MMA Review: #545: UFC Fight Night 88

-Bit weird to have a Fight Night in Vegas – hopefully it’s not a trend as the Vegas crowds are always dead for anything other than really big fights and I think Zuffa are better off breaking into new states and/or countries with the Fight Night series, but hey, this looked like a solid card and it was nice to see some love for 135lbs in the main event – a firefight between prospects Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt.

UFC Fight Night 88

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.

Lightweight Fight: Josh Burkman vs Paul Felder

Bit of a weird opener but I guess both men were at least coming off wins – Felder with a rare submission over Daron Cruickshank and Burkman picking up his first UFC win since 2007 (!) over KJ Noons. My pick was Felder as I think Burkman is basically shot at this point while Felder still seems to have some potential even if he got a bit overrated at the beginning of his UFC run.

Round One and Burkman opens with a glancing oblique kick. He looks like he really wants to keep his distance from Felder. Felder looks much bigger, surprisingly given Burkman’s recent drop from 170lbs. Body kick lands for Felder. They trade a few more kicks with Burkman continuing to keep his distance, before he lands a body kick and eats a right hand in reply. Good movement from Felder allows him to avoid Burkman’s strikes, but he isn’t really doing that much offensively. Body kick from Burkman sets up a right, but he takes one in the process too. Head kick glances for Felder. Nice combination connects for Burkman and he lands another inside leg kick too. Straight left connects for Burkman. Really good striking from Burkman so far and he stuns Felder with a big combo. Felder fires right back and they TRADE WILDLY before Burkman gets a single leg and dumps him to the ground with a minute to go. Felder uses the fence in an attempt to get back to his feet, but Burkman stays on him and looks to adjust to take the back. He can’t quite manage it but stays stuck firmly to Felder, and the round ends there. 10-9 Burkman, good round for him.

Round Two and Felder really pressures Burkman back in the opening seconds, but he again takes a couple of kicks. Hard leg kick answers for Felder and he narrowly misses a big right hand as Burkman steps in. Good inside leg kick from Felder. Burkman keeps on working on the low leg kick too. More leg kicks from both men before Burkman misses a combo. Counter right lands for Felder in a brief exchange but Burkman seems okay. Good counter knee lands for Felder. One-two lands for Felder too as Burkman comes forward a bit. Crowd begin to randomly heat up despite a lack of action. Body kick from Felder and he dodges a spin from Burkman. They clinch up and Felder muscles Burkman into the fence and clocks him with an elbow strike. Burkman turns the position around and looks for a takedown, but he can’t do it and eats some elbows for his efforts. They break and Felder presses forward and connects on an overhand right. Big combo ends in a left and has Burkman stunned, and Felder follows with another combo before Burkman clinches. He tries the takedown again, but can’t get Felder down and with seconds to go he manages to take the back standing. 10-9 Felder to even things up.

Round Three and Felder times a knee to the body nicely and then cracks Burkman with a combo and avoids the counters that follow. Good leg kick lands for Felder. Burkman looks like he’s slowing down dramatically. Couple of side kicks glance for Burkman but Felder answers with a spin kick to the body that causes him to slip to the ground. Burkman tries to capitalise but Felder pops up and counters a side kick with a knee to the body. Nice counter right follows but Burkman’s chin holds up. Another hard right hand connects for Felder. Inside leg kick from Felder. He’s beginning to pull away now. More low kicks land for Felder but he misses with a head kick. Nice outside leg kick almost buckles Burkman though. Takedown attempt from Burkman is defended well but he manages to muscle Felder down after another try. Felder pops right back up though nullifying it, and then he lands with a hard elbow. One minute to go and Burkman tries to get him down again, but he can’t do it and his nose looks badly busted open. Ref calls a clean break with seconds on the clock and now Felder goes for a takedown, but he can’t get it and Burkman trips him down right before the buzzer. Close-ish round but I’d call it 10-9 Felder for a 29-28, despite giving up that late takedown.

Judges have it 29-28 all round for Paul Felder. Decent fight if skippable really as nothing too dramatic happened, and it ended up being pretty close as Felder never truly opened up on a tired Burkman in the third round when he possibly could’ve. Solid enough win but I doubt it moves him that far up the ladder, unfortunately. As for Burkman it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the last UFC fight for him as he’s on a decent contract and this loss dropped him to 1-3 in this current run – 1-4 had Hector Lombard not been busted for roids, and that sort of run usually gets you cut.

