Photo by: Carmen Mandato of Getty Images
*This was originally posted on February 13, 2022*
UFC 271 was all it was hyped up to be and perhaps even more. The night started off with action-packed prelims and ended with a tightly-contested title defense for the middleweight champ Israel Adesanya. We were also treated with another highlight reel KO from Tai Tuivasa and a KO from Jared Cannonier that has now put him in position for a title shot. All of the bouts from UFC 271 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
Maxim Grishin def. William Knight by Unanimous Decision
Originally, this bout was set at light heavyweight, but Knight came in 12 pounds overweight so they moved it up to heavyweight. The first couple rounds of this one were fairly slow with both men working to feel each other out. Knight was very clearly having a problem with Grishin’s length. He was struggling to get any strikes in at all while Grishin was picking him apart with leg kicks, crisp combos as well as a big head kick in the first round. In the third, Knight came out heavy, clearly realizing that he was behind on the cards. He tried to get some clinches and takedowns going but just never really got anything going. Then, to really put a stamp on the decision, Grishin dropped Knight at the very end of the fight with a huge hook.
Jeremiah Wells def. Blood Diamond by Submission in the 1st Round
Jeremiah Wells was in complete control this entire fight. Right from the start he got Blood Diamond against the fence and kept pushing for takedowns over and over until he landed one. From there it was about 3 minutes straight of ground and pound and submission attempts until he put Diamond to sleep in a rear naked choke.
D. Silva de Andrade def. Sergey Morozov by Submission in the 2nd Round
In classic bantamweight style, this fight was fast and furious. De Andrade seemed to hold an edge on the feet to start but that flipped after Morozov dropped him to the ground. The fight then took a terrible turn for Silva after he got hit with an elbow and started leaking blood all over the canvas. Even though he was still leaking a bit of blood after the first, he rallied and started hitting Morozov with some BOMBS. He ended up dropping him 3 times in the second round and, even though Morozov was still dangerous and landing some combos, Silva got him to the ground and put him to sleep with a thrilling, come-from-behind submission finish.
Jacob Malkoun def. AJ Dobson by Unanimous Decision
The gameplan for both fighters was very clear right from the start of this fight. Malkoun was continuously shooting for takedowns and trying to push Dobson along the fence. Meanwhile Dobson kept the fight on the feet, landed some beautiful combos and stumbled Malkoun more than once. The first round was clearly in favour of Dobson, but in the second round, Malkoun finally dragged him to the ground and got some nice ground and pound. At this point it was either tied or it may have even been 19-18 after that huge round for Malkoun. He used this momentum to continue his work on the ground in the third round to cruise to a unanimous decision win.
Ronnie Lawrence def. Mana Martinez by Unanimous Decision
On the feet, both men were doing some good work; the difference came on the ground where Lawrence held the clear advantage. The first two rounds, the scorecards clearly leaned towards Lawrence, but Mana came in HARD in the final round. Ronnie seemed to be cruising to an easy decision win until he got SMOKED by Martinez to get dropped twice and looked like he was finished. After that wild final round, Ronnie Lawrence found himself on the right side of the decision thanks to his ground control and knockdowns in the first two rounds.
Carlos Ulberg def. Fabio Cherant by Unanimous Decision
This was the tightest fight of the night so far with neither man really getting off any offence. Thanks to Ulberg’s extra output and slight bit of ground control time, the judges had no problem giving him the unanimous decision win.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo
On paper, this was set up to be kind of a mismatch, but still had potential to produce some highlight reel action. Kyler Phillips is still young in his career but showed great promise with a win over Song Yadong and a tight, majority decision loss over Paiva to fall out of the top 15. Rojo has been slightly less impressive with a loss in his lone UFC fight to one of our favourite Canadians: Charles Jourdain. Phillips is one of the most dangerous young prospects in the division right now at only 26 years old and he was already ranked at one point. Phillips seems to end up in quite a few decisions, so I thought that’s what we’d likely see, but, because of the mismatch, I said we may just see Rojo get finished.
Phillips by Decision
As we predicted, this fight was a showcase of Phillips’ ability. He obliterated Rojo’s leg with countless calf kicks all while lighting him up with crisp combos. After getting dismantled on the feet, it ended up being Kyler’s ground game that won him the fight as he sunk in a very rare triangle-armbar submission.
Kyler Phillips def. Marcelo Rojo by Submission in the 3rd Round
Now that he’s back and dominating a tough opponent like Rojo, it seems fair that Phillips will be fighting for a spot in the top 15 soon. Similar to what O’Neill did in the next fight, a fight with a veteran like Frankie Edgar would make sense. If not, Assuncao, who’s starting to slip out of the rankings, would be a very good move.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Casey O’Neill
Modaferri got her start on the Ultimate Fighter and has always been a fan favourite. Sadly, in terms of her record, it hasn’t gone so well. She’s lost her last 2 fights and has a record of 4-6 in the UFC. Not to mention, she said before this fight that this was going to be the end of her career at 39 years old. O’Neill is essentially the opposite of that; she’s 24 and undefeated at a record of 8-0. That includes 3 wins in the UFC so far, all by finish, most recently over Antonina Shevchenko. You hate to see it, but this was lined up to be one of those fights where a young new contender is going to end the career of a beloved veteran. While I thought O’Neill would certainly walk away with the win, Modaferri is as tough as they come and has NEVER been finished in the UFC. So I said there was a very, VERY good chance we’d see a decision win for O’Neill.
O’Neill by Decision
As expected, O’Neill was ahead in most of the exchanges on the feet and was by far the more accurate striker. Also just as expected, Modafferi tried to make it a close, dirty fight and never stopped moving forward. This striking dominance continued throughout all 3 rounds as O’Neill SHATTERED the flyweight record for significant strikes landing over 150 significant strikes and throwing over 600 strikes. Modaferri tested Casey with a couple of short takedowns but it was obviously nowhere near enough to overcome O’Neill’s display of striking. Somehow one of the judges gave the decision to Modaferri… I don’t even have words to say how incompetent you’d have to be to do that.
Casey O’Neill def. Roxanne Modaferri by Split Decision
O’Neill is clearly one of the best strikers in the division. That being said, this matchup showed a gaping flaw in her game: her takedown defense. While she can easily compete with the top 10 on the feet, she’s not going to do very well if she can’t stop takedowns. If she doesn’t improve, someone like Maia, Murphy, Lee or Santos are going to just take her down and keep her there to win a decision.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa
In the featured prelim we had the return of an ageless wonder, one of the most experienced heavyweights in MMA history: Andrei Arlovski. With a record of 32-20, he’s been in the UFC since 2014. He’s had a couple of BAD streaks hitting 5 losses in a row in 2016-2017 and then went 1-4 in 2018-2019. But since then he’s gone 4-1 with impressive decision wins over Lins, Boser, Sherman and Felipe, all of whom are young, rising contenders. This time he was matched up against another young(ish) fighter in Jared Vanderaa. He came into the UFC with a win on the Contender Series in late 2020 and had 3 fights last year. Sadly, he only won one of those. He lost the other two, getting finished by Romanov and Spivak. Arlovski has turned his career around by using his experience to his advantage. He doesn’t jump in head first, diving into danger like he used to. Instead, he stays active, pushes his opponents to the fence and nullifies their offence. I predicted that if he did that once again, we’d see Arlovski get yet another win.
Arlovski by Decision
This fight was exactly what Arlovski was hoping for: a slow-paced fight where he could pick Vanderaa apart at a distance. All 3 rounds he was the one landing the cleaner shots and better combos. That being said, Vanderaa was the one who landed more shots and controlled a lot of the action. If it were me, along with the analysts, I’d have likely given the decision to Arlovski, but realistically the judges could have gone either way here. In the end, the judges gave the split decision to Arlovski.
Andrei Arlovski def. Jared Vanderaa by Split Decision
Main Card Action
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Bobby Green
The main card opened up with an exciting lightweight matchup between two men on the verge of the top 15. We saw Haqparast just a few months ago lose a decision to Dan Hooker. He looked good in the fight and tried to control the fight by grappling but Hooker was just too much for him to handle. Bobby Green also fought just a couple months ago but had a much better result as he took out Al Iaquinta in the 1st Round. It should be noted that that’s very unusual for Bobby Green. Before that fight he had 10 fights in a row end in a decision. In that stretch (and even before that) he’d fought most of the people in the division including newer names like Fiziev and ‘older’ names like Barboza and Poirier. The way both of these men fight, it seemed extremely likely that we’d be seeing another decision. Also, because of the level of competition that Green has been facing recently (Fiziev, Moises, Guida) as well as throughout his career (Poirier and Barboza), I thought he’d be able to edge ahead on the cards.
Green by Decision
The fight started off all Bobby Green as he utilized his speed and output to pick apart Nasrat. After two rounds, Nasrat’s face was left a bloody mess thanks to Green’s jabs through his guard. This dominance continued through the third round and won him the easy unanimous decision. Even though he’s getting on in his career, after a performance like this, he’ll be finding himself fighting a ranked opponent soon.
Bobby Green def. Nasrat Haqparast by Unanimous Decision
Alexander Hernandez vs. Renato Moicano
Originally scheduled as one of the early prelims, this bout was moved to the main card after the fight between Alex Perez and Matt Schnell. Although not quite in the top 15 anymore, Hernandez is just as explosive and dangerous as ever, perhaps even more so than he was before. He’s gone 3-2 in his last 5 bouts with wins over Trinaldo, Gruetzemacher and Mike Breeden and losses to tough contenders Drew Dober and Thiago Moises. As for Moicano, he’s a UFC veteran at this point with UFC fights all the way back in 2014. Although his record has been a little spotty, all of his losses are to some of the best fighters in the UFC right now including Fiziev, the Korean Zombie, Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega. That being said, if you noticed, most of those would have been at featherweight while this is a lightweight bout. This could have gone either way; both men are very dangerous. This came down to style and history for me. Hernandez is more of a striker, landing powerful shots, while Moicano is more likely to chase submissions. It should also be pointed out that all of Moicano’s losses (with the exception of Ortega) were KOs that happened fairly early in the fight. That should tell you he’s not great against powerful and precise strikers. So, keeping that in mind, I chose Hernandez, especially since he’s got lightweight power and Moicano was getting finished by featherweight power.
Hernandez by Finish
In the first round this was a tight standup battle as both men were landing some combos. It stayed even in the second all the way up until Moicano hit Alex with a big one, stumbled him and got him to the ground. From there it was just a matter of time before Moicano used that BJJ experience to lock in the submission and get the win.
Renato Moicano def. Alexander Hernandez by Submission in the 2nd Round
Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson
Cannonier was ranked number 3 going into this bout and has been tearing up the top contenders in the division lately with wins over Anderson Silva, Hermansson and Gastelum. In that time he also had a heated battle against Whittaker. Brunson, who was ranked at number 4 has also been on a roll recently with a 5 fight win streak since his loss to the champ Adesanya. In those 5 wins he finished Shahbazyan and Till and had decision wins over Ian Heinisch and most recently Darren Till. This matchup was tight in a lot of ways. Both of their records are solid, they’re the same age and have the same height, but there was one huge difference-maker here: Cannonier’s power. If you’d seen his last couple fights, everyone always mentioned the fact that Cannonier has finishes in 3 divisions: heavyweight, light heavyweight and now of course middleweight. To avoid that power, I said Brunson would have to try and use his grappling but that Cannonier would use his strength to take over those grappling scenarios and land some devastating blows with his heavyweight power. In the past, Brunson has been finished by strikes a few times. Thanks to Jared’s power, I thought we may see another KO.
Cannonier by Finish
You could tell that Brunson came into this fight to dominate Cannonier. Doing exactly what we knew he had to do, he took Jared down a couple times and even ended up dropping him and sinking in a deep submission attempt late in the 1st Round. After getting saved by the bell in the first, Cannonier was still having problems with Brunson’s ground game… until everything changed! He got back to his feet and ended up landing some heavy combos, stumbled Brunson and dropped him to the ground. He knew at that point that he had to get Brunson out of there quick before he lost the momentum so he took advantage of his position and landed some HUGE ground and pound elbows to put Brunson to sleep.
Jared Cannonier def. Derek Brunson by KO in the 2nd Round
There’s only one place for Cannonier to go and that’s the next middleweight title fight. He yelled at Dana after his fight that he wants it, Dana said it makes sense and Izzy said he deserves it so I’m sure that’s exactly what we’ll be seeing. As for Brunson, I talked about this last week, Strickland seems like the perfect person to fight him next. Either that or you have Vettori. No matter what happens, there’s exciting matchups all over the top of the middleweight division that’ll keep us entertained for all of 2022.
Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa
As soon as this fight was announced, MMA fans everywhere stood up and cheered. These guys are two of the funniest, most electric and entertaining fighters in the UFC right now. Outside of the Octagon, they’re matched in their wit and entertainment; no matter what happens here we’ll be treated with some clips that will live in internet glory for generations. But I said this seemed like a slight mismatch in actual fighting capabilities. Lewis was ranked number 3 after his title loss to Cyril Gane while Tuivasa had just jumped into the rankings at 11 after getting 4 HUGE KOs over Struve, Hunsucker, Sakai and, everyone’s personal favourite KO, Greg Hardy. I said this in Lewis’ last fight against Daukaus, when two heavyweight strikers clash, the heavier hitter is going to win almost every time, especially when he has a chin. While it’s impressive that Tuivasa has been finishing everyone, I didn’t think he was on the same level as Derrick Lewis. Lewis is a KO machine with the 2nd hardest punch in the UFC (Francis of course being first), he knows when to make his move and he knows how to take a couple punches to give one back. I was pretty sure we were going to be seeing a finish and I thought Lewis would be adding to his KO record.
Lewis by Finish
As expected, it was a very slow start with nothing happening for the first few minutes until Lewis turned into a wrestler and got a nice takedown to secure the 1st Round on the cards. In the 2nd Round the wild exchanges started with both men getting some big shots in. Then, in classic heavyweight fashion, one man landed the bigger shot to get the win. In this case it was Tuivasa who landed a MASSIVE elbow to knock Lewis out on his feet to shock Houston (Lewis’ home) and the world of MMA.
Tai Tuivasa def. Derrick Lewis by KO in the 2nd Round
This result shakes up the entire heavyweight division. Now that Tuivasa will be ranked in the top 5 it opens up a whole slew of new matchups. We could see him fight another striker like Volkov or Rozenstruik or we could even see him fight a more experienced grappler or wrestler like Blaydes, Stipe or even Gane. As for Lewis, I could see him getting matched up with someone he hasn’t fought yet like Aspinall. The one thing we know for sure is that Tuivasa has now solidified his legacy as one of the most entertaining KO artists in the division’s history and being that he’s so young there’s a good chance he could challenge Lewis’s KO record later in his career.
Main Event (Middleweight Title Fight)
Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker
To close out this amazing card, we had the two best middleweights in the UFC right now. The champ, Izzy, is undefeated at middleweight being that his only loss was in his light heavyweight title shot. Meanwhile Whittaker has looked almost unstoppable with only 1 loss since 2014 and that was, of course, to Izzy himself. A lot of people were saying Izzy was just going to go in there and prove that he’s easily the best middleweight around. I didn’t think it was going to be that easy. Whittaker has improved quite a bit since last time and that’s saying a lot because he was already unbelievable before. I went back and forth on this. While Adesanya has been winning all of his other middleweight fights convincingly, his fight against Whittaker was one of his closest. Then you consider the fact that Whittaker has been fairly easily outclassing all of his other opponents and has gotten better since his loss to Izzy. In the end, I picked the champ because he won their last encounter, he’s undefeated at middleweight and he’s still one of the most unusual and powerful strikers in UFC history. BUT, from a betting standpoint, since this matchup was much tighter than people realize, there was a lot of value in betting the underdog which is why I put this as one of my ‘Best Bets’ in the last article.
Adesanya by Decision
The first two rounds were VERY even and were fought completely on the feet. The first round was definitely in favour of Izzy thanks to his knockdown, but the second could have gone either way after Rob landed a quick takedown. Rounds 3 and 4 were a real toss up with Whittaker throwing even more wrestling in and Izzy stumbling Rob with huge leg kicks. In the 5th it seemed to be all Rob thanks to him pushing the wrestling even farther. Especially because of the judging tonight and really just MMA judging lately, either man could have been ahead on the cards. Personally, I had it 48-47 for Izzy with Rounds 2 and 5 going Rob but I could have seen those 3 middle rounds going either way. In the end the judges had it 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for the champ.
Israel Adesanya def. Robert Whittaker by Unanimous Decision
We already discussed this after the Canonnier/Brunson bout. The next title shot will clearly be Izzy and Cannonier. Whittaker, just like Vettori, is in that conversation with Strickland and Brunson. Nobody else is on a win streak in the entire division. There seems to only be two lower ranked fighters that have the hype and skill to potentially make a claim to fight in the top 5 later this year and that’s Kevin Holland and Brad Tavares IF they manage to win their next fight convincingly.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 3-2
KO of the Night: Tai Tuivasa
Sub. of the Night: D. Silva de Andrade
Brawl of the Night: D. Silva de Andrade vs. Sergey Morozov
Most Valuable Fighter
After being a pioneer for women’s MMA, being a fan favourite from the Ultimate Fighter and always giving her competition a tough fight, she deserves this bonus for her career as a whole. The UFC would be lucky to have more fighters like Roxanne and she’ll be missed by the fans.
He came in as an underdog and ended up getting a clean KO over the knockout king of the UFC. If that doesn’t deserve a bonus, I don’t know what does! Another unbelievable performance by an exciting, young contender in the heavyweight division.