Saturday night we saw everything from slick submissions, devastating knockouts and shocking upsets. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson rose to title contention by being the first man to stop the former champion Johny Hendricks, Mike Pyle showed us that age is just a number finishing a fight at aged 40 and Mickey Gall cashed the biggest check of his career, cementing his fight with CM Punk later this year.
Here is a look at all the great finishes from Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson.
Stephen Thompson def. Johny Hendricks via TKO round 1
Thompson came into this contest with an obvious gameplan and executed it to perfection, using footwork and distance to take away Johny’s two biggest tools being his wrestling and his left hand.
Thompson dictated the whole pace of the fight attacking when he wanted and creating space with his lead leg with either side kicks to the body or head kicks to back Hendricks away from him. This technique eventually froze Hendricks, causing him to wait for Wonderboy to strike first and when he attempted a counter, Thompson was completely out of his range.
This allowed Thompson to become more and more comfortable as the fight went on and take risks, rushing in with punching combinations and then exiting the exchanges with kicks again to create his desired distance.
Thompson caught Hendricks rushing in twice consecutively with a right hook counter, the second of which rocked the former champ causing him to shell up with his back against the fence. From here, it was nothing but target practice for the 57-0 kickboxer who never abandoned his gameplan, using kicks to get close, landing with a barrage of punches then exiting range again with a body kick.
The fight finish came with Thompson landing a spinning heel kick to the chest of Hendricks then immediately following up with a one, two to his chin putting him on the canvas causing the referee to step in.
This fight showed how important game-planning for fights can be, Hendricks is widely considered one of the best welterweights on the planet and by some, one of the best of all time. Thompson was able to systematically shut down all of Johny’s options in this fight and make him fight Stephen’s fight, wearing down the former champion quickly and impressively, putting Wonderboy knocking firmly on the door of a 170lb title shot.
Mike Pyle def. Sean Spencer via TKO round 3
This fight finish was not only after a hellacious first two rounds where Pyle was rocked, not only did it show brutality and technique beautifully but it was all done by a man who has just hit 40 years old.
This fight finish started with a picture perfect spinning back elbow connecting to the top of Spencer’s head visibly rocking him. From there Pyle showed the patience of a true veteran, not rushing in looking for the finish, but rather picking his shots and mixing up his strikes to keep Spencer from recovering.
Pyle landed numerous knees and elbows from the clinch to end the fight forcing the referee to intervene late in the third round. This finish showed that the fight is never over until the final bell and how one technique can change the whole dynamics of a contest, giving Mike Pyle yet another highlight reel finish and a nice bonus paycheck too.
Derrick Lewis def. Damian Grabowski via TKO round 1
Grabowski started this fight off well, shooting for a well-timed takedown early and getting Lewis to the mat momentarily. Lewis was able to get back to his feet and counter using his underhooks to throw Grabowski onto his back.
From here it was all Lewis, using well-timed and most importantly patient ground and pound to wear down Grabowski ultimately causing the referee to step in. Lewis showed his experience inside the cage looking to cement his top position first at all times and then striking only when it was effective to do so, overpowering Grabowski until he turtled up and forced the referee stoppage.
Diego Rivas def. Noad Lahat via KO round 2
There isn’t too much analysis to do of this finish, it was simply bad timing by Lahat and picture perfect technique by Rivas to deliver the best knockout of 2016 so far.
After dominating the entire first round with his jiu-jitsu, you can forgive Lahat for wanting to take the fight back to the ground and quickly as possible in the second round, and that is just what he attempted to do, setting up a takedown attempt by lowering his centre of gravity and opening up his arms. Unfortunately for Lahat, at this exact time, Rivas attempted a flying knee that came straight up through the open guard of Noad and landed directly on his chin, collapsing Lahat to the ground unconscious.
The only thing to take away from this finish really is to be patient and set up your takedowns with strikes. If Lahat had entered the second round with a striking exchange and used that to disguise his takedown attempt, Rivas would not have been able to even try a flying knee let alone finish the fight with it. Chaining your techniques together through striking, clinch work and the ground is the next level of MMA and the sign of a true future champion. Safe to say, after two flying knee KO’s in the UFC, Lahat has some serious work to do to retain his prospect status.
Mickey Gall def. Mike Jackson via submission (rear naked choke) round 1
Jackson started this short contest with very good circling to keep away from the rangey Gall, who noticed this and pressured Jackson backing him up towards to fence to look for a striking opening, which came in the way of a right hand 30 seconds into the fight.
Gall came in with a right hand knocking down Jackson and immediately jumped on him, looking to take his back. Jackson showed the one thing we were all worried about in this fight and that was his total lack of fight experience, as he attacked Gall’s legs to avoid having his back fully taken, instead of attacked Mickey’s arms that were searching for a rear naked choke. This grave mistake quickly came to haunt Jackson as Gall instantaneously slapped on a tight rear naked choke submitting Jackson at the 45 second mark of the contest.
Inexperience was the nail in the coffin for Jackson here, making your MMA debut in the modern era UFC is unheard of for a reason and that is the amount of pressure the fighters feel is increased ten fold fighting on the biggest stage in MMA. This pressure and lack of MMa experience quickly got to Jackson forcing him to make sloppy mistakes and costing him the fight very early on.
Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando
The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 14, 2017
Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.
It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.
Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.
In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.
Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.
In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.
UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.
Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.
First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)
EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me that Eryk Anders (@erykanders) has gotten his wish. He'll headline UFC Fight Night: Belem against Lyoto Machida (@lyotomachidafw) in Brazil. Ask and you shall receive. #UFC pic.twitter.com/qX62A9qH6k
— The MMA Kings (Nolan King) (@mma_kings) December 14, 2017
Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.
Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.
Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.
In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.
UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira.
Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219
From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game.
Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.
The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.
After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.
“Those insights are covering entire aspects of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“
Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”
He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”
As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed, force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.
The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).
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