Monday, 25 April 2016

TV Review: UFC 197 Jones vs Saint Preux

The Octagon is our destination once again as we take a look back at the events of UFC 197, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The show began with featherweight action between Yair Rodriguez and Andre Fili.

This proved to be an exciting show opener. Rodriguez put his kicking skills on display from the moment the fight began, and he allied this with some nice ground work when he scored with a takedown early on. Fili showed some sound defensive work at times, and recovered enough to score with a brief takedown of his own, but the first round clearly belonged to the Mexican.
It was more of the same in the second round, but when Rodriguez connected with a round kick to the head fifteen seconds into the third minute Fili crashed to the canvas. The referee waved the fight straight away, giving Rodriguez the highly impressive knockout win.
The middleweights followed as Robert Whittaker faced Rafael Natal.
The first fight of the show to go the distance proved to be an intriguing affair from start to finish, with both men putting in good performances. Whittaker enjoyed a very good first round with his crisp striking, but as the fight went on Natal was scoring with some brutal kicks to the Kiwi’s left leg, and although Whittaker was still able to get in some good blows he was clearly hampered by the damage the Brazilian had inflicted upon him.
As the third round began an injured right hand meant that Whittaker was for all intents and purposes a one-armed fighter, but that didn’t stop him from getting in some good blows, and with Natal still getting in his fair share the final few seconds saw both men deliver a flurry of blows as they attempted to influence the judges.
As for those judges they gave their unanimous decision to Whittaker.
Then it was down to the lightweight division as Anthony Pettis took on Edson Barboza.

The second three rounder of the show gave us another fifteen minutes of great striking, although as the fight went on it was obvious who was the better of the two.
Pettis put in some good work here. The former champion got in his fair share of good blows, but as good as he was Barboza was just that much better. That left hand of his looked lethal at times, while his inside leg kicks and kicks to the body looked brutal, and you only had to take a look at Pettis’ left leg to see evidence of that.
But despite all of the great striking work from both of these guys there wasn’t a finish, which meant more work for the judges as Barboza took the unanimous decision.
The co-main event saw Henry Cejudo challenge Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title.
As expected fast-paced action was the order of the day in this one, and in that respect it certainly didn’t disappoint. Cejudo came forward as soon as the fight began, and it wasn’t long before he scored with the takedown. They didn’t stay down there for long though as Johnson escaped from this predicament by simply kicking his man away.
Mighty Mouse took control soon afterwards, and a series of knees in the clinch had the challenger in trouble, and as he slumped to the ground and Johnson went in for the kill the referee stepped in to give Johnson the TKO win in under three minutes.
The main event saw Jon Jones and Ovince Saint Preux fighting it out for the Interim Light Heavyweight title.
You know, for a fight featuring a guy who hasn’t done much for the past year or so against a guy who took the fight at three week’s notice this wasn’t too bad, although it won’t go down as one of the most thrilling title fights in MMA history.

Both fighters gave a good account of themselves. Jones looked good if unspectacular early on, and it was obvious that there was quite a bit of ring rust in his game. OSP looked up for the challenge, although when he began to take deep breaths in the second it looked as if his conditioning could be a problem later on.
Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the fight was when Jones scored with a few takedowns late on, and it was while he was unleashing with the ground and pound in the fourth that it looked as if the old Jon Jones was finally getting back into the game. There was even more evidence of this in the final round when he picked OSP up and walked to the centre of the cage before slamming him down with authority. OSP never looked the same again afterwards, and when it looked as if he’d injured his left arm his sole intention was to survive to the end.
So with the fight going the distance the judges were called upon for the final time as Jones took the unanimous decision.
In conclusion – this highly anticipated show may have had a change of main event, but it definitely delivered for the most part.
The under card gave us some nice moments, especially when Anthony Pettis and Edson Barboza were going at it, and Demetrious Johnson put in another great effort in defending his Flyweight title, and although the main event was a tad disappointing overall my night of UFC viewing was satisfactory.
Now as I didn’t get to see the winner of the official fight of the night award I’m going to give my prestigious no-prize to the aforementioned Johnson/Cejudo encounter. It may not have lasted that long, but once again it was an example of the lighter weight classes delivering big time.
So with all of that being said let’s end this thing by giving UFC 197 the thumbs up.