MMA Review: #651: UFC Fight Night 134

UFC Fight Night 134

Hamburg, Germany

-Your hosts are John Gooden and Dan Hardy.

Lightweight Fight: Marc Diakiese vs Nasrat Haqparast

This was Diakiese’s comeback fight following a pair of disappointing losses in 2017, and he’d joined American Top Team for good measure to attempt to turn things around. I actually figured he would given Haqparast had just one UFC fight on his record – a dull loss to Marcin Held. On a side note Haqparast is basically a CLONE of Kelvin Gastelum, it’s literally scary.

Round One begins and they circle with Haqparast landing a low kick. Crowd are way into Haqparast. Few jabs and kicks from Diakiese keep Haqparast at range, and he puts a couple of decent combos together too. Nice left hand connects for Haqparast and it backs Diakiese up a bit. Beautiful left to the body from Diakiese. Flurry from Haqparast backs the Brit up again. Diakiese seems pretty nonplussed though. Big flurry lands for Haqparast and this time Diakiese looks stunned. Haqparast keeps on swinging and Diakiese might be in trouble here as he’s outright running away. More hard shots from close range keep Diakiese on the retreat. More pressure from Haqparast ends the round. Diakiese did well early on but once Haqparast worked out how to cut the cage off the round was all his.

Round Two and a heavy counter right lands for Haqparast. Diakiese comes back with a pair of high kicks that are narrowly blocked. Haqparast is still cutting off the cage well although he takes a couple of shots on his way in. Eye poke by Haqparast forces the ref to call time. They restart and a pair of lefts land for Haqparast, but Diakiese chops him with a leg kick. He’s on the run though and the crowd fucking HATE that. Haqparast continues to cut him off though and land shots from the outside. Dude’s footwork looks tremendous. More of the same follows and Diakiese is trying, but he’s just being outlanded by a heavier striker. Nasty left hand connects for Haqparast and Diakiese’s right eye appears to be damaged. Left staggers Diakiese with seconds to go and Haqparast hurts him with the follow-up and puts him down, but the round ends shortly after. 10-9 Haqparast for sure and Diakiese can barely get up to get to his corner.

Round Three and again Haqparast uses his punches to back Diakiese up, cutting off the cage again in the process. Diakiese just doesn’t seem to have an answer to the movement of Haqparast. The left hand of Haqparast is basically landing at will here. Takedown attempt from Diakiese fails and Haqparast throws him off to a big pop. Couple of punches land for Diakiese but then he gets hurt by a series of short punches and goes down. Haqparast looks to put him away and takes the back in the process, but the Brit does well to stand and escape free. Left lands again for Haqparast. If nothing else Diakiese has a rock solid chin. More of the same follows with Haqparast continuing to walk Diakiese down and hit him with combinations. Couple of low kicks also have Diakiese hurt towards the end of the round, and the fight ends shortly after. Got to be Haqparast’s fight.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 for Nasrat Haqparast. Pretty clear-cut in the end as Diakiese just had no answer for the way Haqparast was able to cut off the cage and walk him down with the left hand again and again. Really good showing for Haqparast and he’s clearly someone I underestimated. As for Diakiese I think he still has potential but he probably needs to close the holes in his game rather than rely purely on his athleticism if he wants to go further. Fun fight though.

Welterweight Fight: Danny Roberts vs David Zawada

Roberts was initially pegged to fight Alan Jouban here, but when Jouban dropped late on, local fighter Zawada took the fight instead. Despite Zawada bringing a decent reputation and an unbelievably cool nickname – ‘Sagat’, as in the Street Fighter character! – I was going for Roberts due to his superior experience – 4 UFC wins.

Fight begins and Zawada presses forward as they exchange some early strikes. Good exchange sees Roberts land a solid left to the body. Clinch and Zawada tries a throw, but Roberts avoids it and then looks for a standing guillotine, forcing the newcomer into the fence. Zawada gets free but they remain clinched, until Zawada muscles free. Another exchange follows and Zawada tries some kind of jumping attack that doesn’t really work. Clinch again but Zawada fucks up a throw and lands on the bottom in half-guard. Full guard now for Zawada and he goes for a triangle, but Roberts shrugs it off and drops a couple of hard shots. Leglock attempt now from Zawada and he almost sneaks out the back door, but Roberts avoids that to retain top position. More ground-and-pound follows for the Brit and he passes into side mount when Zawada tries a triangle. Good job from Zawada to get back to guard though. Elbows from half-guard land for Roberts but he has to defend an armbar on the buzzer. 10-9 Roberts.

2nd round and Zawada tags Roberts with some early strikes but he seems fine. Exchange continues and they get pretty wild with both men landing shots, and then Zawada looks for the takedown and gets it. Roberts works back to his feet, but Zawada lands a throw this time and drops into side mount. Nice stuff there. Roberts scrambles, gives his back, and then manages to reverse, landing on top in guard. Short elbows connect for Roberts from the top and then he traps Zawada’s left arm to deliver some unanswered shots. Leglock attempt almost lands a sweep for Zawada but Roberts blocks and remains on top. Beautiful sweep does work for Zawada moments later and now he’s in top in half-guard. From there he lands some shots, and then drops for a guillotine as Roberts scrambles. The Brit escapes and gets back on top, but Zawada works to his feet. Nice reversal as Zawada takes the back off a failed takedown attempt, and he ends the round on top. Close round but I’d probably go 10-9 Zawada.

Final round and they trade with strikes from the off with Roberts landing a couple of solid leg kicks. He looks tired though. Zawada tags him with some punches but he looks pretty gassed as well to be fair. Wild takedown attempt fails for Roberts and Zawada goes for a D’Arce, and it looks deep. Roberts works REALLY HARD to avoid it and it looks like he’s got enough space to survive, but he does end up on the bottom as he pulls free. Side mount for Zawada and then he goes for the anaconda choke as Roberts scrambles, but again he can’t get it. Wild scramble sees Roberts get on top now and he drops some decent elbows. Leglock attempt allows Zawada to sweep, and they really battle for top control with Roberts getting it. Zawada keeps going for the leg, but Roberts elbows the hamstring and almost gets full mount. Somehow he winds up giving his back though, and these guys are really scrambling now. Finally Roberts gets on top again and continues to drop punches. Zawada looks EXHAUSTED. Big punches land for Roberts and it looks like he might be setting up an arm triangle. Zawada avoids that but it looks like he can’t get off the bottom now. More elbows land for Roberts but somehow Zawada sweeps him over! Seconds to go and they scramble up to their feet, and Zawada hurts Roberts with some strikes, but can’t get him down and Roberts lands punches from the back as the buzzer sounds. That was a GREAT ROUND. No clue how to score it either, so I’d actually go 10-10 for a draw.

Official scores are 30-27 Zawada, 29-28 Roberts, and 29-28 for Danny Roberts to take the split decision. And weirdly enough you could make a case for any of those scores being right I think as it was such a back-and-forth fight. Well, I came into this one expecting nothing or at the best, a squash for Roberts, and yet it was a fantastic fight with both men giving literally everything they had, and they went back-and-forth for the full 15 minutes. Amazing stuff and it’s made me want to see both men fight again, which is what you want from something like this, right?

Heavyweight Fight: Marcin Tybura vs Stefan Struve

These two Heavyweights were coming off losses – Tybura to Derrick Lewis and Struve to Andrei Arlovski – and were looking to bounce back, but there were a lot of question marks around both men due to those losses. I was taking Tybura given how bad Struve’s takedown defense had looked against Arlovski, but it was hard to call given the unpredictable nature of Heavyweight.

Fight begins and they exchange some low kicks before Tybura hits a double leg to guard. Action slows down a ton from there as Tybura looks to work from the top while Struve ties him up. This is slow as fuck. Ref finally calls a stand-up with about 1:30 to go and they trade some more low kicks. Good combination lands over the top for Tybura and he’s seemingly having no issues with Struve’s reach. Exchange continues and then Tybura hits a double leg to end the round. 10-9 Tybura.

Second round and Tybura opens with an overhand right. Struve puts a couple of combos together but he’s just not doing enough to keep Tybura at range. Easy double leg lands for Tybura again and he’s on top in guard. Few punches land from the top for Tybura and he shrugs off a triangle attempt to pass into side mount. Quick ref stoppage follows due to Struve using his toes to grip the fence, and they restart with Tybura in firm control with some knees to the body. Big elbow lands for the Polish fighter. Reversal allows Struve to his feet and now both men look a bit tired with Struve bleeding from the mouth. Front kick to the face stuns Tybura, but he manages to clinch to slow Struve down. Big knee breaks for Struve and now he stuns Tybura with a combo, but the Pole responds with a double leg attempt. Struve works to defend it, but Tybura slams him down into side mount anyway. Round ends there with Tybura in control. 10-9 Tybura despite Struve’s striking, as most of the round was on the ground with Tybura on top.

Into the third and Struve opens with a hard front kick to the body. More kicks from Struve allow him to keep Tybura at distance early on, and he continues to pick at him from the outside despite taking a couple of low kicks. Crowd begin to boo midway through the round as it’s slow going. Good job from Struve to block a takedown attempt, but Tybura goes for another one and this time he trips him down into half-guard. From there Tybura works with punches as Struve manages to get full guard. Big shots begin to get through for Tybura with less than a minute to go and he ends the round on top. 10-9 Tybura and I’d go 30-27 overall.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Marcin Tybura. He did well to consistently take Struve down and he had no real issues with Struve’s reach and length, but this was a dull fight to watch as Struve really didn’t offer much on offense outside of that one flurry in the second round, and Tybura didn’t really come close to a finish or anything. Didn’t do a lot for either man really.

Middleweight Fight: Abu Azaitar vs Vitor Miranda

Debutant Azaitar was bringing a pretty badass reputation into the UFC – and a record of 13-1 looked pretty good – but a lot of that reputation came from an apparent background as a dangerous gangster and criminal. Hey, everyone deserves a second chance I say so I’ve got no real issue with it. Miranda meanwhile was on a two-fight skid and I thought this was a setup for Azaitar to win.

Round One and Azaitar throws some strikes from the outside, landing a couple of really good shots to the larger Miranda as he circles around. Azaitar chains his combos together really well, swarming forward with hooks although Miranda still looks calm. Two minutes in and Miranda’s barely thrown a thing. Azaitar continues to land winging hooks to the head and body and if he had insane power this would probably be over. Dude leaps in and out with hooks like his fellow Moroccan Badr Hari. Reactive takedown lands for Miranda though off a low kick and he holds Azaitar down in guard. He moves into half-guard but doesn’t do a lot offensively outside of keeping Azaitar grounded. Pro-Azaitar crowd are hating this. Reversal from Azaitar puts him on his feet, and after a wild scramble he goes crazy on offense, really swinging for the fences as Miranda tries to avoid. 10-9 Azaitar as Miranda did nothing when he had top position.

Round Two and Azaitar appears to have slowed down considerably. He still fires off with a couple of nice combinations early on though. Couple of good knees land for Miranda from the clinch but Azaitar comes right back with more wild power hooks. Low takedown attempt from Miranda puts Azaitar down when he tries an odd rolling reversal. Mount from Miranda and Azaitar might be in trouble. Arm triangle attempt from Miranda and he slides into side mount, but Azaitar powers his way out and stands. Nice job there. Another hook misses for Azaitar and Miranda tackles him with a single leg. Full mount follows for the Brazilian and he tries to take the back, but again Azaitar simply powers out and gets into top position in Miranda’s guard. Sheer athleticism and strength is getting Azaitar through on the ground. Action slows down from there and the ref calls a break…but Azaitar lands a hammer fist anyway and earns a warning. They restart with Azaitar landing a couple of looping punches, but now Miranda fires back a bit more. Takedown attempt fails for Miranda and Azaitar spins to the back and bombs on the head. Miranda manages to move enough to survive, but that looked bad for him. 10-9 Azaitar.

Round Three and both men look quite drained. Surprisingly Azaitar hits an easy double leg in the opening seconds and puts Miranda on his back. Did not expect that at all given what’d happened in the first two rounds. Armbar attempt from Miranda from the bottom looks good though and Azaitar’s in trouble! The Brazilian really cranks on it, but Azaitar manages to do enough to survive and then goes for an inverted triangle when Miranda gets on top. Miranda avoids that quite easily and takes north/south, before Azaitar gets his guard back. A triangle attempt is avoided though and that puts Miranda in side mount. Crowd are still into Azaitar but he looks gassed to me. Just over a minute to go and Azaitar hits a surprising sweep into top position, landing in Miranda’s guard, and then he gets a second wind and lands some hard punches. Miranda gives his back and Azaitar gets his hooks in for a second, but can’t capitalise and Miranda ends the fight on top swinging. 10-9 Miranda but call it 29-28 Azaitar overall.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Abu Azaitar. Fight was perfectly decent if sloppy at times and I’m interested to see Azaitar again as his striking looked quality, although his ground game definitely needs work – you can’t just power out of stuff against better grapplers in the UFC like he was doing here. With that said, on this show with so many decisions already another one was pretty frustrating to see in this fight.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Corey Anderson

Big fight at 205lbs right here – Teixeira was initially pegged to fight Ilir Latifi here but when the Sledgehammer withdrew, Anderson stepped in hoping to pick up the biggest win of his career. Despite Teixeira losing to Phil Davis in a way that Anderson was more than capable of reproducing, I was taking the Brazilian to win here as I just felt Anderson was too defensively porous to last the distance.

Round One begins and Anderson throws some jabs, but Teixeira lands a combination and then easily stuffs a takedown. Glover wades forward again, but this time Anderson lands a couple of shots of his own and then goes for the takedown. Teixeira works to defend, but Anderson keeps forcing him into the fence. He can’t get Glover down though and they break. Couple of kicks from Anderson back Teixeira up, but he fails on another takedown. Exchange continues and Glover clips him a couple of times before blocking another takedown. Anderson’s not doing badly in these exchanges though. He puts a solid combo together and then finally gets Glover down by the fence. Full mount follows, surprisingly enough, but Teixeira gives his back to reverse to his feet. German suplex puts him back down, and Anderson slaps one hook in. Teixeira again stands back up, but again Anderson works to tackle him back down. Once again Glover pops back up though and this time he breaks free. Beautiful uppercut lands for Anderson as Teixeira comes forward. Anderson’s striking is looking good. Seconds to go and another takedown lands for Anderson, but Teixeira catches a guillotine and looks to lock it up…but the buzzer sounds just after. Not sure how close that was. 10-9 Anderson.

Round Two and Teixeira opens with a big combination that backs Anderson up, but Corey fires back with an uppercut. Big takedown from Anderson follows, but Teixeira reverses back up and looks for a double leg of his own. Anderson defends it well and pins him into the fence, then has to block another takedown attempt. Another one gets blocked by Anderson and he tries to grab a front facelock, but Teixeira escapes up only to eat a left hand. Big swings from Glover but Anderson stays in the pocket and fires back, and a left hand has Glover wobbled! He goes down and Anderson spins to the back and lands some more shots, forcing the Brazilian to roll onto his back in half-guard. This is a hell of a showing from Anderson thus far. Full mount from the TUF winner and Teixeira looks to turn his back, but Anderson uses a single hook to keep him down and continue to punch him. Both hooks in now but Teixeira reverses free and takes Anderson’s back standing. Anderson spins free, and they trade big punches with Anderson again getting the better of it. Massive surprise in that sense. Another takedown follows for Anderson and he lands in half-guard. Round ends with Anderson continuing to punish him. 10-9 Anderson.

Round Three and Anderson lands a couple of kicks and tags Teixeira with another combination coming forward. Anderson’s striking has improved so much. Takedown attempt follows but this time Glover avoids it. Couple of big shots miss for Teixeira but he does stuff another takedown attempt. Anderson keeps trying though and finally manages to muscle him down. He takes the back and gets one hook in, but Teixeira shakes his way free and breaks off. Nice quick combo from Anderson. Big knee follows and Teixeira might be hurt. He lunges for a takedown but Anderson stuffs it and takes the back instead, landing more solid punches. Glover rolls over onto his back and gets half-guard, and then gets another reversal to his feet. Anderson takes him right back down though and lands in half-guard. This time Anderson does well to keep him grounded and manages to take the back, but Teixeira somehow muscles back up again. Seconds to go now and they break, and Teixeira swings for the fences but Anderson clinches him and muscles him around. Spinning elbow (!) lands for Anderson and he gets a takedown, but Teixeira reverses to take top position on the buzzer. 10-9 Anderson, 30-27 overall.

Official scores are 30-27 all round for Corey Anderson. Real eye-opening performance from him as I expected him to struggle on the feet and yet he actually landed the better strikes than Teixeira and never looked as uncomfortable in the pocket as he once did. He basically just outworked Glover from the first minute until the last. Fantastic career-best showing from him and hopefully he can continue the upward trajectory as 205lbs is such a thin division. Fight wasn’t the greatest of all time but it was watchable enough.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Mauricio Rua vs Anthony Smith

Another injury-hit fight, this should’ve seen Shogun taking on former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, but when the Swiss fighter was forced out, Smith stepped in on late notice after trashing Rashad Evans in June. Despite Smith looking good in that fight and Shogun looking near the end of his career, I was still taking the PRIDE legend as Smith was only just coming off a bad loss to Thiago Santos in February.

Fight begins and they circle tentatively with Rua pushing forward. Leg kick lands for Shogun but Smith comes back with one of his own. Smith looks fucking HUGE considering he was a former Middleweight. Overhand right glances for Shogun. Couple of glancing punches keep Shogun at range, and he follows with a front kick to the jaw. Shogun fires back, but a left hook hurts him and he’s in trouble. Big flurry from Smith and Shogun’s all over the place! MASSIVE PUNCHES knock him silly and only the fence keeps him standing, and it’s over.

Big win for Smith in terms of name value, and FINALLY the dude gave this show a finish so credit to him, but I honestly think this tells us more about Shogun and where he is than Smith being the new hot thing at 205lbs. Remember this isn’t a young up-and-comer – dude is 30 and has been fighting since 2008 – and he was comfortably beaten at 185lbs by Thiago Santos this year. I just think unfortunately, Shogun should probably have retired a while back and there was no reason for him to take this beating really. Onwards and upwards for Smith then but I don’t think he gets past Volkan Oezdemir this month myself.

-Show ends with Smith celebrating his big win.

Final Thoughts….

Whew. My first thought? That show was a massive slog to get through. Only Struve/Tybura was an outright bad fight per say but with 5 decisions out of 6 the show just felt like it lasted for days, and that’s never a good thing, as it means that even very good fights like Roberts/Zawada end up being forgotten. Thumbs down overall but each fight alone (outside of Struve/Tybura) wasn’t bad at all if that makes any sense.

Best Fight: Roberts vs. Zawada
Worst Fight: Tybura vs. Struve

Overall Rating: *3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: