MMA Review: #687: UFC Fight Night 154

-This was the UFC’s first show in South Carolina, leaving only a handful of US states to do now! It wasn’t the best card on paper at all to be fair, but the main event of the Korean Zombie vs. Renato Moicano did sound pretty cool.

UFC Fight Night 154

Greenville, South Carolina

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

Middleweight Fight: Alessio Di Chirico vs Kevin Holland

Holland was on a two-fight win streak coming into this one, and Italy’s Di Chirico was on the same run too, meaning the winner of this one would be propelled up the Middleweight rankings. I was taking Holland as he’d impressed me more in his previous fights.

Round One begins and Di Chirico lands with a low kick. Holland wades his way into the clinch with some punches and they jockey for position with Holland landing some knees. They break off and Holland comes up short on some punches, but does land a chopping low kick. Big strikes for both come up a bit short before Di Chirico lands a hard combination that Holland takes well. Flashy kicks allow Holland to clinch again, and they exchange from there with some short blows. One minute to go and Holland breaks with a missed spinning elbow. Nice combination from Holland forces the Italian back. Head kick glances for Di Chirico. Big elbow from the clinch has Holland hurt, and then Di Chirico catches a knee and dumps him to the ground. Holland kicks him away and the round ends in an exchange. Close one to call, maybe 10-9 Di Chirico by a hair?

Round Two and they trade low kicks before Holland clinches again. Crowd sound a bit annoyed now as they exchange short strikes from inside. Quick break from Di Chirico sees him land a combo, but they quickly clinch up again just after. This is a horrible round. Elbow breaks for the Italian. Big takedown from Holland but Di Chirico pops right back up to his feet and lands a hard right hand. Holland circles away and it looks like he could be hurt as Di Chirico wades in with punches before missing a flying knee. He does clinch from there and Holland is wincing from something. Di Chirico breaks and Holland lands a decent right, but he’s in a strange stance now which could indicate some kind of shoulder injury. Kick is caught by Di Chirico who can’t quite follow it up, but he does land a decent left hook to end the round. 10-9 Di Chirico and it looks like Holland’s right shoulder is hurt.

Between rounds Holland’s corner apparently pop his shoulder back into the socket as he LIES TO THE REF that he’s fine.

Round Three and it’s pretty visible that Holland’s right arm is fucked up. Couple of kicks open things for Holland as he looks to keep his distance. Crowd are now openly booing the lack of action here. Brief exchange sees Holland land a left hand. Couple more lefts land for him as he’s doing practically nothing with his right hand. Di Chirico has really slowed down his output now for some reason. Good leg kick lands for Holland. He’s somehow keeping Di Chirico at the end of his strikes with one arm. Boos are unanimous now. Couple of bigger shots get through for Di Chirico but he’s so low on his output that he’s losing this round. Takedown does work for him with seconds to go but Holland works up and that’s the fight. 10-9 Holland, 29-28 Di Chirico overall.

Judges somehow all have it 29-28 for Kevin Holland. Not sure about that scoring as I thought Di Chirico clearly took the first and second rounds, but fair play to Holland for managing to fight through a shitty injury to win a fight in the UFC. Not worth watching again as it was a largely dull fight, but whatever.

Women’s Flyweight Fight: Andrea Lee vs Montana De La Rosa

The last time we’d seen De La Rosa she’d extended her win streak in the UFC to 3-0 with a win over Nadia Kassem, while Lee had last been seen in February beating veteran Ashlee Evans-Smith. I was taking Lee in this fight feeling she was more skilled all-round.

Round One begins and they trade jabs to open with Lee landing a couple of decent low kicks too. Lee’s hands are looking pretty sharp. Stiff jab wobbles De La Rosa, who comes back with a nice takedown, where she laces up the legs from the top. Lee scoots right back to the fence and stands, and they remain clinched with Lee connecting on some knees before she separates. Body kick is caught by De La Rosa and she hits a takedown again, but Lee again reverses to her feet. De La Rosa tries to get her back down, but fails on it and Lee separates with a combination. Clinch from De La Rosa but she can’t get Andrea down and she eats some shots from close range. Stiff jab lands again for Lee as does a heavy knee from the clinch. Takedown attempt from Lee follows and she gets De La Rosa down on the buzzer. 10-9 Lee.

Round Two and De La Rosa comes out throwing some heavy shots that don’t land cleanly. Big takedown attempt from De La Rosa is stuffed by Lee and they end up clinched again, where De La Rosa finally manages to force her down. Lee pops right back up though and Montana is blowing a LOT of energy on all these attempts. Lee breaks off and De La Rosa looks tired. Couple of jabs land for Lee and she throws in a hard knee from the clinch too. Lee is chewing De La Rosa up with her striking here. Another takedown fails for De La Rosa and Lee makes her pay with a knee to the body. More jabs follow and De La Rosa’s nose is pouring with blood now. Big combination has her hurt and she goes for the takedown and manages to get it on a second attempt. Lee drops some elbows though and then works to her feet, before breaking free soon after. Seconds to go and Lee goes for a takedown of her own, but it’s defended. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Lee.

Round Three and De La Rosa looks beaten up. Crowd are way into this one after the slower previous fight I guess. Lee works the jab from the off again before De La Rosa shoots, but Lee stuffs it and breaks with a knee. Nice takedown from De La Rosa from the clinch, and this time she manages to lace the legs, Khabib-style. Lee still works to her feet, but this time De La Rosa slams her back down and continues to lock the legs up. This time Lee ends up giving her back in an attempt to stand, but De La Rosa can’t capitalise and they end up clinched before breaking. Takedown is stuffed by Lee this time and she lands some knees from the clinch. Couple of kicks glance for Lee but De La Rosa shoves her down off one. Lee dives for a single leg herself and gets on top, but De La Rosa tries for a ninja choke. It doesn’t look properly locked in though and Lee escapes to take top position again. Armbar attempt fails for De La Rosa and Lee remains on top dropping some elbows and punches. Another armbar looks a bit closer, but Lee avoids that too and nails her with hammer fists. Weird position follows as Lee tries what looks like a Crippler Crossface for a second before taking the back to end the round. 10-9 Lee and 30-27 for her in my book.

Official scores are 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 all for Andrea Lee. Pretty clear decision in the end but De La Rosa hung tough as well and never stopped fighting despite being overmatched in all areas really. Extremely fun fight as both girls worked HARD throughout and in fact it pretty much washed away the bad taste of the previous fight. Lee looked really good here and if she can work on her finishing skills a bit more she could be a title contender.

Bantamweight Fight: Andre Ewell vs Anderson Dos Santos

This fight got moved to the main card on late notice when a fight between John Lineker and Rob Font got scrapped. Both men were coming off losses – Dos Santos, who sounds like the most stereotypical Brazilian UFC fighter possible, hadn’t won a fight in the UFC – but I was going with Ewell as he’d impressed me when he beat Renan Barao in 2018.

Fight gets underway and they circle and exchange some early punches, with Ewell largely circling on the outside. Clean left hand connects for Ewell. Another one follows as he’s using his reach advantage well. Wild exchange sees Ewell land cleanly again. Big overhand right wobbles ADS’s legs. Head kick fires back for the Brazilian but Ewell tags him over and over with punches. Big left hand snaps ADS’s head back. Dos Santos swings right back and then shoots for the takedown, but Ewell defends it well. Crowd shot catches Chris Weidman and Wonderboy Thompson in stitches of laughter at something, lord only knows what. CRAZY EXCHANGE follows with both men landing big punches with little defense. ADS comes flying in with punches but Ewell counters and stiffens him up with a left, then lands some more as Dos Santos tells him to bring it on. SLUGFEST follows as both men land punches but it’s Ewell landing the better ones. This is a fucking crazy round. Like Melendez vs. Sanchez with Ewell playing Melendez. ADS is even grimacing like Diego would. Exchange continues until the round ends. 10-9 Ewell.

2nd round and ADS presses forward swinging, but he’s still finding it tricky to get into range unless Ewell trades openly with him. Left hand connects again for Ewell. Takedown attempt fails for the Brazilian. Wild exchange again sees both men land. They’re both looking busted up now too. Eye poke from Ewell sees the ref call time. They restart and exchange yet again with Ewell again landing the left hand. Dos Santos has a great chin. He walks into the left hand again and this time Ewell seems to have him stunned, but still can’t put him down. Dos Santos is bleeding all over the place. Takedown attempt from ADS and this time he gets Ewell down, pinning him with a half-guard to land more punches. Full mount now for Dos Santos and he goes for an arm triangle, but Ewell spins out and explodes to his feet. Less than a minute to go now and Ewell continues to land punches from distance, landing a beautiful right hook that stumbles ADS for a moment. Somehow he stays vertical though and takes more shots as the round ends. 10-9 Ewell again.

3rd and final round and the crowd are understandably loving this one. Ewell again opens with the left hand before wobbling Dos Santos with an overhand right. More quick punches land for Ewell. His hands are looking phenomenal here. Dos Santos keeps charging in with punches of his own but he’s not landing anywhere near as many as Ewell. Takedown attempt fails for him too. ADS’s cardio is incredible to keep this pace up. Big takedown finally works for him and he puts Ewell on his back in guard. Dos Santos works from the top and does a good job of keeping him grounded, moving to half-guard in the process. Full mount follows and Ewell might be in trouble. Dos Santos lands some punches from there and throws in some elbows for good measure, but Ewell pushes off the fence and explodes to his feet. Dos Santos goes right back for the takedown, but this time Ewell defends it well. Big knees to the legs land for ADS. Seconds to go and Ewell breaks, landing the left hand again. Round ends with a wild exchange. 10-9 Dos Santos, but 29-28 Ewell overall.

Judges go 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27 for Andre Ewell in what was a pretty clear-cut call to make in the end. Fight was phenomenal though as both guys threw caution to the wind and just went for it, although it was Ewell’s superior technique on the feet that won him the fight, essentially like a poor man’s version of the Melendez vs. Sanchez classic. Not good enough to be a FOTYC but shit, I expected nothing from this one and got 15 minutes of tremendous action, so there can be no complaints!

Welterweight Fight: Randy Brown vs Bryan Barberena

Brown hadn’t been seen since his weird KO loss to Niko Price almost a year prior to this show – the one where he was KO’d by hammer fists from the bottom – while Barberena’s last fight had seen him involved in a wild brawl with Vicente Luque that he lost in the final seconds. My pick here was Barberena via toughness, but it sounded exciting at least.

Round One and the crowd seem behind Barberena. Brown presses forward to begin and they exchange a couple of low kicks before Brown connects on a nice left hand. Brown keeps throwing a bunch of kicks to keep Barberena at distance. Couple of really strong ones land for Brown and Barberena’s really struggling to get into range. Decent leg kick does land for Barberena. Clean combination lands for Brown and he’s looking good in this round. Body kick lands for Barberena but Brown catches it and shoves him into the fence, but they quickly break off. Exchange continues and Barberena starts to come forward some more, but he eats a nasty body kick. Clinch from Brown and they exchange from there, until the round ends. 10-9 Brown.

Round Two and Barberena really comes chasing out, but walks into a few kicks from Brown who seems content to backpedal and throw shots at the same time, particularly with kicks. Clean right hand connects for Brown. Barberena charges into the clinch and forces him into the fence, but Brown quickly switches position and breaks free. Barberena is just struggling with the range of Brown. Another clinch follows and they jockey for position with Brown gaining a rear waistlock. Questionable elbow from Brown lands to the back of the head, but then he lands with some excellent knees. Choke attempt from Barberena allows him to throw Brown to his back, and when he stands he eats some punches before breaking out. Barberena bulls into the clinch again, where they exchange more strikes. Break from Brown and he lands with a nice combination as they openly trade off. Big swings land for Brown and Barberena might be hurt. Brown follows with a clinch, where they exchange knees. Round ends with a heavy combo from Barberena. 10-9 Brown but that was a super-close round.

Round Three and Brown connects on a head kick as Barberena pushes forward. It doesn’t have a lot of effect though as Barberena keeps on coming at him. Nice uppercut lands on the counter for Brown. Wild swings from Barberena allow him to close distance, but Brown quickly circles out and then CRACKS him with a big combination. Another nice combo, this time to the body and the head, follows. Barberena keeps on following him but he’s walking into heavy shots here. Big right hand drops Barberena but he pops right back up. Brown opens up on him though with more shots and he’s in trouble. He fires back, but he’s eating a lot of clean punches now. Big right has Barberena on the run and a front kick to the body has him in big trouble. Brown continues to pour it on, and a big shot to the body has Barberena on the verge of going out. Brown keeps on hitting him but somehow Barberena remains on his feet! Big knee into another HUGE COMBO from Brown finally drops him, and that’s all she wrote.

Really fun fight overall, basically Brown took the first as Barberena just couldn’t get into range, the second was more even as Barberena really pushed the pace, but in the third he kept running into big shots and once Brown hurt him to the body, he didn’t let up until he was done. Massively impressive showing from Brown to put away a super-tough guy, probably the best showing of his MMA career in fact.

Featherweight Fight: Chan Sung Jung vs Renato Moicano

Despite both of these men coming off losses – Jung to that wild back elbow from Yair Rodriguez, and Moicano to Jose Aldo – this sounded like an AWESOME FIGHT on paper as both men always bring the violence and had some huge wins to their name. Despite Moicano’s recent record being stronger, I thought his chin looked a little dodgy against Aldo and so I was going with the Zombie.

Fight begins and both guys look pretty intense. Left hand glances for the Zombie before he lands with a low kick. Crowd are hugely behind the Zombie. Both guys miss with punches before Jung DECKS HIM WITH AN OVERHAND RIGHT! Moicano looks DONE and the ref seems to come in, but then lets it go as Jung follows up with punches before taking the back. Somehow Moicano keeps moving, but the Zombie quickly flattens him out and FINISHES HIM OFF!

Post-fight the crowd go absolutely APESHIT as Jung remains probably the ultimate cult favourite for UFC fans. This was a ridiculous knockout and probably a late stoppage too as it looked like Moicano was gone the moment he hit the deck. Insane way to end the main event, wow. Whole fight went about 45 seconds! And next for the Zombie? BRIAN ORTEGA in a fight which sounds FUCKING INSANE. Can’t wait for that one.

-Show ends there with the Zombie celebrating.

Final Thoughts….

First fight stunk here and the name value was low, but basically everything from Lee/De La Rosa onwards was great fun to watch, with the best fight being Ewell vs. Dos Santos but obviously the most memorable moment being the Korean Zombie’s big KO. Skip over Di Chirico/Holland and you’ve got a good show here.

Best Fight: Ewell vs. Dos Santos
Worst Fight: Di Chirico vs. Holland

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: