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UFC Vegas: Barboza vs Murphy - May 18 🇺🇸


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Posted (edited)

More Apex slop for you…

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ESPN MAIN CARD
Edson Barboza vs Lerone Murphy 

Khaos Williams vs Carlston Harris 

Ramiz Brahimaj vs Themba Gorimbo

Adrian Yanez vs Vinicius Salvador 

Luana Pinheiro vs Angela Hill

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS 
Tom Nolan vs Victor Martinez

Oumar Sy vs Tuco Tokkos 

Tamires Vidal vs Melissa Gatto

Abus Magomedov vs Warlley Alves

Piera Rodriguez vs Ariane Carnelossi

Alateng Heili vs Kleydson Rodrigues

Emily Ducote vs Vanessa Demopoulos 


 

Like a lot of these Apex cards, especially lately, I’m really not feeling this. I like the main event. That’s actually better than your standard Apex headliner. But the rest? Not much to it, is there? Couple of bits and bobs I’m interested in but I’m gonna be skipping a fair bit of this. I mean, unless they switch the bout order up, 3 straight low level women’s fights kicking off the card? 💩 

 


 

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Edson Barboza vs Lerone Murphy tops this one. Good fight. Much better headliner than we usually get on these Apex cards anyway. As I’m typing this, Barboza is ranked #11 in the Featherweight division, Murphy isn’t ranked yet. So this is big for him. His first UFC main event, against a popular name and an exciting fighter, plus a win gets him in the rankings.

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Barboza’s no spring chicken now. He’s 38 years old and this’ll be his 36th pro MMA fight. Add to that a 28 fight Kickboxing career and that’s 63 fights total and an overall combat sports record of 49-14 with 36 of his wins coming by knockout or TKO. He actually has one win by submission as well early in his MMA career but, on the whole, you know what you’re getting out of Barboza. While he’s obviously had to work on other areas of MMA, he’s about as pure a striker as there is in the sport. Definitely one of the best kickers in the game. Past and present. Love watching him. He’s had his ups and downs in the UFC but whenever I think of Barboza it’s the spectacular knockouts of Terry Etim and Beneil Dariush that jump out first. Then throw in wins over Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez, Paul Felder, Dan Hooker etc. He’s never been close to being ‘the guy’ at 155 or 145, but he’s had quite a run. He’s just never quite found the consistency to put together a real streak of wins consecutively. A lot of that is because he’s been caught lacking in other areas like the grappling. But when he’s on his game and sharp, he’s a dangerous man. And always a good gatekeeper and litmus test for guys trying to crack into that top end of the division. His last fight was a similar thing…

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He went 5 hard rounds with Sodiq Yusuff in a really good fight in October. And Barboza won and almost had Yusuff out of there at one point. So while he’s getting up in age now for a lighter weight class fighter, make no mistake he can still hang with some of these up and comers. When I say he’s a gatekeeper, I mean no disrespect. He’s the guy those young rising contenders have to get through to put themselves in the conversation for title fights. And as we saw in the Yusuff fight, Barboza is no soft touch or easy stepping stone. He’s in a similar boat here…

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Lerone Murphy is the next guy who’s gonna have to take the test. Feels like a long overdue step up for Murphy and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Of all the UK fighters on the roster, Murphy is probably the one who’s gone under the radar the most for me. He’s still yet to be beaten. He’s 13-0-1 with the only ‘blemish’ being a split draw against Zubaira Tukhugov back in 2019. He’s won 5 fights since then but just never really seems to advance or have any meaningful fights. It’s partly on him. He doesn’t exactly put himself out there, he’s not really outspoken and doesn’t have the biggest personality. Which is fair enough but it’s meant he hasn’t stood out from the pack or received the appealing fights others get. Arnold Allen went through similar until he broke through with that Dan Hooker stoppage. Some of it with Murphy is just bad luck though. He was supposed to co-main against Dan Ige on an Apex card in February but had to withdraw due to injury. He also missed all of 2022 because of fight cancellations. He came back in 2023 with wins over Gabriel Santos and Josh Culibao but didn’t exactly wow anyone and those wins just felt like sideways steps more than anything. There were those rumblings of a big UK domestic clash against Nathaniel Wood, and they were going back and forth, but it amounted to nothing in the end. It’s been the slowest of burns but this is the big opportunity for him now. Time to make something happen.

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Good stuff. Like I said, Barboza is nobody’s pushover and he’s shown in recent fights that he’s still got something left. If you’re not quite up to the task, he’s probably not the guy you want standing across the Octagon from you. We know what Barboza is about and how he’s gonna approach this. Just pure, vicious, blunt force Muay Thai brutality until either you go to sleep or he fades trying to end you. The interest here is how Murphy handles it. His first main event, first 5 rounder, and I don’t think we’ve ever really seen him face someone as lethal as Barboza. Does Murphy rise to the occasion, does he fold? Regardless, it’s time to see what’s what. Murphy is gonna turn 33 in July. Far from old but it’s time to crack on and either go on a big run or fall on the sword. Still no real clue how good he actually is because his career has been so stop/start but you get the feeling the next couple of years is gonna be crucial for him if he’s ever gonna make a proper run at the top of the 145 division. It’s a ‘now or never’ thing at this point.

 

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Khaos Williams vs Carlston Harris as co-main? Yeah, me neither but that’s the way Big Marcel has it listed currently. I know it’s only the Apex but still. It’s not a terrible fight. I just don’t particularly care about it. Khaos is a guy I’ve enjoyed watching when I’ve seen him but he’s in and out so sporadically and infrequently it’s hard to get invested. I remember when he burst into the UFC and immediately scored back-to-back quick KOs over Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan. Just blasted them both to bits in 30 seconds each. I genuinely thought we might have a new potential contender on our hands but he lost to Michel Pereira and seemed to fizzle out. He’s only fought once a year the last couple of years. He’s still only 30 and has a record of 14-3 with 8 finishes. He could still carve out a nice little midcard run, but he’s gotta show up to work to do that. Harris is 36 years old, 19-5 and has 11 finishes. He’s coming off a late come from behind submission win over Jeremiah Wells back in August. Can’t say I remember much else about him but looking at his record, he’s gone 7-1 in his last 8 with the only loss being to Shavkat Rakhmonov. Not the worst. Hopefully Khaos shows up for this one. If we’re going off recent form, this’ll probably be his only fight in 2024, so make the most of it.

 

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Ramiz Brahimaj vs Themba Gorimbo is one of the few fights I actually give a bollocks about on this card. We haven’t seen Brahimaj in a while though. He last fought in February 2022, submitting Micheal Gillmore in 2 minutes on the undercard of Islam Makhachev vs Bobby Green. That feels like a lifetime ago now. He’s had a couple of fights scheduled since but had to pull out with injuries both times. Hopefully he makes it through camp this time. He’s 14-4 now and wildly inconsistent from what I remember of him. My investment here is all about Themba Gorimbo.

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That’s how his last fight in February ended. A 32 second walloping of Pete Rodriguez. I was pleasantly surprised with that. Obviously Themba gained a bunch of fans last year when that story did the rounds of The Rock buying him a house. That whole thing was clearly designed to make Rock look good but Gorimbo came across as such a good soul that I instantly became a fan and wanted to see him succeed from that point on. I had a bad feeling about that last fight though, just because Rodriguez was so heavy handed and I hadn’t been blown away by Gorimbo’s early UFC fights. But maybe some of that was because his circumstances back then were holding him back as well? Now he’s got a proper home and some money and was given that bit of a leg up from The Rock, now he can just focus 100% on getting better and achieving his goals, maybe it’ll make a difference. He’s 33 years old already, I’m not expecting title runs or anything like that but I’d love to see him reach whatever his true potential is. He was sending money from his minimal fight purses back to his village in Zimbabwe even before Rocky shone the light on his story. He’s fighting the good fight. Impossible not to root for him.

