MMA Review: #541: UFC on Fox: Teixeira vs. Evans

-The latest in a bunch of injury-hit cards this year, this one was meant to see a main event of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson to decide the next top contender at Lightweight, but for once it wasn’t Khabib getting hurt – Ferguson ended up pulling out with a chest injury, leaving Khabib to fight a late replacement. Meanwhile the new co-main event of Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson in a rematch from their 2013 fight was also scrapped when Machida got busted for a banned substance – a massive shocker given Machida was one of the guys I’d never have suspected to be a juicer. Thankfully we still had the main event of Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans as well as a probable #1 contender’s bout at Strawweight between Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres.

UFC on Fox: Teixeira vs. Evans

Tampa, Florida

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Featherweight Fight: Cub Swanson vs Hacran Dias

This was a prelim elevated to the main card due to the Machida situation, with two top ten fighters at 145lbs who seemed to be flying under the radar – Swanson due to a pair of losses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway (no shame there) and Dias because well, he always flies under the radar due to a perceived dull style. My pick was the Brazilian as I thought Swanson was beginning to look a bit shot.

Fight begins and they circle and throw out some feeler strikes with Dias landing a low kick. Couple of shots glance for Swanson before Dias clocks him with another hard leg kick. Leg kick answers back for Cub. Nice right hand from Dias and he follows with another leg kick. High kick follows but doesn’t land cleanly. Right hand does though as does a follow-up combo. Dias is looking pretty sharp here. One-two glances for the Brazilian. Two minutes to go and Dias continues to land first. Nice kick to the body connects for Cub though. Another leg kick fires back for Dias. Couple of wild swings miss for Cub. Nice combination from Dias backs Swanson up. Wild takedown attempt from the Brazilian doesn’t come close, but he lands with another heavy leg kick. Flurry from Dias ends the round. 10-9 Dias I’d say.

Second round and again Dias opens with a hard leg kick. Leg kick into a left hook from Swanson and Dias goes down. He manages to kick Cub away and looks like he’s sort-of recovered, but Cub lands with a left to the body from above and then nails him with a leg kick. Dias manages to lock him up in half-guard to slow him down, but he got rocked there for sure. Good body punches from Cub as Dias looks to escape from the bottom, and sure enough Cub decides to let him stand. Wild combo misses for Dias as he’s clearly trying to reply to Cub’s knockdown. Nice right to the body from Swanson. He looks confident now too, dropping his hands like he’s got Dias’s timing down. Counter left hook lands for Cub and he catches Dias with it again as the Brazilian pushes forward. Jab connects for Dias but Swanson comes back with a leg kick and a left. Overhand right from Swanson and he shrugs off a takedown attempt. Overhand right connects for Dias and he tries to draw Cub into a brawl, but finds himself down again off what looked like a slip. This time he pops up and they trade again with both men landing. Pair of jabs land for Cub as he settles back into his rhythm. Knee glances for Cub before Dias clinches to end the round. 10-9 Swanson to even things up. Fun fight so far.

Third round and Cub begins with a jab as he circles on the outside while Dias stalks forward. Good left lands for Dias in a brief exchange but Cub doesn’t stay static and keeps moving. Into the clinch and Dias looks for a possible guillotine, but Swanson escapes. Nice left to the body from Cub. Cub’s grinning at him now too. Nice counter left from Cub but he almost gets tripped to the ground on his way back. Good combo lands for Dias. Both guys are really throwing heavy shots now. Wheel kick misses for Cub. Both men throwing jabs out now. Just under half of the round left and Dias needs to do something dramatic to win I think. Clinch is quickly broken by Cub. Referee Herb Dean calls a brief break due to a poke in the eye for Dias, but they restart quickly. Big right hand connects for Swanson. He wades in and seems to get caught, but out of nowhere and off balance he somehow lands a HUGE LEFT HEAD KICK and Dias goes down! Cub looks to finish him off, bombing over the top of the guard, but Dias does an excellent job of surviving and he manages to tie Cub up in half-guard. Big USA chant from the crowd as Swanson stays on top with Dias looking for a possible kimura. Cub spins free and then stands over him again, landing a spin kick to the thigh of the grounded Brazilian. Big right over the top to the body from Cub and he begins to really open up with heavy ground-and-pound. Dias survives though and the fight ends there. Clear 10-9 for Cub Swanson and it has to be 29-28 really.

Indeed all three judges have it 29-28 for Cub Swanson, no other result possible really. Very fun fight as they fought at a high pace throughout and both men went for it, but in the end it felt like once Cub had a handle on Dias’s style and rhythm, he was able to adjust and open up with the better shots and Dias just didn’t have an answer for it. Head kick that dropped Dias in the third was especially beautiful. I guess Cub isn’t anywhere near as shot as I expected! Strong opener.

Lightweight Fight: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Darrell Horcher

So yeah, when Tony Ferguson pulled out of this fight it looked like we’d lose a Khabib fight AGAIN but for the opposite to the usual reason, especially when Donald Cerrone apparently accepted and then pulled out of the fight on the same day. Thankfully Zuffa managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, sort of, in the form of Horcher, who came in on late notice with a solid 13-1 record. Granted he was basically there to provide Khabib with a warm body – his biggest fight had been a loss to Phillipe Nover who, no offense, isn’t on Khabib’s level – but hey, fair play to him for taking the fight.

Round One begins and the crowd are chanting for Khabib right away. It’s a tentative start with both men missing some early strikes and Khabib glancing on a right hook. Good counter left lands for Horcher but it looks like he’s so wary of the takedown that he doesn’t really want to get close. Decent right hand connects for Horcher. Nurmagomedov looks a bit nervy. Takedown is avoided by Horcher by staying out of range. Couple more shots glance for Horcher. Halfway through the round and Khabib finally gets deep on a shot and hits a HUGE BODYSLAM down into half-guard. That was like Matt Hughes in his prime. Couple of punches land for Khabib as Horcher tries to hold onto him, and from there the Dagestani moves into side mount and begins to drop some heavy elbows to the side of the head. Horcher tries to scramble back to half-guard, but he’s being owned on the ground here. Khabib spins around and takes the back, and it looks like Horcher’s busted open now. Big shots land for Khabib as Horcher tries to buck him off, but he looks stuck and the round ends with some big shots connecting for Khabib. Clear-cut 10-9 round for Khabib, bordering on a 10-8 even.

Round Two and they exchange punches with Khabib clearly looking to close the distance again. Takedown attempt follows but Horcher works to defend it. Khabib drives him into the fence though and then hits a hip throw into side mount. Sick stuff. Horcher’s in trouble again and Khabib begins to work for a mounted crucifix, dropping some hard elbows in the process. Horcher almost gets back to half-guard, but Khabib postures up to drop some heavy shots and locks up the crucifix. Big punches land for Khabib and the ref ought to stop this now. He lets it go though and Horcher takes some BOMBS which is pretty needless really. He manages to turn, but gives his back and Khabib slaps in both hooks and continues to bomb on the head as Horcher isn’t really defending. Finally with about 1:30 to go the ref steps in and stops it. Bad stoppage from James Warring.

Post-fight Khabib – who speaks perfect English for the record, and whacks his crazy Dagestani hat on Joe Rogan for good measure – calls out Rafael Dos Anjos for a title fight and obviously that’s the way to go next. I know he was meant to face Tony Ferguson but he’s more than earned a title shot against the RDA/Eddie Alvarez winner and if he stays healthy I think he takes the belt. This was a squash as was expected but it was still entertaining because Khabib rules. Horcher probably earned himself another UFC fight at least which is fair too.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Rose Namajunas vs Tecia Torres

Word was that the winner of this one would probably secure the next shot at the title and the winner of the upcoming Jedrzejczyk/Gadelha rematch, which made sense as Torres was on a three-fight win streak and Namajunas had looked fantastic in her December win over Paige VanZant, and really nobody else stands out right now – Carla Esparza’s been on the shelf for ages, PVZ just lost, Jessica Aguilar’s injured and hasn’t won in the UFC yet, you get the picture. Tough fight to call too – I know Torres won handily last time they fought but Rose has improved a ton since then – and I ended up leaning towards the aggression of Namajunas to pull her through.

Round One and they circle with Rose scoring on a couple of early glancing strikes. Side note but I think Rose looks fucking ridiculous with the shaved head, sorry. Good leg kick lands for Rose. Series of jabs follow but Torres comes back with a strong leg kick. Clinch from Rose and she looks to get Torres down, but Tecia stuffs it. Another good leg kick lands for Rose but Torres catches the leg and they trade briefly before separating. Couple of jabs land for Rose again but Torres nails her with a combo that forces her to clinch. They separate quickly and Tecia lands with a right hand. Quick combo lands for Torres and as Rose looks to clinch she gets stunned by a left that drops her to a knee for a split second. She pops back up though and they jockey for position against the fence. Nice trip takedown from Rose and she lands in the full guard, landing with a right for good measure. Torres looks to tie her up and then kicks her away, but the round ends with Rose looking to pass the guard while landing some shots. Tight round to score as Torres did better standing but then got taken down, I’d probably go 10-9 Torres anyway I think mainly for the semi-knockdown.

Round Two and Rose looks to use the left hand to begin again, but Torres comes back with a leg kick. Good combination from Namajunas as she’s trying to keep her distance more now. Stiff jab connects for Rose. Beautiful combo answers for Torres but Rose fires right back with a right hand counter. Nice low kick from Torres. Couple more connect but a nice counter left lands for Rose and seems to stun her a bit. Another left follows too. Torres seems okay but she got cracked there. Front kick lands for Rose. Good leg kick from Torres. Flying kick misses for Rose but Torres can’t capitalise. Left hand lands for Rose but Torres comes back with another strong low kick. Takedown attempt from Rose and she drives Torres into the fence, but Tecia defends it well and turns the position around. Just over a minute to go and they break, with both girls landing in another exchange. Sweeping left hook connects for Namajunas. Good combo answers for Torres. Wild trade ends the round with both girls landing, and Rose appears to stun Torres right before the buzzer. 10-9 Rose to even things up as she did just about enough in the stand-up.

Round Three and Torres comes out pushing forward throwing a bunch of kicks, backing Namajunas up early. Nice side kick to the leg from Tecia. Big right hand fires back for Rose but Torres takes it well. Another good leg kick from Torres. This is a very close fight. Nice jab from Rose. They trade off with some kicks before Rose catches her with a solid left hand. There seems to be some mild boos coming from the crowd which is ridiculous. Couple more leg kicks land for Torres and she seems to be staying out of range well too. Clinch from Torres and she lands a quick combination from the close range before backing up. Just over a minute to go now. Another leg kick lands for Torres. Clinch and a whizzer attempt follows for Torres but Rose gets on top in the full guard. Torres ties her up well from the guard, preventing any damage from being done, but the round still ends with Namajunas on top. I’d go 10-9 Torres for the better strikes giving her a 29-28 win.

Judges all score it 29-28 for Rose Namajunas in a bit of a surprise, but to be fair it was a super-close fight and I guess the judges always love the late takedown to “steal the round” as Joe Rogan always says. Good fight albeit nothing special and in a bit of a shocker Dana White’s actually been saying Rose will probably need a couple more fights before she fights for the title, so lord only knows what they’re planning to do in the interim as Joanna and Gadelha are fighting in July which doesn’t exactly give Rose much time for another contender’s match and besides, nobody else is really deserving right now. I feel like if it’d been a more convincing showing then maybe they’d be willing to give her the shot but maybe the Zuffa brass thought like me and figured Torres won or something. Who knows.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Rashad Evans

A real match of veterans at 205lbs, this was originally booked for February 2015’s Fight Night 61, but an injury to Glover put paid to that idea, and since then the Brazilian had won two in a row – over Ovince St. Preux and Pat Cummins, while Rashad had lost his comeback match instead to Ryan Bader and there had been rumors about his retirement going around. In terms of a pick I probably would’ve taken prime Rashad – as in, the Rashad that beat Rampage Jackson – to win handily, but in 2016 I figured Teixeira had more left in the tank and went for him instead.

Fight begins and Glover stalks forward right away, backing Rashad up and forcing him to circle right back towards the fence. Right hand glances for the Brazilian. He clinches, but Rashad shoves him back into the fence before breaking with a right. Glover gets back to stalking, landing with a right to the body and then with a right and a left to the head. Rashad fires back and then clinches again, but Glover breaks quickly. Winging overhand right misses for Evans. Glover keeps pushing forward, walking through a jab and narrowly missing with a head kick. Rashad continues to circle but it doesn’t stop Teixeira walking him down, and this time he misses a right but lands with a CRUSHING LEFT that drops Rashad hard, and a pair of right hand follow-ups knock him out violently. Wow.

That was nasty. I picked Teixeira to win, but certainly didn’t expect him to put Rashad out cold that quickly. I know he hits super hard but even so, the only guy to ever KO Rashad before was Lyoto Machida and that was more of a barrage finish than like one shot on the button like here. Tremendous win for Glover Teixeira but maybe the end of the road for Rashad, who in the cold light of day, doesn’t have a truly relevant win now since Phil Davis in early 2012 if you discount the 2013 win over a near-retired Chael Sonnen. He’s had a great career – probably deserves a Hall of Fame slot and will certainly work for as long as he wants as a Fox analyst – but for his own health it’s time to hang it up I think. As for Glover, post-fight he calls out Anthony Johnson and when you consider Jon Jones (or OSP, ha) will probably end up fighting Daniel Cormier in the main event of November’s New York show (!~!) that might be a good fight to make actually, even if I think it ends badly for Glover. This was a highlight reel worthy way to finish the night, at any rate.

-Show ends there as we head back to the Fox studios.

Final Thoughts….

For a depleted card I thought this delivered a pretty solid show in the end, as none of the four main card fights were dull at all and while nothing really stood out as being really memorable – I’d say Glover’s KO of Rashad was more sad than a truly outstanding moment, although it definitely goes onto Glover’s highlight reel – it was still fun, with Khabib making a nice return to action in a squash and a pair of solid fights in Swanson/Dias and Namajunas/Torres. Won’t make any ‘best of’ lists at the end of the year but it’s still worth a thumbs up from me.

Best Fight: Dias vs. Swanson
Worst Fight: Torres vs. Namajunas I guess?

Overall Rating: **3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: