UFC Jacksonville: Winners, Losers, Analysis and What’s Next

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Well, another day goes and another great UFC fight card entertains fans in the toughest times we’ve seen for years. I must admit, I didn’t think the card was that good when it was first announced but damn did it entertain when it came to stepping into that cage. Shall we find out exactly what happened? 

Just before we start, the UFC announced at the show that Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dad, Abdulmanap is currently in a coma. I wanted to say, from all of us at PSN, our thought and prayers are with Khabib, his Father, and all the family and we wish him a speedy recovery. 

Chase Sherman (W) vs Issac Villaneuva – Heavyweight Bout 

The opening fight of the card saw heavyweight Chase Sherman make his UFC return and what a return it was. From the first bell, Sherman just outclassed newcomer Villaneuva, hitting him with vicious leg shots that really hurt his opponent in the first round. Sherman was mixing his strikes up at every chance he got, going to the leg and hitting a 1-2 combo on Villaneuva’s body and head. 

The fight ending in the 2nd round, when Villaneuva started attacking Sherman and Sherman countered with a nice combo, followed up by a huge knee from the collar tie that sent Villaneuva crashing into the cage. Sherman followed up with a flurry of strikes, Villaneuva fell to the floor, Sherman followed up with ground and pound elbows and the fight was over. 

Sherman really impressed me with this return, by no means was it a difficult matchup in the end for him but he’s really expanded his striking game and variety whilst being away from the UFC. We still didn’t see much defense from him and he doesn’t seem to have scary, fight-ending power like some of the heavyweights in the UFC but if he keeps on improving from this fight, Sherman will be an interesting watch. 

Hunter Azure vs Brian Kelleher (W) – Featherweight Bout 

The opening round was a really fun one to watch, Azure was finding a lot of success as Kelleher came in for the takedowns. Azure’s hooks were some of the most accurate shots I’ve seen in a while, anytime he threw one, it connected. For me, Azure won round 1, 10-9, but that’s typical of Kelleher fights. 

The 2nd round started and Azure was riding comfortably for the first few minutes, he had Kelleher guessing which level he was going to hit on and was finding success with a lot of his strikes. Then, out of nowhere, Kelleher hit him with some nasty hooks and then cracked him with a huge left that sent Azure crashing to the mat, follow-up hammerfists and that’s the fight over, the veteran takes the win, in surprising fashion. 

Azure really impressed me in this fight and he was unlucky to lose, he was finding the fight pretty easy for the most part, he kept having Kelleher guessing where his strikes would land and Kelleher couldn’t get the takedown he wanted. However, this is MMA and a KO can come from anywhere, and to be fair to Kelleher, it was wicked combo that cracked Azure and ended the fight. 

Gabriel Benitez vs Omar Morales (W) – Lightweight Bout 

After two finishes in a row, the pressure was on the lightweights to keep the run going and they didn’t deliver a finish, although the fight was a pretty fun one to watch. The first round was a closely contended one with both guys standing and banging with eachother, especially with really nice combos. Round 1 was tough to call but I felt Benitez landed the harder hits do he takes it 10-9. 

Round 2 started off with Benitez looking for a combo, however, his low leg kick was checked, and then his shin just split wide open. There’s a video on Twitter showing how bad the cut is if you want to look, but let’s just say I’m pretty sure you could actually see his shin bone. This seemed to change the momentum of the round as Morales started hitting hard and in flurry’s that sent Benitez on his back foot. Morales won Round 2 for me, so it’s 19 all heading into the final round. 

Round 3 was another closely contested round, with both guys finding a lot of success and throwing strike after strike. Benitez was catching Morales a lot in this 3rd round but Morales would hit back with his own shots. It was a really tough fight to call, I had it for Morales just for the volume of strikes he was throwing and in the end, the judges agreed as Morales won by Unanimous Decision. 

Sijara Eubanks (W) vs Sarah Moras – Women’s Bantamweight Bout 

The final fight of the prelims saw the women do battle and it started out with Eubanks flooding Moras with strikes in round 1, Moras struggled to find her footing in the first round, countering Eubanks here and there but Eubanks was throwing combo after combo. Round 1 clearly went to Eubanks, 10-9. 

Round 2 saw Moras find her footing in the fight and the fight went to the mat when Eubanks landed a nice takedown after hitting Moras with a couple of knees. Moras looked to have an armbar ready to go but Eubanks managed to get out of it and land some really hard shots as she postured up. Eubanks then took Moras’ back and hit her with some nice hooks to end the round. 20-18 for Eubanks in my book. 

Round 3 started and Moras came out swinging, knowing she needs a knockout to win this fight. Eubanks was smart and didn’t stand there with her to trade shots, she kept on her back foot and countered when she needed to. Eubanks then clinched up and hit Moras with some nice knees, followed up by a takedown. Moras shot for an armbar and Eubanks was definitely in danger for a little bit but she broke out and took dominant position to land some really nasty ground and pound shots to finish the round. Round 3 went to Eubanks as well for me and the judges agreed as she took the fight via decision. 

Main Card: 

Michael Johnson vs Thiago Moises (W) – Lightweight Bout 

The first fight of the main card saw UFC legend Michael Johnson fight Thiago Moises. The 1st round was extremely fun to watch if you’re a Johnson fan, it seemed like prime Johnson was back, constantly keeping Moises against the cage, lighting him up with some really nice combos to the head and body. Moises was really struggling throughout this 1st round and Johnson clearly won it 10-9 but probably won it 10-8 as Moises didn’t know what to do. 

However, just as round 2 started, the fight was over. Moises shot for an instant leg lock roll, found it, and tapped Johnson out via a heel hook, once again Michael Johnson has lost in heartbreaking fashion and it was just really sad to see. Moises called out Anthony Pettis after the fight and it’ll be interesting to see if that’s Pettis’ returning fight to Lightweight, and if it is, Pettis takes it. 

Andrei Arlovski (W) vs Philipe Lins – Heavyweight Bout 

Next up was another heavyweight bout including UFC legend Andrei Arlovski. Arlovski was really impressive throughout this entire fight, he seemed to have really good cardio, set the pace for the fight at his pace and found good success with his strikes. Round 1 for me, went to Lins as he was really good at countering Arlovski when he was coming inside, however, the following two-rounds went to Arlovski for me after he had Lins on the back foot, guessing where his combos were going to land.  

The fight was stopped in the 2nd round after Arlovski ate a really nasty sounding kick to the groin and he fell to his knees in pain, it honestly looked like the fight would have to be called off. Arlovski got up after a while and the fight continued but I never want to hear a clean groin shot in an empty arena every again! Judges agreed with me in the end and Arlovski took the fight via decision and it was really good to see one of the legends on the card get a win, it will be interesting to see whats next for Arlovski.  

Ricky Simon (W) vs Ray Borg – Bantamweight Bout 

Next up was the bantamweights including Ray Borg and his continued return to action after a 3-year break. The fight started with a flurry of strikes from both men that ended with them going to the floor after Simon shot a takedown. Borg scrambled up but ate some big shots from Simon whilst doing so. Simon looked for the takedown again but Borg countered and got underhooked against the cage, Simon managed to switch positions and slam Borg to the ground again. Simon would take him down 2 more times during the first round, and it was surprising to see Borg being outwrestled. Simon won round 1 for me 10-9. 

Round 2 was a familiar sight as we saw Simon try to outwrestle Borg once again, however, Borg managed to stuff a couple of takedown attempts and it seemed Borg was really eager to have this fight standing up. His striking game was pretty impressive in this fight and he was landing some really big shots on Simon as he came in for a takedown. Borg had a great flurry near the end but I have Simon 20-18 up, Borg needs a finish in this last round. 

Round 3 started with an absolute war on the feet, both guys were swinging for the fences and landed pretty big shots, until Simon picked him up and slammed him to the mat. After another takedown from Simon, Borg manages to get to his feet and cracks Simon with a beauty of a hook to the head, follows it up with a headkick, and Simon seemed to be hurt. Borg was throwing hook after hook after hook and landing a lot of them with some real venom, unfortunately for Borg it wasn’t enough to win the fight as the judges gave Simon the win via decision. 

Alexander Hernandez vs Drew Dober (W) – Lightweight Bout 

The opening round of this lightweight bout was a really interesting one, Hernandez is known for his wrestling ability but didn’t use it once during the first round. Both guys just stood in the middle and fired off at each other, it was a really fun round to watch. Hernandez was enjoying the majority of strikes but Dober had some real venom behind his shots, especially near the end of the 1st round when he rocked Hernandez with a hard combo to the head. For me, I gave the round to Dober but Hernandez had a real claim with the volume of shots he was putting out. 

Round 2 started and then stopped as Dober received an eye poke from Hernandez. The fight starts up again and Hernandez finally goes for his wresting game as he shoots for a double leg but it’s stuffed by Dober. Both guys started to trade shots and Dober ends up dropping Hernandez with a right hook. Dober tuns the pressure up from this point onwards and is just bombarding Hernandez with shots, Hernandez isn’t fighting back and after a few more, huge unanswered shots the ref steps in and Dober wins via TKO. 

Dober has really impressed in his UFC career, he’s changed his game up from a volume puncher with little power to a pressure fighter with serious power in his shots, it’ll be interesting to see where he goes after this, he called out Paul Felder who was on commentary for the fight night and that should be a good fight if it happens. 

Ben Rothwell (W) vs Ovince Saint Preux – Heavyweight Bout 

The co-main event of the evening saw two veterans go head to head, with OSP making him move up a division to heavyweight to face Ben Rothwell. The first round was an interesting one, Rothwell was throwing his weight around, something OSP isn’t used to, especially with a guy like Rothwell. OSP was doing well to keep active and landed some shot but Rothwell seemed too powerful for him. OSP has always had an issue of backing up to the cage and that fed straight into Rothwell’s game, Rothwell took round 1, 10-9. 

Round 2 started and OSP looked like he was getting used to the size and power difference, he was landing more successfully and Rothwell was having to slow down his game in case he got caught coming in. For the entire fight, OSP was fighting with his back against the cage wall and he was using his speed advantage to slip under shots and catch Rothwell. At the end of the round, OSP dropped Rothwell with a beauty of a left-handed shot, OSP jumped on him but they clinched up and the round ended. OSP won that round for me so it’s 19-19 heading into round 3. 

The majority of round 3 saw Rothwell keep OSP against the cage and punish him within the clinch, with really hard knees to the body. OSP was really struggling to escape Rothwell’s grasp, but when he did, he hit Rothwell hard with some really good left hooks. Right near the end, both guys just stood in the middle and swung for the fences, both were eating shot after shot after shot and just as the ref stepped in for the end of the fight, Rothwell fell to the floor.  

For me, OSP almost did enough for the win, especially in those last 2 rounds but Rothwell did as well and he had the more volume. Judges gave the win to Rothwell via split decision but my takeaway from it is OSP could be a solid contender at heavyweight when he’s gotten used to the power difference when in the clinch and up against the cage. 

Anthony Smith vs Glover Teixeira (W) – Light Heavyweight Bout 

Now, it was time for the main event and what a fight it was. Smith came out of the gate firing at Glover at cracking him with great combos with a leading left into a huge right hand. Glover was constantly putting pressure on Smith but Smith was the one benefitting from it as he was connecting with Glover’s face and body with real ease, especially with his long right hand. Round 1 went to Smith easily and he’s up 10-9. 

Round 2 was pretty similar to round 1, Smith was enjoying working off the back foot and letting Glover walk into his range, constantly cracking Glover with his right hand. However later on in the round, after a break from an accidental groin shot to Smith, Glover was finding much more success at closing Smith down and hitting him with a flurry of combos. Round 2 was tough to call, my guess was the judges had Glover winning it so it’s 19-19 heading into round 3. 

Round 3 started and Smith looked tired, Glover seemed to use the constant pressure as a tactic to wear Smith out and it looked like it had worked. Smith caught Glover going for a body kick and threw him to the ground, however, he didn’t know whether to keep Glover down or get back to his feet. Smith’s nose ended up being busted open and he was backing off Glover hard. Glover then cracked him with a left hand and Smith went down instantly, Glover jumped on him but couldn’t find a way to finish it there and then. The referee had to warn Smith to start fighting back and he tried to but Glover took that round 10-8, 29-27 after 3. 

Smith was really badly beaten up and you could tell at the start of the 4th round, he easily had a broken nose, the left hand that knocked him down probably broke his orbital and he was swinging like his right arm was badly damaged. Glover was just cracking him with every strike he was throwing and the fight should have been called off. Somehow it wasn’t and Smith makes it to round 5 but the fights pretty much over with Glover up 39-35.  

Anthony Smith’s cornermen should have thrown the towel in at this point, or even earlier, their man was getting absolutely demolished and he looked like a guy who didn’t want to be there, not a guy who needed a pep talk and sent back out. At one point Smith was handing over one of his teeth to the ref and finally, the ref stopped the fight in the 5th round, Glover wins via TKO and extends his win streak to 4 at the age of 40, incredible performance and fair play to Smith for sticking in there. 

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Glover next, do the UFC book him against Jon Jones in a title fight or do they book him against Dominick Reyes as a number one contenders match whilst Jon Jones fights Jan Blachowicz. Smith, on the other hand, will fall down the rankings and will probably find a fight against someone like Corey Anderson or Volkan Oezdemir, unless Dana thinks he needs to totally restart and gives him a fight against a low-ranking fighter like Ryan Spann or Johnny Walker. 

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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