 

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Adrian Yanez vs Vinicius Salvador is one of the few fights that should be worth watching on this card. Never miss a Yanez fight. Shame he’s in a bit of a slump now because he’s been non-stop excitement ever since he put pen to paper and signed with the UFC. Out of his 7 fights in the UFC so far, he’s got either a POTN or FOTN bonus in 5 of them. Great to watch. It was all going well until last year. He had a rotten 2023. He got stopped in brutal fashion by both Rob Font and Jonathan Martinez. Hopefully he can rebound here. This is definitely a step back in competition so I’m liking his chances of bouncing back. But I don’t know enough about Salvador to be mega confident about it. He’s Brazilian, 27 years old and 14-6 with all 14 of his wins coming inside the distance. He’s dropped decisions to Victor Altamirano and CJ Vergara in his last two outings. So you’d think Yanez can win this. The one vague memory I have of Salvador though is that he’s awkward and one of those annoying fuckers who likes to showboat and taunt and shit. Hoping Yanez can get to him but he might be difficult to look good against. We’ll see.

 

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Luana Pinheiro vs Angela Hill is doing very little for me. Maybe it’ll be better than I’m expecting but I’m just not arsed. Pinheiro is 30 years old and has a record of 11-2, 7 finishes. We last saw her in November getting spin kicked in the mouth by Amanda Ribas and TKO’d. Before that she was on a 9 fight win streak but the most notable win was over a past it Michelle Waterson and even then she only managed a split decision. Not convinced. As for Hill, I don’t know what to make of her. She’s never been a contender but she has the odd night where she looks better than I remember. She’s 39 now and has an abysmal 16-13 record. I was pretty much completely writing her off going into her last fight against Denise Gomes in November. Gomes was coming off bulldozing Mexican prospect Yazmin Jauregui in just 20 seconds and it felt like one of those evil matchups where they were feeding the ageing veteran to the young slugger. But Hill beat her! Every time I think she’s done, she wins a fight I expected her to lose and keeps herself off the chopping block. This looks like another winnable fight for her, IMO, but watch her go and lose now. Pointless trying to predict her fights.

 

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Tom Nolan vs Victor Martinez. Not sure. I’m not clued up enough on either really. Quickly looking them both up, I see Australia’s Nolan is 6-1 with 4 knockouts. He made his UFC debut in January and got sat down in a minute by Nikolas Motta. He’s only 24 so there’s time to bounce back, not the end of the world. But definitely not a good start. Martinez is 32 and has a 13-5 record with 8 by KO/TKO. He also got chinned in his UFC debut, Jordan Leavitt crushed him in a round with knees from the Thai clinch well over a year ago. Well, one of them is guaranteed to get that first Octagon win. Unless it’s a draw. Watch it be a draw now.

 

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Oumar Sy vs Tuco Tokkos is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** this time. You know it’s slim pickings when I’m going with a couple of fighters who I’ve never seen fight and are making their UFC debuts. It has my attention though. Oumar Sy is the one I’m interested in here. He’s French, 28 years old and undefeated at 9-0 with 7 finishes. I’ve seen him listed as 6’4” or 6’5” in different places and apparently has an 83.9in reach.

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He’s already fought in promotions like Oktagon, KSW and Ares. A UFC signing that isn’t coming off DWCS? That’s a rare thing these days. His Octagon debut couldn’t really be happening under much less than ideal circumstances though. This is his third scheduled opponent for this card. He was originally booked against Rodolfo Bellato. Bellato dropped out and Mackenzie Dern’s fella Antonio Trocoli stepped in. Then no sooner was he in, he was out. Now we’ve got this Tokkos bloke jumping in on 4/5 days notice. He’s from the UK, 33 years old and 10-3 with 8 finishes. I’d never heard of him but after looking him up, he’s the guy who got absolutely obliterated by Zhang Mingyang on ‘Road To UFC’ back in 2022…

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Yeah, he got wrecked. In fairness to him though, he’s gone on to win 3 fights in a row since then and his last 2 never made it to the second round. He was also on a 3 fight win streak before that Mingyang loss. That fight probably isn’t the fairest reflection of his skills but it’s the only thing I’ve seen of him so it’s all I’ve got to go on at the moment. Fair play to him for stepping in here but to take this fight, against an undefeated fighter, on less than a week’s notice, it’s risky. Especially for his UFC debut. Far from ideal conditions for either man’s debut but at least Sy’s been training all camp for this specific date, I guess. The UFC just announced they’re going back to Paris in September. I’d expect to see Sy on there providing he comes out of this one healthy.

 

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Tamires Vidal vs Melissa Gatto isn’t setting anyone’s world alight. In fairness to Vidal, I remember liking her UFC debut. She absolutely folded poor Ramona Pascual with a nasty flying knee to the body. Don’t see that often but it was a cool finish. Unfortunately, she then shat the bed in her next fight and dropped a decision to Montserrat Rendon. Gatto is stepping in on short notice here, replacing an injured Hailey Cowan. She’s Brazilian, 28 years old and has a record of 8-2-2. She’s lost decisions to Tracy Cortez and Ariane Lipski in her last two fights.

 

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Abus Magomedov vs Warlley Alves is just there. Might be alright but they’ve both found their level. I’ll never forgive Abus for getting smashed up by fucking Strickland last summer. That win lead directly to Strickland getting the title shot against Adesanya and we saw how that ended. That fight also gave Strickland’s loser fanbase the one bit of ammunition they were looking for to claim he’s an exciting fighter, a ‘warrior’ and all that shite. He’d looked a bit handy in the very limited footage I’d seen going in so that got my hopes up that maybe he’d chin Strickland. But no. He came into a 5 round fight with only 1 round’s worth of cardio, faded terribly and got stopped in the second round. He followed that with a points loss to Caio Borralho in November and I seem to recall he faded in that one as well. Useless. And Alves looks like he’s on his last legs. Crazy to me that he’s still only 33, feels like he’s been around forever. His career highlight will always be the night he choked Colby Covington in about 90 seconds. But that was 2015. He’s now 14-7, on a 3 fight losing streak and just got wrecked by Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 294 in October. This should really be a ‘loser leaves’ match at this point but it won’t be. These Apex cards need filling.

 

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Piera Rodriguez vs Ariane Carnelossi isn’t grabbing me. I’m saying that about pretty much every fight on this card, aren’t I? Going through the motions…Rodriguez is Venezuelan, 31 years old and has a record of 9-1 and 5 finishes. She’s coming into this fight off the first loss of her career, she got armbarred by Gillian Robertson last April. She was meant to fight Cynthia Calvillo recently but the fight got binned last minute due to Calvillo missing weight. And Carnelossi has been on a milk carton since May 2022. She lost a decision to Loopy Godinez and hasn’t fought since for some reason. She’s Brazilian, also 31 and has a record of 14-3 with 11 finishes.

 

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Alateng Heili vs Kleydson Rodrigues. Dunno. Alateng’s one of those fighters who’s been on the roster for years and I can’t really remember anything about him. He made his UFC debut in 2019 and has gone 4-2-1 since with no real notable wins to speak of. He’s 16-9-2 overall now and coming off a points loss to Chris Gutierrez in October. Rodrigues is repping Team Nogueira so I’m automatically rooting for him. He’s 28 years old and 8-3 with 6 finishes. Hasn’t got off to the best of starts in the UFC though unfortunately. He did score a 59 second stoppage over Shannon Ross last year but that was sandwiched between losses to CJ Vergara and Farid Basharat.

 

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Emily Ducote vs Vanessa Demopoulos is just…whatever. Both are going nowhere. Ducote is 30 years old, 13-8 and coming off a decision win over Ashley Yoder. Before that she’d lost back-to-back fights. Demopoulos is 35 years old, 10-5 and beat Kanako Murata on points in her last fight. She lost to Karolina Kowalkiewicz before that. Just nothing happening Fight Pass fodder. No fucks given whatsoever.

 

That’s yer lot. Never ending Apex shite.

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Poor Edson looked completley shot in this one. Mother nature has caught up with him, unfortunately. Murphy looked very impressive, too. Not sure how much to read into the performance though, as Edson made it as easy as possible for him in this one.

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Just caught up on this. It was never gonna be priority viewing with it falling on the same night as Fury vs Usyk. Finally got to it and watched it in instalments throughout today when I’ve had chance. It was alright, to be fair.

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Very solid performance from Lerone Murphy in the main event. Easily the highlight of his career to date. And yeah, Barboza looked really flat. Just didn’t look at the races. I’m not sure I’d say he looked shot, he went 5 hard rounds and looked great against Sodiq Yusuff just 7 months ago. Maybe Murphy just made him look like a spent force? I don’t know. Father Time is weird in combat sports. Fighters can suddenly look their age overnight but we’ll have to see how Barboza looks next time to properly gauge that. But yeah, aside from that big upkick at the end of the first round…

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…Barboza never got much going at all. And fuck me, that upkick was brutal. Cracked Murphy flush in the face and he understandably looked a bit wobbly when he stood up. Luckily for him, the round was over and he had that minute to recover. It was the type of thing we’ve needed to see Murphy deal with though. His fights up to now have seemed to just come and go with little to take from them. Seeing him here in with an established name like Barboza, get waffled with a sledgehammer of a kick like that and respond by dominating the next 4 rounds, it’s an encouraging sign. He won this fight comfortably in the end. And what’s more impressive is that most of it was on the feet. To go 5 rounds in a fight that’s heavily striking and get the better of Barboza is good stuff. Barboza looked out of gas, out of answers and out of ideas by the third round and Murphy just went from strength to strength. Passed the 5 round test, passed the chin test, biggest name win to date. A very successful first UFC main event all round.

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I like the sound of both of these fights. Murphy’s entered the rankings at #11 now so he’s gonna be gunning for more names and he’s earned that now. He was on Helwani’s show this week and was even talking about getting on that Manchester card in July if he can. I’d say that’s unlikely now, and even less likely he gets a Kattar or Emmett on that show, but you never know. He’s from Manchester so it would be cool if he can get a fight but I can’t see it myself. Helwani asked him why they didn’t save him for Manchester anyway and he said the opportunity to headline against Barboza was just too good to pass up and that he just wanted to fight ASAP after all the setbacks and inactivity. I totally get his logic there. And he’s right. While fighting in Manchester would be great for him, you gain a lot more from a 5 round main event against a name like Barboza (even at the Apex) than a 3 rounder that’s lost in the shuffle under Leon Edwards and Tom Aspinall title fights. And now if he gets a fight on 304, it’ll mean more because he’s coming off this Barboza win. Maybe, finally, Lerone Murphy is gonna make some headway in the UFC.

Khaos Williams just absolutely iced Carlston Harris in the co-main. A 90 second demolition job.

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Khaos has always had a whack on him. We found that out when he signed with the UFC and immediately sparked Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in under a minute combined. He’s one of those fighters who I can’t tell you much about his style or his skills. All I know is he can thump. Hopefully he can stay more active now. That’s one thing that’s stalled any progress he might’ve made. He only fought once a year in 2022/23. After a quick finish like this, as long as he’s not carrying any injuries, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be fighting again in the next few months.

Happy to see Themba Gorimbo bag another win. It wasn’t the best fight and Gorimbo’s been hard on himself since Saturday night, calling it “boring” and a “bad performance”. Like I said, it wasn’t great to watch but I think he’s being too harsh on himself. Coming off that quick KO over Pete Rodriguez, I guess he expected similar here but they’re not all gonna be blowouts. And there’s benefits to getting that cage time in. A win’s a win and he’s now on a 3 fight streak. Not convinced he goes much further than this but I’d love to be wrong about that.

I was well chuffed to see Adrian Yanez get back in the win column here. He had a proper shite 2023 so seeing him pick up where he left off in 2022 was cool.

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Granted, Vinicius Salvador was a clear step down in opposition for Yanez but I remember Salvador looking a bit awkward in previous fights and I wasn’t sure Yanez would be able to catch him clean. Needn’t have worried, he got the first round finish, stopped the rot and snapped the losing streak. As much as I’m a Yanez fan, I do think he’s pretty much hit his ceiling sadly. Even back when he was winning his early UFC fights, he had shaky moments and the Randy Costa fight exposed that he struggles with strong jabbers. And those losses to Font and Martinez last year were steps up that proved to be too much for him. So unfortunately, I don’t see him going any further than about the level he’s at currently. But not everyone’s gonna be UFC champion or even a contender. Yanez is always a welcome addition to any card and he’ll have an entertaining fight with pretty much anyone. And 135 is full of potential bangers for him. I hope they keep him around forever.

Nice to see Angela Hill still getting it done at 39 years old. It’s going nowhere, inconsistency has been the story of her career. She’s never got over that last hurdle against the top Strawweights but she’s 4-1 in her last 5 now and a couple of those wins - Loopy Godinez and Denise Gomes - I didn’t expect her to win. Even this Pinheiro fight, I suspect the matchmakers thought they were feeding Hill to the younger fighter. Hill’s first finish in 3 years as well. It’s all diminishing returns at this point but fair play. Not having the BMF belt callout though. I don’t want that shit in every division. I’d be up for a Hill vs Jessica Andrade rematch, the first fight was a lot of fun from what I remember. But BMF belt? Nah.

Tom Nolan redeemed himself big time after losing his debut. Stopped Victor Martinez in the first round…

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That knee to the body just did Martinez in. Even if Nolan never followed up, I don’t think Martinez would’ve been able to continue. Nolan’s fun to watch, although he got dropped again here before rallying back with the finish. I liked him here though. His striking reminded me a lot of Carlos Condit and, as a huge Condit fan, I mean that as a big compliment. Apparently there’s an Australia card coming up in August, hopefully they chuck him on there and match him up with a striker. Plenty of fun matchups for him in the 155 division.

Oumar Sy was the highlight of the prelims, and one of the bright spots on the whole card, for me. We didn’t get to see him for long but I thought he looked class for the few minutes it lasted. Really liked how smooth his grappling looked and once he got the back it really did feel like it was just a matter of time before he found the finish.

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Good stuff. Of course it’s early days and a win over Tuco Tokkos is nothing to get too carried away with. But even still, this was the third scheduled opponent for Sy. Under the circumstances, with 2 fights falling through and factoring in the usual pressure that comes with making that UFC debut, this was pretty much perfect. A 205er that actually might be worth getting excited about! Who’d have thunk it? Seems like the most obvious next move in the world is to whack him on that Paris card in September. He mentioned it in the post-fight interview and I’d assume he’s a lock for that card. Give him a main card fight.

Melissa Gatto stopping Tamires Vidal with a jab to the tit was a first.

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Making history! Not sure how the fight was prior to that. I imagine it was shite. Just breezed through it on fast forward and saw it ended in the third round so I went back and watched the finish. Boob jab KO!

I wanted to give Abus Magomedov vs Warlley Alves a chance but found myself skipping through big chunks of it after a few minutes. Life’s just too short to be wasting it on these no hopers. They’ve both shown the ability to be dangerous in the past but they’re so inconsistent with it that I just can’t be bothered. At the very least I hoped they’d have a goofy slugfest but Abus decided to go the takedown route and Warlley had no answer for it for some reason.

Skimmed through the first few prelims but caught the end of the Ariane Carnelossi vs Piera Rodriguez fight. It was a strange one to say the least. Not a clue what Rodriguez was thinking with this shit…

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Why would you do it? All I can think is she’d been watching Mark Coleman’s early UFC fights. She was in control and winning the fight at the time as well. One of those baffling mid-fight decisions that I’ll never understand, like Petr Yan’s illegal knee against Aljo Sterling in their first fight, or Andrew Golota pulverising Riddick Bowe’s ballsack into a fine paste in both their fights. These fouls are wrong regardless but it’s even more confusing when the fighter who seems to be well on track to victory just pisses it away like this. She rightly got disqualified but that kind of makes it even more weird because Carnelossi now picks up a win in a fight she was almost certainly gonna lose, and through no skill or technique of her own, just Rodriguez being a fucking idiot. Rodriguez actually had the cheek to moan when the ref stopped it as well. The audacity! 


Standard Apex card. Not the best and if you skipped it you didn’t miss much. But there were some good performances that made it worth tuning in for IMO. Lerone Murphy passed the biggest test of his career with flying colours, Oumar Sy looks like he’ll be worth keeping tabs on and there were some nice finishes. Not bad. 

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