With the last minute withdrawal of Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson putting a dampener on the main card, expectations had to be reset before Saturday nights showdown in Las Vegas. With a bit of reshuffling, things were set for what turned out to be a highly entertaining card
Alistair Overeem v Mark Hunt
This heavyweight clash got proceedings off to a brutal start with Alistair Overeem notching up another victory in his 58th professional MMA fight.
With both fighters exchanging heavy kicks in the opening round, it was Hunt who came off worse with a nasty gash to his shin. Hunt started to find his range and land with some sledgehammer shots in the 2nd but all to no avail as come the 3rd and final round, Overeem finished the fight with a savage knee to Hunt’s face. With what seemed like a delayed reaction, Hunt slumped to the floor when a second knee finally registered and it was game over.
Still going strong at the ripe old age of 36, Overeem could be a potential opponent for heavy hitters Derrick Lewis or Francis Ngannou next, as suggested previously on WHOA TV. However, a title shot against the winner of Stile Miocic and Junior Dos Santos could also be a possibility.
Amanda Cooper v Cynthia Calvillo
Bumped up from the prelims following the Khabib v Ferguson cancellation, next up was the strawweight clash between ABC and UFC debutant, Cynthia Calvillo. Fighting out of Team Alpha Male, Calvillo was looking to make an impression on her octagon debut, and that’s exactly what she did.
Up against Team Claudia TUF 23 finalist, Amanda Cooper, Calvillo faced a tough start to her UFC career but just over 3 minutes into the first round, the fight was over. Showcasing excellent scrambling and transitions, Calvillo had the fight wrapped up with a rear naked choke. Cooper defended well initially when the fight got to the ground, but Calvillo was lively and ultimately too strong for Cooper.
Rashad Evans v Dan Kelly
Next up we saw UFC veteran Rashad Evans make his debut in the middleweight division against the tough and durable Australian, Dan Kelly. Tentatively entering the octagon and with heavy strapping to one of his legs, at first glance Kelly didn’t look capable of making any sort of an impact. Oh how first glances can be totally wrong.
With 3 defeats on the bounce now for Evans, he looked the fitter of the two fighters both physically and mentally but as the rounds progressed, the durable Kelly began to wear Evans down. Evans was the better fighter, overall, going into the final round but the deceptive Kelly kept on chipping away.
Although his scruffy style may not be enjoyable to watch, Kelly put on an amazing performance with both fighters going toe to toe in the final round. All in all, it was a bad day in the office for Evans but a cracking victory for Kelly.
Lando Vannata v David Teymur
Well, what can we say about this fight? A worthy winner of the Fight Of The Night bonus, Vannata and Teymur put on an absolute war in the replacement co-main event.
Although Teymur walked away with a unanimous decision, Lando Vannata could’ve equally taken the spoils in this enthralling battle. Right from the off, Teymur and Vannata were tagging each other in tit for tat exchanges. With multiple spinning kicks and even a cartwheel kick to boot, Vannata is an enjoyable fighter to watch. Although now with a 1-2 record in the UFC, Vannata is certainly a fighter that will gain many fans for his persistence, tenacity and groovy fighting style.
As for David Teymur, the 27 year old Swede was just as impressive. Ultimately taking the victory because of his takedowns and all round attack on Vannata, Teymur won’t be far off breaking into the lightweight rankings. Throughout the fight, Vanatta kept absorbing Teymur’s strikes, and even shook off an impressive Superman punch, but when it came to the judges scorecards, it was the marginally busier Teymur who took the win.
Both fighters are certainly hot prospects and will guarantee to entertain on future UFC cards.
Tyron Woodley v Stephen Thompson
From the sublime that was the co-main event to the ridiculous that was the main event. Following the controversial majority draw back at UFC205 in New York, this rematch massively failed to live up to expectation and was equally controversial in terms of the result.
Although Woodley was busier with the takedowns and the explosive knock down in the 5th, Wonderboy looked to have taken the title with his tactical performance in what was a dull fight. Maybe not one for the purists, Wonderboy had a plan and was sticking to it. The 5th may have ultimately cost Thompson the title but it was Woodley’s lack of pretty much anything that surprised many. Maybe out of respect following the battle at UFC205, both fighters didn’t seem overly keen on getting involved in another war but Thompson was certainly the more spritely out of the two.
Had Woodley not unloaded in the last 30 seconds of the 5th, we would’ve definitely seen a new champion in Thompson but the judges saw otherwise and Wonderboy walked away with nothing yet again.
Wonderboy will be back and fighting for a title again at some point, I’m sure, but another showdown with Woodley will be a fight that hopefully won’t be happening again any time soon.