Welterweight Fight: Lorenz Larkin vs Jorge Masvidal

Tremendous striking battle here on paper with the flashy Larkin taking on the more experienced and straightforward – though no less skilled – Masvidal. I was taking Larkin to win as I couldn’t see a finish from either man and despite Masvidal always competing with anyone he’s up against, his style just doesn’t seem to sway the judges very well and so I thought Larkin would edge it.

First round and they circle with little action in the first round outside of some glancing shots. Good low kick lands for Larkin. Combo glances too as Larkin stalks forward. Masvidal glances on a couple of shots but a body kick lands for Larkin as does a leg kick. They trade some jabs before Masvidal glances on a combo. Good one-two from Larkin. Two minutes to go and it doesn’t seem like Masvidal’s really out of first gear. Nice leg kick from Larkin. Good job from Larkin to stay out of range but he takes a spin kick and a right hand. Masvidal’s beginning to back him up now. Clinch from Masvidal and he forces Larkin into the fence. Action slows down and the crowd don’t seem happy. Quick flurry breaks for Masvidal. Chopping leg kick answers for Larkin and he glances on a wild right. Big combo from Larkin. Leg kick answers for Masvidal but he takes a nasty eye poke and the ref has to call time. Masvidal looks like he’s in a TON OF PAIN. Doctors come in to check him over and for a second it looks like the fight might be thrown out. After a while though they decide he can continue, and he opens up with a hard leg kick. They exchange some glancing blows and that’s the round. 10-9 Larkin for me.

Second round and Larkin begins by backing Masvidal up with some kicks that don’t really land. BRUTAL right head kick does connect for Larkin but somehow Masvidal just laughs it off. Insane chin. Good low kick answers back for Masvidal. Left kick glances to the body for Larkin. Nice right hand connects for him too. He seems to have a slight speed advantage here. Another right hand lands cleanly for Larkin. Masvidal looks to push forward but eats another pair of rights and a short elbow. Straight right fires back for Masvidal and he lands a clean right hand counter in an exchange too. Another right is answered by a body kick from Larkin who follows with a clinch. Action slows down a bit in the clinch before Masvidal lands with an elbow and a knee. Elbow breaks for Masvidal and he follows with a nice head kick into a low kick. Good combo follows for Masvidal. Right hand fires back for Larkin. Low kick almost buckles Masvidal’s knee. Lunging right hand from Masvidal sets up the clinch again with a minute to go, but Larkin quickly spins him around into the cage. They break off and Larkin clocks him with a straight right that causes Masvidal to smile again. Exchange follows with both landing including a hard body kick from Masvidal. Larkin answers right back with another clean right hand. Left follows and they clinch briefly where Masvidal lands some punches. Takedown from Larkin ends the round. 10-9 Larkin in a much better round to watch.

Third round and Masvidal opens with a partially blocked high kick and a right hand that does land. Both men exchange some jabs before Larkin hits Masvidal with a vicious body kick. Masvidal is a tough guy as he totally no-sells it though. Low kick fires back for him. Good right hand lands for Masvidal set up by the left. Uppercut answers back for Larkin but Masvidal fires back and forces him to clinch. Good elbow inside from Masvidal as Larkin drops for a possible takedown. Looks like Larkin might be cut around his nose. Guillotine attempt from Masvidal and it’s a high-angle variant, but he gives it up as it doesn’t look locked in and Larkin comes right back with a nasty left hook that snaps Masvidal’s head back! Combo from Masvidal replies as the crowd are really getting into this now. Larkin’s beginning to swing wildly but then he decides to clinch, only for Masvidal to grab onto a guillotine and drop to his back. Larkin flips all the way over to avoid, but Masvidal then drops for his own takedown as they get back to their feet. Double leg follows but Larkin pops right back up instantly. Masvidal takes the back standing this time and looks to slap a hook in, but Larkin spins him around and escapes. Good combo from Larkin including an uppercut, and then he decides to clinch surprisingly. He keeps looking for the takedown, but gives it up and they break. Takedown attempt now from Masvidal but it’s a bit telegraphed and Larkin blocks. Elbows from the clinch make him pay a little though as Masvidal forces him into the fence. They continue to exchange from the clinch before Larkin blocks for another possible takedown, but the round ends with a knee from Masvidal. 10-9 Masvidal but too little, too late in my eyes. Round was fantastic action.

Judges have it 29-28 Larkin, 29-28 Masvidal, and 29-28 for Lorenz Larkin to pick up a split decision. Another tight loss for Masvidal but I don’t think he has much to complain about here as I thought Larkin clearly outworked him in the first two rounds and you could probably make an argument for him taking the third at a push too. Fight started slowly but once it got going it REALLY got going and the third round in particular was absolutely tremendous. Larkin for me is one of the best guys to watch out there at 170lbs right now and I can’t wait to see him in there again.

Middleweight Fight: Chris Camozzi vs Vitor Miranda

Another odd choice for a main card tilt, I guess Zuffa were just expecting a violent brawl here as is the norm when Miranda fights. The Brazilian was coming off a trio of exciting wins over Jake Collier, Clint Hester and Marcelo Guimaraes, while Camozzi had looked about the best I’d ever seen him in a quick TKO win over Joe Riggs in February. Despite that though I was leaning towards Miranda here as I felt he was the better athlete and harder hitter.

Round One and Camozzi pushes forward, landing a low kick early on as Miranda tries to circle to avoid the cage. Really good leg kick lands for Camozzi and he follows with a sharp knee from the clinch. Head kick glances for Miranda but Camozzi comes back with a pair of low kicks. Sharp leg kick lands for Miranda and almost puts Camozzi down. Both men land some more low kicks before Camozzi triples up on a jab that backs the Brazilian up. Action slows down a bit as both men miss with strikes from the outside, and then Camozzi rushes in with a combo and lands some tight elbows from close range for good measure. Camozzi’s looking pretty good so far. Trio of jabs again from Camozzi. Miranda’s face looks marked up. Low kick from Camozzi is caught and Miranda tackles him down, but it gets sloppy as they hit the deck and Camozzi manages to roll for a heel hook. Miranda defends it and it doesn’t really look close, and a decent backfist lands for Miranda on the ground. One minute to go and they remain in a really awkward position, exchanging punches from the 50/50 position, and the crowd begin to boo I guess due to the weirdness. Round actually ends down there, with Miranda sporting a cut to the left eyebrow. 10-9 Camozzi.

Round Two begins with a pair of Miranda leg kicks. Flurry backs Miranda up but doesn’t really land cleanly. Leg kick answers for Miranda. Good right uppercut connects for Camozzi. Both men glance with some more strikes before Camozzi answers a body kick with a big low kick that puts Miranda down on his back. Camozzi drops into top position inside the guard, and Miranda looks to tie him up right away. Action slows down as Camozzi tries to advance position, and he winds up taking the back off a short scramble. One hook in for Camozzi and he’s controlling Miranda’s left wrist for good measure. Decent shots land for Camozzi from there and he lands a good knee to the body too. Miranda looks gassed here. He tries to get up, but Camozzi drags him back down and remains on top, dropping some short punches and opening the cut on Miranda’s eyebrow further. One minute to go and Camozzi almost gets mount, but ends up in half-guard instead. He continues to grind away with his elbow though and the round ends with Camozzi almost getting the finish with the elbows. 10-9 Camozzi and Miranda needs a finish for sure. He’s sporting a bad crimson mask.

Round Three but before it begins Herb Dean decides to call in the doctor to check over Miranda’s cut. They decide to let it go, I guess because it’s not bleeding profusely despite being in a shitty position above the eye. Round begins and they trade shots with Miranda showing aggression, but Camozzi opens the cut again with a short elbow and follows with a combo. Weird moment as Miranda gives his back standing, allowing Camozzi to comfortably trip him to the ground and move into north/south. Side mount now for Camozzi and he’s in firm control, dropping more elbows onto the bloody forehead. Miranda manages to work back to his feet using the fence, but he’s horribly bloody. Camozzi separates and avoids some sloppy strikes from the Brazilian, and he gets in some decent strikes of his own. Takedown attempt from Miranda is blocked by Camozzi who forces him back into the fence, but they quickly break. Miranda keeps swinging heavy-but-sloppy shots, but he can’t really land and Camozzi clocks him a few times with some cleaner shots. Head kick does land for Miranda but not with full power. Good straight right from Camozzi slows Miranda up, and we’ve got one minute to go now. Miranda is exhausted. He keeps on trying, but he can’t catch Camozzi cleanly as the TUF 11 vet picks him off. Miranda manages to back him up, but Camozzi keeps on dancing around and flicking out the jab. Fight ends on the feet. Got to be 30-27 for Camozzi.

Official scores are30-27, 30-27 and 30-27 for Chris Camozzi. Decent win for Camozzi as he exposed Miranda somewhat here as a guy who hits hard but doesn’t offer much more if he can’t land cleanly. He showed a ton of toughness though so credit to him for fighting through a nasty cut. Don’t see Camozzi moving into title contention any time soon but this fight was fine and it should keep him in the role of a very tough gatekeeper at 185lbs.

Welterweight Fight: Tarec Saffiedine vs Rick Story

This was a pretty big fight at 170lbs given both men’s rankings in or around the top fifteen, and strangely enough it was Story coming off the long layoff – he hadn’t fought since his October 2014 win over Gunnar Nelson – rather than the ever-injured Saffiedine, who had picked up a win over Jake Ellenberger in January. Tough fight to call as it was a clash of styles with Story’s wrestling and aggression against Saffiedine’s cleaner striking, but I was leaning towards the Belgian due to Story’s layoff and cruder striking style.

Round One and Story immediately pressures the Belgian back with a low kick, but Saffiedine smartly circles out. Rush of left hands miss for Story. Brief exchange sees both men land with left hands. Body kick from Saffiedine is caught, but he lands a right hand and somehow avoids all of Story’s counters too. Wild swing misses for Story but it allows him to clinch and force Saffiedine into the fence. He drops for a takedown, but Saffiedine works to defend it and does a good job of breaking free before wrapping a right head kick over Story’s shoulder. Body kick follows for the Belgian. Good body kick answers back for Story though quickly. Rush again from Story puts him into the clinch, and he tries a lateral drop and winds up on his back for a second before popping back up and forcing Saffiedine into the fence. Serious strength and explosiveness there from Story. They muscle along the fence inside the clinch and Story lands some knees for good measure. Good takedown defense from the Belgian and he breaks free, but Story quickly clinches again. Crowd are chanting mildly for Story. Good knee to the body from Story and the round ends with him ripping some hard body shots. 10-9 Story; Saffiedine perhaps landed the best shot with the head kick but Story imposed his game stronger.

Round Two and Saffiedine is bleeding from the cut on his knee that almost took him out of the fight a week previous. Big head kick opens the round for Saffiedine as he counters an attack to the body. Another head kick glances for the Belgian and he follows with a push kick to the chest. Good low kick from Story but it causes him to slip to the ground and Saffiedine pounces to take top position. Story explodes right back to his feet though and he muscles Saffiedine back into the fence .They exchange knees inside before Story goes for a single leg. Saffiedine blocks it, and then muscles free. Head kick glances again for the Belgian. Good leg kick from Story. Nice counter left from Story as Saffiedine looks to shoot for a takedown, and Story defends that and pushes him right back into the fence. Another crowd chant for Story begins as they break off. Good combo from Saffiedine but Story fires right back with a vicious combo to the body that sets up another clinch. Saffiedine looks a bit tired to me. They exchange knees to the body before Story wings some hard body punches again, really working hard from the clinch. Big combo again from Story prevents Saffiedine from exiting the clinch. Big John McCarthy calls a break with a minute to go and Saffiedine glances on a head kick. Another nice head kick lands for Saffiedine as he actually goes for a clinch, but Story immediately spins him around and pins him into the fence. Good knee inside from Story but Saffiedine answers with some of his own to end the round. Another one in the books for Rick Story I’d say.

Round Three and Story begins with a hard left hand in the first exchange. Takedown is shrugged off by Saffiedine but he seems to be struggling with the amount of pressure Story is putting on. Glancing strikes from both men follow before Story swings some brutal body shots from the clinch again. He moves Saffiedine into the fence again but this time the Belgian breaks quickly. Head kick misses for Saffiedine but he lands a left hand before clinching, and of course Story forces him into the fence. No idea why the Belgian keeps trying to clinch. Trip attempt fails for Story but he wings some more heavy body shots despite eating an elbow from close range. They break with about half the round remaining, but Story forces his way back into the clinch again. Dude is a bulldog. Big left lands for Story but Saffiedine fires back with one of his own and then glances on another head kick. Story responds by bulling back into the clinch. Another break follows but Story comes in with a hard leg kick. Sharp inside leg kick from Saffiedine and he lands with another heavy right head kick, but Story just takes it somehow. His chin is made of granite. Back to the clinch now and Story continues to apply pressure. They break and Saffiedine lands with another inside leg kick, but Story just keeps on coming forward like the terminator. Counter right lands for the Belgian and he avoids a takedown, but eats a left kick to the body before Story bombs back into the clinch. Big USA chant for Story as the fight ends inside the clinch. 10-9 Story for a 30-27 in my book.

Indeed it’s a shutout for Rick Story; 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. Fun fight and the story (no pun intended) was basically that Saffiedine just couldn’t handle the forward pressure and clinch work of Story who fought an excellent fight considering Saffiedine’s striking skill and defensive wrestling. He might well be the dark horse of the division actually and this win coupled with the admittedly dated Nelson win should be enough to secure him a top-level opponent next time out. Perhaps the winner of Hendricks/Gastelum, or even Carlos Condit or Neil Magny would work?

Featherweight Fight: Renan Barao vs Jeremy Stephens

When Barao lost to TJ Dillashaw for the second time – in brutal fashion again, it must be added – the big question always was what he’d do next, and a move to 145lbs after some extended time off made a lot of sense. He’d always been a big 135lber to the point where he’d missed weight for UFC 177, remember, and the two losses to Dillashaw were probably enough to keep him away from the title picture at Bantamweight for the time being. Throw in the IV ban and 145lbs definitely seemed like the right call. This was a relatively tough fight for his debut at the weight though as Stephens had not only been on a pretty solid run since his move to 145lbs in 2013 but he also hit as hard as anyone Barao had ever faced before. Still, I was taking the Brazilian to use his grappling to win after recalling how Charles Oliveira had dealt with Stephens relatively easily on the ground in 2014.

Fight begins and Barao opens with an inside leg kick. Head kick is blocked by Stephens and he answers back with a hard low kick of his own. They continue to exchange kicks before Barao cracks Stephens with a one-two. Single leg is defended by Stephens but Barao makes him pay with another one-two. Stephens comes back with a combo of his own but Barao seems okay. Another combo glances for the Brazilian before Stephens lands with a low kick. Barao seems like the faster man here and he lands with another quick combo. He’s catching Stephens almost every time. Takedown attempt follows for Barao but Stephens blocks it well, grabbing an underhook on the right arm to defend. Action slows down before Stephens breaks free. Nice left hand connects for Barao. Hard body kick follows. Right hand replies for Stephens but Barao slides out of range to avoid the impact. Clinch from Stephens and he forces Barao into the fence, but doesn’t do much from the position as the action slows down a bit. They break with a minute to go and Stephens connects on a bit of a wild combo. He’s swinging for the fences. Barao continues to stay out of range though and he narrowly misses on a spin kick before landing a right hand into a takedown attempt. Stephens defends it again before Barao transitions to take the back and attempt a trip, but he can’t get him down before the buzzer. Good round for Renan Barao; 10-9.

Into the 2nd and again Barao lands with a low kick to begin. Right hand from Stephens and he stuffs another takedown attempt. Head kick glances for the Brazilian. Another takedown attempt follows but Stephens defends it well again. Nasty leg kick connects for Stephens. Right hand follows and he also lands an uppercut, and Barao seems a bit stunned by it. Stephens comes in swinging and a HUGE UPPERCUT snaps Barao’s head back and he’s definitely hurt. Another uppercut follows and now Stephens smells blood. He continues to land bombs but somehow Barao is taking them well. Good right hand answers back for Barao and he shoots, but Stephens stuffs it again. They muscle for position inside the clinch with Stephens forcing Barao back into the fence, and you can see Barao taking some deep breaths now. Couple of short punches land inside for Stephens and they break off. Spin kick from Barao lands to the head, but not cleanly and Stephens begins to walk him down with haymakers again. Decent left from Barao but Stephens fires back and stuns him with a right hand. Big combo from Stephens ends in a left haymaker but somehow Barao takes it. Brutal low kick follows for Stephens. Barao is standing right in front of him. Good takedown from Barao from nowhere but Stephens works back to his feet. Barao stays on him, but Stephens breaks off and that’s the round. 10-9 Stephens to even things up.

Third and final round and this could still go either way. Barao is busted up down the left side of his face. Couple of inside leg kicks and a jab open the round for the Brazilian but Stephens wings a couple of hooks to the body. Nice one-two from Barao. Quick combo follows for him and he’s doing a better job of avoiding the bombs now. No sooner have I said that than Stephens cracks him with a right to the body and left to the jaw. Left hand into a takedown attempt reply for Barao but Stephens defends well again. They break with three minutes to go and Barao lands with a pair of left hands in a brief exchange. Big swings miss for Barao and Stephens answers with an uppercut before eating a left. Big swings miss for Stephens and now both men look tired. Hard leg kick from Stephens and he catches the Brazilian with a left in an exchange. Takedown attempt replies again for Barao and this time he gets Stephens down. Stephens wriggles in an attempt to get out, but Barao manages to pull the right leg from under him to keep him down. Stephens uses the fence to get onto his knees, but Barao slaps one hook in and looks to take the back. Good job from Stephens to shrug it off and he’s back to his feet. Stephens looks for a takedown of his own now with one minute to go before breaking off. Uppercut from Stephens but Barao takes it. Stephens keeps pushing forward but he misses a haymaker and eats a combo. Uppercut replies for Stephens to stuff a takedown and then he rocks Barao with a big right hand. Exchange continues until they clinch and then break with seconds to go. Both men keep swinging and that’s the fight. Uber close round; call it 10-9 Barao but it could well go either way.

Official decision is 29-28 all round for Jeremy Stephens. Can’t really argue as I guess the judges gave more sway to the power shots of Stephens in the third rather than the larger volume of strikes and takedown scored by Barao. Excellent fight in the end though as both guys left everything in there – bit of a false start for Barao at 145lbs as well, not that there’s any shame in losing to Stephens, but it looked like he was winning on the feet comfortably until he got hit cleanly and then he didn’t seem like the same fleet-footed fighter he was in the opening round. I say give him a much easier fight next time around to see how he does because unfortunately it may well be a case where he’s taken punishment in a lot of his previous fights – he has 36 of them on his record after all! – and will never be the same again.

Bantamweight Fight: Thomas Almeida vs Cody Garbrandt

This was a surprising main event in terms of name value but it sounded like an absolute barnburner on paper between two of the Bantamweight division’s fastest rising stars – both men were undefeated with Almeida coming off three straight knockouts in 2015 and Garbrandt on his own three-fight win streak in the UFC. Despite Almeida looking worryingly hittable against Brad Pickett at UFC 189 he was my pick here as he just seemed to have more striking tools than the more boxing-based Garbrandt and in Pickett and Yves Jabouin I felt he’d beaten better opponents than Cody had in his career too.

Round One begins and Garbrandt misses with a capoeira kick to begin, whoa. They circle and both look slightly tentative, with Garbrandt throwing out a couple of kicks that don’t really land. Counter right hand glances for Almeida. Good right hand from Cody backs him up a bit and a flying knee misses, but a right hand lands flush. One-two follows and lands clean for the Alpha Male fighter. Another combo lands for Garbrandt and Almeida’s legs slightly buckle. Looks like Cody has the quicker hands by far. Body shot lands for Almeida but Garbrandt comes right back with another quick combo. Big overhand right lands for Almeida. Good low kick sets up another combo from Cody. Another one follows and Almeida is on roller skates! His nose looks busted up too. He tries to fire back, but Cody’s all over him with punches here, wow. Another one-two lands for Cody but Almeida comes back with a right of his own. He begins to come forward some more and they’re exchanging pretty openly now, before Cody TAGS him again with a left hand! Almeida is stunned again and this time Cody SMASHES HIM WITH A RIGHT HAND AND DOWN HE GOES! Couple of hammer fists put him out and this is all over. Crowd go insane.

Pretty amazing win for Cody Garbrandt and it was much easier for him than I think anyone could’ve imagined, too – he just found that he had the much faster and crisper hands and he never really let Almeida get comfortable or come out of the blocks at all as he had in his previous fights. Styles make fights and I guess this was the perfect style clash for Garbrandt, who basically steals all of Almeida’s momentum now to vault right into the top ten. As for the people writing off Almeida, I don’t think that’s fair – he was beaten cleanly by a better fighter here for sure, but he’ll still bounce back and will still fight at the elite level for some time I think, this was just a rotten match for him and he needs to fix some of the holes in his game, namely defensive wise. Doesn’t make him a bust or anything by any means. At any rate, the show was crying out for a finish at this point and boy did this deliver. Tremendous main event.

-Show ends with Cody – wrapped in the stars and stripes – celebrating with Team Alpha Male.

Final Thoughts….

With a couple more finishes this would’ve been one of the better Fight Night cards of 2016 thus far, but five decisions before the main event dragged quite a lot even if none of those fights were bad or anything. Best fight was probably Larkin/Masvidal and worst was probably Burkman/Felder, but really the only truly memorable moment here was Garbrandt’s knockout and that’ll be on highlight reels for ages anyway, so it’s a thumbs in the middle, leaning down for this show, if only because of the insane length.

Best Fight: Larkin vs. Masvidal
Worst Fight: Burkman vs. Felder

Overall Rating: **1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: