An annual show should almost certainly be expected from the UFC after the rambunctious crowd created an atmosphere never quite resembled before in recent memory. According to Dana White, the arena reached 111 decimals, supposedly louder than any other rock concert. The Irish pulled the sweep inside the octagon, while their two headliners stole the show in their respective bouts, finishing both of their opponents with ease. The adopted son of Ireland, Gunnar Nelson, kept his composure early and finished in spectacular fashion via submission. Conor McGregor brought it home early, making quick work of Brazilian, Diego Brandao. The venue featured 10 bouts, with only three of them reaching a decision, resulting to an excellent week of fights from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. To cap off the eventful week of fights, it is time to hit the fan base with some info on the Fight Pass exclusive event that just transpired.
Conor McGregor defeats Diego Brandao via TKO (Strikes) rd.1 – The UFC scored a golden nugget with this one, as McGregor is exactly the star that the MMA needs to take over this sport. A year removed from ACL surgery, the “Notorious” one came out firing on all cylinders against the Brazilian. Brandao had no intentions of backing down though, as he scored with some nice kicks in the early exchanges. Brandao pushed the Irishman up against the cage, McGregor reversed the position and put Brandao on his back. The busy ground game of Diego somewhat backed off the aggressive McGregor; keeping him at bay while he stood up to his feet. The striking fluidity caught up with him though. As Conor teed off on Brandao against the cage, he landed an excruciating shot to the body that staggered the Brazilian, then finished him off with the patented left hand to dome. This marks the third straight victory in the UFC for McGregor, which could set him up with an opponent in the top-tier of the division. Dustin Poirier is rumored to be the fighter the organization is eyeing for a future match up with Irish superstar. It is a fight that makes sense for both parties, and would provide yet another exciting featherweight bout in a rather deep division.
Gunnar Nelson defeats Zak Cummings via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) rd.2 – Fans had to remain patiently for their man, Gunnar Nelson, to get something going in the co main event. The cool calm demeanor of the poised Nelson allowed the 25-year-old to just wait for that exact moment for Cummings to make a mistake, and he did just that. Nelson capitalized quickly and finished the fight within a matter of a minute. Cummings and Nelson clinched up, Cummings dropped his head down, and Nelson proceeded to pull his opponent’s head down to the mat and work from there. Gunnar transitioned to the back and sunk in the rear naked choke with just seconds to spare in the round. Before the submission, Nelson was sparingly getting off. Cummings was the busier fighter. He could have stolen the first round, and was potentially winning the 2nd. Nelson’s submission prowess should be more notable than his unique karate style, as he more than often finishes his opponents via submission. This now sets up the young undefeated fighter with a potential top ten opponent in the welterweight division. Nelson is quietly climbing up the ranks, and could find himself in the upper echelon of the division by years end.
Ian McCall defeats Brad Pickett via Unanimous Decision – Ian McCall may have ticked off Brad Pickett with “Uncle Creepy”, declaring the English fighter was too slow to keep up with him. He may have been onto something though. Pickett spent most of the fight chasing the No. 3 ranked flyweight, and had no answer for McCall’s diverse fighting skills. McCall hopped around the octagon; picking his angles to come in and exchange, and picking perfect spots to mix up his wrestling. “One Punch” Pickett seemed to be on his heels too much, relying too heavily on counter-punching and landing that one shot to put away McCall. Pickett had his moments, for sure, landing a few nice counter hooks when releasing from a few grappling exchanges; it just was not enough to land himself a UFC featherweight title shot against Demetrius Johnson. On the other hand, Ian McCall would love nothing more to share a few rounds with the defending champion. Johnson will have his hands full with Chris Cariaso in his next bout, and Ian McCall could be the next fighter in line for his belt in the future.
Norman Parke defeats Naoyuki Katoni via TKO (Strikes) rd.2 – Parke started off the fight cool and calculated; following around the Asian fighter in the cage, and throwing a variety of high kicks and combinations. Katoni, on the other hand, continued to fight one-dimensionally, landing very few strikes and not setting up his take downs very well at all. The first round ended with Parke on top, landing some huge elbows before the round ends. Second round was much of the same story as the Ireland native stalked Katoni down and landed shots with ease. Kotani made a feeble attempt for a leg lock, but Parke easily pulled out of it and back to their feet they went. Parke once again wound up on top of Kotani in a scramble, raining down thunderous bombs until the ref has to step in to save the overwhelmed Kotani. Parke wasted no time to declare who he wanted next, calling out the popular Diego Sanchez as is preferred next opponent.
In other notable fights on the card, heavy fan favorites Cathal Pendred, Neil Seery, and Patrick Holohan all came away with victories in Ireland. Pendred with possibly the most impressive, after being moments away from being finished from a game opponent in Mike King. Patrick Holohan had quite the easier fight of the three; dropping Sambo with a punch, and finishing him off with a slick rear naked choke. For all the results of the prelim fights, look below for the details.
Ilir Latifi defeats Chris Dempsey via TKO (Punches) rd.1
Neil Seery defeats Phil Harris via Unanimous Decision
Cathal Pendred defeats Mike King via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) rd.2
Trevor Smith defeats Tor Troeng via Unanimous Decision
Nikita Krylov defeats Cody Donovan via TKO (Strikes) rd.1
Patrick Holohan defeats Josh Sambo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) rd.1
What an incredible show put on by McGregor and crew. It would just be down right criminal if the best show in mixed martial arts did not return to Ireland. Next week the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be heading to San Jose, California, as welterweight No. 1 contender, Robbie Lawler, participates in a possible Fight of the Year candidate against Matt Brown. For anything and everything MMA and UFC, makes sure to follow the MMA Spotlight on the Guardian Liberty Voice.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA