Photo Credit: Marca.Com
*This was originally posted June 12, 2022*
In another sensational PPV, we were treated to two unbelievable title fights. In the first, Taila Santos dominated the flyweight GOAT, Valentina Shevchenko, on the ground, losing in a tight… questionable split decision. In the other fight, the lethal striker, Jiri Prochazka SHOCKED the world by submitting the grappler, Glover Teixeira, with less than a minute left in a potential Hall of Fame level brawl. Just before that, we saw a rematch of the greatest strawweight battle of all time, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk, that ended with one of the most sensational finishes of the year. We also saw standout performances and HUGE finishes from Silvana Gomez Juarez, Maheshate, Jack Della Maddalena and Jake Matthews. All of the bouts from UFC 275 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
Joselyne Edwards def. Ramona Pascual by Unanimous Decision
There was a clear difference in size right from the start with Pascual cutting down to make 145 and Edwards not really cutting weight at all. Thanks to that weight, it was clear that Pascual wanted to take this fight to the ground. Edwards was also clear in her strategy, lighting her up on the feet early, keeping Pascual at a distance. After a couple minutes of striking, Pascual made her first attempt at taking this fight to the ground but was shut down by Edwards. This pattern continued throughout the round… until Pascual managed to land some HUGE shots along the fence, turning Edwards into a wrestler. It was a tough round to score with Pascual stealing some big moments late in the round and Edwards leading the action for the majority of the round. Pascual used that momentum to push early in the 2nd Round, forcing Edwards along the fence. As the round went on, they moved back to a slow, striking matchup with Edwards chipping at Pascual with kicks from a distance. Pascual grabbed a takedown with about 10 seconds left in the round, but that had no effect on the cards. Honestly, at this point, it was impossible to tell who was ahead on the cards. I might’ve said 1-1, maybe even 2-0 Pascual but realistically, Edwards could have been at 2-0. It should be pointed out though that Edwards seemed to be struggling with her cardio and with Pascual’s game. Maybe sensing that Edwards was slowing down, Pascual went in for an early takedown, but couldn’t quite grab it. After shutting down a couple more takedowns, Edwards started to pick it up again, really starting to pick her apart with striking again. Thanks to that extra activity, I’d have likely scored the fight 2-1 for Edwards, but really any result would’ve made sense; it was just that close. In the end, the judges agreed, scoring it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Edwards.
Silvana Gomez Juarez def. Liang Na by KO in the 1st Round
This fight was WAY faster-paced right from the start. Both women were throwing some crisp combos, but Liang was running forward trying to grab a takedown. Sadly, she was running in a little TOO hot, got ROCKED by Silvana, and got knocked out COLD. A rare, explosive KO win in the women’s strawweight division.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Batgerel Danaa
Here we had the veteran, Kyung Ho Kang, squaring off against the rising contender Batgerel Danaa. Kang has been around the UFC since back in 2013. Since then he hasn’t been the most active fighter, but he’s been pretty successful with a record of 6-3. After a two-year layoff, likely due to COVID concerns, he made his return last year, losing a decision to another veteran in Rani Yahya. Danaa has had the opposite journey so far, joining the UFC in 2019 and being active ever since. He’s also been taking on some of the most talented prospects in the division like Alateng Heili and Chris Gutierrez. He may have lost both of those encounters, but sandwiched between are 3 incredible 1st Round finishes. This seemed like it’d be a tightly contested brawl that’d make it to a decision, but it seemed as though the rising contender, Batgerel, had a decisive edge in this matchup. He has relentless pressure, he’s FAST and has HUGE power. Kang has decent striking and power as well, but Danaa just seems to be on another level. With his extra pressure and speed, I predicted a decision win for Batgerel.
Danaa by Decision
As expected, these guys kept this fight on their feet, trying to pick each other apart with striking. The striking was dead even with both men landing some good shots, but Batgerel seemed to be the one landing the heavier shots, stumbling Kang a couple of times. The 2nd Round opened with a HUGE flying knee from Kang, stumbling Danaa for a bit. Kang started to get more active throughout the round, really throwing out his jab to the chin of Danaa. That being said, Batgerel was still the one landing the more significant strikes. Overall, it seemed as though it was probably tied going into the final round. Kang carried his momentum into the final round, really fighting behind his crisp jab and keeping Daana at a distance. With Batgerel getting more and more wild as the round went on, trying to grab a finish, Kang kept his tight, crisp striking going, likely edging ahead on the cards. It was a TIGHT standup battle, but I’d have given it to the veteran, Kyung Ho Kang 29-28. The judges agreed, scoring it 29-28 for Kang.
Kyung Ho Kang def. Danaa Batgerel by Unanimous Decision
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun
Formerly ranked here at middleweight, after his loss to Chris Curtis, Brendan Allen made a quick move to light heavyweight in his last one to get a finish over Sam Alvey. He’s done well since his 2019 appearance on DWCS, grabbing wins over Kevin Holland, Tom Breese and Kyle Daukaus, but seems to have lost a beat recently with that loss to Chris Curtis. Malkoun has only had 3 fights in the UFC but has made waves already with dominant wrestling performances over AJ Dobson and Abdul Razak Alhassan. At 5-1 in his short MMA career, his only loss came in his UFC debut to the MASSIVE power-puncher Phil Hawes. On paper, Brendan Allen looked like a great choice, but after watching both of their recent fights, I didn’t feel like Malkoun was getting the respect he deserved in this matchup. Malkoun is incredible at wrestling and in the clinch; he controlled Alhassan who’s truly MASSIVE and VERY strong for the division. He doesn’t have much striking ability, but he’s so quick and dominant when it comes to grappling that I thought Allen would likely struggle with all that pressure. Malkoun seemed to be the much stronger grappler and, even though I was sure he’d get tagged by Allen, I figured he would be able to control the action and win on the cards.
Malkoun by Decision
Allen started off the action early, as expected, getting his striking going to keep Malkoun back. After a bit of striking though, Malkoun finally got the chance to get his wrestling going. He shot in and dragged him down, but Allen got back up fairly quickly. The second time though, Malkoun got him down and kept him there, taking Allen’s back and controlling him. Allen managed to get back up and, amazingly, it was Allen who slammed Malkoun to the canvas this time. Allen sunk in a decent guillotine attempt, but Malkoun got out of it and ended up finding himself on top. After collecting a bunch of control time, it seemed clear that Malkoun was up 1-0. Allen landed a couple of decent shots to open the 2nd round, but once again Malkoun turned to his wrestling and dragged Allen down. From there he controlled almost the entire round, finding himself reversed by Allen with about 20 seconds left in the round. Once again, the control time likely lent the round to Malkoun, then up 2-0. Knowing he was likely down in the cards, Allen came in HARD, dragging Malkoun to the ground. Malkoun got back up pretty quick though and they moved back to striking. From there, for the third round in a row, Malkoun started to control the fight along the fence and on the ground. Allen made it interesting though; as the fight hit the canvas, Allen started to reverse Malkoun and found himself in a dominant spot on top. I’d have scored it 29-28 for Malkoun, but, once again, the judges went the other way, unanimously giving it to Allen 29-28.
Brendan Allen def. Jacob Malkoun by Unanimous Decision
Maheshate def. Steve Garcia by KO in the 1st Round
Right away these guys let everything go. Maheshate landed a HUGE one first, stumbling Garcia. From there though, Garcia pinned him along the fence and landed a bunch of shots of his own. After that, Maheshate got out and, with Garcia running straight at him, threw out a BOMB, knocking out Garcia with a CLEAN KO in his UFC debut.
Joshua Culibao def. Seung Woo Choi by Split Decision
These two started off a little slow, being careful not to get hit by anything early. It was dead even, but Culibao may have been slightly ahead with his extra activity. As the round went on though, Culibao SMOKED Choi with multiple HUGE shots, melting him along the fence. Just as it looked like the ref was about to stop the fight early, Choi recovered and actually started landing some huge shots of his own. Carrying on the action of the opening round, they kept the wild striking going into the second. Once again, it was Culibao landing the big one first, knocking down Choi once again. As the round went on though, Choi started to get his striking going, landing some crisp combos of his own. The action slowed down a bit in the third; this time Choi opted to stay away from the striking, pushing Culibao into the fence and down to the ground. From there it was Choi’s fight as he took Culibao’s back and worked for submissions. Sadly, on my cards, it was too late and Culibao won 29-28. The judges were split, scoring it 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 for Culibao.
Main Card Action
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev
Jack Della Maddalena may be a rookie in the UFC, making his second appearance of 2022, but he’s already made an impression on UFC audiences, grabbing a HUGE 1st Round TKO win in his debut and a very impressive decision win over Ange Loosa on the Contender Series in September. In this one, he faced a tough opponent: Ramazan Emeev. Since his debut in 2017, he’s gone 5-2, all decisions, beating Sam Alvey, Niklas Stolze and David Zawada, but fell to Danny Roberts in his last. This was one of the closest matchups of the night and could have gone in either direction after 3 rounds. Normally I would have gone with the Dagestani wrestler Emeev, but all of his fights were VERY close and he’s struggled with long strikers in the past. Jack reminded me of Emeev’s last opponent, Danny Roberts, who’s a long striker that did a lot of damage to Emeev and ended up taking the win. Thanks to Jack’s speed, his scrambling ability, his 5-inch reach advantage and his striking, I predicted Emeev would struggle in the early rounds and win the final round. I said it’d be tight, but I predicted a CLOSE decision win for Jack Della Maddalena.
Della Maddalena by Decision
Della Maddelena got his striking going early but, just as expected, Emeev dragged him down to the canvas and started squeezing the life out of him. From there, Jack recovered and exploded with his striking. He dropped Emeev and let loose a flurry of punches to get a fantastic 1st round TKO.
Jack Della Maddalena def. Ramazan Emeev by TKO in the 1st Round
Jake Matthews vs. Andre Fialho
For his FOURTH matchup this year already, Fialho took on a veteran in Jake Matthews. Matthews has been in the UFC since 2014 but has never really grabbed any huge, notable wins except for decision wins over Li Jingliang and Diego Sanchez. In his last matchup though, he fell victim to the undefeated grappler, Sean Brady. Fialho is still in his rookie year but has absolutely SMASHED all expectations, losing a close battle to Pereira in his debut and following that up with two 1st Round KOs in his last two. For the sake of Matthews, I hate to say this, but it seemed like Fialho was handed a golden opportunity for another quick KO. On the tape, he wasn’t all that active, even against Sanchez, plus he was fairly slow. Fialho is the exact opposite of this; he’s extremely active, never stops moving forward, VERY strong and VERY fast. It seemed like Matthews was going to find himself on the canvas fairly quick.
Fialho by Finish
Fialho was extremely patient to start, letting Matthews work with his striking. Matthews kept working throughout the round, easily taking it on the cards, but Fialho started to come alive right at the end of the round, dropping him with a crisp shot. At the start of the second, it was clear that Matthews was really feeling it. He started to land MASSIVE shots at will, stumbling Fialho over and over again. It took quite a few of those BOMBS, but Matthews finally dropped Fialho to the ground and finished him with a couple of quick shots on the ground.
Jake Matthews def. Andre Fialho by TKO in the 2nd Round
Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Just before we closed out the night with two title fights, we were blessed with a rematch of one of the best title fights in UFC history. Since their first meeting in 2020, Weili has only had one opponent: Rose Namajunas. Of course, she ended up losing both of her fights to Rose, but their second matchup showed how truly dangerous and powerful Weili can be. She stumbled Rose multiple times, she’s fast, a powerful striker and a strong grappler. Joanna’s last fight was that title fight against Weili. In that matchup, she stumbled Weili a couple of times and shut down a decent amount of the grappling and clinching. What won Weili that fight was her relentless pace, more accurate striking and a couple of takedowns. If this were a 5 round fight, we’d likely have seen a similar brawl where Weili would shred Joanna apart with her striking and Joanna would win a couple of rounds. But, in this 3-rounder, it seemed much more likely that Weili would dominate the majority of the action. Weili has trained for FOUR 5 round fights in the past 3 years and went the distance multiple times, never getting tired. With her relentless offence, whether that’s her striking or her grappling, I said Weili would overwhelm Joanna once again and win a tight, thrilling decision. I should point out that Joanna is obviously no slouch, but she’s been out for two years and Weili’s pace was already the biggest threat to her; I figured this would now only be amplified.
Weili by Decision
Continuing where the first fight left off, these ladies went right at it, lighting each other up with MASSIVE combos. Joanna landed a couple of early shots, but then Weili started to string together some HUGE shots, dropping Joanna to the canvas. From there, Weili was assaulting Joanna with HELLISH ground and pound. She managed to get up, but it was clear that Weili grabbed the first round on the cards. The 2nd round was no different with both ladies exploding with huge, wild combos. It looked as though Weili was going to cruise through the round with more HUGE shots, but then out of nowhere, she landed an absolute NUKE of a spinning back fist, straight to the ear of Joanna, levelling her with a walk-off KO.
Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk by KO in the 2nd Round
As Dana White said recently, plus pretty much everyone else, the winner of this fight is lined up for the next title shot against Esparza. That’s clearly what we’ll be seeing from Weili and, just like what Joanna said when she was asked about that matchup, it seems like she’ll have a pretty easy time with Esparza, regaining her belt. As for Joanna, sadly, she’s left her gloves in the Octagon, signifying the end of an incredible, legendary career. It’s tough to see someone still so skilled and dangerous leave us, but you have to respect her choice, wanting to move on with her life, build a family and move on to a new chapter.
Co-Main Event (Flyweight Title Fight)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos
In the first of two title fights, Valentina took on her toughest challenge of the past few years: Taila Santos. The champ is one of the most dominant champions in history, beating every challenger that’s come her way including Joanna, Eye, Chookagian, Maia, Andrade and, most recently, Lauren Murphy. In fact, she’s been so dominant that it seemed like a pretty big deal at the time when Maia won a round on the cards against her. Santos has been almost as dominant in her career, going 19-1 so far with her only loss coming in her UFC debut in a split decision. Since that debut she’s gone on to grab dominant decision wins over McCann, Robertson and Modaferri as well as a HUGE submission win over Joanne Wood in her last. Being that Valentina has been so dominant and that she hasn’t really been challenged by a flyweight, she carried a very clear edge in this fight. She’s VERY fast and about as skilled as you can be in striking and grappling. Where Santos had the advantage is in her size. She’s HUGE for flyweight and is an incredible wrestler. It seemed likely that Valentina would choose to strike with Santos, jumping in and out of range and going for quick takedowns. In the meantime, Santos would clearly be trying to push Shevchenko along the fence and try to find herself controlling Valentina on the ground. This matchup was much closer than the odds suggested; I believed Santos would edge ahead early where she’s most dangerous, controlling Shevchenko on the ground. From there, being a relentless, tireless attacker, I figured Shevchenko would be able to either edge a decision or finish Santos late in the fight.
Shevchenko by Finish
Both women took it very slow to start, but Shevchenko made the first move, landing a couple of counter jabs and pinning Santos along the fence. From there though, to the surprise of some, Santos dragged Shevchenko down and took her back, likely taking the opening round on the cards. In the 2nd round, Santos kept that momentum going, finding herself on top of Shevchenko in the dominant position once again. From there, Shevchenko tried to work for a submission but ultimately the ref actually stood them back up due to inactivity. Shevchenko slammed Santos down to the canvas, but, amazingly, Santos managed to reverse positions, regaining the dominant position. At this point, for the first time in years, it was clear that Shevchenko was down 2-0 on the cards. In the third, as expected, Shevchenko started to get really active. She started to throw out more combos, keeping Santos at a distance. From there she grabbed a takedown, but to the shock of many, Santos jumped right back up. From there, Santos started to work harder, pushing Shevchenko along the fence and eventually slamming her down to the ground and taking her back. The 4th round is where things really started to take a turn, mainly because of a VERY unfortunate clash of heads that shut Santos’ eye immediately. Taking advantage of the situation, Shevchenko started to throw everything at that side, landing some HUGE combos. Santos closed out the round with another massive takedown, but it was clearly Shevchenko’s round on the cards. Valentina pushed hard right away in the final round, lighting Santos up with another massive combo. From there she tried to land another huge takedown but was quickly reversed again with Santos taking her back. Finally, after 4 rounds of working, Shevchenko grabbed a takedown and found herself on top. She was trying to move towards a finish, but the clock was running down. She ended the fight on top, but in my mind, the fight was out of reach and Santos won 48-47. The judges were split and seemed to be watching a whole other fight, scoring it 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46 for the champ, Shevchenko.
Valentina Shevchenko def. Taila Santos by Split Decision
Honestly, like most people, it seemed to me that Santos won this fight. With that close of a result, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t see a rematch. This is the only time, other than her fights with Nunes, that she’s struggled in the UFC. If not, she’s mentioned her desire to move back up to 135 and challenge either Nunes or Peña. Personally, I’ve wondered for a while, and it was mentioned in the press conference, why she doesn’t move down to 115 and shred whoever’s holding the belt. Her response to that was that she’s considering it, but would be much more likely to move up to 135 first.
