Sorry this one took a bit longer to get posted than expected. The UFC continues their trend of having nearly weekly events as we got an FS1 fight night from Houston, Texas less than a week before UFC 208. The big story coming into this event was the return of the “Korean Zombie” who was returning to the octagon after a three year (1,281 day) absence due to military service. But standing in his way was a well established, #9 ranked featherweight in the form of Dennis Bermudez. As with all of our recaps we only look at the main card fights. Let’s get into it.
#5 Jessica Andrade (15-5) vs. Angela Hill (6-2)
Andrade is a former strawweight champion in Invicta and on a two fight win streak was looking to win with style in this fight as a victory could virtually assure her a title shot against the undefeated Joanna Jedrzejckyk. Hill is a former kickboxing world champ and current Invicta strawweight champ came into the night with more or less nothing to lose, but was getting a shot against a tough opponent in a very active division. She came into the night on a 4 fight winning streak and had a definite reach advantage. The contrast in styles was clear to see in the first round with Hill looking to stay outside and strike from distance. Andrade on the contrary was straight ahead, often swinging wildly but landing more shots, especially off counters and controlling the majority of the round while working shots to both the body and the head. The second round was much of the same with Andrade being the aggressor in the fight, but taking some good shots from Hill, including a knee that opened up a cut under her righteye. It wasn’t until late into the second that Andrade started to utilize her take downs, where she clearly had an advantage over hill, easily taking her down twice in the last minute. Surprisingly, despite what her corner said between rounds Andrade didn’t try for a single take down in the third. As for Hill, she proved that she’s got a solid chin as she took shots from Andrade that have dropped other women in the strawweight division. In the end this one went to the judge’s score cards and not surprisingly it was 30-27 on all three cards for Andrade.
This fight did two things in my opinion. It showed that Hill, who was a massive underdog coming into the fight, can hang in the strawweight division in the UFC, don’t be surprised if we see her fighting Paige VanZant soon. It also proved that Andrade is a legit title contender and has the cardio to go five rounds against Joanna. I mean she wasn’t even breathing hard after the fight. All in all a very nice fight to start off the night.
Anthony Hamilton (15-6) vs. Marcel Fortuna (8-1)
Fortuna had a 5 fight winning streak coming into the night, but was making his UFC debut and it was his first time fighting at over 205 lbs. He’s more of a submission specialist with punching power. Hamilton had won 9 of his last 13 but suffered a loss via submission to Francis Ngannou in his last fight in December. Hamilton is a hard charging striker, and with a nickname like freight train he has a reputation for trying to bowl over his opponents. Hamilton definitely had the UFC experience advantage as this was his 8th fight and he also holds the record for the second fastest knockout in UFC history at just 0:14, also if the tale of the tape could be believed Hamilton came in weighing nearly 50 lbs more than Fortuna.
In the end none of that mattered at all. Fortuna rocked Hamilton mid way through the first with a stiff shot and then caught him with an overhand right to the temple that knocked Hamilton out cold at 3:10 of the first round. Fortuna took this fight on two weeks notice and is probably the “smallest” fighter in the heavyweight division, but he looked very good against Hamilton. It will be very interesting to see what happens from here. I don’t think that Fortuna will back down from a fight against anyone in the division but his size could put him at a serious disadvantage against better fighter. For Hamilton this is his second loss in a row and this one was a bad one. The arm bar against Ngannou can be looked past as Francis is a beast and very strong, but Hamilton just didn’t look good in this fight and his stock in the heavyweight division is now way down. He’s gonna need to put together some wins, if he wants to try to get back in any sort of title contention.
#6 Ovince Saint Preux (19-9) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (12-1)
Oezdemir is the first Swiss born fighter to ever compete in the UFC. He was coming off back to back wins and 9 of his 12 wins had come via knockout. This was a short notice fight for Saint Preux, who had both a UFC fight and reach advantage over Oezdemir. Oezdemir seemed to catch nearly everyone off guard with his aggression in the first round, working inside leg kicks and not being afraid to charge in on Saint Preux. Oezdemir took the first round and looked comfortable coming out in the second. The pace slowed down considerably in the second round with both fighters looking like they were a bit winded, but OSP started to show a bit more aggression. Second round was tough to call for me. If I had to I’d say it was probably another one for Oezdemir, but I could just as easily see the judges giving it to OSP. Both fighters were completely gassed in the third. The number of punches and kicks thrown went down considerably and neither fighter really showed all that much “octagon control”. This one went to the score cards, and it was the newcomer Oezdemir taking the split decision 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28. This one is tough to rate. Both fighters took this one on short notice, but OSP, at least in my opinion didn’t look like a top 10 light heavyweight in this fight. Either that or Oezdemir is the real deal. Neither fighter looked like their conditioning was really up to snuff, I would hate to see what they would have looked like fighting in Denver. All I can say is great job Oezdemir and tough luck for OSP, much like Hamilton in the fight before this, back to back losses do not look good.
