MMA Review: #475: UFC Fight Night 50

-Massively stacked card here which was somewhat frustrating given how weak UFC 177’s PPV card had been one week earlier. Of course, the Curse of 2014 still had to step up – Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz, one of the main card bouts, was scrapped due to illness on the day of the event, while some odd circumstances regarding Fox Sports 1 (I forget exactly what) caused John Moraga vs. Justin Scoggins to move onto the prelims leaving us with a four-fight main card rather than the usual six fights.

UFC Fight Night 50

Mashantucket, Connecticut

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Lightweight Fight: Joe Lauzon vs Michael Chiesa

This one pretty much guaranteed excitement as both men are well-known for their reckless style – particularly Lauzon and I honestly don’t need to go into why! I was actually taking Chiesa to win here though as I’d been massively impressed with his win over Massaranduba in May and I thought his more grinding style could slow Lauzon down and allow the TUF winner to take over late on.

Fight begins and Chiesa again looks like a mini Evan Tanner with the wild beard. Good low kick opens for Chiesa but a high kick is caught and Lauzon tackles him down and lands a right hand. Scramble allows Chiesa up but Lauzon stays on him with a bodylock and looks to force him back down. Slam attempt goes awry and they continue to muscle for position, and then Chiesa goes to work inside the clinch with an elbow and a knee. They break off and a body kick and left hand land for Chiesa. Low kick into a combo from Chiesa. Lauzon bulls into the clinch again with a pair of right hands and they spin around the cage again in the clinch with Lauzon desperately going for a trip. Chiesa blocks it again and lands some knees to the body, then drags Lauzon down himself and takes the back. He can’t get both hooks in though and Lauzon wriggles in an attempt to get free. One hook is in for Chiesa but Lauzon spins into him and then takes full mount and then gets the back himself with both hooks. He flattens Chiesa out to a big pop from the crowd and lands some solid punches before Chiesa rolls into a seated position with Lauzon still in control. Real frantic pace here. Chiesa looks calm as Lauzon lands some punches, trying to soften him up for the possible choke. Massive “let’s go Joe!” chant from the crowd as he remains in control, but with less than thirty seconds to go it looks like Chiesa will be fine. Sure enough he scrambles to his feet, but eats a big flurry on the feet. Chiesa fires back with some hard knees and it’s a WILD BRAWL to end the round. Awesome. 10-9 Lauzon I’d say by a hair.

Second round and Chiesa opens with a hard straight left. Body kick follows and makes a horrible noise. Right hook lands for the TUF winner as well. Lauzon tries to lunge forward but eats a knee coming in. Good combo from Lauzon has him covering up though and he has to clinch. Knees land inside for Chiesa but Lauzon catches one and turns it into a nice takedown. Chiesa scrambles though and pops back up and lands his own takedown, but from there Lauzon scrambles and gets up himself. Big body shot from Lauzon has Chiesa hurt and he follows in with a flurry that causes the TUF winner to wobble. BRUTAL KNEES land for Lauzon from the clinch and it looks like Chiesa’s busted up. He manages to return fire with elbows of his own and then a big body kick, but he’s got blood pouring from the right side of his face. Referee Herb Dean calls time and man that’s a lot of blood. Right over the right eye too. Doctors take a look at it and throw the fight out there. Damnit.

Fantastic fight with a shit ending as Chiesa looked fine to continue to me but I guess you’ve got to go with what the doc says in a situation like that. It was especially disappointing when you think that Chiesa appeared to have weathered the storm and was actually beginning to open up again when the fight was stopped, but c’est la vie. Tremendous stuff and another one on the list for Joe Lauzon when it comes to wildly exciting fights.

Heavyweight Fight: Matt Mitrione vs Derrick Lewis

Lewis – AKA ‘The Black Beast’ AKA possibly the most terrifying guy in MMA – had stormed into the UFC in 2014 with two straight knockout wins, and he’d been calling Mitrione out after his most recent one – over Guto Inocente. And shit, I guess Joe Silva didn’t want to deny the dude. To be fair the fight made a ton of sense anyway as Lewis was on a seemingly meteoric rise while Meathead looks to have settled into a nice gatekeeper role at this point. My pick was the BLACK BEAST because who the fuck would pick against the guy?

Round One begins and they circle before Lewis blocks a left head kick. Both men swing heavy shots….but it’s Mitrione that lands and DOWN GOES THE BLACK BEAST! Couple of shots follow for Meathead and that’s that. Whole fight went like 30 seconds. Wow.

Big win for Mitrione but if I’m honest I did get the feeling that you could put the fight together another 100 times and each time you’d get a different guy getting KOd if that makes sense. Hell of a knockout and in a lot of ways it’s unfortunate because Lewis had a lot of momentum while we’ve seen Mitrione’s ceiling, but such is Heavyweight MMA.

Heavyweight Fight: Alistair Overeem vs Ben Rothwell

After his February win over Frank Mir seemed to have gotten his career back on track, the word was that the UFC wanted to finally match The Reem with Junior Dos Santos, but for whatever reason that fight fell through again and so instead he was paired with Rothwell – a guy coming off a year’s suspension for TRT abuse. To me this looked like a tailor made match for Overeem (yeah I know I’m biased) and so I expected him to pull off a highlight reel win to hopefully get him back into the title picture.

Fight gets underway and the Reem stays on the outside and opens with an oblique kick to the knee, Jon Jones-style. Right hand follows as does another oblique kick. Nice lunging knee to the body from the Reem. Rothwell looks rooted to the spot. Uppercut and another knee connect for Overeem. Right hand lands too and Rothwell looks like he’s marked up already. Brief clinch is broken by Rothwell. Nice oblique kick from the Reem. Leg kick sees Reem stumble but he seems fine. Clinch is shrugged off by Rothwell and he lands an uppercut that wobbles Overeem’s legs! He goes for a takedown out of desperation but Rothwell stuffs it and muscles him into the fence. Reem looks to have recovered and they break off quickly. Another oblique kick connects for the Reem. Good knee to the body follows. Body kick lands too but he steps into a BIG RIGHT HAND from Rothwell and goes down! Reem looks in trouble and Rothwell follows it up with some more punches to finish him. Fuck!

Replay shows the right hand connected to Overeem’s temple and killed his equilibrium and then Rothwell finished him off before he could recover. Weird fight actually as it was like Reem was winning comfortably literally until he got KOd. It’s unfortunate and so frustrating as a fan of his, but I think he’s probably done as a contender due to the abuse his chin has taken over the years. I just wish he’d been in the UFC sooner. Don’t think this makes Rothwell a contender or anything but it was a nice win for him I guess. Bah!

Middleweight Fight: Ronaldo Souza vs Gegard Mousasi

This one was originally pegged to co-main event the scrapped UFC 176 card, so it made sense to give it the five round treatment and have it headline this one. The word was that the winner would possibly get a title shot, but recent events of course made everyone a bit cynical of that one. Souza was the favourite as he’d looked awesome since debuting in the UFC and taking out Chris Camozzi, Yushin Okami and Francis Carmont, but my pick was Mousasi, as I just thought his sharper striking would give him the edge. The odds on a repeat of their crazy finish from 2008 – Mousasi KOing Jacare with an upkick – were pretty much impossible, though.

Round One begins and both men look really tentative, stalking one another before Mousasi flicks out a jab that misses. Takedown attempt from Jacare comes up short and Mousasi glances on a jab before circling out of range. Another takedown attempt from Jacare follows and this time he forces Mousasi back into the cage. They muscle for position with Jacare trying to hit an outside trip, but Mousasi defends it well and they remain clinched, exchanging some knees to the legs. Jacare makes another attempt at the takedown but he eats some elbows to the side of the head. This time though he manages to get his arms wrapped around Mousasi and slams him down into half-guard. Jacare works to pass as they exchange short shots from the ground, and then Mousasi surprisingly goes for a triangle. Jacare shrugs it off, but eats a glancing upkick that sends Ken-Flo wild on commentary. It doesn’t land cleanly though and Souza drops back down into half-guard. One minute to go and they continue to grapple for position on the ground, with both men landing a couple of slashing backfists in the process. Seconds to go and Jacare passes into side mount and looks for a kimura variant, but the time runs out before he can complete it. Good start for Jacare; 10-9.

Round Two and Mousasi connects nicely on a jab. Right hand follows. Good left hook from Jacare. Exchange continues and both men catch one another with solid shots. It looks like Mousasi has the advantage but it’s Jacare who comes forward with a big flurry that forces him to cover up a bit. Clinch from Mousasi slows him down but the Brazilian responds with another powerful takedown. He lands in half-guard once again and begins to work for a pass like in the previous round. Looks like Jacare’s trying to isolate the right arm for a kimura from half-guard similar to the one Matt Hughes used on Joe Riggs years ago. Mousasi manages to avoid it but he’s clearly struggling to get out from underneath the Brazilian. Jacare almost gets to full mount, but Mousasi spins his hips to avoid, only to eat a nasty hammer fist in the process. He’s back in half-guard though. Jacare stands over him for a second – risking the deadly upkick – but this time he passes into side mount. One minute to go and Mousasi might be in trouble here. Souza turns around like a clock and then goes for the kimura again, and this time Mousasi’s in real trouble as Jacare steps over the head. Mousasi manages to clasp his hands together to defend, but Jacare pulls it free, only to lose position around the head slightly. Seconds to go and Mousasi manages to survive. That was very, very close. 10-9 Jacare.

Round Three and Mousasi opens with a jab and a hard straight right. Right hand to the body also lands for Mousasi. He’s really dropping his left hand now too evidently ready to defend the takedown with an underhook, but it’s risky given Souza’s knockout power. Nice right hand lands for Mousasi but Jacare steps in and answers with a short left hook. Good jab from Mousasi but Jacare gets to the clinch. They exchange uppercuts inside the clinch before Jacare breaks with a knee. Couple more jabs from Mousasi but a counter stuns him and a big left hand allows Souza to close the distance and take him down with ease this time. Jacare has become a real monster in there these days. He works to pass the guard and gets into half-guard again, but this time Mousasi rolls and ends up in the turtle position. Jacare takes the back, but can’t get the hooks and it allows Mousasi to stand. They break off and Mousasi fires out the jab again, but he looks a little tired to me. Both men miss on big shots and then Souza walks through the jab to go for a double leg. Mousasi defends, but despite a blatant fence grab Jacare gets him down anyway. Mousasi tries to kick him away but the Brazilian stays firmly on top. One minute to go and Mousasi gets butterfly guard and tries to sit out, but he gives his neck in the process and Jacare clamps down on a TIGHT GUILLOTINE and drops to his back in guard. Tapout comes a moment later.

Looking back that really was a tremendous performance from Jacare Souza and it was a much more one-sided fight than I remembered, too. Mousasi looked like he wanted to strike, but the problem he had was that Souza’s striking has developed to the point now where he can wade in with his own combos and get to the clinch easily and from there his takedowns are excellent to lead to that nasty ground game. It looked to me like Mousasi was attempting the Robert Whittaker-style gameplan of dropping his left hand in order to defend the takedown with an underhook, but really that only works against guys with poor striking like Colton Smith, not a powerful, knockout hitter like Jacare. Middleweight is a bit frustrating at this point in fact as Jacare clearly deserves a title shot, but due mainly to the whole Vitor situation he’s in a logjam with another three great fighters too in Romero, Machida and Rockhold. I’d like to see all of them fight Chris Weidman if I’m honest! Excellent, high-level main event at any rate – Mousasi was very game but he was overmatched here. Jacare is a beast.

-Post-fight Jacare demands a title shot, naturally, and the show ends with him celebrating his win.

Final Thoughts….

It would’ve been nice to have gotten a couple more fights here but I don’t see how anyone could complain about the four we did get – big Overeem fans notwithstanding of course! We got a super-exciting opener (albeit with an anticlimactic ending), two brutal knockouts in the Heavyweight fights and then a really high-level, technical main event that ended with a clean finish. I can’t call it a contender for best show of the year just due to how short it went, but it’s still definitely a thumbs up.

Best Fight: Lauzon vs. Chiesa
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: