Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reactions to UFC 201 Main Card

UFC 201 took placed in Atlanta, Georgia last night, and this event was filled with upset victories. The biggest highlight of the night was Tyron Woodley stopping Robbie Lawler early in the first round, and becoming the new UFC Welterweight champion. Below are my reactions to four of the five bouts on the main card: 

Young prospect Ryan Benoit, and 2008 freestyle wrestling Olympian, Fredy Serrano started the main card. In the first round, Serrnao landed a couple of leg kicks, and he was able to displayed his phenomenal wrestling skills with his monstrous takedowns. Credited to Benoit, not because he took this fight on 10 days’ notice, but also because, he was able to get right back on his feet after getting taken down. While standing, Benoit was the superior striker, owning the center of the octagon most of the time. He dropped Serrnao in the first round, and successfully defended some of Serrnao’s takedowns as well. Serrnao’s stand up skills was definitely wild to watch. He threw awkward punches and kicks from different angles, and landed a series of axe kicks as well. However, Benoit avoided most of his opponent’s shots and countered with a few punches of his own. Despite getting taken down several times, Ryan Benoit secured the victory via split decision. 

The third bout included Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown. Prior to this bout, Jake Ellenberger was unranked, and he had two back to back loses to Stephen Thompson via knockout, and to Tarec Saffiedine via decision. Matt Brown, who is never in a boring fight was coming off of a lost to the talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Demian Maia. Brown was most certainly looking to get back on a winning track. The bout opened up with both men standing in the center of the octagon, and within the first ten seconds, Ellenberger landed a huge right hand that dropped Brown. Ellenberger followed up with a series of punches on the ground. Brown recovered quickly, and stood back up. He was then the aggressor by pressuring his opponent while delivering a series of punches and a knee. Soon, with Ellenberger’s back toward the cage, Ellenberger landed a powerful kick to the liver which dropped Brown for a second time in the first round. This time, Ellenberger didn’t give Brown a chance to recover, and took advantage of the situation by ending the fight via TKO due to ground strikes in the very first round. Jake Ellenberger shown everyone that he is still a top contender in the Welterweight division. 

The co-main event was a women’s straw-weight contest between #3 ranked Rose Namajunas who was on a three fight winning streak, and #5 ranked Polish undefeated MMA fighter, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. In the opening round, Namajunas landed counter strikes and leg kicks. She displayed great footwork which allow her to avoid some of Kowalkiewicz’s shots, while landing over fifteen head strikes of her own. What I noticed late in the first round, Kowalkiewicz was dominated when working inside the clinch position, where she landed knees to the body of her opponent. Both Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz were unafraid to engaged whenever the two were standing up in this highly close contest. In the second round, Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz each delivered over fifty significant strikes.  Thanks to her Muay Thai background, Kowalkiewicz continued working inside the clinch, and landed both hard knees and sharp elbows that definitely slowed down Namajunas both in the second and third round. Kowalkiewicz earned the victory via split decision, and is now next in line to challenge the dangerous Polish Muay Thai striker, and current UFC Women Straw-weight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

UFC 201 closed out with the UFC Welterweight championship bout between the explosive and talent competitor, Tyron Woodley and the former champ, MMA veteran Robbie Lawler. Early in the fight, it was feeling out process where Robbie Lawler was very patient circling around Woodley. Woodley then pressed Lawler against the cage, attempting to take this bout to the ground. Toward the midway point of the first round, Woodley tagged Robbie Lawler with a devastating overhand right punch that dropped him. Woodley quickly landed a series of ground punches which led to the TKO victory. Everyone knows Woodley is dangerous hitter but the MMA world definitely wasn’t expecting the fight end this way so early on in the fight. In the post-fight conference, Woodley mentioned he would like to defend his title against Stockton’s own Nick Diaz, who is coming off a suspension, or semi-retired future UFC Hall of Famer George St-Peirre. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson who looked phenomenal in last few performances, is most likely next in line for a title shot. It’s going to be interesting to see what the UFC matchmakers will decide who will be next for the new champion, Tyron Woodley. 

Fight On!