UFC Fight Night 103 saw the return to Phoenix in which Yair Rodriguez was able to pick up a dominant TKO victory against MMA legend B.J. Penn.
While we saw the emergence of a potential superstar, the night featured a lot of the usual craziness we’ve come accustomed to seeing. Such as abysmal scorecards, quality fights, top prospects, broken cups, and of course Ezekiel chokes…well maybe not the last two.
With that said lets get right into what went down.
Yair Rodriguez dominates B.J. Penn:
When the UFC booked Penn vs. Rodriguez, it was a real head-scratcher. Penn hasn’t fought in two years, and he looked awful in his last outing against Frankie Edgar. Unsurprisingly, Rodriguez dominated Penn en route to a TKO victory in the second round.
Rodriguez looked unbelievable, landing anything and everything he wanted to. He was quicker than Penn; he had the distance, size, and power advantage.
One has to wonder if this is the last of Penn in the octagon. While he looked bad, Yair is a young kid on the rise. It’s hard to gauge whether or not he should still be fighting based on his level of opposition here, but the man has nothing left to prove.
Joe Lauzon and Ben Saunders both picked up wins with the help of some very questionable scorecards.
Saunders picked up a unanimous decision win against Court McGee. It was a pretty poor showing for Saunders who was making his return to the UFC. While it was a close fight, McGee certainly did enough to win the fight. It wasn’t an egregious decision, but it was disappointing.
The Lauzon vs. Marcin Held fight on the other hand was a complete robbery. Held clearly won the second and third round dominating the grappling exchanges. He arguably won the first round as well. Somehow two of the judges managed to score the fight for Lauzon.
Lauzon even admitted he had lost the fight in the post-fight interview.
This was not the way to start 2017 for the judges.
Sergio Pettis picks up giant win:
Penn vs Rodriguez was highly questionable matchmaking, John Moraga vs. Pettis was the perfect fight to book.
Pettis has been real hot as of late and picked up another huge victory beating Moraga. In a fairly close fight, Pettis edged out a unanimous decision victory and has vaulted himself into the top-5 of the flyweight division.
For Moraga, this makes three losses in a row. Fortunately all of his losses came against strong opposition, so it’s unlikely he’ll be cut from the UFC but one must wonder if Moraga is checking out. During the media leading up to the fight with Pettis, Moraga came out against the UFC in terms of his salary.
With three losses in a row and his growing frustration with the sport this could be the last of Moraga we see, which is unfortunate because he is a very talented fighter.
Every single UFC event offers some kind of weird ‘I never seen that one before. On Sunday night, we not only saw a broken cup, but we also saw Oleksiy Oliynyk pull off the first ever Ezekiel choke against Viktor Pesta; and he did it while being mounted!
It was the tenth time in Oliynyk’s long career that he has pulled off the rare submission.
Whose Stock Rose?
A lot of people will only say Yair looked as good as he did against Penn because of how bad Penn looked. That’s unfortunate because Rodriguez looked as if he could have done what he did to Penn to anybody he faced last night.
The pure combination of Rodriguez’s size, speed, power, and accuracy was unbelievable. The degree of kicks he was landing was video game-esque. His performance showed he belongs in the cage against not just a top-10 featherweight, but any featherweight in the UFC.
For years the UFC tried billing Cain Velasquez as their gateway to Mexico. Who would have figured they’d find that superstar through the Ultimate Fighter Latin America.
Rodriguez is ready for the primetime.
Pettis is under a lot of pressure to produce due to the success of his brother Anthony. So when he lost a couple of fight at the start of his career, a lot of people wrote him off. Fortunately he didn’t let those losses cascade him into the abyss and has really turned things around as of late.
With the huge win against John Moraga, Pettis has propelled himself to the top-5 of the division.
Moraga has been the quintessential gatekeeper of the Flyweight division. He’s a tough fight for just about anybody at 125, so getting by him is massive for Pettis. He could be a win away from fighting for the title this year.
Mendes picked up a split decision victory over a tough Frankie Saenz. Somehow one judge managed to score the fight for Saenz, but it was all Mendes.
Mendes is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in MMA. Unluckily he drew current Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt on short notice in his UFC debut. He lost that fight by TKO.
Here he had a full camp, and he looked very good. He controlled the entire fight against Saenz and surprisingly showed good hands with some pop in his strikes. Now that he has a UFC win under his belt it will be interesting to see how he progresses. He could be a fast-rising Bantamweight.
Drakkar Klose: While Devon Powell had the hype heading into their matchup, Drakkar Klose came out the winner, and he did so in dominance.
Klose made Powell look like a regional fighter. It wasn’t Klose…lazy
The Cut Line:
Chase Sherman: UFC picked up Sherman from Titan FC, it hasn’t worked out.
Frankie Saenz: Saenz is a tough veteran out of Benson Henderson’s camp. Unfortunately the loss to Mendes makes it 3 in a row. He could be saved from being cut, but at 36 years old it’s not looking good.
Viktor Pesta: Another European Heavyweight prospect bites the dust. Pesta is good as gone but still young. He could be back with a couple of wins.
Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger: Lybarger unfortunately hits 3 losses in a row.
Bojan Mihajlovic: 2 losses in a row by knockout is never a good sign, especially for a Heavyweight.
Alex White: Loser of 3 out of 4, White is probably getting the pink slip.
–Tony Martin picked up his second win in a row beating Alex White
–Walt Harris picked up a second straight victory which will likely extend his stint with the UFC
–Cyril Asker was able to TKO Russian prospect Dmitri Smoliakov