The UFC made their first trip to Denmark last night for UFC on ESPN+ 18 (also known as UFC Copenhagen). In the main event, Jared Cannonier TKO’d Jack Hermansson, sending him into the middleweight title picture. With a number of European fighters on the card taking on tough opponents, they rose to the occasion. Fighters based out of Europe won nine fights at UFC Copenhagen. We take a look at some of the notable performances and highlight what this may do for the fighters’ careers.
At 11-0, Welshman, Jack Shore signed with the UFC in May following a successful run in Cage Warriors. ‘Tank’ opened the card in Copenhagen facing Bellator and LFA veteran, Nohelin Hernandez.
Shore largely controlled the bout and it was clear he had trained hard. The Welshman took Hernandez to the ground with ease throughout. Managing to find his way onto Hernandez’s back, Shore came close to finishing the fight in the first round. The second round played out in a similar fashion, with a wild exchange thrown in in the middle to keep the fans on the edge of their seats. Seemingly cruising to a decision victory, Shore was able to pull off the rear-naked choke victory in the third.
What’s next for the undefeated Welshman? The UFC needs to be clever in matching him with the correct opponents. Although he’s undefeated and been a champion in another organisation, he shouldn’t be rushed. We could either see him return later on in the year or he could feature on the UFC’s annual trip to London in March. Whatever is next for Shore, he’s certainly an exciting fighter to keep an eye on.
‘The Austrian Wonderboy’, Ismail Naurdiev returned for his third UFC appearance at UFC Copenhagen. Sitting at 1-1 in the UFC, the 23-year-old was determined to put on a good performance to show he has what it takes to hang in the big leagues. Standing across the Octagon on this occasion was the experienced Siyar Bahadurzada.
With four finishes in the UFC, all of Bahadurzada’s opponents must stay switched on. The hard-hitting Afghani native was on the wrong end of a one-way mauling, however. Naurdiev out-landed Bahadurzada 69 strikes to 12 across three rounds. Naurdiev was also able to land three takedowns on his way to victory. The final scorecards read 30-26, 30-25 and 30-25, all in favour of Naurdiev.
Naurdiev has been extremely active in 2019, with four fights in just eight months. The young Austrian will likely return in 2020. Again like Shore, Naurdiev could be a real star as long as he’s matched up appropriately. He did the UFC a favour by stepping in on short notice for his debut and the match-makers need to recognise this.
Ovince St Preux
If you can believe it, Ovince St Preux notched yet another Von Flue choke at UFC Copenhagen. He is now the proud owner of four out of the six Von flue chokes in UFC history.
It appeared that Michal Oleksiejczuk may knock OSP out in the first round. He couldn’t miss with hard liver shots and swinging punches landing on OSP’s jaw. Having endured a tough first round, St Preux took a seemingly fatigued Oleksiejczuk to the ground early in the second. Commentator Dan Hardy noted how OSP was setting up the von flue choke by placing Oleksiejczuk’s arm over his head, putting himself in a potentially vulnerable position.
Oleksiejczuk was previously undefeated in the UFC and undefeated in MMA since 2014. He appeared drastically undersized in this bout, but with his knockout power, he’s likely to stay at 205lbs. Will OSP ever compete for a UFC title again? At 36 it is looking unlikely, however, with notable wins over Cory Anderson, Tyson Pedro and Shogun Rua, he can certainly turn it on when he wants to.
Other Performances Worth Noting
There were a number of big performances at UFC Copenhagen in addition to those above. Two fighters continued their winning runs and three fighters scored big finishes to help their stock rise.
- Marc Diakiese got his second win in a row having returned to train in England. He out-pointed Lando Vanatta in a fight which kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout.
- Lina Lansberg also notched her second win in a row when she beat Macy Chiasson. Despite impressing in her previous three UFC bouts, Chiasson was out-classed by Lansberg.
- Welshman John Phillips snapped his three fight skid with an emphatic 14 second knockout. The hard-hitting middleweight handed Alen Amedovski his second consecutive loss.
- Ion Cutelaba was able to get the first-round finish in his bout with Khalil Rountree. With a wrestling heavy focus, Cutelaba was able to bounce back from his loss to Glover Teixeira.
Embed from Getty Images