MMA Review: #557: UFC Fight Night 92

-Weaker card for this show, but I guess it was to be expected coming in the middle of a wild summer schedule for UFC. Personally I was just hyped to see a UFC show in Utah following 2010’s debacle that saw them have to move the second Versus show on late notice due to ticket sales failing miserably. Of course, that show was on a SUNDAY so no wonder. This one was on a Saturday so boom, one more state done.

UFC Fight Night 92

08/06/16
Salt Lake City, Utah

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Maryna Moroz vs Danielle Taylor

Originally this would’ve seen Moroz taking on TUF veteran Justine Kish, but when Kish got injured, the much shorter Taylor – surely a more natural 105lber – took the fight on short notice. Obvious pick due to her UFC experience and size advantage was Moroz.

Round One begins and man is Moroz much bigger. Physically this is a mismatch. Lot of circling from Taylor early as Moroz takes the center of the cage and looks to jab from distance. Crowd begin to sound restless after practically two minutes of nothingness. Taylor just can’t get inside the reach. Inside leg kick lands for the newcomer but mostly she’s being kept at the end of Moroz’s punches, not that they’re doing that much damage. About 1:30 remaining and the fans are really pissed off with this. And it’s literally more of the same until the round ends, literally nothing to talk about aside from a decent Moroz right hand with about thirty seconds to go. Well, that sucked. 10-9 Moroz.

Round Two and again Moroz instantly takes the center of the cage. Wild swing misses for Taylor and she takes a hard right hand from Moroz. Looks like Moroz is more aggressive in this round and she pushes forward throwing strikes early on, but she can’t seem to catch Taylor enough to really hurt her. Overhand left connects for Moroz as one of the better strikes, but it’s pretty much a copy of the first round. Crowd are bored as hell before Taylor gets them going with a wild overhand right haymaker that wobbles Moroz, but somehow she seems okay and Taylor doesn’t manage to follow up with anything significant. Best shot of the fight, though. Moroz immediately comes back with some combinations that don’t land cleanly but do land, eating up more points. Just over a minute and another wild haymaker misses for Taylor. Moroz comes back with some more strikes from distance, and the round peters out on the feet. Crowd boo as it ends. 10-9 Taylor for that one haymaker.

Round Three and it’s pretty much a copy of the previous two rounds; Moroz stalking forward, Taylor dancing around on the outside and neither woman really able to land anything truly damaging on the other. This is one of the worst fights I’ve seen all year, unfortunately. Decent head kick lands for Moroz and seems to stun Taylor, but again she doesn’t follow up. Moroz just isn’t opening up all that much despite her clear advantages. More of the same with the best shot being a counter right from Moroz. Man this is a fucking yawner. Decent right hand connects again for Moroz as she dodges a haymaker from Taylor. Just under a minute to go and Moroz starts to throw a few more kicks, but nothing is saving this one. Nice slam from Taylor ends the round. 10-9 Moroz and 29-28 for the Ukrainian. Jon Anik calls it an “entertaining technical battle” which must be carny for crap.

Judges have it a split decision; 29-28 Taylor, 29-28 Moroz and 30-27 for Maryna Moroz, making her 3-1 in the UFC. Look, I hate to dog on these fighters as obviously they’re the best in the world right now, but sometimes the styles clash causes a stinker and so it was here, as Taylor couldn’t get inside the reach and Moroz didn’t really open up at all enough to make it entertaining. At the end of the day it’s about making people want to see you fight, and this didn’t do that for either girl.

Middleweight Fight: Trevor Smith vs Joe Gigliotti

This was Gigliotti’s UFC debut, following an unbeaten run of 7-0 on the regional circuit. Fighting out of the same camp as Ryan Bader and CB Dollaway, the word on him was that he was a powerful wrestler with power in his hands, but was perhaps too small for 185lbs. Opponent Smith seemed like a decent test for him and I figured if he could get past the StrikeForce veteran he could be in for a solid UFC career and if not, it’d probably be back to the regionals or down to 170lbs.

First round begins and Gigliotti comes out swinging before clinching and forcing Smith into the fence. Smith immediately spins him around and forces him back, leaning on the smaller man to wear him down. They exchange shots from inside the clinch with Gigliotti going to the body with uppercuts, but Smith stays on him and works a slick trip takedown. Gigliotti gives his back and Smith rides him from the side before hooking one leg to land some decent punches. Gigliotti works back up to his knees, and then to his feet, but he can’t shake the bigger man off him. Good knee to the body from Gigliotti as the crowd begin to boo again due to the clinching. Another takedown attempt follows for Smith but Gigliotti manages to stuff it. He remains against the fence though and takes some digging body punches. Dan Miragliotta calls a clean break with just over a minute to go and gives Smith a warning for grabbing the cage, and Gigliotti comes in swinging off the restart, but Smith grabs hold of him to slow him down and nails him with a hard knee. Takedown attempt from Gigliotti but Smith grabs onto a guillotine. Looks like Joe is fine though as he’s not inside the guard. Somehow though he rolls and almost ends up in a rear naked choke before spinning to take the back for a second. Smith spins into that and gives his neck for a guillotine, but he pops back to his feet and grabs Gigliotti in a front headlock before landing a knee to the top of the head. Looked illegal to me but it was a tight call. More shots in the clinch land for Smith and that’s the round. 10-9 Smith.

Second round and Smith looks supremely confident here. He grabs an early clinch again and this time he lands a knee that puts Gigliotti down. He takes some shots on the ground and then gives his back, and Smith gets both hooks in and begins to work for the choke. Good punches also connect for Smith as Gigliotti is firmly in survival mode now. Looks like he’s bleeding too. He turns over into mount for a second, but then gives his back again as Smith remains in control. Gigliotti stands with Smith on his back, then quickly gets forced back down. More punches from Smith and it looks like Gigliotti is gassed out too. Neck crank attempt from Smith but Gigliotti slips his head free. He shakes one hook off too, but Smith keeps the dominant position and continues to work him over. Scramble from Gigliotti only ends with him pretty much half-mounted. He’s taking so much punishment here as well. Somehow he works up to his feet, but Smith hits another easy takedown and takes the back again. No hooks for Smith but he drags Gigliotti around a bit and it looks like he’s just too big for Gigliotti to handle. Big elbow connects for Smith to the side of Joe’s head. Seconds to go and Smith looks to lock up a D’Arce choke, but he can’t quite finish it and the round comes to an end. Totally dominant round for Smith, clear 10-8.

Third round and Gigliotti predictably comes out swinging, but Smith smartly ducks under and hits a takedown to half-guard. Full mount follows pretty easily for Smith and it looks like he might be setting up an arm triangle. Gigliotti gets back to half-guard, but he takes some heavy shots to the body for his troubles. Crowd are booing but to be fair Smith is working hard. Big elbows connect for Smith but Gigliotti fires back with some of his own from his back. North/south now for Smith and then Gigliotti gives his back and takes some more hard blows. He manages to scramble to his feet, but Smith stays on him like glue again and works him over with some knees. Halfway through the round and they break, and Gigliotti tags Smith with some punches before Smith clinches again. More uppercuts land for Gigliotti inside and he breaks off, but Smith tackles him to the ground and right back into half-guard, much to the disgust of the crowd. From there he works with some more elbows and forearms before passing to take the back with both hooks again. Gigliotti rolls back to give up full mount, where he takes some more shots albeit nothing too damaging. Seconds to go and Smith begins to pour it on to look for the finish, but he can’t quite muster enough punishment and the fight comes to an end on the ground with Smith on top. 10-8 for Smith again so call it 30-25 overall.

Official scores are 30-26 all round for Trevor Smith. One-sided fight in the end as Smith was just too big and strong on the ground and in the clinch for Gigliotti to handle. Can’t fault Gigliotti for effort as plenty of guys would’ve been finished in those bad positions, but it wasn’t really an entertaining fight as it was too one-sided. Gigliotti probably needs a cut to 170lbs ASAP to save his UFC career methinks, while Smith takes a step up the ladder albeit not a massive one.

Welterweight Fight: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Zak Cummings

Both of these guys had been flying under the radar despite putting together pretty solid UFC records, actually – The Ponz had won his last two fights over Andreas Stahl and Court McGee by TKO, while Cummings was actually 4-1 in the Octagon with his only loss being to Gunnar Nelson. Tough fight to call but I was leaning towards the Ponz as Cummings seemed to be winning the majority of his fights simply due to his size, and the Ponz is a big 170lbs himself and he’d dealt with another grinding type in Court McGee impressively,

Round One and the Ponz circles on the outside before taking a couple of glancing kicks. Decent left hand lands for Cummings to back Ponzinibbio up a little. Good combo lands for the Ponz before he stuffs a takedown attempt really well. Neither man is landing much of note here really. Another decent left hand connects for Cummings but Ponzinibbio takes it well. Big head kick suddenly lands for the Ponz but somehow Cummings takes it without wobbling. Big left and right follow for the Ponz and it does look like Cummings might be hurt, but his chin is evidently strong as he keeps pushing forward. Right hand into a leg kick connects for Ponzinibbio, but Cummings comes back with a low blow and referee Herb Dean has to call time. It’s a couple of minutes before they restart, and with less than a minute to go neither man lands anything major until a wheel kick glances for Cummings. Takedown follows but Ponzinibbio springs back up. Round ends shortly after. Close round but I’d probably give it to the Ponz for that big flurry starting with the head kick.

Round Two and Cummings comes out swinging, but Ponzinibbio does a good job of avoiding the punches as he seems to have a speed advantage. Right hook lands for the Argentine and he clips Cummings with a left counter coming in. Left hand connects for Cummings in reply. Both men look a bit busted up now. Beautiful counter right connects for the Ponz. One-two follows and he’s backing Cummings up. Looks like Cummings has some bad swelling around the left eye. Body kick is just about blocked by Cummings. Ponzinibbio is clearly outlanding him now with cleaner punches even though he’s not throwing quite as many. Big head kick is blocked by the Ponz. Eye poke from Cummings is apparently missed by Herb and so they have to continue. Sharp right hand connects for Ponzinibbio and he stuffs another takedown attempt. Another right follows right down the middle. Wild swing misses for Cummings and the Ponz makes him pay with a counter right. He’s landing more and more now while slipping Cummings’s punches. Straight left lands well for Cummings, but the Ponz counters on him a couple more times, ending the round with a right before dodging some punches. 10-9 Ponzinibbio for me, not the most exciting fight, though.

Round Three and Ponzinibbio blocks an early head kick and then shrugs off a takedown before landing a clean right hand. More movement and counters work for Ponzinibbio and he throws a head kick that Cummings narrowly blocks. Another straight right lands flush for the Ponz and now he’s really backing Cummings up. Another combo and a stiff left jab land for Ponzinibbio and Cummings is now bleeding from the nose. Ponzinibbio is really picking him apart now. One-two lands cleanly for him. His striking is looking great. Two minutes to go and it doesn’t look like Cummings has an answer really. Exchange sees both men land but Ponzinibbio cracks him with a really good right that forces him to slow down. Not sure why Cummings hasn’t looked for more takedowns really. Hard left hand lands for Cummings but the Ponz’s chin holds up well. One minute to go and Ponz answers with a straight right. Exchange continues and the Ponz still has the advantage with the better shots. Cartwheel kick misses for Cummings by a mile and that’s it. I’d go 30-27 for Ponzinibbio.

Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Santiago Ponzinibbio. For the Ponz’s standards this actually wasn’t that great to watch, even if it was a really good performance from him as he basically picked Cummings apart standing using his superior speed and movement from start to finish. I’m honestly not sure why Cummings didn’t attempt to grapple more, but then to be fair he had two takedowns stuffed and it wasn’t like Ponzinibbio was presenting a static target for the takedown. Better than the opening fight but this wasn’t great or anything unfortunately, as it’s hard to get into a Cummings fight just because he’s so dull as a character, no offense.

Middleweight Fight: Thales Leites vs Chris Camozzi

Despite Camozzi coming off a bunch of wins and Leites coming off a loss to Gegard Mousasi, I saw this as probably the most one-sided fight on the card, as despite all his improvements, Camozzi had been dealt with by Jacare with incredible ease twice and I’d class Leites as basically Jacare-lite. My pick was Leites via an arm triangle in the first round.

Fight begins and Leites stalks forward before dropping for a single leg. Camozzi stuffs it, but winds up in the clinch where he forces the Brazilian into the fence. Leites works for an outside trip, lacing up Camozzi’s left leg, but some good balance allows Camozzi to remain on his feet. Leites keeps on working though and he manages to take the back standing before looking to drag Camozzi down. Looks like a fence grab from Camozzi but ref Dan Miragliotta ignores it. Leites throws one hook in from the back and attempts to hop on, and finally with two minutes to go he drags Camozzi down and slaps both hooks in. Camozzi stands with the Brazilian on his back, and he’s in big trouble here. Good job from Camozzi to shake off the hooks, but it’s only momentary as Leites trips him down and then goes right back into the lemur position on Camozzi’s back. This time Leites slaps on a body triangle and begins to work for the choke while softening him up with punches. Less than a minute to go and Camozzi continues to defend the choke even when it looks sunk a couple of times. Camozzi attempts the somersault escape with seconds to go, but he lands on his back as the buzzer sounds. Round was all Leites and Camozzi had zero offense, so I’d call it a 10-8.

Into the 2nd and Camozzi opens with an inside leg kick. Leites looks to get inside though and then shoots on a double leg and drives Camozzi into the fence. Bodylock takedown follows and he lands in half-guard. Camozzi manages to get to butterfly guard, but he can’t shake Leites off him. D’Arce attempt from Leites goes awry, but he takes the back in the scramble that follows and gets both hooks in again. Camozzi just can’t get a thing going at all here. Body triangle from Leites and he continues to soften Camozzi up with punches while working for a choke. Camozzi manages to get rid of the hooks for a moment but it isn’t long before Leites slaps them back in and takes the dominant position again. More punches land for Leites and the round concludes with him in firm control. Clear 10-8 round for Leites as again, Camozzi did nothing but defend.

Third and final round and Camozzi comes out swinging, but Leites smartly backs up out of the way and clinches. Guillotine attempt (!) from Camozzi and then he separates and lands with a solid right hand. Leites comes back with a trip takedown though and plants him on his back in guard. Crowd boo that but hey, it’s hardly like Leites has been laying and praying. Guard pass follows for the Brazilian and he’s got full mount. Camozzi turns onto his side and then gives his back, and unsurprisingly Leites slaps both hooks in again. Camozzi continues to defend the choke but he takes some more punches before Leites finally sinks the choke in, and this time Camozzi has to give up the ghost and tap.

Fight went exactly how I expected it to, although Camozzi was able to survive for a bit longer than I expected. He got practically no offense in though as Leites was able to take him down pretty easily and then ran a clinic on him on the ground. Good win for Leites who can probably take another crack at the top ten now, while Camozzi settles back into his role as a usually reliable action fighter. This was one-sided but it was watchable purely for the ground wizardry of Leites.

Featherweight Fight: Dennis Bermudez vs Rony Jason

To me this was the best fight on the card as Bermudez is one of the most exciting guys on the whole roster to watch and Rony Jason – admittedly I’m biased due to his TUF Brazil history as I loved that season – tends to bring the action too in all of his fights. He’d been on a massive layoff here following a controversial drug ban in early 2015, while Bermudez had last been seen grinding a decision out over Tatsuya Kawajiri. Despite Bermudez having better wins and a higher rank, I was going for the upset here actually – I just felt like Dennis always leaves himself open and while Jason isn’t the best Featherweight in the world he is a very ruthless finisher.

Round One begins and they circle before Jason throws a flying knee that doesn’t land cleanly. Couple of front kicks to the body land for Bermudez to keep the distance. Body kick lands for Jason. Jason actually looks like the bigger man here. Superman punch into a body kick both glance for Bermudez and he’s really pushing forward. Counter right connects for Jason though as he dodges a head kick. Beautiful leg kick from Bermudez set up by a right hand, and another one spins Jason around completely. Takedown follows for Dennis and he goes into the full guard. He looks to stack up but Jason kicks him away, throwing some upkicks for good measure. Bermudez drops back into the guard and this time Jason looks to tie him up before turning for an armbar. Bermudez avoids it well and stands to shake off a possible triangle too. Lot of pressure from the top for Bermudez now and he avoids another triangle attempt. Series of elbows get through for Bermudez and it looks like Jason is badly busted open. Jesus Christ that’s a lot of blood. More elbows follow for Dennis and it looks like he’s got a partial mounted crucifix. Jason avoids that but he’s sporting the crimson mask now and Bermudez continues to abuse him with thudding elbows. Big right hand gets through and Jason might be in trouble. He’s in survival mode as he covers up and then manages to use his guard to slow down the onslaught, but Bermudez continues to do damage until the round ends. Pretty clear 10-9 for Bermudez, close to a 10-8 in fact due to the sheer damage done.

Round Two and Jason opens with a body kick. Bermudez tries some sort of wild kick, but Jason counters perfectly with a right that seems to drop him. Bermudez evidently wasn’t hit too hard though as he manages to complete a takedown and immediately takes the back, too. One hook in for Dennis and he begins to work for the choke as Jason looks like he might be wilting a bit. He’s opened wide up again too. He shakes off the hooks, and stands back up only for Bermudez to keep hold of him and drop for another single leg. Jason works to defend, but eats a right hand as they separate. Slick leg kick from Bermudez lands, set up by a right hand. Flying knee misses for Jason in reply. Body kick and a right to the body land for Jason but Bermudez fires back with a leg kick. He manages to follow with a single leg to guard too and Jason’s on his back eating shots again. Brilliant escape this time from Jason allows him to scramble to his feet, and he counters a low kick with a glancing overhand right. Slam from Bermudez puts him back down though and he lands in half-guard right by the fence. Reversal allows Jason up and he manages to separate. Another body kick connects for Jason as Bermudez bulls forward. One minute to go and Jason connects on a right hand counter, but Bermudez pushes through it and goes for another takedown. Jason somehow avoids it though despite being lifted off his feet twice, and separates again. They trade some pretty wild strikes before Bermudez ends the round with an exclamation mark – a huge slam. 10-9 Bermudez and Jason is going to need a finish for sure.

Round Three and both men get the crowd going pre-round, quite rightfully so as this has been the best fight thus far by a mile. Big right hand to the body opens the round for Dennis and another sharp leg kick follows. Jason comes back with a flying knee, but Bermudez takes it well and swings right back in a brief exchange. Another leg kick connects for Bermudez. He follows with another but takes a counter en route. Bermudez continues with the leg kicks, really working Jason over with them, and Jason to me looks a little gunshy for fear of the takedown. Bermudez shoots from miles out though and it allows Jason to sprawl and attempt a guillotine or anaconda choke. Bermudez avoids though and they come back to their feet. Superman punch connects for Bermudez. Wild trade sees Jason clock Dennis with a left hook, but his chin holds up well. Takedown is shrugged off by Jason as both men continue to wing haymakers. Jason swings some really wild shots and that allows Dennis to duck under, but Jason hits a switch and takes top position, taking full mount too! Crowd go wild as Bermudez gives his back and Jason looks for the rear naked choke, but Bermudez manages to survive. Jason sits up to deliver some punches and then goes for the choke again, but he can’t get it and Dennis manages to spin over into the guard. Immediately he pays Jason back with some hard elbows, too. Jason is busted open again and Bermudez continues to pound on him for the final minute before they stand on the buzzer. Better round for Jason but it still goes to Bermudez and I’d call it 30-26.

Sure enough it’s a unanimous decision for Dennis Bermudez, 30-27, 30-26 and 30-27. Jason tried, but once he got busted open in the first round he was always on the back foot really. This was an excellent fight – by far the best one thus far on this card – as Bermudez somehow managed to avoid getting caught by a very dangerous and underrated opponent in Jason while still using his wild, aggressive style, and that made for fifteen exciting minutes. Post-fight Bermudez calls out Frankie Edgar for UFC 205 in MSG and hey, that could work as it goes. As for Jason I hope he gets in there again soon because despite this loss he’s still got top fifteen potential in my opinion.

Featherweight Fight: Yair Rodriguez vs Alex Caceres

When this was announced as the main event I found it a bit baffling to be honest, as while Rodriguez had looked fantastic in all of his fights since winning TUF Latin America, and Caceres had shown flashes of brilliance on a number of occasions, neither man was really close to the top ten and neither man has freakshow or name value as we usually see with UFC main events. Part of me thought it was cool to have two exciting prospects in the main event but another part felt quite sorry for the fans in Salt Lake City. Maybe revenge for 2010? Ha, I digress, anyway – for me this felt like Rodriguez’s fight to lose, as he seemed slightly better than Bruce Leeroy in all areas, but his wildness is always a bit of a worrying thing which meant it wasn’t quite a nailed-on pick.

First round begins and Caceres opens with a leg kick. Hook kick misses for Leroy as Rodriguez seems to be gauging the distance. Superman punch connects for Caceres. Leaping body kick lands for Rodriguez but a follow-up right hook misses. Head kick also misses and Leroy comes back with a spin kick that also misses. Tornado kick narrowly misses for Rodriguez. This is like a video game, and we’re only a minute in! Head kick lands for Rodriguez but Caceres takes it well and dodges another, only to eat a hard right hand. Big head kick glances for Pantera. Spinning punches (!) just about miss and Caceres has to briefly clinch before breaking off. Good combination lands for Caceres. Both men land with decent right hands before a huge head kick is just about blocked by Leroy. Back elbow misses for Rodriguez and Caceres gets his back, but Rodriguez rolls for a leglock and both men end up back on their feet quickly. Crowd are way into this. Good leg kick from Rodriguez. Lunging right misses for the Mexican. Wild kicks clash for both before Leroy lands with a hard leg kick. Tornado kick just about glances for Rodriguez. Another spin kick misses. Leaping punch misses for Leroy and Rodriguez hits him with a jumping switch kick into a takedown (!). Leroy pops back up but gives his back standing, before managing to exit, narrowly avoiding a head kick. Side kick to the leg from Rodriguez sets up a low leg kick variant. Beautiful step-in right hand connects for the Mexican. Round ends with a missed spinning backfist from Rodriguez. Well, that was something! 10-9 Rodriguez.

Second round and both men clash legs on kicks, sending Caceres down although he pops right back up. Wild spinning attack misses for Rodriguez and then he attempts a cartwheel kick that misses too. It’s like he’s got nothing in his toolkit outside of wild highlight reel type stuff. Both men continue to miss before Rodriguez glances on a low kick off a missed axe kick. Jumping left punch glances for Caceres. Beautiful combination lands for Rodriguez but Bruce Leroy clinches and opens up himself. Wild moment follows as Rodriguez swings for a literally running Caceres. This is such a weird fight. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Rodriguez and he lands a pair of lefts, normal punches even! Caceres comes back with a hard left of his own, but gets backed up by a few more kicks. Flying knee misses for Pantera. They exchange side kicks and Caceres throws and misses a backhand before Rodriguez clinches. He can’t get a takedown though so he separates with an elbow as they continue to throw wild kicks. Hard left connects for Rodriguez but he slips in doing it. One minute to go and a lunging left lands for Caceres but he gets backed up by some more kicks from Rodriguez including a nasty one to the body. Combo backs Leroy up too before he ends the round by firing some kicks of his own. 10-9 Rodriguez again for me, but how he’ll keep this pace up is a mystery.

Third round and Rodriguez opens with a nice spin kick to the body. Caceres is doing a decent job of dodging a lot of these wild kicks though. He fires back with a couple of his own and lands with a solid straight right. Combo backs Bruce Leroy up though and Rodriguez follows with a knee. Caceres manages not to get hurt though and escapes from the clinch. Straight left followed by a leg kick lands for Rodriguez. Couple of shots land for Caceres and suddenly they trade pretty wildly with both men landing punches. Insane spin kick from Rodriguez misses but allows him to land a low leg kick. Right hand answers for Caceres as they continue to swing and snipe at each other from distance. Clinch from Caceres and he exits it with a right, but Rodriguez fires right back with a superkick (!). Nice combo from Caceres backs Rodriguez into the fence and he follows with a heavy knee to the body. Rodriguez tries to swing back but Caceres tags him again with a clean right. Another one connects too and now he’s avoiding the wilder shots from Pantera. Clinch follows and Rodriguez rolls for a possible leglock again, but this time Caceres scrambles and gets on top in guard, landing some strong punches through. Oma plata attempt is avoided by Caceres and he drops some more heavy shots to a big crowd pop. Few more shots get through as Rodriguez tries to return fire from the bottom, and that’s the round. 10-9 Caceres.

Fourth round and Caceres walks through some early kicks in an attempt to close distance, but Rodriguez shrugs him off quickly. Really sharp outside leg kick connects for Rodriguez. High kick from Caceres but Rodriguez almost spins out of the way of it. Right hand lands for Pantera. Another one follows and sets up a glancing head kick. Nice clipping left from Caceres. Body kick answers for Rodriguez. Exchange continues and it appears that Rodriguez is getting the better of it again. Caceres lands with a pair of hard rights though before taking a sharp one from the Mexican. Combination follows for Rodriguez. Left from Caceres knocks him off balance but he seems okay. Nice combo from Rodriguez has Caceres covering up momentarily. He fires back with a body shot. Big counter left lands for Caceres but Rodriguez replies with a right. Leg kick from Rodriguez. Couple of wild swings miss for Caceres but he does connect on a knee to the body from the clinch and an uppercut. One minute to go and the exchange continues with both landing pretty clean shots. Beautiful right hook from Caceres connects with about 45 seconds to go. Rodriguez lands with a stiff jab and a hard right hand. Both guys are looking a bit tired now. Double punch (!) from Caceres and he misses a spin kick on the buzzer. Pretty tight round but I’d probably go 10-9 Rodriguez, leaving him three rounds up going into the fifth.

Fifth round and they begin with the dreaded BRO HUG before Caceres lands a combo and Rodriguez charges at him swinging but doesn’t really land. Clinch from Rodriguez but Caceres forces him into the cage and looks for a possible takedown. Rodriguez avoids it, but Caceres lands with a decent pair of right hands. Knee separates for Rodriguez and he nails him with another from a brief plum clinch. Body kick follows before Rodriguez snaps his head back with a right hand. Another head kick follows. Leroy fires back but another combination connects for the Mexican. Nice trip takedown from Caceres shifts the momentum though as he lands on top in half-guard. Scramble from Rodriguez allows him to slip free though and then he gets the takedown. Caceres uses an oma plata to sweep to his feet and we’re back standing. Awesome sequence. Clinch is broken by a left from Rodriguez this time before referee Herb Dean calls time to snip some tape off Rodriguez’s glove. They restart with Caceres landing a clean straight left. Slick combination from Caceres ends in a body kick. Spinning attack misses for Rodriguez as both men continue to fire off at one another. Can’t fault their pace. Big combo from Rodriguez sends Caceres on the retreat, but he fires back with a right hand that tags Rodriguez as he lunges in. Wild elbow attempt from Rodriguez misses and Caceres clocks him with a left. Pair of hard leg kicks from Rodriguez. Crowd are LOUD as they continue to trade off. Seconds to go and the exchange continues with both men landing and Rodriguez partially connecting on a rolling kick (!) on the buzzer. 10-9 Rodriguez by a hair and I’d say it has to be his fight, though you could argue the fifth for Caceres to go with the third.

Official scores are 49-46 Caceres (?), 48-47 Rodriguez and 48-47 for Yair Rodriguez via split decision. Not sure how the hell the first judge gave Caceres four rounds out of five, that’s baffling to me. At least the right guy won in the end. This was a pretty crazy fight in the end with so much stuff being thrown like it was straight out of a video game, unorthodox spinning strikes, jumping twisting kicks, literally everything you could think of really. Neither man really came close to a finish which let it down slightly but it was a lot of fun and Rodriguez did just enough to edge the win, but I don’t think Caceres let himself down at all and both guys probably have a bright future. I just hope they don’t rush Rodriguez too much because he’s got so much potential that it’d be a shame to throw him to the wolves too quickly. Along with the previous Jason/Bermudez fight this basically saved the show.

-Show comes to an end with Rodriguez leaving in celebration.

Final Thoughts….

Not the best show for the Utah debut unfortunately – while the main event was a lot of fun and Jason vs. Bermudez was a really solid fight too, the rest wasn’t good at all, ranging from just about acceptable (Smith/Gigliotti, Ponzinibbio/Cummings) to downright terrible (Moroz/Taylor). The last two fights are definitely worth a look but it’s a show to avoid overall. Thumbs down for this one.

Best Fight: Rodriguez vs. Caceres
Worst Fight: Moroz vs. Taylor

Overall Rating: **

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com