Main Event (Light Heavyweight Title Fight)
Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka
After we found out who took the flyweight crown, we moved over to the light heavyweight title fight. Glover recently won the belt after a dominant wrestling display over Blachowicz, dragging him down to the ground and submitting him in the 2nd Round. Before grabbing the belt, he was already on a 5 fight win streak that included finishes over Cutelaba, Smith and Santos. Prochazka is by FAR the newer addition to the UFC with only TWO fights here before this title bout. That may not sound great, but he finished BOTH of those with HUGE highlight reel KOs over Oezdemir and Reyes. This increased his KO/TKO streak all the way up to TEN KO/TKO wins in a row! The strategy for both men was clear; we knew Prochazka would go for a KO while Glover would want to drag this fight to the ground. Both men had a clear chance of winning, the difference here was how their styles matched up. Prochazka is MASSIVE for the division, he’s a unique, extremely skilled and dangerous one-punch knockout power. He focuses solely on striking, but he’s got great defence against submissions and his movement prevents most clinches and takedowns. Glover is the exact opposite, he’s slow, fairly large but not SHREDDED like Prochazka and wants the fight down on the canvas. His style is what seemed like the problem here; he’s slow and tends to get hit a lot when he’s going for takedowns. It’s because of that speed disadvantage and his willingness to get hit that it seemed like it would be his downfall, giving Jiri a great chance to grab another KO win.
Prochazka by Finish
As expected, Prochazka came and threw some BIG shots at Glover. Then, right on schedule, Glover went in and dragged Prochazka down to the canvas. He managed to get back up, but Glover dragged him down again fairly quickly. It took a while, but Prochazka actually ended the round on top, slamming his fists into the face of a pinned-down Glover. In the 2nd round, Jiri came alive, SMOKING him with massive shots, dropping him and stumbling him multiple times. Then, out of nowhere, Prochazka had a VERY unfortunate slip that allowed Glover to jump on him and end the round on top. The 3rd round opened up the same way as the second with Prochazka landing some CLEAN shots to stumble Glover again. Over and over again he would SMOKE Glover, but somehow he kept recovering and shot in for takedowns. Finally, the striking just seemed to be too much for Glover and he found himself getting smoked by ground and pound. Prochazka made a mistake and got reversed, but it was clear that he was up 2-1. Prochazka opened up the 4th with some more HUGE strikes but was quickly taken down by Glover. Glover sunk in some DEEP submissions, but, amazingly, Prochazka shrugged it off like it was nothing and somehow managed to reverse him. They then reversed each other, swapping positions over and over until the round was over. Opening the final round, Glover was the one leading the action, landing BOMBS, wobbling Prochazka Just as it looked like maybe Glover was gonna get a standing TKO, he made a terrible decision to drag Jiri to the ground and actually found himself on the bottom. They got back up and Prochazka threw out a combo, but it seemed as though he was getting tired. Glover used that to his advantage, dragged him down and started to control him. Unbelievably, Prochazka then took the top position. What came next, nobody could’ve seen coming. Prochazka found himself in the dominant position, took Glover’s back, sunk in a DEEP submission and made him tap.
Jiri Prochazka def. Glover Teixeira by Submission in the 5th Round
Much like Shevchenko and Santos, this matchup was incredible and a rematch would make sense. That being said, it seems as though Jan has been promised the next title shot and that the winner of Smith and Ankalaev will be challenging for the title after that. As for Glover, he’s made it clear he’ll fight again, likely only a couple more times. For those fights, the man deserves some legacy fights or maybe one last title shot to close out his career.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 4-1
Della Maddalena (W)
KO of the Night: Zhang Weili
Sub. of the Night: Jiri Prochazka
Brawl of the Night: Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka
Most Valuable Fighter
We all knew he’d be a HUGE threat on the feet, but who would have thought that he could compete and even control Glover at points on the ground. Most people also don’t really think about how incredible it is that this was his THIRD UFC fight and he challenged for… and now WON a UFC title. Not only did he do that, but as a striker, he submitted the man who’s been submitting the best men in the division.
She’s the first woman not named Amanda Nunes who has even remotely challenged Shevchenko. Not only did she challenge her, but in most people’s opinions she actually won this bout and really just completely dominated her on the ground.