Well well well….Norfolk, Virginia was host to some Veteran’s Day fights that shaped up pretty much how I thought it would. The main event between Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis was a gift from the MMA gods, and we all assumed it would be a grueling and bloody war until one of them just couldn’t continue or was lying on the ground unconscious. No one ended up going to sleep, but not for lack of trying…
Pettis was blooded pretty early and was basically blind from a nasty cut over the eyebrow, which made it damn near impossible for a successful submission even though he had a triangle choke pretty tight.
In the third round, Poirier was able to get Anthony Pettis’ back again, and when he transitioned to mount, Pettis ended up tapping. Whether it was from a rib injury or the bloody nose/eye/forehead, I don’t know right now. However, Dustin Poirier called his next fight against the winner of Justin Gaethje vs Eddie Alvarez, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Amazing performance from the Louisiana native.
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate Matt Brown and Diego Sanchez as two warriors that have given damn near everything to this sport. Both of these guys have been in some bloodsoaked wars and fought so many legends I couldn’t even list them all. Matt Brown was hinting at retirement before the fight, but walked it back a little bit after getting this SICK elbow knockout victory over Diego Sanchez.
I hate to see either one of these guys leave, but they’ve taken so much damage (and given it, too) that I wouldn’t be upset if either one of them decided to hang it up.
How about this knockout win by Raphael Assuncao, though. I said before the fight he needed to make a statement win and demand a title shot, and that’s exactly what he did. He was eating up the legs of Matthew Lopez the entire fight, and the bruising and swelling on Lopez’s left leg was a glaring issue. Lopez is a tough guy, though, and continued to throw until Assuncao landed this hook during a flurry that DROPPED Matthew Lopez. Thank god Assuncao pulled this last punch, because Lopez was OUT.
Poirier/Pettis wasn’t the only lightweight badass on the card that night. Clay Guida looked like a man possessed and determined to get a statement win. He got it over a legend like Joe Lauzon. I did NOT expect this type of finish, but holy shit did Guida look good. Since his return to the division, he has looked spectacular. The arena was quite literally screaming his name afterward when he announced his fight contract was up and that he wanted another from the UFC. I love both of these guys, but Guida stole my heart with his victory speech.
Also, hats off to Tatiana Suarez. After being out of the cage for about a year and a half, she came back to dominate an undefeated fighter in Viviane Pereira. Pereira had no answer to the takedown, and Suarez was able to land a lot of vicious shots in between keeping her opponent firmly planted on the mat. It’d be nice if we didn’t have to wait as long to see her fight this time.
One fighter who looked like he had improved by leaps and bounds was Sage Northcutt. He always had good kicks because of his karate background, but his hands were landing accurate shots to counter the leg kicks of Michel Quinones. Northcutt had been training for a few months at Team Alpha Male, and I really hope he continues to develop. Landing takedowns to solidify the round in his favor while being patient and waiting for the right time to strike makes it seem like he’s growing his fight IQ as well as his skill set. Afterward, he said he wanted to be like Donald Cerrone and fight anytime anywhere, and I’d be okay with that.
How’s this for a UFC debut by Karl Roberson? After appearing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series, Roberson was awarded a UFC contract. Going up against Darren Stewart didn’t seem to cause him much of an issue. He was acting like a monster in the clinch until he patiently waited for the opportunity for a choke to present itself. What a debut!
Some big news to come out of this event is Michael Bisping taking the place of Anderson Silva to fight Kelvin Gastelum in Shanghai next weekend, and Jose Aldo taking the place of Frankie Edgar to fight Max Holloway for the featherweight belt December 2. Stay tuned for those. I know I will.