The UFC held it’s third event in Sweden on Thursday night. It might not be remembered as the most eventful show in UFC history but nonetheless there were a few moments that could create ripples in the promotion that may turn out to be pivotal moments down the road.
Rick Story and Gunnar Nelson: It will not go down as the most memorable of fights but both fighters did impress in their own ways. Story put in an impressive performance handing Nelson a number of firsts we have seen in the Octagon. No one had dropped Nelson, got up from his takedowns with such ease and beaten the Icelander before. Could the Story who went on a six-fight-tear be back?
Gunnar Nelson suffered his first defeat and that happened in the biggest fight of his career thus far. That is a lot of disappointment to take in but ‘Gunni’ has to be commendable for his post-fight interview where he agreed with the decision and said he will learn so much from this. Some might be distraught in such a moment but his attitude fills me with such confidence that he will be back and better than ever.
Swedish Fans: Despite being given the least ‘star studded’ event they’ve seen so far in their country the Swedish fans still turned out in surprisingly good numbers. The atmosphere in the arena was great particularly when one of their own countrymen was fighting. Tor Troeng received the biggest pop of the night in his entrance.
Max Holloway: Four fights in 2014 and four stoppage wins for the 22-year-old. The potential here is unbelievable, his only losses have been against highly rated fighters such as Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor and Denis Bermudez. With a record of 11-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC, and being such a young age the sky is the limit for this youngster.
Charles Rosa: If you are going to lose a fight in the UFC the best way to do it is in the way that Charles Rosa done so on Saturday evening. Being a very late replacement, making his UFC debut, fighting outside North America for the first time and facing opposition of the calibre as Dennis Siver is a tall ask for anyone. There were times in the fight that Rosa could have snatched it with his tricky ground game. Well deserving of the $50,000 ‘FOTN’ bonus and I look forward to seeing him fight again.
Russian Fighters Impress: Two fighters, currently training in Tiger Muay Thai together, fought in the opening two fights of the night and had equally impressive and almost identical performances. Mairbek Taisumov and Zubaira Tukhugov dispatched of their respective opponents with TKO’s, both around the 4:20 mark, in the first round and thus adding weight to the ever-growing Russian invasion of the UFC.
Swedish Fans: I have admiration for the Swedish fans and the support they show for their own (as stated above) but I am not a fan of fighters being booed during lull periods of fights or just after a fighter KO’s one of their own, see Mike Wilkinson who got booed after he KO’d popular Swedish fighter Niklas Backstrom.
Niklas Backstrom: I am a big fan of Backstrom, he is exciting and always comes to fight. However, after he lost his fight on Saturday night he tried to interrupt the post fight interview which only puts him in bad light and makes him out to be sore loser despite being knocked out cold.
Timing: This was the first UFC event I attended in which The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ wasn’t played right before the main card. This song along with the montage provided is one of the highlights of each UFC event and is an added bonus for fans who attend live events. That wasn’t the only issue with timing as Scott Askham and Magnus Cedenblad didn’t get to have their own walkouts. Both fighters walked out at the same time, opposite sides of the arena, to the same song. This was Askham’s debut in the UFC and to not get to enjoy your own walkout and savour that moment is a little disappointing, but then again this may not have been as issue for either fighter.