An evening without controversy has become a rarity in the world of mixed martial arts. However, UFC Fight Night Zagreb proved to be just that, an evening that went as smooth as possible, with no major questionable occurrences from judging or referee errors. It’s the lasting takeaway from the most recent UFC event that took place the promotion’s first trip to Croatia, home to one of the true legends of the sport, Mirko Cro Cop. It was also fitting the country that is home to one of the best heavyweights of all time, played host to a card filled with big boy matchups.
The main event featured two men on two different paths clashing, to answer a ton of questions about the trajectory of both of their careers. Ben Rothwell came into this fight riding a four-fight win streak, looking every bit like a man on a mission to claim a shot at heavyweight gold. His sinister, villain-like gimmick that has been a staple during this run was on full display all the way up to his walkout music “Vampire Hunters” from Bram Stoker’s Dracula soundtrack. Junior dos Santos needed to answer whether or not he still possessed championship caliber fighting abilities, as he has traded wins and losses since 2012, including a particularly lackluster performance in his previous outing against Alistair Overeem. Everyone was ready to call it a career for the former champion after that loss, with many questioning his ability to pass the test that stood in front of him in the form of Ben Rothwell. Dos Santos silenced all of his detractors on Sunday evening.
Vintage “box ’em up” Cigano took the center stage to derail the Ben Rothwell hype train. It was a throwback to the best version of Junior that made a championship run in 2011 when he knocked out Cain Velasquez in the first round. Utilizing body strikes as the primary tool of destruction to chip away at his opponent, Dos Santos put on a master class of stick-and-move fighting. The move of the fight was one that looked as if it was ripped straight out of the movie 300 when Junior unleashed a front kick from hell that sent Rothwell flying into the cage. If he yelled, “THIS IS SPARTA!” it would have gone down to be one of the most epic moments in the history of the sport. The 50-45 unanimous decision victory made us all believers once again that Junior has many miles left in the tank.
As mentioned earlier, the evening was without major controversy. Can you believe that the judges made the correct decisions throughout the entire fight card? There were some close fights that could have produced questionable decisions based on similar occurrences in the past, yet aside from a 30-27 score in favor of Bojan Velickovic in the very first fight of the evening, very little argument could be had with any scores read over the course of the seven decisions rendered.
There was one hiccup that caught my eye during the evening that occurred during Francis Ngannou versus Curtis Blaydes. The severity of this occurrence is up to your own interpretation, however, it did not sit right when the referee very audibly contested the doctor’s decision to stop the fight after the second round. Curtis Blaydes’ right eye was completely swollen shut at the conclusion of the second round due to multiple strikes from Ngannou. The doctor entered the cage to inspect the eye and determined that Blaydes could not see, thus calling for an end to the fight. The referee would loudly challenge, almost pleading with the doctor to allow the fight to continue, siding with the fighter, who of course, will say he’s still able to continue. This was a perfect example of the doctor protecting a fighter from their own desires to continue, something that was amiss (among many other things) during the Matt Mitrione versus Travis Browne fight in January. The doctor performed his job perfectly in this instance. Considering the severity of the injury to the eye, the referee should not have contested the doctor’s advice, much less had an argument with him in the middle of the cage.
The lasting positive images from UFC Zagreb were competent judging, impressive knockouts from the likes of Derrick Lewis, and a return to form for Junior Dos Santos. It’s a little disheartening that accurate judging deserves special acknowledgment in the wake of a fight card, but it’s something to applaud when done so well. The event as a whole was a success with another sold-out venue in Europe, with another coming soon when UFC invades Rotterdam on May 8. As the promotion returns to the States this weekend for UFC Fight Night Tampa, let’s hope the momentum of controversy-free fighting continues.
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Cover image: Original artwork by Matthew Wells
*Live Updates* UFC Gdsank Official Results
The UFC hosted their second event in the country of Poland, as UFC Gdsank took place at the Ergo Arena. The card was headlined by a welterweight fight between Donald Cerrone and Darren Till.
Cerrone (32-9) was coming off a close unanimous decision loss to former 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler in July. It was the only time in “Cowboy’s” MMA career that he had suffered consecutive losses.
Till (15-0-1) improved his undefeated record in September, defeating Bojan Veličković by unanimous decision. It was a case of old school vs. new school in this headliner, as the up and comer Till hoped to secure the biggest win of his career over Cerrone.
MAIN CARD – UFC Fight Pass – 8PM BST
- Donald Cerrone (32-9) vs. Darren Till (15-0-1) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Darren Till def. Donald Cerrone via TKO (punches) Round 1 – 4:20
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-3) – Women’s strawweight bout
- Result: Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Jodie Esquibel via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jan Blachowicz (20-7) vs. Devin Clark (8-2) – Light heavyweight bout
- Result: Jan Błachowicz def. Devin Clark via SUB (rear-naked choke) Round 2 – 3:02
- Oskar Piechota (10-0) vs. Jonathan Wilson (7-3) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Oskar Piechota def. Jonathan Wilson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.
Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.
Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)
Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)
Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card
Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.
Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.
This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.
Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK
- Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
- Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
- Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
- Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
- Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)
Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK
- 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
- Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
- Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
- Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
- Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
- 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
- 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
- Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
- Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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