5th March 2016, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA
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Fight Pass Preliminary card
Julian Erosa vs Teruto Ishihara
Ishihara goes for a kick off the glove touch. Douche! Ishihara’s striking is faster and heavier and he rings Erosa’s bell early. Ishihara comfortably wins the first round. Early in the second, Erosa charges in and is met with a hard left hook that discombobulates Erosa. Ishihara goes in for the kill and wins by KO.
Jason Saggo vs Justin Salas
The early striking is fairly even, but when Saggo tries a heel kick, Salas ducks under for an easy takedown. Saggo reverses Salas and dominates him, taking his back and smashing him. Very impressive.
Diego Sanchez vs Jim Miller
I need a Sanchez win to get my bets off to a winning start. Sanchez sprints across the cage to get at Miller, but there’s no prolonged early storm. Sanchez takes Miller down half way through the first round and although not much damage is done, it probably wins him the round. Miller is getting the edge in the early round 2 striking, but again, Sanchez gets the takedown. This time though, he’s not able to keep Miller down. Towards the end of the round, Miller gets a standing front choke and throws some heavy knees, securing the round for him. Very difficult to pick a winner from the final round, but the judges go Sanchez’ way, which gets me off and running with the bet.
Darren Elkins vs Chas Skelly
Skelly went into this fight solid bookies’ favourite despite being the lower ranked fighter. Standing, Skelly’s early striking is much more accurate and Elkins barely survives some excellent heel hook attempts on the ground. Skelly edges the first round on my card. Elkins starts round 2 with a successful take down that also almost relieves Skelly of his shorts. Elkins lands some heavy G’n’P and out-wrestles Skelly to win the round. I have it all square going into the last round but Joe Rogan and also Skelly’s corner think he’s two rounds in the hole and needs a finish. If you’re playing Mike Goldberg cliché bingo, you get your first point for “embracing the grind.” The standing exchanges are more even now, but Elkins is stronger on the ground. He can’t quite get the finish, but easily does enough to secure the round. 29-28 Elkins for me. No one else gave Skelly the first round, and Elkins even got a 10-8 for the last round. Right winner, but scores seemed a little generous to me.
Vitor Miranda vs Marcelo Guimaraes
Looking for a Miranda KO win for the bet here. Guimaraes works hard to get the fight to the ground, but Miranda’s takedown defence is pretty good and he makes Guimaraes pay for the attempts. Difficult round to score as Miranda did spend most of it with his back pressed against the cage, but a late striking exchange maybe swings it his way. Round 2 starts the same way, with Miranda pressed against the cage and, as he did in round 1, he drops a series of heavy elbows to the side of Guimaraes skull. As they separate, Miranda sees Guimaraes isn’t very steady on his feet, so he goes in for the kill. TKO at 1:09 of round 2. 2 up for the first bet.
Erick Silva vs Nordine Taleb
After a couple of minutes sizing each other up, there’s a scare for Taleb as he appears to turn his left ankle. He’s a bit hobbled briefly, but he walks it off. There’s an exchange that puts Silva on his back, and as they get back to their feet, Taleb nods and smiles at Silva. Silva offers his left fist forward for a glove touch and switches it into a left hook. Douche! Taleb is the more accurate fighter and wins the round. Early in the second, Taleb catches a Silva front kick and fires a solid straight right hand down the pipe and knocks Silva out cold. Beautiful bit of poetic justice there.
Brandon Thatch vs Siyar Bahadurzada
The first half of round 1 is Thatch being lighter on his feet and more accurate with his striking. It briefly turns into a bit of a brawl and while that’s probably not Thatch’s game plan, he’s holding his own. Thatch takes Bahadurzada down late but loses position. Should still be a Thatch round on the cards. After getting stung early in the second, Bahadurzada takes the fight to the ground. John McCarthy stands them up despite Bahadurzada being very active from the top. After a brief exchange on the feet, Bahadurzada takes it back down to the canvas and drops some heavy G‘n’P. Clear Bahadurzada round. Thatch is dropped by a heavy right hand early and Bahadurzada goes back to dominating on the ground. McCarthy is quick with the stand up again, but Bahadurzada takes it straight back down. Bahadurzada is already heading for a comfortable decision win, when he passes Thatch’s guard and gets a tap from an arm triangle. Solid performance.
Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
The main card (and the second bet) gets underway with two tough Bantamweight ladies. It’s a cagey start, with Nunes landing more strikes and punctuating the round with a take down. Early in the second they are back to the ground and Nunes is in control. The sight of some claret spurs her on and Shevchenko takes a bit of a beating. Nunes almost finishes with a choke but loses position right on the buzzer. Two rounds in the bag for Nunes. A takedown goes wrong at the start of the third and Nunes ends up on the bottom. She shows her experience and makes her way back up with minimal damage taken. Shevchenko comes alive and dominates the round with her striking, but it’s too little too late and Amanda Nunes is a deserved winner by decision, which is good for bet 2.
Corey Anderson vs Tom Lawler
In the first meaningful exchange, Lawlor wobbles Anderson. He recovers, but Lawlor controls distance and wins the round for me. Anderson comes out a bit more aggressively in the second, but Lawlor has the heavier hands and every exchange slows Anderson down a little. It’s a closer round, but Lawlor edges it on my card. Anderson takes Lawlor down a third of the way into the final round and controls from the top. McCarthy stands them up while Anderson is still working. Not sure what Big John has against grappling tonight. Anderson looks the brighter in the final minute, and clearly wins the round. I have it two rounds to one in favour of Lawlor, but it’s a close one. Surprisingly two of the judges gave all three rounds to Corey Anderson. No way he won the first for me, but as the second could have gone either way, it’s not a controversial result overall. Kills the first bet though.
Gian Villante vs Ilir Latifi
Latifi does his best to neutralise Villante’s kicking with his grappling. It’s a difficult first round to score, but Villante nicks it for me. Latifi catches a kick early in the second round, and as Villante tries to pull his leg out, he gets his back taken and is suplexed. They’re back up fairly quickly and the striking for the rest of the round is pretty even. Latifi finishes the round with a big takedown which maybe swings the round his way. All to fight for in the final round, and Latifi is looking for the finishing shot more than Villante, but with limited success. Latifi closes the round with a takedown which probably banks him the round. All the judges gave all three rounds to Latifi. Pretty surprising that this went the distance.
Holly Holme vs Miesha Tate
This is a very tight fight and it’s hard to split them in rounds 1 and 3. Miesha dominates round 2, possibly with a 10-8 and Holly maybe nicks the 4th. Holly is starting to get the edge in the striking in the final round, but with two minutes remaining Miesha jumps on Holly, takes her back and chokes her unconscious. Well done Miesha. NEW champion!! That’s 2 for 2 in the second bet.
Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz
Conor gets the better of the early striking exchanges, and opens Nate’s right eyebrow up. Comfortable first round in the bank for Conor. Round 2 starts much the same, and by a couple of minutes in Nate is a bloody mess. Then, against the run of play, Nate clips Conor with a left and it evens the fight right up. Not very steady on his feet, Conor goes for a takedown and almost gets caught in a guillotine. There’s a scramble, Nate mounts and drops some bombs. Conor rolls to his front and Nate snatches a rear-naked choke. Conor has no choice but to tap and the hype train is (temporarily) derailed, as is my bet. What a scrap?!
Conor is classy in defeat, and Nate doesn’t rub his face in it. This should hopefully calm the noise around Conor down a little bit and he can get refocused on one division at a time, instead of ruling the entire sport.
Bet 1 – £5 returning £69.30
Diego Sanchez to beat Jim Miller @ 11/10 – WIN
Vitor Miranda to beat Marcelo Guimaraes by KO @ 6/5 – WIN
Tom Lawler to beat Corey Anderson @ 2/1 – LOSE
Bet 2 – £5 returning £39.89
Amanda Nunes to beat Valentina Shevchenko @ 4/5 – WIN
Miesha Tate to beat Holly Holme @ 9/4 – WIN
Conor McGregor to beat Nate Diaz in round 1, 2 or 3 @ 4/11 – LOSE
I think I was unlucky with the first bet. For me, Lawlor did enough to win the fight, but for two judges to give all three rounds to Corey Anderson is a bit gutting, having picked the previous two.
No complaints with the second bet. Having picked Nunes and Miesha to win, I was confident going into the main event. Conor just got clipped. It happens, but I’m happy with my selection.
Eyes are on UFC Fight Night Hunt v Mir next. Breakdown and predictions to follow.