin. Left hand from Hunt but Bigfoot grabs him and forces him into the cage. Hunt manages to defend the takedown though and clocks him with a hard uppercut inside. Couple of knees and a right break for Bigfoot but he misses on a high kick. Left from Hunt backs him up a bit and an uppercut connects as Bigfoot lunges forward. Trade-off follows and both men land shots into the clinch. Bigfoot’s cut on the forehead it looks like. Big right hand breaks for Hunt but Silva takes it like a MAN. A CRUSHING STRAIGHT RIGHT sends him crashing down like a falling tree though and he’s in DEEP TROUBLE! Hunt dives onto him to look to finish him off, but Bigfoot manages to get guard to survive. Hunt’s still landing heavy blows from top position though. Crowd are going BATSHIT for Hunt as he continues to drop elbows and passes into half-guard. BRUTAL SHOTS continue to land for Hunt and Florian thinks Bigfoot’s nose is busted. Round ends with Hunt continuing to pour it on. I’d call that a 10-8 because while the first part of the round was even, Hunt did SO MUCH DAMAGE towards the end. So 28-28 going into the fourth round.

Round Four and the crowd are so amped now it’s unbelievable. The Aussies love a wild fight for sure. Bigfoot is busted up BAD. He comes out swinging through and they trade right away with Bigfoot landing another nasty leg kick. Combo from Hunt but Bigfoot grabs him to slow him down. Looks like Bigfoot’s breathing pretty heavily. Hunt pushes him into the fence but Silva breaks with a clubbing right and another low kick. Big right lands to Hunt’s temple and he shoots, but Hunt stuffs it and drops for his own double leg, planting Silva on his back where he lands a big right hand into the guard! Bigfoot looks exhausted. Hunt postures up for some more ground-and-pound but Bigfoot tries an armbar from the bottom (!). Hunt avoids largely due to the position of the cage, and then goes back to work with shots from the top, albeit not as clean as in the previous round. Reversal from Silva and they’re up on their feet. Hunt breaks and now HE looks gassed too. Brutal elbow strike lands for Hunt but Bigfoot walks right through it and swings on him. Another elbow lands for Hunt and now we get a WILD TRADE with both guys landing. NASTY KNEE from Silva and Hunt is hurt! He wobbles back and Silva OPENS UP on him with some huge punches that have him reeling. Holy shit. Massive shots land for Bigfoot and Hunt is all over the place, but somehow he swings right back and ROCKS SILVA. Jesus Christ this is INSANE. Trip attempt from Hunt but Bigfoot blocks and lands on top, and now he GOES TO TOWN with elbows and hammer fists. Hunt desperately tries to get up but Silva takes full mount and starts to land BOMBS, just bouncing Hunt’s head off the mat. How Hunt is still in this I don’t know. Crowd noise is DEAFENING. Ref is considering stopping this but Hunt just about does enough to survive until the buzzer. 10-8 Silva for how close he came to the finish despite taking damage himself. That was one of the greatest rounds of MMA I’ve ever seen, period.

Round Five and how these guys are still standing I don’t know. If this were a fight in a movie you’d call it unrealistic, seriously. And they begin the round with a BRO HUG. Can’t blame them! One-two lands for Hunt and of course they TRADE BOMBS right after. Bigfoot looks like he’s running on fumes and Hunt’s on a little more. Big right hand lands for Hunt. Both men are still fucking swinging. Left hook hurts Bigfoot and Hunt closes in with some more shots. Silva attempts a takedown but Hunt stuffs it. Step-in elbow strike lands for Hunt. Bigfoot is wobbling quite badly. Pair of hard left hooks connect for Hunt. This is such an awesome fight. Takedown attempt from Silva but Hunt avoids it and Bigfoot is slow to get back up. Pair of left hooks rock Bigfoot badly and Hunt senses the finish, pouring it on with HUGE HOOKS and VICIOUS ELBOWS. Bigfoot somehow has it in him to clinch. Who said this guy had a dodgy chin? Ref calls time to check Bigfoot over as he’s absolutely POURING WITH BLOOD ala his first fight with Cain Velasquez. Doctor decides to let it go and instantly Bigfoot comes out swinging as Hunt tries to connect with the elbow again. Another two heavy blows land for Hunt as both men look like they’re wading through treacle but WHO CARES as they JUST KEEP SWINGING. Bigfoot is taking some horrendous damage. Two minutes to go and they clinch against the fence before Bigfoot separates and lands a big combo. Hunt fires back with a counter and a pair of BRUTAL ELBOWS but of course Bigfoot tries to come back and then just about manages a clinch. Knee breaks for Silva but Hunt makes him pay with another elbow and they’re literally just leaning on one another now. Both men continue to land shots until the fight finally ends. Call it 10-8 Hunt again due to sheer damage, which means I’d have it as a 46-49 draw. Incredible stuff.

And for once the judges actually agree, calling it 48-47 Hunt, 47-47 and 47-47 for a majority draw. Well, that’s the fairest outcome as how the hell could you call either man a loser in a war like that. I’m in awe of both guys, seriously. I didn’t think it’d hold up on a rewatch actually and I mean, sure, it was horrendously sloppy at points but when you’ve got two huge guys showing ludicrous amounts of heart and will in order to trade BOMBS for twenty-five minutes then who the hell am I to knock them? Not quite as good as Jones/Gustafsson I don’t think but to me this is a close 2nd for the best fight of 2013, and I think it’s the best Heavyweight MMA fight I’ve ever seen, point blank. And you know what? I don’t even care about Bigfoot’s positive drug test (elevated testosterone levels) because I think he deserves a free pass based on his medical condition (acromegaly) and I don’t think it made a real difference anyway. If you missed this one first time around then you need to see it NOW. Rematch? Personally I wouldn’t book it simply because how in the world could they ever live up to that fight?

-Show ends there as it feels like Kenny and Jon are exhausted from just WATCHING that fight.

Final Thoughts….

For some reason I was remembering this as a pretty middling show but in fact it’s really, really good – outside of Andrews/Hester which wasn’t great, although even that didn’t outright stink. You’ve got one of the best fights I’ve ever seen in the main event, a solid women’s fight between Kedzie and Correia and then a pair of great finishes in Palelei/Barry and Shogun/Te Huna as well as a fun squash in Bader/Perosh, which makes this one an easy thumbs up. Worth a look for Hunt/Bigfoot alone.

Best Fight: Hunt vs. Bigfoot
Worst Fight: Hester vs. Andrews

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: