- Dec 14, 2003
This card got completely hosed in the one day between it and my breakdown, so I'm editing the poo poo out of the breakdown for accuracy's sake. Early prelims begin just under two hours from this post.
CARLCX'S FIGHT BREAKDOWNS, EPISODE 2: I WENT EXACTLY 50:50 LAST TIME, PLEASE DON'T USE ANY OF THIS FOR BETTING
Airs Saturday 1/22 via ESPN and ESPN PPV | Early prelims 4 PM PST/7 EST, Prelims 5 PST/8 EST, Main card 7 PST/10 EST
We have finally arrived at UFC 270: Contentious Labor Issues Explored Through Combat.
It's been weakened by a dozen replacements, reschedulings and COVID pullouts, but this is still a decent card that is being held up by one hell of a double-header.UPDATE: More pullouts happened 24 hours beforehand so the card kind of sucks now. Main events should still be great, but not gonna lie, there's nothing particularly relevant on your way there anymore.
I really wish the UFC would go back to producing official card graphics more than 24 hours before the event so I didn't have to rely on Tapology for these.
DOUBLE MAIN EVENT: TWO CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHTS THAT RULE AND YET ARE STUPID
UFC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP UNIFICATION: Francis Ngannou (C) vs Ciryl Gane (IC)
This might actually be the best heavyweight championship match the UFC has made since Couture/Rizzo, and it is a goddamn shame their own promotional malfeasance has become more of a story than the fight itself. But both stories deserve to be told, so we're gonna get wordy.
Francis Ngannou is one of the most terrifying fighters in the history of mixed martial arts. Like many of the people to hold that title he came from poverty, lived in his gym and had nothing to his name but a chip on his shoulder; unlike many of those people he had the advantage of being able to effortlessly melt anyone he touches, be it from seemingly casual hooks or uppercuts that start at his knee and nearly rip Alistair Overeem's head off his shoulders. After six straight stoppage victories he got his shot at Stipe Miocic's UFC championship in 2018 and proceeded to get completely outclassed and outfought, and followed it up with an all-time stinker decision loss to Derrick Lewis. He then proceeded to dump his lifelong fight camp, move to Xtreme Couture, and do possibly the only thing he could do to make himself scarier: Improve. Ngannou rifled off four more brutal, first-round knockouts in just 162 seconds and punched his ticket to a rematch with Stipe, and this time he dominated him, shrugging off his wrestling, countering his jabs and ultimately dusting him in two rounds and winning the world heavyweight championship after six years of trying.
But over the last few years of his journey, a different story has played out in parallel. Ciryl "Bon Gamin" Gane is a very different kind of scary: A French Muay Thai champion who retired from the sport in mid-2018 to pursue MMA and ran up an undefeated 10-0 record in just three years, 7 of which happened in the UFC. He's not scary for his brutal finishes or his one-punch knockout power--he's actually never scored a KO in mixed martial arts--he's scary because he is one of the cleanest, most technically sound fighters in heavyweight history. Gane has fought 22 rounds in the UFC thus far, which spread across three judges a fight means he's been scored in 66 rounds. He has lost exactly one of those rounds, and the other two judges disagreed. His breadth of technique, his control of range and his disciplined approach give him an incredible ability to chip down opponents, and his last outing saw him use this approach to absolutely destroy Derrick Lewis, stopping him in three rounds after landing 112 strikes to his 16, which is almost as impressive as those 112 strikes carrying a genuinely bonkers 82% accuracy rating. Many see his style as the perfect answer to Ngannou's.
Here's the thing, though: The last time people said that about a technically gifted undefeated 10-0 kickboxing champion it was Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ngannou flatlined him in twenty seconds by walking at him headfirst whilst windmilling his arms like Bart Simpson.
And unfortunately, the biggest story of this fight has become the politics behind it. Francis Ngannou has been extremely public about his feud with Dana White over the UFC's restrictive contracts and low-balling fighter pay, a feud that exploded when the UFC told Ngannou to defend his title less than three months after winning it, and when he balked at the lack of time to prepare, used it to force him into a Derrick Lewis fight two months later. Ngannou asked them to schedule it for the following month: The UFC responded by telling him to get hosed and instead booking Gane/Lewis and making it an interim championship fight, a move normally reserved for long periods of inactivity or injury as opposed to four months after a new champion was crowned. This was decried by fighters and media alike as one of the most blatantly, publicly scummy moves the UFC has ever done, which was obviously very effective, because it happened anyway and now we're doing this. Further complicating matters, this is the last fight on Francis Ngannou's contract and he has vowed to refuse to fight again for the pathetic $500,000 per fight the UFC has been giving him despite being a standing champion with five main events under his belt, which would be additionally complicated by the UFC's champion clause that allows them to retain their beltholders essentially indefinitely.
So the pro-unionization people want Ngannou to win, and the UFC wants Gane to win. Who's going to actually win?
Who the gently caress knows, honestly, but I'm thinking Ciryl Gane wins a decision. People aren't wrong about Gane having excellent tools for defusing Ngannou's offense, and while I made my own specious Rozenstruik comparison, Rozenstruik has a much more flat-footed, straightforward style, where Gane is extremely mobile, very good at getting in and out of range, and almost matches Ngannou in reach. I think Gane potshotting him for five rounds is extremely feasible.
But it's also fully feasible that Ngannou will flail a fist into his mouth, win in one punch and walk away with the belt like CM Punk, and I am very much hoping that happens just to make Dana White's post-fight coke party that much less fun.
UFC FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Brandon Moreno (C) vs Deiveson Figueiredo
This is a very good fight and it really shouldn't be happening.
Deiveson Figueiredo is kind of this prophecied divisional GOAT that keeps not actually getting there but the UFC keeps trying anyway. He was supposed to get a title shot back in 2019, only to get grapplefucked by Jussier Formiga. He was back in title contention in 2020, but missed weight and was thus ineligible for his own title victory. He won the still-vacant belt in a rematch later that year, defended it once and looked like a worldbeater who could never be stopped.
And then he dropped a draw to Brandon Moreno after kicking him in the dick and getting a point deducted. And then they had a rematch, and Moreno comprehensively outstruck him, outgrappled him, dropped him and choked him out.
So Deiveson Figueiredo already fought Brandon Moreno twice in six months, and his record against him is 0-1-1, and in their last fight Moreno beat him at every aspect of fighting, and now, another six months later, we're getting a rematch, because that's how rubber matches work, apparently.
And it's still really close! The oddsmakers have Moreno as a narrow -180 favorite, which is a seemingly insane number for someone who so clearly beat the person he's fighting again, and a sign of exactly how highly people rate Figueiredo's skills. And they might not be wrong. Until 2020 Moreno was looked at as kind of a gatekeeper without much of a highlight reel, whereas with the exception of his losses Figueiredo has looked like an assassin. Moreno is considered scrappy and scrambly and unpredictable, while Figueiredo hits like he's trying to break through the Earth's crust with his fists and once made people think Joseph Benavidez was actually going to die. Moreno's maturation as a fighter seems to be happening now before our eyes, which makes it hard to pin down, whereas Figueiredo has been trucking people for years. Is the UFC right to make this faux-rubber match? Is Deiveson Figueiredo going to get his belt back?
No. Really? -180? Moreno dominated Figueiredo so recently that I made soup when it happened and the soup is still warm. What the gently caress? Moreno by decision. It would be one thing if the second fight had been enormously close, but Figueiredo's effective offensive output in the second fight was basically one good takedown and some elbows from his back, and the first fight, whose closeness is cited as the reason for this trilogy, was marked by Figgy noticeably fatiguing in the later rounds when Moreno was doing LESS well against him.
I'm sure my frustration at this stupid matchup that exists solely because of promotional bullshit and the UFC's failure to promote anyone else at flyweight in time is coloring my opinion, Figueiredo is very good and could capitalize on anything and turn it around, but I think Moreno will come in just as prepared as he was before, and while I think Figueiredo will also make adjustments and be considerably harder to finish this time, I think Moreno showed that he still has his number and will make it a solid decision.
MAIN CARD: DON'T WORRY, THESE FIGHTS WILL NOT GET A THOUSAND WORDS EACH
WELTERWEIGHT: Michel Pereira vs André Fialho
Yeah, some of the fights from here on out should be fun, but in terms of relevance we're pretty much done already.
Michel Pereira is a weirdo. He's a very skilled fighter with an extremely eclectic mixture of jiu-jitsu, muay thai, karate and capoeira, which is a very polite way of saying 'sometimes he does dumb poo poo because it's fun.' In a particularly infamous fight with Diego Sanchez he on one hand dominated him and more or less never took a strike in return, but he also periodically stopped fighting him effectively to instead start dancing in the middle of the cage, or pat his feet between kicks, or do backflip guard passes for no reason. And then he got disqualified for throwing a grounded knee. He's on a decent three-fight win streak right now, though, and appears to have reined in some bad tendencies in the process.
André Fialho, on the other hand, is one of the biggest question marks on the card. He's been a regional standout for a few years and is making his UFC debut now on two weeks' notice as a replacement for Muslim Salikhov, who withdrew for undiclosed reasons that definitely have nothing to do with COVID-19. Fialho, in contrast to Pereira, is a straightforward bread-and-butter kind of fighter: Orthodox boxing, some leg kicks, double-leg takedowns and left hooks. He's got solid power and timing and has ruined more than a few nights with check hooks and elbows, but like many MMA fighters, his defense and movement can be charitably described as Not Great.
So: Michel Pereira by decision. Pereira's stoppages tend to come from really quick counters and having watched a bunch of tape on Fialho I think he's took mindful of counters to fall for one of those, but he's also a fan of traditionally walking people down to get into boxing range and absorbing strikes to get there, and Pereira has made a career out of hitting those people with weird kicks and running away, and a fighter as weird as Pereira is a real tough draw with just two weeks to prepare.
BANTAMWEIGHT: Cody Stamann vs Said Nurmagomedov
Cody "Spartan" "Mr. Wonderful" "Unironic Molon Labe Tattoo In 2021" Stamann is one of those guys the UFC would quietly like to get rid of, a Sean Sherk for the 2020s: Built like a sack of bricks, almost certainly on steroids but very good at passing tests, has competent boxing but usually can't capitalize on it because he has t-rex arms so he wrestles and clinch-grinds people instead. Three years ago he was 17-1, but now he's 2 for his last 6, including a fight he would have lost had it not been for a point deduction and, most recently, two consecutive decision losses against Jimmie Rivera and Merab Dvalishvilii. Typically, if the UFC cares about you, this is when you get a tune-up fight.
The UFC did not give him a tune-up fight. They gave him Said Nurmagomedov, who is 14-2. Before their fight, Brazilian bantamweight Ricardo Ramos mocked Said by saying he was no Khabib. Ramos is right, both in that Said is noticeably lesser as a grappler and a fighter and the two are not even related. Said did, however, spinkick Ramos in his liver and punch him until he crumpled into the fetal position. He's one of those specific kinds of angry Russian fighters who tend more towards wild spinning attacks than suplexes, and he's run up a 3-1 record in the UFC on the strength of his striking, although it includes one ludicrously bogus decision.
The odds have Said as a decent favorite. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Stamann's gonna drag him to a decision. Nurmagomedov is taller, rangier and has a much more varied striking game, but his wrestling defense has already proven questionable on its own merits and that's before you count the numerous times he's gotten ragdolled as a direct consequence of his love for spinning kicks. Stamann is exactly the kind of guy who'll make him pay for it and be too physically strong to shake off afterward, but Stamann hasn't finished anyone in the UFC yet and I don't think this will break the streak.
WELTERWEIGHT: Trevin Giles vs Michael Morales
We've entered the Contender Series section of the card, baby. Michael Morales is a 12-0 wrestleboxer who showed off some quick hands and pretty cool wrestling throws en route to winning his lowball contract, but his defense was questionable at best. Trevin "The Problem" Giles has been in the UFC for almost half a decade at this point, has run up a 5-3 record in the process and has proven himself to be a very tough out with solid striking abilities, a gritty, scrambly game and the ability to tough out three full rounds without losing too much steam. This would seem to make him a surprisingly tough draw for a Contender Series rookie making their debut.
Which is why it helps to remember his takedown defense is basically porous. Michael Morales will repeatedly toss him around and get a decision, because his throws are impressive but his control is a bit less so.
PRELIMS: MOST OF THESE PEOPLE DO NOT RATE WIKIPEDIA PAGES
BANTAMWEIGHT: Raoni Barcelos vs Victor Henry
This fight is probably going to loving rule. Raoni Barcelos is one of the best bantamweights outside of the top 15, a sharp striker with very good, compact boxing who's 5-1 in the UFC with his only loss being a majority decision against Timur Valiev and he nearly knocked him the gently caress out in the process. Victor Henry is making his UFC debut at 21-5-0 as DEEP's bantamweight champion in Japan, he's won 9 of his last 10, and most people who've seen him win did so through Rizin, where he got kind of outgrappled and outfought a couple times but pulled out victories anyway.
That said, Barcelos is probably going to wind up nuking him. Henry's strength is scrambly grapples, but Barcelos is extremely difficult to grapple and he tends to create those positions by moving forward behind loose striking, which plays too well into Barcelos' boxing. I think he eventually cracks Henry's chin and puts him down with his hands. It should be a lot of fun while it lasts, though.
WELTERWEIGHT: Jack Della Maddalena vs Pete Rodriguez
Maddalena is a Stand And Bang elemental, which means Dana White loves him. He's scored a bunch of wins in Britain and Australia and is more or less Australia's welterweight champion, and his performance on the Contender series sums him up very well: High-octane offense, tons of really good combinations, basically no interest in head movement or defense. Pete "DEAD GAME" Rodriguez is coming up from the regional circuit as yet another two-weeks-notice replacement. He's 4-0 and the longest fight in his career lasted 2:21. He hits very hard and he likes to walk forward with his hands nowhere near his face or any other defensive position. He is here to get murdered.
He will, in fact, get murdered. Maddalena by TKO, probably in the first round. Having now watched his entire career in the time it takes to put on a shirt, Rodriguez seems extremely not ready for this. Which is funny, because Maddalena's original opponent was Warlley Alves and I would have said this same thing in the precise opposite direction.
BANTAMWEIGHT: Tony Gravely vs Saimon Oliveira
This will be Tony Gravely's 29th fight in six years, which is a hell of a workrate. He likes turning basically every fight into a giant, wild brawl, which worked very well for him until his last fight where he got knocked the gently caress out doing it. I want to say more about Saimon Oliveira, but the archive for his contender series fight is broken so I have only watched seventy seconds of his career, which proves that he's got a big solid ink tattoo and he can jump a guillotine.
So I'm picking Gravely anyway, because he can probably do more stuff than that. Thanks, Fight Pass.
LIGHTWEIGHT: Matt Frevola vs Genaro Valdéz
Matt "Steamrolla" Frevola was supposed to be a big deal. No, really. He was one of the first Contender Series contract winners, he had a great all-around game, people expected actual things from him. Now he's 2-3-1 in the UFC and coming off a 7-second knockout loss. Genaro Valdéz is the shiny new Contender Series toy who's 9-0 and looks real good on tape: Solid one-two, decent double-leg dump takedowns, strong top game.
I think Valdéz takes Frevola to a decision. Frevola's the favorite based on experience against much better competition, but he's also a dude who's been dealing with injuries, just took the worst loss of his career and was already struggling with the Luis Penas of the world even before that. Valdéz's fundamentals look solid and I wouldn't be surprised to see an upset.
EARLY PRELIMS: WHY YES, THE WOMEN'S FIGHTS ARE ALL ON THE EARLY PRELIMS, HOW VERY STRANGE
WOMEN'S STRAWWEIGHT: Silvana Gómez Juárez vs Vanessa Demopoulos
Demopoulos is 6-4. Juárez is 10-3. The unifying factor: They both got grappled to death by "Loopy" Lupita Godinez. Neither of these fighters are particularly good, in all honesty: They're both students of the 'wing your arms wildly' school of punching and they both learned takedown defense from Keith Jardine instructionals.
But Demopoulos has some actual grappling chops and Juárez is more of a striker. So she's inevitably going to get her to the ground, and at that point I think Demopoulos gets an armbar. Sorry, Silvana.
WOMEN'S FLYWEIGHT: Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Kay Hansen
I watched Jasmine's entire recorded career for this. She strikes like she's shadowboxing a one-armed ghost and she's in the very exclusive club of people I've seen pull mount and at one point she got 3/4 through a sweep and just sort of fell over at the end.
Kay Hansen by submission. Thank you, Contender Series.