*This was originally posted on November 15, 2021*
For the third week in a row, MMA fans were treated to another INSANE night of fighting. This card saw an absurd 9 finishes in 11 fights and was capped off with a monumental fight between the legend Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez. All of these fights are covered below along with the BLÜ BONUSES for the event.
Da Un Jung def. Kennedy Nzechukwu by TKO in the 1st Round
We opened up the card with a quick, first round TKO win! The fight started a bit slow with both fighters taking their time, but Jung started to feel more comfortable, got some shots off and hurt Kennedy with some elbows. After he saw the elbows landed through Kennedy’s guard, he smashed him with even MORE elbows and got an easy win.
Rafael Alves def. Mark Diakese by 1st Round Submission
This fight started off with a BANG..straight to the groin of Diakese. Shortly after that, Alves stumbled him with a big shot and jumped in with a flying knee. I thought he was getting a quick KO, but instead, he whipped out the jiu-jitsu and got a spectacular first round submission worthy of the night’s first BLÜ BONUS. Alves is already starting to look like he’ll be a dangerous contender in the near future.
Cortney Casey def. Liana Jojua by Unanimous Decision
Although this fight lasted the distance, it was not close by any means. Jojua had some minor success with some late takedowns each round, but Casey was dominant for every other moment of the fight. She used her extra reach, skill and experience to piece Jojua up and got a clear unanimous decision win. Casey looked amazing here, she’s gotta be lined up to fight a ranked contender soon.
Sean Woodson def. Collin Anglin by TKO in the 1st Round
Yet another first round finish! Woodson used that absurd length to tear Anglin apart. Just like Casey and Alves, if he gets another statement win, we could definitely see him fighting a ranked contender soon.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee
We had a great looking matchup on the women’s side for this one. Calvillo was ranked 5th while Lee was ranked 12th. In her illustrious career in the UFC, Calvillo has fought the likes of Esparza, Chookagian, Andrade and Rodriguez. Sadly, she didn’t beat any of them, but she did bring all of them (except Andrade) to a decision. As for Lee, she’s certainly a much newer, less experienced addition to the roster. Lee just recently became a ranked contender after beating Antonina Shevchenko earlier this year. The interesting piece here though is that before that bout, Lee had lost 3 in a row to Modafferi, Murphy and Calderwood. Lee had a 5 inch reach advantage, but considering the wealth of experience from Calvillo, I was sure she’d know how to overcome that obstacle. Both of these fighters had an overwhelming number of decisions on their records, I thought we’d be seeing another one here.
Calvillo by Decision
At first, this was the close fight we all expected. Right away in the first round, both women were getting cut up; both of them were leaking from the nose. Then, as the fight went on, Lee pushed the pace with some ridiculous output. In between the second and third rounds, the fight ended unceremoniously as Calvillo conceded defeat following the advice of her coaches. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see Calvillo finish off the fight, but it seemed like Lee was on pace to win a decision anyway.
Andrea Lee def. Cynthia Calvillo by TKO after the 2nd Round
After this impressive performance, it’s clear that Lee will find herself in the top 10 of the division. This division is wide open in terms of competition, she could easily fight anyone in that top 10 and it would make sense. Maybe Murphy after that last title shot she had? Calderwood? Eye? All of these are good options. As for Calvillo, that’s her 3rd loss in a row; it’s time to fight someone unranked. Maybe she’ll fight Antonina Shevchenko as she battles her way back up? Either way, she’s found herself in kind of a ‘gatekeeper’ position now.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez
The final prelim of the night featured ranked contender Thiago Moises and an impressive prospect in Joel Alvarez. Moises had a back-and-forth record in the UFC with 4 wins and 3 losses, his last bout being a loss to the rising star of the lightweights: Islam Makhachev. On the other hand, Alvarez lost his first fight in the UFC and had won 3 after that, all of which ended within the first 2 rounds. An interesting point of separation between these two men is their reach; Alvarez has a HUGE 6 inch reach advantage. On paper, Moises seemed to be an easy choice as a favourite. That being said, this was a coin toss to me; I kept flipping between both of them. Moises has had much tougher competition lately, but Alvarez had been on a tear AND he had such a huge reach advantage. I leaned towards Moises, but, as a bettor, I said you could’ve thrown a few dollars at Alvarez because this fight was closer than it appeared.
Moises by Decision
Most people expected this one to be a closely contested bout, but this was anything but close. Alvarez dominated every moment of the fight on the feet and got an impressive first round TKO over a dangerous ranked contender in Moises.
Joel Alvarez def. Thiago Moises by TKO in the 1st Round
After a statement like that, Alvarez finds himself breaking into the lightweight division rankings. Since this division is so tightly contested with very little movement in the rankings, he’ll likely have to fight someone ranked just above him. Since Fiziev and Ridell will be fighting in a few weeks, it would make perfect sense that he fights the loser of that bout.
Main Card Action
Yadong Song vs. Julio Arce
The main card opened up with a bantamweight bout that was sure to bring the action. We just saw Song a few months ago get a tight, split decision win over Casey Kenney. That was just the latest in a string of impressive performances with a win over ‘Chito’ Vera and only one loss in his UFC career. On the other side, Arce was 2-2 in his last 4 fights, his last one being a win against Andre Ewell. Song clearly had a lot more factors leaning in his favour. Normally that may indicate a likely finish, but Arce has only lost in the UFC in decisions, plus, most of Song’s fights in the UFC end in decisions. Combining all that, it seemed likely that Song would win by a decision here.
Song by Decision
This fight started off close, but in the second round Yadong swarmed Arce, overwhelmed him and got an impressive finish.
Yadong Song def. Julio Arce by TKO in the 2nd Round
With an impressive performance such as this, Yadong has proven himself to be a feared addition to the rankings and deserves to fight another ranked contender. I think there’s a perfect man for Yadong to fight and we just saw him last week…Frankie Edgar! Edgar may be on a skid right now but he is by no means an easy fight. This is the perfect fight for Song to prove to everyone that he’s the real deal.
Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams
Baeza had an almost flawless career leading up to this fight with only 1 loss; that loss was to ranked contender Ponzinibbio last time out. Khaos also had only one loss in the UFC and that was to the always-entertaining Michel Pereira. Not much separated these two; they have a similar reach, are close in age and fight in a similar style. I thought, because of all their similarities, we were likely going to see a decision here. I had seen both of these fighters before a couple times and, based on what I had noticed, I found Baeza to be more well-rounded and dangerous. Based on that, I leaned towards Baeza, but warned that this could go either way.
Baeza by Decision
As expected, this one had us on the edge of our seats. In the first round, both fighters were stumbled by some heavy blows. The round ended with Baeza doing everything to get a nasty heel hook or leg lock finish. Sadly, in the second round Williams landed a couple of groin strikes. I thought the ref was going to take a point but he showed mercy this time. After landing a few more big calf kicks, Baeza might’ve gotten a little too comfortable and Khaos SMOKED him with an absolute howitzer, landing a clean 3rd round KO. Khaos looked great, but I think he’ll need another win against a top prospect before he fights a ranked contender.
Khaos Williams def. Miguel Baeza by KO in the 1st Round
Felicia Spencer vs. Leah Letson
Finally we have another rare bout in the women’s featherweight division. This one was a complete toss-up. Spencer came in after losing 3 of her first 5 bouts in the UFC, but you have to consider that those 3 losses are to Amanda Nunes, Cyborg and Norma Dumont. Other than that, her MMA career was fairly impressive. In the other corner is Leah Letson who was a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter in 2018. The problem for Letson was…she hadn’t fought since then. Because of Spencer’s losses and Letson’s inactivity, this fight could truly have gone in either direction. Because of her recent activity, especially since it was to the top competitors in the division, the safe bet here was Spencer. There was a good chance that we would see this bout go to a decision, but I thought this may be a chance to see Spencer get a finish.
Spencer by Finish
Just an absolutely dominant display from Spencer. She spent almost the entire fight against the fence. Normally that makes for a boring fight with minimal damage…not this time; Felicia was just shredding up Letson with flurries of punches, elbows and knees. As if that weren’t enough, she’d also throw in some takedowns here and there. Letson showed an immense level of toughness to even make it as far as she did, but the ref stopped it with a minute left as she was being thrashed on the ground.
Felicia Spencer def. Leah Letson by TKO in the 3rd Round
Like the rest of the fighters stuck in the women’s featherweight division, Spencer is kind of stuck. The only obvious choice seems to be a fight against Aspen Ladd. We just really need to either see the bantamweight women step up to fight the lightweights or we need to see Dana scouting the world for some top tier featherweight talent. Otherwise, we could soon see the end of the UFC women’s featherweight division.
Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
In the co-main event we saw UFC veteran Rothwell return for the second time this year. His record’s been a little spotty the past few years, winning half of his fights since his return in 2019. But that’s not to say he hasn’t looked good. Those 3 wins were to contenders like Stefan Struve, St. Preux and the newcomer Barnett (whom we saw get a BLÜ BONUS last week). Rothwell was the clear favourite for this fight based on experience and strength of competition alone. Another interesting fact is that all of de Lima’s losses in the UFC had come by submission. And guess who has a pile of submission wins…Ben Rothwell! I ran with this and said that we may see another Rothwell submission here.
Rothwell by Finish
This was definitely not what anyone was expecting at all. Big Ben didn’t even really get started. de Lima came in, rocked him with a hook, then landed bomb after bomb along the fence until Rothwell’s knees buckled and he fell to the ground. Some may argue it was an early stoppage, but when your knees go like that, it’s always a fair stoppage. de Lima will surely be getting a ranked contender soon, if not his next time out.
Rogerio de Lima def. Ben Rothwell by TKO in the 1st Round
Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez
Holloway needs no intro; he’s one of the best strikers in the UFC, he took Volkanovski to a decision twice in a row for the belt and has more than a few striking records in the UFC. Of course, Rodriguez is no slouch; he only has one loss in the UFC (to Frankie Edgar) and has a highlight reel win over the Korean Zombie and wins over BJ Penn, Jeremy Stephens and Dan Hooker. Holloway was the very clear favourite for this fight. The question was, could Rodriguez last all 5 rounds against Holloway? Max hadn’t had a finish since Ortega in 2018, but he’d also only been fighting elite strikers since then. I thought Rodriguez would show that classic Mexican toughness and last until the championship rounds, but I thought we would finally see another Max finish.
Holloway by Finish
I think pretty much everyone expected this fight to be all Max, but that was certainly not the case, Surprisingly, it was Rodriguez leading the action in the first couple rounds. Perhaps even more surprising, we saw Max Holloway the wrestler make an appearance in the 3rd and 4th rounds. In the end, it was a pretty close fight; both fighters left a bloody mess and went straight to the hospital after the fight. As expected, it ended as a unanimous decision win for Holloway.
Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision
There seems to only be one real name in Max’s future: Volkanovski. Since Volk wants to be more active, Max may fight another rising contender soon, but all roads seem to lead to another rematch. As for Yair, what a beast; after tonight he’s shown the whole world that he deserves to be in that top 3. I’ve seen this all over Twitter and I love this matchup…Ortega and Yair. These two guys are the only two men even close to Max and Volk right now, so what better matchup is there? Either way, I think we’ll be seeing Yair get a title shot at some point.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Sadly, BLÜ’s streak of ending the night with a winning record has finally come to an end after an incredible 10 events with a 3-4 record tonight.
Main Card: 3-2
KO of the Night: Khaos Williams
Sub of the Night: Rafael Alves
Fight of the Night: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez
Most Valuable Fighter:
Yair may have an incredible record in the UFC, but he hadn’t fought in 2 years before this bout. After that layoff he goes in the cage against an absolute legend Max Holloway who came in as a -750 favourite. None of that stopped Yair; he rose to challenge and didn’t just give Max a good fight, he won a couple rounds and had Max on the ropes a couple of times. We need more fighters like this; what an absolute savage.
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