Hello ST. LOUIS!!! Are you ready to rock? I know Jeremy Stephens probably drank the entire city under the table after his win over Doo Ho Choi, but there was some other notable wins, too. Let’s get to them, and see who walked away happy.
The fight that got top billing was one that seemed to be a war in the making. Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens has been a power fighter for what seems like forever. “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi was coming off a fight of the year with Cub Swanson. We figured this one would get pretty violent. I didn’t expect Jeremy Stephens to make it look as easy as he did.
Choi may have been hurt, he may have slipped, I don’t know. I DO know that the shots Stephens landed right after the drop were fucking VICIOUS. Maybe the stoppage was a tad early, but that right hand was enough to give ref Keith Peterson a good excuse to intervene. Choi’s toughness can only work for him if he has a chance to answer back, and he wasn’t. Jeremy Stephens looks as good as he ever has in his last two fights now. He called out Brian Ortega afterward, but Ortega seemed to want to wait for a title shot. I don’t know if he’ll have much of a choice, though, and a fight between those two would be a classic.
We also had a meeting of Paige Van Zant and Jessica Rose Clark. This one was interesting: Paige moved up a weight class; Clark had to deal with her house being broken into on Thursday and her CAT BEING KILLED; Paige has her arm broken in the first round and is able to tough out TWO MORE. Who do you cheer for in this situation? Well, Clark ended up grinding out a win with a smothering top game when Paige was only working with one arm. PVZ was even throwing crazy leg kicks at the end to try and get a win, but it wasn’t enough. I just hope both of them are okay, and their next fights find them in better circumstances.
Elsewhere on the card, we had a damn fine performance by Darren “The Damage” Elkins against Michael Johnson. Johnson made the move down a weight class, which led me to believe he would have the strength advantage. Maybe he did, but a crafty, tough mother fucker like Elkins doesn’t care. He weathered some serious hits to find Johnson in a precarious position and get the tap. Elkins has won 6 in a row now. Give the man a top contender for god’s sake.
One of the fights I was really looking forward to was Kamaru Usman and Emil Meek. Usman looked SO dangerous in his last fight, and Meek just has viking badass written all over him. It ended up being a it of a one-sided affair, though. Meek just could not get Usman off of him. Maybe if it was a different ref, there may have been more stand ups, but Usman is definitely a hell of a wrestler. However, I wonder how well that work against the top guys in the division.
If you ended up taking a bathroom break at an inopportune time, you may have missed this one. Polo Reyes’ fists went to town on Matt Frevola’s face until Frevola just crumples on the mat. Reyes looked like a madman, and also didn’t take much damage. That means we can get him on another card soon, right?
How about this insane triangle finish from Kyung Ho Kang, though? At one point, he was completely vertical, and if Guido Cannetti slams him down from that height, who knows what happens. But Kang hangs on to get the victory, and has a pretty good fight interview after. Hope we see him soon, too.
That about wraps it up, really. I’m pretty sad that Uriah Hall and Vitor Belfort didn’t get to fight, but maybe we’ll see them later? The tribute to Matt Hughes made up for it, though. I wasn’t crying. YOU were crying. Okay I cried a little, but that was an amazing moment.
It was a decent card to start the year, but if not for the main event, it felt a little flat…..BUT….what’s the next card on the line? Oh that would Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou for the heavyweight title, with Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdimier for the Light Heavyweight. Stay tuned…