UFC 245 Review
The last pay-per-view event of the year took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and fans were treated to three title fights as the UFC ends the year on a bang with one of the most stacked events in recent times.
Ketlen Viera 10-0 vs. 11-5 Irene Aldana (bantamweight bout)
Ketlen Viera made her return to the octagon after over 18 months out due to a knee injury and looked to regain her momentum at the top of the bantamweight rankings against fellow top 10 ranked Irene Aldana. Both fighters started cautiously, throwing faints and leg kicks as they tried to figure out the distance. Aldana landed a solid right hook early on, but it was the Brazilian who was the busier. Viera throwing combinations, caught Aldana and momentarily rocked her with a crisp right hand. As she stepped onto the front foot, the Mexican countered Viera with a check left hook that knocked her unconscious at the end of the opening round. That handed the 28 year-old Viera the first defeat of her career, she is now 10-1. Aldana will move up the rankings and moves to 12-5, and has now won 5 of her last 6 contests.
Geoff Neal vs. Mike Perry (welterweight bout)
In one of the most anticipated fights on the card, Hard hitting Geoff Neal squared up with fan favourite Mike Perry in a battle of upcoming contenders. Neal was coming off a great win streak whilst Perry was looking to get back into winning ways after dropping a controversial split decision against Vicente Luque last time out. But after both fighters sized each other up on the feet, Neal landed a perfectly timed head kick from the southpaw stance to seriously wobble Perry, He then followed up with another high kick, forcing Platinum to back away with his hands up. The 29 year-old from Texas then swarmed on Perry with a barrage of punches against the cage leaving him crumpled up and forcing the referee to stop the contest after only 90 seconds. This victory leaves knockout artist Neal moving up the rakings, as he looks for more high-profile matchups in 2020. Handz Of Steel improves to 13-2 with 7 straight victories. The 28 year-old Perry is now 13-6 and suffered his 2nd consecutive defeat.
Petr Yan vs. Urijah Faber (bantamweight bout)
Rising star and title hopeful Petr Yan, who was on an 8-fight win streak met legend Urijah Faber, who in the 2nd fight of the California natives comeback. Faber was once again the underdog, despite knocking out Ricky Simon in just 46 seconds last time out. Yan pressed early, immediately stepping onto the front foot and feinting, looking to set up a big punch. Both fighters were cautious early as they were trying to get reads on each other, but Urijah seemed comfortable fighting on the back foot. Yan was able o defend a takedown attempt at the end of the round and land a knee. In the second round, the pace remained high. Once again, the 26 year-old Russian walked forward aggressively and was able to back Faber up with his heavy shots and after stuffing a takedown attempt, dropped him with two straight left hands.
Yan then cut his opponent badly with a heavy elbow from the ground as he tried to end the fight with ground and pound. Faber was nearly finished again after being dropped by more hard punches from the Russian. The tough 40 year-old was able to gamely survive until the end of the round, but at the beginning of the third round, Yan was able to connect with a high kick off the break. Urijah went down again and the fight was mercifully waved off and the incredibly game Faber was saved from any more punishment. Yan improves to 14-1 with 9 consecutive wins and the highly ranked contender called out the champion Henry Cejudo in the octagon interview. Faber is now 35-11 and could bow out of the sport with this defeat, in what ultimately could be the passing of the guard.
Marlon Moraes vs. Jose Aldo (bantamweight bout)
In a fight that could determine the destination of the next bantamweight title shot, Marlon Moraes welcomed former long-time featherweight champion and pound-for-pound great Jose Aldo to the 135lb division. Moraes was looking to get another shot at the belt after falling short inside the distance against champion Henry Cejudo last time out. Moraes came out strong with a heavy head kick in the opening seconds as he tried to pressure Aldo. The king of Rio landed a good left hook as he seemed content to trade in the pocket when Marlon initiated exchanges. Aldo began to step onto the front foot more as the round progressed, as he stalked Moraes and kept him on the outskirts of the cage. Aldo landed two big punches that hurt Marlon but as he tried to capatalise, he was tripped by Moraes who secured the impressive takedown at the end of the round.
In the second round, Aldo seemed fresher as he once again took the centre of the octagon and tried to walk his opponent down. The constant pressure by the former champion made Moraes uncomfortable, as Aldo began to open up with crisp and accurate punches to both body and head, cutting Marlon over his right eye. Moraes tried to fight back but Jose just walked through his shots and fired back as it was a big round for him. In the third, the speed of Aldo remained evident but Moraes came back with a couple of straight shots that landed. But overall, the continuous forward movement by Aldo was the story of a lackluster final round.
At the end of the fight, the judges scored the contest 29-28,28-29 and 29-28 in favour of Moraes who got the split verdict, in what seemed to be an bad decision. Moraes improved to 23-6-1 and 18 wins in his last 20 bouts, retaining his spot as the number one contender in the division. The 33 year-old Aldo is now 22-6 and his legacy is undoubtedly as one of the best of all time despite a loss tonight.
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie (featherweight title bout)
Amanda Nunes tried to further cement her claim as the greatest female Mixed Martial Artist of all time by defending her featherweight strap against former featherweight belt-holder Germaine de Randamie, who was coming in to cage off of a 16 second KO victory in her last fight. This was a rematch of a fight that happened over 6 years ago, in which Nunes was victorious by 1st round TKO. Nunes came out strong, throwing leg kicks and caught de Randamie with several overhand rights early as she tried to assert her dominance. Nunes was able to level change and take the Iron Lady down and then pulled guard for a guillotine attempt that Germaine was able to squirm out of. he champion again secured a takedown, this time against the cage and postured to throw heavy ground and pound.
Amanda then almost finished the fight with an arm triangle that was sunk in deep but was able to survive, despite the utter dominance throughout the entire 5 minutes by Amanda. In the second round, de Randamie started the better and backed Amanda up, but a good double leg takedown ended the challengers momentum. Germaine badly hurt Amanda with a head kick and a series of hard knees to the head that wobbled her, and she needed to take her opponent down to regather her senses, but the champ rallied and was impressive towards the end of the round as she had to overcome adversity. Early, in round 3, Nunes landed an inside trip to once again take her opponent to the mat.
She tried to posture up to throw heavy punches and elbows from top position as she reigned shots down, but she was momentarily hurt by an upkick de Randamie right at the end of the round. Despite that, she dominated that round with the control time being almost 3 minutes and once again Nunes' superior strength was on show at the beginning of round 4. The lioness continued to work from top position but a momentarily lapse of concentration, left her caught in an triangle armbar, but was able to get out with relative easy despite fatigue setting in, and the champion looking weary. Nunes was able to maintain a dominant position until the bell.
In the final round, once again, the champion took the fight to the mat early and looked to throw strikes from the top position. This was the story of the fight as she tried to negate the stand-up skills of the 35 year-old Dutch kickboxer. as the champion spent almost the entirety of the round on top. At the end of the fight, the judges scored the contest 49-44, 49-45 and 49-46 in favour of Amanda Nunes who retained her belt and improves to 19-4. The universally accepted female GOAT has now won 10 fights in a row whilst Germaine de Randamie is now 9-4, ending a 5 fight winning streak since that first meeting with Amanda in 2013.
Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski (featherweight title bout)
Max Holloway faced number one contender Alex Volkanovski, as he tried to prove that he is the greatest featherweight of all time. Both fighters started well, with the champ stepping on to the front foot. Max tried for some low kicks early and Alex landed a one-two as he tried to cut the distance. It s a very tentative round with not many scoring shots as they both were trying to find the distance. The challenger landed a straight right on the bell to end a competitive opening round. The second round, continued in the same fashion as they both looked for angles. Volkanovski looked to step on the front foot and landed a tough right hand but the champion responded with a crisp punch himself. Max began to open up and have a little success towards the end of the round.
In the third, Volkanovski was forced ono the back foot early on but was happy to try and land single counters and stop the aggression that Holloway is known for. and began to pick his shots well as the round went on, catching the champion coming forward. Round 4 of the incredibly tactical matchup saw Holloway land a right early on, but the better shots came from the challenger who rallied as the two exchanged against the cage. Volkanovski landed two good right hands followed by a leg kick. The fight sprung into life in the final moments of the round, as they exchanged in the middle of the cage but Volkanovski landed right at the bell that slightly buzzed the champ.
In the final round, the champ came out with a sense of urgency and pressured Alex, who began to move back. Holloway then moved forward landing combinations upstairs and targeting the body of the 31 year-old Aussie. They swung in the final 90 seconds as Max began to get a little desperate but Volkanovski was able to scramble against the fence at the final bell, as the champ went for a hail Mary. The judges scored the fight 48-47,48-47 and 50-45 giving Volkanovski the upset victory as he became the 1st Australian-born UFC champion. The new champ moves to 21-1, extending his win streak to 18. whilst Max Holloway is now 21-5. the 28 year-old Hawaiian will look to begin his assent back to the throne
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington ( welterweight title main-event)
In the main event, Kamaru Usman defended his welterweight title against long-time bitter rival Colby Covington. This highly anticipated meeting was the culmination of months of trash talking and clashes between the two in the past couple of years. Both fighters were on edge early on, jostling for the center of the cage and willing to stay in the pocket and trade despite both being one of the best wrestlers in the world. Colby landed a hard right hand that had the champion in trouble early, he followed up with a big knee and a flurry of punches but Usman retaliated with a solid shot that hurt Covington in a decently-paced opening round.
They felt content to stand in the second round as well as Usman began on the front foot, Usman landed a good straight shot that caused a cut on the bridge of Colby's nose but Covington hurt Kamaru with a series of straight rights as both champion and challenger began to exchange from close quarters. Colby began to outwork the champion towards the end but Usman was able to get the better of Covington at the bell, briefly wobbling him with a hard right hand. In round 3, Usman started stronger by denying a clinch attempt from Colby and replying with a knee to the body. The 32 year-old Nigerian champion then landed a big straight right as he tried to take control.
Usman turned up the pressure with body shots, the front kick being the best shot and looked to be breaking the Florida based challenger but Colby landed a head kick that just slowed the momentum of the challenger towards the end, but Kamaru landed a hard straight right at the buzzer that broke his jaw. Both men exchanged at the beginning of the 4th, but Usman tried to step forward and take advantage but Covington landed a big uppercut as he tried to turn the fight in his favour. Colby was cut under his left eye from the punches of Kamaru, as he still tried to turn it into a firefight. Covington got the better of the exchange right at the bell. In the final round, Kamaru started with a head kick but Colby retaliated with a flurry of shots from close range, and another big right that backed up the champion.
Both guys seemed like they were just waiting for that one opportunity to land a strike but Colby was caught and wobbled with a big right hook in the final 90 seconds and knocked down twice in quick succession with heavy, crisp strikes to the damaged jaw of Covington. Kamaru jumped on the challenger forcing the referee to stop the contest in the final minute of the round as he retained his title. Kamaru Usman moves to 16-1 and is still undefeated in the UFC with 11 wins from 11 contests. Colby Covington is now 15-2 and the former interim champion will be looking for a 2nd title shot after putting up a gutsy display and playing his part in a tough and memorable fight.