Discover more from Keyboard Kimura
UFC Vegas 79: About Saturday's Action...
Detailing the results and ramifications from Saturday's fights at the UFC APEX
You Genuinely Hate to See It
The main event between Rafael Fiziev and Mateusz Gamrot ended prematurely, with Fiziev suffering some kind of left knee injury.
The duo ran level in the opening frame, neither really establishing their dominance, and Gamrot came out aggressively in the second, doggedly pursuing the takedown. Fiziev worked free and into space, loaded up a right kick, and as he extended, you could see something in his left knee shift. He collapsed to the canvas, referee Herb Dean rushed in to wave off the action, and the highly anticipated fight ended abruptly in the worst way possible.
Injuries suck, so first and foremost, I wish Fiziev a full recovery.
Now, the second part of this is that we have to stop doing the damn “there’s an asterisk to it” stuff for guys like Gamrot after fights like this because it’s wildly unfair. Fights can end in any number of ways, including injuries, and we can’t treat this like some kind of partial victory when determining what comes next for the former KSW two-weight champ.
A Perfect Case Study Bout
The featherweight co-main event between Bryce Mitchell and Dan Ige should be used to discuss the judging criteria in the sport and how rounds are scored.
Mitchell won a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice, but the fight was far more competitive than even those totals let on. Ige was the far more effective striker in both the first and second round, opening a cut under Mitchell’s eye with one of several heavy shots in the first, and closing up that eye with another big blow in the second. But in each of those frames, “Thug Nasty” finished the round in mount, hunting for submission openings that were never close. Mitchell controlled the majority of the third on the canvas, though there was no real damage amassed or serious submissions threats.
What makes this such a good fight for dissecting and discussing is those opening two rounds, as Ige clearly got the best of things on the feet and did damage, yet lost both rounds on one scorecard and the first on each of the other two, and at the very least, those are scores that are worth breaking down.
We’ve been speaking about the importance and prioritization of damage for nearly 18 months now, and yet it feels like two officials prioritized effective grappling and control in a couple of those frames. In no way was this a robbery or am I trying to discredit Mitchell — I can see how you get to both of those scores — but they should be scrutinized and discussed at the very least; that’s how we all get better.
Marina Rodriguez beat the hell out of Michelle Waterson-Gomez to snap a two-fight skid on Saturday, finally securing the finish midway through the second round. It didn’t need to go that far.
The Brazilian busted up Waterson-Gomez in the first, punishing her with knees to the body and head, as well as elbows that slashed her open and left her leaking. She was all over the veteran from Albuquerque to the point that fight could have reasonably been stopped. Instead, referee Kerry Hatley paused the action to look at the cut over her eye — much to the chagrin of Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping — and allowed things to continue.
We really have to stop valourizing toughness and applauding officials for allowing competitors to take unnecessary punishment. This fight should have been stopped, period — Waterson-Gomez was completely out-classed and overmatched, and all that came from the fight not being stopped in the first was that she took more damage. We’d seen everything we needed to see, nothing was going to change, so protect the goddamn fighters and stop treating heart and toughness and reasons to justify someone catching an extended beating.
Big Win for ‘The Butcher’
Bryan Battle keeps getting better each time out.
The former middleweight Ultimate Fighter winner picked up his second straight stoppage win, choking out AJ Fletcher late in the second round after get wobbled a little late in the opening stanza. After showcasing his hands in rapid wins over Takashi Sato and Gabe Green, his grappling was on display here, as he refused to allow Fletcher back to his feet after the two hit the canvas early in the second. As soon as the opportunity to attack the choke presented itself, Battle locked it in and secured the tap.
He looked like a ball of mouldable clay as the final pick on Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter and has shown steady improvement since then, advancing to 5-1 in the UFC with his win over Fletcher. While there are still things for him to continue working on and sharpen, you have to be impressed with the progress Battle has shown over the last 13 months since moving to welterweight.
Jourdain Building Momentum
French-Canadian featherweight Charles Jourdain picked up his second straight victory to kick of Saturday’s main card, snatching up the neck of Ricardo Ramos.
The 27-year-old was happy to engage with Ramos on the ground after the Brazilian took the fight to the canvas, hunting for submissions off his back and working to create opportunities to get back to his feet. Just as he was getting to an upright position, Ramos shot for another takedown, leaving his neck exposed. Jourdain quickly clamped onto a guillotine choke and squeezed out a tap, bringing the fight to a close a little over three minutes into the opening round.
After a patient, measured showing against Kron Gracie earlier this year, Saturday’s effort against Ramos served as another reminder that Jourdain is a legitimate Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt, and someone that can’t be dismissed as a potential ascending talent in the 145-pound weight class. Now 6-4-1 as a featherweight in the UFC, Jourdain is clearly maturing as a fighter, and it’ll be interesting to see who he gets paired off with next.
Preliminary Card Results
Coming into Saturday, my question for the final prelim was where do Miles Johns and Dan Argueta fit in the bantamweight division? Now we know.
Johns earned a unanimous decision win, with scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28, battering Argueta on the feet while doing well to largely shut down the grappling attacks he was forced to deal with early in the fight. While it was a good effort for “Chapo,” who’d been out of action since last November, it was also the kind of fight that showed his limitations, as Argueta had a bunch of early success on the ground and was able to keep pushing throughout despite limited striking offence.
There is room for Johns to add a little more to his arsenal and take a slight step forward, but he’s likely capped as a Second 15 fighter in the ultra-competitive 135-pound weight class. Argueta is a couple steps behind him and needs to find a way to integrate more striking into his game in order to have any kind of real success at this level, as he offers no meaningful threats on the feet.
This is why I liked this fight going in and enjoy fights like this as a whole: I had questions, we got answers, and now we have a much better sense of where these two guys stand in the bantamweight ranks.
Tim Means has never been a contender and he’s on the cusp of turning 40, but the veteran has always been an all-action fighter and he reiterated that on Saturday by beating the hell out of Andre Fialho.
“The Dirty Bird” had big moments in each of the first two rounds, stinging Fialho with a knee up the middle and follow-up elbows in the opening frame before finishing the second beating him up on the canvas with knees to the body and heavy elbows. He kept the pressure on to start the third and put Fialho away, beginning the finishing sequence with a high kick and closing things with a torrent of punches.
Means is the epitome of those mid-pack veterans I talk about all time that are constantly entertaining, tough as nails, and vital to every division, but no one ever talks about them or celebrates them. He’s a bankable, entertaining fighter and the kind of competitor that elevates every fight card he’s on, even if he’s not a major name.
We have to celebrate these kinds of fighters because we’re going to miss them when they’re gone.
Cody Brundage snapped his three-fight losing streak, but it wasn’t how he’d anticipated.
The Factory X Muay Thai representative was on the business end of things against Jacob Malkoun for much of the first round before the Australian middleweight landed a clear blow to the back of the head that paused the action. Brundage could not continue and referee Mark Smith disqualified Malkoun, awarding Brundage the victory.
This was 100 percent the right call from Smith, who paused the action right away and had instructed Malkoun to be mindful of his weapons earlier in the round. Yes, competitors are moving and sometimes blows land where they’re not intended to, but this was a forearm shiver across the back of the head / nape of the neck area that had no shot of landing clean, so the DQ was absolutely merited.
One more officiating / broadcasting note: the booth once again wasn’t sure how things were to be handled once the doctor cleared out and Smith asked Brundage about continuing, wondering how much time the seated fighter got to recover. In those instances, it’s a “you can go or you can’t” situation, not “take five minutes to recover and we’ll see from there,” and they’ve got to know those things.
Officials need to start taking points for accidental fouls, especially when they have a clear, undeniable impact on the fight.
In the early moments of the second round between Mohammad Usman and Jake Collier, one of Usman’s left fingers went knuckle-deep into Collier’s eye, bring the contest to a momentary halt. For a moment, it looked like the bout was going to be stopped, but it eventually continued, with Usman rallying to earn the unanimous decision victory.
No point was taken, and not only did Collier suffer as a result of the eye poke, but Usman also benefitted from getting nearly four minutes to recover while his opponent was dealing with blurred vision, pain, and answer questions from officials. I get that officials don’t want to have an influence on fights, but as always, it’s the athlete that caused the foul and therefore created the situation where the point should have been taken.
Additionally, Dominick Cruz continually not knowing how things work, but criticizing officials when they don't follow protocol to a tee is getting really tiresome.
Fighting for the first time in just over three years, Mizuki secured a return to the win column and the second win of her UFC career with a unanimous decision win over Hannah Goldy.
A highly regarded prospect when she first touched down in Invicta FC, the 29-year-old Japanese fighter lost her UFC strawweight debut against recent title challenger Amanda Lemos and then underwent a major knee reconstruction. While her performance on Saturday was a little uneven, it’s to be expected after three years on the sidelines, and there were still positive flashes for Mizuki to build on going forward.
What’s really interesting (at least to me) is that she’s still only 29 years old, so with the rust knocked off and things moving in the right direction again, it’ll be interesting to see who she gets matched up with next and if she’s able to string together some wins and become a factor in the 115-pound weight class.
It was a generally rough start to Saturday’s broadcast: the studio crew stumbled over multiple names, the announce team implying that former fighter Chris Leben, who was working the fight, would do a better job judging than seasoned officials, Dominick Cruz made sure to slag opening bout referee Kerry Hatley for his handling of an unusual situation, and the bout between Montserrat Rendon and Tamires Vidal was solid, but unspectacular.
Rendon claimed the split decision victory, but the piece that stood out to me in the bout was Michael Bisping insisting that Rendon needed to simply posture up and rain down blows from top position at the close of both the second and third rounds. While I completely understand his suggestion and agree it’s what you’d like to see, but it overlooks or dismisses that Vidal was doing everything she could to tie up Rendon’s hands and arms, controlling her posture, and working to keep that from happening.
It just feels to me like we often miss the chance to present the full picture of what is transpiring and turn it into a moment to detract from the fighter in dominant position, as if they wouldn’t like to punch their opponent in the face and get them out of there. It’s like if we ripped on quarterbacks for never completing passes when defensive backs are constantly breaking up throws or providing excellent coverage.
Keyboard Kimura is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.