MMA Review: #716: UFC Fight Night 169

-The UFC’s first show in Virginia for some time, this one was a bit of a weird card, featuring a fight for the newly vacant UFC Flyweight title in the main event and a couple of fights showcasing the thinnest division in the promotion – Women’s Featherweight.

UFC Fight Night 169

Norfolk, Virginia

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping, who discuss the big news – Deiveson Figueiredo has missed weight for the main event against Joseph Benavidez, meaning he’s ineligible to win the Flyweight title. Uhoh. More on this later!

Featherweight Fight: Grant Dawson vs Darrick Minner

This one would originally have seen Dawson taking on Chas Skelly, but when the veteran was forced out, Minner took the fight on about two weeks’ notice. Brave man!

First round begins and Minner opens with a good leg kick. Announcers keep calling him Derek too because shit, why would someone be called Darrick? He grabs onto a guillotine in an exchange and drops for it, but Dawson looks really calm and scrambles before popping his head free. Full guard now for Minner and he rolls for an armbar, but Dawson easily avoids that. Another attempt is closer but Dawson still manages to avoid. It allows Minner to scramble and go for another guillotine, but Dawson escapes that, only to wind up on the bottom. Yet another guillotine attempt follows and it looks TIGHT this time, with Minner ending up on top, but somehow Dawson manages not to tap and winds up on top in side mount. This is an insane pace. Looks like Dawson’s setting up an arm triangle now, but he gives that up to land a few punches instead. He appears to be working for a kimura instead, but Minner manages to avoid that. Action finally slows down a bit as Dawson appears to just be trying to wear Minner out. Seconds to go and he gets full mount, bombing on the head with big punches. Ref could maybe stop this but Minner does just enough to survive the round. 10-9 Dawson.

Second round and Minner looks unsurprisingly tired. Dude kept a ludicrous pace for a late replacement. He throws some kicks out, but Dawson backs him up and goes for the takedown. Another guillotine attempt follows but Dawson drops down into side mount and he looks fine. Sure enough he pops out, and then takes full mount. Minner is in trouble. Punches land for Dawson and then Minner gives his back. Body triangle for Dawson and he looks for the choke, and seconds later he sinks it for the tapout.

Super-fun opener as Minner really brought the fight to Dawson, and for that he ought to get at least a couple more UFC fights. Dawson though looked excellent, as he weathered an early storm, took over and ended up with a nice finish. He’s now 3-0 in the UFC and 14-1 overall, so could be a guy to watch in the future.

Women’s Featherweight Fight: Megan Anderson vs Norma Dumont

After a surprising win via triangle choke in October, this was striker Anderson’s next chance for a UFC win, as newcomer Dumont only had 4 professional fights to her name and was making her UFC debut. Despite Anderson’s ground game still being a work in progress I figured this could be a KO win for her.

Fight begins and Anderson is HUGE, a genuine Featherweight unlike the majority of this division. Both women come out swinging and Dumont looks pretty sharp with her punches as both land early on. Clinch from Dumont and she muscles Megan into the fence, but she can’t get her down. They keep working for position inside the clinch and Anderson’s takedown defense has clearly improved. Big knee to the chin lands for her. Dumont keeps working with some knees of her own, then finally gets a single leg to put Megan down. Reversal allows the Aussie to grab onto a cradle and then stand, and finally she separates. Short right hand lands for Anderson as she steps forward, and Dumont goes DOWN, and one follow-up shot’s enough as she’s clearly done.

Amazing power from Megan Anderson as the shot didn’t even look that heavy and yet it knocked Dumont absolutely silly. She’s clearly still a work in progress, but with the thin nature of the division just by virtue of her size and striking ability I’d actually be interested to see her fight Amanda Nunes at some point in the future. This knockout was awesome.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

Outside of the main event this was the best fight on the card for me. Two of the best prospects in the world at 205lbs facing off, and in all honesty it was kind of gutting as I didn’t want to see either man lose! I was picking Ankalaev due to his wrestling skill, but it was close.

Pre-fight things go INSANE as Cutelaba strides towards Ankalaev to attempt to intimidate him during the introductions from Bruce Buffer….but he gets a bit too close and the Dagestani grabs him and throws him into the cage! Cue a bit of mayhem as loads of officials have to separate them, holy shit. Never seen anything like that in the UFC before! Cutelaba is a total wildman.

Round One begins and both men look pretty amped now. Big low kick from Cutelaba and he follows with some more kicks, but Ankalaev stays calm and STUNS HIM WITH A HEAD KICK! Wild flurry follows and Cutelaba looks wobbled, but tries to swing back….and ref Kevin McDonald steps in to stop things. Crowd go APESHIT as Cutelaba looks furious with the stoppage, wow.

Replays show Cutelaba was definitely wobbled but certainly wasn’t out, and shit, that’s a bad stoppage. I guess maybe McDonald was spooked by the craziness pre-fight and just stepped in the moment he thought the Moldovan was hurt. It did look like he’d been stunned by a left hand, but he was definitely okay to continue. Thankfully the UFC have booked an instant rematch so the INSANITY WILL CONTINUE. Hopefully anyway!

Women’s Featherweight Fight: Felicia Spencer vs Zarah Fairn

Spencer was making her return to action here following her loss to Cris Cyborg in 2019, while Fairn was coming off a loss to Megan Anderson via triangle choke in her UFC debut. Due to Spencer being a better ground fighter than Anderson I didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t submit the French fighter too.

Round One begins and Spencer throws a head kick that Fairn counters with a right hand. Couple of hooks glance for Fairn as Spencer tries to close the distance. Spencer is reaching forward here which is worrying. She does land a clean left hook, but Fairn comes back with a couple of clean shots of her own. Head kick is caught by Fairn and she lands a right, but Spencer clinches and works for a trip. Fairn defends pretty well early on, but Spencer finally gets her down and goes directly into full mount. Spencer looks like she’s working for an Americana, but then she just starts to open up with strikes instead. Fairn is in trouble here. Big elbows land for Spencer and it takes FOREVER for Dan Miragliotta to step in. Eventually he has to though, and that’s all she wrote.

Pretty easy victory for Spencer. She looked in trouble on the feet, but once she got Fairn down it was all over as the Frenchwoman basically had no ground defense. This was enough to get Spencer a title shot against Amanda Nunes, and well, that’s another show. On a side note it was a bad stoppage from Miragliotta, as Fairn took loads of shots that she honestly didn’t need to.

UFC World Flyweight Title: Joseph Benavidez vs Deiveson Figueiredo

Well, after Henry Cejudo had won the Bantamweight title in 2019 it was only ever a matter of time before he vacated the Flyweight crown, and sure enough once he’d done so the UFC quickly put this fight together for the belt. It was the right call too – Benavidez had a win over Cejudo from 2016 and was on a three-fight win streak, while Figueiredo was 6-1 in the UFC and was also a rare finisher for 125lbs.

This was a close fight to call, but of course, you also had the issue of Figueiredo missing weight – meaning he couldn’t win the title, but Benavidez still could. With that in mind, I was pulling for Benavidez, if for nothing else but to settle the title picture down!

First round begins and Figueiredo takes the centre of the cage as Benavidez circles on the outside. Left hand glances for Benavidez. Kick is caught and Figueiredo dumps him to the ground, but Benavidez scrambles right away. Weird moment follows as Figueiredo attempts an inverted triangle and then locks up an armbar, but somehow Benavidez manages to escape! Jesus that was close. They stand back up and Benavidez presses forward, but he’s eating some counters as he steps in. Big overhand right connects for Benavidez but the Brazilian takes it well. Couple more big shots land for Benavidez from close range, but Figueiredo takes them well and starts to pressure him back. Takedown attempt is defended well by the Brazilian. Hard right lands for Figueiredo. Another takedown is defended really well by him. Benavidez swings for the fences and lands a right hand haymaker, but again Figueiredo absorbs it. Dude’s chin is evidently great. Exchange continues and both men are landing some good shots in this round. Beautiful right to the body lands for Figueiredo but Benavidez clubs him with a right hand and ends with a combo. Very close round to call, but I’d go 10-9 Figueiredo for the close submission attempt.

Second round and Figueiredo misses a spin kick in the early going. Benavidez keeps on rushing forward to try to land his big punches. Big exchange sees both guys land hard. These dudes are SWINGING. Exchange continues with Benavidez continuing to throw haymakers, but as he steps in something causes a HUGE CUT on his forehead and there’s instantly blood pouring everywhere. He looks a bit wobbled, and Figueiredo stalks forward and DROPS HIM WITH A STRAIGHT RIGHT! Hammer fists follow and Benavidez is OUT.

Unbelievable KO from Figueiredo….but a post-fight replay shows that the cut was caused by an accidental clash of heads, and was enough to stun Benavidez and open him up for the knockout. That’s some terrible luck and I’d say it puts an asterisk over the win for Figueiredo too, as the likelihood is that if the clash of heads hadn’t happened, he never would’ve landed that right hand.

So yeah, the UFC evidently agreed and so with Figueiredo not being able to win the title due to the weight snafu anyway, we’re getting an instant rematch on FIGHT ISLAND in a couple of weeks. Works for me! Disappointing way to end the night even if it was actually a hell of a knockout, as the fight was tremendous before that, with both guys swinging BOMBS at one another. Rematch should be awesome.

-Show ends as Bisping and Fitzgerald discuss what to do with the Flyweight title.

Final Thoughts….

Well, ignore the lack of name value and you can’t go wrong with this show, as we were treated to nothing but action and five finishes in five fights! Sure, the main event had a bad finish and the stoppage in Ankalaev/Cutelaba was diabolical, but both fights were still action-packed from start to finish. High recommendation for this one for sure, check it out!

Best Fight: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo
Worst Fight: Cutelaba vs. Ankalaev

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: