It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s latest trip to Brazil, with a home country hero taking on a Korean Zombie in the main event of UFC 163, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on their new British home, BT Sport.
First up were the preliminaries, beginning with the flyweight encounter between Ian McCall and Iliarde Santos.
This was a great way to start the broadcast, and it was also another great advertisement for their newest division. These two put on an exciting three round encounter, and although it was packed with flashy moves it certainly delivered.
McCall’s striking was top notch. His excellent footwork allowed him to get in and out of Santos’ range. It meant that he could deliver numerous well-placed blows, and when the Brazilian tried to counter McCall was long gone. However, there were times when Santos tried to turn these technical exchanges into a brawl, and although he looked tempted McCall never fell into that trap, not completely anyway.
Santos’ best moment was when he briefly took the fight to the ground, but even in that department McCall had the beating of him, and although his ground work wasn’t as good as his striking it still gave Santos some trouble.
But with no finish in sight it meant that the judges were brought into the equation. They were all in agreement as McCall took the unanimous decision.
Then it was up to the welterweight division as Sergio Moraes faced Neil Magny.
Magny came into this fight looking to use his naturally long reach to keep Moraes at bay, and this tactic worked well at first, until the Brazilian grabbed a hold of him. One trip later and Moraes took the fight to the ground.
The American looked like the proverbial fish out of water as he took control, and it wasn’t long before he took the mount with authority and locked in a triangle choke, adding in a few elbows for good measure. Magny held out for as long as he could before the inevitable tap out gave Moraes the submission win.
Women’s bantamweight action followed as Amanda Nunes went up against Sheila Gaff.
These two didn’t bother with the feeling out period. As soon as the fight started they began swinging for the fences before they scrambled for position on the ground as Gaff briefly took Nunes’ back and looked for a rear naked choke.
The action settled down a little moments later when Nunes scored with a takedown, and although Gaff managed to muscle her way back to her feet Nunes quickly took her down again. She quickly took the mount, and when a series of elbows went unanswered the referee stepped in to give Nunes the TKO win.
With some time to spare it was on to filler material and the welterweight fight between Viscardi Andrade and Bristol Marunde.
This was one of those short and sweet encounters. After a brief feeling out period Andrade connect with a couple of good counter shots, and when he finished a combination with a big right Marunde crashed to the ground. The Brazilian followed him down, and for a moment it looked like Andrade was going for a choke until they got back to their feet.
Marunde was soon back on the canvas though following a big left, and as Andrade followed him down for a spot of ground and pound the referee stepped in to give Andrade the TKO win.
The final preliminary fight featured light heavyweight action as Vinny Magalhaes took on Anthony Perosh.
The blink and you’ll miss it affair of the evening saw the fighters touch gloves before Perosh connected with a right hand that sent Magalhaes to the ground. The Aussie then went to work with the ground and pound with a series of big rights before the referee called the fight to give Perosh the KO win after just 14 seconds.
This part of the show rounded out with highlights of the Francimar Barroso/Ednaldo Oliveira fight, with the third round shown in full. (I’ve decided only to review full fights now. It kind of spoils the flow of the action for me when highlights are shown in this way.)
The main show began in the flyweight division between John Lineker and Jose Maria, although this was actually a catchweight encounter because Lineker failed to make the weight.
This all-Brazilian battle proved that the flyweights are capable of getting a finish. It began with both fighters testing the waters a little, with Lineker reminding his man of his power with a blow that sent him back a couple of steps.
However, moments later Maria connected with a spinning back fist that rocked Lineker, and although he looked ripe for the picking he couldn’t quite get the finish, and a takedown gave Lineker time to recover and work his way back into the fight.
Lineker looked more assured as the second round began, and although Maria got in some good kicks it looked like he injured his right leg when he countered a right to the body with a left kick. As he fell to the mat Lineker went in for the kill with a series of rights until the referee stepped in to give Lineker the TKO win.
Then it was on to middleweight action as Thales Leites faced Tom Watson.
As much as it pains this Tom Watson fan to say this, but Leites put in a dominating performance in this fight. The Brazilian scored with the takedown after just thirty seconds when he took Watson’s back and dragged him to the mat. From there he connected with a barrage of blows that opened up a cut above Kong’s left eye before he briefly went for a rear naked choke before going for an armbar.
Watson eventually managed to get back to his feet, and although he managed to connect with some good shots the fight began to follow the familiar script when Leites took him down again in the second round, and when the third round began he connected with a left that opened up an even nastier cut above Watson’s left eye.
So as the blood poured down the Brit’s face Leites took the fight to the ground once more, and it wasn’t long before he went for an arm triangle. He kept the hold in place for what seemed like an age, but as Watson gave the referee the thumbs up to show that he was okay they ran the clock down to the end of the fight.
Which meant that the judges were called into action again. No surprises here as they gave everything to Leites.
After a second showing of the Moraes/Magny fight it was back to middleweight action as Cezar Ferreira took on Thiago Santos.
The second quickie of the night saw Ferreira rock his man with a big left. A few more blows followed before Ferreira took control on the ground and synched in a guillotine. Santos quickly tapped out to give Brazil’s first Ultimate Fighter the submission win after just 47 seconds.
After a second showing of the Nunes/Gaff fight it was on to the co-main event and the light heavyweight encounter between Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis.
For three rounds these two put on an intriguing battle, and probably one of the closest fights I’ve seen this year. It began with a lengthy feeling out period, but as time went on Machida began to get the better of the striking exchanges, his best moment came when an explosive flurry had Davis back-peddling right up to the cage, but as the first round entered it’s final minute Davis scored with the takedown he’d been looking for, adding a little ground and pound into the mix as well as a kimura attempt before the horn sounded.
It was pretty much the same story in the second, some good striking from both men with Machida looking the better of the two. Once again Davis scored with the late takedown. But this time around the takedown came a little too late for him to do any damage.
Round three saw Machida continue with his great striking, and as Davis went for the takedown Machida stuffed each and every attempt. It was a great display of defensive work from the Dragon, clearly buoyed on by fighting in front of his home fans.
But with the fight going the distance the judges came into play again, and once again they were in complete agreement. However, that decision went in favour of Davis, which came as something of a shock, especially for this writer.
The main event saw Chan Sung Jung challenging Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.
This proved to be a very interesting affair. It began with the both fighters testing the waters, and as the action progressed Aldo seemed to take the upper hand as far as the striking was concerned, while Zombie seemed to take a more cautious approach.
It certainly wasn’t a tactic that served the Korean well. Aldo, despite the fact that he wasn’t going for his usual stinging kicks, looked in top form as he wore his man down with some crisp combinations. He also put in some good work on the ground with his takedowns, the best being when Zombie went for a flying knee, with Aldo catching him in mid-air and spinning him round so he could slam him into the mat. It was the nearest thing you’d get to seeing a pro wrestling-like spine buster in the Octagon.
Aldo changed his tactics a little as the fight entered the third as he tried for several takedowns. Zombie did a good job of playing the spoiler here, and when the referee separated them for inactivity late in the round it seemed to spur Zombie on as he put together his best combination of the fight.
With Aldo having obviously won the first three rounds Zombie had to up his game to prevent a shut out as the fourth began, but sadly he never got the chance to do this. Two minutes in he connected with a big right, the impact of which dislocated his shoulder. As Zombie tried to pop the joint back in himself Aldo went in for the kill with a couple of kicks to the arm, and when the fight went to the ground Zombie had no answer to his barrage of blows, so the referee stepped in to give Aldo the title retaining TKO win.
In conclusion – I’ve really enjoyed this MMA marathon over the past few days, beginning with Bellator 97 and ending with another great UFC show.
As the old saying goes all the fights delivered big time, and although there was a rather perplexing decision in the Machida/Davis fight, and my favourite British middleweight was beaten by a classy Brazilian this failed to spoil my overall enjoyment of the show.
As for my fight of the night those in the know went for the Ian McCall/Iliarde Santos encounter, and I see no reason to disagree with that particular decision, so the no-prize is going that way.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give UFC 163 the big thumbs up.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!