Abel Trujillo (15-6) vs. James Vick (9-1)
Vick was 5-1 in the UFC since coming from TUF and is a two time golden gloves boxing champion. Trujillo had won three straight coming into the fight. This fight was kind of thrown together as both Trujillo and Vick’s orignially scheduled opponents fell through. Vick had a 7 inch height and a 6 inch reach advantage over Trujillo and came in as a slight favorite. This wasn’t the action packed first round you’d expect from the lightweight division. Neither man threw a real punch or kick in the first minute. Vick did a good job of using his reach advantage to keep Trujillo at distance and despite Trujillo scoring a take down mid way through the first, it was actually Vick that got the better of the exchange. Trujillo was much more active in the second, but Vick was still able to keep him at range. Vick controlled the second half of the round after scoring the first takedown of his UFC career he locked in a choke and man kept Trujillo down with the pressure on. Really interesting what the corners had to say to the fighters after the second round. Trujillo’s corner asking for 5 good minutes, saying that would be enough for the win, while Vick’s corner was telling him to fight smart, essentially saying he’d won the first two rounds and just needed to make it through the third. Man neither fighter listened. Vick came out of the blocks and rocked Trujillo with a jumping knee, Trujillo tried for a take down, he wasn’t great on the ground, and Vick locked him in a D’arce choke which was enough to make Trujillo tap 49 seconds into the 3rd. Vick used his post fight interview to request a fight at the UFC’s May event in Dallas. He didn’t look like he took much damage, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on the main card, probably against a top 10 lightweight.
#12 Alexa Grasso (9-0) vs. Felice Herrig (11-6)
Second strawweight fight on the main card tonight. (Side note: this is the UFC promotional machine being super high on Grasso. There is no other reason that the #5 ranked strawweight taking on the Invicta strawweight champ is the first fight on the main card and this is the co-main event.)This was a striker (Grasso) versus grappler (Herrig) match-up. Herrig was coming off a defeat in her last outing back in July and this was only the second time Grasso had ever fought in the UFC. I’m gonna switch things up a bit here. I’m not going to break this fight down round by round. Let’s just say that Herrig fought the fight the way she wanted to and was pretty much able to pick her spots, landing combinations and scoring take downs in the second and third round. This one went to the judges scorecards and Herrig scored the unanimous decision. (Side note: I love this. I love that the UFC was trying to push Grasso to the moon and she got picked apart by a better fighter. Nothing against Grasso, but this is something the UFC has started doing a lot lately, pushing people that they want in to main event spots over perhaps more deserving matches. This was the second strawweight fight of the night, tell me why Grasso is ranked higher than the Invicta strawweight champ. Tell me why this fight deserved higher billing than the fight in the same weight class that featured to better or at the very least higher ranked fighters.) All right, I’ve said my peace. Congratulations to Herrig, she fought one hell of a fight. I really liked the fact that she called out the UFC for taking her fight against Michelle Waterson from her and giving it to Paige VanZant and calling out both of those ladies. Either of those fights would be good ones.
The Korean Zombie (13- 4) vs. #9 Dennis Bermudez (17-5)
This was Bermudez’s 13th fight in the UFC and was coming in with back to back wins. The big story of the fight was the return of the Korean Zombie in his first fight since 2013. I’ll be honest when I heard the Korean Zombie had been off for 3 years I didn’t expect him to be 29 and actually younger than his opponent, he also had a 6 inch reach advantage. This featherweight main event was scheduled for 5 rounds, it didn’t even make it past the half way point of the first. Ring rust was not an issue for the Korean Zombie, he took some solid looking shots from Bermudez, showing that his chin is still as solid as ever, and then he dropped Bermudez with a right uppercut and followed it up with a couple of quick undefended shots on the ground, forcing Herb Dean to step in and call off the match just shy of the halfway point of the first. A win like this combined with what he’d been able to do in the past has to put The Korean Zombie at least in the top 15 in the rankings and for Bermudez this loss takes him out of the top 10 and probably out of main card fights until he strings together at least two wins in a row.
That’s it. Man that was a lot of fights. Did you watch? What do you think was the fight of the night? Let us know in the comments.
Image from www.ufc.com