MMA Review: #661: UFC Fight Night 139

-This was being treated as a seriously big deal considering it was a Fight Night card, but it was for good reason as it was the UFC’s 25th anniversary show coming from the place that the whole thing started in 1993 – Denver, Colorado. Pretty fun-sounding card, too.

UFC Fight Night 139

Denver, Colorado

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Paul Felder. And we’ve got the ORIGINAL UFC GRAPHICS AND MUSIC and Fitzgerald even riffs on original announcer Bill Wallace burping! Fucking awesome throwback.

Lightweight Fight: Luis Pena vs Mike Trizano

These two men came off TUF 27, where Trizano ended up winning the season while Pena – AKA ‘Violent Bob Ross’ was sidelined with an injury. I didn’t know a lot about them to be honest but the word was that Pena was actually the most talented guy on the show so I was taking him.

Round One begins and the Octagon has the old UFC logo on the mat too, word. They trade kicks from distance to begin with Trizano working the low kick well. Couple of big swings miss for Pena. Right hand from Trizano clips him and he follows with a body kick too. Trizano’s doing a really good job of slipping Pena’s punches early on. More leg kicks have Pena looking a bit compromised. Takedown attempt from Pena follows and he forces Trizano into the fence, but the TUF winner remains on his feet. Pena keeps on working for the takedown but can’t get it, so he backs out and then throws a flying knee that glances to lead to another takedown attempt. Trizano decides to jump guard for a guillotine this time, but Pena slips free and winds up on top in guard. Into half-guard for Pena but Trizano reverses to his feet. Kimura attempt from a standing position follows for Pena, but Trizano avoids it even as he tries to drop into it ala Karo Parisyan. Round ends there, 10-9 Trizano.

Round Two and Pena comes up short on a couple of early strikes due to Trizano’s excellent head movement. Couple more low kicks land for Trizano and he stuffs a takedown attempt too. Decent left lands for Pena but Trizano counters with a right hook. Another takedown is stuffed by Trizano, but Pena forces him back into the fence and keeps going for it. Big elbows connect for Trizano as he defends, and Pena still can’t get him down. He does take the back and forces him down for a second, but Trizano pops right back up. Pena decides to jump on and put both hooks in for good measure, but Trizano looks super calm despite Pena coming close with a choke attempt. He does force Trizano down with a body triangle though and now Trizano might be in trouble. Choke attempt looks sunk for a second, but Trizano somehow manages to survive. Good job from Trizano as he spins over into Pena’s guard now, and he manages to rear up to drop a solid right hand. Triangle attempt from Pena is avoided, but the round ends with him trying a sweep. 10-9 Pena for that back control.

Round Three and Trizano opens with a solid right hand. Another one follows and Pena shakes his head, but he needs to land something of his own to win really. Nice combination from Trizano. More leg kicks follow and he connects on a counter left as Pena fires too. Takedown attempt is easily avoided by Trizano. Pena might be running out of steam. Head kick glances for Trizano. Clinch from Pena and he works really hard to trip Trizano down into guard. He postures up to drop some strikes, but Trizano hits a nice reversal and gets to his feet. Single leg from Trizano follows and he’s on top dropping punches now instead. Weird scramble sees Trizano manage to pass into side mount, and from there he goes for a guillotine. Pena avoids that and puts Trizano on his back, but he doesn’t really do a lot with the position. Trizano reverses to his feet, and Pena wings some big punches that largely miss. Combination connects instead for Trizano. Exchange sees Trizano come out on top again and that’s the fight. 10-9 Trizano for a 29-28 in my books.

Judges have it 29-28 Pena, 29-28 Trizano and 30-27 for Mike Trizano to take the split decision. Clearly the right man won there as I’m not sure how you’d give Pena two rounds. Bit of a disappointing match considering the hype on Pena, as he fought totally flat in the end, but maybe everyone was underrating Trizano, who knows? I doubt either man goes onto huge UFC success judging on this, but I could be wrong there I guess.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Maycee Barber vs Hannah Cifers

Youngster Barber – just 20 years old – had come from Dana White’s Contender Series and garnered quite a bit of hype. She was supposed to fight Maia Stevenson – wife of Joe Daddy – here initially but when Stevenson got injured, newcomer Cifers stepped in instead. I was taking Barber feeling the promotion would be looking to push her going forward.

First round begins and they exchange some early strikes with Barber looking pretty sharp. Right hook does land cleanly for Cifers though. Nice head kick lands for Barber and she tags Cifers with a combination. Clinch follows and they exchange before Barber tries a throw, but Cifers defends it. Barber presses her into the fence instead, and they trade knees before Barber adds in some elbows on the inside. They break off and a head kick land for Barber, forcing Cifers to clinch. Nice elbow from Barber again and she lands a knee and a couple of good punches too. Cifers seems to be struggling inside the clinch. Trip is avoided by her though and she lands with a right hand as they separate. Front kick glances for Barber but Cifers fires back with some punches. Barber clinches in response and NAILS her with an elbow, then adds another two slashing ones as the round ends. 10-9 Barber.

Second round and Barber opens with a quick combination and follows with a head kick. She’s clearly outlanding Cifers now. They clinch up and this time Barber slices Cifers open with some elbows and then gets a takedown. Oma plata attempt from Cifers is avoided and she’s bleeding like crazy. More elbows begin to get through for Barber and Cifers is in deep trouble. She keeps on scrambling to attempt to escape, but Barber remains on top and drops some BOMBS. Cifers is just pouring with blood now. More shots for Barber and finally the ref calls it off.

Close first round as Cifers fought hard but you could tell Barber was the far superior athlete and in the second round she just massacred her. Not sure how Barber does against the upper echelon of the division as it’s chock-full and you’ve got really tough gatekeepers like Felice Herrig and Cortney Casey before you even reach the elite, but she’s definitely due a step up after a showing like that. She’s literally got all the tools to be a big star. Post-fight she calls out Mackenzie Dern, but I can’t see the UFC booking that as they’re both top prospects. We shall see though!

Lightweight Fight: Beneil Dariush vs Thiago Moises

Dariush was originally pegged to fight Chris Gruetzemacher here in what was his comeback following his shocking KO at the hands of Alexander Hernandez, but when Gruetzemacher picked up an injury, Moises stepped in following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series. I was taking Dariush here but figured Moises had an outside chance if Dariush wasn’t right following his knockout loss.

First round begins and both men throw kicks to begin before going for a takedown. Moises decides to jump into a guillotine attempt, but Dariush slips his head free and begins to work with punches. Armbar attempt from Moises also doesn’t work and that allows Dariush to take his back, albeit with no hooks in. Knees to the legs land for Dariush but Moises manages to escape into the clinch. Right elbow lands in the clinch for Moises and he does well to defend a takedown attempt using a whizzer. Moises then attempts the same takedown, but Dariush also defends. Another guillotine attempt follows for the Brazilian, but Dariush works free and again begins to land punches from the top. Moises again works to his feet and this time they separate. Body kick lands for Moises but Dariush clinches again. Trip puts Moises down and Dariush takes the back, putting one hook in. Full mount follows and Dariush lands heavy punches until the round ends. 10-9 Dariush.

Second round and Dariush tags Moises with some strikes in the early going. Moises fires back with a partially blocked head kick, but finds himself against the fence again and Dariush then takes him down into guard. Into half-guard for Dariush and he does well to hold Moises down this time. Action slows down a bit as Dariush continues to work the Brazilian over with punches. Crowd seem more interested in WHOOOing like Ric Flair. Reversal puts Moises on his feet, but he can’t shake Dariush off him and the veteran takes his back with one hook. Crowd now begin to boo the lack of action and you can’t really blame them. Both hooks end up in for Dariush though and he gets the back fully and looks for the choke. Moises works to defend, and with seconds to go he looks like he’ll survive. Dariush keeps trying but he can’t get it and that’s the round. 10-9 Dariush.

Third round and Dariush lands a body kick but Moises fires back with a hard right. Big uppercut also lands for Moises but Dariush walks through it into the clinch. Another guillotine attempt follows for Moises but again Dariush frees his head and takes top position. Moises can’t do a lot from the bottom and Dariush takes his back with a body triangle this time. It looks like the choke might be sunk this time, but Moises manages to peel the hands off to survive. Action remains pretty slow as Moises continues to defend and then he manages to escape, but only to half-guard where he takes some more shots. Round ends with Dariush continuing to work him over. 10-9 Dariush and it’s got to be 30-27 overall really.

Judges have it 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26 for Beneil Dariush. Not sure he did enough for so many 10-8’s from the judges but it was clearly his fight as he just outgrappled Moises for three straight rounds. Pretty dull fight overall and it won’t move Dariush up the ladder, but I guess he was in dire need of a win and he got it.

Women’s Bantamweight Fight: Raquel Pennington vs Germaine de Randamie

This was Pennington’s return fight following her unsuccessful title challenge against Amanda Nunes in May, while GDR hadn’t fought since her controversial win over Holly Holm in February 2017, as she’d never defended her Featherweight title and had sat out since. I was taking Pennington here largely due to GDR’s layoff.

Round One begins and the crowd are well into Pennington as she’s a Colorado native. She forces GDR backwards from the off, but the Dutchwoman quickly fires back with a combination. GDR looks markedly bigger than Pennington. They exchange strikes from the outside before De Randamie lands a heavy overhand right. Clinch from Pennington forces her into the fence, but GDR won’t go down. We’ve literally got nothing going on here. GDR finally turns things around and puts some offense together, landing with some solid knees from the plum. Really good clinch work from GDR and you can see that Muay Thai experience shining through. Pennington might be outgunned here. She shows a lot of toughness though and forces GDR back into the fence, but she still can’t get her down. Seconds to go and they break, and a clean one-two connects for GDR. Pennington shoots, but it’s stuffed and the round ends there. 10-9 De Randamie.

Round Two and both women look to land with jabs, and then GDR defends a clinch attempt and forces Pennington into the fence with knees. Big right hand lands on the break and Pennington’s nose is bloody. Brutal right hand snaps Raquel’s head right back. Unsurprisingly she just eats the shot right up though. They exchange more jabs but it’s pretty clear that it’s GDR who’s more comfortable on her feet. Head kick glances for her to answer a right hand. Nasty left hand connects for GDR to counter a low kick. Clinch from Pennington and the action largely slows down again. Pennington lands some short strikes and tries to get GDR down, but she still can’t manage it and the Dutchwoman breaks with a left. Round ends with GDR pressuring Pennington with some strikes before almost being taken down, but she still remains on her feet. 10-9 De Randamie for the more meaningful offense.

Round Three and GDR opens with a hard low kick. Another one follows as she looks ridiculously calm on her feet. GDR backs her up some more with a lot of feints and a couple more low kicks, and it just doesn’t look like Pennington’s got much of an answer for it. Beautiful counter right hand connects for GDR. Takedown attempt from Pennington and she drives GDR into the fence again but still can’t get her off her feet despite her best efforts. She’s just not doing enough on offense from the clinch either really. Ref calls a break to warn GDR for an apparent groin strike, but Pennington decides to restart quickly. Clean left hand from GDR from the restart but Pennington goes for the takedown again. GDR continues to defend though and they exchange knees. GDR breaks with seconds to go and ends the round with some more strikes. 10-9 GDR and I’d go 30-27 for her.

Official scores are 30-27 all round for Germaine de Randamie. Pennington tried hard but simply had no answer for a better striker – both on the outside and from the clinch – and as soon as she couldn’t get GDR down it was clear who’s fight it would be. Dull fight overall but I think this probably puts GDR into title contention at 135lbs – not that I suspect the UFC will want her there after the farce that was her last title run.

Welterweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Mike Perry

Initially this just looked like a standard Cowboy action fight, but it quickly got VERY personal when Perry started throwing heat at Cerrone for leaving his longtime home at Jackson/Winkeljohn, and there were all sorts of rumours flying around as to what exactly had gone on. Personally I was leaning towards believing Cerrone, as obviously Jackson and Winkeljohn basically shit on Rashad Evans with the whole Jon Jones issue a few years back and he was a longtime student of theirs, but who knows really. I was actually taking Perry to win this as I worried that Cowboy’s chin might be cracked.

Crowd absolutely HATE Perry upon his entrance, literally booing the guy out of the building while Cerrone gets a hero’s welcome, no surprise there. Perry is a classic scumbag heel to be fair anyway.

First round begins and the crowd chant LOUDLY for Cerrone. Clinch from Cerrone as he dodges a big swing from Perry and they exchange some knees. Cowboy breaks off and Perry lands with a jab. Good leg kick lands for Cowboy and a couple of jabs follow. Takedown attempt is shrugged off by Perry. Wild swings miss for Perry again and Cowboy clinches, then breaks with a couple of knees. More jabs land for Cerrone and he follows with the body kick. Two minutes to go and they clinch again and this time Perry surprisingly trips Cowboy down into side mount. Cowboy quickly reverses though and gets on top himself in side mount. That was SLICK. Perry gives up his back and Cowboy pretty much mounts him, and from there he floats off into an armbar attempt. Perry avoids it and gets on top, but lands in a triangle and from there Cerrone switches off to an armbar and LOCKS IT UP and Perry has to tap. Looked like his arm might’ve popped.

Beautiful finish from Donald Cerrone and the announcers mention that he’s now got the record for the most UFC wins of all time AND the most finishes of all time which is insane. Dude might not ever win a UFC title but he’s a bonafide legend in my opinion. Post-fight he celebrates with his family which makes for an AWESOME SCENE and really the UFC could’ve main evented with this and it would’ve worked. Total show-saver too after a pair of slower fights.

Featherweight Fight: Chan Sung Jung vs Yair Rodriguez

Initially this would’ve seen the Zombie taking on Frankie Edgar, but the card got a boost – at least from an entertainment perspective – when Edgar was forced out and Yair Rodriguez stepped in to replace him. Sure, Edgar beat Rodriguez in 2017 but Yair is by far the more watchable fighter these days. Essentially this sounded like FIREWORKS between two of the most aggressive and reckless guys in the sport; I was picking Rodriguez as the Zombie was coming off a serious knee surgery, but it was a coin flip really.

Round One and a really nasty low kick from Rodriguez has Jung wobbled from the off. The Zombie comes back with some kicks of his own and they’re openly exchanging. Good combination from Jung and Rodriguez has to back off. Leg kick lands again for Yair. Couple more follow as Jung stalks forward. Right hand leads to a series of uppercuts for Jung but Rodriguez looks okay and he misses a huge head kick. Front kick to the jaw from Rodriguez. He’s throwing a ton of kicks. Flurry from the Zombie backs him up though. Counter left lands for the Mexican. Jung comes back with a stiff jab and a front kick to the face. Nice counter left from Jung as he’s beating Rodriguez to the punch right now. Big flurry from the Zombie has Rodriguez really backpedalling but he seems fine. Big left hand misses for Yair. Crowd are way into the Zombie and he continues to pressure Rodriguez before taking his back for a second on the buzzer. 10-9 Jung in a super-close round I’d say, as he landed the better punches mostly and was more of the aggressor.

Round Two and Rodriguez lands a jab but eats a combo on the counter. Superkick misses for Yair as Jung continues to pressure him with combinations. Spinning back kick glances for Rodriguez and Jung comes back with a body kick and a clinch. They exchange some short shots before Rodriguez lands a knee to the groin and ref Kevin MacDonald has to call time. They restart and the exchange continues with the Zombie as the aggressor. Nice leg kick lands for Rodriguez. Jab responds for Jung and snaps the Mexican’s head back. Combo from Jung but Rodriguez counters with a NASTY spinning elbow. Jung manages to clinch though and goes for the takedown, but Yair stays on his feet. Takedown is shrugged off by Rodriguez but he eats a jab. Weird hammer fist to the collarbone lands for Rodriguez. Big leg kick follows as Jung continues to walk forward. Couple of big swings miss for Jung. Flying knee into a high kick glance for Rodriguez and force the Zombie back, but Jung grabs a plum clinch although he can’t do anything with it. Both men land on the break and then Rodriguez glances with a back elbow. Big flurry ends the round for Jung. 10-9 Rodriguez for me as he seemed to land the harder shots.

Round Three and the Zombie has a busted lip. He still comes forward and forces Rodriguez back with his punches, particularly a stiff jab. Wild tornado kick just misses for Rodriguez. This is a hell of a fight. Cartwheel kick misses too and then both men land left hands. One-two from the Zombie is answered by a trio of body kicks. Low kick follows for Yair. Left hook-right hand combo answers for Jung. Another combo follows. He just keeps on walking Rodriguez down and landing his punches. More kicks force Jung back a little but the Zombie comes back with a right-left that has Rodriguez wobbled. He has to really back up and the Zombie keeps on coming with some more punches. Rodriguez comes back with a right hand but he’s definitely eating more shots in this round. Wild exchange sees both men swinging heavy shots. These guys are crazy. Stiff jab continues to land for the Zombie. Seconds to go and both men look marked up now. Superkick glances for Rodriguez but Jung comes back with a combo. Harold Howard rolling kick also misses for the Mexican and Jung lands a combo that stuns him to end the round. 10-9 Jung for sure in that round, putting him ahead 29-28.

Round Four and Jung comes out swinging right away. Big uppercut hurts Rodriguez but he somehow manages to shrug it off. Couple of low kicks from Rodriguez but the Zombie backs him up with more punches. Looks like Yair’s nose is bloody. Stiff combination backs him up again. Spinning backfist fires back but doesn’t land cleanly. Yair’s got blood pouring from his nose now. He catches Jung off balance and lands a combo, but the Zombie fires right back as he pops up. Jabs connect for both men and Yair lands with a body kick too. Big right hook lands for Jung. More combos from the Zombie and a BIG RIGHT HAND has Rodriguez hurt! Jung tries to charge in, but almost walks into a flying knee, and they clinch up with the Zombie breaking with a knee. Weird moment follows as both men talk to the ref and then high-five. No idea what happened there. Another big combo and a stiff jab connect for Jung. Jung is basically outboxing Rodriguez in this round. Body kick lands for Rodriguez and he tries to roll into a leglock, but Jung manages to hop away. Seconds to go and a nice right hand lands for Jung. Jab ends the round for him. 10-9 Jung and Yair might need a finish.

Round Five and they open with the BRO HUG and then get right back to firing at one another, with a couple of low kicks from Rodriguez being answered by a pair of big rights from the Zombie. Big exchange sees the Zombie crack Yair with a hard right. Spinning elbow from Rodriguez is met with another counter right. Jumping punch glances for Rodriguez. Huge combination lands for Jung but Rodriguez takes it well. This is literally non-stop action. Jab keeps on landing for the Zombie. Big takedown attempt from Yair is defended well by the Zombie and he nails Rodriguez with a left on the break. Right hand stuns Jung but somehow he just takes it. Random moment follows as they stop fighting to pose and then fist-bump before the Zombie lands a combo. Crowd are LOVING this. Wild exchange sees the Zombie crack Rodriguez with another two stiff jabs. Question mark kick glances for Rodriguez but Jung buckles him with a right hand again. Just over a minute to go now and neither man is slowing down at all. Big spinning backfist glances for Rodriguez. Jabs land for both men. Body kick from Rodriguez but the Zombie catches him with a combo. Crowd are going insane. Spinning kick lands to the chest of Jung. Seconds to go now and they stop again after another wild exchange and both guys raise their hands. Jung comes charging in with another combo but WALKS INTO AN UPWARD ELBOW AND HE’S OUT COLD ON THE BUZZER!~!

Holy shit. That might’ve been the craziest finish in UFC history right there as Rodriguez uncorked that elbow with literally ONE SECOND TO GO and snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat as he was pretty clearly leading to a decision loss I think. Slow motion replay shows he ducked downwards and then somehow threw an elbow upwards WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING and caught the Zombie right on the jaw and knocked him clean out. That’s fucking ridiculous.

So yeah, fantastic main event – I think it’s #3 in my best fights of 2018 behind Ferguson/Pettis and Poirier/Gaethje, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone calling it #1. It certainly had the best finish of the three fights. Just amazing stuff and when you consider Rodriguez took the fight on like two weeks notice it’s even crazier. Cannot wait to see him in there again – can we finally get the Zabit Magomedsharipov fight now? That’d be like a guaranteed classic.

-Show ends with Rodriguez barely able to celebrate due to what looks like a foot injury, which makes everything even wilder. Here’s to another 25 years!

Final Thoughts….

Show started pretty slowly with a trio of dull-ish fights in Trizano/Pena, Moises/Dariush and GDR/Pennington, but the two top fights delivered so hugely that the whole show was saved I’d say. Throw in the cool touches that the UFC did for the 25th anniversary deal and I’d say it’s a must-watch show, just skip over the slower fights if you feel like it. Thumbs up for this one.

Best Fight: Rodriguez vs. Jung
Worst Fight: Dariush vs. Moises

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: