MMA Review: #445: UFC Fight Night 35

-Um, literally got nothing interesting at all to say about this one, sorry! I think there was even less buzz for this show than for the Singapore Fight Night despite this probably being a stronger card overall. Main event of Rockhold vs. Philippou did sound fun I guess even if it didn’t exactly sound like the biggest ratings grabber.

UFC Fight Night 35

Duluth, Georgia

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian. On a side note I can’t be the only one who misses the ‘Face the Pain’ intro for every show, right? I know they still use it on the PPVs and it still gets me pumped up, but they need to bring it back for the Fight Night shows as the generic Fox intro stinks.

Featherweight Fight: Cole Miller vs Sam Sicilia

Classic striker vs. grappler fight right here although to be fair Miller’s shown he’s a decent striker in the past too; it’s just that Sicilia packs so much power into his punches, standing with him is never a good idea. For those keeping track, Miller was coming off a decision win over Andy Ogle, while Sicilia had TKO’d Godofredo Pepey in his last bout.

Round One and Cole flicks out a couple of short kicks to try to keep his distance. Leg kick lands for Miller. Harder leg kick connects for Sicilia. Nice counter right from Cole and he’s really keeping his distance here, smartly I might add. Wild swing misses for Sicilia. Miller is trying to establish the jab now too. Rush from Miller almost sets up the clinch but Sicilia escapes. Lot of movement from Miller and he narrowly avoids another haymaker. Good right hand lands for Cole and backs Sicilia up a little. Right hook from Sicilia counters a low kick but lands on the top of the head. Stiff jab lands for Cole. Left hook glances for Sicilia and he continues to push forward. Hard right to the body and a right hook find their mark and Miller looks hurt for a second but seems to recover quickly. One-two lands for Miller as he’s definitely recovered. Good defense from Cole allows him to avoid a couple more haymakers. Head kick glances for Miller too. Less than a minute to go and Sicilia continues to throw bombs, avoiding a clinch in the process. Wild overhand right just misses for Sicilia. Leg kick from Miller. Round ends with Cole on the run. 10-9 Miller as he kept his distance and landed the more effective shots.

Round Two and Cole again opens with kicks. Sicilia’s left eye is pretty marked up. Jab lands for Cole. He’s really in his groove now. Nice one-two lands for Cole and he follows with a stiff right that actually has Sicilia looking for the takedown! Miller decides to defend it though and remains standing. Surprising in a way but I guess he hasn’t been in trouble yet. Trip takedown is again defended by Miller. More jabs set up a right hand and Sicilia’s eye is a mess. Hard right hand to the body lands for Sicilia. Stiff jab answers for Cole and a right hand drops Sicilia hard. He pops up but he’s in trouble and another combo sends him down. Sicilia lunges for a takedown but Miller quickly secures a guillotine and rolls into the mount for good measure. Sicilia manages to survive by getting to half-guard, but Cole lets go and takes side mount. Sicilia gives his back and from there Cole slaps on the rear naked choke to force the tapout.

Post-fight Miller calls out Donald Cerrone in a bit of an odd move as I’d never heard about Cowboy dropping to 145lbs, but whatever. Nice to see a fighter actually taking advantage of promo time for once as he came off like a star at least. Miller looked fantastic here, picking a more one-dimensional striker apart from the outside before absolutely tooling him once the fight hit the ground. Sicilia is a fun fighter to watch but he was wildly outclassed in this one.

Flyweight Fight: John Moraga vs Dustin Ortiz

I’m pretty sure this one got bumped from the prelims to the main card when the show lost Thiago Silva vs. Ovince St. Preux, which in a way is frustrating because with Moraga coming off a Fox main event he probably should’ve been main card anyway. At least they got it right in the end. Ortiz meanwhile had looked good in stopping highly rated Brazilian Jose Maria, but I couldn’t see him doing the same to Moraga, who is a super-tough guy in all areas.

First round begins and HOLY SHIT they’ve used Big Dan as referee which makes these guys look even smaller. They bounce around to begin with and Ortiz lands a big right hand early on. Moraga decides to shoot, but Ortiz easily stuffs it. Takedown attempt from Ortiz and he transitions to a rear waistlock and looks for a slam. Good defense from Moraga to remain on his feet and he manages to turn into Ortiz in the clinch. Takedown from Ortiz but Moraga pops right back up. Ortiz keeps Moraga pressed into the fence and continues to work for double underhooks, and from there he muscles Moraga down onto the ground in full guard. Good punches to the body from Ortiz as Moraga looks to get a butterfly guard. Ortiz passes to half-guard instead and continues to grind with short punches. Moraga ties him up from full guard and it looks like he’s stalling for the stand-up. Crowd are randomly doing tons of Ric Flair WHOOOOs for reasons I don’t get. Actually who cares, can’t blame people for doing it! Good job from Ortiz to keep Moraga grounded, and he easily avoids a potential guillotine too. Moraga tries to get a rubber guard in, but Ortiz uses the opportunity to pass to half-guard where he feeds the former title challenger some more elbows. Looks like Moraga’s looking for a triangle choke, but Ortiz’s base is too good for that and he stacks up to deliver some more shots. Round ends with Ortiz in control. Excellent round for Ortiz, who evidently paid close attention to Moraga’s limitations from his back in the Mighty Mouse fight. 10-9 Ortiz.

Second round and Moraga looks to strike to begin and lands a couple of hard leg kicks. Right hand connects for Moraga. Stiff jab and another leg kick follow. Moraga is really working the jab both to the body and head. Leg kick lands for Ortiz. Right hand follows over the top. Leg kick from Moraga buckles Ortiz’s leg and as Ortiz stumbles Moraga NAILS him with a left hand that has him in trouble! Ortiz immediately dives for a leg but Moraga stuffs it and forces Ortiz into the fence, landing some knees for good measure. Hard left elbow connects from close range for Moraga before they break off. Moraga is really getting aggressive now. Slip from Ortiz sends him down and Moraga pounces and tries to take the back. Ortiz reverses and manages to take top position, but Moraga sits up to elbow the side of the head while setting up for a possible kimura. Good job from Moraga and he slips free and takes the back, going right into a rear naked choke! Ortiz looks in trouble but manages to survive, but Moraga’s still got the back with both hooks. He slips off to the side though and Ortiz finds himself on top again. Pass into side mount follows for Ortiz. Reversal from Moraga but Ortiz grabs a front facelock and looks for an anaconda choke before attempting to spin onto the back. Scramble from Moraga and they’re back on their feet. Good combo lands for Moraga in an exchange but Ortiz eats it right up and pushes forward. Takedown attempt from Ortiz is stuffed momentarily, but he manages to take the back in a scramble and trips Moraga down when he stands. Reversal from Moraga and he ends the round on top. That was a tremendous round; 10-9 Moraga to even things up.

Third round and they circle with both men throwing kicks early on. Left hand over the top glances for Ortiz. Moraga has stopped throwing the jab now for some reason. Takedown attempt from Ortiz but Moraga sprawls and grabs a front facelock. Back up and Moraga lands a counter right hand. Head kick misses for Moraga. Jab from Ortiz. Moraga answers with one of his own but takes a right hand. Good left hook from Moraga. Hard left hook from Ortiz. Very close round so far. Combination connects for Ortiz. Takedown attempt from Moraga is stuffed but he does land a knee on the way out. Heavy combination from Ortiz counters a body kick. Beautiful takedown follows and he’s got Moraga on his back. He passes to half-guard right away but Moraga looks to tie up the right arm for a kimura. Ortiz avoids that though and works into side mount. Good hip escape from Moraga puts him back to guard. Ortiz passes right into half-guard again and lands elbows. Again Moraga regains full guard and from there he escapes to his feet. He charges at Ortiz and almost gets taken down again, but instead he manages to get a front facelock. Scramble from Ortiz allows him to stand and force Moraga into the cage with a rear waistlock. Takedown ends the round for Ortiz and he easily avoids a guillotine. No idea why Moraga gave up on the jab but it cost him the round in my eyes. 10-9 Ortiz for a 29-28 win.

Judges inexplicably have it as a split decision; 29-28 Ortiz but then 29-28 and 29-28 for Moraga. Huh. Got to say I think Ortiz was robbed there as I just don’t see how you could’ve given Moraga the first or the third round. It’s odd because I’d say Moraga won the second round in a stronger way than Ortiz took the first or third, but there’s just no way in hell that he deserved the decision overall. Decent fight as both men had their moments, the momentum swung back and forth and they kept a solid pace throughout, but a decision like that always leaves a sour taste, you know?

-And we finally find out the source of all the WHOOOOs as they actually show Ric Flair in the crowd. He looks ancient, good lord.

Middleweight Fight: Yoel Romero vs Derek Brunson

Both of these men had won their previous fight at November’s Fight for the Troops show, with Romero knocking out Ronny Markes and Brunson choking out Brian Houston. Despite Brunson looking great in that fight I was firmly behind Romero here as I think the Cuban wrestler has the potential to be a legit title contender at 185lbs while I didn’t see the ceiling for Brunson being quite as high.

Round One and Romero circles on the outside as Brunson takes the center of the cage. Romero really is a ludicrously big Middleweight. Big left hook lands for Romero and he follows with a flying knee but it doesn’t quite land cleanly. Takedown attempt from Brunson and he takes Romero down. Romero pops right back up though and narrowly misses a left hook. Nice short right hand for Brunson. Left hand follows and backs the Cuban up a little. One-two lands for Brunson too. Right hand answers for Romero. Left hand connects to the body for the Cuban but Brunson lands with a BIG LEFT HEAD KICK and Romero looks slightly wobbled! No idea how he didn’t go down from that as it was a brutal shot. Instead he comes back with a front kick to the body. Body kick from Romero. Striking exchange continues and Brunson seems to be getting the better of it. Takedown attempt from Romero is stuffed. Good leg kick from Brunson. Uppercut lands for Romero but Brunson gets out of the way before he can follow up. Upward elbow glances for Romero and he follows with a beautiful leg trip coming out of a flurry, but Brunson pops up and hurts him with a left, sending him tumbling down! He pops up but Brunson takes the back with a rear waistlock and drags him down again. Romero stands, but Brunson’s still got his back and he actually manages a slam despite Romero looking for a kimura. Romero tries to scramble, but Brunson keeps back control and tries to drag him back down. The Cuban defends and the round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Brunson in a surprising round.

Round Two begins with Romero stalking forward, but Brunson clips him with a short left hand early on. Low kicks from both men don’t really land cleanly. Ridiculous body punch from Romero puts Brunson down for a second but the ref quickly steps in as apparently it was a GROIN PUNCH. Replay seems a bit inconclusive to me. Brunson recovers quickly anyway and they restart. Romero comes in winging punches, but Brunson seems to be slightly faster and he tags the Cuban with an elbow strike and a left hand. Romero is juking and jiving now but that doesn’t seem smart given Brunson seems to have the slightly faster hands. Takedown is easily stuffed by Romero however. Body shot from Romero but Brunson is doing a good job of avoiding the shots to the head. Flying knee misses for Romero. Beautiful takedown from Brunson and he passes into half-guard. Unbelievable that he’d be able to take down such a decorated wrestler so easily. Full mount now for Brunson and Romero is in a bit of trouble. Brunson doesn’t really posture up though, staying low to pound at the body instead. Finally he does rear up to deliver some punches before dropping low again. Good hip escape from Romero to get back to half-guard. Scramble from the Cuban allows him to almost get to his feet, but Brunson does well to keep him grounded. Another scramble though allows Romero up and he sprawls to prevent being taken down again. Seconds to go and Romero looks for a takedown of his own, but Brunson stuffs it. Another takedown attempt follows, but Brunson again defends right before the buzzer. He looks a bit tired but it’s another round in the books. 10-9 Brunson.

Round Three and Brunson’s definitely lost some steam in his punches. He circles away from Romero and lands a left hand, but Romero keeps pushing and connects on a body shot. Hopping kick glances for Brunson. Takedown attempt is avoided by Romero and Brunson’s slow to get back up this time. Left hand lands hard for Romero but Brunson avoids a possible takedown. Couple of low kicks and a straight right land for Brunson. Uppercut into a massive left hook from Romero and Brunson goes down to a knee for a second, but he pops back up. Uppercut again from Romero. Beautiful knee answers for Brunson and he follows with a couple of clean punches. Clinch from Brunson but Romero makes him pay with a hard uppercut and he’s got Brunson on the run now. Trio of hard left hands and a BIG UPPERCUT from Romero and Brunson’s on rubber legs! Another left drops him and Romero avoids a takedown and pounces, looking to finish. Brunson turtles up and takes some hard punches and the ref is hovering. It’s survival mode time for Brunson and he rolls onto his side, but Romero begins to drop some BRUTAL ELBOWS to the head and then the body and the ref decides he’s seen enough and waves it off. Massive comeback from Yoel Romero.

Really interesting fight for a few different reasons. Firstly I was very surprised to see Brunson take Romero down in the first two rounds with little difficulty, given Romero’s an Olympic silver medallist in wrestling, but it just goes to show the wrestling game in MMA is different to on the wrestling mat (see GSP too) and like others have found before him, even if you’re a world-class wrestler you can’t neglect that part of your game. The problem for Brunson though was that while he was able to take Romero down, he could never really keep him there and he appeared to blow a lot of gas in trying to do so, and when the third round began he looked out of steam while Romero was still fresh, which allowed the Cuban to take over. And of course, Romero showed fantastic killer instinct to put Brunson away once he had him hurt. The other interesting thing – on a strange note now – was that apparently, Romero shit himself during the fight! He’s denied it but there’s supposedly photos showing a blatant skidmark on his shorts at one point where he’s in top position. If that’s the case he joins an illustrious list that includes former Heavyweight champs Kevin Randleman and Tim Sylvia. Still, regardless of that shitstorm (ha!), the hype train rolls on for good reason.

Bantamweight Fight: TJ Dillashaw vs Mike Easton

This was Easton’s first fight back after a nine-month layoff following his loss to Brad Pickett. Don’t know if he’d been injured or what as I didn’t hear much about him in the time between. He wasn’t exactly given an easy out either – outside of a razor-close split decision loss to Raphael Assuncao, Dillashaw had been unstoppable since coming off TUF 14 and had looked awesome in all areas. I was taking Dillashaw to hand Easton his third UFC loss in a row.

Fight begins and both men throw out some feeler strikes with Dillashaw really pressuring Easton early on. Good leg kick from TJ. Spin kick misses for Easton. Nice right hand from Dillashaw as he slips a shot from Easton. Body kick lands for Dillashaw too. Easton fires back with a head kick and Dillashaw goes down for a second, but then pops right back up and decides he’s had enough of striking, using a double leg to plant Easton on his back. Side mount for Dillashaw for a moment but Easton quickly shifts back to guard. Easton tries to elevate him and then manages to kick him away, popping back up to his feet. Dillashaw stays on him though, forcing him into the fence where he works some dirty boxing as Easton answers with knees. Two minutes to go and they break off, and Dillashaw shows some nice speed by popping the Hulk with a quick combo. Dillashaw is doing a good job of getting Easton’s range and timing down actually and he’s beginning to land the more telling shots. Uppercut into a right hand connects for Dillashaw. Straight left lands flush too and backs Easton up. Head kick follows. Dillashaw definitely has the advantage here. Beautiful flurry from Dillashaw but Easton tries to claim an eye poke. Ref ignores that and allows Dillashaw to continue to tee off. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Dillashaw; excellent round for him.

Into the 2nd and Easton comes out with more urgency, but Dillashaw’s movement allows him to avoid the rush and counter with more quick combinations. Couple of shots get through for Easton but Dillashaw’s definitely outlanding him. Nice body kick from TJ and he follows with a partially clean head kick. Takedown attempt from Easton but Dillashaw avoids and then takes the back in the scramble. Easton looks badly busted open. He manages to roll into half-guard, but he takes some shots from the TUF veteran and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone handle him like this. Heavy left hands connect from the top for Dillashaw. Easton does well to scramble to his feet, but he eats a knee and another combo on the way out. Body kick again from Dillashaw and he avoids a pair of spin kicks to land a flurry and another takedown. Anderson Silva-style knee to the body connects with Easton in a seated position against the cage, and TJ follows by taking the back. One hook in for Dillashaw but Easton rolls into half-guard. TJ won’t let up though, landing elbows before taking the back again as Easton stands. One hook is in for Dillashaw from a standing position. Good knees to the legs from TJ and Easton can’t seem to shake him off. Easton does well to remain standing though. Seconds to go and more knees land for Dillashaw before Easton tries to spin into a kimura. Dillashaw avoids and takes top position again before landing a pair of rights to end the round. Clear cut 10-9 for Dillashaw.

Third and final round and Easton pushes forward, knowing that he needs a finish. Leg kick opens for Easton but Dillashaw glances on a body kick. Dillashaw’s movement seems to be too quick for the Hulk. Beautiful right hook from Dillashaw and he follows with a combo. Easton has a great chin as these shots are landing FLUSH. Another combo follows and TJ throws in a chopping leg kick for good measure. Dillashaw is popping Easton literally every time he comes forward. Low blow from Easton is shrugged off by TJ with a touch of the gloves. Immediate WHOOOOs from the crowd for that one as I guess Flair is well-known for his low blows. Dillashaw continues to outland Easton, putting together crisp combinations. Superman punch lands for Dillashaw and sets up another combo. Uppercut lands hard for him and Easton somehow just eats it up and keeps coming. Right cross lands cleanly for the TUF veteran too. Jab snaps Easton’s head back. Easton is looking tired and beaten up. Takedown attempt from Easton is stuffed easily. Yet another combo connects for Dillashaw and he’s out without eating anything from Easton. Body kick lands heavily for TJ. Can’t fault Easton for effort as he keeps bringing it, but he just can’t catch TJ. We’re in the last few seconds and Dillashaw continues to tee off until the buzzer. 10-9 Dillashaw and a 30-27 shutout in my eyes.

Scorecards all read 30-27 for TJ Dillashaw. Indeed, he looked fantastic here, just completely owning a very solid top-ten level fighter in Easton in all areas. I mean Easton is a very good striker and he barely landed anything on TJ and nor could he get anything going on the ground either. The improvement since TUF for Dillashaw has indeed been tremendous. Honestly I didn’t see anything here to make me think he could bother Renan Barao this weekend but that’s more because of how ridiculously great Barao is rather than a knock on Dillashaw. Good fight if a little one-sided and repetitive due to how much better Dillashaw was than Easton.

Middleweight Fight: Brad Tavares vs Lorenz Larkin

I was surprised to see this one given the co-main event billing as Larkin hadn’t fought on a UFC main card to this point (and hadn’t really done anything to warrant his ranking of #13 either…) and while Tavares was on an impressive four-fight win streak and only had one questionable loss (Aaron Simpson) on his UFC ledger, he hadn’t been featured on TV either. Still, nice to see Zuffa looking to push younger fighters I guess. Despite Larkin coming in as the favourite I was taking the former TUFer Tavares here as I guess I’ve never been that impressed with Larkin despite his cool ‘Monsoon’ nickname.

Round One and they exchange some feeler strikes with Tavares looking to keep his distance. Superman punch misses for Larkin. Couple of left hooks land for Tavares early on. Combination glances for the Hawaiian. Snapping left hand connects for Larkin. Heavy leg kick answers for Tavares. Exchange continues with both men glancing on a lot of kicks. Really good leg kick lands for Tavares. Body kick and another leg kick follow. Larkin just isn’t being active enough thus far. Nice right hand finally does land for him but Tavares takes it with no difficulty and continues to be the more active striker. One minute to go now and Tavares lands with a beautiful head and body combo. Takedown attempt from Tavares and he gets the back with a rear waistlock and muscles Larkin to the ground. He gets one hook in but the round ends before he can go further. 10-9 Tavares in a pretty crap round if I’m honest.

Round Two begins with a nice combination from Tavares. Inside leg kick answers for Larkin. Both men exchange combos but neither one’s really landed anything really damaging so far. Another combo from Tavares backs Larkin up. This is a yawner of a fight thus far. Nice counter left hand lands for Tavares as Larkin looks to rush him with a combo. Counter right connects too when the StrikeForce vet throws a low kick. Body kick from Tavares. Chopping leg kick from Tavares and he shoots, but it’s a bit telegraphed and Larkin manages to defend it well. Tavares forces him into the cage though and drags him down with a single leg before taking the back with both hooks. He works for the choke, but Larkin does enough to defend it and tries to turn into Tavares’ guard. Weird heel kicks to the leg land for Tavares but he almost loses a hook a couple of times by using them. Explosion from Larkin and he turns into Brad’s guard with seconds to go, but can’t capitalise and the round ends there. 10-9 Tavares.

Round Three begins and Tavares clocks Larkin early with a couple of right hands. Larkin still isn’t being active enough with his strikes to win points. Tavares isn’t doing much damage to be fair but he’s outlanding Larkin quite comfortably. Brief trade sees both men land but it’s over quickly. Faked shot sets up a right hook for Tavares that lands nicely. Good elbow lands for Larkin as he catches Tavares leaning in for a takedown. Right hand answers for Tavares. Leg kick connects too. Combo from Larkin backs Brad up but he springs off the cage with a superman punch that misses. Spinning backfist partially lands for the TUF veteran. Clinch from Tavares but he breaks with a right hand. Larkin backs him up a little with a combo and then sprawls to avoid a takedown, grabbing a guillotine. He tries to force it, but Tavares escapes, only to wind up on his back with Larkin over him. Crowd begin to boo as Larkin doesn’t do much so referee Herb Dean calls Tavares back to his feet. Right hand glances for Brad and he follows it up with a takedown attempt. Larkin stuffs it and lands some elbows to the side of the head with his back to the fence ala Travis Browne. Legal ones so not ala Luiz Dutra. Tavares seems slightly hurt and doesn’t really move from the position, but he’s blocking the majority. He keeps trying the single leg, but Larkin continues to block it and then breaks with an uppercut. Seconds to go and Tavares tries another single leg that Larkin stuffs. Another attempt has the same result but the round ends before Larkin can land more of his elbows. 10-10 round for me so 30-28 Tavares overall.

