Monday, 27 April 2015

TV Review: UFC 186 Johnson vs Horiguchi

It was a show that had quite an eventful run-in, with numerous pull-outs because of injury, one of which forced the postponement of the original main event, another fighter pulled because of a failed drugs test, and a court battle with a rival promotion over a fighter's disputed contract.

But despite all of that, Demetrious Johnson faced the latest challenger to his Flyweight crown, Kyoji Horiguchi, in the main event of UFC 186, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the bantamweight division as Yves Jabouin faced Thomas Almeida.

Those of you who read my recent BAMMA 20 review will have seen the references I made to hometown fans going away unhappy because of the results. Well, a few hours later in Montreal there was more of the same.

Local boy Jabouin scored with a quick takedown after the initial feeling out period. He didn't get much chance to work on the ground though because it wasn't long before Almeida managed to get back to his feet. From there these two traded some nice combinations, with each getting in some telling blows.

But after the first entered it's final minute Almeida connected with a left that rocked his man. Jabouin was soon back up against the fence as Almeida unloaded with the heavy leather. Jabouin wasn't going anywhere or offering anything in reply, so it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Almeida the TKO win.

The first catchweight fight, made at 160, saw John Makdessi taking on promotional newcomer Shane Campbell.

This all-Canadian battle was a great example of how a fight can turn in an instant. The opening exchanges clearly belonged to Campbell. His kicks to Makdessi's lead leg looked brutal, and the claret was soon running down Makdessi's cheek.

In short, Campbell looked awesome, but that all changed when Makdessi connected with a big right hand that rocked the newcomer. Campbell looked out of it for a few seconds, and although Makdessi went in for the kill Campbell found enough energy to get back to his feet.

It looked as if Campbell had enough in him to survive the round, but when Makdessi connected with another right in the final ten seconds that was it. A spot of ground and pound followed until the referee stepped in to give Makdessi the TKO win.

Then it was on to the middleweight encounter between Michael Bisping and CB Dollaway.

The first fight of the main show to go the distance proved to be a very entertaining back and forth affair with both fighters putting in good performances. Both men got off some good combinations early on, but whenever Dollaway went for the takedown Bisping once again showed the tremendous takedown defence that has frustrated many an opponent.

What could have been the turning point came in the first when Dollaway connected with a big left that put Bisping on his backside. But as our esteemed commentators noted if Dollaway had let the Brit get back to his feet then he may have been unable to unload on him a bit more. Instead Dollaway decided to join Bisping on the ground, and despite getting in a few good blows Bisping showed that sound defence once again.

The rest of the fight gave us some more nice back and forth exchanges. Bisping looked in top form throughout, and while his combinations looked good for the remainder Dollaway began to noticeably slow down as he looked for the big blow that would cause Bisping no end of problems.

Sadly for the American that blow never came, and with no stoppage in sight the judges became a part of the equation as Bisping took the unanimous decision

The co-main event featured more catchweight action, this time made at 215, as Rampage Jackson went up against Fabio Maldonado.

The second three rounder of the show gave us what could be Rampage's best striking performance of the last few years. It may not have included any earth-shattering blows, but from a technical standpoint it was certainly his best in recent memory.

The majority of his work looked very crisp, and it was good to see him mixing in a few knees and kicks with his combinations. It made for a very good overall performance, and it was certainly better than that of his performance, because apart from a takedown late in the second Maldonado's performance was quite one dimensional, relying on punches throughout, and there were several times when he showboated after Rampage unloaded with a good combination. Perhaps if he'd thrown a few good punches in reply instead of showing that Rampage's attack hadn't done any real damage he may have had a chance or two.

So with no finish from either men the judges were called upon once again as Rampage took the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Kyoji Horiguchi challenging Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title.

I know I've said this countless times before, but once again these flyweights have impressed the hell out of me. From start to finish these two gave us a memorable fight, with the man who looks almost unstoppable putting in another great performance.

Horiguchi came into this fight with high praise backing him up, and early on it looked like he was going to give Johnson quite a challenge, especially with those well-placed kicks of his. The only problem was that he was facing Mighty Mouse, and it wasn't long before the champion was imposing his will on the fight.

The challenger had a few good moments, particularly when he connected with a knee to the head, but these moments were few and far between as Johnson once again showed that he may be the best technical fighter the UFC have on their books at the moment. Everything he did just looked so good, and once again I must quote our esteemed commentators by saying that he made Horiguchi look quite ordinary.

When the fight entered the final round it was obvious to all with the gift of sight that Johnson was going to win. Horiguchi was just holding on by then, and as Johnson scored with a couple of takedowns it looked like they were going to play out for time and move towards the decision.

But as the fight entered it's dying moments Johnson transitioned into position so he could apply an armbar. There was no more holding out for Horiguchi and he tapped out with just one second left in the fight to give Johnson the thoroughly deserved submission win.

In conclusion - well, my second MMA review of the day has left me in quite a content mood, because UFC 186 was a great main course.

Each and every fight was very enjoyable, from the first round finishes of the first two fights, to the two three rounders, right up to the extremely enjoyable main event and the new record for the latest stoppage in UFC history.

As for my fight of the night no-prize I didn't get to see the official award winner, so this writer is going to plump for the Johnson/Horiguchi Flyweight title fight, mainly because of Mighty Mouse's outstanding performance. Is there anyone in that division who can beat that guy?

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 186 the big thumbs up.