It was a night for the favorites, as each of the 4 Vegas picks on the main card got the win (Simon vs. Yahya was a pick ’em). It’s no doubt that everyone was disappointed with Robert Whittaker needing to pull out of the main event for emergency hernia surgery, and Kelvin Gastelum not getting the title shot that many thought he deserved.
However, Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya, who were scheduled to fight in the co-main event, were ready to step up and provided an excellently entertaining main event which led to yet another successful UFC card “Down Under.” Let’s start with the main event:
Anderson Silva (34-9,1) vs. Israel Adesanya (16-0)
With Robert Whittaker pulling out of the card for emergency surgery, Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya was bumped up to the main event, and the provided a show! Watching Israel Adesanya is just like going back in a time machine and watching a younger Anderson Silva, a young fighter who you could tell loved being in the octagon, loved being in the hunt, and trying to get the most out of each and every second inside the cage.
Although far from a slugfest, this was the most entertaining fight of the night. I predicted Adesanya winning via 1st round KO, but Silva held his own well enough to make a great go at it. However, the fight turned into a straight kickboxing match, which Adesanya clearly has the experience and the edge fighting. After three rounds, the judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, to the winner and new #1 contender Israel Adesanya.
Victor: Israel Adesanya, unanimous decision
Marcos Mariano (6-5) vs. Lando Vannata (10-3-2)
In a fight that, let’s face it, never should have been on the main card, we had Marcos Mariano vs. Lando Vannata. The match was bumped up from the prelims with the cancellation of Whittaker vs. Gastelum. The fight began with both men finding their range with kicks, but Vannata soon ended up with a body lock, and hip tossed Mariano to the canvas. Vannata landed on top in half guard.
From here Mariano’s deficiencies in jiu jitsu were really prevalent (though he is a blue belt) in his inability to use his long legs to create any separation or to escape the downward pressure of Vannata. Vannata didn’t do as much damage as he would have liked from the top, though he did land a few big elbows. However, after a transition to north/south Vannata locked up Mariano’s arm and secured a kimura.
Victor: Lando Vannata, 1st round submission, kimura
Ricky Simon (15-1) vs. Rani Yahya (26-10,1)
The story of this fight was Ricky Simon’s takedown defense, doing a stellar job against the submission specialist Rani Yahya. Simon started and finished aggressively, constantly keeping the pressure on Yahya, while demonstrating superb boxing. Although he hurt Yahya several times throughout the fight, Simon never got the finish, as he wisely allowed Yahya to stand, choosing not to even toy with the idea of going to the ground against the Brazilian.
I had the fight scored 30-27 at the end of three, and two of the judges agreed, with the third judge scoring the fight 30-25, giving Simon not one but two 10-8 rounds. It looks like someone was a bit too antsy to use the new Unified Rules of MMA, which were in effect tonight in Melbourne. Simon, who is now on an eight fight win streak, has to assume that he will soon be entering the Bantamweight rankings.
Victor: Ricky Simon, unanimous decision
Nadia Kassem (9-5) vs. Montana De La Rosa (6-0)
Montana De La Rosa emerged hyper-aggressively in the first, and forced Kassem into a clinch, with her back against the cage. Kassem then unwisely pulled guard, and was promptly taken down to the mat by De La Rosa. Outside of submission only jiu jitsu tournaments, I can’t for the life of me grasp why anyone would pull guard, particularly in MMA. In this case, it gave De La Rosa the round, and didn’t allow Kassem the opportunity to show off any of her stand up striking.
The rest of the first was De La Rosa on top of Kassem, trying to improve position (position over submission) and repeatedly trying to pin Kassem’s arm and deliver damage. However, not much damage was given, and De La Rosa attempted a kimura and almost had it locked up as the horn blew.
The second round began similarly to the first, with an aggressive De La Rosa finding herself on top of Kassem. This time she achieved position early, quickly securing a mount and then moving her leg around to gain a triangle from the top. She transitioned seamlessly into an armbar and got Kassem to tap.
Victor: De La Rosa, 2nd round submission, armbar
Sam Alvey (33-12,1) vs. Jimmy Crute (10-0)
In the opening act of the main card of UFC 234, we had a strange, but definitive performance from Australia’s own Jimmy Crute. The fight began slow, with both men using the majority of the first round to find their range. Alvey appeared to feint a punch, and got immediately caught by a heavy right from Crute. In what will surely be a huge learning opportunity for Jimmy Crute, he didn’t pursue Alvey to the ground, and assumed the fight was finished.
But much to his chagrin, Smile’N Sam Alvey arose, though visibly shaken. Crute immediately threw a high kick, which he had attempted several times earlier in the fight, and it was caught by Alvey. The fight then went to the canvas, with Crute landing on top, delivering several undefended strikes to the side of Alvey’s head.
Referee Marc Goddard stepped in and called the fight, with Alvey immediately hopping up in protest. Replay did show that Alvey gave a thumbs up, however I believe it was a good stoppage by a very experienced referee.
Victor: Jimmy Crute, 1st round TKO