UFC 215 recap

Edward L'Orange Roar Pro

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    With a debatable result in the headline fight, a couple of bouts which probably should have been stopped, and most fans still angry at Ray Borg, UFC 215 will not be the most keenly remembered card of all time. But that is not to say it did not have its moments.

    The card was off to a bad start when the planned headline fight for the 125-pound title between Ray Borg and Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson was postponed. Borg was withdrawn due to illness, apparently against his own wishes.

    The fight was looking to be momentous for the favourite Johnson, as a win would have made him the longest reigning champion in UFC history, breaking Anderson Silva’s record of ten title defences.

    However, with this fight cancelled, the women’s bantamweight championship was moved to the headline.

    Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko
    Fighting for the women’s 135-pound title, the healthy dislike simmering between these two fighters was given a fresh burst of heat.

    Originally scheduled to meet at UFC 213, the bout was postponed after Nunes controversially withdrew just hours before the fight, this incident raising tempers already stirred by Nunes’ win at UFC 196.

    For the first time in her career, Nunes went the full 25 minutes with Shevchenko and, even more surprisingly, won. In a quality match, which was probably locked up going into the final round, Nunes managed a successful takedown and finished on top. This secured her a narrow split-decision victory of 47-48, 48-47, 48-47.

    The animosity between the pair went down to the final bell, with Shevchenco giving Nunes a middle-finger salute as they were broken up. With the fight so close, and a current lack of other stars in the division, a trilogy is not unlikely.

    Rafael dos Anjos def. Neil Magny
    In only his second fight at welterweight (170 pounds, 77kg), former 155-pound champion Rafael dos Anjos gave an impressive performance. In only 77 seconds, the Brazilian mounted and submitted the welterweight No.6 contender Neil Magny with an arm triangle.

    Awarded Performance of the Night, this fight will serve as a warning to the 170-pound division, and the champion Tyron Woodley.

    Henry Cejudo def. Wilson Reis KO (R2)
    This flyweight (125 pound) bout saw Henry Cejudo feed Wilson Reis a deadly right hand early in the second round to secure a comprehensive victory.

    Seated ringside, champion Demetrius Johnson saw a respectable performance in a weight-class which has so rarely found him serious challengers. However, with the UFC desperate for stars, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is more likely to bag the win against Borg, and then try to book a date in a higher weight-class with the likes of TJ Dillashaw.

    Ilir Latifi def. Tyson Pedro
    In a blow to Australian UFC fans, Swede Ilir Latifi handed Aussie Tyson Pedro his first defeat in the octagon. The former Swedish wrestling champion did not wait long to take the fight to the mat, eventually grinding out win by unanimous decision.

    The young Sydney-born Pedro will learn a lot from this defeat, and will hopefully bounce back stronger.

    In a division rocked by the Jon Jones controversy, this win may see Latifi moving into ‘big fight’ territory. But hopefully we see a big fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir first.

    Jeremy Stephens def. Gilbert Melendez
    In a display of the brutal efficiency of leg kicks, this one-sided affair saw Jeremy Stephens chop down Gilbert Melendez.

    The experienced Melendez, who came down to featherweight for this fight, refused to move with the times and did not check Stephen’s kicks. The result was the complete destruction of his right leg.

    After taking only four solid kicks, Melendez was down and he never really recovered, eventually losing a bravely fought unanimous decision.

    There was significant controversy following the end of the second round when Melendez appears to not wish to continue. His corner, however, seemed to convince him to finish the bout. They have now come under scrutiny for encouraging their fighter to continue a fight in which he was only taking damage.

    There was also calls for the ref to step in when it appeared Melendez could not defend his leg, but the bout continued until its completion.

    Awarded Fight of the Night, some people may see this as reward for a reckless corner and poor refereeing.

    Prelims
    Ketlen Vieira defeated heavy favourite Sara McMann by submission (arm-triangle choke) to assert herself as a genuine threat in the women’s bantamweight devision.

    Sarah Moras submitted favourite Ashlee Evans-Smith, with a brutal armbar which appears to dislocate Evans-Smith’s arm. When Joe Rogan asked if it was dislocated, Moras showed a spirited lack of concern by simply replying, “I hope so.”

    Rick Glenn obliterated previously undefeated Gavin Tucker in a brutal featherweight fight, which eventually went to a decision. However, many are criticising the ref for not stopping the fight much earlier, with Dana White himself even tweeting “This ref SUCKS!!!!”

    Alex White defeated Canadian Mitch Clarke by TKO in front of Clark’s hometown, with the veteran Clarke taking significant punishment. Following the bout, Clarke announced his retirement in the ring.

    Canadian heavyweight Arjan Bhullar outlasted a resurgent Luis Henrique to win a unanimous decision. Former Olympic wrestler Bhullar showed plenty of power in the fight, but faded badly in the third.

    Finally, the night got off to a strange start when Kajan Johnson knocked out Adriano Martins with a punch that surprised everyone, including Johnson. The lightweight fight was in the third round, when Johnson landed a seemingly innocuous punch which put Martins on the mat. By his reaction, even Johnson had no idea how it happened.