It was the end of an era in the early hours of this past Sunday morning as ESPN’s British branch showed a UFC event live for the final time as John Moraga challenged Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title in the main event of the latest show for America’s Fox network.
The broadcast began in the women’s bantamweight division as Liz Carmouche took on Jessica Andrade.
This proved to be a great way to kick off the show. They began trading as soon as the fight began, and when Carmouche took the fight to the ground it signalled the start of some great back and forth exchanges on the ground as they traded positions, with the round ending with Andrade applying a guillotine.
But as soon as the second round started it was almost all one-way traffic when Carmouche scored with another takedown. She quickly took the Brazilian’s back, and when Andrade escaped from the rear naked choke attempt Carmouche went to work with the ground and pound from the back and from the mount. Andrade offered very little in reply to this onslaught, and it was only a matter of time until the referee stepped in to halt the action and give Carmouche the TKO win.
Then it was on to the welterweight division as Robbie Lawler faced Bobby Voelker.
Lawler put on a great performance in this one. From the moment he scored with the early takedown he was able to take control, and although Voelker managed to get back to his feet for a brief clinch against the fence it wasn’t long before Lawler’s striking game saw him dominate the action. He was basically picking Voelker apart, bloodying his face and connecting with head kicks and flying knees. It was the best I’d seen from Lawler in ages.
The end came early in the second round. As Lawler looked to continue his striking form he connected with a left kick to the head that sent Voelker crashing. He then followed his man down for a few more shots before the referee stepped in to give Lawler knockout win.
The welterweight action continued with Rory MacDonald taking on Jake Ellenberger.
The only fight on the broadcast that went the distance probably won’t be mentioned in any fight of the year polls. In short, it was a little uninspiring.
The majority of the fight can be summed up in one paragraph. MacDonald sought to use his reach advantage by keeping Ellenberger at bay, and this he did with a series of left jabs, with the occasional kick thrown in for good measure. It was a tactic that basically shut Ellenberger down, even if it didn’t exactly make for good viewing.
Ellenberger’s best moment came in the final minute of the fight when he scored with a takedown. But by then it was too little way too late as MacDonald continued with his shut down tactics.
With the fight going the distance the judges were called into action as MacDonald took the unanimous decision.
The main event saw John Moraga challenging Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title.
Once again the little guys delivered big time, or rather one of them did, because what we had here was another fine display from the Mighty Mouse.
For almost five full rounds Johnson put on an almost flawless display. Everything he did just looked so good and so crisp, but while his striking was great his takedowns were even better. It was as if he was able to take Moraga down at will, and once he got there he dominated the majority of the action. Moraga did his best at times, and we saw some good escapes from the challenger, but there were times when Johnson made him look a little ordinary.
Moraga’s best moment came in the striking department in the fourth when he connected with a big right that bloodied Johnson’s nose. But apart from instigating a couple of clinches and the aforementioned escapes Moraga’s highlights were few and far between.
The end came as the fight entered it’s final stages. Having tried a number of submissions throughout the fight Johnson went for a kimura before moving for an armbar, with Moraga tapping to give the champion the title retaining submission win.
In conclusion – ESPN’s final live UFC event proved to be a more than satisfying show. Although the MacDonald/Ellenberger encounter proved to be a little disappointing the other three fights certainly delivered.
As for my fight of the night no-prize I’m going for the Johnson/Moraga main event. It was another great example of why the flyweight division is a fine addition to the UFC, and proof that you don’t need to be the biggest dog in the yard to put up the best fight.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one thing left to do, and that’s to give this one the 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!