Judges all have it 29-28 for Brad Tavares. I almost feel bad for saying this but I hated that fight, sorry. Tavares fought well but didn’t seem to pack the power to really hurt Larkin at any point while Larkin just didn’t fight with the urgency he needed to win, especially in the third round when it was quite clear he was two rounds down. Just a really, really uninspiring fight to really slow down what was a decent card to that point.

Middleweight Fight: Luke Rockhold vs Costas Philippou

Former StrikeForce champ Rockhold had originally been set to fight Tim Boetsch at UFC 166 but had to pull out with an injury, and rather than match him with Boetsch again he was put up against fellow striker Philippou, who had made his way into the top ten before a disappointing loss to Francis Carmont basically killed his momentum. Despite Rockhold being on the wrong end of one of 2013’s best highlight reel moments in Vitor Belfort’s spinning heel kick, I thought he’d have enough to handle Philippou here as he’s always seemed well-rounded to me while Costas is more of a one-dimensional striker.

Round One begins and they circle quite tentatively to begin, with neither man landing anything of note in the first minute of the fight. Body kick glances for Rockhold. Philippou fires back with a head kick that Rockhold blocks. Philippou looks to get inside and close the distance with some punches, but Rockhold counters with a right hook that stuns him. Philippou fires back with a hard right hook of his own that Rockhold takes and follows by clinching. Costas muscles his way free and lands with a glancing right hand. Head kick from Rockhold and Costas visibly checks himself for a cut. Good movement from Rockhold allows him to avoid a Philippou flurry and land a couple of decent counters that have Philippou bleeding from the nose. Pair of body kicks back Philippou up and another one forces him back into the fence. BRUTAL fourth body kick folds Philippou and he goes down, and Rockhold quickly lands a SOCCER KICK TO THE BODY as the ref steps in to stop it.

Super-impressive performance from Luke Rockhold. Philippou is a guy with some clear flaws but nobody had ever handled him like that in the UFC as he literally got off like one or two strikes before Rockhold had him measured and smashed him to pieces with those vicious body kicks. It’s frustrating in a lot of ways that UFC matched Rockhold with TRT’d, jacked-to-the-gills Vitor for his first fight as if he’d fought someone else and won (i.e. someone not most likely on steroids) then we could’ve gotten Weidman vs. Rockhold. As it is I want to see that fight either later this year or in 2015 because those two to me look like the best two young fighters in the division. Tremendous finish from Rockhold at any rate.

Lightweight Fight: Charlie Brenneman vs Beneil Dariush

Early finish to the main event so hey, here’s a prelim! Brenneman was making his return to UFC action following a stint on the smaller circuit that saw him go 4-0 at 155lbs, while opponent Dariush was making his UFC debut. I’d never heard of Dariush actually which is odd considering I’m quite good with keeping up with prospects outside the UFC.

Fight begins and Brenneman pushes forward and lands an early low kick. Left hand from Dariush and he throws a head kick that Brenneman avoids. Takedown attempt from Brenneman and he works some dirty boxing but Dariush quickly breaks off. Wild right misses for Brenneman. Flying knee misses for Dariush but he shrugs off a single leg. BIG LEFT HAND connects for Dariush out of nowhere and down goes Brenneman! He tries to recover and get up but Dariush pounces and takes the back, landing a series of punches before slapping both hooks in. Brenneman looks in big trouble and Dariush secures the body triangle and then sinks the rear naked choke to FORCE THE TAPOUT.

Well, that was about as good a UFC debut as you can possibly get. Brenneman isn’t an easy out by any means but Dariush absolutely tooled him there. Looks like a dude to watch in the future for sure.

-Announcers talk about Rockhold to wrap things up and rightfully so. Show ends there.

Final Thoughts….

Bit of a mixed bag here; it’s odd because the only outright bad fight was Tavares/Larkin, but nothing outside of Rockhold’s big finish felt really memorable despite the wild finish to Romero/Brunson and an excellent showing from TJ Dillashaw. I’d say this show is worth a look if you haven’t seen it as like 99% of it is perfectly acceptable UFC-level MMA, but just skip Tavares/Larkin.

Best Fight: Romero vs. Brunson
Worst Fight: Tavares vs. Larkin

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: