MMA Review: #615: UFC Fight Night 117

-You weren’t about to find a weirder main event than this one – initially it was supposed to be a rematch between Ovince St. Preux and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, but when Shogun got injured on late notice, the replacement the UFC tabbed was….Yushin Okami, who’d most recently been seen in WSOF….at 170lbs. At least the card had a couple of other good fights to make up for it.

UFC Fight Night 117

Saitama, Japan

-Your hosts are Todd Grisham and Dan Hardy.

Flyweight Fight: Jussier Formiga vs Ulka Sasaki

This fight was elevated to the main card when the show lost Mizuto Hirota vs. Charles Rosa thanks to a horribly botched weight cut by Hirota, but personally I wasn’t that bothered as Formiga/Sasaki was the better fight anyway. I was taking Formiga as despite his disappointing loss to Ray Borg in March, he’s still a sick grappler on another level to Sasaki.

Fight begins and Sasaki absolutely towers over the Brazilian. Good low kick from Formiga and he’s staying on the outside trying to avoid the long reach of Sasaki. Counter right hook lands for Formiga. Another big overhand right connects for the Brazilian. Sasaki tries to clinch, but Formiga quickly muscles him off. Body kick lands well for Sasaki. Clinch follows and he lands a knee before Formiga breaks off. Step-in knee from Sasaki is countered by a short right hook. Sasaki continues to fire strikes from the outside, but Formiga catches a kick and counters with a right hand. Double leg from Formiga and he manages to get Sasaki down in the center of the cage and drops into side mount. Sasaki recovers guard, but Formiga instantly cuts into half-guard. Full mount follows and then Sasaki gives his back which is a MAJOR ERROR against Formiga. Body triangle is locked in and Formiga immediately begins to work for the choke. Sasaki tries to stand up with the Brazilian on his back but he can’t shake Formiga off, and he locks the choke down to force the tapout.

Pretty great performance from Formiga as he did fine on the feet with a far taller opponent, then got the takedown and finished him off pretty easily. Why Sasaki would ever give his back to Formiga I don’t know given the guy probably has the best back control and chokes in the division. Assuming Demetrious Johnson keeps on defending the belt I could see Formiga finally getting a title shot with one more win maybe; I’d like it as he’d be like the final opponent for DJ from that generation of fighters. Fun opener.

Featherweight Fight: Teruto Ishihara vs Rolando Dy

Talk about a step down in competition for Ishihara, who had been one of the top prospects at 145lbs before a pair of bad losses to Artem Lobov and Gray Maynard. Dy wasn’t anywhere close to even their level, as he’d debuted in the UFC in June with a loss to Alex Caceres and only seemed to have a UFC contract due to being from the Philippines. I was taking Ishihara by knockout.

Round One begins and Ishihara comes forward before they trade kicks. Big left hand suddenly drops Dy and he’s in big trouble. Ishihara swarms on him and drops some big shots to attempt to finish, but Dy does enough to survive, getting to full guard and clinging on to slow Ishihara down. Couple more big shots land for Ishihara and then he looks to lock up a guillotine before Dy uses the fence to stand back up. Ishihara brings him back down with a single leg and keeps dropping punches and elbows. Dy is getting mashed here. Action slows down a bit as Ishihara seems content to just keep Dy down and land punches from half-guard. Dy gets back to full guard but continues to take abuse. Round ends with more shots from Ishihara. Clearly a 10-8 round for him as Dy got hurt, nearly finished, and had zero offense.

Round Two and Ishihara walks Dy down looking totally confident. Big body kick lands for Ishihara but Dy connects on a low blow and the ref has to call time. They restart and Ishihara connects with the left hand again, but takes a big head kick in response. Takedown attempt follows for Ishihara but Dy blocks it well. Good low kick from Ishihara but Dy fires right back with a flurry. Low kick from Ishihara is countered by a crisp combination from Dy. Superman punch glances for Ishihara. Exchange continues and it’s looking pretty even now as Dy’s timing has gotten a lot better. If anything Dy’s getting the better of the striking in fact. Big counter left lands for Ishihara, but Dy fires right back and this is becoming a bit of a brawl. Clinch from Ishihara but Dy breaks quickly. Series of low kicks connect for Ishihara later in the round, but Dy’s still looking to counter. Beautiful left hand counter connects for Dy. Body kick follows and leads into a combination. Round ends there. Close round to score actually, I’d probably give it to Dy 10-9 in fact.

Round Three and Dy lands a big body kick, Ishihara fires back with a combo but Dy drops him to a knee with a knee! Takedown attempt follows in response for Ishihara but he can’t get the Filipino down. Couple of low kicks land for Ishihara and he follows with a left, but takes a nasty low blow. Ref calls time and sounds furious as Ishihara hits the deck pretty badly. They restart and Ishihara stalks forward, but takes some strikes in another exchange. This could easily end up as a draw if Dy can pull the round out. Big head kick lands for Ishihara though to set up a clinch, but Dy muscles him off. Head kick stuns Ishihara and forces him to dive for the takedown, but he can’t get it and somehow recovers quickly. Big exchange sees ANOTHER low blow from Dy and the crowd are booing now too. That was horrific. Ishihara looks like he’s in a ton of pain. Ref decides to take a point this time which is fair, but also probably means Dy can’t win without a stoppage. They restart and Ishihara gets a takedown and that probably seals it if he can keep Dy down. Ishihara tries to posture up but gets kicked away, and Dy pops up to his feet. Another takedown attempt follows but Dy defends it this time and breaks off. Ishihara comes right back in for the takedown but again it’s stuffed. Good low kick from Ishihara as Dy stalks forward. Decent right hand lands for Dy. Dy keeps on pushing forward, but can’t land the killer blow despite glancing on a head kick, and the round ends in an exchange. Probably Dy’s round by a hair but it’s 9-9, which means 28-27 for Ishihara overall.

Judges have it 28-27, 28-27 and 29-27 for Teruto Ishihara. Pretty fun fight in the end; it looked like it’d be a whitewash for Ishihara after that first round but then Dy shook off the cobwebs, found his range in the striking and largely took over, and probably would’ve come away with a draw at worst had he not hit that low blow. Ishihara remains a work in progress then, but he’s charismatic and fun to watch so the UFC will definitely look to build him I think.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Gokhan Saki vs Henrique da Silva

Considering he had an MMA record of 0-1 and hadn’t fought since 2004, Saki had a LOT of hype coming in….but of course, it was valid as this was his transition into MMA following an incredible kickboxing career in K-1 and Glory, where he’d become one of the baddest kickboxers on the planet. There were a ton of questions around his move to the UFC, naturally around his ground game, but given ‘Frankenstein’ da Silva was more known as a brawler, this felt like a debut tailor made for the Turkish Tyson.

Fight begins and da Silva walks right into a combination. Saki is firing off right away here. The Brazilian keeps bombing forward but he takes a couple of heavy shots from the Turkish Tyson. Big head kick glances for Saki and he drops da Silva with a straight left, then forces him to stand. Takedown attempt from Frankenstein and he drives Saki into the fence, but the Turk defends it well and manages to shake him off. Da Silva pushes forward again and it looks like Saki’s going for the knockout now as he’s just firing one shot at a time. Huge left hand from Saki lands to the body and he connects on a low kick too. Saki continues to land and then he hurts da Silva with a shot, forcing him backwards. Looked like the Brazilian was trying to claim an eye poke in fact. Saki doesn’t care and UNLOADS on him with a flurry of punches, but somehow Frankenstein stays standing. He’s badly busted open now. Da Silva manages to clinch, but Saki shrugs him off again. Another takedown attempt follows but Saki defends it well again and he throws him off. Frankenstein comes back with a trio of solid knees though and now it does look like Saki might be slowing down. He still lands a combo though. Da Silva runs forward into some left hands, but Saki’s dropping his hands now for sure and he’s backpedalling. Spinning backfist glances for Frankenstein and he lands a combo into a glancing head kick. Saki looks exhausted. Clinch from da Silva leads to another knee and a flurry of clean, nasty elbows, then opens up with a big flurry…but he gets too open and Saki DESTROYS HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK!~! Ref stops it before he even needs to follow up.

That was a hell of a fight in the end – Saki looked like he was going to win comfortably in the early going, but he tired out really badly and da Silva’s chin allowed him to get back into the fight to the point where he appeared to be taking over…until that nasty left hook turned his lights out. Not sure how far Saki can go in the division – not everyone will be as willing to strike with him like da Silva was, although to be fair I think his gassing probably had a lot to do with ring rust, but he definitely makes for some fun fights and I can’t wait to see him in there again.

Lightweight Fight: Takanori Gomi vs Dong Hyun Kim

To avoid any confusion this was Gomi facing ‘Maestro’ Dong Hyun Kim rather than the Stun Gun of Welterweight fame. Maestro wasn’t as well-regarded as his namesake as he only had one UFC win to two losses, but given Gomi’s totally deteriorated at this point – he’d lost his previous FOUR fights – was unfortunately having to pick the Korean to win. It’s so sad to watch Gomi stepping in there now.

First round begins and they circle with Gomi coming up short on some early punches. Body kick glances for Kim. Another one follows to back Gomi up a bit, and the Maestro circles out and then drops him with a right hand! Few punches on the ground finish Gomi off and that’s that.

Yeah, totally sad to watch. It’s a name win for the Maestro but I mean, you can’t take anything from a win over Gomi in 2017, sorry. The Fireball Kid has since been cut by the UFC but I haven’t heard anything about him retiring which is worrying – he needs to stop now for his own health really. Realistically he hasn’t looked good since what, 2010’s KO of Tyson Griffin? And even then he was arguably past his prime. It’s just not nice to see a legend keep going down like that.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Claudia Gadelha vs Jessica Andrade

Major fight here – you could probably argue this should’ve been elevated to the main event when Shogun dropped out in fact. Both women had come up short against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but they’d looked pretty unstoppable against everyone else and so the winner would definitely put themselves back into title contention. I was picking Gadelha as I felt she just had a more technical, clean game, but it was a tight one to call for sure.

Round One and they circle, with Gadelha landing a stinging right hand to begin. Big combination lands for Claudia but Andrade takes it well. Couple more hard punches land for Claudia from close range. Andrade swings back but she looks a little slower than Gadelha. Absolutely beautiful combination lands for Gadelha although the head movement of Andrade prevents her from being badly hurt. Gadelha is looking fantastic thus far. Andrade bulls forward swinging, but again she gets beaten to the punch. Clubbing right hands land for Andrade, but Gadelha grabs the back of her head to land a series of shots and Andrade is BADLY busted up, blood absolutely pouring from her forehead. Gadelha separates from the clinch and lands with another combination. Andrade walks through another combination to get to the clinch, and from there she hits a HUGE BODYSLAM, but Gadelha pops up and goes right into a guillotine! Andrade manages to free her head though and she drops down into the guard. Nice upkick from Gadelha but she takes some sweeping punches from the top. Andrade drops into half-guard to land some shots, and she opens up with some really good ones in fact. Seconds to go and Andrade remains on top working hard. Round ends there and goes to Claudia, 10-9, despite Andrade’s excellent finish.

Round Two and Claudia’s left eye is badly busted up. Big exchange sees both women land and then Gadelha tackles Andrade to the ground. She pops right back up though and switches for a takedown of her own, but Claudia reverses and almost takes the back. Andrade avoids and stands back up, before Gadelha breaks with a knee. Big takedown attempt from Gadelha is blocked and Andrade lands some hammer fists to the head and then just tosses Claudia onto her back to land some more ground-and-pound. She looks unbelievably strong in there. Big shots land for Andrade and this might be the bloodiest women’s fight I can ever remember. Big knee to the body lands for Andrade as Claudia gets up, and she separates with a hard right hook. Big exchange sees both women land but Andrade seems to be able to walk through Claudia’s big shots to land some of her own. Huge combination from Andrade and Claudia might be in trouble here. She’s mixing in some leg kicks nicely too. Deep breaths from Claudia and she looks really tired. Single leg is blocked by Andrade and she forces Gadelha down and continues to bomb on her. Andrade looks amazing. Claudia’s face is a MESS. Andrade continues to walk her down and flurry on her even as Claudia tries to fire back. Takedown attempt follows but Gadelha jumps into a guillotine attempt…but she can’t seal the deal before the round ends. 10-9 Andrade in a hell of a round for her.

Round Three and they begin with a hug before Andrade stalks forward. She opens up with a combo only for Claudia to fire back, evidently having recovered a little. She looks far slower than she did in the first round though. Clinch from Andrade and she forces Claudia into the fence and works some knees to the midsection. Another HUGE SLAM follows and she dumps Claudia down and takes side mount. Andrade hammers the body as Claudia gets to half-guard, and man, even Joanna Jedrzejczyk didn’t dominate Gadelha like this. Full guard for Claudia now but she looks exhausted and takes some more shots. Back into side mount for Andrade and she’s showing absolutely no sign of slowing down either. Claudia rolls in an attempt to stand, but Andrade hangs heavy on her and continues to beat the body up. Andrade takes the back now and holy shit Claudia is a MESS. She stands, but Andrade keeps landing on her. Arm-in guillotine attempt from a standing position is shrugged off and Andrade flurries on her again. Round ends with another slam from Andrade. 10-8 round for me so 29-27 for Jessica Andrade.

Official scores are 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27 for Jessica Andrade. This was one of the most exciting women’s fights in UFC history I’d say; up there with Tate/Zingano, Zingano/Nunes and Jedrzejczyk/Gadelha. Claudia came out REALLY aggressively and took the fight to Andrade, busting her up, but the difference seemed to be that Andrade could shrug off Claudia’s best power shots and was able to hit her harder and outmuscle her in the clinch and on the ground. Gadelha gassed too but it was probably due to the damage she took more than anything else so I don’t think you can criticise her cardio really. Fantastic fight and Andrade should probably be facing the winner of the Namajunas/Jedrzejczyk rematch – I don’t even think she needs another fight in the interim unless she wants to stay active as this was such an amazing performance.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Ovince St. Preux vs Yushin Okami

So yeah, Okami was stepping in to replace Shogun on pretty late notice following a run at 170lbs, and basically it probably came down to the fact that he was Japanese and could secure a work visa easily more than anything else. Despite OSP’s clear limitations this one seemed like a squash in favour of him purely due to the ludicrous size difference.

Fight begins and to be fair Okami doesn’t look out of shape at 205lbs or anything. He shoots right away, but finds himself forced onto the bottom by OSP, and looks to pull half-guard. St. Preux settles into top position fully and looks for a mounted guillotine, but he can’t quite get it. Okami then makes the error of grabbing OSP’s head with his own guillotine attempt, and everyone knows you DON’T DO THAT with OSP and sure enough he locks up the VON PREUX CHOKE and Okami passes out.

Post-fight they finally christen the choke the VON PREUX as that one was the THIRD he’s pulled off in UFC action and Dan Hardy doesn’t seem to remember who Jason Von Flue was anyway. Basically a squash which was what everyone was expecting anyway. Total waste of time but the submission was cool I guess.

-Show pretty much ends there right after the post-fight interview.

Final Thoughts….

Total b-show but for what it was, this was fine. None of the fights were boring, we got a low-end FOTYC between Andrade and Gadelha, and then a handful of highlight reel finishes from the likes of Saki, OSP and Formiga. Kim’s KO of poor Gomi was sad but that was always to be expected anyway. Surprising thumbs up in the end then even if it’ll be totally forgotten by the end of 2017.

Best Fight: Andrade vs. Gadelha
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: