MMA Review: #657: UFC Fight Night 137

-This was undoubtedly one of the most injury-hit cards of the year, with a ton of matches being scrapped after they’d been announced – including the main event of Jimi Manuwa vs. Glover Teixeira. That made it a total throwaway show, so I was just hoping for some decent action.

UFC Fight Night 137

Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Jimmy Smith.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Randa Markos vs Marina Rodriguez

Markos was looking to avoid losing two in a row here after dropping her last fight in disappointing fashion to Nina Ansaroff, while Rodriguez was coming in at 10-0 after a win on Dana White’s Contender Series. I’ve always seen Markos as underrated if massively inconsistent, so I was picking her to win – keeping up her run of winning one, losing one.

First round begins and Markos opens with a decent combo that backs Rodriguez up a bit. Big trade sees Rodriguez score with a right hand. They clinch up and Rodriguez forces her into the fence, and Markos looks for a head-and-arm throw, eventually using it to force Rodriguez down and take side mount in the process. Beautiful transition sees the Canadian take full mount, and she’s got Rodriguez in trouble. Short punches land for Markos as she works to control the newcomer, and the crowd are FURIOUS with this. Big shots begin to land for Markos and she’s still in firm control. Rodriguez manages to get to half-guard at least though. Mount again for Markos garners more boos from the crowd, but again Rodriguez regains half-guard. Side mount now for Markos. Round ends with Markos landing some solid elbows. 10-8 round for Markos as Rodriguez largely did nothing.

Second round and they circle before a wild brawl inside the clinch sees both girls land heavy shots. More uppercuts land for Markos as Rodriguez attempts to grab a plum clinch. Nice right hand from Rodriguez. Striking exchange continues with Rodriguez landing a few more blows, but nothing overly damaging. Markos finally looks for the takedown and forces Rodriguez into the fence, but she can’t get her down and the Brazilian escapes. Another clinch is shrugged off by Rodriguez and Markos might be tired. Rodriguez pegs her back with some combinations although they’re not landing cleanly. Brief exchange sees Markos land some solid shots of her own from close range. She’s still being outlanded in this round though. Couple more heavy exchanges end the round. 10-9 Rodriguez for sure.

Third round and Markos rushes Rodriguez with a combo in the opening seconds that leads into the clinch. Head-and-arm throw goes wrong this time though and Rodriguez takes her back. Markos immediately reverses, but she eats a hard elbow as she comes to her feet. Good dirty boxing answers for Markos but Rodriguez glances with a head kick. Big front kick into a superman punch lands for Rodriguez. Clinch follows but Markos can’t get the throw this time. Regular double leg takedown works though and the Canadian has Rodriguez on her back in half-guard. Markos does a good job from the top and moves into side mount, but Rodriguez hits a slick reversal to get on top before eating an upkick as she stands. Two minutes to go now and Markos is cut pretty badly. Nice leg kick from Rodriguez. Takedown attempt is defended by the Brazilian. Markos looks gassed here. They trade jabs and then Rodriguez lands some solid knees from the clinch to counter Randa’s dirty boxing. Rodriguez snipes at her from the outside some more, but she can’t finish and the round ends with a clinch. I’d say Markos just edged it, so 29-27 Markos overall.

Judges have it 29-28 Markos, 28-28 and 28-28 for a majority draw. Huh. I can see that I guess if you gave Rodriguez the third round and a 10-8 first for Markos, but I dunno, I just thought Markos did just about enough to win. Fight was perfectly acceptable and I feel like Markos definitely would’ve won had she not tired a bit in the third round. She still seems to not quite be living up to her potential to me so I hope she can get there in her next fight.

Bantamweight Fight: Renan Barao vs Andre Ewell

This was Ewell’s UFC debut and he was bringing in a solid 13-4 record with a penchant for exciting fights, but it was quite a step up for him to face even the 2018 version of Renan Barao. Despite Barao clearly being way past his prime, I still felt like he’d have enough to squeak out a decision against the newcomer.

Round One begins and the crowd HATE poor Ewell. They throw out some feeler strikes with both men landing, and it looks like Barao’s got Ewell hurt with a body shot. He looks to wade in…but Ewell DECKS HIM WITH A COUNTER and he’s in trouble! Barao manages to clinch to slow Ewell down, but Ewell reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own. Barao pops right back up though and pushes him into the fence. Nice takedown from Barao and he lands in the guard. He works into half-guard and lands some solid shots, including a couple of knees to the body. Looks like he’s going for an arm triangle, but Ewell does enough to avoid that. Full mount for Barao and he looks for an armbar after some punches, but Ewell manages to defend it really well and scrambles to his feet. Barao trips him right back down though and ends the round on top. 10-9 Barao as he dominated after being dropped.

Round Two and both men fire out some decent strikes with Ewell connecting nicely with his left hand. His one-two really has Barao on the back foot. Watching this it’s hard to believe that Barao was once the most feared striker in this division. Ewell is comfortably outlanding him in this round. More hard left hands and one-two’s land for Ewell and Barao just has no answer seemingly. Finally he tries a takedown, but Ewell defends it impressively. Barao keeps working and forces him down with a minute to go, but he can’t do a lot from the top before the round ends. 10-9 Ewell for the striking he displayed.

Round Three and again Ewell opens with a hard one-two. Barao’s face is all marked up from the shots he’s taken. Beautiful one-two snaps Barao’s head back and knocks him off balance. Another one follows. Barao’s chin is actually doing well to take these heavy shots. Combination lands and Ewell is owning him on the feet. Barao does come back with a body kick but it’s one shot and done and he immediately eats the left again. Ewell’s hanging his hands and everything now looking totally confident. Clinch is quickly shrugged off by the debutant. Decent right lands for Barao but Ewell grins at him in response and then nails him with the left. Barao’s in trouble here. He stumbles around by the fence but Ewell can’t quite land the killer shot. Left hand continues to land for Ewell and he then lands a head kick for good measure. He’s picking Barao apart. Seconds to go and a spin kick misses for Barao as does a flurry from Ewell, and they exchange to end the round. Got to be 29-28 for Andre Ewell.

Official scores are 29-28 Ewell, 29-28 Barao (!) and 29-28 for Andre Ewell to pick up a pretty big win in his UFC debut. Not sure how you could score that for Barao really as he got totally owned in the second and third rounds. I’d say this result definitely confirms what I’ve thought for a while – Barao is pretty much done, and it’s time for him to retire as he just can’t take damage like he used to and isn’t quick enough to trade on the feet any more. He could re-invent himself purely as a ground-based fighter I guess but I just think it’s a little too late for him. Ewell on the other hand fought REALLY well and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in an already packed division. Fight was a lot of fun if you ignore the slow downfall of Barao.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs Sam Alvey

This was Lil’ Nog’s first fight since November 2016 following a questionable USADA bust, but then he’d looked pretty shot prior to his last fight (a loss to Ryan Bader) anyway so I wasn’t confident he had a lot left anyway. Alvey meanwhile had beaten Gian Villante in his last fight and despite being a super-limited fighter, I still figured he’d use his trademark counter left hook to turn Nogueira’s lights out, sadly enough.

Fight begins and Nogueira presses forward but Alvey almost lands with the left hand. Both men glance on a couple more shots and it’s Nogueira who’s really pressing forward and feinting. Jabs connect for both and Nog misses with a big overhand left. Brief trade sees Nogueira land a good left hand. Another one follows and Nogueira seems to have found his range. He’s using the jab well to set it up. Low kick lands for Alvey but he takes an eye poke and Marc Goddard calls time. They restart and Nogueira continues to back Alvey up, dodging some big counters along the way. Nice jab from Alvey but Nogueira comes back with the left hook. One minute to go and Alvey is really being walked down now. Big left counter lands for Alvey but Nogueira takes it well. Another left follows for Alvey. Round ends with a nice left from Nogueira. 10-9 Nogueira, surprisingly enough – and his chin held up well too.

Into the 2nd and Alvey lands with a decent low kick. Nice overhand left from Nogueira and he backs Alvey up with a big left hand and a combo. Alvey is backpedalling now and Nogueira pours it on with some more big shots. Alvey manages to clinch, but he’s on the run now and Nogueira closes him down again and LEVELS HIM WITH A LEFT HAND! Alvey goes down HARD and that’s it!

Unbelievable – best Nogueira performance since probably his win over Tito Ortiz way back in 2011. Didn’t expect him to have this kind of showing in him at all but he hung in the pocket, forced Alvey back, took Alvey’s shots and then sealed the deal with some excellent boxing. I still think he ought to retire but at least the fight went this way rather than the other! I’d actually say this was one of the most memorable KO’s of 2018 even.

Welterweight Fight: Alex Oliveira vs Carlo Pedersoli Jr.

Super-weird matchmaking right here as Oliveira was coming off his biggest career win over Carlos Condit, but initially he was meant to fight Neil Magny, which would’ve worked, but Magny ended up taking the Buenos Aries main event against Santiago Ponzinibbio and so Pedersoli stepped in on late notice. Total squash on paper in favour of Oliveira, no offense to Pedersoli, as despite being unbeaten in his last 8 fights, his UFC debut did nothing to suggest he could take out Cowboy.

Fight begins and Oliveira looks totally confident. And it’s for good reason as he catches a kick and DESTROYS PEDERSOLI WITH A RIGHT HAND. Dude goes down HARD and Cowboy seals the deal on the ground in just over 30 seconds.

Well, at least Cowboy didn’t fuck around. This looked exactly like what it was meant to be – a massively dangerous finisher against a heavily overmatched opponent, and sure enough Oliveira got rid of him in very quick fashion. Hopefully he’s back in there soon against someone a little higher ranked.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Thiago Santos vs Eryk Anders

This was perhaps the weirdest main event of 2018 – even moreso than Khabib vs. Iaquinta – as both guys were coming in on late notice and were fighting a weight class higher than they would normally too, not that either guy was small for 185lbs. Santos was replacing Glover Teixeira, and Anders ended up stepping in on like a week’s notice to replace Jimi Manuwa. Tough fight to pick due to the circumstances but despite being a fan of Marreta I didn’t trust his chin and so I went with the punching power of Anders.

Round One and Santos circles on the outside with Anders taking the centre. Takedown from Anders follows a caught low kick, but they scramble and Santos throws him down for a second before they pop up into the clinch. Looks like Anders is working for the takedown again, but Santos defends with some knees to the midsection. Anders works into a rear waistlock and hits him with a good knee, but he still can’t get him down. Big crowd chant for Marreta as they break off. Hard body kick lands for him and a head kick follows but doesn’t land cleanly. Left hand connects for Santos. More kicks glance for the Brazilian as he’s finding his range now. Anders gets another clinch though and this time he gets Santos down for a second. Santos reverses right back up though again. Wild power shots glance for him and you can tell Anders is wary of the power. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Santos for the better strikes.

Round Two and a hard body kick lands for Santos. Looks like he might have Anders hurt. Santos swarms on him but Anders fires back and then goes for a single leg, but again he can’t get Santos down and in the end the Brazilian winds up on top dropping punches into the guard. He decides to stand over him to kick the legs instead, then drops some more punishment into the guard. More ground-and-pound for Santos but Anders reverses to his feet, and now they EXCHANGE BLOWS with both men landing heavily like a Rocky movie! Anders is breathing heavily. Exchange continues with both men just winging hard shots in there, including a savage body kick from Marreta. Really hard body kick leads to a big combination for Santos, and he narrowly avoids a takedown to continue to land more shots. Eye poke follows though and Marc Goddard calls time, which allows Anders some valuable recovery time. They restart and Anders gets a takedown, ending the round with a knee to the body. 10-9 Santos.

Round Three and Santos opens with some low kicks that have Anders’ right leg buckling. Big right hand connects for Anders though and that sets up a takedown to guard. He manages to hold Santos down this time and lands with some decent punches, taking the back in the process with both hooks. Rear naked choke looks sunk for a second and the crowd sound panicky, but Santos manages to avoid the submission. He scrambles and manages to get free, working to his feet in the clinch, and then he breaks with a HUGE left hand. Big head kick follows and Santos is swinging for the fences now with crazy power hooks. WILD EXCHANGE sees both men land again before Anders tries another takedown, but this time Marreta defends. Both guys look tired now. Another big exchange ends with a flying knee to the body for Santos, but Anders takes him down and goes for a choke. Marreta avoids that but winds up flat on his back in half-guard. Anders doesn’t do a lot with the position though and Santos gets to his feet, only to be taken down again. This time Santos works some hard elbows to the side of the head and gets back up, where he lands some knees to the body. Big elbows to the head follow and Anders goes down, still clinging onto the legs. More big shots connect and the round ends, but Anders can’t get up and Marc Goddard has to stop it there.

Brave performance from Anders but in the end he just couldn’t deal with the sheer power of Marreta however hard he tried. Fight was sloppy as hell but fantastic to watch as both men literally threw all they had at one another. Hopefully it doesn’t impact on Anders’ further career when he drops back to 185lbs, and as for Santos, I think he can do really well at 205lbs given there’s not really a lot of monster wrestlers in that division and those are the only types I’d take to really give him issues. I mean, his chin might still be shitty but even that could improve with a smaller weight cut. We shall see, but he’s definitely an exciting addition up there.

-Show ends with Marreta celebrating his big win.

Final Thoughts….

I was hoping for a nice action show from this one and it basically delivered, as all 5 fights were thoroughly watchable with the top three in particular giving us a ton of entertaining violence. Main event was the best fight on offer but really only Markos/Rodriguez was slow at times. It’s an easy thumbs up for this one then.

Best Fight: Santos vs. Anders
Worst Fight: Markos vs. Rodriguez

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman: