Wednesday, 26 February 2014

UFC 170 Rousey vs McMann on BT Sport - TV Review

It was an historic night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship as two Olympic medallists met for the first time in the Octagon in the main event of UFC 170, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

As always we start with the preliminaries and the flyweight encounter between Zach Makovsky and Josh Sampo.

The first three rounder of the evening proved to be an interesting and entertaining affair. Makovsky put in a good all-round performance here. Everything he did looked so solid, from his striking to his take downs and beyond. Sampo looked okay, but he always looked a step or two behind the number ten contender.

Sampo's best work came in the final round when he scored with his only take down of the fight. Up until then Makovsky had been able to take him down at will, and although he did a good job in keeping Makovsky grounded eventually the battle was lost when Makovsky managed to get back to his feet, scoring with another take down later in the fight.

With no finish in sight the judges were called upon for the first time as Makovsky took the unanimous decision.

Then it was up to bantamweight as Cody Gibson faced Aljamain Sterling.

This all-debutant battle was a very entertaining affair, and the way these two were going at it you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd been fighting in the Octagon for years.

Sterling began his night's work with some flashy looking kicks, which was a sign of things to come as far as fight quality goes. It was a great performance from the newcomer as he out-struck and out-grappled Gibson.

Gibson, for his part, had a very good second round, especially on the ground, but his hard work meant nothing in the third when Sterling came back strongly. His ground work was top notch, and it looked like was going to get the submission win a couple of times, especially towards the end when he applied a rear naked choke. But as the old saying goes Gibson was saved by the bell.

It didn't save him from the judges though, with Sterling taking the unanimous decision.

More bantamweight action followed as Raphael Assuncao took on Pedro Munhoz.

This was a very entertaining three rounder. Assuncao's striking was spot on throughout, and although he never went looking for that big knockout blow he always looked in top form, always one step ahead of the opposition. This allied with a few brief moments of ground and pound, made the fight for the Brazilian.

Munhoz looked okay, but as far as the striking goes he was far behind his countryman. His one main weapon was the kick to Assuncao's lead leg, and although Assuncao showed the signs of battle he was more than able to cope with Munhoz's attack.

The judges continued with their agreeing ways here as Assuncao took the unanimous decision.

The final preliminary fight featured women's bantamweight action as Alexis Davis went up against Jessica Eye.

This proved to be another solid three round affair, and another good advertisement for the ever flourishing women's division. Davis' performance in the first two rounds was top notch. Her striking looked crisp, and her ground work in the second was first-rate as she controlled the action, continually looking for submission openings while delivering her fair share of ground and pound.

Like others before her Eye did okay, but she didn't really seem to get going until the third round, and although she managed to stuff a couple of take down attempts it just seemed too little, too late.

The judges, meanwhile, disagreed for the first time as Davis took the split decision.

The main show began in the welterweight division as Robert Whittaker went up against Stephen Thompson.

The first fight of the broadcast that didn't make it out of the first round saw strong starts from both men, with Whittaker working behind his left jab and Thompson connecting with a few kicks from a karate-like stance.

As time went on Thompson began to look more and more comfortable with his striking. His positioning was spot on as he was able to avoid the majority of Whittaker's combinations. A few blows were getting through, but when the Aussie let loose Thompson simply wasn't there.

Thompson was clearly getting the better of the exchanges, and when they got near the four minute mark a big right sent Whittaker to the canvas. Thompson went in for the kill, and although Whittaker managed to get back up he was soon on the canvas again, and it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Thompson the TKO win.

More welterweight action followed as Mike Pyle took on T.J. Waldburger.

This was a pretty good fight. The first two rounds gave us a ton of great back and forth action. Both guys had some really good moments, especially with their striking.

Pyle's work looked solid throughout. His striking was crisp, and his work on the ground was first-rate. Waldburger, in reply, worked well off his combinations, especially with his kicks.

But it was the third round that proved to be the pivotal moment. Pyle really came into his own as far as his striking goes, and he had Waldburger in no end of trouble, to the point that he looked like he could take him out at any time.

That time came towards the end of the fight. After sending Waldburger to the canvas again Pyle went for an arm-in guillotine, and when that went nowhere Pyle opted for a spot of ground and pound. Waldburger looked like a fish out of water as Pyle connected with fists and elbows, and at one point it looked like Waldburger was knocked out.

But he wasn't, and as Pyle took his man's back Waldburger began to look like a fish out of water. His onslaught was relentless, and even though it was obvious that Waldburger was helpless the referee waited until the final minute to wave off the fight, giving Pyle the highly impressive TKO win.

Yet more welterweight action followed as Rory MacDonald faced Demian Maia.

It's easy to see why this won the official fight of the night award. It was a tremendous three round affair, and a great example of the grappler versus the boxer.

The first round belonged to Maia. After scoring with the early takedown Maia controlled the action brilliantly as he transitioned into position. MacDonald showed some sound defensive work, but Maia was in complete control, and even though MacDonald managed to eventually get back to his feet Maia cemented his dominance with some nice strikes.

It was a completely different story from the second round onwards. The Maia we had seen in the first was no more as MacDonald took control with his excellent striking. Maia just didn't seem able to do anything against this assault. Whenever he tried to take the fight to the ground Maia stuffed all but one of his attempts, and when MacDonald began connecting with a series of kicks to the body it clearly affected the Brazilian because for a time it looked like he was fighting in slow motion.

Maia's only real success came with that aforementioned second takedown. The only problem was that he couldn't get as much work done as he had in the first because MacDonald soon worked his way back up, and from there he cemented his position with some more great striking.

As for the judges, their final decision of the evening was a clear unanimous one in favour of MacDonald.

The co-main event featured light heavyweight action as Daniel Cormier took on Patrick Cummins.

The difference in class in this fight was apparent from the beginning. Although Cummins scored with a few good blows it wasn't long before Cormier asserted his authority onto the proceedings.

An uppercut in the clinch was the first blow that caused Cummins some trouble, and it was a second grazing uppercut that sent Cummins crashing. Cormier followed him down for some ground and pound, and with Cummins offering nothing in reply it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Cormier the TKO win after just 79 seconds.

The main event saw Sara McMann challenging Ronda Rousey for the Women's Bantamweight title.

The blink or you'll miss it affair of the evening saw both fighters swinging as soon as the action began. McMann got in a couple of good blows before they instigated a clinch against the cage.

It was then that Rousey went to work, connecting with a series of good knees to McMann's body, the third of which sent McMann crumpling to the mat. Upon seeing this the referee stepped in immediately to give Rousey the TKO win after just 66 seconds.

Filler material followed, and after a second showing of the Gibson/Sterling fight it was on to lightweight action between Rafaello Oliveira and Erik Koch.

These two began by testing the waters with a few kicks, but as the fight neared it's second minute Koch connected with a big left that sent Oliveira down. Koch soon followed him to there for some ground and pound, and with Oliveira offering up nothing the referee called the action to give Koch the TKO win after just 84 seconds.

In conclusion - the good and the great of the UFC have done it again.

UFC 170 proved to be another great show for Dana White and his crew. All the fights shown delivered to varying degrees, and the main show gave us some great highlight reel moments. In fact the only thing missing from the night's action was a good old fashioned submission.

As for my fight of the night no-prize I'm going to go with the popular opinion on this one and give it to Rory MacDonald and Demian Maia for their great welterweight encounter.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this thing the thumbs up.