UFC Fight Night 121: What Happened? What’s Next?

Fabricio Werdum
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 18: (L-R) Fabricio Werdum of Brazil and Marcin Tybura of Poland face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in on November 18, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Fight Night 121 in Sydney has passed us, and it was a historic card. Historic in the sense it had the most cage time of any event at three hours and eight minutes. It had 10 decisions which tied the record for one event. Combine those facts with the FS1 pacing (Extra commercials, ads, promo videos) and it added up to over seven hours of viewing “pleasure.” As much as I joke about the card, there were some high points. A 280-pound man flew through the air for a flying knee KO, a face tattoo was nearly kicked clean off, and a +450 underdog got a finish. Amidst the chaos and boredom, I managed to come out ahead on my bet slip with a 157% ROI. Personally, I enjoyed the card but am admittedly in the minority. Check out what’s next for some of the fighters going forward.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 121: WERDUM VS TYBURA

Fight Pass Prelims

Adam Wieczorek defeats Anthony Hamilton by Unanimous Decision (29-28,29-28,29-28)

There was a lot of action on this fight ending in the first, and most wish it did. Hamilton looked tired a few minutes into the first round and from there Wieczorek was in control. Wieczorek threw a lot of long jabs and half strength leg kicks while avoiding Hamilton’s punches during the stand-up parts of the fight. Once Hamilton would come in sloppy with hands down and heavy breathing Wieczorek would snatch a leg and get the takedown. Unfortunately for the viewers, Wieczorek was unable to do much with the dominant ground positions and largely just held control and landed occasional strikes. It was a pretty clear win for him, but not the most impressive performance by him or Hamilton.

Eric Shelton defeats Jenel Lausa by unanimous decision (30-27-30-26,30-25)

Shelton came into this fight as a slight favorite, mostly being hurt by his back to back losses. He put those losses behind him and came out as a very dynamic fighter. Shelton used counter striking to land peppering punches as well as some heavy shots. Once Lause had to start coming in close quickly to close the distance and try to disrupt Shelton’s counter striking, Shelton would level change and dip Lausa. All three rounds were pretty much the same story, with rounds two and three being deserving of the 10-8. Shelton showed his next fight should be against a top 15 opponent, and he should get the loser of Scoggins/Elliott for his next fight.

Women’s Catchweight Bout (120lbs.)

Nadia Kassem defeats Alex Chambers by Unanimous Decision (29-28,29-28,29-27)

This fight was a great platform for Kassem to make her debut. Kassem is a young fighter who despite her base being Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has shown aggressive striking. Chambers has shown to be tough and willing to grind fights out with clinch control and stalling on top. While the fight didn’t have the highest level of skill it did showcase Kassem’s skills. She used her jab very effectively in round two and then continued to fight long using front kicks and quick low kicks to really pick Chambers apart in round three. Kassem was literally bouncing around with her hands high up trying to bait Chambers into being willing to trade on the feet. Even when Chambers did get her down, Kassem was able to threaten with triangles or orchards and get out of the positions. Overall a good debut for Kassem, who should probably face a lower tier strawweight like Bec Rawlings in her next fight. Chambers may fight one more time for the UFC if they have another 115-pound prospect they want to get a look at, but otherwise will probably be cut. A terrible performance from her versus a debuting unproven prospect.

Frank Camacho defeats Damien Brown Via Split Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)

This fight was one of the highlights of the night. Not just moments, but almost the entire fight. Camacho and Brown said they would throw down and get a performance of the night bonus and boy did they ever. From the beginning, they went to the center of the cage and started standing in the pocket and brawling. Camacho was finding a home for his right hand frequently, but Brown was coming back with lead hooks and forcing clinch ups. As the fight progressed it seemed like Camacho learned from his Jingliang fight and paced his bursts while working in body and leg shots. Brown was slowed down and cut up by the time round three came and that lead to Camacho continuing wading in and throwing. Even with all the pressure on Brown, he continued to fire back and never seemed out of the fight. Camacho clearly won, but it was a war. Some quick stats to give you an idea

  • 327 strikes landed, that’s 21.8 a minute. So every three seconds a strike landed on average. Camacho landed 212, Brown 115.
  • 623 strikes were thrown. 41.5 a minute, .7 strikes a second. That’s a solid work rate for a good heavy bag warm up, let alone a war of a fight.
  • 258 significant strikes landed. 17.2 significant strikes a minute. Many of them were shots that usually change the style of fight. Neither changed their style much and just kept swinging.

They can do whatever they want next to be honest. Maybe Camacho versus Bobby Nash for some Nashty Smashty depending on how Nash’s fight goes in Shanghai. I hope they give Brown a matchup against a newcomer with stand-up history to continue his run of exciting fights.

Tai Tuivasa Defeats Rashad Coulter Via KO/TKO (Flying Knee, Punches) round 1 – 04:35

The odds of one of these guys jumping high enough to knee the other in the head was probably around +500. Not only was Tai able to jump high enough, he set it up properly. The first few minutes were fun and both were trading. Tui was landing a lot of hard leg kicks and inside shots while Coulter was coming from outside and landing some of his own. A little after the three-minute mark, Coulter looked pretty gassed and Tuivasa seized the moment. He started landing harder leg kicks and body blows on Coulter before kicking his lead leg out from under him. While Coulter was slowly getting back up and getting his balance, Tui came flying through the air like a 280-pound ball of dough and violence. The flying knee landed on Coulter’s head and had him out on his feet. Tuivasa followed up immediately with punches and got the finish.

“Boom Boom,” looked good on the feet, and was able to mix-up kicks, knees, and punches. Tuivasa should face Chase Sherman assuming Sherman loses his upcoming fight. Sherman’s following will still be there following his loss and he and Tuivasa share a fight in the knockout of Coulter. Coulter might stick around just because heavyweight is so thin, look for him to face Wieczorek in his next fight.

Nik Lentz defeats Will Brooks Via Guillotine @ 02:05 in Round 2

This fight was the perfect embodiment of both Lentz and Brooks as fighters. Brooks came out sharp and explosive, using his kicks a lot and bouncing around on his toes. Neither of those is his strong suit, but since he is such a great athlete he was still winning. Lentz was hanging tight, taking the occasional shot and sprawling on two of Brooks’ takedowns. Late in the first Lentz almost got a guillotine but instead used it to transition and get to his feet. Round two was more of the same, with Brooks coming out aggressive with the kicks and bouncing on his feet.

Lentz landed some punches in back to back exchanges so Brooks went for the takedown. Brooks left his head on the outside with both his hands clasped around Lentz’s hips while going for the takedown. In the process, though, the king of guillotines snatched up Brooks neck immediately and didn’t let go. Brooks did not fight to his strengths and then when he finally did decide to work his wrestling it was sloppy. He left his neck on the outside had his hands low, leaving his neck out for the choke.

Lentz set himself up to fight anyone after going heel in the post-fight after calling out American Top Team as a whole. Lentz also said he’d beat up his own mom if he had to, and most people are anti-mom beating up. Time is running out for Lentz though, and the UFC should make use of his small name value by matching him up against someone on the way up like Horcher. On the flip side, an old dudes fight between Lentz/Lauzon or Lentz/Miller would be sweet.

Ryan Benoit defeats Ashkan Mokhtarian Via Head Kick knockout Round 3 2:38

Early on Mokhtarian controlled the pace of the fight. He was getting inside and landing a lead hook with one or two follow-ups, then circling away until Benoit would come in aggressive. Benoit landed more towards the end of the first round but was throwing less in rounds two and three. It turns out he broke his hand and foot in the fight. A hindered Benoit was down two rounds in the third but finally timed the circling Mokhtarian to land a brutal head kick knockout. Ashkan may be cut after losing his first two and fighting in a style Dana White hates. Benoit is going to need some time off but could face another prospect before facing top-15 fighters.

Main Card

Alex Volkanovski Defeats Shane Young Via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Volkanovski had an impressive performance throughout the fight. Young was never able to get much going and from the start of the fight was being backed up by Volkanovski. While it was a little disappointing there was no finish, Volkanovski was very patient and took very few chances. On top of the impressive grappling performance, he landed a few heavy hooks and crosses while stepping forward. The whole fight was his and the only critique is he didn’t finish Young even when some hard elbows or mount transitions were available. Volkanovski should fadce a real featherweight such as Dennis Bermudez who doesn’t have a fight scheduled.

Elias Theodorou defeats Dan Kelly Via Unanimous Decision (30-28,30-27, 30-26)

While the 30-28 and 30-26 scorecards are mind-boggling, Theodorou put on a clinic of a clear 30-27 win. The fight wasn’t very competitive or exciting, with Kelly only landing occasional shots in the clinch or when stepping in. Those were few and far between and all the while in between Theodorou just landed half strength kicks to the head, body, and legs of Kelly. If Theodorou had put more power in some of the spinning kicks and hook kicks he was throwing, highlights were available. Instead, he took no chances and threw light kicks so when Kelly would come in to close distance, Theodorou wouldn’t be in a position where he couldn’t step back with the other foot or lean his body away. Theodorou versus Paulo Costa will test Paulo’s ability to hit someone with clean technique, and if Elias should face top 5-10 talent again.

Jake Matthews defeats Bojan Velickovic Via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Matthews deserved the win, but the split decision is a more accurate tale of this fight than a unanimous decision. Velickovic was the aggressor in the fight and landed a lot of good, but not clean, strikes. Matthews landed 50/69 of his strikes and Velickovic 113/163. Despite the volume, Matthews landed 20/34 significant strikes while Velickovic was only 24/48. While the stand up was an even affair, when Matthews took Velickovic down he controlled him for minutes. Matthews looked good but didn’t do as well as a lot of people expected. If the UFC wants him to take a step up in competition, Gunnar Nelson would be a good opponent. If Nelson submits Matthews from one of his stalling positions, Matthews can learn early on and clean up one of the few holes in his game.

Belal Muhammad Defeats Tim Means Via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Muhammad had a very impressive performance in this fight. Going in Means was expected to have an advantage on the feet and would just have to worry about takedowns. Means and Belal had near identical strike totals, with Muhammad being 90/224 and Means going 93/236. One of the big factors in Muhammad getting the nod is he controlled Means against the cage for good portions of rounds and had the only successful takedown of the fight. The biggest takeaway is that Muhammad was able to outbox Means and even out kick him at times too. If Muhammad can use his bully grappling more and keep this level of stand up, he could have a skillset similar to Colby Covington’s. The UFC should feed him Magny or test him against Cerrone.

Jessica Rose-Clark Defeats Bec Rawlings Via. Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This fight was a very frustrating fight. It was one that makes you resent the fact the UFC let’s top 15 talent walk away when they put this level of skill in a co-main event. While they landed a combined 166 significant strikes, it wasn’t so much a testament to their chin, as a knock on their power. There some high hopes for this fight being a back and forth. Rawlings had shown an ability to outpower a lot of 115-pound women on the ground and in the clinch. Rose-Clark seemed a little small, but willing to brawl and throw hands. Instead, they showed neither should be in the UFC after that fight. Rose-Clark is going to face Paige Van Zant, and Rawlings will likely just fight on Australian cards.

Fabricio Wedrum Def. Marcin Tybura Via. Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46 )

Werdum put on a veteran, beautiful, and disciplined performance against Tybura. Tybura has shown he is willing to force clinches if needed, or stay at range and pick apart opponents. Werdum was able to stay in mostly boxing range and land plenty of 1-2 combos throughout the fight. When Tybura would clinch up, Werdum would try to land knees and when Tybura would fire back, he would break. Tybura did not look bad in this fight, with his takedown defense looking solid and his gas tank holding up five rounds with a former champion. The fact he looked good, made Werdum’s performance even better. Werdum will likely face Allistair Overeem if he beats Francis Ngannou, or wait for a title shot after Ngannou gets his. I hope Tybura faces another top guy like Stefan Struve or his previously scheduled Mark Hunt.

 

 

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