Wednesday, 16 December 2015

TV Review: UFC 194 Aldo vs McGregor

It’s time for the second part of our Octagon double bill as we take a look at one of the biggest title fights in recent memory at UFC 194, shown this past weekend on BT Sport here in Britain.

The show began in the featherweight division with Max Holloway taking on Jeremy Stephens.

There was plenty of solid action throughout this one. Holloway’s striking looked top notch throughout. Stephens always looked as if he was having trouble keeping up with him at times, and Holloway’s right hand gave him quite a bit of trouble.

So when the striking didn’t work out for him Stephens tried to take the fight to the ground. The only problem was that Holloway’s takedown defence was just as good as his striking, and as the fight moved into the third round Holloway succeeded where Stephens had failed when he scored with a takedown and worked his way into position as he went looking for some chokes.

It wasn’t long before they got back to their feet and Stephens tried for the takedown again, and as the action neared it’s conclusion Stephens began to swing for the fences as he looked for the knockout that he so desperately needed.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called upon for the first time as Holloway took the unanimous decision.

Welterweight action followed as Demian Maia took on Gunnar Nelson.

This was one of the most one-sided fights I’ve seen this year. Maia dominated the action throughout the fight with some tremendous grappling allied to some brutal ground and pound. I’ve said before that Nelson is a great fighter, but Maia made him look ordinary here.

The Brazilian completely overwhelmed the Icelander throughout. Everything he did looked so crisp and clean when he took the fight to the mat and transitioned from position to position with apparent ease. Nelson had his moments, but they were few and far between, and the fact that Maia connected with well over a hundred more blows than Nelson speaks volumes.

As for the judges they gave their overwhelming vote in favour of Maia.

The first of two middleweight fights saw Jacare Souza taking on Yoel Romero.

This was one of those intriguing back and forth battles that ticked all the right boxes as far as the content was concerned. Romero looked in good form in the first round, and when he connected with a spinning back fist Souza fell to the ground like a sack of spuds. The Cuban followed him down for a spot of ground and pound, and even though Souza went for a couple of submissions Romero put such a beating on him that he looked out on his feet when the round came to an end.

Souza still looked out on his feet when the second round began, but by this time it looked as if Romero was running low on power. This gave Souza the time he needed to recover, but when he went for a takedown Romero held onto the fence, which gave him an unfair advantage when he landed in top position. The referee quickly realised this and stood the fighters up, warning Romero about his future conduct.

By the time the third round had started Souza looked like he’d completely recovered from his first round beating, and although Romero managed to get in a few good blows of his own he was in trouble when Souza scored with a takedown and worked to take the dominant position.

But with no finish to the proceedings the judges were called upon once more as Romero took the split decision.

The co-main event saw Luke Rockhold challenge Chris Weidman for the Middleweight title.

If there hadn’t been two title fights on this show then this would have been a hell of a main event as the two top guys in the division put on one of the best fights of the year.

The ground fighting in the first round was great, beginning with Weidman jumped up and took his man’s back. From there they exchanged positions, giving us a glimpse of what was to come.

As for the striking, both fighters got in their fair share of good blows. Rockhold’s kicks looked brutal at times and gave the champion quite a bit of trouble. Weidman tried to return the favour on a number of occasions, but they just didn’t have the same force as those of the challenger.

The real turning point in this one came in the third round. When Weidman went for a spin kick Rockhold countered with a takedown, and it wasn’t long before he took top position and unleashed with the ground and pound. The referee took a very close look as Rockhold turned his man’s face into a bloody mess, and it was a little surprising that the official didn’t stop the fight then as Weidman survived until the end of the round.

But after that beating it was only a matter of time, and when Rockhold took his man down again in the fourth and went back to work with the ground and pound the referee wisely stepped in to give Rockhold the title-winning TKO win.

The main event was the battle of the Featherweight title holders, with Champion Jose Aldo taking on Interim Champion Conor McGregor.

Well, I haven’t used this line in a while, but this really was the blink or you’ll miss it affair of the evening, because it was over in a flash.

Both fighters went for a couple of blows early on, but when McGregor connected with a big left Aldo crashed to the ground, connecting with a left of his own before he hit. McGregor followed him down for a couple of hammer fists before the referee stepped in to give McGregor the knockout win after just thirteen seconds.

In conclusion – the second of last weekend’s UFC shows proved to be even better than the first. This one had that special feeling all through it, and you can put that down to the two title changes.

Every fight on the main card delivered, and then some. The three undercard fights gave us some great action, while the two title fights were worth the price of admission alone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them makes it onto the various fight of the year polls in the coming weeks, although it’s pretty obvious that one of them will get a strong knockout of the year vote.

Speaking of awards, I was tempted to give my prestigious fight of the night no-prize to Conor McGregor’s demolition job on Jose Aldo, but as good as that was I’m going for Luke Rockhold’s defeat of Chris Weidman, a fight packed with some great back and forth action.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give the UFC’s last pay-per-view of the year the big thumbs up.